29th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that
Child Endowment received by families has declined relative to average earnings so that today it is about 20 per cent of its value in 1949.
The Interim Report of the Australian Government’s Commission Into Poverty recommended a substantial increase in Child Endowment as a way of alleviating poverty.
This report pointed out that increased Child Endowment deserved priority and would be advantageous to the community in the long run.
It specifically recommended increasing child endowment from 50 cents to $ 1 . 50 for the first child; from $ 1 . 00 to $2.00 for the second child; from $2.00 to $4.00 for the third child; from $2.25 to $7.00 for the fourth child; and to $8.00 for subsequent children.
Your petitioners humbly request that the Government increase Child Endowment in the September Budget.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Snedden and Mr McMahon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that, as an interim measure, the Government will immediately increase the current grams being made to children in non-government schools to at least 50 per cent of the cost of educating children in government schools, thus enabling the nongovernment schools to continue to exist and fulfil their function of educating Australian children.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrErwin.
To the Honourable the Speaker, and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrMcLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed Universal Health Scheme is essential to the well being of all Australians, in so far as it will-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will hasten to introduce this much needed scheme so that health care services in Australia can begin to function equitably, efficiently, and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Whilst the Australian Government is granting freedom and independence to Papua and New Guinea, the once free Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are occupied by the Soviet Union and their citizens are continuously and brutally deprived of personal, civil and religious freedoms. We humbly beg to draw the attention of the Parliament to this fact and ask that the matter be raised in the United Nations by the Australian Government. The annexation and incorporation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union has not been recognised by any Western democracy, including Australia. We beg the Parliament to continue such non-recognition and to disallow any steps by Australian Government which would amount to recognition of aggression.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wilson.
-My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the latest available detailed taxation statistics, those on income breakdowns for 1971-72, which he tabled with the Budget papers. Is the Treasurer aware that these figures show that the 10 per cent property tax surcharge is like the Robin Hood principle operating in reverse in that the poorer the taxpayer the more reliant that taxpayer is on unearned income? Is he aware that only the top 3 per cent of taxpayers are more reliant on unearned income than the poorest taxpayers of all? Is he aware that his tax figures which, because of inflation, are more favourable than reality show that Australian taxpayers in the under $10,000 a year income group will pay the penalty tax on 2½ times as much income as those in the income group over $10,000 a year- this is, $850m unearned income is received by the poorer taxpayers -
– I think that the honourable member is giving information. He should be seeking information.
– I am asking whether the Treasurer is aware of these facts. I am nearly finished. I am asking ‘is he aware ‘, and I think he understands the spirit of the question. That is to say $850m in unearned income is received by the poorer taxpayers against $334m unearned income that is received by the richer taxpayers. Is he aware that those in the $3,500 to $5,500 a year income group will be hit harder than those in the $5,500 to $7,500 a year income group -
– I ask the honourable gentleman to put his question. Really, I think it is a question which should be put on notice.
-Thank you. Will he therefore immediately drop this cruel and unjust tax which hits the poor and the saver hardest and has entirely the opposite effect to that which it intends?
– I am aware of the statistical information which the honourable gentleman has quoted. I will be participating today with some of my Party colleagues in a meeting at which we hope, perhaps, to look at some of the structural details of that tax.
– My question is directed to the
Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I refer to the announcement in the Budget that $4.4m will be made available in 1974-75 for a scheme to improve Adelaide’s water. I am sure that the Minister appreciates the urgency of improving the quality of Adelaide’s water which has been a scourge to residents of the city for many years. Can the Minister indicate when work will begin on this scheme, when it will be completed, what it will cost and what terms and conditions will apply to the assistance?
– The Australian Government has a commitment to the purification of the Adelaide water scheme as part of a plan to improve the quality of urban living in all our cities. For some time now the quality of water in Adelaide has been very poor. We have committed ourselves to supporting the South Australian Government in establishing purification plants throughout Adelaide at a cost of some $73m on present day prices. Our commitment this year was $4.4m. The terms will be made up of a 30 per cent grant from the Australian Government- interest free and non-repayable- and a further 70 per cent will be paid for in loan money at the long term Commonwealth bond rate. I stress to honourable members, particularly those Opposition members from South Australia, that we are concerned not only with the purification of the water in Adelaide but also with trying to purify the water of the Murray River which was neglected for so long. There are people who criticise the development of Albury-Wodonga, saying that it will aggravate the quality of the water in the Murray. We are concerned with the Murray
River system catchment, whether it is AlburyWodonga, Bathurst-Orange or Canberra, all of which are in the same water catchment areas. The water from all these areas finishes up in the Murray River system. We are concerned with the quality of the water and the environmental approach in the same way as we are concerned with purification, which will cost us enormous amounts of money because of neglect in the past.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. I refer to the annual pension adjustments for pre-October 1972 for Defence Forces Retirement Benefit pensioners. This matter has not been fully implemented and the necessary Government decision has been dragging on for some time. When can we expect a definite Government decision on these adjustments? Will the increases still be back-dated to July as promised?
– I announced in a Press statement on Wednesday, 25 September- yesterday that pensions granted in respect of members of the defence forces who retired before 1 July 1974 are to be increased. More than 12,500 pensioners, including widows and children, will benefit from the increases which are to be back-dated to the first pension day in July. A full statement on this matter appeared in the Press this morning. I am sure the honourable member will have the opportunity to get further details from that Press statement.
-I address my question to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Government’s decision to recognise the incorporation of the Baltic States. Will the Minister outline to the House the possible ramifications of the decision as it affects people in the Baltic States and people in the Baltic community in Australia? In light of the fact that many Estonians in my electorate are disturbed and frightened, will the Minister comment on their particular fear that by intimidation, slander and trumped up charges the Soviet may attempt to obtain deportation orders from the Australian Government in respect of leading persons in the Baltic communities in Australia?
-The great majority of persons who were born in the Baltic republics and who live in Australia have been naturalised as Australians. My memory is that of all the migrants who come to Australia, the percentage of naturalisations has been highest among those born in the Baltic States. There would be only a few hundred who have not acquired Australian citizenship. Some of them may in a technical sense be stateless. If any of them are concerned about their status they should contact the Department of Labor and Immigration where their problems, if any, will receive sympathetic consideration. There is no truth whatever in the suggestion that some impediment is now to be placed in the way of their continued stay in Australia.
Concerning persons in the Baltic republics about whom persons in Australia may wish to make inquiries, it is now possible for Australian representatives to make more thorough and wide ranging inquiries than was previously the case. Before the Government recognised the de jure incorporation of the 3 republics in the Soviet Union there had been representations by Australia’s representatives to the Soviet Government alone. There are, however, many matters in the Soviet system which fall for determination by the governments of the constituent republics, somewhat in the way that there are many matters in Australia which are determined not by the national government but by State governments. It is now possible for Australia’s representatives to take up such matters on behalf of inquirers in Australia with the governments- the State governments, in effect- of those republics.
– Can the Treasurer confirm or deny that a statement was made recently to the effect that the surplus of some $70m in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund would be distributed to those to whom it belongs, commencing later this year? Is he in a position to inform the House whether this is being done or will be done? In what form will it be distributed and when can these contributors expect to receive their just entitlement?
-I am pleased to be able to inform the honourable member that the Superannuation Board, in whose hands the administration of the Fund is, expects that the payment to eligible pensioners will be made first in October. That is a sum of over $18m with accumulations. It expects that payment of the remaining three-quarters or so to eligible contributors will be made before the end of this year.
– What are the proposals of the Minister for Minerals and Energy for the mining and marketing of uranium following the recent disallowance by the Senate of the Atomic Energy
Act regulations which were gazetted on 29 March last?
– The uranium industry is undoubtedly suffering from the bloody-mindedness of the Senate. On 29 March last the necessary regulations under the Atomic Energy Act which would permit a constructive program of development were gazetted. We had to wait, of course, first for the Woodward Report which was presented early in May. A spokesman in the Senate, for his own objectives, chose to move for disallowance. He waited for the maximum statutory time to expire. It did last week. Having been delayed for nearly 6 months by the Senate I do not intend to wait for a further period of 6 months for the purpose of resubmitting those regulations. There are adequate powers under the Atomic Energy Act which we will use for that purpose. My submission to Cabinet can now go forward, the Senate having made its decision, and on wrong premises. I will be recommending to Cabinet that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission should establish its own milling plant in the Northern Territory, and we will proceed on a government to government basis in respect of the sale of uranium.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In his second reading speech to the Industries Assistance Commission Bill 1974 the Prime Minister stated that in future all questions of long term assistance to all industries would be referred to the Commission. Is the present assistance being afforded the wool industry long term and, if so, is it his intention to refer it to the Commission?
– I believe that the assistance to the wool industry which is proposed in the current legislation is assistance which is appropriately for the determination of this Parliament and should not have to await a report from the Industries Assistance Commission. As the honourable gentleman will know, as he did his part in persuading me, I believe, as I said in the second reading speech, the proposals for long term assistance should go to the IAC.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. By way of preamble, I say that the Prime Minister will not doubt be aware of the savage and inflationary charges imposed by the New South Wales Liberal-Country Party Government in the Budget delivered by the
Premier, Sir Robert Askin, last night. What warrant did the Premier have for saying that these charges were made necessary by the alleged refusal of the Australian Government to provide reasonable grants and loans to the New South Wales Government?
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is no way in which the Prime Minister can be responsible for the statements or actions of the New South Wales Premier. The question must be out of order.
-There is no substance to the point of order. What the Premier said comes within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister.
-The honourable member might now come to see the point of the final part of my question.
-Address the Chair.
– I ask: Is it a fact that under both this Government and its Liberal-Country Party predecessors in this place the New South Wales Government failed either to take up or to fully utilise funds made available to it for a variety of purposes?
-The Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales has, I gather, made some unkind remarks about my Government. He is not alone among Premiers in that respect. The State governments are all receiving financial assistance in the terms of the formula which was made under, I think, the Gorton Government. There has been no modification of that formula. It has been honoured in full.
– The inflation rate has changed.
-And inflation rates are taken into account.
– That is not true.
-Order! The right honourable member for Lowe will cease intejecting
– But it is not true.
-Order! The right honourable member for Lowe will cease interjecting.
– I heed the views of the greatest of Liberal Treasurers and I accept the fact that when he was the Treasurer under Prime Minister Gorton he was very largely responsible for this formula. The formula allows for the effects of inflation in the financial assistance grants to the States. The formula was not altered when the right honourable gentleman himself became the Prime Minister. Quite apart from the formula there has been a very great increase in grants by the Australian Government to all the State governments. There has been an increase in the expenditure by the Australian Government in the Treasurer’s Budget, as we all know. But 36 per cent of the Australian Government Budget consists of grants for the States. Of the increased expenditure in the Australian Government Budget this year, 39.5 per cent goes to the States. As the honourable member for Barton pointed out, last year the New South Wales Government could have received very much larger grants from the Australian Government if it had only co-operated in passing complementary legislation. It has now passed much of that legislation, although not all of it.
Perhaps I could specify the amounts which will be available to the New South Wales Government from the Australian Government this year under the Budget which this Parliament is considering. An amount of $84.75m will be available for land acquisition and development under the land commissions and growth centres program. An amount of $20m will be available to the New South Wales Government as its share of the development of Albury-Wodonga. An amount of $ 103m will be available for sewerage, and of that amount $34.4m has been allocated for works which will be carried out in this financial year. There will be a further amount for investigations into the planning, manpower, environmental and training implications of further developments of the national sewerage program. Considerable amounts of money will be made available to New South Wales for the area improvement program. The breakdown of this is $2m for the western region of Sydney, $lm for the southern region, $750,000 for the south-east region of New South Wales, $lm for the Hunter region, and $750,000 for the Illawarra region. One would expect that amount of $lm will be available for the national estate. There will be assistance for regional organisations and under the urban public transport program an amount of $26m will be available to the New South Wales Government this financial year.
The fact is that the New South Wales Government, like every other State government, will receive a bigger increase in grants and loans than has ever taken place before. The increase will be much greater than that given in any forecasts from any quarter arising from inflation. I gather that the complaint of the New South Wales Premier and Treasurer, and of some of his counterparts, is that they have had to raise taxes which will be inflationary. Their argument apparently is that the Australian Government should have raised those taxes. They would have been equally inflationary, whichever government raised them. The expenditure by the State governments last year rose by more than the expenditure by the Australian Government. The number of employees of the State governments rose last year by a greater percentage than the number of employees of the Australian Government. The complaint of the State governments, I believe, boils down to the fact that the Australian Government has determined how some of the money will be spent. We have tied, as they put it, some of the grants. We believe that this has been the only way in which to ensure that such matters as road works, schools, hospitals and urban and regional development are brought to fruition in the reasonable future.
– I ask the Minister for Labor and Immigration: In his recent investigation of the role of housing corporations in migrant sponsorship in Western Australia was he aware that the complaints referred to were investigated by the then Labor State Government two or more years ago and that the State Labor Minister for Immigration concluded that the scheme provided a useful service? In the Minister’s investigation of the same matter did he or his Department make any approach to the Western Australian Immigration Department which has complete records on this matter? If he did not or his Department did not, why not?
-This question gives me the opportunity to explain in greater detail than I was able to do on Tuesday under the Standing Orders what the Government’s complaint really amounts to. A meeting of Ministers had been held on this matter at which it was agreed that conditions would be attached to these sponsorship schemes in Western Australia in line with the South Australian conditions. Accordingly, two new rules were adopted- rules 10 and 1 1. Rule 10 reads:
On arrival in Western Australia nominees will be met by a company representative and conveyed to their accommodation. Within 3 days of arrival it is incumbent on the company to convey its nominees to the State Immigration Office so that they may be given an advisory talk on such subjects as home purchase contracts, hire purchase, employment, vehicle purchase, over-commitment, etc. It is reiterated at this talk that there is no compulsion to purchase a home and that they are free agents. They are also offered departmental assistance if required.
Rule 1 1 reads:
Any type of contract or agreement for the purchase of a home must not be entered into prior to the advisory talk given by an officer of the State Immigration Department. All contracts, which include offer and acceptance for home purchase by new arrivals, must contain a clause stating that the sale is subject to satisfactory employment being obtained by the migrant. Failing the gaining of satisfactory employment within a reasonable time all deposit money must be refunded by the company.
After the defeat of the Labor Government in Western Australia the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Landall Construction and Development Co. Pty Ltd wrote to the new Minister for Immigration in Western Australia, Mr Grayden, in these terms, after having had first of all a telephone conversation with him and, no doubt, given him the private reasons why he wanted these conditions set aside:
Dear Mr Grayden,
As mentioned to you during our telephone conversation, my Company is seeking to step up its activities in London with a view to increasing the now of migrants from the UK to this State.
Following our meeting some weeks ago, we have looked at some of the areas where difficulties have been experienced in the past and I would like to make the following suggestions in the hope of avoiding such problems in the future:
Whilst we can understand the concern of the Department that migrant families be properly advised, I do believe that our experience in this area should be sufficient to avoid a lot of additional time-consuming work and delays in processing, and would like to suggest-
I do not seem to have the second part of the letter.
Opposition members- Oh!
– If the honourable member for Warringah cares to ask a further question on Tuesday I will read the missing page.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
– I have not finished.
– This may be very interesting, Mr Speaker, but I asked the Minister whether he had consulted the Western Australian Department of Immigration in his investigation. That was all I asked. I would like the Minister to answer that question.
-Order! I think that the House is well aware that the Minister gives full details in his answers to questions so that no criticism can be levelled at his answers.
-On the letter which Landalls wrote to Mr Grayden and which Mr Grayden told the Western Australian Parliament he had never received, Mr Grayden wrote these words:
Discontinue practice of interviews. Letter to Landalls.
1 ) Don’t interview migrants at all.
This is instructions to them. The writing continues:
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to serious allegations contained in the ‘Bulletin’ about an incident alleged to have occurred between a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and an Army major at a social function held on Army premises? Is it true that a major of the Australian Army was hastily transferred as a result of this incident? Does the Minister intend to have these allegations contained in the article investigated in order to establish the full facts?
– I have read the article referred to by the honourable member for Phillip and I have asked for a full inquiry by my Department. From answers I have received to inquiries made so far, it appears that the article is substantially correct. An incident did occur at a social function and, as a result of that incident, a complaint was made by a prominent New South Wales parliamentarian and the officer was transferred. In this case the officer was obviously prejudged, and therefore I believe that the incident should be fully investigated. Incidentally, the prominent New South Wales politician is the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin.
– I address my question to the Minister for Social Security. Is the Minister aware of the threat to the well-being of pensioner inmates of nursing homes in Queensland arising from the recent substantial increases in nursing staff salaries and the resultant impact on nursing home economic viability? Will he explain why the Government discriminates in Commonwealth contributions to Queensland nursing homes on the score that Queensland nursing homes are purportedly of an inferior standard to those in other States, notwithstanding rebuttal of these assertions by competent persons? Finally, will he adjust the rate of payment to Queensland nursing homes to ensure that there will be no hardship to patients, no loss of employment by nursing and general staff, nor total breakdown in the structure of the nursing home facilities and establishments?
– The variable rate of bed day subsidy which is additional to a standard base rate throughout the Commonwealth was introduced by the last Liberal Party-Country Party Government Because of the formula developed for establishing the rates between States for that variable rate- and I would point out to those who may not be aware of it that the highest rate is paid to Victoria, the lowest rate is paid to Queensland- which formula was established by the Liberal Party-Country Party Government, Queensland receives a lower rate of benefit. I am not aware of anyone saying that the quality of care in relation to attention and application by people working in nursing home institutions in Queensland is inferior. What has been said is that in establishing that formula a past Liberal Party-Country Party Government used the standard set as between States and if, as happens in the State of Victoria, more demanding standards are set, for instance in the area of patient-staff ratios, then clearly there are higher costs and accordingly a higher rate of subsidy has been provided. I indicated in this House several weeks ago that the Government is not happy about this situation and it has in fact commenced investigations to see if there is some way in which a uniform rate of benefit can be established. We have taken steps to consult with the State governments to see what proposals they can put forward.
There are 2 other matters to which I will refer quickly in response to the honourable member’s question. The first is that it is up to the people who claim to be the representatives of the profitmaking nursing homes in Queensland, as distinct from the charitable ones, to establish a case for increased subsidy rates. This has not been done to this point. A Mr Hawkins, who is a paid lobbyist for the private nursing homes organisation in Queensland, has indulged in a fair bit of abuse but has yet to substantiate a case justifying an increased allocation of taxpayers’ money for increased nursing home bed day subsidies in that State. This year the Government will be contributing more than $140m of taxpayers’ money for nursing home bed day subsidies. The increases of only several weeks ago will cost $26m. We have to be assured that any increases are justified; so the responsibility rests with the entrepreneurs of the profit-making sector of nursing home services.
The final point I put to the honourable member and to the House is that this Government will do all it can to assist patients to meet the cost of nursing home charges by providing as reasonable and as generous a level of bed day subsidies as it can to the nursing homes. However it cannot cover the costs of all nursing homes in the community nor can it guarantee to pay increased subsidies on every occasion when there is a cost increase. Further, it cannot guarantee that it can maintain the relationship of benefits to charges as it has sought to do in the past. The responsibility for providing nursing home accommodation is essentially a State government responsibility. The contribution of nursing home subsidies has been a benefit that was developed by previous governments to assist towards the cost of nursing home services, mainly in the private sector. There has never been a firm commitmenta statement of policy- that it is the purpose of any government in Australia to establish private nursing home bed day subsidies at rates which will guarantee the costs of all or most nursing homes forever into the future. Frankly, before honourable members opposite start trying to score political points on this matter I think they should reflect on the seriousness and the difficult implications of such an undertaking if ever they hope to become the government.
– Can the Treasurer indicate what progress has been made in the consideration of the new superannuation scheme proposed for the Australian Government employees?
-I think that the honourable member is aware that on 18 June of this year I released the report of the actuaries, Mr Melville and Professor Pollard, on the proposals for a new superannuation scheme. Since then I have received hundreds of submissions on the report and in August I saw a deputation led by the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations representing about 200,000 contributors and pensioners under the scheme. I have prepared documentation for the consideration of the Government and I expect that the matter will be considered as soon as practicable.
-My question is directed to the Prime Minister. If evidence of extortion or indemnity payments is produced in industries other than the maritime industries will the Prime Minister make sure that the royal commission covers their activities? How does the Prime Minister define indemnity payments? Is an indemnity payment one for which the money demanded is for union funds alone? Would the Prime Minister also regard as an indemnity payment money demanded for other purposes?
– I will not purport to define the term ‘indemnity payments’. This is a matter which was considered in the late 1950s by a Senate committee and which currently is being considered by a royal commission conducted by Mr Justice J. B. Sweeney. The honourable gentleman has asked me whether evidence of indemnity payments- I use his term- arises in any other industries I would extend the terms of reference of Mr Justice Sweeney. If that evidence is related to the maritime industries, of course I would consider doing so. I would not, of course, want to do anything to delay His Honour’s findings. If there is any evidence of indemnity payments in other industries which come within the Australian Government’s jurisdiction, then of course -
– A separate royal commission, perhaps.
– Yes. If any evidence of indemnity payments in other industries within the jurisdiction of the Australian Government comes to hand , then of course my colleagues and I would act as promptly as we did in this case to have the matter properly investigated.
-I direct my question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. What is the present position regarding the fulfilment of the Australian contractual commitments for the export of uranium?
– We are in a position, from existing stockpiles of milled uranium oxide to meet the full commitments from the Northern Territory of uranium oxide exports to Japan up until 1980. Recently one major company there was ill advised enough to attempt, as an arm screwing operation, to suggest that it should invoke force majeure. We informed the Japanese Government that there was absolutely no need for it. In addition, we have taken steps to revive the undertaking at Mary Kathleen, where there are some 10,700 short tons of uranium with certain existing contracts. We will be coming in as underwriters there and we will be in a position to ensure that the revival of the Mary Kathleen mine will produce a further 1,050 tons a year, which will again be available for export. We are in the process also of renegotiating the existing contracts for that mine. The authority of our choice in the terms of the underwriting agreement will be the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, which will be operating under its existing statutory powers. The forthcoming report of the Atomic Energy Commission will show that we have in Australia, recoverable and reasonably recoverable, and adding the recent Pancontinental Mining Ltd discoveries, some 300,000 short tons of uranium. Unenriched it is worth very close to $7 billion gross and enriched it will be worth between $35 billion and $40 billion gross. By waiting for the past 1 8 months, we have already doubled the recoverable price. In the case of the Ranger deposit alone this will add $1 billion at least to the value. We will be proceeding to establish a milling plant which will also give about 3,500 tons a year, and this plant should be in operation in Vh years’ time. We will then be in a position to have a very adequate stockpile and we can take advantage of the then market situation. In addition, the present doubts as to the relative efficiencies of the gaseous diffusion and the gas centrifuge methods of enrichment will have been resolved and we will frame our policy accordingly.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy, is supplementary to that which was asked by the honourable member for Blaxland. In answer to that question the Minister gave the first notification of the Government’s intention to nationalise the uranium resources of the Northern Territory. I ask the Minister: Will he present a White Paper or make a policy statement to the House on the development of uranium in Australia? I ask further: How long are companies, principally Australian owned, to be confused by the lack of any clear policy statement by the Government? Or are they to continue to suffer the surreptitious and piecemeal actions and statements by the Minister which are obviously part of a master plan to nationalise the industry in Australia?
-The development of uranium will be conducted in Australia’s best interests. There have been a lot of very short sighted and narrow minded people- their apologists are in the Opposition- who have wanted to get their hot sweaty little hands on uranium at bargain basement prices. (Opposition supporters interjecting) -
-Order! I have issued my last warning to interjectors. I will take appropriate action if anybody keeps them up.
-Due consideration will be given to the work that has been done by the respective mining interests. We are now in a position for the first time- it is no thanks to the Opposition here and its members in the Senate that there has already been a delay of 6 months- to make a submission to Cabinet. In due course it will go through the processes of our Party and will be presented to this House.
– I have to present, pursuant to statute, the report of the Auditor-General accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year 1973-74.
– I ask for leave to move a motion to authorise the publication and printing of the report of the Auditor-General.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I might explain to the House that this is a formality necessary to protect the Auditor-General because some matters in the report may be actionable. This is the protection that is normally given to the Auditor-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present a statement on the ‘Distribution of States into Electoral Divisions and Appointment of Distribution Commissioners ‘.
– For the information of honourable members I present 2 Ministerial Council communiques entitled: ‘Official announcement of the planning strategy for Albury-Wodonga, 29 June 1974’ and meeting of Ministerial Council for Albury-Wodonga Development held at Hotel Canberra, 23 April 1974.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1973, I present for the information of honourable members Financial Statements of Commonwealth Railways for 1973-74.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The attitude of the Government to the activities of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– The Builders Labourers Federation was deregistered on about 2 1 June of this year as a result of a long period of disruption and unlawful activities in relation to the building industry. So that the House may understand the nature of the industry and the difficulties that were involved in it I want to refer briefly to the judgment of the 3 justices concerned, Mr Justice Joske, Mr Justice Smithers and Mr Justice Frank! Mr Justice Joske says, in part:
The evidence establishes that in the years 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974, the organisation by its officers, organisers, delegates and representatives has continually called stoppages of work and strikes and often without providing management with any prior opportunity for discussing claims made and often making fresh on-the-spot claims as soon as claims which had been made were granted … It had disregarded the process of conciliation and arbitration, either by ignoring it altogether, or refusing to accept decisions made or rulings given, or denying agreements were made in the course of the process____ Leaders of the organisation have jeered at the notion of obeying the law, awards and agreements and the organisation has openly flouted all three.
A little later in the judgment Mr Justice Joske said:
They have called meetings, stoppages and strikes at critical times, for example, at the beginning or in the middle of a concrete pour, occasioning considerable damage.
Later he said:
There has been intimidation by the respondent on job sites on a wholesale basis. The organisation has been guilty of sabotage on these sites and has taken part in mob violence causing destruction of industrial sites and the disruption of industrial projects. When it has suited them Union leaders have led their members in numbers upon invasions of industrial sites, doing considerable damage there and preventing work taking place and occasioning great hostility and bitterness in industry. On occasions police have been called upon to deal with the situation which has arisen: The respondent has reacted to this by demanding that management is not entitled to the assistance of the police in relation to industrial strife.
In relation to the information that I will be bringing to the House that last sentence is perhaps the most important. It reads:
The respondent has reacted to this by demanding that management is not entitled to the assistance of the police in relation to industrial strife.
Mainly the respondent is demanding that management will not have access to the due process of law for the protection of all those things which the law is designed to protect. It was not only Mr Justice Joske; Mr Justice Smithers in his judgment had things of a similar nature to say. In relation to a demolition operation involving Mr Pringle, the Federation’s New South Wales Branch President, and Mr Mundey, he reported:
At the meeting, Mr Pringle said: ‘ If you don ‘t do what we tell you the next time 111 bring 2,000 men up there and none of you will live through that’.
At the next page of the judgment Mr Owens, Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Federation is referred to. He had addressed a crowd through a megaphone in terms abusive to the company and to Mr F. W. Theeman in particular. He said:
I can tell you that this site will never be developed. Furthermore, Theeman will never build in Sydney or anywhere else in Australia again.
Later on Mr Owens said to Mr Michael Theeman: ‘You have made a big mistake. Your father won’t build on this site and if I can help it he won’t build again anywhere in Australia. From now on you and he are going to have a lot of trouble’. The judgment relates the kind of difficulties in which that particular company has been involved. By reason of the ban the company has suffered a monetary loss, in interest payments and on other accounts, of about $900,000 to the date of the judgment, and the losses are continuing.
Mr Justice Franki throws a slightly different light on some aspects of this particular case. In May 1974 at a site at Granville during a period when claims were being made for the reinstatement of a builder labourer, Mr Pires Mr McNaughton and Mr Milosevich visited the site and stopped a concrete pour which was in progress. Mr Milosevich then abused the foreman and said the job would be closed for 10 years. The police were called to the site and damage was done. Two men were arrested. They were charged with malicious damage and subsequently fined $100 and $120. As pan of the settlement and end to the dispute the company had to pay the fine in addition. There is also further evidence in Mr Justice Franki ‘s judgment that the unions had demanded other payments. Towards the end of 1973 an example of this occurred at a site at Bankstown where a labourer was dismissed for refusing to carry out instructions. Mr Gleeson requested reinstatement and upon this not being agreed to informed the employer: ‘The site is black banned and you will do as we say’. Eventually the company agreed’was forced’ might be a more accurate descriptionto re-employ the man who had been dismissed, and $20,000 was demanded. This amount was reduced to $5,000 to get the job started. In fact on that occasion no money was paid, but the demand was made.
I mention this background, which is not in my terms or in the terms of newspaper reporting but is in the terms of the judgments of 3 judges. It is a background of violence and it is a background of possible extortion. This brings me to the present situation and to the events immediately following the deregistration. A number of unionists in the Builders Labourers Federation served an urgency log through Mr Gallagher to try to get back into the Arbitration Commission to have their case heard even though they were deregistered.
- Mr Speaker, I am sorry to have to do this. I do not mind answering the rest of what the honourable member has said -
-Order! Is the Minister raising a point of order?
– Yes. And I certainly do not mind answering what the honourable member is about to say. But I know- if he does not know, his learned colleague, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott), sitting behind him will tell him- that it is quite improper, indeed it is contrary to the forms of the House to touch upon a matter that is now sub judice as a consequence of a writ of injunction which has been issued by the Chief Justice of the High Court restraining Justice Evatt from hearing the claims that the honourable member is about to touch upon. Until that High Court writ is discharged or is made into a permanent order, it would be quite improper for us to debate a matter that is now the subject of High Court litigation.
-Sir, speaking to the point of order, because there is additional information -
-Order! I want to give a ruling on the point of order.
-Can I speak to the point of order?
– The honourable member can speak to the point of order after I have made an announcement in regard to it. I want to make it perfectly clear that there is no standing order relating to this situation. However, the House is guided by the rules of the House of Commons and its own practice. The general principle is that subject always to the discretion of the Chair, where a matter is before a court or is awaiting adjudication the matter should not be canvassed by the House. However, the Commons has recently modified the rule in order to permit reference to matters before civil courts relating to issues of national importance such as the national economy, public order or the essentials of life, provided that in the discretion of the Chair the reference does not appear to constitute a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceedings. I am not aware of the terms of any injunction affecting the activities of the Federation named in the matter of public importance but if it becomes clear to me that the discussion may constitute a real and substantial danger of prejudice to any proceedings, I will take steps to apply the sub judice rule.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have no intention of commenting on the claims before the Commission. I was just relating the circumstances of events to get to the present point. It is a matter of history that Justice Evatt was prepared to hear those claims. There was an application not for an injunction but for an order nisi. I make no comment on that. It was granted and is due to be heard on 1 October.
This brings me to a telegram that was sent by Mr Gallagher, the Secretary of the Federation, to Mr Jorgensen of the Master Builders Federation. It is also my advice that the substance of this telegram was referred to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) some time ago. It is my advice that the Attorney-General, who I am told is the only person who could act on this matter, has refused to do so. I want to read 2 paragraphs from the telegram- and this is the main point of the matter of public importance which I am raising. This was a resolution of the Federal Management Committee of the union on 3 September 1974. It states:
That the Federal Management Committee decides to place as many bans as possible on the following 6 builders whose names appear on the legal document in relation to the High Court application. The writ of prohibition is designed to stop our members from receiving a national paid rate award. These 6 builders are Concrete Constructions Pry Ltd, Dillingham Constructions Pty Ltd, F. T. Eastment and Sons Pty Ltd, Jennings Industries Ltd, Crow Industries Limited andV.H.Y,PtyLtd.
That- where- these bans are not suitable to be placed stoppages of a guerrilla type nature will occur and further we ask branches to consider the advisability of placing a national levy on the members to assist in the nation paid rates award campaign.
I ask for leave to have this telegram incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Resolution of Federal Management Committee meetingSydney 3 September 1974 -
– I thank the House. Now action has been taken, I am advised, in support of that telegram. There were strikes against Jennings and Dillinghams for a few days before work could be recommenced. The builders had to pay for lost time. Concrete Constructions had a strike of about 2 weeks and Lewis Constructions, the same company in Victoria, had to pay $75,000 in back pay to pay the men for the period they were on strike before they would return to work. As a result of that telegram, which I suggest is a gross contempt of court, the companies have pulled out of the case or are intending to pull out of the case. I understand that instructions will be given to that effect. Without the protection of the law the companies are not able to stand up to industrial muscle. In this case the telegram to the Master Builders Federation from Mr Gallagher makes it perfectly plain that they will be sent bankrupt if they seek the normal protections of the due process of law which ought to be available to any person or company in Australia.
I am also advised that the Attorney-General was informed of this and that he is the only person who could bring contempt of court proceedings and bring the matter properly to the notice of the court in these ways, but he has refused any protections whatsoever. The Attorney-General is therefore supporting the Builders Labourers Federation- if all the evidence I have given is correct, and I have every confidence in it- in strong arm tactics designed to terrorise major companies, designed to see that companies and individuals in Australia have no protection under the process of law if they act contrary to the wishes or desires of the Builders Labourers Federation or the governing hierarchy of that Federation.
This is the kind of situation that has been created by the activities of this Government. If the Attorney-General is not prepared to act on the information given to him and the nature of the threats in Mr Gallagher’s telegram, we will have a situation in which every citizen in Australia will know that the rule of law no longer prevails, that industrial muscle alone will prevail, and that this Government will not do anything to protect an individual or a company. I have some words of the Attorney-General here in which he indicates that he is to be Pontius Pilate in relation to this issue.
I think there has seldom been a more important issue brought to this House. It is not a question of the builders labourers as the builders labourers; it is a question of strength and people who would seek to break the law- not in my words but in the words of 3 honourable judgescontinuing to break the law, continuing to demand and to extort payments and continuing to offer threats against 6 companies if they are prepared to go to law to get a decision on a certain matter which is of concern to them. If this is to be allowed to continue, if the Government is not to act in relation to this matter, everyone in the country, small and large, will know that this Government cares nothing for law and that it is terrified of some sections of the union movement which have all too often told the Government what to do.
– I rise to reject this matter and to ask the House to treat this discussion of a matter of public importance as being what is it- a miserable attempt to try to get some Party political advantage out of a situation over which the Australian Government has absolutely no control or responsibility.
– That is an admission anyway.
-Order! The honourable member for Wannon was heard in complete silence. I demand that the Minister be heard in complete silence.
-Thank you, Sir. Before I proceed to deal specifically with what the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said, I must again protest on behalf of the private members on both sides against the front benchers of the Opposition hogging private members time on Thursday. Thursday is Grievance Day, the only day that private members have for expressing their views. Once again, for the second time in a row, we see the front benchers of the Opposition, the would-be Ministers of a government in the dim distant future, hogging the time, dipping in their oar, trying to make a run for the leadership which they know will be filled after the next election.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, the Minister is not speaking to the matter of public importance. He is perfectly well aware that the Government can extend private members’ time if it wants to. It is hypocrisy.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. The next item of business is a notice by the honourable member for Burke concerning a Bill. This is not Grievance Day. The next matter certainly comes under the heading ‘General Business’, but it hardly fits the pattern that the Minister was talking about.
– Yes, the Chair is aware of that. Grievance Day was last Thursday.
– I was saying that this is the second Thursday in a row that the Opposition front benchers have hogged the time. The honourable gentleman talked about the Builders Labourers Federation disobeying the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is not bound to obey the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Do you defend what they were doing?
– I do not defend what you alleged they were doing.
-Order! The honourable member for Wannon was heard in silence.
– I do not defend what the honourable member alleged they were doing.
– Not what I alleged, what 3 judges alleged.
– This is not a discussion across the table; this is a debate on a matter of public importance. The honourable member for Wannon has made his contribution and the Minister is now entitled to answer.
– I simply point out that the Builders Labourers Federation is not bound to obey the Conciliation and Arbitration Act at all, because it is not a registered organisation. It is as free as the breeze. It can please itself what it does. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act does not apply to it at all. There are Acts that do still apply to all citizens of Australia and they are the Acts which prohibit violence of the kind which the honourable gentleman described. But the people who are responsible for applying those laws are the various State governments, or if the offence occurs in the Australian Capital Territory it is then the responsibility of the Australian Government. But all the offences to which the honourable gentleman has alluded occurred within the jurisdiction of some State government and any failure on the part of a government to deal with the alleged instances of violence or threat or intimidation or extortion must be sheeted home firmly to the particular State government in the State where the offence allegedly occurred.
If there have been instances of mob violence, of course no one endorses that. In fact, Mr Norm Gallagher has himself told me that he would in no circumstances agree to his members being responsible for starting violence. He said that if, on the other hand, they are attacked they will defend themselves, and that is fair enough. Any red blooded man will defend himself against attack. The deregistration of the union, which the Employers Federation supported so strongly and which the Opposition supported at the time it was done, was the act which removed the builders labourers from the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. So it is of no use the Opposition complaining now that the union is not observing an Act which no longer applies to it. They are the simple facts.
Complaints have been made about the union using its industrial muscle.
– It has shown its contempt of the court proceedings.
-Let us face the facts about industrial muscle. Let us not be hypocritical about them or unreal. Everyone knows that as between employer and employee, or as between capital and labour, whichever side is on top will always flex its industrial muscle and use it to the full. I have been through periods when employers have used their industrial muscle to make me pick apples for 25s. a week.
– That is a damn sight more than I got as an articled clerk when I first started work.
-That is more than the honourable member would be worth as an articled clerk, judging by what he appears to have learned from the speeches that I have heard him make in this Parliament.
– You ought to be in the House more often.
-When I am not in the House I listen to the honourable member over the blower, and the more I hear the more convinced I am that lawyers are the most overpaid race in the southern hemisphere. If the honourable member is a lawyer- and I have only his word for it- I must say that he must fit into that category. I would rather have a builders’ labourer on my building site than the honourable member. I know who would build the house quicker. I regard the builders’ labourer as a much more useful citizen and much more useful member of our society than I regard the honourable member.
– You endorse the action -
-Order! This type of conversation must cease. There is a matter of public importance before the Chair. I ask the Minister to devote his remarks to that matter. Interjections must cease.
– In periods of labour surplus employers will always use their industrial muscle to squeeze out of the employees and the unions the last drop from the lemon. When there is a shortage of labour it is only natural that employee organisations, remembering how employer organisations and individual employers used their industrial muscles in times when the tables were turned, will seek to emulate the example which has been set.
One of the great difficulties in the building industry that does not seem to be properly understood is that it is an industry which is badly structured. There is no continuity of employment. No employee is in the situation of saying: ‘Well, I have a job now with a particular employer which I can keep until I die or until I retire. When I retire I will receive the same benefits as other people receive- either superannuation or some other monetary recognition of my long years of service’. Building industry employees do not get that. They do not have continuity of employment. They go from job to job. When one building is finished, except in times of very great labour shortage they have to wait, sometimes for weeks, before they can get another job. They want long service leave. Sometimes employers go bankrupt and employees have to go without their money altogether. They have to go without annual leave entitlements. They have to go without other entitlements.
In June of this year, following a series of industrial disputes in the building industry over the question of permanent employment, the Australian Government chaired a meeting of parties to the industry and at that conference agreed to conduct an inquiry which would examine the means of improving the existing system of employment and, in particular, to consider the practicalities and implications of introducing arrangements into the industry which would provide a greater element of permanent employment for building workers. We did this because we recognised the fundamental fact that until this problem is overcome- until we meet the basic cause of the unrest in the building industrythe real problem will never be settled simply by palliatives or by the making of speeches in Parliament attacking all and sundry. The President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Mr Justice Moore, agreed to allow the late Mr Justice Aird to undertake the inquiry. The inquiry was continued in both working party form and in public hearing form until the unfortunate death of the late judge. The inquiry, however, has since been resumed under the chairmanship of Justice Elizabeth Evatt.
The Government believes that industrial peace can never be achieved in the building industry until a system of permanent employment has been established. The Government therefore places enormous importance upon this industry. Wild, woolly and reckless speeches, such as the one we heard from the honourable member for Wannon today, do not assist the parties which are trying so hard to obtain a permanent settlement in this industry. After the deregistration of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Australian Government did agree- I do not know whether this is the gravamen of the complaint of the honourable gent- to the continued appearance of this union at the inquiry. It was not an inquiry which was connected with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act; it was an open public inquiry to try to settle this industry’s troubles permanently. In doing so the Government recognised that the terms of reference of this inquiry are outside normal arbitration tribunal proceedings. The success of the inquiry really depends upon the fullest participation of all parties involved in the inquiry.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. What the Minister is saying is interesting, but the Minister would well know that he is trying to avoid the issue, which is that the unions have threatened -
-Will the honourable member come to his point of order. He is debating the matter.
– The point of order is that the Minister is not speaking on the subject matter of the matter of public importance, and that involves the attempted gross contempt of court to force 6 building companies to withdraw their application before the High Court of Australia so that they would be denied due process of law in Australia.
-There is no point of order involved.
– I have in front of me the terms of the matter of public importance, and they do not mention these 6 building companies at all. It reads:
The attitude of the Government to the activities of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation.
I compliment the honourable member on one thing, and that is that he is one of the few people in Australia who knows the correct title of that organisation.
– I ask the Minister to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker. I might direct the same remarks to you. Although the Master Builders Association, through its representative, Mr W. Glover, retired from the inquiry in what must be regarded by all who saw him as a state of pique, the major employers were more realistic. For example, Mr Bruno Grollo, the Managing Director of Grollo Building and Engineering Pty Ltd, which is one of the biggest employers of builders’ labourers in Australia, was so anxious that the builders’ labourers continue to be represented at this inquiry he accredited Mr Norm Gallagher, the Federal Secretary of the union, as an employers’ representative at the inquiry. He stated that it was in the best interests of the building industry that the union be represented at these talks. Of course, it is in the best interests of the building industry that it be represented.
It is of no use the Opposition making these inflammatory speeches in this Parliament, such as that made by the honourable gentleman, to try to inflame the minds of people in the building industry to a point where they blow up into a state of near revolution simply so that the honourable member can come back again next week and make another speech. That is no way to act. The honourable member has to behave more statesman-like. He has to try to behave as though he is a statesman. I will admit that he looks like one, but that is about all. His behaviour belies and belittles him. I address those remarks through you, Sir. I am sorry that my time is up because I have pages and pages of information here that I would like to give to the House. The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has informed me that I am not to be granted an extension of time. Therefore, regretfully I have to end my remarks on that note.
-The Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) has the most peculiar habit of avoiding the topic under discussion, that is, the Australian Government’s involvement in what can only amount to a contempt of court.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Honourable members opposite keep referring to the subject matter of the debate. As I read the daily program the motion we are- it does not reduce the debate to particular activitiesdiscussing is the attitude of the Government to the activities of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! No point of order is involved. The subject matter of the debate is wide enough to permit those comments to be made.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. In a telegram received by Mr J. Jorgensen of the Master Builders Federation on 4 September this year the Secretary of the Australian
Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation set out the conditions which will apply to the building industry. Those conditions relate to 6 companies. The second paragraph of the telegram, which has been incorporated in Hansard, reads:
That these bans are not suitable to be placed stoppages of a guerrilla-type nature will occur and further we ask branches to consider the advisability of placing a national levy on the members to assist in the nation paid rates award campaign.
I refer to the findings of the Australian Industrial Court, which heard the case of the Master Builders Federation and the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation, in which His Honour Mr Justice Joske said:
It is union policy that a good time to go on a site is during a concrete pour.
That was referred to by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). But in his findings in the same case His Honour Mr Justice Smithers said, as reported at page 10:
It is clear that there is a policy of creating an image of a union with irresistable power. It is useful to cause fear in those who would resist to its demands or what it rather regards as its orders.
I believe that newspaper men who read those findings would find superlatives, which are used every day by them, being used by the 3 responsible and very senior judges. ‘Extortion’, ‘industrial payments’ and ‘muscle’ are words that are used time and again. Following the deregistration of the union about which we are speaking the High Court of Australia issued a writ against Her Honour Justice Evatt. The Minister has, quite rightly, pointed out that this matter is sub judice. We are not referring to this matter in any way, as the Minister well knows. This writ was issued on the application of 6 firms and the affidavits of 8 individuals. The High Court must be held in contempt in this case by the findings in the case of Australian Iron and Steel Ltd against the Illawarra Deputies and Shotfirers Association that was heard in Banco by Mr Justice Street, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Herron.
– I take a point of order, Sir. Being a legal man you must appreciate that to say that the High Court is being held in contempt by this action could influence the decision of the court in the application that is to be heard on 1 October and that nothing should be said in this chamber that would ruffle the feathers of the High Court judges in the way in which the honourable member is trying to do it.
-I think that the honourable member for Mitchell should observe that there is some merit in the warning that the Minister has given.
-I bow to your ruling, Sir.
-I am not prepared to rule the honourable member as being out of order at the moment, but I suggest to him that he should not develop the point too far.
-I will observe your ruling in this matter, Sir. As I was saying, in the case I have just mentioned before Mr Justice Street, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Herron in the Banco court it was held in similar circumstances that contempt did apply where pressure was put on -
– If the honourable member wants to take a brief to the High Court and tell the judges there what he is now saying he should do that. That is the proper place in which to do what he is now proposing to do. He should not do it here. Maybe the judges are listening to this debate. I do not know whether they are or are not. Maybe they will read today’s Hansard to find out what pearls of wisdom fell from the honourable member’s hps. But I suggest that he ought not take the risk that they in fact may be influenced greatly by what he says.
-I hope that the honourable member for Mitchell is referring to a past case and not to something that is currently before the courts.
-I am referring to a past case, Mr Deputy Speaker. Under the terms of the motion the Government has been requested to take the matter up and deal with it, as only the Attorney-General can under the situation as it now exists. Stoppages have taken place against firms following the threats made in the telegram. The firms have been held to ransom almost so that they will not appear before the High Court. How can that situation continue to exist in Australia and how can the Minister and the Government continue to adopt the attitude they are adopting at present, of instigating no inquiries through the Attorney-General and issuing no instructions that the matter be investigated? How can the signatories to the affidavits and the companies which have appealed to the High Court be protected? What will happen if the 3 companies withdraw under pressure? What will happen to the individuals who have signed the affidavits? What is their position? What sort of pressure will be put on to them or what forms of intimidation will they and their families have to undergo so that they will not appear before the High Court?
I remind honourable members of the Fitzpatrick and Browne case in this House in 1955 in which newspaper articles were used to influence and intimidate a former honourable member for Reid. Similar circumstances apply in this case. I agree generally with the terms of great generality with which the Minister dealt in this case of employment and industrial relations. The matter with which we are dealing now is a specific matter of contempt. I believe, as does the Minister, that the people of Australia want to get down and work and that the families, wives and children of people employed in industry, whether it be the building industry or any other, want to be able to rely on receiving a weekly income that is not interfered with by any person outside or any influence which they themselves do not commission. I believe, and I would say that the Liberal Party of Australia believes, that the laws of this country should be such that they allow all people involved in employment a fair go so that they have no hesitation in applying to a court and feel no restriction in applying to a court and they do not wish to be dominated in any way, as the Builders Labourers Federation portends to do in this case.
-I do not think the debate should be as restricted as has been suggested by honourable members opposite. They are talking about the activities of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation. I think that we must try to analyse why they continue to engage in this House in the exercise of union bashing and try to solve problems which can be solved only in the industrial arena. Whenever a militant union emerges, it is always in the areas in which we have the most ruthless employers. If honourable members were to look at the history of the mines and the mining unions or of the shipping industry and the maritime unions they would appreciate my point. It follows that in areas in Australia in which there have been engaged people such as developers, militant unions will emerge. They emerged during the reign of the Liberal-Country Party Government in this country.
I do not believe- as Henry Lawson would say- that the claptrap which has been put forward by the Opposition this morning is the real reason why it wants to bash the unions, nor do I see its attitudes or its venom being directed towards one union only. It has been the historical role of the Liberal-Country Party, unfortunately, to bash every union it can whenever it can and to oppress the working people who are not organised. It has not been the function of the Australian Labor Party, even though it knows a great deal more about the subject, to come into this chamber and engage in employer bashing in the manner in which honourable members opposite tend to want to bash those people who have organised themselves into trade unions.
Honourable members opposite ought to be honest enough to put forward the real reasons why they are opposed to the activities of the Builders Labourers Federation. They are opposed because their backers- the developersare hostile about the fact that they have to pay full workers compensation to building workers. They are opposed to them because the builders’ labourers want a wage of $124 a week for their 35,000 members throughout Australia. They are opposed to them because they have taken actions which have interfered with what the developers see as being in the best interests of Australia. If some of our so-called enlightened developers had been in Rome they would have put the bulldozer through the Vatican; if they had been in London they would have put it through St Paul’s; if they had been in Leningrad they would have put it through the Hermitage; if they had been in Peking they would have put it through the Summer Palace.
– If they had been in Port Adelaide they would have put it through you.
– The resident wit-Lusher the gusher; the research officer for the Country Party- no wonder it has got no policies. If we want to talk about the activities of the builders’ labourers I invite honourable members opposite to take their families around Australia and see those parts of the country that have been preserved because of action taken by the builders’ labourers. They should take their families and their children around Millers Point and the Rocks area and Woolloomooloo and have sufficient courage to tell them who it was who saved those areas.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have inspected the alleged green bans in the Sydney area and in many cases -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member should come to the point of order. He is debating the issue.
– They have left a heap of rubble behind.
-The honourable member for Wannon reminds me of the wartime radio hero,
First Light Fraser. The activities of the builders’ labourers are not only the activities of an employer- employee relationship. As was pointed out in the National Estate report, this union, along with many others, has a conscience about what should be happening in this country to our national heritage. They have taken many actions to preserve lots of buildings and trees and areas of green which honourable members opposite ought to take their families to see, and they should point out who saved these areas.
In 4 weeks time a gallery will be opened in Melbourne which will have photographs and drawings of all these areas throughout Australia which have been preserved by the builders’ labourers. For the benefit of the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) let us have a look at some of them in his State. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) ought to be careful he does not become a supporter of the bulldozer, because in an area like Mitchell that may not be accepted as being good policy. Have a look at areas like the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, the Regent Theatre, Gordon House, Blanche Terrace, the Local Government Office, the CBA Dome, the parklands at Carlton and the City Baths; in New South Wales look at the Rocks area and Kelly’s Bush and Woolloomooloo; in Tasmania look at Battery Point. All these areas have been preserved for the Australian community by the activities- and that is the term used in the motion- of the builders ‘ labourers.
Opposition members talk about the deregistration of the builders’ labourers and what a great move this was by the employers. Of course, provocation by employers in the building industry is rife. The people who ran Mainline were among the chief offenders in this area. Are Opposition members saying that Mainline ought to have been preserved from the activities of the builders’ labourers? Who is right and who is wrong in that case? What does deregistration solve? How has the deregistration of the union affected industrial relations in the building industry? The 35,000 people who build the homes and multi-storey office blocks in this country are still financial members of the Builders’ Labourers Federation. All that the deregistration has done is inflame the relationship that existed before the case took place. As the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said in this House on thousands of occasions, when governments learn to keep their noses out of industrial relations perhaps the unions and the employers will solve the problems. The attempt by the Opposition to paint the Government with the political leanings of the builders’ labourers is a faint attempt to intrude into an area where both the employers and the unions have got to solve the problems. I consider that the people listening to this Parliament must be absolutely disillusioned by the activities of the Opposition in continuously taking up the time of the Parliament, not discussing the affairs of the country, not discussing the legislation which comes before the Parliament, but continuing to entertain the idea that this Parliament was instituted for union bashing.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the business of the day be called on.
Bill presented by Mr Keith Johnson, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to establish agreement on the site for the new and permanent Parliament House. Of course, the Bill presupposes that a new and permanent Parliament House will be built. Such a proposition is inevitable and the only questions remaining unresolved are where and when. This Bill, when it is passed, will have settled one of those questions by determining the site. Debate on this question has ranged over years and at least 3 sites have been seriously canvassed. Each time a site for a building is required, and I include public buildings with private buildings, attention should be given to the selection of the site. The private citizen in his selection of a site for his home pays great attention to the site for drainage, views, neighbours and of course price. His choice is generally limited by how much he can afford to pay.
I might remind the House that this debate is not new, and I am not referring to the debates of the days when Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister nor when his contemporaries were Prime Ministers, nor indeed since Labor has governed. I refer to the examination as far back as 1923 in Melbourne by the Public Works Committee of information and evidence supplied by Mr Walter Burley Griffin, whose name is perpetuated by the artificial lake that does so much to complement this fine city of Canberra. This man was a farseeing man and apparently did not believe in temporary measures for the sake of expediency. As long ago as Tuesday, 22 May 1923, he argued against the construction of this very building. He said: ‘It would never be pulled down; history teaches us that such things are not changed; the pressure being too great to allow it. Sentiment would play some pan in preventing its destruction, but the primary reason would be economy. The difference in cost between such a building and a permanent building would be very small. Fifteen per cent would more than cover the difference.
Wise words indeed when heard in 1974 as spoken half a century before.
Mr Burley Griffin envisaged the Parliament House on Camp Hill, to the rear of this building, and a capital, together with residences for Prime Ministers and Governors-General on Kurrajong Hill or, as he called it, Capital Hill. To be quite clear about where Capital Hill is, and to define it to some extent, it is the larger hill to the rear of this building. It carries a flagpole that is very prominent and it is encircled by a road. I believe it would also include the small rectangle of land in front of that area between it and the lake. The decision of the Parliament in 1923 or 1924 and the construction of this building circa 1926 or 1927 made Burley Griffin’s proposal impracticable. Further, the evidence of Mr Burley Griffin on that Tuesday in 1923 reveals that his concept was one of a capital for ceremonial purposes and a Parliament House for legislative purposes. Today, with a greater regard for the efficient use of resources and a greater emphasis on functional building design rather than grandiose buildings for ceremonial purposes, I believe that Burley Griffin, living in 1974, would say that this capital and his Parliament House should be combined. Were he to say that, I am sure he would say the conglomerate should be sited in a position of prominence. Capital Hill offers the degree of prominence needed. The site on Capital Hill has many attractions. Among them are good access by road, a view overlooking Canberra and its environs, proximity to related national buildings, and it remains within the geometrical layout of Walter Burley Griffin. As it would be clearly visible from almost every angle, the building would be a landmark for the many visitors who come to the national capital every year. Unfortunately the present building is rather hidden and difficult to find. Visitors have to be directed to it whereas the new building, by its greater prominence, would be far more obvious.
I trust that this Bill will be passed by the Parliament without undue delay because it only seeks to establish the site and preserve it. The National Capital Development Commission will be pleased to know that the location has been established as this will assist it considerably in its endeavours to plan properly future development. Because the Bill deals only with establishing the site, it is simple and uncomplicated. The machinery for and details of developing the site with buildings and associated works would be the subject of further legislation. However, before anything happens, the Parliament must accept its responsibility to say where the new parliament house should be located. This Bill does that and I commend it to the House in the belief that it will receive swift passage.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
-Is it the wish of the House to continue the second reading debate forthwith?
Honourable members; Yes.
– I congratulate the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) upon his initiative in presenting this Bill to the House today. Some time ago the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) presented a Bill. Senator Wright last year presented a Bill in the Senate but, as I recall it, it did not come to this House. I believe, together with both honourable members opposite, who have shown a distinct interest in this matter, that the time has come when we need to make a decision one way or the other. In bringing this matter forward the honourable member for Burke has taken a positive step towards the ultimate construction of a permanent parliament house. I am one who believes, as Walter Burley Griffin believed and as many members of the Parliament believe, that the proper place for it is on Camp Hill. I feel we have reached the stage where the predominant matter for us to decide is whether we will make the necessary decision.
The question of the site, which I will have more to say about latter, while highly relevant is secondary to the decision to build a new and permanent parliament house. As the honourable member for Burke pointed out, the present provisional building was constructed on this site 47 years ago. It was designed to have a life of 50 years. As he quite correctly said, Walter Burley Griffin was very much opposed to the erection of this building on this site because he knew- and he was right in what he said as events have proved- that it would militate against the erection of a new and permanent parliament house or what he regarded as the correct site. It was from this site that he designed the whole city of Canberra with the ultimate parliament house at the apex of the parliamentary triangle and as the centre of the whole of his design.
Unfortunately time has marched on. We have had many debates on this subject. I should imagine that the Hansard record covers many hundreds of pages of such debate in both the Senate and this House extending over many years, including recent years. I had the good fortune to serve on the Joint Select Committee for the New and Permanent Parliament House. I also had the good fortune to be one of a delegation which went overseas to inspect parliament houses in other countries and to learn what we could from them and so embody the very best we could find in the design for our new parliament house, not that we attempted actually to draw the design. We were endeavouring to ascertain to our own satisfaction and to prove to the Parliament exactly what was needed in a new parliament house- what it should contain in order to function with maximum efficiency for all concerned. I think all honourable members are agreed that the present building is now hopelessly inadequate in many respects despite extensive additions that have been made to it in recent years. It is unfortunate that various elements of the parliamentary staff have to be housed elsewhere in Canberra. This makes for inefficiency and also it is costly. The annual maintenance costs for this old and provisional building are very heavy. When one walks along some of the corridors they shake and quiver and one wonders whether one is going through the floor. When it rains various parts of the roof leak badly. These are only some of the disadvantages of this place.
As all honourable members will recall, 3 sites have been debated. The first was the lakeside site which was ruled out by a decision of the Parliament. It then fell to a decision between Camp Hill and Capital Hill. I was most impressed last year with the feasibility study prepared by the National Capital Development Commission. It was introduced into the Parliament by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). It was a tremendous piece of work and I was impressed with the staged development that that feasibility study outlined. I agree with the honourable member for Burke when he says that for reasons of national sentiment, and perhaps for other reasons, this building will probably remain standing. I doubt very much whether public opinion would approve the demolition of this provisional Parliament House, even though we know that in many respects it is outmoded, inadequate and inefficient. Various suggestions have been made as to what could be done with it. I do not want to go into those. One suggestion is that it could be turned into a peace museum- a national museum to demonstrate what Australia has achieved in peacetime to match the War Memorial at the other end of the axis which demonstrates what Australia has achieved in times of war. No doubt there are other uses to which it could be put.
I have been extremely interested in a basic paper prepared by the Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service. It is dated 27 March 1974. It is a thoughtful and detailed contribution. At page 23 under the heading ‘Camp Hill versus Capital Hill ‘ it states:
Canberra is indeed fortunate in having the luxury of choosing between such line sites as Camp Hill and Capital Hill, since both are spacious by world standards and both are highly integrated into the plan of the city. Although innumerable arguments have been raised favouring one or other of the sites, from the ability of elderly senators to ascend Capital Hill to its proximity to Heaven, the following are proposed as the most significant considerations, although not necessarily in order of importance:
use or demolition of the present Parliament House,
comparison of aspects from and towards the 2 sites,
the wisdom of deviating from Griffin’s plan-
It, of course, has been deviated from in certain respects already. The Prime Minister’s Lodge is not where Griffin suggested it should be nor is the Governor-General’s residence where Griffin suggested it should be. It continues:
The paper argues that as Capital Hill is the predominant feature in this region of Canberra, being higher than Camp Hill by some 100 feet or more, the predominant architectural element, namely, the permanent parliament house should be placed upon it. Regardless of which site we may prefer I think we all would agree that no building should be allowed to overshadow the new parliament house when it is built. I hope that the Parliament will take care of that matter by legislative process. I very much like the idea of a parliamentary zone as was contained in the Bill put to the Parliament last year by Senator Wright. Honourable members may recall that the parliamentary zone was outlined in red in the Bill that Senator Wright introduced. I feel that the whole of the area- the Capital Hill area, the Camp Hill area and all the area in betweenshould be set aside by legislation for all time for parliamentary purposes or for such purposes as Parliament may decide. No other buildings should be allowed to be erected on any part of the parliamentary zone. I hope Parliament will see to it that this zone is protected. I believe it is most important that the Parliament make a decision in relation to a site without further delay, because this is preliminary to the whole exercise.
One point that I think should be mentioned is the matter of cost, especially as we are in such an inflationary period at the moment; otherwise, I think members of the public might become alarmed if they think we are going so spend some vast sum of money on a new Parliament House right away. This is certainly not the case and I would not support such a proposition. I point out that experts in the National Capital Development Commission and others have stressed that there would be no major financial outlay for three or four years. The longer we put off the building of the new Parliament House, I think, the more expensive it will be. It is tremendously important that we keep that in mind. There is one means of overcoming the present deadlock on the matter. We have had several votes in the Parliament, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and there have been occasions when the Senate voted for Capital Hill and this House voted for Camp Hill. Between us, we have really reached no conclusion. I feel that possibly the suggestion made on page 32 of the basic paper to which I referred earlier and from which I quoted may offer some assistance. It states:
Griffin pointed out these difficulties -
That is the difficulty of designing a building on Capital Hill- but felt that they could be overcome if the site were finally chosen. If this is considered a major obstruction, perhaps it would be better to open a design competition using either site. Sometimes a more difficult proposition inspires the architect. If no acceptable designs were received for Capital Hill then Camp Hill would be chosen by default.
– I welcome this move by my colleague, the honourable member for Burke (Mr Les Johnson) to decide once and for all the site of the new and permanent Parliament House. There is no reason why there should be any further delay in confirming a site and getting on with the work of this great national project. Both Houses of Parliament have made it perfectly clear that their firm preference for the site is Capital Hill. I accept the decision of a clear majority in both Houses. As the Minister responsible for the National Capital Development Commission, which is the planning and constructing authority for Canberra, I want to get on with the job of building a fine new and permanent Parliament House. It is true that on the last occasion when the question of the new and permanent Parliament House was before Parliament, I pressed strongly for the choice of Camp Hill as the site. This contradicted my long held and often stated belief that Capital Hill was the best site for both practical and symbolic reasons. Members of Parliament were not slow to point out my apparent lack of consistency and that was fair enough. I argued strongly for Camp Hill during the debates last year in a spirit of compromise because I thought it was the best way of getting a quick start to this building which has so long been delayed. I do not now believe that I took the right course, but I do not regret putting a compromise case for Camp Hill at that time. It was done in the belief that this question of the new and permanent Parliament House should be approached in a spirit of idealism tempered by commonsense. The decision of both Houses that the new Parliament House should be on Capital Hill relieves me of any further responsibility to push Camp Hill, so we can get on with the job.
There is no doubt that the building which we are in today is worn out and outmoded. It was built in 1927 as a temporary building and those who built it expected it to last not much longer than 25 years. The building has a certain grace and a distinct flavour of political history, but for every day use it is grossly inadequate, both for staff and for the parliamentarians themselves. In recent years this has produced a series of expedient and inefficient alterations that have been extremely costly and yet have not stopped the rapid erosion of the accommodation facilities of members. Despite the constant facelifts, the building is hopelessly inadequate for any of us to perform properly our tasks on behalf of the Australian people. The staff and the functions of Parliament House have multiplied while the accommodation facilities have deteriorated. It is now a matter of considerable urgency that we resolve the question of a site once and for all and start immediately on the planning of a building for a new and permanent Parliament House.
After the debate in the Parliament in the latter half of 1973, I asked officers of the NCDC to make an urgent study of the consequences of putting the new Parliament House on Capital Hill. I accepted the decision then of the majority of both Houses of Parliament, and I asked my officers to start working then so they have not been waiting for a further decision of this Parliament. They have accepted the majority decision then set down by both Houses of Parliament that the new building would be on Capital Hill. Therefore, they have been planning since that time according to what they believe to have been a sensible decision by the majority of members of Parliament in both Houses. I am pleased to tell the Parliament that my officers have concluded that Capital Hill provides an excellent site for a fine parliamentary building. In every way the site of the building would enhance the national capital. Before we resume this debate after its adjournment today, I intend giving members a brochure outlining the work done on assessing the Capital Hill site in relation to planning and building a new and permanent Parliament House. I will also approach the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate for permission to mount an exhibition in King’s Hall which will present these matters in visual form. The Commission and I are anxious to present to Parliament all the information it needs to speed up the preparation of the Capital Hill site.
The Bill put to the House by my colleague is a simple one. There are some practical matters which I think should be incorporated in the Bill. I foreshadow that I will move amendments in the Committee stage. I first want to identify more clearly the respective areas of Capital Hill and Camp Hill. Another aim of the amendments will be to widen the definition of ‘Parliament House’ to include buildings and works associated with it. There are machinery problems in getting a resolution of both Houses of this Parliament for minor changes and alterations to plans. For this reason I will suggest that there should be scope for incidental and minor alterations and that for these purposes a resolution be not required.
This Bill gives the Parliament a chance to make a final decision on the site. It also gives the Parliament the right to veto design proposals for the new Parliament. The Bill does not give Parliament the opportunity to play a creative role in the design and building of a new and permanent Parliament House. I would like to state some firm principles which I strongly support. The design of the building is the responsibility of an architect, who must be given every chance to exercise creative talents without undue contraints. The great buildings of all ages have been the work of gifted individuals who have been allowed to work in a way which gives their creative impulses scope for fulfilment. While conceding this sort of licence to the forces of imagination and creativeness, I also believe that if an architect is to design a great building the functions of that building must be defined for him with the utmost clarity.
Accordingly, I recommend to the Parliament that a joint parliamentary committee be established. The aim of this committee will be to work in the name of the Parliament, in cooperation with the National Capital Development Commission, to write a detailed brief for the architect who will design the new and permanent parliament house. I would expect that this parliamentary committee and the Commission would work closely on a day to day basis in prescribing the requirements of the building and ensuring that the designer met those requirements. I am confident that, with this sort of joint approach, we can create an outstanding building which truly reflects the aspirations of our people, our parliament and our Constitution.
I want to stress one point to those honourable members who talk about inflationary pressures and the pressures on building and construction, and who refer to the cost involved. As the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) has said, the actual expenditure in the next few years will be little. In fact, I have been informed by my officers that very little money will be required in the next 3 years when only major planning programs will be going on; there will be no actual construction at all. One must realise that this project will take time. I propose to distribute to honourable members a brochure setting out what the accommodation arrangements will be over the years of construction, the possible alterations to the existing Parliament House and how much we can extend it to make further office accommodation available to members, officers, and the parliamentary staff. So, I do not want any hysterics as to the enormous costs involved. I believe that a nation with the potential for expansion and development that Australia has must make this decision. We must make that decision soon and it would be better if it were made as soon as possible. This must be done to determine the site. Then we can get on with the planning and create in our time a building that will be worthy of all Australia.
-As one who has been a member of this chamber for quite some years, the situation in which quite regularly we hear this same old debate taking place is becoming rather alarming. It appears that the views of this House change in accordance with the change in its membership. I think we have just about reached the stage when we must decide very definitely just where we are going on this issue. For my part, I am not terribly concerned where the new parliament house is eventually built I think I can say on behalf of most members in this chamber that we will not be here when the work on the new parliament house is completed. All I am doing now is appealing to the chamber to make up its collective mind once and for all where the new parliament house will be erected so that those people who have the responsibility for the planning, etc., of the project can get on with the job. That is the appeal that I make to this Parliament. Let us make up our minds where we are going.
Motion (by Mr Donald Cameron) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (MrSpeaker-Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 and 2 agreed to.
The new and permanent Parliament House proposed to be constructed after the commencement of this Act shall be constructed upon Capital Hill.
– I move:
I explained the reason for this amendment in my speech on the second reading of the Bill. It is an administrative matter. The National Capital Development Commission cannot clearly identify the area to enable work to be carried out in association with the proposed committee which I have suggested should be set up by both Houses of the Parliament.
– I have some reservations about the National Capital Development Commission’s attitude on the new and permanent Parliament House because the Commission has changed its mind so consistently in the past that I am at a bit of a loss to know what its policy might be now. I have always been a Capital Hill man because the faith to which I belong always believes that a hill is the best place for real estate. I think Red Hill in Canberra is the only Hill in Australia which is without one of my churches. I contend that the new and permanent Parliament House should be built in a place where it can be seen by all and where it would have the dignity that should be associated with a building of this kind.
On one occasion the NCDC told the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, of which I was a member, that the building of a ring road aroundCapital Hill would not affect the building of a new and permanent Parliament House. If my memory serves me correctly, it then said that the new and permanent Parliament House could not be built on top of Capital Hill because a ring road was constructed around it. The committee proposed by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) is probably necessary. But I think that we want to know the composition of the Committee. We should be told who will be on it, what will be its functions and how many members of the committee will come from this House and how many from the other House. We also should be told whether the committee will be controlled by the NCDC in regard to the general construction of the building that is to be erected. I do not think that this is a question on which a decision can be easily made. It is most important that we should know the composition of the committee. I think that we should have more information before the House decides to support the formation of it.
-Order! I would point out to the Minister that the amendment before the Committee is to add to clause 3 after the words ‘Parliament House ‘ the words: and buildings and works associated therewith.
The present clause restricts the building to Parliament House only.
– I take it, therefore, that the committee would make decisions in regard to any complementary buildings of any kind whatever. But let me take this a step further. Is it proposed that the committee will prepare the design of the new Parliament House? Is that the interpretation? In other words, the real functions of the committee should be pretty elaborately given to the Parliament before we just endorse in a blanket-like manner a clause which says ‘buildings and works associated therewith’. I think it is important to know what will be the functions of the committee and just what buildings it will control.
Members of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House travelled the world to look at designs for our new and permanent Parliament House. We had some complications there. Some of these members came back and voted against their own recommendations. Therefore the question of what the committee will do and the buildings that will be covered by it are all very important. I mention these matters today only because there have been great confusion and changes of view in respect of the location of the new and permanent Parliament House and other considerations associated with it. I would suggest that the Minister who moved the amendment might elaborate on what he proposes because it seems that at this stage we are being asked to make a blanket decision in what will ultimately be a snap vote, particularly if debate is curtailed and discussion cannot take place.
I voted against the gag on the second reading of the Bill a few moments ago. I did so firstly because I did not move it and secondly because I think one cannot flippantly cut off debate on the new and permanent Parliament House and expect the decision of the Parliament to be accepted by the public with complacency when all the details have not been supplied. I regret that during the second reading debate on the Bill I was not given an opportunity to speak. A number of other members also did not have that opportunity. Therefore, I hope that this will not happen again in relation to what is an important adjunct to the erection of the building. I hope we will not have a motion like this carried without any elaboration of what it really means, what it will cover, and without the Parliament knowing fully what is intended.
– I think that there are very real problems in our immediate passage of this Bill. The amendment proposed by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) identifies the fact that on the Capital Hill site there is going to be not only a new parliament house but also a fairly extensive ancillary building requirement which in terms of the availability of land, and the architectural capacity of those facilities to fit in in a reasonably aesthetic way with what we would all hope would be the central point of the parliamentary triangle, must be in doubt. It was for that reason that I too opposed the gag that was moved by my colleague, the Opposition Acting Whip.
I have very real concern as to 2 aspects of this amendment. One is that we are going through an extraordinary inflationary time. Whilst I am quite concerned, as are most honourable members, about the availability of facilities here, I rather doubt the wisdom of spending significant sums of money on another edifice in Canberra at a time when there are so many other more pressing needs around Australia. I am equally concerned that in the accelerated passage of this Bill there might well be a tendency for us to bypass whatever the ultimate design requirement might be.
This amendment is designed specifically to ensure that on the Capital Hill site there is to be not just a parliament house but also other ancillary facilities presumably, although the amendment itself is not so specifically worded as would enable anyone to determine what those facilities would be. I am, therefore, in a bit of a quandary to know whether it is better to oppose this amendment or to seek the deferment of the whole debate. Earlier in the day the Minister for
Urban and Regional Development said that he will display a visual presentation of the project in Kings Hall.
– On a point of order, Mr Chairman, I crave your guidance. Is there any provision in the Standing Orders which would prevent a filibuster of this nature taking place?
– The Standing Orders provide that an honourable member may speak for the time set out in the Standing Orders provided his remarks are relevant to the subject under discussion.
-I think that that intervention demonstrates part of the futility of this debate. We are talking about a public building which will cost many millions of dollars. It is all very well for a Government supporter to think that the Government can fritter away hundreds of millions of dollars perhaps, that it does not matter about spending that sort of money and that this Parliament will happily accept the consequences that flow therefrom. One of his colleagues, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, has suggested that he intends to
E resent visually in Kings Hall a display which we ope will give us some idea of what ancillary buildings are to be built on this site.
This amendment is intended to cover not just the new parliament house but also all those other works and ancillary facilities. Indeed, in the very nature of this amendment we are discussing another measure which was passed by a previous Parliament which established a ring road around Capital Hill. I presume that somebody will say whether that ring road will remain, whether the site we talk about on Capital Hill is that which is circumscribed by the ring road, or whether we are to take away the ring road and, if we are, what effect it will have on traffic flow. We have to know what will happen in terms of parking facilities and in the normal architectural concepts of how the building and ancillary facilities are to be designed. I believe this Parliament should be given far more detail than it has been given to date.
I am therefore very loath to see this measure hastily put through. I think that all of us are concerned that whatever the new parliament house might be it should be one of design capacity, one which enables us all to feel proud that this is the site of the national Parliament. I feel quite proud to be a member of this chamber. I do not know whether all those who just supported the moving of die Parliament feel somewhat ashamed that they are members of this chamber. To me this is one of the central pieces of Australian history and it is a chamber that is, for that reason, of tremendous significance to the Australian people. I do not think any one of us should denigrate the historical character of the Parliament House itself of which this chamber forms part.
If we are to replace this chamber and we are to replace the Parliament House, surely we have a responsibility to ensure that whatever that new place might be we have some rational assurance that it will accord with the general design requirements that most of us would place on it and that the building itself is one that we can endorse. It is not easy to translate history from one place to another. Yet that, in essence, is what we seek to do. I believe that this new amendment of itself cannot at this time be passed by this chamber. I think we need to know a lot more about the proposed building and the ancillary facilities and what is to happen to this Parliament House. All these things, to my mind, necessarily are factors which this Parliament should have in mind before this resolution is put. Therefore I hope that we have an opportunity to see the visual presentation of which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has given us notice today before we are called on to make a decision. I do not believe that by so doing we are in any way prejudicing the interests of those who have just now supported the Capital Hill site. On the contrary, if they are keen on the siting of the new parliament house on Capital Hill I believe they too should have an interest to ensure that whatever the design might be at least we in this Parliament have some idea of it and that we do not just leave it to the National Capital Development Commission or some extra-parliamentary body to take the decision on our behalf. I believe it is far too important a decision to be taken lightheartedly. I believe we should consider the matter in more detail. I hope that this Parliament might, for the time being, let the debate continue until a quarter to one. We can then, on a future occasion, come to a conclusion.
Motion (by Mr Martin) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– The question is: That the question be now put. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the noes have it. I call the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.
– I will just wind up by saying -
- Mr Chairman, I call for a division in view of the fact that in my opinion this is an obvious filibuster.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Chairman. No division was called for. The honourable member for New England started to speak and I submit that he should be allowed to continue.
– I uphold the point of order. At the time I declared the result and called the honourable member again there was no request for a division.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee on the detail of the amendment but I suggest it would be most unfortunate if we were to rush peremptorily into a decision on such a significant matter.
– I will be brief. I have taken the opinion of senior counsel on the meaning of the amendment. He is one of the most eminent lawyers, I suppose, that this country has thrown up for a long time. He informs me that he believes the Bill as drawn is sufficient to cover all that would be needed by way of buildings and ancillary works, that implied in the Bill as it stands would be all the incidental powers that would be needed. However, my learned adviser goes on to say that he believes that the amendment gives clarity to the Bill and makes it even clearer than the Bill as it stands does. This puts beyond all doubt the fact that we are to have the right of having a parliament house which has sewerage works leading away from it so that when one pulls the chain one knows that nothing will come up into one’s face, or whatever happens when this sort of thing occurs. Although we do not think the amendment is necessary, it does not do any harm. It certainly clarifies the position beyond all doubt. Any one who opposes the amendment does so only in an effort to kill time. I do not want to do that. I strongly support the amendment.
Motion (by Mr Nicholls) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the amendment (Mr Uren’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! As the time for precedence for General Business has expired, further consideration of the Bill in the Committee of the Whole will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 1.5 to 2.30 p.m.
Bill presented by Dr J. F. Cairns, and read a first time.
Mr Speaker, the Bill now before the House seeks to implement the Government’s decision to adopt a recommendation of the then Tariff Board that assistance by way of bounty be afforded the manufacture in Australia of sealed unit compressors of 1.5 kW or less. The recommendation is contained in the Board’s Report of 10 October 1973, on domestic appliances, heating and cooling equipment etc. Honourable members will recall that the report advocated also a reduction in the rate of duty on sealed unit compressors of 1.5 kW or less from 43.125 per cent to 25 per cent. An appropriate amendment to the Customs Tariff has operated since 4 February 1974. On and from that date and until 3 February 1976, this Bill provides that a bounty of $5 each be paid on sealed unit compressors of 1.5 kW or less. Capacity of the local market is estimated at 400,000 units annually and bounty ceiling is confined by the Bill to $2,000,000 per annum with provision for the rate per unit to be proportionately decreased if the total of valid claims should exceed the annual ceiling. There are three Australian manufacturers of this type of compressor, the largest of whom has a substantial export market and is undertaking expansion and further mechanisation of production facilities. The steps being taken by the Government are intended to rationalise this manufacture.
The Bill further provides that to receive bounty a compressor must be produced and sold by the manufacturer during a bounty period for use as a refrigeration component in the manufacture of other goods that are subsequently used in Australia. Other provisions of the Bill are those normally included in similar legislation to ensure the proper disposal of public funds.
I commend the Bill to honourable members.
May I have the indulgence of the Chair to ask a question of the Minister as to how this Bill will be debated. Will it be debated as a separate Bill when the debate comes on? It is not brought in in the nature of a Customs validation?
-No, this will be debated separately in the ordinary way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Dr J. F. Cairns, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to amend the Book Bounty Act 1969-1973 to give effect to a recommendation of the then Tariff Board in its report of 21 September 1973 on products of the printing industry. Book Bounty to date has been an interim measure of assistance to the industry pending the Board’s inquiry. The report recommended that the bounty rate be increased from 25% to 33V$% of cost of production of bountiable books to permit the local industry to remain competitive with overseas producers. The new rate will be effective from 17 December 1973, as announced by the Prime Minister in a press statement on 18 December last. The report recommended also that packaging charges and protective covers be included in bountiable costs but that otherwise the production costs on which existing bounty is claimed, should continue to provide the basis of payments at the new rate. Text books as defined in the Bill are excluded from the minimum page criterion governing other bountiable publications which must contain 49 or more predominantly printed or illustrated pages comprising a total area of at least one square metre.
The Bill does not seek to implement the report’s recommendation that saddle-stapled publications be in future excluded from bounty assistance. A survey of the affected sector of the industry conducted since the Board’s inquiry has led the Government to decide that saddlestapled publications otherwise eligible should continue to receive assistance in terms of this Bill.
The subjective requirements of literary or educational character contained in the present Act are deleted but all other exclusions are retained. These relate to advertising material and publications the printing, publishing or postal transmission of which would be an offence against a law of Australia.
I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Adermann) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first, time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to borrowings by Australia not exceeding the equivalent of US$19,000,000 ($A14.5 million) to assist the Australian National Airlines Commission (TAA) in financing the purchase of its fifth and sixth Boeing 727 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment at an estimated cost of approximately US$24.5 million ($18.72 million). The fifth aircraft is due to be delivered in November 1974 and the sixth in April 1975. This is the eleventh occasion on which Parliament has been asked to approve overseas borrowings on behalf of TAA. The last occasion was the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Act 1972 which approved borrowings of up to US$34 million for the purchase of the first four Boeing 727 aircraft. On some previous occasions when legislation has been introduced for borrowings to assist in the purchase of new aircraft by TAA the loan agreements have already been signed but have usually been conditional on appropriate legislative authority being given later. On this occasion, borrowing arrangements for the purchase of the aircraft have not been finalised at this stage. These borrowings on behalf of TAA are specialised financing arrangements related to the particular requirements of the airline for the purchase of aircraft overseas and are in a different category from other borrowings by Australia overseas.
Normally, a central element in the financing arrangements is the participation in them by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which specialises in providing credit on terms tailored to assist in financing the purchase of such items of capital equipment as Boeing 727 aircraft. On this occasion, however, Export-Import Bank finance is not available as firm orders for these aircraft were placed before it was decided recently to revert to making use of overseas sources of finance for the purchase of capital equipment by Australian Government transport authorities. Accordingly, in the first instance, offers will be sought for these funds from overseas sources with established connections with the Australian Government.
Other arrangements for the loans will be similar to those approved by Parliament for previous loans for Qantas and TAA in recent years. In particular, the Australian Government will be the borrower in the first place, and the proceeds will be made available to TAA on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be identical with those under which the Australian Government itself borrows the money. The airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements. Consequently, the Australian Government will, as usual, assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements. The detailed terms and conditions of each of the loans to be arranged will be subject to approval by the Loan Council. The amount to be borrowed is included in the Australian Government’s loan program 1974-75 approved by the Loan Council in June 1 974. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Adermann) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to borrowings by Australia not exceeding the equivalent of US$91 m (A$69.5m) to assist Qantas Airways Limited in financing the purchase of its ninth, tenth and eleventh Boeing 747 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment at an estimated cost of approximately US$1 14.5m (A$87.5m). The aircraft are due to be delivered in October 1974, May 1975 and November 1975, respectively.
Australia has already arranged loans totalling US$164m (A$ 125.3m) to assist Qantas in financing the purchase of its first 6 Boeing 747 aircraft. These loans were approved by the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1968, the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1971, and Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act (No. 2) 1971 and the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1972. The borrowings arranged under the authority of the last Act were applied to the financing of the sixth aircraft. The seventh and eighth aircraft were financed by Qantas from its own internal resources.
The overseas borrowings on behalf of Qantas are specialised financing arrangements related to the particular requirements of the airline for the purchase of aircraft overseas and are in a different category from other borrowings by Australia overseas. A central element in the financing arrangements has been the participation in them by the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America, which specialises in providing credit on terms tailored to assist in financing the purchase of such items of capital equipment as Boeing 747 aircraft. The ExportImport Bank has agreed to finance 30 per cent of the cost of the tenth aircraft and has agreed to Australia obtaining finance for a further 10 per cent of the cost from the Private Export Funding Corporation, an Export-Import Bank guaranteed source sponsored jointly by the United States Government and leading United States commercial banks. It is hoped that a similar commitment will be available for the eleventh aircraft. The current lending terms of the Bank for aircraft finance are interest at the rate of 7 per cent per annum with repayments over the last 5 years of a 10-year period which commences on the delivery date of the aircraft. These terms are, however, currently under review by the bank and they may be less favourable for future loans.
Since a firm order for aircraft No. 9 was placed before it was decided recently to revert to making use of overseas sources of finance for the purchase of capital equipment by Australian Government transport authorities. Finance from the Export-Import Bank is not available. Offers have been sought for this finance and negotiations are currently taking place. Other arrangements for the loans will be similar to those approved by Parliament for previous loans for Qantas and TAA in recent years. In particular, the Australian Government will be the borrower in the first place, and the proceeds will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 8 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be identical with those under which the Australian Government itself borrows the money. The airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements. Consequently, the Australian Government will, as usual, assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements. The detailed terms and conditions of each of the loans to be arranged will be subject to approval by the Loan Council. The amount to be borrowed is included in the Australian Government’s loan program for 1974-75 approved by the Loan Council in June 1974. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Adermann) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Charles Jones, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to amend certain provisions of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1956-73 in order to alter the name of the Commission; increase the number of Commissioners from five to seven; make specific provision for the appointment of a full time Chairman of the Commission; to alter the basis on which the Commission is reimbursed for losses in the operation of a shipping service undertaken at the direction of the Minister for Transport; and to eliminate an anomaly in the present Act relating to rights and benefits of the Commission’s officers formerly employed in the Australian Public Service. At the same time the opportunity will be taken to make several amendments of a machinery nature in relation to financial provisions of the Act and to effect some largely formal amendments including those arising out of the Statute Law Revision Act 1973. The proposed amendments are intended to update the Act and enable the Commission more effectively to perform its role as a national shipping line in both coastal and overseas trading.
I would like to draw to the attention of honourable members the development of the Australian National Line since the Commission was established in late 1956. The fleet then comprised 42 ships, with a total deadweight tonnage of 250,960, representing an investment of $24.5m. The fleet now comprises 3 1 vessels, with a combined deadweight tonnage of 65 1, 136. The Line now has total fixed assets, at cost of $183m. Turnover of the Line has increased from $32m in 1957-58 to over $100m.
The Commission’s important contribution to the increased efficiency of Australia’s coastal shipping services is well known. It has a proud record of innovation and development of new and more efficient ships, terminals and handling methods. The Line was, for example, the first to introduce the roll-on roll-off concept of transportation into Australian coastal trading, as a fast, convenient and economical method of moving passengers, vehicles and cargo. The Line has a further 5 ships for the coastal trades on order. After an absence of 40 years the Line returned the Australian flag to regular overseas operation. It now has 4 modern vessels in our overseas liner trades and these are to be joined shortly by another two, with a third on order. Four large bulk carriers for the overseas bulk trades are on order. The Government sees the Australian National Line as the pace setter for implementing our declared objective to achieve a more equitable share of the carriage of our overseas trade in Australian flag ships. This development and expansion places a great responsibility on the Commission. The Government considers that some changes are required to permit the Commission, now entirely a part-time body, to be better equipped to handle the challenges of continued growth, increasing technological development and complexity of operation.
Let me now speak separately to the main provisions. Firstly, the Commission’s name is clearly an anachronism. Overseas operations are already a significant portion of its activities and will become more important. It is proposed therefore that the name of the Commission be changed to the Australian Shipping Commission more accurately to reflect its proper function. Honourable members will be aware that the Commission was established under the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act in 1956 and since then has consisted of 5 Commissioners, one of whom is appointed Chairman and another Vice-Chairman, and all of whom, as I mentioned previously, act part-time.
The Government regards the separate public transport authorities in the different modes as important agencies through which its policies, not only in the transport, but in other fields, will be forwarded. This demands a closer understanding between the various authorities and the Minister and the Minister’s Department. These policies, in respect of the Australian National Line, envisage the Line initiating programs in accord with the Government’s objectives and these carry with them heavy investment decisions. Of course, a great deal has already been achieved. I shall detail these developments in a moment. However, with such major investment decisions the Government attaches great importance to ensuring that the Commission be afforded the assistance it will receive from the appointment of a full-time Chairman. His appointment will permit the continuing oversight of the Line’s objectives and review of the Line’s operations and financial arrangements. It will allow the Commission, as a whole, to be kept closely informed on all matters relating to the Commissioners’ collective responsibility. Qantas Airways Ltd already has a full-time chairman. It is proposed also to increase the number of parttime Commissioners assisting the Chairman to six. One of these 6 part-time Commissioners will be a Vice-Chairman.
Let me indicate in more detail the extent of the Commission’s current involvement with initiatives taken since the Government took office. Since December 1972 there has been unprecedented activity by the Australian Government in all forms of transport, because this Government takes a multimodal approach to the total national transport task. Shipping must take its place amongst the whole range of transport policies that the Government is striving to implement. Additionally, in relation to shipping, it was not expected that we could achieve overnight the policy objectives announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his 1972 policy speech. However the opportunities for expanding coastal and overseas shipping were examined as soon as we won office and the first proposal aimed at expanding the Australian National Line’s coastal shipping operations was put forward as early as 15 December 1972.
Since that time a progressive increase in Australia’s share of trade from Japan from 17.2 per cent to 30 per cent by 1979 has been successfully negotiated. The Line has already achieved an increase in the wool trade to Japan from 23 per cent to 28.3 per cent. To carry this increased cargo volume a hybrid roll-on roll-off cellular container vessel, the ‘Australian Emblem’, is being built for use in this trade and was launched on 9 August. This is a 22,400 d.w.t. vessel with a capacity of 1,431 twenty feet length containers. The Line’s Australian partner in the eastern searoad service, the Flinders Shipping Co., has negotiated the purchase of a similar vessel. The 2 vessels already in this trade, ‘Australian Enterprise’ and ‘Matthew Flinders’ are to be diverted to the East Asia trade to provide an entirely independent Australian flag service to Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines. The Commission has arranged to purchase ‘Matthew Flinders’ from the Flinders Shipping Co. The placing of an order by the Line for the construction of a 29,000 d.w.t. cellular container ship for the Australia-Europe cargo liner trade has also been approved. This ship is expected to be delivered in 1977 and will join ‘Australian Endeavour’, also operated by the Line, in the Associated Container Transportation (Australia) Ltd-ANL service to Europe.
Steps have been taken to secure, for the first time, regular participation by Australian flag vessels in our bulk minerals export trade. In November last year the ordering by the Line of 2 bulk carriers of 12 1,000 d.w.t. each for use in the Australia- Japan ore trade was authorised. Delivery of these vessels is expected in July 1976 and May 1977 respectively. More recently, the placing of a further order for 2 bulk carriers was approved. Each of these vessels is 140,000 d.w.t. and they are also planned for use in the Japan ore trade. These ships are expected to be delivered in July and December 1976. For coastal trading the Line has been given approval to purchase 2 general cargo vessels, the first of which is scheduled to enter service in February next year and the second a year later. In addition the Line has ordered two 25,000-ton bulk carriers and these vessels are expected to enter service in November 1976 and May 1977. These 1 1 ships currently on order for ANL and the associated seaborne equipment necessary for their operation involve a capital expenditure of approximately $235m.
Discussions have been held with the New Zealand Minister for Transport concerning an Australian flag shipping service in the transTasman trade. Feasibility studies have been conducted by the Commission but vessels have not been introduced into the trade as speedily as the Government would have wished, mainly because of the problem of securing suitable vessels in current market conditions. The search for suitable tonnage is continuing. The problem of securing suitable tonnage has also been the main difficulty standing in the way of total Australian flag participation in the Christmas Island rock phosphate trade. Early this year I decided not to renew the exemption of this trade from the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act. Such an exemption had been granted by our predecessors in government, the effect of which was to enable the use of foreign flag vessels for carrying phosphate from Christmas Island to Australia. I have asked the Australian National Line to seek suitable tonnage on the world market to ensure that sufficient Australian manned tonnage is available to handle the total trade. Negotiations are currently under way for the Line to acquire its first vessel for this trade and I expect to be in a position to make an announcement shortly.
Discussions have also been held with the Chinese Government to undertake a feasibility study for the introduction of a direct AustraliaChina liner service. Officers of the Australian National Line are visiting China in October of this year to examine port facilities and to have further discussions on the practicability of a direct liner service between Australia and China. Before I sanction entry into any trade I require to be satisfied, and must be able to satisfy my colleagues, that the service is justified, can be done efficiently and is appropriate to the national interest. These responsibilities rest directly with the Commission. The Government is pleased that it has responded so directly and positively to .the need for new initiatives. However, the Government is also aware of the extra burden these impose upon it. The measure now proposed should substantially assist the Commission to develop the role the Government requires of it and of the Australian National Line.
Turning to the Commission’s operational activities, section 17 (1) of the present Act provides that, if desirable in the public interest, the Minister may direct the Commission to establish, maintain and operate a shipping service to meet the requirements of a particular area. If such a shipping service suffers a loss in any financial year, and, if an overall loss results from the Commission ‘s whole operations for that year, the Commission is entitled to be reimbursed by the Australian Government to the extent of the lesser of the two losses. This provision is contained in sub-section 4 (b) and (c) of section 17. This provision which was designed to protect the Commission can, in fact, be damaging to the Line’s overall operations. The practical effect of such a direction under the present provisions of the Act is that the Commission is required to crosssubsidise such a service from other profitable operations. The Government considers the Line’s overall operation as a competitive shipping line should not be penalised as a result of providing an uneconomic shipping service, even though this is operated in the public interest Subsidies made for such reasons in the Line’s operations should be identified and repaid. It is therefore, proposed that sub-section (4) of section 17 be amended to provide that, when the Minister directs the Commission to establish a shipping service in the public interest, the Commission shall be directly reimbursed to the full extent of any losses sustained in operating such a service.
The provisions of the Act relating to the appointment of officers to the Commission also require amendment. Sub-section (1) of section 22 of the Act provides that the terms and conditions of employment of officers appointed by the Commission shall be as determined by the Commission. However, sub-section (2) of section 22 provides that the Commission shall not, except with the approval of the Minister, determine the salary of a position in the service of the Commission at a rate exceeding $7,000 per annum. The intention of the original Act was that the salary limit would equate with approximately the maximum of the top Public Service Third Division classification. This section was amended in 1 964 in order to retain such equality. It has not been updated since, with the result that more and more routine administrative matters must be referred to the Minister for approval. The current salary figure of $7,000 per annum is equivalent to a clerk class 2/3 in the Australian Public Service. To update this provision of the Act the figure of $7,000 is amended to $15,739, which is currently the maximum of the top Third Division classification. In order to avoid further similar amendments to the Act there will be provision for a higher amount to be prescribed, the intention being that the amount prescribed will be kept in line with the top Public Service Third Division salary.
In addition to the amendment to sub-section (2) of section 22 a further amendment is proposed to eliminate an anomaly which exists in respect of sub-section (3) of section 22. This latter sub-section of the Act purports to give officers of the Commission who were formerly employed in the Australian Public Service the same rights and benefits as if they remained in the Public Service. These rights and benefits are enjoyed by officers in other statutory authorities, such as Commonwealth Railways. As presently worded the sub-section does not provide for this. It is without meaning for the reason that Public Service rights and benefits are given pursuant to appointments under section 22 only, whereas appointment of officers is authorised only under section 2 1 and 23. Sub-section (3) of section 22 is to be amended appropriately to remove this anomaly. Because of the number of former Australian Public Service officers already employed by the Commission retrospectivity will be necessary. Several amendments are proposed to financial provisions in the Act including section 30 provisions relating to borrowings. The purpose of these amendments is to bring the principal Act into line with the provisions of comparable sections of legislation relating to other statutory commissions operating business undertakings. There are also some formal amendments and these are detailed in the Schedule to the Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1 55 1 ), on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-In the course of the last election campaign, many of us on this side of the House expressed our very real concern at the degree to which, in the application of assistance to industries, this Government failed to recognise the implications of incentives to production. There was one exception. That exception was in the field of the extension of this nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy. I am not too sure to what degree the intention to preserve the subsidy was genuine or whether it was motivatedfar be it from me to introduce politics in this place- by the desire of the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) to secure his re-election.
Of course, it is true that in the seat of Dawson there would be, I guess, as great a consumption of nitrogenous fertilisers as in any other electorate in Australia. The fact that the Minister for Northern Development is the man who happened to have an interest in nitrogenous fertilisers and defended their use so vehemently may well have had something to do with the undertaking by the Government that, with respect to nitrogenous fertilisers at least, it was to keep up the program that we initiated.
I put it to this House that it is not sufficient that we retain only the one bounty of this sort. I put to the House that the character of the bounty is such that those who are receiving it are not necessarily receiving the extent of the benefit that they believe themselves to be getting- I will make a reference in this respect to the Industries Assistance Commission in a moment- and I believe it absolutely critical that in other areas where it is possible to stimulate production, something be done by this Government to do so.
It is true that, as far as production levels are concerned, there is an argument that one type of fertiliser has advantage over another. It is true that if we are having a look at the rise in inflationary pressures in Australia production or the lack of it tends to be a material element. I submit that any type of a stimulus to production is a way by which inflationary pressures can be countered. The reason that the Opposition supports this Bill, although I must say that we are disappointed that its provisions will expire on 31 December 1975, is that we believe that this legislation provides a way by which production can be stimulated and, as a result, inflation itself contained. The only problem is that the Government has done so many other things to compound inflation that this step of itself will be but a drop in the ocean.
Turning to the measure itself, I have mentioned that its expiration date is 31 December 1975. As every honourable member of this House knows- those few who are here and those others who may be listening through the internal broadcast system- the Industries Assistance Commission at the moment is conducting an inquiry into whether the nitrogenous fertilisers bounty should be extended. We on this side of the House believe that, when the Government came out with its undertaking to extend the nitrogenous fertilisers bounty, there was far too little said by the Government of the very short period of extension that it intended to provide. Indeed, I believe that the whole purpose of what the Government did was to offer those who use nitrogenous fertilisers a carrot expecting them to fall for the fact that the Government was really caring for their well-being. But the Government was trying to find a device by which it believed the subsidy could be reduced or eliminated. I suspect that, in the present hearing before the Commission, the Government is really hoping to goodness that this might be a way by which those recommendations of the Coombs report which the Government was intent on implementing can perhaps be adopted by a circuitous form. In other words, for all the protestations of the honourable member for Dawson, who is Minister for Northern Development, he does not really believe that the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty will continue, but he sees that the Coombs report recommendations and the application of the Industries Assistance Commission’s report may well lead to the cancellation of the subsidy. He thinks that will be OK because then he will not have to worry about answering for it in his electorate. But his electors need to recognise the political motivation behind his support for the measure in the first place and they need to recognise that it is not a clean-cut provision of a bounty or assistance. It is a circuitous presentation of short-term assistance which is tempered by the final date by which the Industries Assistance Commission must make its recommendations for the continuation or otherwise of the subsidy.
There is, in another area, a remarkable contrast to this nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy extension. In the field of superphosphate bounties the Government apparently decided that it had no earthly chance of holding its country based seats at the last election anyway, so there was no use in providing this sort of extension. The Government was not even consistent in principle. If it believed that the Industries Assistance Commission was an appropriate body to make an examination of this type of assistance and to provide this type of stimulus to primary industry, it was completely at liberty to refer the superphosphate bounty to the Industries Assistance Commission in a similar fashion to determine whether it should be extended, increased or reduced, or in what form it should operate after the termination of the legislation on 31 December 1974.
But for the superphosphate bounty there was to be no extension. It was one of those peremptory decisions by the Prime Minister himself. One gathers that neither his own Caucus nor his own colleagues knew anything of the decision he took. If his Caucus and Cabinet colleagues knew about it then shame on them, because the manner of his presentation of it was that it was really one of those ways by which he saw that he might be able to stave off those stimuli to production, those counteracting factors against inflation, for the sake of providing additional money in public sector spending and for the sake of providing money in other areas where he believed there should be a higher priority. The tragedy of his finding a higher priority is that those areas where the essential wealth of the community is generated are gradually being ground to a halt. On the other side they will say: ‘But of course it is very nice to know that there has been a devaluation. A devaluation is a means by which this Government has provided assistance to the rural sector, assistance which more than counteracts anything which the Government has done to destroy its profitability in the past.’ What utter nonsense.
We spoke for months about the degree to which this Government had created a circumstance where the Australian dollar had been overvalued on world markets. The Government chose to ignore us. The Government introduced a budget and it still chose to ignore the relative value of the Australian dollar. A week after the Budget, in circumstances which seem to me to be tempered very much by the Government’s apparent desire to ensure that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) would get not quite the same coverage in the Australian Press as would otherwise be the case, the Government decided to make an announcement in an extraordinary way and in a manner which leads everyone on this side of the House and quite a number of others outside to doubt the degree to which the confidentiality of the Cabinet decision was preserved.
The decision taken to extend the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy is in such marked contrast to everything else that has been done in the rural sector that there is obviously a hidden reason for the decision. We on this side of the House are concerned, first, that there should be a recognition of the motivation of the Government in its very short term extension of the subsidy and, second, that there needs to be a recognition that anything the Government is now doing for agriculture and for the rural industries generally is only being provided at a stage when agriculture itself is falling into a serious state of financial stress. Very few of our rural industries are profitable. Look at the one which the Government helps. We should have a look at what the Government is doing for those in need. I heard a bold statement by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) in replying generally to the accusations about the extent to which the Government has abused its responsibility in caring for the rural sector. He said: ‘ We devalued the dollar and we really do care for you. Look what we are doing for those industries in need ‘. If one were to be nasty one would say: ‘Dear me, I did not really know that the sugar industry was in need ‘. I am delighted that it is not in need. It is largely policies from our side of the House that have helped to create the sugar industry as a major, viable employer of more than 50 per cent of Australia’s population north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
Having said that, it is no credit to the Government that the only rural industry that it assistssignificantly the greater consumption of nitrogenous fertiliser is in the sugar industry- is the industry which is the most buoyant in the Australian community. I believe it should be helped. I believe that this particular legislation is of assistance, but, for goodness sake, please let the Government be a little consistent. It is either going to help the rural industry and those industries which are in a state of financial stress, or it is going to provide stimuli to production to enable the rural sector to generate that export income and to create a flow of funds generally to set up circumstances which will finance the growth, development, social well-being, and general standard and quality of life in our society. The Government cannot have it one way without recognising also that it is paying the price for taking it in the other. In other words, it is having it in one way and providing a subsidy, but also it must take the consequence of the political decision taking process that went into its decision to continue the nitrogenous fertiliser sudsidy but not the superphosphate bounty and its decision taking process of providing the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy but neglecting the whole of the wellbeing of the rural sector by the implementation of the recommendations of the Coombs report; providing a nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy but ignoring the impact on the rural community of all those additional burdens that 2 Labor Budgets have imposed.
From the whole field of taxation, the degree to which income tax will be levied at a penal rate from any source of income other than from personal exertion, the capital gains tax, the degree to which concessions previously provided to give stimulus to production and to try to offset the swings of the pendulum of seasons and markets have been taken away. The Government provides on the one hand a nitrogenous fertiliser bounty with these magnanimous statements of how generous it really is, and on the other it takes the bounties away so that the rural sector is really left so much worse off. For all this piece of legislation which this House and which the Opposition supports, we regard the Government’s support of it as being perhaps one of the most cynical political acts it has committed in the time it has been in office. This piece of legislation does not stand on its own. It needs to be seen in conjunction with other forms of the total rural policy which we applied, a rural policy and a policy towards manufacturing industry and mining industry which were designed to encourage production and designed to encourage the growth and development of this great country of ours. I am afraid that all that the Labor Government has done is spend the profits that have been earned. That is the tragedy of this particular piece of legislation: Highly commendable it is, but also it is highly tragic because of the implication that some other piece of worthwhile legislation is being so totally ignored by the Government.
The Opposition is also concerned that in the manner of the reference to the Industries Assistance Commission it seems that the Government is trying to pass the buck on to someone else, so that having taken the cruel decision in every other industry, because it felt the political skin of the honourable member for Dawson might be at risk, it has seen fit to preserve this legislation for but a brief period- to the end of next year, 3 1 December 1975- and hopes that in the meantime the Industries Assistance Commission will come in and provide a recommendation saying: ‘We do not believe, because of the state of profitability of the sugar industry, that this subsidy is any longer justified’. We on this side of the House would be most concerned if a continuing incentive to production were not given by those in Government in this place to rural industries, to manufacturing industries and to mining industries to ensure that all of those very laudable national objectives which we on this side advocate, and some of which those on the other side of the House implement, might be achieved, and achieved without the undue inflationary pressures which have tragically been a product of 2 years of Labor rule.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (3.21)-One must admit that the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) is very flexible, if nothing else. Up to a couple of weeks ago both he and his Party were crying out for the Government to devalue the dollar. Now that the Government has devalued the dollar he is still critical of its actions. The honourable member also was sarcastic about the buoyancy of the sugar industry. Yet a few months ago he was very critical of the action that this Government was taking to renew the sugar agreements. One would have thought that he would have a word of praise for the Government for bringing about this very desirable situation. It was noticeable that the honourable member did not mention the tariff reduction which is another measure that the Government has taken to assist our rural industries.
I support the Bill and thank the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) for giving me the opportunity to speak for a few minutes on it. This Bill will give effect to the Government’s decision to continue the subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers until 31 December 1975 pending a report of the Industries Assistance Commission. The fact that the Government is continuing the subsidy until that date and in the meantime is arranging for an inquiry and a report from the Industries Assistance Commission in my opinion shows that the Government has concern and has a policy of promoting our primary industries. The Commission might well find that a greater subsidy should be provided on the production of fertilisers. On the other hand, steps in some other areas might have to be taken in the interests of primary industries.
This measure also indicates the Government’s concern to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is gainfully employed. I think that this is important because today we hear a lot about the division between country and city people. It appears that some people want to promote this division for mere political reasons but others, like myself, see no winner in these circumstances. In fact, both sides will be the losers. I believe that one of the best ways of attacking this division between country and city people is to remove suspicion. City dwellers must be convinced that incentives and concessions are paid to farmers not just because they are farmers or so that the farmers will have a larger income but because the world is in need of the extra production and this extra production is in the national interest.
An examination of the subsidies by the Industries Assistance Commission will require the industry to face up to a test of efficiency and to prove that in the long term it has the ability to stand on its own feet. I believe that the sooner all of our industries have to face up to this test the easier it will be for any national government to plan on a long term basis. In my opinion this is the best way to provide a national economy in which a healthy, growing rural industry can play its part, not only to meet the needs of the Australian people but also to meet the needs of the millions of people in undeveloped, underprivileged and underfed countries.
I think it is to the credit of the Government that the subsidy has been extended during a period in which we have an expanding market for our sugar- about which the honourable member for New England seemed to be critical -as well as wheat, other grain products and dried fruits. Nitrogen is a most essential element for plant growth. Most plants get their requirements from the soil. As most of our soil is deficient in this important element, certain quantities of it need to be added to the soil to improve its productivity. None of us should take umbrage at this situation because world authorities tell us that nitrogen is probably the most widespread nutrient deficiency in world agriculture. I believe that as well as providing for the continuation of the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty we have a duty to look at other methods of increasing production. I have in mind the example of the dried fruits industry stabilisation legislation which is at present before the Industries Assistance Commission. This industry has a great problem with the salinity of water and I know that the Government is giving some consideration to this matter. These measures, like the fertiliser subsidy, must be continued. I also have in mind the problems in the Cobar-Byrock area where productivity has been greatly reduced by the regrowth of scrub and timber. I have been asked not to talk at length on this legislation. Therefore I conclude my speech by saying that I commend the Bill to the House and congratulate the Government for continuing this subsidy.
– I join with the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) and other speakers from this side of the House who will speak in this debate in supporting the extension of the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers. In doing so I want to note the curious dexterity with which speakers from the other side of the House have shuffled their stance and changed their position on this legislation as compared with their attitude to the superphosphate bounty. I say on behalf of the Opposition that the removal of the superphosphate bounty, which was done more or less overnight, was one of the greatest blots on the history of the Labor administration since it has come to power. There was absolutely no justice in this decision because it had the disastrous effect of increasing costs and lowering productivity.
There is a rising sense of dissatisfaction in rural areas, as was instanced by my colleague the honourable member for New England, at the removal of the superphosphate bounty. It is pertinent to point out that fertilisers are an integral part of the Australian farming scene. They have played a most meaningful and significant role in reducing costs and stabilising prices. It is pertinent to point out also that fertilisers are used in all States of Australia and for vastly different agricultural pursuits. Rural people are very concerned about their position following the tremendous pressures that have been exerted on rural industries by a series of calamitous decisions by the Labor administration. Their concern at present might appear to be only a cloud on the horizon but unless this concern is dispelled by mutual appreciation, understanding and cooperation by people who live in cities it could easily blow into a thunderstorm which could shake the whole Australian scene. I am not one of those who advocate militancy, but I want to draw the attention of the Australian nation to how displeased the Australian rural sector is.
The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) drew attention to the fact that the nitrogenous fertiliser matter is to be referred to the Industries Assistance Commission. We submit that matters of such great national importance should be matters for the national Parliament. I appreciate his remarks on the reason why the buck has been passed to the LAC. There is more to this than its being just an Australian problem. There are many social benefits that can flow not only to Australia but also on the international scene. There is a worldwide shortage of nitrogen. This is due to the fact that in the years 1967 to 1971 because of the stagnating situation at that time no encouragement was given to firms to re-invest sums of money in the fertilising industry. Most industries in the fertiliser sector were running at a loss. Consequently, there is a need for Australia to use every possible avenue to increase our productivity so that we can satisfy the food commitments of the world. It has been reliably projected that this situation will continue until 1980.
I think we should also point out that the nitrogenous fertiliser industry is closely allied to the oil industry and that unless something is done to cushion the effect of costs the price of nitrogen can vary greatly and may be subject to violent fluctuations. The base for nitrogen is naptha, which is a kerosene base. This constituent represents roughly SO per cent of the cost of producing fertiliser.
We must analyse the effect that the injection of nitrogen into the soil has on productivity. In Queensland over the last 10 years the Queensland Wheat Research Institute and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have carried out many tests which indicate conclusively and beyond all doubt that nitrogen will increase not only the yield per hectare but also the quality of the product. In Queensland the injection of nitrogen allows certain areas to be double cropped in the one year. The only limiting factor is rainfall. Of course, double crops allow the product to be produced more cheaply and to be more competitive on the world markets. This makes the best use of the available resources of manpower, materials and money.
Following the harnessing of modern techniques, particularly with anhydrous and aqua ammonia, in Queensland the grain industry has changed dramatically over the last 5 years. We find now that 48 per cent of the wheat in southern Queensland and 52 per cent of the sorghum is fertilised with nitrogen. The effect on the quality of the wheat is quite dramatic. The protein content of wheat, which makes it more attractive on the world market, varies directly with the amount of available nitrogen in the soil. It is terribly important in these days of competition in wheat for us to produce a top quality product. It is also pertinent to point out that with the cultivations becoming older and with the brigalow areas also becoming older, bearing in mind that the brigalow tree itself is a legume, there will be a greater need for the use of nitrogen in the future. The risk involved in growing grain in an area of inadequate and irregular rainfall is very great; so it is absolutely essential that top class yields be obtained when the moisture conditions are right. The present subsidy of $80 a ton or the appropriate amounts expressed in metric terms should be continued, for the reasons which are apparent in a table I have prepared. I seek the leave of the House to have it incorporated in Hansard. It indicates the prices of the various nitrogen products with and without the subsidy.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-I thank the House. That table proves beyond all doubt that the subsidy allows nitrogen to be available to the primary producers in significant quantities so that they can produce greater crops and produce them more cheaply. My colleague, the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar), will talk about the use of nitrogen in the sugar industry. In 1970-71 in Queensland 1,976,968 cwt of nitrogen was used. The next figure I have shows that in New South Wales in the same period 829,629 cwt of nitrogen was used. In 1971-72 in Queensland there was a significant increase to the use of 2,349,060 cwt and in New South Wales to 874,757 cwt. Western Australia also is a great user of nitrogen in its wheat industry.
Other States have advantages over Queensland insofar as they have legumes such as subterranean red and white clovers which naturally form nodules in the soil of nitrogen which they take from the air. But in Queensland our siratros and Townsville stylos and lucernes do not have the advantage of regular winter rainfall which the southern States have. Consequently in the southern States legumes are more efficient fixers of nitrogen. In Queensland we have the problem of establishing longevity of pastures and also of keeping them established. Of course in the grain growing areas there is no pasture phase and this makes it very difficult to keep up the standard and the quality of the soil unless we inject large amounts of artificial nitrogen. There are some areas of land in which it is difficult, even with the establishment of legumes, to have mutual beneficial relationship with the rhizobia bacteria to allow nodulation of the root system of the plants to occur.
In case those who live in cities think this is a one way traffic advocated by members of the Australian Country Party to help rural areas, I submit this is not so. With the increased productivity resulting from the use of fertilisers- I endorse the remarks of the honourable member for Darling when he said that nitrogen is probably the element most required in all farming land over the whole of the world- there is more employment, more freight, and more income tax paid. It has been reliably assessed that if the subsidy were abandoned on account of loss of productivity a lesser amount of taxation would be collected than would meet the cost of maintaining the subsidy. Additionally, there has been a tendency in recent years to use nitrogen as one of the bases in what we term feed lot operations, particularly in the droughts that seem to plague rural Australia with rather monotonous regularity. Many stock have been kept alive with the use of the baled roughage and molasses and nitrogen.
I compliment the previous Government which allowed the subsidy to be paid on urea and other nitrogen substances which were used for the feeding of stock in drought conditions. There is an absolute necessity to decrease costs in the rural sector. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics indicated to me today that last year the total costs in the rural sector were $3,548m and next year they are estimated to be $4,044m- an increase of $496m. It is remarkable to note that the wages factor accounts for $70m, and fertiliser accounts for $82m on account of the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and his Ministers took away the fertiliser bounty and prices are going up. There have been increases of $70m in fodder costs and $100m in marketing expenses due basically to increased wages in that sector. The increase in the cost of repairs and maintenance has been $30m and the increase in fuel and electrical cost has been $Sm. It is absolutely essential, if we are to absorb the cost factor in the production of our essential foodstuffs, that everything be done to balance the budget by having increased productivity.
The amount of money involved in this piece of legislation is estimated to be $ 13m this financial year. It is remarkable to note the increase in the cost of fertiliser in the period from March 1 97 1 to July 1974. If we take that base period we find that the price of sulphate of ammonia in New South Wales has increased from $32.60 per tonne to $50.10 per tonne. This is a rather remarkable increase in the cost of a very essential product used in farm practice. The $ 1 3m which I mentioned represents roughly 5 per cent of the total fertiliser bill It is estimated that the industry paid $2m to $3m more for all fertiliser used during the last financial year. We in the Opposition fully support the extension of the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty. I would indicate that nitrogenous fertiliser is used in rather significant quantities in certain areas of Australia. I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard a table which indicates the amount of nitrogenous fertiliser used in Queensland in the period 1969-70 to 1973-74 and the projections for the period 1974-75 to 1978-79.
-Is leave granted?
– As long as the honourable member then sits down.
-There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Projected increase of nitrogenous fertiliser if price is contained as compared to past S years. 1969- 70-5,840 tonnes. 1970- 71-3,120 tonnes. 197 1- 72-6,063 tonnes. 1972- 73-8,931 tonnes. 1973- 74-1 1,089 tonnes. 1974- 75-12,032 tonnes. 1975- 76-13,583 tonnes. 1976- 77-15,356 tonnes. 1977- 78-17,384 tonnes. 1978- 79-19,697 tonnes.
– Since the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has indicated that those figures could be incorporated only if I agreed to sit down now, and realising that two other honourable members want to be associated with this rather important matter concerning Australian primary industries, I will conclude on this note: I cannot accept the proposition that rural Australia is not entitled to assistance. In the final analysis it will increase the use of a very essential element in primary production, and this will lead to lower costs, greater productivity and, in the final analysis, a healthier Australia. What I am concerned about is that the Government, for reasons best known to itself, sought to take away from the national Parliament the right to make a decision which rightly belongs to that Parliament and sought to give the right to make that decision, which affects the life of so many people, to a team of public servants who would have no practical appreciation of the great difficulties involved and the great hardship suffered by so many people. This is a matter which should be left to the Parliament. I want to point out how much the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) has changed his tune. When speaking to the motion for the second reading of the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Bill which was moved by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) the Minister said at page 1458 of the Hansard of 17 September 1969 that the Bill should be redrafted to provide for ‘ a review each year of the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy rate’. Why has the Minister for Northern Development changed his tune? When in Opposition he said one thing and now that he is in Government he says something else. This indicates to me a rather curious plurality in his sense of values in relation to this matter.
-The Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Bill seeks to extend the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act for a period of 12 months. This move is welcomed by those in the industry who are dependent on the continuance of this subsidy. We have heard excellent presentations by my colleagues, the honourable members for New England (Mr Sinclair) and Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh). In the interests of accelerating consideration of the business before the House I shall not retrace or explore further the propositions put forward by those honourable members.
I address myself to the aspect to which the honourable member for New England alluded, namely, the grave disquiet that has arisen regarding the Government’s fundamental attitude towards the whole question of price support or subsidies. It was mentioned that there is a popular opinion that the subsidy may have been extended to preserve or enhance the electoral prospects of the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson). In the light of the Government ‘s program for the removal of the phosphate bounty, it must be concluded that there is an innate antipathy on the part of Government members towards price support. Indeed, the honourable member for Darling (Mr FitzPatrick) instinctively used the term ‘concession’. The tragedy of the whole matter is that price support should be regarded as a concession. In actual fact, it is a legitimate fiscal device to support an industry to the ultimate benefit of the community at large. This, of course, produces a bounty for all.
One does not need a great deal of imagination to appreciate the benefits that flow to this country from an industry which has a net return well in excess of $300m. The fact that the industry is sustained in good shape, in buoyant conditions, under increasing costs resulting from an inflationary effect, and still keeps its head above water is a tribute to the skill, efficiency and determination that all those within the industry display. But they are not immune to the factors that beset them, and this price subsidy is something that plays a very important part in their continuing economic viability. We have seen within the industry huge increases in costs. One simple illustration is the case of mill hands. Their wages have increased by 99 per cent in 6 years, and the industry, of course, is left to contain this particular cost.
The philosophical confrontation between the Government and people in industry engaged in keeping this country in good shape must be set aside. Members of the Government must accept our inter-dependence in these matters. They must realise that in their great urge to purge from our society all imaginary evils they would have embarked on a process of sterilising the country rather than purifying it. In such a sterile environment it is questionable whether we can maintain life as we know it. We are looking for a continuance of the support which has been provided in the past. We have misgivings as to its ultimate fate within the framework of the Industries Assistance Commission. That particular Commission increasingly is coming under great pressure. The volume of its business grows every day. One can be excused for imagining that the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy is subject to threats, one of which is to the fundamental competence of the Commission to attend to its task in the spirit of the operation and the other of which is in relation to whether or not it is in itself a device for the purpose of selling the industries down the river. Time alone will reveal the intention of the Government and its various organisational satellites. In terms of its immediate short term benefits, I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
-I support the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Bill which seeks to extend the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act 1 966-73 for a period of 1 2 months to 3 1 December 1975 pending an inquiry and report on the subsidy by the Industries Assistance Commission. We were pleased to hear on 7 April this year that Cabinet had decided to extend the payment of the subsidy to 31 December 1975. This will cost the Government some $12m. But we feel that this is a very small amount to pay when we consider the great production that nitrogenous fertiliser brings to this country through our rural industries and, as a consequence, to the Treasury.
Until the late 1 950s almost the entire nitrogenous fertiliser market was associated with the sugar and horticultural industries. The sugar industry, located primarily in Queensland, was responsible for more than 50 per cent of the tonnage of nitrogenous fertiliser used. Horticultural use in the various States took up the balance. The early 1960s saw a rapid growth in the use of agricultural nitrogen in Australia. That was first evident in Western Australia where nitrogen was found to be a profitable means of increasing the wheat yields from new land or after a phase of cropping on the lighter soils of the low and medium rainfall belts. Stimulated by the increased yields obtained in Western Australia, the use of nitrogen on cereal crops grew rapidly in other States of Australia- in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
There has been a tremendous growth in the usage of this fertiliser in Australia. From 1953, when 14,800 tons were used, the usage grew in 1968 to 135,000 tons. That indicates just what a tremendous asset nitrogenous fertiliser has been to the agricultural scene in Australia. In my own electorate of Patterson nitrogenous fertiliser is used extensively by the vegetable industry in the Maitland area and in the great black soil plains which are irrigated extensively for the growing of cereal crops, wheat, sorghum and barley. With world market prices down and costs rising agricultural producers will appreciate the extension of the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty. Primary producers are today faced with extremely heavy production costs and the prices they are receiving for the produce that they are selling on the world markets have dropped. So this measure will be of great benefit to the people of not only the Patterson electorate but also right throughout agriculture in Australia. Nitrogenous fertiliser is also used extensively in the pastoral section of the agricultural industry for the growing of legumes and for providing grasses for stock, sheep and cattle.
I fully support the extension of the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty. I hope that the Government will look also at the superphosphate bounty, which is costing some $56m and which is of great benefit to our agricultural industries. I support the Bill.
– I shall be very brief in my remarks. Honourable members have spoken, not at length, of the need for this fertiliser subsidy. The introduction of this Bill by the Government proves that it supports that point of view. No one has mentioned that it is not exactly a small amount that is involved in respect of this matter. The subsidy cost $13,573,101 in 1973-74 and is expected to cost another $ 13m in 1974-75. In view of the fact that the expenditure figures are no doubt of interest to honourable members, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the official returns to the Parliament of the payments made during the period 1 July 1973 to 30 June 1974 under the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act 1966-1973. It shows in detail the payments which have been made. It may be of interest to honourable members.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– May I say that I appreciate being given an opportunity to speak on this measure on behalf of my former neighbours of Currabubula.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) read a third time.
– For the information of honourable members I present volume 2 of the report of the inquiry into national compensation and rehabilitation together with a statement by the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) on the report.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1 8 1 5 ), on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I shall be very brief in my remarks on this matter. This Bill is designed to enable public servants of the Northern Territory who resign in order to stand for election to the Legislative Assembly to be reinstated in the unhappy event- an event which none of us in this place wishes to contemplatethat they are unsuccessful. It is a Bill which the Government wishes to be dealt with as a matter of great urgency because, I understand, nominations close tomorrow. As always the Opposition will co-operate in putting through a measure such as this, which is both reasonable and progressive and which in a specific way is designed to uphold the dignity and freedom of the individual.
Honourable members need no reminder that under section 44 of the Constitution any person who holds any office of profit under the Crown is incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate. That is, of course, a very basic and important principle. It is designed to preserve the independence of our Parliament. It was fitting that when the constitution of the Legislative Council was provided for in the Northern Territory (Administration) Act a similar principle should be adopted. So one finds in section 4ka, for instance, of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act that a person is not qualified to be a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Council if, at the date of nomination, he is employed in the Public Service of the Territory or of the Commonwealth. That provision meant that in the absence of any other provision a public servant had to resign and forfeit his rights to superannuation and so on. Naturally enough that inhibits public servants from standing for election and from entering politics, which is something that none of us would want to inhibit them from doing.
In 1960 the Liberal-Country Party Government moved to remedy this situation by inserting provisions in the Public Service Act- sections 47c and 82b- to ensure that a public servant who stands for election but who fails can be reinstated. Consequential amendments were made subsequently by a previous government to the Superannuation Act and provisions were made in the Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act 1969. They were enacted to extend similar rights to members of the defence forces. The Bill now before the House makes similar provision in relation to members of the Australian and Northern Territory Public Service who wish to nominate for election. It is to be hoped that in the public interest similar encouragement might be given by private employers to their employees. In order to do that they would, of course, have to amend their superannuation provisions. The Opposition welcomes and supports this measure.
– in reply- I thank the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) for his co-operation. The matter is urgent in the sense that any nominations from people who could be affected in this way have to be lodged by 12 o’clock tomorrow. Accordingly we are most anxious to have the legislation passed. The Government is very grateful for the co-operation which has been shown by the Opposition. It is noted that our worthy colleagues in another place had some other views which have not been pursued in this place. We appreciate the wisdom that has been shown. Obviously it was due to the force of the debate in the other place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 September (vide page 127 1 ), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Mr Speaker, this Bill is an unexceptional Bill in political terms and the Opposition does not oppose it. It is in essence a machinery Bill and it makes provision for a number of matters to which I will refer, albeit in a very brief fashion. The Bill is a clear illustration of the use of probably the most emancipated power in the Australian Constitution, and that is the grants power under section 96 of the Constitution. The Bill is a reminder to us all, I think, of the potential use of that power, that it can be used in such a fashion to reach out and to say in most explicit terms: ‘Here is money which is made available and it shall be spent in this specified fashion. ‘
Before I turn to the minor area of political difficulty which I see in the Bill I would refer to the special features which the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) instanced in his second reading speech. The Minister referred to grants to various universities for the teaching of handicapped children, and this is welcomed by us all. We are as yet a distance from doing all of those things that we should do with respect to helping those children who have difficulties thrust upon them by dint of physical handicap. There is another provision relating to the establishment of research faculties in universities and teaching institutions, and that deals with the research in community practice associated with community health centres. I must confess that in my simplicity I do not quite know what that means, and I would welcome some elucidation from the Minister. Community practice: Is it that the establishment of community health centres is going to create new problems associated with medicine? I just do not know, but I would be grateful if the Minister or someone on his behalf would give the House the benefit of what they understand as being involved in community practice.
The second principal provision is for the establishment at the University of Newcastle of a new medical school. The third principal provision relates to the acquisition of a new university site at Campbelltown in New South Wales. As my friend the Minister for Education has come in I will recapitulate my remarks on one of the provisions in the Bill. Precisely what is meant by community practice? It is, I say with complete frankness, a term that I do not quite understand.
The 2 other machinery provisions relate to the repeal of a grant which had been earmarked for Monash University and the establishment of a school of management of education within the University of New South Wales. The last provision is welcome indeed, because this country has a clear need for a greater command of management skills than we have at the moment. Contemporary experience would illustrate that simple proposition in the fact that giant corporations, seemingly having at their command immense experience in management, can topple. One is tempted to seek to offer excuses which do not in fact convince one as to why those corporations should topple. So I say to the Minister that this money is welcome indeed.
Now I come to what I would with charity describe as a minor area of political difficulty in the Bill. That is the use by the Minister in his second reading speech of this language: ‘When the Australian Government assumed full financial responsibility for tertiary education . . .’ That statement at first blush would convey to the uninformed that the Commonwealth had taken over completely the role, the financial responsibility, exercised by the States with respect to tertiary education. But it cannot be viewed just in that light. The truth remains that when the Commonwealth assumed full financial responsibility in this field the tax reimbursements made available to the States were substantially reduced. When one looks at the nature of the reductions one comes to the realisation that there is indeed something in the nature of prestidigitation by the Government in dealing with this matter, and I want to illustrate that to the Minister. Following the Premiers Conference and Loan Council Meeting in this chamber on 29 June 1973 the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) issued a Press statement. He said:
The States have accepted the Australian Government’s offer to take full financial responsibility for financing tertiary education from 1 January 1974. It has been agreed that amounts by which additional expenditure by the Australian Government relieve State governments of expenditure they would otherwise have incurred should be deducted -
– You realise that the universities in putting an application to the Universities Commission for money, to take an illustration now, do not have to deal with the question of the willingness or unwillingness of a State government to make matching grants? I am not going to enter into arguments about the origin of funds in the Australian people. You are now dealing on the financial question with only one government, that is all.
– I am indebted to the honourable gentleman for having made that clear because, with very great respect, that view is not shared in the Australian community. The view is widespread that this is a further example of what one may describe as generosity on the part of the central government- on the part of the Commonwealth Government. It is an argument, with respect, with which I disagree, and I want to explain to the Minister and to the House my apprehension of it. In the year 1974-75 the financial assistance grants to the States are reduced because of the Commonwealth’s assumptions in this field of tertiary education. Those grants are reduced by$229.7m.
– The grants for tertiary education are reduced but the released funds are given in additional grants in other sectors of education.
-This is the point on which I want my friend to expatiate, because it is not quite so simple as he puts it. On the loan side, on the capital side, the loss to Loan Council funds for the States in this year totals $65.4m, a total of $295. lm. The point I want to make can be illustrated in this fashion. It has been claimed that the expenditure on universities and colleges of advanced education will rise from last year in this year by $294m, yet the simple truth of the matter is that $294m on the one hand has been taken due to the fact that the grants to the States and loan funds have been reduced by $295. lm. I will come to the other point about the Minister’s argument that the $229m on current account and the $65m on loan account are used in another field. Conceding that it may be used in another field, what I am putting to the honourable gentleman is that it is not a proper presentation of the case to say that the Commonwealth has taken all responsibility in the field of tertiary education ergo the Commonwealth is entitled to full credit in the field <,i* education. The honourable gentleman may say that this is a rather captious sort of criticism to make, but it is not at all.
– I do not regard it as being a captious criticism. A university in a State is a creation of the Crown by right of the State government.
– It makes the decisions; we will have to finance them.
-That is perfectly true, but the Government is not entitled to take the credit in the simple fashion in which it seeks to take the credit.
– I was not aware that I was trying to take credit. I was trying to describe what the Bill does.
-I am indebted to the honourable gentleman for this display of Government modesty because regrettably it is not a characteristic shared by some of his colleagues. Indeed, during the course of recent discussions on economic matters it has been contended with a sense of exuberance: ‘We have spent so much more upon education, so much more upon universities’. What I am pointing out to the honourable gentleman is that in this particular field, as far as universities are concerned, the Commonwealth has been able to assume full responsibility for tertiary education in Australia because the States pro tanto have had their reimbursement funds reduced.
– They agreed to a different procedure.
-At least the honourable gentleman and I have found ourselves in some area of agreement I hope that the House and people in the country will well understand the point. Having said that by way of, I hope, not half-hearted approval of the Bui but merely pointing out to the honourable gentleman in, I trust, a tolerably courteous fashion that this is the way the Opposition sees it, I say to him that we welcome the Bill.
Before I sit down there is one other matter to which I would request the Minister to give consideration. I understand that there is an indexation scheme applying to increased costs in university buildings. My understanding further is that there will be approximately a 12-month gap before the indexation machinery takes effect. I know of one university which is being embarrassed by this machinery. I wonder whether the position could be looked at to see whether the machinery could be improved. It is not a matter of secrecy or confidentiality; it happens to be the new Griffith University in my own electorate. It is my understanding that the machinery represents something of a problem. It may involve a minor legislative alteration; I do not know. But I would welcome the Minister examining the position.
– I want to speak for only a few minutes on this matter. It gives me great pleasure to support the Bill in general. I should like to address myself particularly to clause 3 of the Bill which amends section 2 of the principal Act. It relates to the question of fees, and proposes altering the definition contained in paragraph (b) in sub-section (1) of section 2 of the principal Act. The Government has not been paying for fees payable to an organisation of students. The definition is being amended to read:
Fees payable in respect of an organisation of students, or of students and other persons, or in respect of the provision to students of amenities or services that are not of an academic nature.
I congratulate the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on standing up to very severe pressure from the Australian Union of Students last year when it tried to persuade the Government that university fees with respect to student organisations, sports unions, etc., should be among the fees paid for by this Government.
It is relevant to remember that in this year’s Budget it is proposed that more than $4 15m should go to universities. That is my rough calculation. The Minister may correct me. It is proposed that $46m shall go to the Australian National University and $369m to the States as grants to their universities. I feel I can do no better than quote from an article I wrote in a paper last year when this discussion was proceeding. I said that at that time the Australian Union of Students was running a strong campaign to force the Federal Government to subsidise compulsory university union, SRC and sports union fees. I said that the AUS leaders, who claim to be radicals, must be among the most selfish people in the community. I compare them with members of the Australian Medical Association and graziers as having a similarly strong conviction that the community owed them an extremely good living. I wrote:
There is less justification for the Federal Government to subsidise the Sydney University Rugby Union Club, say, than a sporting club in one of Sydney ‘s disadvantaged areas.
I also wrote:
There is less reason for the Government to pay students’ union and SRC fees than there is for paying the trades union and registered club subscriptions of low income workers.
I was pleased to hear that the AUS, as on many other issues, was not representative of university student opinion. My article continued:
It was pleasing to hear that at Melbourne University students defeated a motion calling for this government handout, and that at La Trobe University less than the quorum of 100 students turned up. . . . As far as the Labor Government is concerned, this is a question of priorities. We must use taxpayers’ money to equalise opportunity. It could well be argued that every dollar spent on universities, as distinct from subsidies to students on a needs basis, is redistribution of income in the wrong direction.
Money from taxpayers, most of it from low income groups, heavily subsidises students who come mainly from families in the upper 25 percent of income earners.
I think it is extremely important to remember that fact. I have great reservations about the Federal Government paying the total amount of money required by universities. I do not think this need be at the top of our priorities. However we have introduced this proposal. It certainly is important to look after the money that we spend on universities. As I pointed out earlier, it amounts to more than $400m a year. It is important that we ensure that as far as possible it goes to deserving students and to deserving institutions.
On the question of the Government not paying for compulsory fees to student organisations I think it is time for students at universities to consider whether there should be compulsory membership of student organisations- to consider whether membership of student organisations should not be voluntary. If membership were voluntary it would compel student organisations to show that they were doing things for their members. They would have to make it attractive enough for students to want to join. At present these organisations get about $20 a year from each student compulsorily and spend the money as they think fit, even though only a tiny proportion of students participate in the student organisations. I make these remarks having at one stage been Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Australian University Students and active in university student affairs for a number of years. I do not think it is the function of either this Government or university councils to decide that membership of university organisations, such as unions or SRC, should not be compulsory. It is up to the students to make the decision as to whether they want money collected compulsorily from them and used in some cases for purposes of which they do not approve. I congratulate the Minister for standing up to the pressure from the students and on introducing the amendments contained in this Bill.
-I join my colleague, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), in complimenting the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on the States Grants (Universities) Bill in its overall context, but I would like to draw attention to one or two of the Minister’s statements in his second reading speech. He says that special grants are to be made to universities for special purposes. He can only be complimented on this. Perhaps I should query the allocation of money for the establishment of courses or chairs of community practice. The honourable member for Moreton raised a point while the Minister was out of the House. He wished to know exactly the definition of courses or chairs of community practice. After all, are we looking at management or medical training of social workers in community health centres. I understand that the community health centres that have been established are finding more difficulty in obtaining medical assistance than they are in obtaining managerial assistance that is needed to run them. Perhaps the Minister can explain that to us in due course.
Money is to be made available to increase the number of social workers in training. This is very good, but the Minister may or may not be aware that when the social workers go into an area under the jurisdiction of a local government authority they are restricted by certain regulations. At the moment I think that 50 per cent of aged persons in an area must be under the care of these social workers before the local government authority can qualify for the grants. It is not always possible to satisfy this requirement. Some areas which need social workers cannot meet this requirement. I would ask the Minister to confer with his colleague on this point so that social workers can do the work that they are trained to do.
The Minister mentioned in his second reading speech that the Bill provides a contribution towards the cost of acquiring site for a new university at Campbelltown. I may have misunderstood, but I thought that the Minister suggested to the honourable member for Moreton by way of interjection that the State Governments make the decisions on the universities and the Federal Government finances them. I do not know whether that is correct. Perhaps I misunderstood.
– I do not think that in practice today a State government can make a decision without consultation with the Federal Government. A university is the creation of the Crown through the State Government, and through the State Government the Crown has sovereignty over a university in the State. A State university is unlike the Australian National University, which is a creation of the Crown through the Federal Government. The constitutional power over a university in a State is vested in the State Government.
-I thank the Minister for that explanation. I thought that in his earlier brief comment he indicated that the State made the decisions. I was going to remind him very quickly of the proposed fourth university for Victoria, in relation to which the Victorian State Government made a decision which the Australian Government promptly reversed.
– Is the honourable member referring to Ballarat-Bendigo-Geelong?
– We have consented to the formation of the university in Geelong.
-It was decided by the Victorian Government that the university would be a 3-campus university. The Minister is well aware that Professor Karmel and his committee investigated the matter and suggested that the university be established at Geelong with possible extensions at Ballarat and Bendigo. That is a reversal of the decision of the State Government.
– No. The door has not been closed on that question. The point is: When are you justified in deploying large resources for small populations? The question of growth and viability is involved. The Government of Victoria will determine the direction of the expansion of that university.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! I think the exchanges between the honourable member for Bendigo and the Minister are very interesting, but I would ask the honourable gentleman to speak through the Chair. Perhaps the Minister will be able to reply to him later.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the Minister’s comments were very important not only to those in my area but also to people in Victoria in general and I appreciate them.
– You are probably a better informed member now.
-No, I do not believe that at all, because I was well informed on the subject previously, and I do not think the Minister has in fact clarified the situation. We will not have a further discussion on that at this stage. I wonder whether the people of Campbelltown at present have a college of advanced education and a State College, or as it used to be called a teachers college. In Bendigo we had a college of advanced education which was known as the Institute of Technology and also a teachers college, which is now called the State College of Victoria, Bendigo. In 1972 a $4.25m grant was provided to this State College for capital expenditure, but because of the changing decisions made by this Australian Government and because of its decision that the college of advanced education was to amalgamate with the State College, this money was held up to this day. In 1972, when there were some 200 students fewer than there are now, the provision of additional buildings was overdue. It is quite obvious that the State College is in dire straits. I know it has forwarded a letter to the college of advanced education expressing its disgust at the manner in which this money has been held up.
One of the side effects of this is that some $200,000 of this money has been wasted in architects ‘ fees for buildings on which construction is not now permitted to proceed. More to the point, the money is to be reallocated to the metropolitan area and this is probably in keeping with the centralist attitude. I am a bit disappointed and I hope that the Minister will look at the situation in regard to the College of Advanced Education and the State College in Bendigo. I have asked him about this matter previously and I mentioned it again in this context because the same situation could arise where, because of a proposal for a long term university, which we all agree will take years to develop, the progress of the existing tertiary education system is held up. I want to see progress. The money was allocated. This was positive and it was progressive- I accept and welcome that- but why the dickens can we not now get these things going? The buildings that were to be built on this complex were designed and would have worked in with the joint building situation. It seems to me that it is rather a tragedy that the students and the teaching staff at this State College are held up whilst their sister college, the CAE, is permitted to proceed with its capital expenditure. I hope the Minister takes a positive approach and authorises the State College money, but does not stop the CAE from progressing as well.
On page 3 of the Minister’s second reading speech, he made reference to fees for students. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) raised a point that I agree with, that is, that perhaps the students should have voluntary organisations. It has been brought to my notice that at La Trobe University this year two of its students were expelled from the annual August conference of the Australian Union of Students because they did not agree with the political beliefs of the people running that union. To me that is wrong. Surely the AUS was set up for the benefit of all the students and surely they should be allowed to attend meetings of their organisation. I ask the Minister to make sure before any money is paid over to these organisations that it is not being used to create a closed shop for certain sections or sectional interests in this matter.
– We do not pay money to the AUS.
– The Minister says that the Government is not paying money to the AUS, but is he aware of the situation in regard to the AUS and that it is trying to get him on side? I think he should have a good look at the situation from the point of view of the benefit of the education system. I did not wish to sound over critical of the whole situation and I hope that I did not, but I was drawing a parallel of reactions which have occurred in Bendigo, and no doubt Ballarat, as a result of actions taken over a decision to establish a fourth university in Victoria, and which have affected other tertiary institutions. I hope that as a result of my drawing these matters to the Minister’s attention he will take action to speed up the needed works, and that he will make sure that such things do not occur in areas where new universities are planned.
-I wish to enter this debate to reiterate some of the matters that are contained in the Bill and to trace some of the reasons why they are there. I am rather pleased that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) raised the question of the courses or chairs of community practice. This problem is not a new one. Within the medical profession there has been a searching for many years as to the proper means of how to practise community medicine. I think that honourable members realise that at the moment there tends to be a vast separation between the general practitioner practising in the community and the associated services that go to make up a health team. For example, I graduated some 21 years ago. During my medical course an effort was made to inculcate some principles of community practice by sending students out to work with general practitioners for a few weeks to see what general practice was all about. As time has gone on, this has become a more sophisticated process. In many medical schools students in fourth year or fifth year undertake several weeks of elective work which may be concerned with general practice, in social fields, or in hospitals. The idea is to give these students some concept of the overall practice of medicine as opposed just to practice in hospitals which they are inclined to see.
The Monash University has a Chair of Social and Preventive Medicine. When this Chair was initially mooted it was suggested that it be a chair of human ecology. I think the honourable member for Moreton will appreciate that this would take the faculty into its widest concept. The Victorian Branch of the Australian Medical Association set up a working party several years ago to discuss the way in which community practice should be carried out. That working party, which was composed, I think, of the then president of the Victorian Branch of the AMA, several members of the AMA, the Dean of one of the clinical schools and as one of its co-opted members my colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), presented a report which showed that community practice preferably should involve integrated services in the sense of community health centres. In other words, within the profession itself there is a feeling towards medical services and the practice of medicine in the community which is preventive and which gives continuing care and makes use of all the ancillary services such as social workers, infant and welfare workers, marriage guidance counsellors and the various therapists to whom I could refer.
They Royal College of General Practitioners has looked at many aspects of this matter. I believe that its most recent discussions have been to have a look at a system of medical records which, while preserving the confidential nature of their contents, would still allow a meaningful examination of the delivery of health care. We do face in Australia, which is a developed country, a malproportion of distribution of doctors in the community as well as not quite enough doctors to reach what is considered the desirable level for medical services. So, I hope that the honourable member for Moreton and the honourable member for Bendigo are not being overly suspicious in the thought of these courses or chairs of community practice. There is increasing concern that more and more medical graduates are going into the specialist fields. The very nature of a medical course means that medical students are being taught by specialists, whether those specialists be surgeons, physicians, cardiologists or what-have-you. The student is influenced by the training given by the specialists. Not enough students are going out into that most satisfying specialty of all, general practice. So, the courses in chairs of community practice are intended to interest students and to train them in this comprehensive community health care aspect and in the use of the health team.
The development of these community health centres has made this objective a much more viable proposition because they are there and they are able to be used. May I illustrate the point in this way: In my own electorate there is a proposition for a couple of community health centres in the West Heidelberg area and in the east Preston area. The Austin Hospital which is a major teaching hospital of the Melbourne University and the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital which is attached to the Medical School of the Melbourne University have both shown a great interest in what is going on at these community health centres. Hopefully, although in this Bill the facilities are those particularly in Queensland and South Australia, it will not be long before we get the same sort of proposition being put forward for other States. So, I welcome this encouragement of courses and chairs of community practice particularly as this need has been felt for so many years. The answers to it are still not known. By this study we will be able to use our health personnel to the benefit of the community in the community itself.
I also welcome the increased funds for teaching and research into the special education of the handicapped. I hope that honourable members have noticed the significance of these grants. It is not just a matter of teaching techniques. Identifying the problems of those requiring special education also requires clinical and diagnostic facilities. But the degrees of handicapped are many and varied. There are all sorts of learning defects. There are comprehension defects, and such things as mirror vision. There is the lack of coordination between mind and limb. One could go on talking about the varieties that there are. Suffice it to say that this encouragement is welcome.
The other aspect which I shall mention briefly is the finance that is offered for the increased number of social workers in training. This Government has taken many initiatives in education, health and social security which require the support of social workers. A great shortage exists of these trained persons. Examples such as the one I will now give are disturbing. I know of one hospital in Victoria which has a bed capacity of 323. That hospital has about the second highest load of casualty and out-patients in Victoria. The social work must be carried out by one trained social worker and 2 aides. I can assure honourable members that, no matter how hard this staff works or how dedicated these people are, those performing social work at this hospital have not a hope of handling the problems that exist. These problems are part of the disease process. Unless a competent social worker is available to analyse each problem and to deal with it, the disease process is not stopped and rehabilitation is unsatisfactory. It will take us some time to make up the defects in this field. It is well that we ensure that the initiatives are taken. I support the Bill and welcome many of the proposals that are contained in it.
-I should like to make a very short contribution to this Bill. It is an important Bill and deals with 3 aspects. I should like to mention the one which makes grants available for research and the training of teachers of handicapped children, including those children with specific learning difficulties. The Country Party, of course, gives its total support to this legislation. The teaching of handicapped children in Australia at this time falls well behind the times. The Senate report on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education which came out in 1972 revealed that within our state education systems the provision for training teachers to teach mentally retarded children was virtually non-existent. Of course there have been some pockets of interest in this field.
In Victoria the Melbourne Teachers College has a course which turns out a very small number of graduates each year. Other state colleges have limited courses. Some have short courses in inservice training. There are few specific courses for training teachers to teach even mildly or moderately handicapped children. In too many cases teachers with no training or experience in special education are faced with the task of teaching remedial or special classes. This is not only a huge problem for these teachers but also it is a huge problem with children who have complications, emotional disturbances, speech and other learning difficulties as well as the common disability of mental retardation. This Bill, when passed, will make a contribution to the major problem- the critical shortage of specialist teachers. An inquiry into special education in Victoria last year showed that only 98 guidance officers, 43 of whom were still in training, were in the Psychology and Guidance Branch of the Department. These teachers had to serve a school population of more than 600,000.
The funds that have been recommended in this Bill will enable the enrolment of an additional 20 to 25 students in special education. While the Branch will make a contribution it will be quite inadequate in meeting our present needs. The intake of students for the Bachelor of Special Education course at Monash University will double next year. But the doubling of the intake of students will increase the number of students to 40 only. I think it must also be pointed out that last year when applications were being called for these 20 places, 357 applications were received. I think this points to the tremendous interest by our young people throughout the nation to enter into this type of service for the handicapped. I am quite sure that while the demand next time will not be so great there will still be several hundred applications for the additional 20 places. The Whip has made it well known that this debate should soon be concluded and I bow to bis request. I point out that there is an urgent need for one recognised training course in each State for special school teachers. The limiting factor, as I said, in providing the opportunity for all our handicapped children to have the quality of education that they deserve is qualified teachers. This Bill and any Bill which deals with this particular problem has the complete support of the Opposition and the Country Party in particular.
– in reply- In answer to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher), the demand of students for a particular course is, of course, evidence that a university can put to the Universities Commission when it is demanding funding. What we are mostly interested in in this measure, however, is the training of the teachers of the teachers. That is a somewhat more specialised matter, I think, than has been said. It acts as a multiplier- we have people who can train a considerable number of students. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) asked me for a definition of community practice. This expression does not necessarily come from the existence of community health centres, about which there is controversy. It comes to education from discussions that are now taking place in the regions of health. I would say that community practice- the definition on which we operate- is eld to be concerned with the principles and practices of promoting health and the delivery of primary health care in situations outside of hospitals, that is, to the community. It includes general medical practice and aspects of geriatric and rehabilitation services, counselling programs concerned with drugs, alcohol and family welfare, community mental health and maternal and child health services, again outside of hospitals. Community practice is concerned with the integration of services provided to individuals and families in the community, and its approach is therefore necessarily multi-disciplinary. This matter has been considered and honourable members opposite will recollect that their parties set up the Committee on Medical Schools under the Universities Commission. It happened that that Committee put in its report to me after the change of government. The Committee on Medical Schools stated that it wished:
To emphasise that it does not support the creation of departments of general practice or community medicine located entirely in an academic setting and divorced from actual practice in the community.
It was the body which was set up under the previous Government and which reported on medical education that has asked for this form of medical education. Sidney Sax, the Chairman of the Interim Committee of the National Hospitals and Health Services Commission, and Peter Karmel, the Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission , jointly stated:
We support this position most strongly. For this reason we do not propose that support should be provided for a program in community practice in a medical school which has no access to an appropriate community health centre. The Australian Universities Commission has already received approaches from some universities. The Interim Committee of the National Hospitals and Health Services Commission and the Australian Universities Commission have considered this matter and propose that:
the Australian Universities Commission should seek special funds to support the academic component of departments of or courses in community practice in those universities which seek such funds, provided that the Interim Committee of the National Hospitals and Health Services Commission has already decided to support new community health centres or to approve existing ones which could appropriately be associated with the medical school concerned.
This measure implements that. The honourable member who referred to the university in Victoria I think needs to be reminded that the delays of which he complained concerning the university began under my predecessor, Mr Malcolm Fraser, who, as Minister for Education and Science, was most insistent that he was not going to act to make a Commonwealth component grant, which would have been the practice under his Government, towards any university in Victoria unless it was recommended by the Universities Commission. The Universities Commission was complaining about delays in getting specific information on anticipated student trends before the change of government.
– I was talking about the State college delays.
– It is the function of the Universities Commission or the Commission on Colleges of Advanced Education to go into these questions. I invite the attention of the honourable gentleman to the fact- and neither of us came down politically in the last shower- that when the funding of tertiary institutions was joint State and Commonwealth there were 7 Treasuries with an interest in blocking a vast expansion in expenditure. Now there is only one, and the State Treasury will cheerfully support a position in which a country town of 15,000 is to get 2 libraries, both worth a couple of million dollars, for institutions just a few miles apart. In the days when the State Treasuries took responsibility they would not have touched that proposition with a barge pole. So the mere fact that some claimants must wait a while for the allocation of resources- and we are allocating enormous resources to education- does not mean that there is hostility or neglect on the part of the Government. The advocate from a given area seeking the establishment of a university of course can have a very simple approach: Any funds spent in his area, not matter how few students are involved, would be justified. But that, of course, cannot be and never was the attitude of the Universities Commission.
The honourable member for Moreton has complained about comparing unlikes. If there is a State component in only one of 2 successive financial years- even if there is only a State component for only half a financial year as there was in the last financial year- one cannot say that Commonwealth expenditure when it increases represents increased effort put by the community into university education. Hereafter we will be comparing like with like. This financial year the funds- the Australian people’s funds- are coming entirely through one Treasury. Of course I agree with the honourable member for Moreton that they are the Australian people’s funds. But they are coming nevertheless entirely from one Treasury. Next financial year they will again be coming entirely through one Treasury. But whichever way one likes to analyse the position, the Australian expenditure on education is very greatly increased.
I do not want to make this as a statement comparing the attitudes of governments to education. I merely want to instance the destination of released funds. I invite the attention of honourable gentlemen opposite to the fact that in the last biennium of the McMahon Government, all up, grants to schools- capital grants and recurring grants to government and non-government schools- were $112m. With the adjustment of $75m now being made and the recommendations of the Schools Commission adding to the Karmel grants, ‘all up’ grants in this biennium amount to $788m which in money terms- and I admit the factor of inflation- is slightly more than 7 times as much. This amount represents a very considerable increase. Of course, it is the function of the Schools Commission to maintain the value of those grants. The point is that Australia is putting increased resources into education. The State governments were quite willing to get rid of the burden or the problem of tertiary education. This is a field in which there is the prospect of an unlimited growth in demand. An all-over view, such as the Federal Government has of the allocation of resources in this field, seems to have been supported as the basis of a desirable new financial procedure by all the State Premiers.
Answering other points we were not critical of the students when we felt that we could not incur the cost of their private activities. I would have thought that they would not have wanted, for instance, Government funding of their student publications. I would not, myself, like to be answerable for them. Some of the publications of some years ago were magnificent. But students ought to want to be politically independent. They receive a grant of $100 as university students outside of what they receive for living expenses. We wanted them to receive this money not as paid to societies but independently to students as an incidentals grant. The student can then decide whether he or she wants to pay this money into the rugby union or some specific society of his or her choice. In my view it is up to the societies to be attractive enough to enlist the students into their affairs or activities. I believe that it would be quite wrong for us to be funding these societies directly and to assume that all students wanted to be members of them. But we have not been opposed to student expenses in these respects being met. We have wanted to approach this matter by way of grants to the students as persons and to provide an incidentals allowance the expenditure of which was within their decision as distinct from a living allowance to cover these activities. I thank the House for its welcoming of the legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate with amendment:
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1 974 (No. 2 ).
Post and Telegraph Bill 1974 (No. 2).
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1 83 1 ), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Snedden had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘this House is of the opinion that the Budget fails to tackle Australia’s economic crisis, in that:
1 ) unemployment is permitted to grow and the prospect for school is prejudiced,
inflation is accelerated,
existing poverty is ignored and new proverty is created,
personal income tax is increased 43 per cent,
5 ) living standards will be lowered,
private enterprise is stifled,
Government power is further centralised,
individual incentive and thrift is penalised, and
a double tax is levied on estates; and because the Government:
has made the Budget a socialist vehicle to intensify the attack on the Senate and break down the free enterprise system,
believes the absurdity that the Government can spend without people paying or can build without people producing, and
has preached private restraint but has threatened its achievement by its own Government extravagance ‘.
-I rise to support the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1974-75. In doing so I remind honourable members that this Government was elected in 1972 on a program of social reform. It was a sweeping program and one that had been widely debated with all sections of the community. It was endorsed in 1972. The electors recognised the neglect in every part of the public sector and in every area of social welfare. The program was again endorsed in May 1974. The present Budget is completely consistent with the social reform program my colleagues and I have been advocating for many years. We recognise the economic problems and we recognise the difficulties. But we are determined to push on with this social reform program. We are determined to put people before panic It is a Budget prepared to recognise the need for long term planning. It is a Budget prepared to recognise the needs of people. It is from a Government prepared to recognise that when change becomes necessary, change is needed.
I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to endorse the expenditure of $235m through the States on welfare housing. If there is one project that I am sure all in this House will endorse, it is the provision of cheaper housing both for rent and to assist private ownership for persons on low and moderate incomes. Housing is a matter of urgency in my own State of Victoria and has been for quite some time. In fact we wonder whether we will ever get on top of it. I am pleased to see that additional advances could be made available, given the increased resources for housing construction and the ability of the States to put further funds for welfare housing to productive use. I trust that the States will be able to use this money, which includes $25m not spent by the States in the 1973-74 period. Considering the number of people in Victoria who are desperate for low rent homes, I believe that all stops must be pulled out to make sure that this money is spent and that people are housed. There is a 4-year waiting list in Victoria for Housing Commission homes and the list is growing longer.
The Australian Housing Corporation which the Government proposes to set up will monitor the sensitive areas of building and provide employment and housing for sectors of the community which are not covered under other plans. The Corporation will have the initial funds of $25m and it will help home seekers who come within the Australian Government’s constitutional responsibilities. The funds will be made available to low and moderate income earners at special rates of interest. The Corporation should be looked on as complementing and not rivalling the State housing authorities. I hope that the States will see it this way. The pensioner dwelling scheme allocation has been doubled and the amount available of $ 10m a year for 3 years will provide more than 3,000 units over that period. If there was one area of housing that needed a boost it was this one. As fast as the Government increases the pensions to pensioners that increase is grabbed by the development sharks or those who build the blocks of flats and it goes into their pockets instead of where it is meant to go.
There is a complete lack of rent control in most States and renters can take all that the traffic can bear. In my own electorate single pensioners living in the type of one-bedroom flats that will be built under this scheme are presently paying $24 a week out of a pension of $32. By contrast the flats available under the aged pensioners scheme are available for rental at $2 to $4.50 weekly. Increases in pensions are intended to benefit pensioners. If there is a downturn in the building industry I suggest that a greater preparedness from the building industry to work with housing commissions and a greater level of co-operation from housing commissions could help overcome this problem. Mutual co-operation can quite often overcome a lot of things. It would overcome the waiting list for those who are seeking low rent housing.
Concerning the Defence Service Homes Bill, it is a progressive and constructive step for the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) to introduce legislation that will allow the transfer of an existing loan from one home to another. I am sure all honourable members have at some time or another been forced to tell someone who is moving interstate that he cannot get another loan. It is a constructive amendment. I am sure that all the men in this House will be pleased to see that this amending legislation also gets rid of the discrimination single men have suffered under the previous defence service homes legislation. Last year we amended the Act to provide for single women with qualifying service. This year we have liberated the single men and widowers and they too can receive assistance under the scheme. The new maximum amount of loan available has been raised to $15,000, with the existing rate of interest of 3% per cent continuing to be applicable to the loan up to $12,000. The rate of interest on the higher amount will be charged at 2 per cent below that of the most favourable rate charged for housing loans by the Commonwealth Savings Bank. My colleague the Minister for Housing and Construction is to be congratulated on the thought that has been given to flexibility in an Act that for many years was far too rigid and penalised the very people it was intended to serve.
This coming year will also see the beginning of the implementation of the Government’s new program for the care and education of young children. This has been an Australian Labor Party dream for many years. In no other country has such an ambitious program been attempted. This program recognises the need for education, health and welfare components in child care. It recognises the need for these same services for children whether they be looked after at home or elsewhere. It will break down the traditional distinctions between occasional care and regular care, between pre-school education and child minding. All children whether they be looked after at home or elsewhere will have access to local centres designed to take care of their educational, health and psychological development. The implementation of this program will place Australia amongst those countries most genuinely concerned with the welfare of the young. Again, I am sure all honourable members who have had the problem of latch key children within their electorates will welcome and endorse the scheme for the care of the children of Australia.
We have already announced unconditional grants totalling $56.3m for local governing bodies. This is the first Government to recognise the new and increasing burdens on local government and to move to assist local governing bodies to provide services in their region which are comparable with services enjoyed by communities elsewhere in Australia. The Grants Commission was headed by Sir Leslie Melville and his recommendations were accepted by this
Government. Criticisms of ‘political overtones’ which became quite hysterical in some newspapers and which were made by some unsuccessful councils smacked to me of sour grapes. I am sure all members of this Parliament would endorse the integrity of Sir Leslie Melville.
– You should justify that.
– You are attacking Sir Leslie Melville and his colleagues on the Commission, not us. Sir Leslie Melville has headed several commissions for successive governments and I for one would not attack his integrity. Unsuccessful councils might do better to look more closely at the type of submission that they put up. They might also do better to read the terms of reference and realise they were supposed to submit submissions on a regional basis.
The Government has decided to assist the celebration of International Women’s Year by making a grant of $2m to help co-ordinate the activities and celebrations in Australia. The United Nations designated international years to draw attention to matters of human significance. While welcoming International Women’s Year, it is worth noting that it had to be thought necessary by the United Nations that all nations should make an effort to ensure that women enjoy the dignity of basic human rights. It is a sobering thought that women throughout the world have to be granted an opportunity to be heard. It is my earnest hope that 1975 will make a lasting international impact on reducing the prejudices and lack of opportunity from which women suffer. I hope that it will be a year in which community attitudes change and community prejudices are uprooted. I hope it will be a year in which the lasting contribution women have made in the Australian society will be recognised and I hope that it does not finish with December 1975 but that the changes carry through and are permanent.
There are many other provisions in this Appropriation Bill which are both constructive and innovative. There is no need for me to go into details of the expenditure of $ 105m on a program of assistance to the States to eliminate the backlog of sewerage services. This subject was covered admirably by my colleagues during the debate on sewerage in this House on Tuesday. I hope honourable members will realise that this backlog did not arise in 20 months; it has been a process that has been accumulating over 20 years. It is a result of consistent neglect by States which, to do them justice, did not have the finance for such huge enterprises. It is a product of Federal governments which would not take any national responsibility for sewerage.
We have provided for further expenditure on education in primary, secondary, technical and tertiary areas. The technical area is the one in which I am most interested. I hope that all those concerned in promoting the technical expenditure make haste in getting things off the ground. This is one area in education which has been consistently downgraded, consistently neglected and consistently lacking in status in spite of tremendous dedication from all technical school teachers and unions.
Inflation affects every one of us. It is a community responsibility. It is not a problem which can be shrugged off by the usual ‘Why don’t they do something?’ We all are involved. It involves this Parliament, State parliaments, businessmen, housewives, students, farmers and unionists. For the first time we are all involved together. Regardless of the label each one of us has a national responsibility towards inflation. Together, and with some confidence and cooperation, our way of life will survive and improve. Divided or forced into factions or groups we will defeat each other and, more importantly, we might defeat our way of living. It is too late to play politics or to protect narrow interests. None of us can stand individually and our nation cannot stand alone. Each of us and each country is very dependent on others. The day for apportioning blame is long past. It is up to each of us, particularly those of us who set an example in the Parliament, to work together and to grow up. It is time for all Australians wherever they live to give some thought to the role they can play individually in combating inflation. It is time for the emergence of a national spirit of cooperation both within and without the Parliament.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this Budget is built on a tragic ignorance of a fundamental and inescapable fact: No country, and no government, can spend without restraint on the one hand while, on the other hand, it sets about the systematic and deliberate sabotage of the nation’s producers. No government can meet the great clamour from the people for better services, better education, better welfare services, better defence, better roads and all the rest of it, while it does so many things to damage the nation’s productive capacity, to discourage people from investing their earnings and their savings in producing industries, and to persuade people that they are wrong, if not stupid, to seek to advance themselves and their families through hard work and thrift. Yet that is precisely what this Government is trying to do and that is precisely the tragic economic ignorance on which this Budget is based.
On the other hand, I think there are very strong grounds for believing that the strategy this Budget displays may not be the result of economic ignorance but a deliberate strategy designed to further the Labor Party ‘s own basic objectives. It is by no means insignificant when the Treasurer (Mr Crean) says, as he did in the Budget Speech:
The relatively subdued conditions in prospect for the private sector provide the first real opportunity we have had to transfer resources to the public sector.
What the Treasurer is saying is that the private sector has been put in such a serious situation by this Government and has been so depressed, that the Government now can more easily pursue its objective of socialisation.
The biggest indictment of this Budget has now come from the Government itself, and that indictment comes in the form of the decision to devalue and free the Australian dollar. A decision to devalue and free a nation’s currency is a decision of such great significance that one would expect it to be made only after considerable consideration and careful thought over a period of time. The Budget should have taken account of a currency decision which the Government now says it knew was imminent when the Budget was being prepared. The fact that the Budget did not do so suggests very strongly that the Government did not know a currency change was imminent and that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was forced into the currency change as a result of the mess he got himself into by his incredibly inept performance at the beginning of this week.
The currency decision was the right decision. The pity is that it has been so long delayed, that it was made in such panic, and that it was not preceded by a more responsible budget. What the Government must understand now is that it must stand ready to take strong action to counter the additional inflation which the currency change will generate. This action will be all the harder because of the irresponsible Budget, and the Budget’s failure to anticipate the currency change.
But, Mr Deputy Speaker, not only is this Budget built on economic ignorance, not only does it form part of the process of furthering Labor’s political philosphy and not only does it expose, in conjunction with this week’s events, the Government’s irrationality and mismanagement; it is also a Budget of outright deception. Nowhere is this charge substantiated more clearly than in the taxation cut swindle-that is the only name I can give it.
The big deal of this Budget-the big bait for the wage earner-was to be a cut in his tax. But as the Melbourne ‘Age’ has correctly pointed out, these tax cuts are based on a lie. Because of inflation the wage earner will pay more tax next year than he paid last year, in spite of the so-called tax cuts. This is nothing less than an outright betrayal of the people Labor claims it represents.
The wage earner, to whom this Government now appeals to exercise restraint, is the victim of a Labor Party confidence trick. The extent of the deception becomes very clear when you learn that, despite the so-called tax cuts, the Government will collect an extra 46 per cent in income tax this year. This fact exposes one of the worst features of this Budget, and the most serious admission by the Government, namely its failure to act against inflation and its dependence on inflation to finance the Budget’s spending program. Not only does this Government not attack inflation, and the Treasurer says quite openly that other things are more important, but also it must have inflation. It cannot live without it. If we look at various elements of the Budget we see a definite pattern emerging. That pattern is one of discouragement of private initiative and enterprise, discouragement of individual effort and drive and discouragement of personal saving and thrift. None of these things, of course, has any worthwhile place in a socialist economy. It is only to be expected that a socialist governmentand this is one- will follow a course of discouragement of these things.
This Budget ignores- because the Government cannot understand- the fact that productive enterprise must be the basis of the rises in living standards we all seek and that there is simply no other source of these improvements. It ignores the fact- again because the Labor Party cannot understand it- that the lifeblood of productive enterprise is investment. Governmentseven socialist ones- have no source of income apart from the taxation they can levy on the fruits of productive enterprise, whether those fruits be the earnings of the enterprise or the earnings of people who work in the enterprise. Yet this Government, in this Budget, goes out of its way to discourage productive investment. Investment in the mining industry is discouraged, investment in rural industry is discouraged, harder work is discouraged and saving is discouraged.
What the new capital gains and unearned income taxes mean is this: A man or woman will work for a living and they will pay very heavy taxation on their earnings. Out of those hardearned, heavily-taxed earnings they will put a little aside for the future. They will invest it, but if they earn some income from those savings that they have invested, this Government will tax them a second time on that income. If they have a little left over after they have paid the extra tax and if they invest that little amount, they will pay tax again and again on any income they get from that investment. This is a most savage tax. It is a despicable tax. It is a tax brought in by Labor in the mistaken belief that it will make the unions believe that Labor is prepared to sock the rich. The trouble is that the vast majority of those people who will pay this new tax will not be rich at all. They will be the great mass of small investors among the working people who are simply trying to put a little aside for a rainy day. It is to the greatest discredit and shame of this Government that it has decided on this form of tax.
For rural industries, and the people in them, the capital gains tax will be little short of disastrous in many cases and it will hurt a lot of other people as well. Mr John White, Chief Executive Officer of the New South Wales Graziers’ Association, has forecast that the capital gains tax appears to mean the end of the family farm in a couple of generations. How ironic that a party which so viciously peddled lies about the attitude of other parties to the family farm has now taken a step which is predicted to lead to the destruction of the family farm as the basic unit of Australian agriculture. Again there is an attack on the incentive to invest in and to improve properties, and to make them more productive. Much of the development of Australia’s rural areas, farmlands, tourist enterprises and so on has happened because people were able to use their initiative and to seek rewards. This new tax will stifle, and in many cases destroy, that kind of initiative which has been so vital to the growth and wellbeing of cities and towns all over Australia.
If there is a need to raise extra revenue- I do not concede that there is if the economy is properly managed- it should be done through adjustment of the normal direct and indirect taxes. This Budget ignores the most pressing problems of the day which are unemployment and inflation. A serious attempt to control inflation would have required severe restraints in Government expenditure in association with large taxation reductions. That has not happened. I know that it is easy enough to say these things and a lot harder to do them. It is also easy enough and fair enough for people to say to the Opposition: ‘Well, where would you cut back on Government spending?’
I think it has to be understood that the question of restraint is not just a matter for governments alone. Governments spend money because they are pressured by people to spend it. But we have to realise that no government can go on spending money like water if the nation ‘s production and productivity are below par- and that is what Australia’s production and productivity are at present. We all know that there are great national tasks to be performed and that things need to be done. But every Australian has to try to understand that we just cannot do everything at once and every Australian has to accept that the demands on governments must be reduced. It is not the responsibility of governments alone; it is everyone’s responsibility- and there is no way of unloading that responsibility. But governments- especially this spendthrift Government- must also realise that there are responsibilities even higher than giving in to the growing clamour for more of everything and for everything to be done at once. Governments must be prepared to risk unpopularity for the sake of acting with restraint and responsibility where the interests of the nation’s people demand such a course of action.
It is in vain that non-metropolitan Australia looks for justice in this Budget. If the recent Green Paper is not to be merely discarded as academic waffle, its first results should have been seen in this Budget. Where is the Government’s response to the tariff compensation case? Where are the promised soil and water conservation concessions? Where are the policies to stabilise incomes? Where are the policies to increase the availability and to liberalise the terms of rural credit? Where are the policies to assist the embattled decentralised industries? Where are the long term measures to provide an expanding employment base in country areas? Where is the Australian Labor Party’s rural rump? What has happened to it? Are its members lions or mice? Their feeble, ineffective voices are stilled.
For 12 months the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) has ducked and weaved his way through questions from the Country Party on rural unemployment relief. He criticised the old unemployment relief scheme. He held meeting after meeting with the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). He talked of the success of Labor’s full employment policy. But after 12 months of gestation what has ‘Clay-pits Clyde’ come up with? Virtually, a renewal of the Liberal-Country Party scheme- a scheme that never should have been abolished. While temporary rural employment relief is urgently needed in many areas, I would have liked to see in the Budget some steps towards providing an expanding employment base in rural areas. The latest proposal to provide prop-up assistance to country towns and industries is no substitute for long term measures to encourage industry and manpower to become decentralised. It is rural industry that is the missing partner in the much talked about social contract.
I do not call for or expect indexation of beef, wheat, mutton prices and so on. I do not expect quarterly adjustments in the incomes of rural producers. But I do expect and Australian farmers expect some recognition of their problem. Is it any wonder that the farmers are angry? Is it any wonder that members of the Opposition attend protest meeting after protest meeting and appeal to rural producers not to take extreme action, despite their anger and frustration? Why has the Government acted in this way towards rural industry? The stated reasons range from the pious ‘more efficient allocation of resources’ to ‘they have never had it so good’. If concessions are removed because farm incomes are high in one year, then the converse must follow- their justifiable return- when incomes fall. No wonder producers around Australia talk not of a fairer more equitable Australia, but of a divided Australia and a government that could not care less what happens to them.
Who speaks for the mining industry in the Labor Party? Certainly not the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). He speaks from outdated attitudes and nurtured prejudices. He is the silent man of Cabinet. Yet, he has allowed new taxation blows aimed at the mining industry that will greatly affect the profitability, and indeed feasibility, of many new projects. Under his administration, our exploration languishes, our uranium industry stagnates and Australians are the losers. There is a malaise in this country. There is something chilling about the growth of inflation and unemployment. There is growing apprehension amongst the people and uncertainty in industry. The nation is moving fearfully but surely into the dark valley of stagflation. We do not know yet how long the period will be or how efficient and prompt any subsequent remedial actions can be. What we do know is that this Budget talks about socialist dogma when it should be talking about inflation and unemployment. We know, as the Labor Party knows, that the Australian people have had enough of this Government and the mess that it has got the economy into. Socialist dogmas of soaking the rich, penalising the thrifty and squeezing the profit margins of business are completely at odds with what is required. We do not need a new social order. We need a new spirit of initiative and self-sacrifice in the community, inspired and stimulated by decisive, sensible national leadership.
– It will be clear from the Budget Speech that the Government is continuing to give priority to the needs of education. I wish to outline the new measures that are implicit in this Budget For reasons of time, I must speak in broad terms and about selected areas; but, so that honourable members may have details of the Government’s education program, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a fuller statement covering all aspects of that program.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Expenditure on Education
Details are given in the table ‘Australian Government Outlays on Education’ at the conclusion of this statement.
Technical and Further Education
This program is covered in the Ministerial Statement, ‘Government Education ProgramsAchievements and Initiatives’, September 1974.
Primary and Secondary Education
The Government’s acceptance of the major recommendations of the Karmel Committee has meant the implementation of a number of programs aimed at improving the quality of education and promoting greater equality of opportunity. These programs, seven in all, have now been in operation since January this year. They are the General Recurrent, General Building, Libraries, Disadvantaged Schools, Special Education, Teacher Development, and Innovations Programs.
The Government has also decided, on the recommendation of the Schools Commission, to supplement its programs of assistance for government and non-government schools to compensate for the effects of cost increases. An estimated $78m will be provided to supplement capital and recurrent grants for schools over the eighteen months commencing 1 July 1974, of which at this stage it is estimated that $48. 5m will be required in 1974-75. This includes a provision for cost escalation for projects at nongovernment schools under the previously introduced Science and Libraries Facilities Programs.
The immediate impact of funding under the Schools Commission’s general recurrent program, since January this year, has been twofold; the appointment of large numbers of professional ancillary staff and a reduction in pupil/ teacher ratios. These developments are helping teachers to devote their energies more directly towards the quality of education.
General building grants are contributing towards the Government’s objective of all schools having satisfactory standards of physical provision.
The programs for libraries, disadvantaged schools, special education and teacher development are promoting rapid development in areas of special need. While funding of secondary school libraries continues, provision is also being made for the development of library-resource centres in primary schools. Basic courses in school librarianship are being undertaken by some three hundred teachers in all States.
About eight hundred schools are receiving supplementary grants under the disadvantaged schools program for a wide variety of projects including parent involvement schemes, cultural enrichment activities and remedial education enterprises. In addition, supplementary building grants are improving physical conditions in a number of schools, particularly in inner city areas.
Emphasis in the special education program has been, and will continue to be, on strengthening and raising the quality of the teaching force in this area. Special training courses under the program are being undertaken in 1974 by five hundred and seventy teachers. Funds are also being applied to the replacement, upgrading and provision of additional buildings required for children with special needs.
Under the teacher development program, projects initiated by bo:;.’i employing authorities and by teachers are be’ - implemented In particular, the program is making possible a greater consideration of the needs of teachers in isolated areas where, previously, in-service training opportunities have been restricted. Another particularly encouraging aspect of the teacher development program is the spontaneous and highly favourable reaction to the establishment of education centres. Local teacher initiative for professional development is being stimulated throughout Australia by the establishment of these centres.
The Innovations Program is well under way. Over one thousand applications for grants were received in the first six months of operation. The wide variety of proposals and the enthusiasm of teachers, parents and the community generally is clear evidence that this program is doing much to heighten the quality of education in Australian schools.
The continued support of the Government for these Schools Commission programs, as reflected in the Budget, will ensure progress towards improved quality of education and a greater degree of accessibility by all children to that education.
In co-operation with the States, the Australian Government has established a Curriculum Development Centre to foster curriculum and materials development from pre-school to postsecondary level. The Centre will become an independent statutory body under legislation to be introduced as soon as possible.
The Interim Council for the Centre, assisted by a widely representative national workshop of educators interested in curriculum development, has produced a statement of the Functions and Mode of Operation of the Centre. The statement will be widely distributed to educational bodies and to all schools and colleges in Australia.
The statement breaks new ground in its basic considerations about the nature of the curriculum development task and in its emphasis on the need to involve teachers, parents and students in the developmental process.
The Centre will conduct and support projects in co-operation with other authorities; disseminate curriculum information; undertake field development activities to facilitate the ready acceptance in schools of innovations which arise from curriculum development initiatives supported by the Centre; provide advisory, technical and evaluative services and opportunities for training in curriculum development skills; and make arrangements for the printing and marketing of materials.
Most of these functions will begin operation in early 1975.
The provision in the 1974-75 Budget is $810,000.
The Centre will also provide for the continuing activities associated with the distribution and use of materials and methods developed by the Australian Science Education Project (ASEP), which completed its task in March this year.
The first major curriculum development project being undertaken by the Centre is the Social Education Materials Project (SEMP) an attempt to meet the need for materials to assist students in coming to a better understanding of contemporary Australian society.
The Project is being mounted through eight developmental teams hosted by State Education Departments and the Headmaster’s Conference of Australia in conjunction with the Catholic Education Office. By this decentralised mode of operation the Centre will involve a wide range of teachers, community groups and academics in all States in the developmental processes.
The estimated cost of SEMP is $ lm over three years. $250,000 will be provided for SEMP in 1974-75 from the $810,000 allocated for the Curriculum Development Centre.
The Government’s grants to support universities in 1974-75 are estimated at $440m. This is an increase of $ 1 48m or 5 1 per cent compared with outlays in 1973-74. The States and the Australian Government shared the costs of universities in the first half of the 1973-74 financial year. The substantial increase in outlays in 1974-75 in part reflects the fact that this year the States are not obliged to make a contribution to the funding of universities.
The Government has moved to strengthen the current triennial program for universities for 1973-75 and a number of developments have been announced by the Government as additional to the original program.
Special grants are being provided to increase the numbers of social workers and social work planners by establishing or expanding appropriate courses at universities. Grants totalling $488,000 are being made available to four universities during the 1973-75 triennium.
The Government is providing special grants to universities to establish programs for the training of teachers of physically and mentally handicapped children. A total of $935,000 is being made available to seven universities in the current triennium.
The Government has agreed to provide special grants to universities to encourage the establishment of courses or Chairs of Community Practice in medical schools. To date, approval has been given for the development of programs in community practice in five universities at a total cost of $1,120,000 for 1974and 1975.
New developments which will be supported over the next few years include the establishment of new medical schools at the University of Newcastle and the James Cook University of North Queensland and the development of new universities at Campbelltown in New South Wales, Geelong in Victoria and at Albury/ Wodonga.
A particularly important Government initiative was that leading to the draft report on ‘Open Tertiary Education’ issued in May 1974 by the Committee on Open University established by the Universities Commission. The Committee has received many comments on its draft Report and, following revision of the Report in the light of these comments, will submit a final report to the Universities Commission by the end of the year. It is expected that the final Report will be submitted for consideration by the Government shortly afterwards.
Advanced education is a rapidly developing field, with the Commission on Advanced Education now advising on programs for 86 colleges. $296m is allocated for the support of these colleges in 1974-75, an increase of $ 120m or 68 per cent over outlays in 1973-74. This increase in part reflects the first full-year impact of total funding by the Australian Government. Developments of most significance at this time are those relating to the education of teachers.
As a result of the Australian Government ‘s acceptance in 1973 of the Commission’s Report on Teacher Education 1973-75 all former State teachers colleges have now been integrated into the advanced education system. All such colleges are now either autonomous or moving towards autonomy and many are now entering into fields other than teacher education.
From 1 January 1974 approved nongovernment teachers colleges are being assisted with costs following acceptance by the Government of a report of the Commission on Advanced Education recommending that funds, to a maximum of $6.4m, be provided to assist approved nongovernment colleges with recurrent expenditure in 1974 and 1975. $4.7m is provided in the Budget for 1974-75.
The new arrangements for funding teachers colleges give them the scope to develop fully as tertiary institutions, with improved facilities and broader course offerings, to the benefit of their students and of the children they will teach.
In accordance with recommendations contained in both the report of the Commission on Advanced Education, Teacher Education 1973-75, and the report of the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education, TAFE in Australia, a committee of inquiry into the preparation of technical education teachers will be established. The Committee will report to the Committee on Technical and Further Education and the Commission on Advanced Education in 1975.
Student Assistance in 1974-75 the Government will continue its comprehensive program of student assistance.
Since the beginning of 1974 there have been marked changes in the assistance provided by the Government to students at both tertiary and secondary level. The Government has removed some undesirable elements of competition from its schemes of assistance, to place greater emphasis on grants provided to students according to need, and to remove financial barriers to education in Australia.
In 1973-74, expenditure on the student assistance program was $88m and for 1974-75 it is estimated to be $ 120m.
Two major developments in 1974-75 are: general increases from the beginning of 1975 in benefits payable under student assistance schemes to assist students with rising costs and the introduction of a new scheme to enable leaders or potential leaders of the Aboriginal community to study overseas.
The Government introduced in 1974 a scheme of tertiary and post-secondary allowances under which full-time Australian students enrolled at universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges may apply for a living allowance subject to a means test on family income.
The rates of allowances payable under this scheme will be raised as from the beginning of 1975 and the means test will be liberalised. The level of adjusted family income at which maximum allowances will be payable will be increased from $5,300 per annum to $6,300 per annum. For students living away from home the maximum allowance payable will be $1,600 per annum, a rise of $200 per annum. For those living at home the maximum allowance will be raised from the existing $850 per annum to $1,000 per annum. The allowance payable to married students in respect of dependants will be increased $8 per week for a dependent spouse to $ 10 per week, and from $5 per week for each dependent child to $6 per week.
To encourage more students to undertake teacher education courses, special provisions will apply from 1975 within the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme for students who already hold certain tertiary qualifications and who wish to undertake further approved full-time courses which would improve their qualifications as teachers. Further details will be announced separately.
Apart from these changes, to apply for 1975, a full review of the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme is to be carried out. A small committee is to be appointed to examine the present schemes and to make recommendations as to which students should be assisted under what circumstances, and to what extent. Concurrently with this review, an examination will be made of the means test provisions.
The Government has decided that the basic stipend payable to award holders should be increased and that recognition should be given to the additional financial commitments of married students. The allowances will be increased from $3,050 per annum to $3,250 per annum. For married award holders the allowances will also be increased, from $13 per week for a dependent spouse with one dependent child to $16 per week, and from $5 per week to $6 per week for every other dependent child.
In view of the continuing development of postgraduate courses at colleges of advanced education, the number of Post-Graduate Awards available for students undertaking higher degree study at these institutions will be increased from 20 to 25.
The Secondary Allowances Scheme was introduced in 1974 to assist families with limited financial resources to maintain their children during the last two years of secondary education. The adjusted family income at which the maximum allowance will be payable will be increased from $3,100 per annum to $3,500 per annum and the maximum allowance will be increased from $304 a year to $450.
The Government has accepted a responsibility for the improvement of the educational opportunities open to those children whose families live in isolated areas far removed from normal school facilities. The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme provides allowances as a contribution to the additional costs these families must meet where it is necessary for them to board their children to attend school. For 1975 the means test on the additional boarding allowance will be liberalised to provide for the payment of the maximum allowance in appropriate cases where the family income does not exceed $6,300. The previous qualifying limit on family income was $5,300. The special supplementary allowance, which is designed to assist cases of particular need, will be raised from $304 to $450 for eligible secondary students and from $200 to $300 for primary pupils. The means test on this supplementary allowance will also be liberalised, so that the adjusted family income at which the maximum allowance is payable will be increased from $3,100 per annum to $3,500 per annum.
The Government considers that encouragement should be given to enable leaders or potential leaders of the Aboriginal community who already have considerable experience in their occupational or professional field to enlarge their horizons through overseas study, observation and discussion. A limited number of awards, initially ten, will be made available for this purpose. The Government envisages that a scheme of this nature could be of considerable assistance to Aboriginals in investigating developments of particular interest to their community. The estimated initial annual cost of this scheme is $100,000.
Allowances paid under the Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme to Aboriginal students undertaking post-school courses have also been reviewed. The Government has decided that study grant allowances will be increased from the beginning of 1975. The new allowances will be $32 per week for students under 18 years of age, (an increase of $5), $38.50 per week for students between 18 and 20 years (a $5.50 increase), and $45 per week for students who are over 2 1 years of age, married or who have dependants ($5 more than the previous amount). In addition, students with dependants will receive an allowance of $12 per week for a first dependant and $6 per week for each subsequent dependant. About 1,230 students will be assisted in 1975 at an estimated cost of $ 1 .4m.
The Government has direct responsibility for the education of Aboriginal people within the Northern Territory.
Following an assessment of educational buildings in Aboriginal communities in August 1973 the Government implemented a re-development program with an initial expenditure of $6m in 1973- 74. The next stage of the program, estimated to cost $13m, will be commenced in 1974- 75. It includes 5 new schools, transportable classrooms and staff accommodation.
In addition, nearly $lm will be provided in 1974-75 for equipment, including mobile classrooms, four-wheel drive vehicles, caravans, buses and a power boat, which will be used to foster education amongst Aboriginal communities which have chosen to move away from population centres to live in tribal localities.
The Northern Territory bilingual education program, under which formal education is introduced to young Aboriginal children in their own language, commenced in 1973, at 5 schools. During 1974 bilingual programs were introduced to a further three schools and two pre-schools. More schools are planning to introduce bilingual programs in the next few years.
The development of linguistic work in Aboriginal languages has become a matter of some urgency with the new emphasis on teaching in those languages. Following consultation between linguists, educationalists and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, a School of Australian Linguistics is being established within the Darwin Community College. The first members of staff have now taken up duty.
The Government supports special efforts for the benefit of Aboriginal people at all levels of education in all States. This support has been increasing year by year. In 1974-75 it will amount to $5.7m, making possible such fundamentally valuable activities as the widespread employment of Aboriginal teaching aides, specialised programs of teacher training, inservice courses and conferences, innovatory techniques in counselling and guidance and new types of courses for Aboriginal students, as well as extending and improving pre-school facilities for Aboriginal children.
Expenditure on the schemes making up the Government’s program of English language education for migrant children and adults is estimated at $20.4m for 1974-75, an increase of 43 per cent over expenditure in 1 973-74.
The Government places great importance on the development of these programs and, with the acquisition of full responsibility for migrant education and related matters under the Immigration (Education) Act 1971-73, the Department of Education will continue to develop and to increase the effectiveness of special programs and courses in English language tuition and to co-ordinate its activities with the special programs of the Schools Commission which are aimed at improving educational opportunities for all disadvantaged children in Australia.
As part of the program of development of materials to increase the effectiveness of migrant education, an English course for children aged 8-12 years is being produced. The first parts of this course are at present being distributed to schools throughout Australia.
Increases in educational research expenditure in this and the previous Budget reflect the importance that the Government places on research and development in education.
The funds available to the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education were increased to $350,000 in the past year, and in the present financial year this will be doubled, to $700,000. This increase will enable the Committee to commission more research projects and to expand its training of educational research workers in Australia and overseas. It is desirable that research not only be expanded but also co-ordinated to ensure the best use of financial and manpower resources. One of the important functions of the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education is to advise on priorities for research.
The Department of Education will be sponsoring important research projects this year in the areas of bilingual education and migrant education. $50,000 for these projects is provided for in the same vote as the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education, making a total of $750,000. The final report of a study into the effects of the geographical mobility of Service personnel on the education of their children is expected shortly. A study to evaluate the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme should be completed in mid-1975.
The Government will also provide a grant of $165,000 to the Australian Council for Education Research this year, on a matching basis with the States. The grant in 1973-74 was $133,500.
Grants-in-aid to Educational Bodies
In 1974-75 the Government is continuing its assistance to several non-government bodies which make significant contributions, at the national level, to Australian education. Grantsinaid will continue to be made to such organisations as the Australian-American Educational Foundation and the Australian Association of Adult Education.
This year, the Government has decided to provide assistance also to the Australian Music Examinations Board. The Board makes a valuable contribution to music education in Australia, and its work is particularly important in country areas. An annual grant of $35,000 will be made towards its running costs.
Education in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory
Outlays on schools and pre-schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in 1974-75 will be $69m, an increase of 30 per cent over 1973-74.
This statement refers to some current developments in the Territories which have national significance in terms of the approaches which are being used to meet educational needs.
An Interim Schools Authority has been appointed to plan for the future development of the government school system in the Territory and, pending the establishing of a permanent Authority, to administer government schools in association with the Department of Education. An ordinance which will establish a permanent Authority with full powers in relation to government schools is now in its final drafting stage.
The Interim Authority comprises representatives of parents, the community and the teaching profession, and provides the first example in this country of joint community and professional participation in the control of education. The Interim Authority has already taken steps to establish school boards so that the same kind of community and professional involvement can be repeated at the school level. This significant new approach to the development and administration of education has created a great deal of interest both within and outside the Territory. There is every indication that the co-operation required from the community and the profession is being achieved and will provide a new basis for the advancement of education in the Territory.
The authority has adopted new standards of provision in respect of the professional and ancillary staffing of its schools, and is proceeding with the building of secondary colleges, the first of which will open in 1976. New curricula are being developed for the colleges which offer a wider program of studies than the traditional matriculation courses.
In the post-secondary field, extensive building programs are under way for the Canberra Technical College and the Canberra School of Music. As part of its national program for development of technical and further education over the next two years, the Government has approved provision of $3.5m for the capital development of Canberra Technical College.
The provision of education in the Northern Territory is very much affected by the high proportion of Aboriginal people in the Territory and also by the problems arising from the isolation of many families and small communities in the sparseley populated Territory. Important developments specifically relating to the education of Aboriginal people are referred to elsewhere in this statement.
An innovation to improve the education of children in remote areas will be the provision in 1974-75 of a fully equipped media mobile, staffed by a teacher-librarian and a technical officer, to take isolated schools a wide range of the latest educational materials, a selected professional library, materials and equipment for making audio-visual aids, and facilities for the repair and maintenance of school equipment. The first mobile unit, to service sixteen isolated schools in the Katherine district, will cost approximately $46,000 in 1974-75. It is hoped to provide mobiles eventually for the Tennant Creek and Alice Springs districts.
Provision has also been made for aerial patrols by teachers from the School of the Air at Katherine to maintain personal contact with students, following a successful trial of aerial patrols in April this year.
Schools throughout the Northern Territory will benefit from a program costing $903,000 over the two years 1974-75 and 1975-76 to bring bookstocks in school libraries to the standards recommended by the Schools Commission. $414,500 has been allocated for this program in 1974-75.
The Darwin Community College, established to meet the specific post-secondary education needs of the Northern Territory, commenced full operation in 1974. Courses are being developed in a number of areas over a range of levels, embracing teacher education and other tertiary studies, trade and technician courses and general interest and hobby classes. Provision is made in the Budget for $2.8m for the College’s running costs and $790,000 for capital works, including plant and equipment.
The time is now opportune for some review of progress because the first full financial year of education under the Government’s administration has now been completed, and because estimates are not available of expenditure for 1 974-75, the first financial year to show the full impact of major policies in relation to schools and tertiary education. These policies cannot be weighed in money terms alone. But the figures do indicate the priority given to education. Last year, expenditure was $860m. This year it is estimated at $ 1,535m.
Included in the statement which honourable members have permitted me to incorporate in Hansard is a summary table on estimated outlays on education in 1974-75. 1 draw the attention of honourable members especially to this table which sets out the increase in total expenditure which I have just mentioned and also gives the principal figures for each broad area of educational activity.
Some of the main items are: Our response to the Kangan Report on Technical and Further Education is to go to the limit of what we believe will be practicable expenditure of $ 100m in this vital area over the next two years; an increase of $237m or 150 per cent, in grants to the States for government and non-government schools, including $48.5m to allow for the impact of cost increases; grants totalling $736m for universities and colleges of advanced education, reflecting the first full year of total funding by the Australian Government and also including $64.6m to allow for the impact of cost increases and $4.7m for a new program of support for nongovernment teachers colleges; increased benefits under student assistance schemes and an increase of $32m, or 36 per cent, in our total expenditure on student assistance; an increase of $16m, or 50 per cent, in our expenditure specifically directed at the education of groups with special disadvantages, as well as increased outlays benefiting these groups under general education programs.
I would like to make particular mention of three major developments in the Government’s education program which are reflected in the 1974-75 Budget.
Technical and Further Education
The most important of the new initiatives in education in the Budget is the provision of funds to commence the Government’s technical and further education program in 1974-75. Honourable members will recall that on the Government’s behalf I made a statement in this House in April this year on technical and further education in Australia. In tabling the report of the Kangan Committee, I pointed out that while the Government had not had the opportunity to consider the report in detail, it accepted and supported the worth of the broad programs recommended in that report. The Government has now taken its decisions on the recommendations made in the report ‘Technical and Further Education in Australia’. The Kangan report recommended the expenditure of $105m over 18 months. Because of the double dissolution earlier this year the commencement of the Kangan program has of necessity been delayed. However, we will spend $ 100m over the two financial years 1974-75 and 1975-76, of which $96.5m will represent grants to the States, the remaining $3. 5m being intended for capital expenditure on technical education in the Australian Capital Territory. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table summarising this $100m program. Further details will be released separately.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– The resulting flow of funds to the States for technical and further education, in the two years which began on 1 July this year, will enable a significant development to occur in an area of education which, important though it is, has been neglected in past years. States are already well advanced in their planning for the expenditure of these funds and there seems little doubt that the substantial Australian Government financial assistance to be given, combined with the continued efforts of the States themselves from their own resources, will make an impact upon the quality of technical education. There are special areas of impact where this appropriation should enable significant developments to occur. Among them are general purpose recurrent funds for expenditure on technical and further education at the discretion of the States, purchase of land for future developments, the provision of buildings and purchase of equipment, in-service staff development, the improvement of library buildings, the training of library technicians, the planning of community colleges, and, for the first time for technical education, provision of residential accommodation, and research.
The Government hopes that the results of its decision will be clearly seen within the initial two years of the program not only in terms of bricks and mortar but in a new spirit of enthusiasm held by those directly concerned with this area of education. The program is important for the decentralisation of educational facilities both in urban and country areas and is an essential part of bringing education to the people and making it a lifelong process. The program should dovetail with, and be augmented by, the new expenditures in connection with the national employment and training scheme, which will require the services of technical colleges. The technical and further education program is thus important in the implementation of the Government’s overall strategy for manpower development and training.
It is the Government’s intention to bring down legislation to appropriate the funds needed to launch the several programs recommended by the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education and accepted by the Government. The Government will also introduce legislation to establish a permanent commission on technical and further education. Meanwhile, interim standing committees are in the process of being established, to work in the areas of course development, buildings and equipment, statistics and occupational trends, research and libraries and finance. The new commission will advise me on the future needs of technical and further education including adult education outside the universities and colleges of advanced education.
The Kangan report states that the main purpose of education is the betterment and development of individual people and their contribution to the good of the community, and that technical and further education should have this emphasis in common with other areas of education. The developments in technical and further education I have outlined will proceed in this spirit which accords with a defensible view of some of the objectives of an education policy.
Supplementary Grants for Schools
The Government will supplement, on the recommendation of the Schools Commission, its program of assistance to schools, to compensate for the effects of cost increases. An estimated $78m will be provided to supplement capital and recurrent grants for schools over the 18 months commencing 1 July 1974, of which at this stage it is estimated that $48. 5m will be required in 1974-75. The Government gives high priority to maintaining the impetus of development in primary and secondary schools.
In 1974-75 the Government will continue its comprehensive program of student assistance. Since the beginning of 1974 there have been marked changes in the assistance provided by the Government to students at both the tertiary and secondary level. The Government has placed increased emphasis on grants provided to students according to need, and on removing financial barriers to education in Australia. In 1973-74, expenditure on our student assistance program was $88m and for 1974-75 it is estimated to be $120m. This increase in expenditure reflects a decision by the Government to take account of rising cost levels and apply a series of increases, from the beginning of 1975, to the benefits that are payable to students under the various student assistance schemes whether for tertiary students, isolated children, secondary students in need, or, through social services, handicapped children. There will be increases in allowances, and relaxations of means test provisions. The details of these increased rates are given in the fuller statement which has been incorporated in Hansard.
I have taken steps to have a full review of the tertiary education assistance scheme carried out. I shall be appointing a small committee to examine the present scheme and to make recommendations to me as to which students should be assisted, under what circumstances, and to what extent. Concurrently, with this review, I am also arranging for an examination to be made of the means test provisions that apply.
The Government came into office in December 1972 with a comprehensive program for transforming both the quality of education and its accessibility. The Government has accomplished broad structural changes in the funding and administration of education programs which it considered necessary for vigorous development to take place. In the longer term we will need to evaluate carefully the developments flowing from the Government’s new programs. It is important that the direction of these developments should be constantly appraised. The concept of recurrent education, which moves beyond the sectoral view of education as rigidly divided into primary, secondary, tertiary and so on, is an important concept which I expect will be further developed over the next few years.
An important contribution to the evaluation of Australian education will be a review by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of Australian education policy to take place in 1976. A team of overseas experts will report on Australian policies after conducting a review and evaluation procedure which has already been applied in some other OECD member countries. Such scrutiny of our efforts from an international viewpoint is one of the important benefits Australia will derive from its membership of OECD, and I hope that this policy review will add to the process already being generated within Australia of a wide-ranging examination of goals, purposes and performance in education.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1974-75. This Budget and the Government’s overall economic policy are not adequate to meet the serious economic situation confronting the nation- accelerating inflation, rising unemployment and the deteriorating balance of payments situation. The speech which has just been delivered by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), dealing with the all-important matter of education, underlines the thrust of this Budget. As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) stated clearly, the overriding objective is to carry through the political social program of the Australian Labor Party. One is in danger of being misunderstood in drawing attention to the fact that it does not contend adequately with the major problems that I mention. The Opposition supports the aspirations of the Government in these fields and the program which the Minister has just outlined, but that program and other programs proposed to be carried through in this Budget will be marred- nay, frustrated- by rampant inflation and increasing unemployment if the situation is allowed to go unchecked. When I refer to rising unemployment, I am talking of a very significant increase which might take place. I stress that no responsible Opposition and no responsible Government would want to return to the conditions of the over-heated economy and the over-full employment situation of earlier this year. But the prospect in view is possibly a very severe one. I repeat that the Opposition supports the aspirations embodied in this Budget but points to these major economic problems that confront the nation. So the Budget is a social document with the overriding objective I have stated.
The economic role of the Budget, so far as I can discern it, is this: By embodying the Government’s program in the Budget in this way, and by a show of ‘soaking the rich’ and demonstrating a real concern to redistribute income towards lower income groups- I refer to the tax on unearned income and the capital gains tax, hitting the multi-national mining companies and the fringe benefits of business men, the reduction in the allowable tax deduction for school expensesthe Government will be able to achieve a social contract with the unions, that is, achieve wage and salary restraint, an agreement to limit income increases, as the means of countering the current accelerating cost inflation spiral. As the Treasurer puts it in the Budget Speech, ‘the Government is convinced that the best course is to attack the cost-price spiral directly. ‘ This is the only measure in the Budget to fight inflation.
In the Opposition economic policy a program of prices and incomes restraint also has a part, but I stress that it is a supplementary role to appropriate policies of overall demand management, that is, policies to ensure adequate but taut total demand, and to the fostering of increased supplies, and in particular to the fostering of industrial investment, which is the necessary basis for the increase in national product and output by which the social objectives of the Government can be achieved. I said that gaining the understanding of the unions was the only measure to fight inflation. Otherwise, the Budget in its overall spending and tax-raising program is heavily expansionary. It needs to be noted, though, that with the Budget being so late and with the nature of some of the programs, the main expansionary impact is likely to be in the second half of the year, with the real monentum in mid- 1975.
So we have a Budget which for its own part in the scheme of things writes in an inflation rate of the order of at least 20 per cent, and by spending up in line with burgeoning receipts- even with the tax cuts provided for in the Budget, as has been pointed out, personal income tax is projected to increase by a staggering 46 per centthe Government is sustaining and fostering inflation at the rate of 20 per cent at least. That the increase in spending is only of the same order as burgeoning receipts is no indication of restraint or neutrality in terms of the impact on real resources. The vast expansion in Government spending proposed in this Budget adds to demand pressures, even if on the face of it the Government in the broad is doing no more than balancing the Budget.
Pointing to a surplus of $23m is laughable. What conceivable confidence or accuracy can be attached to $2 3 m in a Budget in which each side of the account is of the order of $ 16,000m, as is the situation? I think the sheer size of those figures is worth emphasising. We have a growth over the 2 years up to June 1975 of very great magnitude. In the financial year 1970-71 both sides of the Budget were of the order of $8,100m: Just 4 years later, in 1974-75, we have a Budget in which each side of the balance sheet is of the order of $ 16,000m. That is a doubling over the short period I have mentioned. This derives basically from the rapid acceleration of inflation under the present Government. It is irrelevant to make comparisons with previous deficits or surpluses, or even to look at the proposed surplus to which I referred a moment ago. The Treasury refers to the case where inflation should be less severe. But if inflation turns out to be worse than projected, as is probable, there will be a resultant and fortuitous larger surplus than the $23m but this could not be said, in any way, to have subtracted from inflation as a surplus is supposed to. Therefore, as I have said, this Budget sustains and fosters inflation.
On the tax side the Budget surely will smartly frustrate the hoped-for social contract as things stand at this stage. I fervently wish for success in seeking the co-operation of the union movement in a program of restraint. But when one looks at the tax side it is no wonder that the price that the union movement demands, in effect, so far as one can judge from the last few days, focuses on the tax scale. One just has to look at the figures provided in the table associated with the Budget to see that. An income of $6,400 per annum, which represents about the average earnings today, taxed at 1973-74 rates so that the tax would be $1,400, would result in an after tax income of $5,000. If that average income rises by 25 per cent to $8,000, as well it might because an increase of at least 22 V4 per cent is written into the Budget, and tax of $ 1 ,960 is taken from it on the new reduced scale, the after tax income will be $6,040. So, that income would move from $5,000 per annum to $6,040.
With a 20 per cent inflation rate, that $5,000 has to rise to $6,000 anyhow. The $40 would provide less than a 1 per cent improvement. If the inflation rate goes higher than 20 per cent, as is very probable, the average employee will be not better off but worse off. So, I would be inclined to support the employee who says, as well he might: ‘I will show a bit of restraint, mate’- he might say it to Dr Cairns or Bob Hawke- ‘if the Government does the same and cuts that 45 per cent increase in tax back a bit and does the same with the corresponding spend-up’. Note that the increase in tax to which I just referred is an increase of 40 per cent. The so-called tax cut goes along with an actual increase in tax of 40 per cent.
The Opposition has argued that the approach in this area needs to be a more practical one, with a tax cut of a greater magnitude than this. Our argument has been that the only way to approach this matter is to arrive at a negotiated ‘guidelines agreement’ as to the permissible increase in incomes on the one hand and prices on the other, at a rate of increase somewhat below the increases in the recent period.
The basis of this negotiated agreement is in the first instance an offer to the employees of a significant tax cut so that they may get an increase in after-tax income of approximately 3 per cent or 4 per cent. To achieve that on a gross basis would require an increase in actual income of 6 per cent or 7 per cent, when the tax bite is allowed for. If the tax cut is of a sufficient magnitude to achieve an increase of 3 per cent or 4 per cent in the taxpayer’s income, one can in this context hopefully negotiate the guide lines for wage and salary increases of the order of 15 per cent. Along with that would be a price guideline which would be some 3 points below the wage/salary guideline to ensure built-in gains for employees.
This proposal, which I cannot elaborate fully at this time, is so often misunderstood. It is said that in this way there would be, from this result alone, a considerable increase in consumption spending- that is, ordinary private spending. The idea is to seek an agreement by this means which will reduce claims for actual wages and salaries thereby reducing the costs of employers so, to that extent, making for an immediate break in the cost-price spiral. The increase in take-home pay via the tax cut replaces to a considerable extent increases that would otherwise occur in gross pay. So, to the extent that it succeeds, the expansion in private consumption expenditure from this measure alone is only to a small extent greater than would otherwise occur. It is important to stress this because the essence of a successful policy in this area is to maintain ‘economic room’ for an expansion, a recovery of investment expenditure. This is the proposal, which I cannot elaborate further, which we put from this side of the House. It is a proposal which one would have hoped to have seen tried before the Budget was introduced. It is a proposal which can yet be pursued, but which would require a subsequent revision of the Budget now before the House.
The Government seeks to achieve something of this purpose in terms of a proposal for indexation. I wished there were time to dwell on that matter for a while. The difficulty is that there are so many surrounding conditions for indexation to work in this way that one can only be sceptical about it. But I will not further elaborate at this point. So, I say that the Budget in its own ambit builds in and sustains a rate of inflation of approximately 20 per cent.
In the area of combating cost inflation, the fact that the impact of tax is maintained as it is, is very likely to frustrate the endeavour to achieve a breakthrough on the cost inflation front. On the other hand the Budget does little- indeed, it does nothing- to counter the other major problem of rising unemployment. As I have already stated, the expansionary impact of the Budget on business activity will be felt mainly in the second half of the financial year.
Meanwhile, what is the position of the private sector? Are we really to have a relaxation of the credit squeeze? What incentive does the Budget contain for a recovery of private investment, as I have been stressing, and of business confidence generally? Notwithstanding yesterday’s devaluation, there are few prospects for this recovery. The continuing squeeze of money and, looking at the manufacturing sector, in particular, the tariff cuts, the halving of export incentives, the withdrawal of investment allowances last year, the new taxes on property income and a capital gains tax which, so far as I can judge, makes no allowamce for the effects of inflation, further imposts on the insurance companies and the effect of this on the supply of funds, the import ‘overhang’- the stuff that is already on the wharves and on the seas- all contribute to and go along with the generally grim psychology and lack of confidence of the business community. One can only anticipate that in these circumstances employment in manufacturing industry in particular is likely to decline further.
So it was inevitable that there would be measures supplementary to those contained in the Budget, and the devaluation is the first of these. Unfortunately that is a decision which has all the signs of the haste and ad hoc-ery characteristics of most of the Government’s moves in the economic policy area. I welcome this decision but it is incredible that such a change in the exchange rate was not co-ordinated with the Budget and other measures to present a comprehensive overall economic policy to contend with these major problems on inflation, mounting unemployment and a deteriorating balance of payments position. We have a continuation of the ad hoc and unco-ordinated policies of the last yearthe ‘big spend up’ making for inflation, the ‘big squeeze ‘ to haul back the private sector and contend with inflation, the big up-valuation of the currency, the tariff cuts and so on.
In summary, the Budget does nothing to restrain inflation, it will not arrest the empolyment slide, and the whole effect of the policy is to inhibit the production and investment- not least in oil and mineral search and recovery- and the productivity and increased supply, the real economic growth, which in the long run are the principal counters to inflation and the necessary means of realising the Government’s objectives. To redistribute income and reallocate resources to enlarge the public sector may be fine if done in an effective manner which means, above all, gradually. But to do it at the cost of sound economic growth and at the risk of undermining the social and economic fabric of the nation is madness.
-The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the Budget. I can say quite unequivocally that the Government is very proud of it as an economic instrument. It is not the only economic instrument available to a government to implement its economic policies. As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) has pointed out time and time again, this is only one section of government policy. We are very proud of the fact that we have introduced, after so many years, a social justice Budget. It is one that gives justice to the vast majority of the people of Australia. It is one that sets out to try to remove some of the dreadful inequalities which have existed, which have been glaring and which have been referred to by members from this side time and time again over the years. These inequalities should have been corrected many years ago. The Opposition, when in Government, refused to do so.
This Budget represents a redistribution of resources from some sections of the private sector of the economy to the public sector. It is well and truly overdue. It is a reallocation of resources to assist the needy and to ensure that the excessively wealthy do their bit to assist those needy people and the needy sections of our economy. We make no excuse for doing this. It should have been done many years ago. The Opposition paid lip service to it time and time again but never did anything, so the job had to be done. As a good example to show this is a social justice Budget I quote, for a start, the $500m restructure of the taxation scales to assist the low and middle income groups. I quote also the removal of that infamous poll tax- television and radio licence fees. That was an infamous tax. It was a tax under which David Jones paid exactly the same amount as a person who earned $3,000 or $4,000 a year. Now the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be funded out of Consolidated Revenue. Accordingly, by funding out of Consolidated Revenue, David Jones will pay a higher proportion of the needs of that organisation as compared with the person on a very low income, because David Jones pays a higher rate of tax. As I say, poll taxes are historically infamous and never should have been allowed, let alone increased time and time again by the Opposition.
– What about telephone and postal charges?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! I ask the honourable member for Stirling to restrain himself. The 3 previous speakers were heard in comparative silence. I think the honourable member for Chifley is deserving of the same consideration.
– I only wanted to point out the illogicalities of the argument.
– I will not let the honourable member take up my time. In regard to the social welfare and the social justice aspects of this Budget I refer to the great strides that are being made to overcome very important deficiencies in the educational and social welfare needs of our community. Education expenditure is up by 78 per cent on 1973-74. It was up 92 per cent last year as compared with the previous year. This is a massive and very needy increase. It will be spent on the basis of need; those who need it the most will get it. That is the only sound social justice aspect which can possibly be applied.
Areas such as my own electorate will greatly benefit from the increases in health expenditure and on education because it is one of the needy areas. From expenditure on health, home nursing services, community health complexes, drug referral centres and other necessary requirements, outlying and vastly developing areas such as my own will benefit. All these fields have been satisfied by this Government in its new policies. They are all firsts. These policies were never introduced by the Opposition despite its opportunity in 23 years of government. The Government has instituted urban development programs and sewerage and local government grants. In Sydney alone two-thirds of the cost of the quadruplication of the Great Western Railway from Auburn through to Penrith will be funded by this Government and of new rolling stock to overcome the chaos in the railways that existed during 23 years of Liberal-Country Party rule. Funds have been allocated by this Government for roads ranging up to about $2m. There is much more to come and much more is needed out in the western suburbs. This Government has provided legal aid services, child care services and pre-school and kindergarten services. They were never provided when the Opposition was in government. That is why I say that this is a social welfare Budget.
I want to touch on some much broader aspects of our policy. As I said, this Budget is not the only economic instrument available for implementing Government economic policy. This has been mentioned by the Treasurer time and time again. It has been delightfully ignored by the Opposition. Honourable members opposite, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) who after all was once the Treasurer of this country, should know better. Let me give other examples of instruments which could be utilised. The new amendments to the Restrictive Trade Practices Act will have a tremendous impact as an instrument of Government economic policy and particularly as an anti-inflationary measure, as also will the Financial Corporations Act which will bring under the umbrella of control by the Reserve Bank the whole of the fringe and merchant banking fields which have risen from approximately 20 per cent of all our banking institutions in 1949, when Labor went out of office, to over 50 per cent today. We have the Banking Act for the conventional banking system and we now have at last what we should have had many years ago- the Financial Corporations Act for the non-conventional banking system including the hire purchase companies.
– The Liberals ‘ friends.
– Yes, as the honourable member for Phillip says, the Liberals’ friends. How much finance did they receive for their campaigns from that crowd? Is it any wonder that they took no action, despite the national needs of our economy, to bring about any control of fringe and merchant banking? This Government has also introduced the Prices Justification Tribunal. It is far more successful than anything the Opposition ever conceived. Otherwise the Opposition would not have allowed the passage of the relevant legislation through the House. The Government introduced tariff policies and finally fixed the exchange rate. These are the types of measures which can be utilised by the Government as instruments for the implementation of economic policy.
This Government has recognised the economic facts of life. It knows that it took over a demand inflation situation in 1972. It knows that it had to have the courage, as it did, to introduce unpopular measures to combat that demand situation. For example, 2 revaluations of the currency were very necessary in a situation of excess liquidity. There was a need to bring in imports at that point of time to create competition and bring down prices of goods or prevent the price of goods from rising too quickly. There was the freezing of 33!/$ per cent of overseas borrowings with the Reserve Bank, the 25 per cent cut in tariffs and the 3 per cent call-up of special reserve deposits. When the Government realised- not being fixed immutably on its course- that the period of demand inflation was easing and we were moving into the secondary or consequential period of cost-push inflation it started to reverse the procedures which it had introduced to combat demand inflation. That has been done. As a result we now have, of course, a situation where only 5 per cent of overseas borrowings are frozen with the Reserve Bank. We have released statutory reserve deposits, or SRDs, on a number of occasions through the Reserve Bank. Of course, the latest measure, with which I shall deal in a moment, is a devaluation of the currency. In other words we have shown the necessary ability to be flexible in our approach to a situation.
We are not just trying to use a Budget as a single instrument of economic policy but are using all of the various instruments available to government in order to set to to control the economy and in particular to control inflation; first of all demand inflation created by the Opposition because of the foolishness of its policies in the last 3 years it was in office. Do not honourable members opposite remember what the position was at that time? Do they not remember that one could not get nails? Do they not remember how hard it was to get bricks and tiles when this Government came into office? These materials are available today because of the policies of this Government in setting to to overcome demand inflation. We apologise that cost inflation exists today. Not once during a period of 23 years, commencing in 1949, did the previous Government see the necessity to vary the exchange rate.
– The Country Party would not allow it.
– The reason for this was exactly as the Leader of the House just said- the Country Party would not allow it. Members of the Opposition talked about speculation yesterday. Yet we had the spectacle of a LiberalCountry Party Cabinet locked in battle for 3 days trying to decide whether or not the exchange rate should be altered. Opposition members talk about speculation. Fortunes were made and lost and speculation took place on the money markets of the world simply because of the complete inadequacy and complete incapacity of the Cabinet of that day. The Government of the day then made a very minor variation. This was a typical example of how the previous Government could not make up its mind.
The present Government recognised in the first weeks of taking office that an excess demand situation existed. The Government immediately revalued the currency to reduce liquidity and to reduce the cost of imports because at that stage we had very large reserves which in themselves were creating excess liquidity. We subsequently revalued once again. Today, as the demand situation has passed on, as we no longer have an excess liquidty situation and as there has been a large intake of imports, we have reached the appropriate stage at which to be flexible and to once again devalue the currency back to approximately what it was when we came back into office. This shows that the Government has been flexible enough to introduce the proper type of policy.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting of the House was suspended for dinner I was speaking in support of this Budget and in support of the various pieces of legislation which have been passed by this Government and which provide it with a great deal of room for flexibility of movement. I was pointing out that this Budget in itself is not the sole factor in controlling inflation and in bringing about a more rational economic policy.
Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to deal with one very important issue. A great deal of play has been made by the Opposition of the question of the new property surcharge income tax. In other words, I am referring to the 10 per cent surcharge on non-personal exertion income. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has authorised me to make this announcement: A joint meeting of the Caucus Economic and Trade Committee and the Welfare Committee, of which I am the Secretary, was held today with the concurrence of the Treasurer and with his agreement has recommended to Cabinet variations in the proposed legislation which would ensure that retired people and sick and infirm people earning a moderate income from property will not suffer any hardship whatsoever. However, it will also be ensured that individuals who earn a considerable income from property without personal exertion and who far too often retire at an early age, thereby depriving the nation of their work resources, and accordingly their productivity, will still pay the surcharge. The proposal of the joint meeting of the Committees is that income from property of under $5,000 a year will not attract the 10 per cent surcharge. Furthermore, there will be a shading-in arrangement up to the figure of $5,500. This will mean that 800,000 taxpayers who would have paid the surcharge will not now have to pay it.
– How many?
– The number is 800,000. The number of taxpayers who would have paid the surcharge has been reduced from 1,300,000 to 500,000 taxpayers. I believe that this is an equitable and reasonable compromise arrangement that should ensure that there will be no hardship for the aged and infirm. I have little doubt that the decision of the Committees will be accepted by Cabinet and Caucus.
– And the people.
– And the people; I agree with the honourable member for Hunter. I think that it is a reasonable proposition and a reasonable compromise. I think that it will give a great deal of satisfaction to those people who may have suffered hardship. This Government is different from the previous Government. We are always prepared to review and we are always prepared to be flexible. We have shown that already. When there was demand inflation, the
Government operated accordingly. Now that the period of demand inflation has passed and cost push inflation has arrived as a natural aftermath, we are prepared to be flexible and vary our policies and, where necessary, reverse them. That is commonsense, economic management. It is time that that sort of management was learnt by honourable members opposite.
I should mention also that that type of taxation surcharge on non-personal exertion income was first introduced in 1915 by an anti-Labor Government and was abolished only in 1954 at the behest of the wealthy supporters of the present Opposition. Of course, it is time that the tax was looked at once again. I make this final warning to the people of Australia: This Government, through its Caucus Economic Committee, right through from the Caucus, the Cabinet, the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, was prepared to question some of the advice that had been given to it, advice which suggested that we were still in a position of demand inflation and that there should be massive unemployment. We repudiated that advice. Instead of that, we accepted this Budget- a Budget of social justice. (Extension of time granted).
I thank the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). He has always had such a lovely smiling face and I always assumed that underneath that exterior he is a really lovable fellow. I am very pleased he takes the attitude that I should be granted an extension of time. However, the only point I was endeavouring to make to finalise the whole issue is that I warn the people of Australia that the previous Governmentthe Opposition, when it was in governmentalways accepted the advice of the Jeremiahs. If one goes back into a bit of history one recalls that in 1952 there was massive unemployment. One recalls the next cycle in 1 955. One recalls the unemployment in 1960 and, of course, not long before we came to power exactly the same situation existed. The previous Government was always prepared to accept the advice of the Jeremiahs, never prepared to stand on its own legs and make a decision on its own account. At least the Australian Labor Party Government has been prepared to do it. At least it has been prepared to stick to its guns and to bring in a Budget for social justice, which the honourable member for Fisher laughs at. He does not want social justice, nor do the other members of the Australian Country Party, the representatives of the Pitt Street farmers. This is the attitude which they always take. I warn that if the Opposition were to come to government it would continue to accept advice which it has accepted in the past, which our Government repudiated, which would involve a continuation of recession and would bring very dire circumstances indeed to the great majority of the people of Australia.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Before I call the honourable member for Bennelong I point out to the House that this will be the honourable member’s maiden speech. I should like honourable members to extend to him the usual courtesies.
-The division of Bennelong was created in the 1948 redistribution carried out by the Chifley Labor Government and from 10 December 1949 until the dissolution of the 28th Parliament it was represented in this place by John Oscar Cramer, a man who came into this Parliament after a very long and distinguished career in local government in Sydney. He had served for a lengthy term as Lord Mayor of North Sydney and also for a period as Chairman of the Sydney County Council. During his 24 years in this Parliament he served for 7 years between 1956 and 1963 as Minister of State for the Army. He was honoured by Her Majesty and I am sure that this House would join with me in recording a tribute to the very long and distinguished service given to this Parliament, to the people of Bennelong and to the Australian people by Sir John Cramer- a person who always espoused the Liberal philosophy and always showed a very real concern for persons who came to him for assistance.
The electorate of Bennelong is an urban electorate within the city of Sydney. It is an electorate of considerable diversity for an urban area. Although predominantly residential it does have 3 significant industrial areas and in many respects it is representative of the cross section of the 3,500,000 people who live in Sydney. I want to record, very simply, a sense of honour and privilege at being elected to represent the people of Bennelong. I do not profess for a moment that I now know all the problems of the electorate of Bennelong. I can only promise that in the time ahead I will do my very best to represent those people and to look after and cater for their needs.
It is an area of considerable beauty. In fact, it has within its confines the first suburb in New South Wales- perhaps in the whole of Australiato receive as a suburb a National Trust classification. It also is an area which is very well served by its local government units- so well served, in fact, that four of the five local government units that lie wholly or party within the Bennelong electorate did not receive any assistance at all in the recent allocation of moneys to councils by the Federal Government. It is an area which has a concern for community involvement. Perhaps the greatest problem which faces all large metropolitan areas not only in Australia but throughout the world is that of keeping and preserving an individual identity in a large metropolis, because often the problems of loneliness and alienation, particularly amongst the elderly and the under-privileged, cause greatest casualties in large metropolitan areas.
Above all, I think it is necessary, when framing policies for the cities or the metropolitan areas, to take account of the fact that it is necessary at all times to preserve a sense of local identity, a sense of community and a sense of belonging to one’s own particular part of the world. I think that the people of Bennelong have demonstrated their desire to preserve a sense of local identity. For example, their reaction in many parts of the electorate to the proposals put forward by a committee called the Barnett Committee earlier this year for the amalgamation of local councils was testimony to a desire to preserve a local identity.
I come here not only as a representative of the 69,000 electors of Bennelong but also as a member of the Liberal Party of Australia. It is aParty of which I have had membership for the
East 17 years, a Party whose basic philosophy I ave never doubted, and a Party which I still believe commands the greatest breadth of political base of any political party in Australia. I am pleased to sit on these benches with my colleagues of the Australian Country Party. I, for one, applaud and endorse the formation of a joint Opposition front bench. I think that it has given to the workings of the Opposition in this Parliament a thrust and effectiveness which will enable us to do well in presenting the antisocialist cause in Australia.
I have never doubted the relevance of the basic philosophy of the Liberal Party to the needs and demands of Australia. The philosophy of the Liberal Party has been expounded by many who are far more eloquent and knowledgeable than I. In recent times I can find no better enunciation of the basic principles on which the Opposition Parties are built than in a quotation from a speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) when opening the joint Opposition campaign for the election in May this year. He said:
The Liberal and Country Parties offer you an Australia built on deep respect for the individual. On his, and her, dignity and freedom. The right to succeed, to accept responsibility, to work harder if they wish and to be rewarded for it. The individual ‘s success is the community’s success.
I repeat those words because they form the basis of my approach to the Budget:
The individual’s success is the community’s success.
In those words one finds summed up the differences that he between members of the Government and we on this side of the House. Inherent in that proposition that the individual’s success is the community’s success is that it is only through the creation of community wealth by the efforts of individuals in the community that it is possible for governments to undertake social welfare and to fund their operations. I think that the Government has ignored the place of the individual, not only in the Budget which was presented by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) last week but also in many of its economic policies undertaken since.it took office. The Government has ignored the fact that it is necessary to give incentive and help to the individual. It is on that rock that I believe the Budget that has been presented founders. For that reason I lend my very strong support to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday of this week when he documented in a very lethal fashion the shortcomings of the Government’s economic policies.
Let me say at this stage that the Budget contains a number of items with which I agree. I support the provision of the $10 a week handicapped child’s allowance. I think this is a very welcome measure and one that will give considerable assistance to those who need it. I welcome also the improvements in repatriation benefits and the proposed increases in capital subsidies under the Aged Persons Homes Act. But above all it is the totality of the Budget’s impact that we must look at. One does not have to go beyond page 3 of the Treasurer’s Budget Speech to find the key to the Budget document. Although this has been said before, and no doubt it will be said again, I think it is worth repeating because basic principles and propositions are always worth repeating in case they are forgotten. The basic principle which appears on page 3 of the Budget speech is this:
The relatively subdued conditions in prospect in the private sector provide the first real opportunity we have had to transfer resources to the public sector.
In other words, the Treasurer is saying: ‘Having now brought the private sector to a state of relative submission we are in a position to implement our real plans’. That is the basis of this Budget. When one goes through the Treasurer’s speech one finds that in so many areas there is a relentless transfer of resources and power to the Federal Government. What this Government fails to realise again and again is the basic principle I mentioned a moment ago, namely, that only through the generation of wealth in this country is it really possible to achieve lasting social reforms and equality of opportunity. Surely the sorry economic plight of the United Kingdom at this present time ought to be lesson enough to those who sit opposite and to the Australian community of the folly of believing that a lasting social structure can be built on a system which denies individual incentive and individual opportunity.
I pose this question to the House: What incentive is there in the Budget for those Australians who wish to invest in this country’s future? We have just heard an eleventh hour partial repentance, as yet unspecified, as yet unconfirmed by the Cabinet, in relation to the 10 per cent property tax. It will remain to be seen just how far that repentence goes. But in many other areas one finds a repudiation of incentive.
I feel very keenly about the denial of freedom of choice and opportunity which is part of this Government’s education policies. As my colleague the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said the morning after the Budget was introduced, it is quite clear that freedom of choice for parents is under blunt attack, and indeed it is under blunt attack. I do not think any members of the Government should imagine that it is a very limited number of people in the community who are going to be hurt and damaged by a reduction in the taxation concession for education expenses from $400 to $150. This will go right across the community. It will hurt a lot of people. It will make a lot of people feel that real freedom of choice is under very, very direct attack, because there are many hundreds of thousands of people in this community who are prepared to make additional sacrifices to exercise a freedom of choice. They are not privileged people, but they are people who feel they ought to have the right to exercise this freedom of choice. That freedom of choice is under very, very severe attack and limitation by this Budget.
Last Tuesday the Leader of the Opposition spoke tellingly of the impact of the progressive taxation system, and nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the field of financial relations between the Commonwealth and the State governments. It is now more imperative than ever that the State governments be given, as the Liberal and Country Parties offered during the last election campaign, access to a percentage share of income tax revenue. Unless this is done our basic federal structure will break down. Unless this is done it will always be necessary for State governments to introduce direct, punitive and inflationary taxes. They have no alternative. They are left with no other method of funding their responsibilities and their operations. Unless the State governments and the Federal Government can devise a scheme which protects State governments against the ravages of inflation, we will have a repetition of what has occurred in the past 2 weeks.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this country faces its worst economic crisis since the war. It is an economic crisis which many will find hard to accept because it was only such a very, very short time ago that we could say of Australia, without any fear of contradiction, that it was indeed the lucky country. I find it rather incredible that a country which has been given so many opportunities and which started so far ahead of many other societies should now find itself in such a difficult economic situation- an economic situation that could ultimately lead to serious social dislocation. In fact the greatest end result of inflation always is the social dislocation which occurs. Australia can only be taken out of the possibility of social dislocation if, firstly, we receive leadership and, secondly, there is preserved in the community a united attack on the problems of inflation.
In his speech to the nation several weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition said that the Opposition was prepared to co-operate with the Government if it could present a coherent plan for dealing with our economic problems. We are prepared to co-operate. We regard the situation as serious. This Budget has failed to present a coherent plan to tackle our problems. It perpetuates the divisions which are emerging in our society between country and city and in so many other areas. In fact, it is a very dismal response to the problems we face at the present time. I thank the House for the courtesy it has extended to me.
– It really does not take a great deal of thought to reply to the speeches which have been made by honourable members from the other side of the House in support of the amendment moved to the Budget brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) last Tuesday. All those honourable members have talked about what is needed in Australia, the Liberal Party philosophy and how it protects individual freedoms. But over the past 20 months all the authorities, commissions and committees of inquiry which have been set up by the Australian Government have totally condemned the Government which was in control of this country for 23 years. The honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) talked about education and what we were doing to take away the rights of people-parents and individuals- to obtain the education they required. Surely no one in Australia can lay charges at the door of the Australian Labor Party, which has been in office since December 1972, because of what it has done for the education of children in this country. The only people who can lay charges against the Government are those who have not read the appropriations for education. We do not believe in an elitist-
– Order! There is too much conversation in the chamber. I suggest that honourable members remain silent.
– I think honourable members should listen. This is important.
– The honourable member is not really holding his audience.
– Well, this is important to the Australian Country Party because what this Government is doing in education may mean that after 10 or 15 years many of their children will be members of the Labor Party.
– That shows how bad the Labor Party’s education system is.
– We can do without the honourable member for Griffith.
-We cannot do without the honourable member and neither can Griffith.
-Order! If the honourable member for Kooyong interjects again when he is outside the House I shall deal with him.
-He will be outside the House after the next elections. Much of the criticism which can be levelled at the former Government which was in power from 1949 to 1972 can be summed up in the first 2 paragraphs of the findings of the Report of the National Estate which was tabled in the House last week. The findings have been repeated time and time again in committees and commissions which have been set up by this Government and of which the Opposition has been so critical. I am sure that not very many honourable members opposite have read the findings in the reports. It states:
The Australian Government has inherited a national estate which has been downgraded, disregarded and neglected. All previous priorities accepted at various levels of government and authority have been directed by a concept that uncontrolled development, economic growth and ‘progress’, and the encouragement of private as against public interest in land use, use of waters, and indeed in every pan of the national estate, was paramount.
For the first time, the Australian Government has declared its intention to identify, conserve and present the national estate. We believe that the rapid growth in public concern, involvement and interest, means that this is among the most far-sighted decisions this Government has made and that it will be seen as such, not only by a large proportion of the electorate of today, but particularly by younger people and Australians of the future.
All the decisions which have been taken by this Government have been not only significantly beneficial to the people of today but also they will be of great benefit to the people and especially to the children of the future because we believe in equality of education. We do not believe that 85 per cent of the children who go on to university should necessarily come from the professional classes. We believe that all Australian children should have an equal opportunity of education. The only way in which to bring that about is to do what the Karmel Committee report has recommended and what this Australian Government has put into operation, that is, to give every child an equal opportunity. That is what the Government has done.
Who ever heard of the Ministers for Health in the Liberal-Country Party Governments from 1949 to 1972? They were like Humpty-Dumpty. Nobody ever heard of them because the Ministers for Health of the Australian Governments during that period did nothing. This Budget provides for $35m to be spent on health and people know the name ‘Everingham ‘ because the Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, has been going round opening the regional hospitals and the regional health centres that have been established for the benefit of the health of the people of this country. If the Liberal and Country Parties ever get back into power they will go back into their same old style of no ideas, of no concepts, of no understanding of the community and of giving money to the States and saying: ‘We hope that it will be spent in the right way but do not blame us if it is not’. The present Government is a different government. Honourable members opposite may complain about it, but the Australian people elected it in 1972 and reendorsed that decision in 1974. They can now see the child care centres. As Treasurer the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said: ‘We will spend $5m on child care centres’. I know where it would have been spent. The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) has just left the chamber. It would have been spent in his electorate. It would have been spent on the north shore of Sydney, in the electorate of Kooyong and at Burnside. This Budget provides for $75m to be spent on giving children throughout Australia an equal opportunity of pre-school and child care and so that the women of Australia who want to go to work will have somewhere decent to leave their children where they can be looked after by professional people.
– Our proposition was based on need.
-The whole concept of the present Government has been based on need.
– I am talking about the previous Government’s child care proposals. The honourable member never even looked at them.
-If $5m were to be spent based on need it would serve about 20,000 people. My argument is that the Liberal and Country Parties had no idea of the social problems that were developing in the society of which they were in charge from 1949 to 1972. We have to unravel all the problems that they have presented to us.
One of the significant things that has emerged from the Budget debate so far is that the Government and the Opposition are poles apart in thenconceptions of what the Budget should do. For a Labor Government, a Budget is just as much a philosophical document as an economic blueprint. We insist that if the Budget is not directed to the Labor Party’s great goals of equality and social improvement it is meaningless. We have rejected the approach that the Budget should be the sole agency dictating economic policy for a whole year. Of course, the Budget must put stress on the management of the economy and give an accounting of the Government’s past housekeeping and its projections for the future. But it would be futile to confine economic management to this one document if it ignored social and philosophical considerations.
If the only objective of a Budget were to put forward the parameters of economic management, then it should be expressed completely in mathematics. One of the great achievements of this Government in economic management has been to break down this myth that the Budget is somehow a sacred document. The Budget has been given a false significance and it is appropriate that this be broken down and replaced by greater communication with the electorate on economic management.
One of the most refreshing features of the weeks preceding the presentation of the Budget was the extremely open climate and the access to the details of economic management and alternative economic strategies which were generated by the pre-Budget discussions. For the first time in Australian economic life, we had an extended public debate on what should be done. It was made perfectly clear to the electorate that a strong case backed by the enormous prestige of the Treasury had been put to tackle inflation by a massive programme of demand management. This would have raised taxes and charges; it would have deflated the economy in the most drastic way. It would have produced tremendous unemployment, perhaps even as high as half a million people.
I do not blame the Treasury for putting forward this line; it has a duty to give economic advice according to its lights. But there is no doubt in my mind that the Government was right to reject this strategy. There is no certainty that this harsh medicine would have reduced inflation by even a fraction of one per cent. It could well have inflicted immense privation on the workforce without in any way lowering inflation.
The present level of employment is completely unacceptable to a Labor member of Parliament. We will correct it as quickly as possible. How much more intolerable would have been the crushing burden placed on the workforce by stringent policies of demand management designed to carve the heart out of the economy. For this reason I believe that the Government has acted correctly in asserting a neutral fiscal strategy. The effect of this strategy should be to give a mild stimulus to the economy and I think this is the appropriate response at a time when employment prospects have deteriorated.
Against this general background of support for the Budget strategy, I want to have a look at the strategy put forward by the Opposition. Having carefully studied the Leader of the Opposition’s Budget speech and the statement he issued with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) in the week before the Budget was delivered, I find it difficult to make any assessment of Opposition policy. The key to the success of the Opposition’s attack on inflation is what is vaguely denned as a ‘national conference’. This is supposed to work in conjunction with a tax cut of the order of $900m to $ 1,000m to reduce inflation.
The credentials of the Liberals to run any sort of national conference is highly questionable. A year ago they opened their national council meeting to the public, after sending an observer to the Labor Party conference to see how it was done. The Leader of the Opposition has not the ability to run a meeting of the Liberal Party’s Victorian State Council without a revolt of the membership. How he could run a national conference which would dampen down inflation is beyond the comprehension of anyone who has seen him in action. In particular, it is highly comic to imagine that he possesses the nous to give leadership to a conference whose success would depend on the co-operation of the trade union movement.
The concept of a national conference is about as relevant to the control of inflation as a constitutional convention. The Leader of the Opposition is on better ground with his emphasis on a tax cut. Both major political groupings have supported restructuring of the tax schedules and tax cuts for at least the past year. The policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in December 1972 emphasised the urgency of revising the tax schedules to lower the incidence of taxation on lower income earnings.
We have made a modest start towards fulfilling this promise in the Budget. In basic terms there is not all that much difference between what the Government has prescribed and what the Opposition has proposed in this area. We have cut taxes by around $400m and raised spending on important programs of public spending. The Opposition would give substantially greater tax relief but would cut back by an equivalent amount on public spending. This involves a choice of alternative strategies whose total impact in fiscal terms would be much the same.
If the Government’s Budget was re-drawn on the same lines as the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition, that is with about $ 1 ,000m in tax cuts and a cut of about $600m in spending programs, the total impact of the Budget would be much the same. Both would be neutral in fiscal terms; each would do just as much to stimulate economic activity; each would have the same impact on inflation. If anything, the Snedden budget would be more inflationary because of the size of the tax cut. This is the ironical effect of the Opposition approach to the Budget: that its net impact is substantially the same as the Government’s Budget. This sort of discrepancy cannot be explained by reference to a fatuous national conference which would have no effects at all on inflation.
In terms of an inducement to forgo wage increases, the tax cut proposed by the Opposition would be no more significant than the cut made by the Government. It is a complete delusion that union co-operation in what amounts to an incomes policy could be obtained with this sort of lure. There is a strong case for tax reform but it should be done because of the merits of the case. We should approach the subject of tax cuts in a realistic way and not construct elaborate fantasies that by cutting taxes we are acting positively to control inflation.
The Leader of the Opposition has put considerable stress on the need to cut back on the growth of Government spending. His case could be taken a lot more seriously if he indicated the areas where cuts could be made. As I understand it, the Opposition advocates a net growth of 25 per cent in Government spending, compared with the 33 per cent projected by the Government. I doubt whether the difference is of such a magnitude as to have any great impact on inflation. Even on the statements of the Leader of the Opposition, I do not think that the Opposition could contain spending in this way. One example which the Opposition has used to the point of tedious repetition is defence. The Government has acted reasonably to contain the growth of spending by cutting out the fat which fuelled the Vietnam war, by ending national service, by reorganising the clumsy and inefficient group of defence departments into a single integrated Department. The capital spending programs on defence to which the Government is committed are the same programs which the Opposition deferred and duckshoved when it was in Government. These cover new destroyers, a new tank, and new maritime reconnaissance aircraft. In each case, the Government has adopted a much more responsible attitude to considerations of cost and restraint on spending. We have held defence spending to what we consider is a level justified by present strategic considerations and at the same time we have made it more efficient and economic.
The only conclusion to be drawn from Mr Snedden ‘s policies here is that he would add from $500m to $ 1,000m to the defence budget. How could we justify this spending? Would we re-establish national service or re-engage in Indo-China or commit ourselves to new hardware we do not want? The Leader of the Opposition has also criticised the Government for starving the States. If this were correct, how could it be rectified without a substantial increase in spending? Perhaps the Opposition wants us to increase transfers to the States by 50 per cent or even 100 per cent. Even if this were justified, would it be construed as a restraint on the growth of Government spending? The truth is that no government in Australian history has been more generous to the States than this Government of the last 20 months has been.
The other side of the coin is that the States have rejected in many cases offers of spending on specific programs made by the Australian Government. Are the States starved if the Queensland Premier can reject generous offers made to him for growth centre programs, for land commissions, for sewerage and for a score of other programs? Sir Robert Askin has until recently been just as reactionary and just as culpable for rejecting Australian Government money. There are some glimmers of enlightenment in the New South Wales Government in recent months, but the State has fallen a long way short of taking up the Federal assistance which is available to it. Yet this is what the Leader of the Opposition describes as starving the States. The simple truth is that States such as Queensland and New South Wales are starving themselves. They have deliberately submitted themselves to a diet of bread and water and disdained the banquet which the Australian Government has offered them.
Undoubtedly there has been restraint in Government spending here, but it is not a restraint that has been welcome to the Government; nor is it palatable to the Leader of the Opposition, although his attitude here is grossly inconsistent. On the one hand he wants restraint in the growth of spending; on the other he wants us to stop starving the States. The Opposition’s case is shot through with similar inconsistencies. Mr Snedden is on record from the last election as giving an assurance that growth of spending would be maintained in key areas such as health, education, urban improvement and social welfare. If we extend this principle to the Budget and exclude these 4 areas, add in defence and payment to the States, we quickly find that there is no slack left. There is nowhere that the Opposition could make the cuts.
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. This was a speech originally read by the Prime Minister three or four years ago -
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat and not take fallacious points of order. He makes a habit of doing it. If he does it again I shall name him.
-It just shows that great minds think alike, Mr Deputy Speaker. Had the honourable member for Wannon read it three or four years ago this would be a much more enlightened Parliament. Perhaps the Government’s education grants to the honourable member’s electorate will help him. The Leader of the Opposition has made noises at times about cutting back on the growth of the Public Service. This option has been chopped off by the Government decision to put a ceiling of one per cent on the growth of the Public Service in 1974-75. The Leader of the Opposition might be able to cut back on even this small allowance for growth, but I doubt it. If all the options are closed off it is impossible to see where he could cut back the growth of government spending.
Another alternative is to cut down on the number of Ministers and the number of departments. Even here the Leader of the Opposition has closed off his options. The Opposition shadow ministry contains 28 members; that is one mere than the Cabinet has. This can only mean that if Mr Snedden were Prime Minister he would have a ministry of 28. For political reasons it would not be possible for him to clamp down on the size of the ministry. On the evidence of the shadow ministry, a Snedden government would be bigger and consequently more costly than the present Administration. Whatever way the Leader of the Opposition turns he is hamstrung. There is no way he can cut back on the growth of public spending without hacking into education, welfare payments, allocations to the States, urban and regional development. He is working on a very fine margin which rests on public acceptance of a few cliches- a national conference, restraint on the growth of public spending, the deflationary impact of tax cuts. When one analyses what the honourable gentleman put up, one finds that his sums do not add up and that his anti-inflationary package is an illusion, if not a confidence trick. He would be on surer ground if he conceded that there is no instant answer to inflation, that we must try new approaches, innovate, and put together new ambulations of fiscal, monetary and social policies. The Government has worked ceaselessly to find the key to the riddle which has defied every advanced country in the world. We were kidding ourselves if we thought it was possible for Australia ever to escape the impact of the heavy inflation that has plagued every advanced economy in the world in the past decade.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call the honourable member for Balaclava, I remind the House that it is the honourable member’s maiden speech, and I ask the House to extend to him the normal courtesy.
– I am deeply honoured to be a member of the House of Representatives and to represent the electorate of Balaclava. I will certainly endeavour to serve all constituents to the best of my ability and to make here a contribution to national policy formation. I anticipate that during my political life expectancy in this Parliament, the Parliament’s greatest problem may well be to raise its own standing in the eyes of the community and to review its role in the decision making process. It seems to be a fact of life that parliamentarians, the principal lawmakers, are not held in high regard by those whom they serve. Perhaps this will always be the case. As a new member I would certainly not presume now to suggest why this is so or what must be done to improve the situation. But with your leave, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will comment about certain aspects of our decision making process.
Some responsible commentators have warned the citizens of democratic countries that raging rates of inflation such as we are experiencing now may ultimately threaten our system of parliamentary democracy. Certainly the problems now coming before parliaments, including those stemming from inflation, are of an increasingly complex nature. I believe that it would be useful to examine the roles of the various Public Service and non-Public Service advisers, lobbyists and community action groups and compare them with the real role of Parliament. Such an examination should be a continual one, for our sytern of government is continually evolving. It would also be part of the on-going debate on inflation and the functioning of our mixed economy. As ample criticism has already been made of this Budget, I think it is sufficient for me to say that inflation will continue, unemployment levels will remain, thrift will be penalised, initiative will be discouraged and young marrieds and fixed income earners will find life particularly hard in the immediate future. Inflation will continue making a mockery of the so-called tax concessions, and the capital gains tax amounts to a tax upon inflationary gains. Without an overall adjustment to our current tax structure the Government really increases its revenue each time inflation reaches new dizzy heights. It is true that some of our inflation is imported. It is true also that inflation is now a world wide problem, but that is no justification for maintaining our position as one of the outright leaders in the inflation stakes. It is still the Government ‘s duty to control the domestically generated element of our inflation and to defer non-essential public spending until this is done. To date the Government has failed to do so. But in a modern democracy the control of inflation is more than merely the duty of the government. The Government must take the lead, and the unions and employers must follow and co-operate to the full.
In democracies such as ours modern economic and social problems can be solved only by a consensus between 3 entities which are themselves answerable to constituent members. At the apex of these entities are the Federal Government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the National Employers Policy Committee. I refer to these as entities although they are all federal in character. For it is a fact that we have a federal system. It may not be precisely what we would devise if we were writing the Constitution today, but it will not disappear no matter how hard the current government tries to make it disappear. I am not suggesting that the States have always behaved in an exemplary way throughout the history of our Federation. They have not. Sensible co-operation on the part of all 7 governments is essential for the system to work. It will not work if the domineering policies of the Federal Government make several of the States determined to oppose federal policy at all costs.
But given the cumbersome appearance of the federal system, it is not surprising that the Federal Government has succumbed to the temptation of trying to centralise power at the expense of the States and existing local government authorities. It is superficially tempting to do this, but in a country of Australia’s physical size and growing complexity and diversity the centralisation of power in the hands of one government would be detrimental to our development. This is not to say that all aspects of the Constitution written in the 1890s are to be revered and regarded as immutable in the 1970s, but it is to say that changes must be wrought by consensus.
Great patience and wisdom are needed if we are to render our democratic processes viable in the years ahead. Much of that wisdom is to be found at the grass roots- at meetings in constituencies of our 3 tiers of government, on the committees of local action groups, at meetings of rank and file unionists and at meetings of employers.
I believe it is sensible to record now that I am concerned by the obvious intentions of the Government to centralise power in Canberra. At times this would mean centralisation within the Cabinet and on other occasions it would mean centralisation in the hands of an even smaller body such as the Economic Sub-committee of Cabinet. In the case of a very strong Prime Minister, it could mean centralisation in the hands of one person, and where the Cabinet was generally lacklustre it would mean that power could reside in a few non-elected officials. What is most certain is that it would mean the by-passing of Par.liament
I am not denying that the trend towards centralisation is almost inexorable. The granting of taxation powers and logical liberal High Court interpretation of the Federal Government’s powers have assured this. Such centralisation has generally been in accordance with efficient and effective government. The checks and balances of our 3-tier system have remained, and government effectiveness depends on the elimination of duplication between Federal and State governments and their willingness to co-operate with each other. Now, however, we have a Federal Government which would dearly love to abolish the States, abolish existing local government authorities and abolish the Upper House of Federal Parliament. This explains the endeavour to break up local councils by regionalising them and making them increasingly dependent on federal money. Power usually resides where the purse is fullest, and such centralisation of power would actually reduce the effectiveness of government in Australia. For even if power were made to reside in a few hands, wisdom would rarely reside in the same hands.
Canberra is not Australia. Decisions made with the best technical expertise and utmost conscientiousness by public servants run the grave risk of being remote from grass-roots thinking, and the rise of a second generation of Canberra public servants should give us further reason to question this centralising process. This largely unsought role is an unfair imposition upon conscientious public servants. I am a long term admirer of the professional bureaucrats as public servants; that is, I admire their expertise as advisers, but wish to resist their being placed in the situation of supplanting the elected decision makers.
Thus I believe that effective government is attained best by a consensus of views and action by our 3 tiers of government. When I talk of consensus, perhaps I should say that I see a pattern of conflict and consensus as a continuum. Conflict might be natural and healthy, but in the interests of the entire community it must be resolved in a way and for a duration which produces stability without stagnation. The consensus of which I speak for the purpose of resolving our inflation is one between 3 federally structured entities- government, the unions and the employers. One would eventually wish to see machinery for these 3 federal entities to exchange views on a regular basis in place of the very limited pre-Budget submissions to government.
Such machinery would be more effective, however, if we had fewer unions and employer organisations.
Unfortunately, the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) is not listening to me. He has frequently observed that we have far too many unions. I thoroughly agree with this comment and equally believe that we have far too many employer organisations and trade associations. This proliferation of personalities makes the settlement of industrial disputes difficult and the control of inflation correspondingly harder. We have over 300 trade unions and many more employer and trade associations. We need more amalgamations on both sides of the industrial fence and a greater centralisation of authority in the hands of persons elected to carry out the democratically ascertained views of the members. This centralisation of authority would, however, preserve the federal structure and that is quite different from the Government’s desire to centralise policy making and decentralise administration of those policies. I am talking of policy making federally but with real authority for implementation centrally. I believe that our current level of industrial disputation and wage cost inflation would be lower if we had co-operative federalism at the governmental level paralleled by a relatively small number of federally structured unions and employer organisations.
It is a tribute to Mr Hawke’s charisma that people think he is powerful. In truth he operates from a position of great constitutional weakness. His counterpart amongst the employers, Mr Polites, is equally dependent upon his considerable powers of persuasion. Leaving personalities aside, however, industrial relations in Australia would be less chaotic if we had what was tantamount to a 2-party system in the industrial arena. The role of government in that arena should be minimal. There are, of course, some people who seem to find comfort in this fragmentation and who fear that more centralised union power will fall into the hands of militants. To them I can only reply that this is quite possible but that history shows us that more often than not real power brings a sense of responsibility and accountability.
The problem of framing appropriate legislation for protecting the rights of individual unionists while facilitating easier amalgamations has proved to be a vexed one. It is important, however, to point out that even if such legislation had been agreed upon by the Parliament, amalgamations could not be imposed from above. Before genuine, long term mergers can be effected there must be a desire by officials and active members of the organisations concerned to unite in the interests of their members. Often the greatest obstacles to such mergers will be the desire of officers, paid and honorary, to be big fish in small ponds, and no legislation can alter that mentality. This fact is relevant to the recent talk of a so-called ‘social contract’. Ignoring the fact that Rousseau and other philosophers would join issue with the loose application of the term, it has some value as a guide to the consensus of which I have spoken. As it stands, however, it has been seen in Britain as a contract between the Trade Union Congress and the Labor Government, but as an unenforceable contract if the Trade Union Congress cannot persuade its members to cooperate. The Wilson Government has carried out its part of the bargain and has now handed over the reins of government to the TUC with fingers crossed lest the TUC’s own members ignore the undertakings which the TUC has made on their behalf. The Confederation of British Industry has been left in the role of idle spectator.
Mr Deputy Speaker, we have seen much the same thing happen in Australia this week. The Budget apparently was aimed at winning the support of the unions. The ball was placed in their court. It is worth considering what this method of government is doing to the institution of Parliament. The Government aroused union expectations the moment it came into office. It made the Public Service the pacesetter in wage and salary movements and spoke of such an improvement in general terms and conditions of employment that union leaders would have been thought irresponsible by their members if they had not taken advantage of this benevolent climate. A mad merry-go-round was begun with the Government’s blessing. While not being the only cause of inflation, it has greatly aggravated matters to the point where wage earners in particular are seeing their savings and earnings eroded by inflation and are then asked to stop the music and bring the merry-go-round to a halt.
Having observed that a really effective tripartite Federal compact is desirable but not yet attainable I would not like my time to expire without at least suggesting one constructive idea capable of immediate consideration. I believe that thought should be given to a permanent committee of economic advisers able to give expert advice to the Australian Loan Council so as to enable that body to draw up a rolling plan or a set of guidelines upon which unions and employer organisations could comment. I think it is very relevant in the light of what the honourable member for Port Adelaide said to the effect that the Budget was no longer to be a year to year plan. If we are not to have a Budget presented on that basis- and I agree with that view- we should have a longer rolling plan capable of being updated. In this way the retraining of personnel and the redeployment of capital would be effected more smoothly instead of in the jarring manner which resulted from the present Government ‘s sweeping tariff policies.
My final observation is that when sufficient individual employers and unions give practical application to job re-design programs aimed at bringing the overall quality of working life into line with the quality of life outside the working place, and when more managements recognise that affluence and education have created expectations which cannot be satisfied by traditional systems of work, there will be a better chance of some reduction in the level of wage demand relative to productivity improvement. There should be less job turnover, less plant disputation, less absenteeism and more productivity. The wagecost element of inflation ought therefore to be less than at present. Union leaders would not cease claiming a larger slice of the cake but they would at least be more likely to co-operate in building a larger cake to share.
Sanity will only return to industrial relations when management recognises that its most important asset is people and when unions recognise that ‘profit’ and ‘productivity’ are not necessarily dirty words. These observations, however, in no way relieve the Government of its duty to control inflation by its own fiscal, monetary and taxation policies. Its strangling of the private sector concurrent with a record expansion of public spending can hardly be expected to win it other than the criticism that it has received for the discharge of its obligations.
Finally, I wish to make an observation of a long term nature regarding inflation. It is that our materialism may need to be curbed. Perhaps we will need to search for a happy medium between economic growth for its own sake and the goal of no growth at all- a goal which some students of our current investment recession may be forgiven for thinking is now part of Government policy. For those reasons, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– First, I congratulate the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) on his maiden speech. I am sure that the special skills which he brings to the House will be of benefit in the debates that we will have in the future.
The Budget which the Treasurer (Mr Crean) presented has 3 main objectives. The first is to maintain full employment; the second is to have a greater social equality; and the third is to control inflation. I believe that the proposals in the speech presented last Tuesday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and in the amendment which he moved do nothing and would do nothing to help obtain those 3 objectives. As has already been pointed out, if the tax cuts which the Leader of the Opposition proposes were given, one must suppose that there would be some balancing. One wonders what areas of present expenditure proposed by the Government would be cut by a Liberal Government. Yet the Leader of the Opposition criticises the Budget on the ground that it does not make sufficient money available in some areas. Surely people must see something illogical in that approach.
Of course, many financial commentators were quick to point out that the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Liberal Party and the Country Party did not pose any real and viable alternative to what we on this side of the House are proposing. In fact, over the last year there has been a great deal of negative thinking on the part of honourable members on the other side of the House. They are very quick to criticise, but they are very slow to come up with anything approaching a viable alternative policy- not that that would be easy, because every country with a comparable standard of living and undergoing comparable economic circumstances is having the same sort of difficulty as Australia is at this moment.
If we had taken the advice of some people we would have had a situation in which a rise in unemployment to levels which, I believe, would be completely unsatisfactory would have been inevitable. I believe that the Government did the right thing in approaching this problem on the basis that jobs ought to be preserved. Of course, it is not only the people who are working for a wage or salary who are affected when unemployment comes. Unemployment also affects businesses of all sorts, particularly the small businesses and the selective businesses which deal in particular goods or services. Often these are the first businesses to go to the wall when there is unemployment. People just have not got the money to spend.
Last week, after the Budget was presented, I saw a newspaper headline which suggested that the middle class was getting the axe. Nothing could be futher from the truth. Who in our society has the most to gain from the initiatives in the field of transport, education, health services, social security and other public services which this Government has taken since it came to power? Very few people are wealthy enough to say that they can stand aside from the community; that they will not need the assistance of their fellows at some time during their lives.
This Budget proposes social justice. It proposes plans which will assist people and enable them to live free and happy lives in the best sense of those words. It is not possible for even moderately wealthy people to organise an education system for the education of their children. They rely on other people in either the public sector or the private sector. Most people rely on education in the public sector. It is not possible for most people to provide sufficient health services for themselves. What if a wealthy person is involved in a motor vehicle accident and has to go to the casualty station of one of our larger public hospitals? There has been a good deal of criticism of the facilities provided at these hospitals. This is no criticism of the nurses and doctors who staff them; rather is it criticism of the overall facilities that are provided. No matter how wealthy a person is, if he finds himself in those circumstances the type of facility which is provided and the type of service which is provided may well save his life.
We on this side of the House have taken initiatives. We wish to use the skills of people. We wish to see innovation and initiative in the private sector. I believe that we can achieve it and that we will encourage it by the measures which we will take. I heard someone suggest that the Budget did nothing to encourage the private sector. I also heard the suggestion that devaluation was something apart from the Budget. Quite clearly it is not. To see the way in which private investment and private industry have fared under this Government one need only look at the chart published in the ‘National Times’ last week. For the benefit of my friends opposite I will mention some of the companies named on the chart and their earning rates compared with the value of their shares. The Bank of New South Wales has an earning rate of 20.5 per cent. The Australian Mining and Smelting company has an earning rate of 26.2 per cent and the Australian Guarantee Corporation has an earning rate of 26.8 per cent. I refer now to the pastoral industry. Dalgety’s has an earning rate of 32.7 per cent on the value of the capital at market prices.
– What about the companies in Western Australia?
– They are doing very well at the moment. Elder Smith, another pastoral company, has an earning rate of 23.8 per cent. Thomas Nationwide Transport has an earning rate of 26.4 per cent. These figures give the lie to the scaremongery which we hear so often that this economy is not doing so well at present. In the 12 months preceding my Party’s corning to government there had been a tremendous explosion of credit in the Australian community. In the 6 months from June to December 1972 there was an explosion of credit of 16.7 per cent. This was a tremendous rise and one which led to the great problems which this Government faced when it came to power.
– What is it like now?
– It has gone down considerably since, despite that inflation, as such, is continuing. In fact it was this trigger which set off the inflation we now have. It is quite easy to see that when something is thrown out of equilibrium- as was done by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government for political purposes in order to try to regain the ground lost during 1972 and to retain the government of this country- a tremendous strain is placed on the economy of this country. This Government took measures to prevent this oscillation in the economy.
As everybody knows many of these measures take six to nine months to come into effect. Now it is necessary to reverse some of these measures. It is not possible to know exactly what effect they have. As part of a co-ordinated plan we are taking steps to see that those measures which were taken in answer to this tremendous liquidity in the economy are now changed. We have devalued whereas before we needed to revalue as an answer to the problems which had arisen. We have reduced the amount required in the variable deposit ratio. We have released bank credits. I am quite sure that these measures taken by the Government will have the desired effect. The Liberal-Country Party Government refused to revalue foreign exchange in 1972 when it should have done so. It is interesting to note that in the 12 months which I spoke about before there was a 20 per cent increase overall, which was about 3 times as much as the average annual increase for the previous 20 years. There was also a food crisis. This not only led to a great deal of liquidity in Australia but also, and more importantly, it led to a rise in food prices which in turn placed a great amount of pressure on the need for rises in wages. Finally there was an oil crisis. Although not all the oil that we use is imported, unlike many other countries, we still import a great deal-
– Thirty per cent.
– That is true. More importantly the oil crisis has had a destabilising effect on the world economy as a whole. I ask leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the volume of money and the changes from the year 1 968 to June 1 974.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-I thank the House. One of the important things that this Government is doing and has done is to increase the amount of money available for education. It amazes me to hear members of the Opposition talk about the need to allow people to take their own action with regard to education. They call it freedom of choice. What freedom of choice has a migrant child from a low income family? What freedom of choice have many children if they are not assisted by government actions.?
– What about the tax deduction?
-I have been asked: What about tax deductions? I will come to that in a minute. I would just like to point out to the House what this Government is doing for people who send their children to private schools. Between the years 1971 and 1972 the LiberalCountry coalition Government spent $36m on grants to non-government schools. This year this Government has estimated that it will spend $120m in that same area. I repeat the figures- $36m to $120m in the private sector. The previous Government was very generous towards state schools; it spent $20m. This Government intends to spend $257m. Can anyone doubt the changes that will be wrought by this expenditure? The children of Australia, whether they go to public or private schools, will receive a better education and a better opportunity.
As honourable members opposite have talked about economic effects let me point out that countries which have been prepared to spend a large amount of their budgets on education have had the highest economic growth. There are some other figures which are of interest too. Let us take the field of tertiary education. In 1971-72 the expenditure on universities by the previous Government was $ 1 6 1 m. It is estimated to rise to $49 lm this year. For colleges of advanced education and teachers colleges there is a rise from $55m in 1971-72 to $326m. There is an overall rise in expenditure over the whole field of education from $346m under the McMahon Government to an estimated expenditure in the coming year of $1, 534m. These things have to be done. For many years education had been suffering crisis after crisis. This Government seized the initiative and has done something about it. I believe that the people of Australia will give credit where credit is due when the time comes to make a decision as to which political party is to rule this country.
In my own electorate of Diamond Valley, apart from education, we have needs in the field of urban transport and urban development generally. It is interesting to note in the papers attached to the Budget that the amount for area improvement programs will rise from the actual figure of $7.4m in 1973-74 to $ 14.1m this year. The land commissions expenditure will rise from $ 11.5m last year to $56.9m this year. The total expenditure, leaving aside protection of the environment and provision of sewerage faculties, will rise from $ 102.6m last year to an estimated $264.7m this year. The expenditure for the provision of sewerage services will rise from $39.9m last year to $ 125.5m this year. This Government has its priorities straight. It will get things done.
The area improvement programs will confer particular advantage on local governments in my electorate. There are 5 municipalities which are either wholly or partly in the electorate of Diamond Valley. From the Grants Commission the Diamond Valley Shire Council will receive $240,000, the Eltham Shire Council will receive $150,000, the Heidelberg City Council will receive $230,000, the Northcote City Council will receive $225,000 and the Whittlesea Shire Council will receive $105,000.The Doncaster and Templestowe City Council, which is in the inner eastern region, will receive $225,000. These amounts will materially assist local government to overcome some of the problems which have been caused by years and years of neglect not only by federal governments but also by State governments. We hear a lot of talk about the fact that State governments are responsible for local government, but in my experience in local government State governments have not given nearly enough assistance and the time was long overdue for some assistance to be given by a national government. In fact since 1952 seminars and conferences of local government representatives have been calling for assistance from national governments. But it was not until this Government came to office that anything was done in this respect.
The Government has provided in the Budget for a significant increase of funds for social welfare and social services. Elderly persons have already received increases which, of course, have taken into account inflation and which have brought their pension to 24.5 per cent of average weekly earnings. The Government promised to bring the rate of their pension to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings in 2 years. In 1 8 months we have almost achieved that figure. 1 believe this is a great achievement by the Whitlam Labor Government. We have introduced in this Budget interest mortgage deductions. We propose to set up a Children’s Commission to look after child care and pre-school education. It was not until this Government came to office that a national government thought to spend any significant amount in the States on child care and pre-school education.
This is a Budget of which we can all be proud- proud on the expenditure side and proud on the revenue side. It is a more equal Budget. It will do things to develop this country that previous governments have failed to do in 23 years. Already in the space of less than 2 years we have laid the plan for a significant improvement in the way in which we operate as a nation. We have determined the sort of priorities which we have for the development of our country and the use of its wealth. The time has come for an assessment by this Parliament of what we have done. It is not just a question of who has the numbers because ultimately the people make the decision. I am sure that they will make the right decision.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). I believe that the present Budget is a disaster Budget. It provides for an expenditure of $ 16,274m or an increase of $3,980m over the 1973-74 Budget. This increase of 32.4 per cent is in itself highly inflationary. We on this side of the House knew that expenditure would be increased but we never thought that the increase would be of the order of 32.4 per cent. As I said, the Budget can be truly called a disaster Budget for Australia and its economy.
No effort has been made to arrest inflation by cutting down government expenditure, reducing interest rates, reducing taxation across the board, legislating for full employment or getting to grips with the unions in an effort to increase productivity which is the answer to beating inflation. Problems have been created by the increase in interest rates which are charged mainly in the banking system and in the general commercial scene. These rates have risen from 6Vi per cent to 1 Vh per cent. We have seen competition in this country between the Government and the trading banks. As a matter of fact, only about 3Vi months ago one of our leading trading banks was prepared to pay an interest rate of 20 per cent to gain funds to enable it to carry on its business of banking. This has never been heard of before in Australia. It has created great financial problems for the business world, for primary industries and, most important of all, for the young people who have been seeking finance to build their homes. These high interest rates have prevented them in most cases from financing loans to build homes for themselves and their families.
This Government has done nothing to arrest high inflationary interest rates. It has made no attempt to create full employment across the board. The elimination of the 25 per cent tariff on imported goods coming into this country has created chaos in certain industries. It has created a chaotic state in the textile industry, an industry which is well established in my electorate and in the electorates of many other honourable members throughout Australia. The textile industry is the most decentralised industry in this country and together with the clothing industry, which also has been seriously affected, employs approximately 200,000 employees, both male and female. Unless this Government takes heed of the warnings and reintroduces tariff restrictions on these goods coming in from Asian countries which have cheap labour resources, this unemployment in Australia will accelerate.
– What about devaluation?
– We find in today’s Press the headline: ‘Factories shifting to Asia- Union’. The article points out that objections are being made by the trade union movement and states:
Australian companies had set up factories in South-east Asia to make industrial gloves previously made in Newcastle, a Newcastle union official said last night.
The Newcastle Secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union (Mr C. Johnson) said only one company in Newcastle did not have its own factory overseas.
These factories have closed. Good Australian workmen have been sacked and the principals, to keep their businesses going, have had to establish them overseas. The newspaper article continues:
Mr Johnson had sent the State Secretary (Mr K. C. Blackwell) details of factories overseas and asked for government action.
We are battling to keep the industry going in Australia and are scratching all the time to keep women concerned in employment’, he said.
In the city of Maitland in my electorate at the moment there is an unemployment level of approximately 1,100 people, 500 of whom were retrenched from the great Bradmill textile works. I know that the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) is evolving a scheme to assist these people. But when a person has been employed in an industry all his main working days, has achieved success in it and has become competent in it, it is very difficult to find satisfactory employment elsewhere.
These are problems that the Government must face up to. Whilst it may be all right to put quantitative restrictions on these goods coming into Australia, this is not a severe enough action. I have it on good authority that letters of credit have gone out to overseas companies for the importation of textile goods into Australia. I was asked a moment ago about devaluation. Certainly, devaluation will help. But it has come at a very late stage. Honourable members opposite will remember that I and my colleagues on this side of the House have been pressing for devaluation for a long time. It has come to pass and it certainly will benefit industry in Australia, but at the same time it could have an inflationary trend. The Government will want to look at this aspect.
The great Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd is very concerned with inflation. This week its annual shareholders’ meeting was addressed by the Chairman of that company, Sir Ian McLennan. BHP is probably our greatest industrial undertaking in Australia, one that has made a great impact on our economy and one that has provided excellent employment for hundreds of thousands of fine Australian employees. The report of Sir Ian McLennan ‘s address states:
Sir Ian told the annual meeting of BHP shareholders there were so many uncertainties ahead that he hesitated to make any firm forecasts. ‘Almost without exception the Company is in good shape and in normal circumstances we could look forward to a good year’, he said. ‘Whether that will eventuate will depend largely on the external influences’.
Sir Ian said the Budget appeared to have made no contribution towards restraining, and ultimately reducing, inflation.
It might worsen the situation, providing for great increases in Government expenditure- most of it non-productive.
Here again is the crunch- productivity. The report continues:
He urged the community to reject the view that Australia’s inflation problems were wholly imported from other countries.
We know there is inflation overseas but we must be ashamed of ourselves because in Australia we have the fourth highest rate of inflation in the world at present, rising to 20 per cent a year by December this year. The report continued: ‘Some off-shore influences undoubtedly could not be withstood, but to achieve the levels of inflation at the speed we have seen surely indicates mistakes at home and not just abroad, ‘he said.
That came from the Chairman of our most successful industrial undertaking in Australia. The Treasurer of Australia, the Honourable Frank Crean, made a ministerial statement to this House on 23 July showing great concern over the inflationary trend in Australia and bringing forward certain policies which he felt would arrest inflation. It could almost be referred to as a mini Budget; it was a mini failure. It imposed an additional charge of 3c a nip on spirits, which will yield $39m in 1974-75, and certain other excise duties.
– He put it on the brandy industry.
-Yes, the charge was imposed on the brandy industry the other day. The Treasurer mentioned employment. What direction is employment to take in Australia with the uncertainties created by the present Government? In conclusion he said:
I have sought tonight to make clear the Government’s deep concern about current inflationary trends and its determination to act to bring them under control.
What utter nonsense. He continued:
To do so will require a balanced program designed to have an effective impact but which can readily be adjusted to the changing needs of the emerging situation. In our forthcoming budgetary deliberations we shall be seeking to shape such a program. In doing so, we shall I hope demonstrate the Government’s determination to ensure reasonable protection for those who may be adversely affected by any measure taken, while at the same time making it clear that the halting of inflation is the necessary first step to the active resumption of our policies of social and economic advancement. Against that background I commend the measures I have outlined. . . .
Certainly in this Budget there has been no attempt whatever to control inflation and the measures brought down by the Treasurer on 23 July certainly had no effect at all. I heard talk in the lobbies here today of the possible introduction of another mini Budget. This Government went to the polls on a policy of full employment. Now, owing to the action of the Government it is possible that by December of this year the number of unemployed in Australia will reach 200,000. Despite what has been said here about unemployment under the Liberal-Country Party Government, the number of unemployed never reached anything like that figure. At the present time money is flowing into the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra from pay as you earn taxation at the rate of more than $400m a month. While this money from pay as you earn taxation is flowing into the Treasury, the Government could not care less about unemployment.
It is difficult to comprehend how a government in 20 months, by its fiscal policy, could bring about a state of economic chaos and uncertainty. Yes, there is a loss of confidence in the business world. One has only to look at the stock exchanges in the various capital cities in Australia to see what is happening there. There is uncertainty and a lack of confidence. All our great concerns have reached rock bottom. There is also a lack of confidence in both primary and secondary industries. No wonder management and employees in industry do not know what will happen next. In a nutshell, confidence in the commercial world has been shaken, and the Budget does nothing to improve the situation. The credit squeeze brought about by this Government has also accelerated the rise in unemployment. We can look forward to lack of growth and a tremendous slackening off in the investment field. This will have a serious long term effect. Of course, already we have seen contracting and investment firms going to the wall. Unfortunately for Australia and for our work force there will be more firms going to the wall in the not too distant future. It is certainly not a Budget which will give confidence to our rural industries. Hundreds of thousands of Australians who live in our great country towns and cities in Australia will be affected.
The 1973-74 Budget took more than $300m from primary producers, and the Budget for 1974-75 has done nothing to alleviate the financial problems with which primary producers are confronted. They are also confronted at the present time with falling prices for their products on the world market They have experienced adverse seasons and the credit squeeze has prevented them from developing their industry. I heard the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) say tonight that some of the primary producer firms, particularly Dalgety Australia Ltd, have been showing huge profits. I will quote to him the prices which were obtained for sheep and cattle at a sale which recently took place in one of the leading saleyards in my electorate. I will compare the prices obtained in September 1973 with those obtained in September 1974. In September 1973 bullocks of 585 kilograms brought $335 at 57.4c a kilogram. Similar bullocks sold in September 1974 brought $143. That is a drop in price of two-thirds. Steers of 450 kilograms brought $254 in September 1973 and $120 in September 1974. Yearlings of 320 kilograms brought $168 in September 1973 and $ 105 in September 1974. In September 1973 vealers of 270 kilograms were sold for $143. In September 1974 they were sold for $88. Bulls of 568 kilograms were sold for $33 1 in September 1973, and $144 in September 1974. What a catastrophe in the cattle marketing industry of Australia.
Turning to sheep, whethers full wool, brought $23.30 in September 1973. Last week they brought $5. Woolley lambs were sold for $18.80 in September 1973. Last week they were sold for $9.40. Suckers brought $15.90 in September 1973. Last week they brought $8.50. In September 1 973 crossbred ewes, full wool, were sold for $22.20. Last week they were sold for $5. This is what is happening to the meat producers in Australia. Unfortunately the housewives, the consumers, have seen very little reduction in the price because the wages of slaughtermen have been increased tremendously, as have the costs of the meat inspection service. So we are not getting the cheap meat that we should.
It is true that this Government has made available the considerable sum of $56.3m to local government authorities throughout the country in untied grants. But when we have a closer look at the figures we find that Commonwealth aid roads grants to shires and municipalities throughout Australia have been cut back very seriously. It is seen that the funds which will be made available following the recommendations of the Grants Commission will in the main just about strike even with the loss of their Commonwealth aid roads grants. My concern is that the legislation which is to flow from the Budget should be brought forward as quick as possible so that our municipalities and shires throughout Australia can get access to these funds. I received a telephone call today from the Shire Clerk of the Coolah Shire Council who told me that that Council has had its Commonwealth aid roads grant considerably reduced. I was told that normally it would have received its money by this time, and I was asked to see whether the payment of this grant from Canberra could be speeded up. Of course, this can be done only by the appropriate legislation being passed here in the Budget session. I ask that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) get together with the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) to speed up the payment of these grants to the shires throughout Australia.
The Budget is a discriminatory one and is highly loaded in favour of city dwellers. It will encourage more people to live in the cities. This should not be our aim. We should be seeking to spread our population right throughout the length and breadth of the land. The Budget provides for millions of dollars to be spent on water and sewerage schemes in the capital cities, and an amount of $ 105 m has been allocated for this purpose. We believe that some of this money should be made available to the provincial cities and to our great country towns. The amount allocated to be spent on many facets of education certainly has been increased by 78 per cent. This is very good. But the one thing in relation to education about which we are very disappointed is that the allowable deduction for education expenses for taxation purposes is to be reduced from $400 to $ 1 50. This will have a serious effect right across the board, and particularly on the private schools. I therefore support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
-This Budget is an honest attempt to tackle the problems facing the country at the present time. As an instrument of Government policy it is an attempt to distribute revenues justly across the nation and to outline the avenues from which the income for the Government will be gathered. Having listened to the speech of disaster and gloom delivered by the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), who preceded me in this debate, I really wonder why he does not take a single ticket to Russia or Portugal or one of the countries of South America. His speech was one of utter exaggeration, and that is what we have had to put up with in this place ever since this Government was elected to office. The Opposition cannot take what we are trying to do for the country in new fields of initiative and endeavour because it lives in the past. Conservatism is of the past and present, not of the future. Change never comes out of conservatism; only the status quo.
It is on that subject that I want to say a few words right now. The momentum of postive activity, which started in December 1972, has been maintained at a fast pace, and in criticim one might say that it has been too fast in some fields for the people to appreciate it fully or fully understand its purpose It is essential that the story of new ideas and programs initiated by this Government should be told regularly and widely throughout Australia, and that is a most difficult task. I fear that many people suffered political indigestion in 1973-74 from trying to digest the amazing range and depth of policies implemented throughout the nation. Some people are against change. These people are mostly those who are so cemented in tradition, so married to the status quo, so entrenched in conservatism, with such a massive vested interest in the private enterprise system, that they regard change as a threat and a danger. Other people fear changes. They are so contended, so smug, so self-satisfied with things as they are that they fear changes which force them to think or to act differently. It is like people being forced to travel to work by a new route, to tackle a new job or to meet new neighbours. They are annoyed at the changes from their previous experiences. They are afraid to tread new paths or to face new challenges to pre-conceived ideas or philosophies. The Opposition at the moment is completely in that category. But changes there must be if society and the nation are not to stand still in sterile stagnation.
Labor is a philosophy and a Party of change. It always has been and it makes no bones about it. All the major reforms in this country since 1850 were initiated by Labor whether it was in or out of office. Change, of course, involves courage to do it. Courage involves vision. It involves perseverance and dedication. Since Labor came into office in December 1972 our program of legislation in every field of the economy has been a monument to the courage of the men who initiated it and the humanity of vast areas of it. The need for new attitudes to our concept of nationhood is important and relevant. But what do we find on the opposite side in this Parliament? We find a bunch of knockers. They are now professional knockers. If there were an application for a champion knocker anyone from the Leader of the Opposition down would get a job anywhere in the world. I have never listened to anything like it in my experience in this place. We were a constructive opposition. We put our ideas up frequently in regard to what we would do when we came into office. But all that this crowd opposite is doing is standing at the door and knocking all night and all day until one gets sick and tired of it. The Press falls for it and gives this stuff full headlines. A person who is opposing something gets headlines. A person who is agreeing with something does not get headlines. That is a natural thing with the media. Inflation itself is too much money chasing too few goods and the moment that we try to draw the money supply from the community we are accused of taking stupid action.
– You draw it off and spend it.
– We spend it in another field to try to maintain employment. There is no easy answer to inflation. The whole world knows that. We have had to put up for a long time with these people opposite, these negaters, these champions of disorder, defiance and arrogance telling us that they know everything about inflation and they know all the answers. These are the people who stumped the country urging voters last year to reject the referendum which was designed to give the Government power to control prices of a restricted range of commodities. They ask us to control inflation now that the referendum has been defeated and we have one hand tied behind our back. These are the people who are now going around the country screaming blue murder, disaster and doom. Why, the prophets in the Old Testament were amateurs compared with these prophets of doom sitting in Opposition in this Parliament today.
This colossal economic problem of inflation exists all around the world. We can lift production. We can urge wage restraint. We can make tax adjustments. We can appeal for price responsibility on the part of manufacturers and retailers. We can increase interest rates to draw off surplus money. It is repugnant for any Labor Government to do these things. A more effective weapon in the fight against inflation would be for the State governments to forget their parochialism, their State rightism, their political opposition to the Whitlam Government, and transfer voluntarily price control powers to the Australian Government for a period of 2 years over a selected field such as housing, materials, clothes, steel, cement, farm equipment and the like. The Liberal Premiers are so one-eyed that they have taken one glass out of their spectacles. They are so heartrendingly attached to the gospel of State rightism and so viciously opposed to this Federal Government that they put party politics before the welfare of the nation and refuse to give us the powers we need. That is one simple answer to the problem- short of a referendum in which we would be given those powers.
The social justice of this Budget is evident right through it. It provides the greatest range of assistance to the sick, the aged, the disadvantaged, the poor, the students and the crippled which has ever been attempted by an Australian government. Millions of people will benefit from this assistance. Millions of people will have their dignity restored and their security made more secure and upgraded. Millions of people will feel that someone cares for them. Our social justice program is driving many glaring inequalities into the corners of society and out of existence altogether, lifting the standard of humanity everywhere.
The transport situation is important, particularly to us members from Tasmania. Tasmania suffers a very great disadvantage. Bass Strait, in spite of its oil and natural gas supplies, really is the Achilles heel of our State and has proved to be so through the years. The Australian National Line moves 85 per cent of our total cargo into and out of our State. It is doing a valiant job in trying to handle this problem. Next year 2 new ships will come on to the run. Both will be added to the present fleet. That will be a tremendous boost to Tasmania.
The freight increase which has just been announced and which is the first for 2 years has encountered great opposition from everyone in our State. The Labor Party members of this Par.liament were in constant contact with the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) last week. We reminded the Prime Minister of the promise he made in Hobart during the election campaigns in 1972 and 1974, when he said that he did not want to see Tasmania disadvantaged because of freight problems when compared with the tonmileage basis between Melbourne and Adelaide and Melbourne and Sydney. In a few days we had the Minister investigating the present position of our freight rates in relation to the rail freight rates charged between those capital cities. An unfortunate factor that has come out is that the rail freights between those capital dues have increased quite considerably.
But we are hopeful that out of this immediate investigation and assessment, with which the
ANL Chairman and the Bureau of Transport Economics are helping, we will find a chance, a reason, a justification for some form of subsidy to be granted immediately to help alleviate this problem. Perhaps it could be a subsidy of so much a ton. This would be interim assistance pending the release of the Nimmo report in the next 6 to 9 months. The Prime Minister initiated the report to try to get the facts so that he could be helped to carry out the promise which he made not quite 2 years ago. We would not preempt this report, but we feel that the matter is so urgent that something must be done immediately.
Again this year the Government is giving $ lm to the ANL to help it in its passenger service, so that it can try to keep its deficit down. The ANL had a pretty good run from about 1955 to 1971- for 16 yean. On its operations it made an $ 1 8m profit. It is only because costs have gone up and because of some industrial trouble last year which also affected it that it is now running into a deficit.
– It will pick up.
-I believe that with the 2 new ships it certainly will pick up. That will be the answer to Tasmania’s transport problems. I mention Air Tasmania Pty Ltd which was formed in Tasmania 11 to 12 months ago and which was established with $40,000 of State Government finance. This was about 80 per cent of its total initial capital cost. With a DC3 aircraft that is expertly piloted by Captain Terry Burns, the Chief Pilot, it has in the last 1 1 months carried 10,500 people intrastate - Hobart - Queenstown - Strahan - Wynyard - Devonport - Launceston - Hobart. I cannot praise the airline’s operations too highly. It has never had an accident. It has never had a delay. It has never had anybody complain. It has kept to a strict schedule. It has really made an outstanding contribution to overcoming Tasmania’s internal transport problems.
Some of us have been trying to get the airline another aircraft. That has been most difficult because a DC3 aircraft which comes on to the market has to be tendered for and the tendering is open to foreign companies as well. It is a pretty difficult thing to break through. The DC3 aircraft that we have already had a look at have gone. The airline is still operating with one aircraft. It has offered to help Flinders Island overcome its problems. My colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) has been working on this one ever since Ansett Airlines of Australia announced that it is going to pull out of the service. Air Tasmania has offered to provide the Island with a service in a very regular way and with a very good schedule. We hope that it will be given the licence to operate a service between Flinders Island and Launceston as often as it can. That would be a great boost to the Island, especially if it were to lose its present service, as it looks certain of doing.
The airline has a tremendous success story to tell. I believe that, as a Government, we should be trying our very hardest to help it to get another aircraft. The Minister for Defence and I helped it to get a spare engine recently when its engine had to go in for maintenance. We got it a loan of an engine from the former Department of Supply. It has been helping the airline out over recent months. But how can an airline operate properly and be expected to do the job it wants to do with only one aircraft? I appeal tonight to all of those people who are responsible for aircraft in this country to let me know if they know of a DC3 aircraft that is up for sale. Air Tasmania certainly will be tendering for it.
The devaluation of the dollar has generated a new wave of confidence throughout Australia. If one reads the Press of today one will find all sections of the community, especially the rural industry leaders, saying that it is an excellent decision, which it is. It will mean that we will be able to sell more of our products overseas. Perhaps we will have to sell them at a cheaper price, but what is the good of putting a high price on our products if we cannot sell them? It is much better to be able to sell our products and increase the volume of our exports to help our industries. That is exactly what devaluation will do. It was a most statesmanlike decision that was taken on the part of the Government in the last 24 hours.
The fishing industry in Tasmania is a part of the Australian industry that the Government promised to upgrade. The Fisheries Research Division of the Department of Agriculture, which is administered- and administered very well by the way- by the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Wriedt, allocates money to fishermen to help them to buy new boats and to upgrade their gear. The Prosser Fishing Company at Triabunna has just completed and launched a $140,000 mid-water trawler. It is the largest of its kind in Australia for trawling. So far it has not received any help from the Research Division in the way of the allocation of funds. I have again appealed to the Minister for Agriculture to have a look at the story of courage in investing in this magnificent trawler, which will carry 40 tons of fish and will operate more than 20 miles off the coastline. It will be an asset to our industry.
– Frozen fish?
– The fish will be brought into Triabunna and processed by Albert Thompson and Son Pty Ltd. It will process the entire catch all the year round and sell the lot. I believe that this company, which employs only local men except a Canadian who is an expert in trawling and who is the captain of the vessel, should receive assistance from the Fisheries Research Division. It is part of our policy to do this as a government. I make that appeal tonight on their behalf.
The rural problems in some fields persist but I believe all is not lost in our rural industry though there are things being done with which I and others on this side of the House could not agree. We were not in the majority. In the long term the Government will lift rural industry out of many of its problems. For instance in the 1 974-75 Budget there is a total outlay for rural industry of $48 7m, which is $150m more than that given in the Budget of the last Liberal-Country Party Government of 1972. This is in earnest in what the Government is trying to do for the rural industry on the financial level. It is true that the dairy subsidy will be phased out at the end of next year but the Liberal-Country Party Government would not have retained it either had it been re-elected at the last general election. The superphosphate bounty goes out at the end of this year. I am working now on the New Zealand scheme which I feel we should try to implement in Australia. In that scheme a subsidy is given of so much per ton up to 20 tons, which is the average usage throughout Australia for the 294,000 holdings in this country. Our resources committee will be dealing with a submission I have made at its request next Thursday night and I hope that might get to the Industries Assistance Commission for its consideration. This would answer the problems of superphosphate usage. I have worked out in my research on this matter that there will be 1 million tons less superphosphate used the moment our superphosphate subsidy goes and that Wl reduce our total production by $200 m a year.
– Is this cumulative?
– No. Whatever their usage they would get a subsidy in respect of up ;o 20 tons a year and no more. All the big men would be subsidised in respect of only X’- ions and all the average growers of Australia would get their 20 tons subsidised say, at $8 a ton or something like that. That is the scheme that operated in New Zealand from June 1973 to 1974. New Zealand has now taken the restriction off and it is going to pay a subsidy on all superphosphate used which will cost that country $36m. This is just another way to tackle this important problem. Superphosphate is to the soil what oxygen and nitrogen is to our bodies.
In conclusion I want to say that the rural industry was responsible for earning $3,254m in export income last year. The total value of production from our rural resources was $4,909m. The growers are still in debt to banks, pastoral companies, machinery firms and hire purchase firms to the tune of $2,000m. Last year they were able to pay $589m off their debts.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable members time has expired.
-We are debating the Budget and tonight we were treated to an exposition by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) of changes which he and some of his colleagues in one of the Caucus committees have decided should be made to the Budget. We did not get any announcement from the Treasurer (Mr Crean), from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) or from any Minister at all. We got the announcement from a private member who happens to be a member of a Caucus committee.
– He is the secretary of the committee.
– I am delighted to hear that. Now we have secretaries of Caucus committees running the country. It shows that the Australian Labor Party is a very democratic party when the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have opted out. Even Jimmy whose package it was appears to have opted out of this one. Decisions are now being made and announced by Caucus committees in this House. I congratulate them on adopting the practice of announcing decisions in this House rather than announcing them first to the Press although, of course, there would have been a liberal sprinkling of the news to the Press over the last couple of days.
Here we have a Government which has completely abdicated the making of decisions about vital matters affecting every individual in this country. That is what is going on. That is what the decision over the 10 per cent levy on unearned incomes is all about. The Cabinet has not yet been asked to make a decision on the decision of the Caucus committee to change the Budget within 9 days of that Budget’s being solemnly presented to us as one of the most crucial in Australia’s history. Nine days after the Budget was presented a major change has been announced to this House by the secretary, I understand, of a Caucus sub-committee. This must be one of the greatest abdications we have seen of policymaking in this Parliament. I have certainly never heard of a Budget being treated like this by any government in the history of this country.
Having said that, I want to say that I halfapplaud the Caucus sub-committee for having more sense than Spigelman and his colleagues, whose tax it evidently was, for the tax was a spiteful tax- Spigelman ‘s spiteful tax. It was a tax which was deliberately designed to hurt certain sections of the community- those sections being the wealthier so-called property owning sections of the community. The tragedy is that the tax does not on any proper analysis hit the rich or the property owning sectors nearly as hard as it hits the poor in the community, the low income group. There is no question about this. The figures that the Treasurer himself presented to the House on Budget night which give us the latest break-downs of income and tax payable at various income levels in 1971-72 and which are now out of date- but they are the latest available- prove the point. Those figures show that the Spigelman tax accepted by the Prime Minister was part of a spiteful package designed to buy union support for this Budget in return for a degree of wage restraint from the unions. This spiteful Spigelman tax in fact does not display Robin Hood at work; it is Robin Hood in reverse. What they planned to do was to put Robin Hood in reverse by hitting the great majority of taxpayers far harder in terms of income affected than the very few very rich who happen to inhabit this community. This tax will hit those earning under $10,000 far harder than it hits those earning over $10,000 in terms of aggregates, and of course those under $10,000 have not quite the fat which can take up the problem when an extra tax is put upon them.
We have heard tonight from a Caucus subcommittee that the Government is going to change its mind on this crucial element of the Budget designed, as I said, to buy the support of the unions with a spiteful attack on those who hold property or who invest savings or who have deposits in banks, those who have been struck down by an industrial accident and have invested a compensation sum, those who are widowed and have a little bit of money that they can invest. Those are the people who are hit by this spiteful tax. We have been told tonight that those on incomes of up to $5,000 will be exempt and those on incomes between $5,000 and $5,500 will pay only part of the extra 10 per cent penalty tax. This is what we were told will be agreed to by the Caucus in due course and the Cabinet when it gets around to considering the change of policy which Caucus has tonight made for the Government. What this will mean on the 1971-72 figures is that those on incomes under $10,000 but above $5,500 will still be taxed on $3 16m. I repeat: Those whose incomes are between $5,500 and $10,000 on 1971-72 figureswhich I stress are the latest figures available, but out of date- have $3 16m worth of unearned income. They will be paying the 10 per cent surcharge on that $3 1 6m.
This spiteful tax, which the Caucus committee would amend, is hitting those whom we were told by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer ought to get relief. Because their incomes are $10,400 or $10,500 a year, their income tax needs to be cut. We are expected to accept the proposition that there should be tax relief for people whose incomes are up to $10,500, but no tax relief for people whose incomes are made up from savings, investments or deposits in banks, which for so many of the poor and cautious in our community earn pitifully low interest. People who are fearful of investing in short term securities because they fear a lack of security are driven to deposit in banks, thus earning interest on which they would be paying that extra 10 per cent surcharge. It defies all the senses of reasonable people to comprehend that when this country needs hard work, investment and confidence, a government could hit at the very idea of investment in this country and in the future of this country. Whatever further tinkering is done with this tax, it will remain an arbitrary tax which illustrates the old-fashioned ideology of the Labor Party. It will remain a tax which is economically absurd, which has regressive elements in it and which ought to be rejected out of hand by any modern government in touch with contemporary thinking. It could have come only from the fevered imagination of people who in desperation barely knew what to do to get themselves out of the hole that they had dug for themselves.
– I wonder who the author of this brainwave was?
-We are told that the author was one of the Prime Minister’s staff, a Mr Spigelman, but the Prime Minister and the Treasurer must accept responsibility for it. Did the Treasurer, for instance, inform whoever made the decision, whoever wrote the Budget -
– Was it not Dr J. F. Cairns?
-The Treasurer told us that it was Jimmy’s package. He described the Budget as Jimmy’s package. I do not know- Jimminy Cricket or Jimminy who? Whoever Jimmy is, he ought to bear responsibility for it. But the Government has run for cover, and the Caucus sub-committee is left to carry the baby. The Caucus sub-committee has told us what the Government will do. This is the way things are done these days. Let us look at what the Government did plan in the context of the Budget. What was the Budget designed to achieve? We were helped considerably by the Press of this country to understand the idea behind the Budget. We were given ample opportunity to follow the tortuous ways of thought of members of the Government and their advisers, Spigelman or whoever else they were. It is said that this Government leaked in the run up to the Budget. When we were in office and leaked, at least we used a sieve for those leaks. This Government does not even use a sieve, it just leaks.
– Why should you use a sieve?
-We had some respect for the proprieties. Honourable members opposite do not even use a sieve. They have no idea. I can recommend the remedy of the former member for Wentworth, Mr Bury. A sieve would do perfectly well to retain a modicum of secrecy in the performance of this strange, fascinating, wondrous Labor Government. We were told that the Budget- Jimmy’s package- was designed to get support from the unions for the idea of wage restraints. What is wage restraint? That is a rather new idea as far as the Government is concerned. We have not heard much about wage restraint. When parliamentary salaries were in issue there was a rush, of course, to grab proposed increases until the Opposition managed to use the Senate to get the idea of wage restraint accepted.
– You have been crying ever since.
– Some honourable members on the Government side have been crying all the way to the bank. We are told that restraint was the background of the thinking of the Government when it formed this Budget, and that to get restraint the Government had to show that its heart was in the right place by kicking the rich, by hitting the middle class, by taking over the community with the long arm, the tentacles of Government, and by socking the rich. Or is it soaking the rich? I am never sure. It is ‘soaking’ from some and ‘socking’ from others. Whether it is ‘sock’ or ‘soak’ does not matter. The Government’s attitude was that if it hit the rich it would gain the support of the unions for its Budget. But more important it thought that if it hit the rich in the Budget it would win support for wage restraint. So there was to be a conference of unions. It was announced, indeed trumpeted, by the man who thought that by now he ought to be leading the Australian Labor Party in this House. I refer to the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke. He trumpeted loud and long about how this was to be the most significant union conference of all time- the most significant in Australia’s history following the most significant Budget in Australia’s historybecause it was going to solve the problems of the economy. So we had the run up to the conference. What happened at the conference? We had had all the spite; we had had the Government takeover of the private sector; we had had the greatest increase in government expenditure in Australia ‘s history.
-And the peddling of lies.
-We had the peddling of lies. There is so much that is wondrous that I am afraid I am overlooking some of the crucial features of this country’s strange modern history.
The unions met. There was never really any serious consideratioin of the idea of wage restraint when the unions actually met and got together. What did they say? They said: ‘If the Government would do this, that and the other thing, we would be prepared to consider wage restraint. In particular, if the Government would come clean on tax cuts, we would be prepared to consider wage restraint. If the Government were prepared, say, to index the tax scale so that the Government would not take a terrible slug at us with each succeeding year of high inflation, we would consider wage restraint’. They saw through this Budget the way the great mass of the Australian people have seen through it. They have seen through this Budget and seen it for the sham it is. They, the unions, are like the great majority- in fact they are the great majority- of the Australian people. They know that they do not want a government which is going to take over from them all the power ultimately to make decisions which affect their own lives. They know that a government which takes more and more dollars from people through this escalating tax slug in times of inflation is taking from people the power to make decisions. They know that dollars are decisions- dollars are the decisions of individual people. The unions know that as well as members of the Opposition side of the House know it and that is why they have rejected the idea of wage restraint. They rejected it because they were presented with a Budget that had spite and old fashioned ideology and nothing else besides. It is a budget which is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring in terms of their problems- a Budget which I am afraid is rather more than fish or fowl or good red herring in terms of the country’s problems. So, faced with this sort of Budget, they said to the Government: ‘No dice’. We have heard no more about this epoch-making conference of the trade unions of this country.
It is a rather strange thing that we have leading this country at the moment a Prime Minister who is, as it were, still the Leader of the Opposition. In a very important respect the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is still the Leader of the Opposition. He is strutting the world stage. He likes strutting the world stage much more than the Australian stage because there are problems here.
– Gough goes well overseas.
– Gough goes well overseas. He is on his way again. For 3 weeks out of every four for the rest of the year the Prime Minister will be overseas.
– He goes tomorrow morning. He has not gone yet.
– Oh, he goes tomorrow morning. I thank the honourable member for Bowman for reminding me. Obviously the honourable member is very keen to see him go because as soon as. he has gone it will give Jimmy his chance, and we are all watching with great interest.
– Wait until next week. You will be sorry.
– We look forward to next week. I am sure that the honourable member would know better than I what is in store next week.
– I am sorry, I will not be here.
– So the honourable member will not be here. As I was saying, we have a Prime Minister who is the leader of the opposition. He is leading the opposition to everything that this country holds dear. He is leading the opposition to what we call the Australian way of life. He is leading the opposition to the great middle class of this country, and we are the most middle class nation in the world. Everyone in Australia thinks he is middle class, or almost, and everyone in Australia aspires to a certain way of life, to certain values. There is a basic decency about the Australian people that cannot be perverted by any government, and in particular will not be perverted by this Government. This Government is leading the opposition to
Australia’s defences. It is leading the opposition to the rural community. It is leading the opposition even to something as nice as foreign aid. It is leading the opposition to the idea of the self determination of peoples around the world, as in the case of Timor and as in the case of the Baltic states. The Government holds out no hope for some of the values that it was so hot on before it came to office. Frankly I feel sorry for Government supporters. They hoped a lot. They led people to expect a lot. There was a lot of goodwill towards them. I think it is sad that they have come to this sorry pass.
– I rise to speak about the Budget in the hope that we can get back to a serious atmosphere after listening to the last speaker, the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley). He criticised a speaker before him who cut red tape in getting information to this House and to the public about a levy of 10 per cent on unearned income after the level of application had been formulated. No doubt as further legislation goes to committees for formulation and amendment he will continue to criticise it. This proves what little there is left to criticise in the Budget itself. In fact it becomes an area for silly criticisms. I was rather amused to hear the age old subject of politicians’ salaries brought into the debate, bearing in mind that a certain honourable member on the Opposition side who has spoken on this matter wanted $30,000-odd for members of Parliament. I am not arguing the case but I thought it was unfortunate that it came into the debate.
-No, $20,000. That is what I said 3 years ago and I still think it ought to be that at the right time.
– I did not name the honourable member for Chisholm. I was not sure it was he who said it. I thank him for the identification; it is good to know.
– You have made him sad now.
– I am sorry about that. This is a momentous Budget. It follows a formulated policy which is consistently running through the Budgets presented by this Government. I listened to the Budget with a feeling of deep personal pleasure after hearing the grim forebodings of the Press and the Opposition. I could not take too seriously what was said about the Budget by the previous speakers because I have listened in this place to the knocking of people opposed to our endeavours to help Australians and to help the workers. Perhaps I had come to pay attention to them and had not thought that it was not political bias on their pan, but after tonight I cannot do so. After hearing the Budget Speech and the Opposition’s reply, and then reading the newspaper editorials in my own State, I realise how ridiculous it is to expect anything but unthinking- or is it planned- constant abuse of anything constructive done by this Government. When I cast my mind back I recall it was these same people who advised others to vote no in the prices and incomes referendum. What a hypocritical turnaround. The tragedy of it is that their efforts are destroying their own supporters in the small business field. This is happening as a result of their constant fear mongering and their constant appeals to other people to refuse all things which are federal. They are destroying the confidence of their supporters. They are causing them to ask: ‘Why continue? Let us give it away.’ Their attitude has resulted in the collapse of the enterprise of some small business people, and the near collapse of others, who, if they had not been subjected to this irresponsible continuing barrage of depression talk would, as true Australians and as true entrepreneurs, have accepted the challenge of change and progress. It is not too late for responsible people to put up and shut up and get down to a national effort to overcome any problem.
In this Budget, the Government has refused to deny the community its right to amenities, health services, urban services such as sewerage and transport, and education. Many new proposals are encompassed in the Budget. I ask those who stand in this place and condemn the Budget to say specifically where they would cut back on expenditure and would deny to the Australian public its just rights. I appreciate that it is normally the duty of an Opposition to criticise. But if members of the Opposition genuinely believe that a crisis exists, let them stop the nonsense and get down to supporting the solution. I say this sincerely and in a friendly manner as the number of my constituents who have said just this to me surprises me. They have let me know that they do not wish to be associated with, as they put it, the ‘knockers opposite’ whom they normally support.
In the last year of the Twenty-eighth Parliament, with respect to my electorate, not one word of appreciation came forth from the Opposition in respect of the $3m spent on sewerage, not one word was said of the sum in excess of $250,000 spent on road safety projects and not one word was said of the tractor bounty subsidies totalling $ 1.75m paid to the Chamberlain’s organisation to provide cheaper tractors for farmers and to ensure continued employment and trading in that industry. No reference was made to the immense increase in expenditure on education or to the innumerable other benefits. Again, all we heard from the Opposition was constant harping criticism. I do not expect any better standard of performance for the coming year.
Despite the many benefits granted to local authorities in Western Australia, not one word of recognition of the actions of this Government has come from the Opposition. A direct grant of $490,000 was made to the Stirling City Council. No recognition was accorded this grant. Several grants of a substantial nature were made to local authorities in my electorate and not one word of recognition has been forthcoming with respect to that area. The situation is that the health benefits, nursing home benefits and the social security benefits which have been paid have been constantly decried. No recognition has been given to grants; there are only these continuing damning attacks on anything of a federal nature that is done. I say quite seriously to those who are opposed to the Labor Party that if they continue in this way they will find themselves in a situation in which nobody will believe anything that they say even when they have something of importance to contribute.
I have had constant contact over the last few days with people in my electorate who have all used the expression: ‘Who are we to believe?’ Let me illustrate the problem that they face. The Swan Shire Council has received $1 10,000 from the Australian Government without any strings attached. Yet the Local Government Association of Western Australia opposes local authorities receiving any federal assistance. I turn to the South Perth City Council which has received $95,000. The President of the Local Government Association, which opposes federal grants to local governments, is a member of that Council. So, who was he to be.’l.- The Melville City Council received $147,000. I believe that they did not support us in our referendum. The Belmont Shire Council received $135,000. The Canning County Council received $172,000. We are putting our money where our mouth is.
Australian Building Industry ElectoralRural Industries
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! it being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1 1 July I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
-In this House this morning we debated for a little while a matter of public importance- the attitude of the Government to the activities of the Aus.tralian Building Construction Employees and Builders’ Labourers Federation. There was revealed in that debate this morning a set of facts which are nothing short of disturbing. I rise in the adjournment debate tonight -
– I rise to order. The honourable member is reviving the substance of a debate which took place in the House this morning. This is contrary to the Standing Orders.
-I did not hear what the honourable member for Wentworth said but I point out to him that it is not in order on the adjournment debate to discuss matters which have been the subject of a previous debate.
-I am not referring to the debate itself. I am referring just to the fact that there was a debate on a particular matter. I want to refer to some facts and to draw them to the attention of honourable members because I believe that they indicate a matter which this Government ought to be very concerned about. In particular the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) ought to be very concerned about them. We know that in June last the registration of the Builders’ Labourers Federation was withdrawn. That union was deregistered. We know also that in August of this year a matter came before Justice Evatt in the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and that on 28 August an application was made to the High Court by 6 companies in order to obtain an order nisi for prohibition. On that date an order nisi was granted and made returnable for next Tuesday, 1 October. On 3 September 1974- this month- a resolution was passed by the management committee of the Australian Building Construction Employees Federation. That resolution said:
That the Federal management committee decides to place as many bans as possible on the following 6 builders whose names appear on the legal document in relation to the High Court application. The writ of prohibition is designed to stop our members from receiving a national paid rate award.
It goes on to say who the 6 builders are. They are the 6 persons who applied to the High Court for a writ of prohibition. The resolution then goes on:
That if these bans are not suitable to be placed stoppages of a guerilla-type nature will occur . . .
Another part of the resolution reads:
The employers application to the High Court for a writ of prohibition and moving for de-registration of the New South Wales Branch in the State jurisdiction is a clear indication that employers are deliberately setting out on a course of confrontation designed to provoke and destroy the Builders’ Labourers Federation. We call on all members to close their ranks to defeat the employers plan and to win the national paid rates award.
A telegram enclosing that resolution was sent to Mr Jorgensen of the Master Builders Federation on 4 September 1974. On that day, or the next day Mr Gallagher, general secretary of the Australian Building Construction Employees Federation asked Walter John Glover, industrial officer of the Master Builders Federation, what the High Court writs were all about. In the course of the conversation Mr Gallagher told Mr Glover that the 6 named companies- and I quote- ‘were going to cop it’. Shortly after that a copy of that telegram was sent to the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy. After the telegram was sent stoppages occurred in Victoria on building sites of 3 of those companies- Concrete Constructions Pty Ltd, Dillinghams Constructions Pty Ltd and Jennings Industries Pty Ltd. The position now is that it is highly probable, if it has not already been stated to be the fact, that these 6 applicants for a writ of prohibition will withdraw their proceedings in the High Court next Tuesday.
Those events reveal at least a strong suggestion that there has been a contempt of court of an extremely serious nature. This matter was drawn to the attention of the Parliament this morning. The attitude of the Government was that the matter had nothing to do with it and that the Builders Labourers Federation was as free as a breeze. That is what the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) said in the course of his address this morning
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I have already warned the honourable gentleman that he must not refer to a debate which took place in this House earlier in the day. He is now debating the question that was before the House this morning and I would suggest that he not persist with that course.
– It was only a passing reference, I thought.
– I suggest that the honourable member let me decide that.
– In another place this morning the Attorney-General was asked a question. He said:
I have no doubt that if there has been some contempt of court the High Court would not accept it, that the employers organisations which were concerned would take action. I know that some correspondence occurred and that it was referred to my Department and I acted in accordance with the advice that was given to me.
That is what the Attorney-General said in another place this morning. It is quite clear that the Attorney-General apparently intends to do nothing about it, notwithstanding that those facts reveal a prima facie case of contempt of the High Court. The situation, of course, is that if these 6 applicants withdraw their case this serious matter will not be brought before the High Court. The High Court does not usually act on its own motion in matters of this description. It would be most unusual. So I just want to bring to the attention of honourable members opposite and to the Minister at the table, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), that in such circumstances the first law officer of the Commonwealth has a very serious duty. That duty is to uphold the authority and dignity of one of the highest institutions in this land, and that is the High Court. There could be no more serious contempt than to say to a litigant: ‘If you go to the court to seek relief I will take some positive action against you’. Just imagine if somebody said -
-Order! I think the honourable gentleman is getting very close to discussing a matter that is sub judice. The remarks he is making now could prove prejudicial to any case which was heard before the court, as I think he would know.
-I only want to ensure that there will be a matter before the High Court which will bring this serious matter to it. That is all I want to say about it.
-My understanding is that at present a writ has been issued and that makes the matter sub-judice.
– Has the honourable gentleman had any court experience?
– Just a slight amount. By way of illustration let us consider what would happen if a member on either side of the House were told, as I understand some members might have been told in 1955, that if he got up in his place in this House and exercised his right of free speech certain action would be taken against him. I wonder what would happen. It would be a most serious breach of privilege. It would be a contempt of this House. The procedures of the High Court, of course, are no different. I refer to that only to emphasise before this House the seriousness of this matter. It may be that the AttorneyGeneral has not fully considered the matter, that all these facts have not been brought to his attention. But I do sincerely urge the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) to bring to the attention of the Attorney-General the facts that I have recited here tonight and to urge him to reconsider this matter and to reconsider whether it is not a proper case in which he should appear himself through counsel next week to bring this motion of contempt before the High Court of Australia.
– I want to take the opportunity tonight to refer to a speech that was made during the adjournment debate last Thursday evening by the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). He spoke at some length about a matter that had been mentioned by me in this House on 12 November 1973. He explained that the matter to which I referred, which concerned a certain malpractice that took place during the 1972 federal election campaign in regard to the issue of postal vote ballot papers in Lilley, was something with which he had absolutely nothing to do and of which he had no knowledge. He suggested in the course of his remarks that he expected that if I accepted his statement of last Thursday I would do the right and proper thing and apologise to him.
I take this opportunity tonight to say that I accept his denial- belated as it perhaps is, but appropriately made after an investigation had been conducted, at his instigation, by the Commonwealth Police who virtually determined that it was impossible for them to identify the person concerned with this malpractice. Whenever I have been incorrect in anything that I have said I have always been prepared to apologise for the incorrect statement. I am most anxious always to apologise for any error that I make. I do so on this occasion just as I have done on other occasions previously. I hope that I will always be prepared to do so.
Let me assure the honourable member quite openly that I accept what he said, that is, that he had no knowledge of this matter and was not in any way associated with it. I apologise for my clear suggestion that in my opinion he was in some way- however distantly it might have been- associated with the affair that took place in the 1972 election campaign. I do not want to apportion any further blame to him. But it should not be overlooked that this event did take place in 1972. It was public knowledge at that time that this act took place during the 1972 campaign. It was quite clear beyond any shadow of doubt that during that campaign how to vote cards for the honourable member for Lilley who was, at that time also, the honourable member for Lilley, were sent out with postal ballot papers.
I want to say further that even though this was a known fact, established and not denied, I did not at any time- and I would hate to think that he felt that I did- reflect on the integrity of the divisional returning officer for Lilley or, for that matter, any person male or female who worked in that office. I think it is important that I restate the undeniable fact that at that time postal vote malpractices took place in the Division of Lilley. This was established before the election. It has been affirmed on several occasions since then. It was admitted quite clearly in the quotations that the honourable member for Lilley read to this House last Thursday evening from letters that had been received by his solicitors from the Australian Electoral Office following the information that it had received on the investigations conducted by the Commonwealth Police. I read again from the statement that he made in order to bring it clearly to the minds of honourable members. He quoted from a letter which read:
By letter dated 14 March last, the Australian Electoral Officer informed us -
That is the solicitors employed by the honourable member for Lilley- that the Commonwealth Police have been investigating the matter and have advised that the person responsible for including election pamphlets with postal voting material addressed to a person in the Division has not yet been identified.
I certainly share with the honourable member for Lilley concern that this did take place and that as yet it has not been possible to identify the person concerned. We know that this went on in Lilley in 1972 and that many other malpractices have been associated with postal vote collection in recent years, particularly in Queensland.
It is important that all honourable members realise the important steps that are being taken at this time by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) who is responsible for electoral matters and for the administration of this very important part of our democratic way of life. The Minister will introduce into this House very shortly some measures that will eliminate, to a great extent, the opportunities that exist for zealous party workers who at times are not prepared to play the game as straight as they should to involve themselves in the malpractices that have been known to exist in the past within the postal vote system as it is currently allowed to exist under the provisions of the Electoral Act. I hope that all honourable members will support the Government when that legislation is introduced into the House and debated here, so that we can eliminate some of the opportunities that exist for malpractice within the present postal vote system. I have spoken previously in this place about such malpractices. I have been supported on previous occasions by honourable members from the other side of the House. Sadly, of course, I could instance, and I will instance in the future, some malpractices that those same members have in fact had in operation in their own electorates. But that is for the future.
Before I conclude let me say that I would not want anyone to think that the statements I made here were not made on the basis of facts I had or on the basis of evidence that had been placed before me. I make it quite clear here and now that a statutory declaration signed by a woman in Zillmere had been produced and made available to officers of my Party prior to the House of Representatives election in 1972. I understand that it was made available to the Commonwealth Police. It appears that the contents of the statutory declaration have not been denied. It appears that it has been accepted as a fact that how to vote cards for the Liberal candidate for Lilley were dispatched from the Electoral Office with ballot papers. A statutory declaration had been signed by a woman in the Zillmere area and the ballot papers were sent to her aged father, together with his how-to-vote card. There have been many other malpractices in the past, particularly in the electorate of Lilley.
I see that the honourable member for Lilley is in the House this evening. He may be in a position to explain to us the malpractices that took place in the election in 1966 when, perhaps rightly or wrongly, he eventually became very well known in the House as the third man. Certain things happened during that election campaign in 1966. Australian Labor Party election campaign signs were destroyed and dumped into the Brisbane River. Of course, those are things well past in history now and I would not want to refer to them at any length tonight. Appropriately, I will leave the matter at that. But I think the honourable member for Lilley even enjoyed the title that he had in those days. He seems to be quite jovial in his appreciation of my mention of these matters this evening. But, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is most important that I make clear this evening that one point that I made and in addition -
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Tonight I want to take this opportunity to voice my concern for the rural people and the rural communities caught up in this country’s economic situation. With inflation fast approaching the 20 per cent mark, I shudder to think what prices the population will have to pay in the year ahead. The policies of this Government have aggravated a situation already inflamed by a world problem of inflation. I ask this question: Why is the world plagued with inflation? It is a question that I can answer: It is because most countries are suffering from an overdose of socialism. Any country that has a socialist government such as Australia has at this time, particularly if the trade unions are communist controlled, has no rural policies. Such countries are not allowed to have such policies because the real socialist wants to kill private enterprise. If ever we have seen an example of a government wanting to kill private enterprise, we saw it in the recent Budget.
Primary production is a private enterprise industry. Private individuals invest capital and accept the responsibility to service it. Primary producers and rural industries are the only section of the community that suffer from the lack of adjustment to their incomes because of any downturn in prices or, as is the case at this time, by a huge increase in costs brought about by inflation.
– They receive flood relief payments for 6 months of the year and drought relief payments for the other 6 months.
– Farmers are not in the happy position that if the farm does not pay they can take 6 months long service leave like most of the workers can today. Because of the policy of the present Government, people who are not working are walking the streets today with their normal salaries in their pockets. It is the policy of the Government to encourage people not to work.
Net farm income this year will be less than half what it was last year. This is a far worse drop than was estimated recently. Figures published last Friday by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics show that the situation is worsening much faster than has been generally realised. The value of cattle production this year will drop by $500m. That is 40 per cent down on the figures for last year. Wheat production will be down by $400m- by one-third- and wool production will be down by $300m- a quarter of the value of production last year. The gross value of rural production will fall by about 12 per cent.
– The Minister at the table is not even listening.
– He does not want to hear. The gross value of rural production will fall by about 12 per cent to $5,674m. But farmers’ costs must rise by about $500m or 20 per cent. Farmers’ incomes, after meeting their costs, will thus be cut back by about $ 1,600m. This enormous drop in the incomes of primary producers will occur at the same time as the average wages of other Australians increase by about 23 per cent.
– They have still got plenty of beer to throw in Forrest Place.
– That is right. It is little wonder the farmers, already worried about their deteriorating situation and the Government’s contemptuous treatment of them, have reacted with even greater anger to a Budget which is simply another slap across the face from this Whitlam Government. The situation could be somewhat relieved by the 12 per cent devaluation. To highlight the wisdom of that belated decision I shall relate how the rural people in my area voiced their opinion. At a public meeting of 240 members of the rural community last Friday night certain policies were put forward as being essential to alleviate the discrimination currently being exercised against country people. Some of the resolutions were as follows: That inflation be attacked on all levels of government by tying salary increases to productivity, by reducing Government spending, by opposing a shorter working week. The second resolution stated that the Federal Government should cut the ties between the Australian and American dollars or should independently devalue. I think it was quite wise of those people to arrive at those resolutions, without the benefit of all the economic experts that are available to governments. Yet the Government can make only a very belated decision after rural people give it the advice.
The third resolution recommended that farmers should receive long term low interest finance, and that as farmers do not contribute to inflation a credit squeeze applied to dampen demand should exclude farmers. Another resolution was that trade union leaders should not be beyond the law, as demurrage paid by Australia exporters due to political strikes is transferring millions of dollars from Australia’s hands to Greek shipping magnates, and such strikes should be considered illegal or the Government be prepared to compensate for these unnecessary losses. These people thought these things out for themselves. This was a public meeting and these people came from their farms and businesses, interrupting their working days, to put up these points of view because they live in a rural community that is feeling the effects of very poor and unsound policies. A resolution which I think has great significance was that trade union leaders should not be beyond the law. Another one was that as transport costs greatly affect prices paid for commodities and reduce the returns for goods sold, governments should exercise greater restraint in taxing this life fine to rural areas.
– That is not what you had in your Press release.
-That is what I said. This was a very important meeting because people came to voice their opinions and they certainly knew how to voice them. The devaluation, of course, as I said, will be welcomed by rural communities and by the rural industries particularly. It will improve prospects in international markets for Australian rural exports. Unfortunately, devaluation brings with it stimulus to domestic inflationary pressures which will add to the production cost problem of rural industry. These pressures have been further aggravated in the past week by the Budget. It remains now for the Government to wake up to itself and to reverse its general anti-rural policies which are not in the interests of Australia. I think perhaps that we ought to be taking a very serious look at the resolutions that were passed by the meeting of those people,
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! It being 1 1 o’clock the House stands adjourned until Tuesday next at 10.30 a.m. or such later time as Mr Speaker takes the Chair.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Department of Labor and Immigration:
asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian National University: National Population Enquiry-
The terms of reference of the National Population Enquiry are to make recommendations on the size, composition, and distribution for Australia’s population at various stages up to the year 2000.
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Cross Sectional Survey-
The investigation was into migrants’ experiences in settling in Australia in the period from 1963 to 1973 in the five mainland state capitals and Greater Wollongong.
Assoc. Professor I R Wilson Sydney University: Cost Benefit Analysis of Migration to Australia-
This cost benefit analysis of migration to Australia was commissioned by the Immigration Planning Council.
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia: Study of Postwar Immigration to Australia-
In late 1967 the Academy undertook a study of Post-war Immigration as its major project for the next three years. The Department of Immigration contributed a total of $50,000 towards the project and the amounts listed above are the final payments.
Research Projects on the Education of Migrants-
The Australian Council for Educational Research examined the ability of migrant children to use the English language and provided an educational research and test development service. The above research programme included the ‘Dr De Lemos project’ which studied the educational achievement of migrant children. There were two projects under the aegis of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. The first, carried out by Professor Jean I Martin, Department of Sociology, Latrobe University, covers research, on a national scale, of the educational experience of migrant children of non-English speaking origin. The second, by Prof. R Taft, Faculty of Education, Monash University, covers a longitudinal study of the experiences and problems encountered by newly-arrived migrant school children over a two-year period and the means adopted for coping with these problems.
Prof. B S Hetzel, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Monash University: Migrant Health Project-
A grant of $8,000 a year for 3 years from September 1971, provided for the salary of a social worker and associated costs. The social worker, assigned to the Social Medicine Clinical Research Unit of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, was involved in studies of health problems of migrants from non-English speaking countries, especially in relation to social and psychological pressures in Australia.
University of Queensland: Tractor Safety Research-
The research, under the aegis of the Departments of Labour Advisory Committee, has been concerned with tractor design for safe operation and has assisted labour authorities to frame and justify suitable legislation, and develop promotional activities to help prevent tractor accidents.
Department of Aboriginal Affairs: Female
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
The duties of this position are- to undertake systematic analysis and investigation into and formulate policies regarding major policy issues and areas of policy initiatives. To prepare high level submissions and advice.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Committee reported in September 1972, recommending a change from the previous butterfat basis, to a basis of payment made up of two components: one for the weight of fat and one for the weight of protein.
Following the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in October 1972, the report of the Committee was released to the industry for their comments.
The Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation and ADIC suggested that before introducing legislation for payment for milk through State Departments of Agriculture, it would be advisable to introduce a trial period at testing for fat and protein in individual bulk milk supplies to factories and in herd production recording schemes for individual cows.
Tests are being carried out in a number of States and by some factories.
Any change in the basis of payment would involve modification to State regulations. The results of the tests will assist State Governments in arriving at a decision on the matter. In general, it appears that States are tending to favour changed basis of payment, especially if it can be associated with the introduction of centralised testing for bulk milk to factories and for herd recording purposes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
As yet there is no commercial production of dairy blend in Australia. A number of such blends are in the process of development. Those in the most advanced stages are one developed by the Queensland Butter Marketing Board, and another by the South Australian Department of Agriculture. Work on the latter blend was financed partly from the Dairying Research Trust Account; a joint application for a patent for this particular blend has been made by the South Australian Government and the Australian Government. CSIRO has recently developed a technique for the mixing of milk fat and vegetable oils by phase inversion.
Legislation has been amended in Queensland and Western Australia to permit the manufacture and marketing of dairy blend; amendments to the same effect are either being prepared or proposed in other States.
Management of the patent jointly owned by the South Australian and Australian Governments is being delegated to the Australian Dairy Produce Board, who will have the task of arranging for the manufacture under licence of this particular blend.
Trials involving the fractionation of milk fats are in progress at the Gilbert Chandler Institute of Dairy Technology, Werribee, Victoria, and at CSIRO, Division of Chemical Engineering, Clayton, Victoria. New Zealand has lodged an application for a patent for a particular method of fractionation, which could affect the use of that technique in Australia.
In Australia work on dairy blend has reached an advanced stage of development; investigations on milk fat fractionation techniques are still in the research stage. In view of this situation, there appears no reason to defer the progress of action towards the introduction of dairy blend.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
Warrabri has not yet purchased any equipment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
-The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculuture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the honourable member ‘s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
As the majority of annual reports for a particular financial year are tabled in the Parliament during the Budget sittings immediately following the end of that financial year, why is there a continuing 12 months delay in the tabling of the report on Papua New Guinea.
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The report on the administration of Papua New Guinea is submitted to the United Nations to meet Australia’s obligations under Articles 73e and 88 of the United Nations
Charter. The 1972-73 report was tabled on 23 August 1974. More than has been the case with earlier reports, the information had to be obtained from P.N.G., which is now selfgoverning. The information will be used at this year’s Trusteeship Council. The printing of the report was disrupted when the Government Printer had to undertake work for the elections on 1 8 May.
Since the Trusteeship Council in June 1973 acknowledged that “it will no longer be appropriate for it to comment at future sessions on those matters which are now under the exclusive jurisdiction of the administration of Papua New Guinea ‘, it is not proposed that any further reports be prepared according to the United Nations questionnaire and standard form.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Subsequent to the Joint Committee’s report, the power of the Australian Government to regulate the export of meatmeals has been applied more stringently, primarily to ensure that the domestic market continues to have priority in the use of available supplies.
Early in 1974 production of meatmeals was seriously affected due to reduced slaughterings of live-stock. To ensure that the shortage of meatmeals in Australia was not aggravated by export trading I instructed my Department on 20 February 1974 not to issue further permits to export meatmeals until such time as shortages on the domestic market were overcome.
Since that time the outlook has altered: protein meals have become more readily available on the international market; supplies of substitute protein meals have been taken up by local users; prices of meatmeals on the domestic market have generally declined and limited exportable surpluses have developed in most States. In these circumstances limited exports of meatmeals have been approved; however, in view of the relatively low levels of live-stock slaughterings and of meatmeal production, an intensive review of market circumstances will be maintained and the export restrictions applied as necessary.
Regarding the recommendations relating to meat, the following action was taken:
Recommendation (i). The Government rejected on 8 October 1973 the recommendation for an export tax on beef.
Recommendation (ii). The Government held the recommendation that the meat industry voluntarily restrict beef exports in abeyance. There has been no need for restraint on beef exports since early this year, owing to extremely weak export demand.
Recommendation (iii). Is no longer relevant as United States live-stock producers ceased withholding stock from the market in September 1973.
Recommendation (iv). The representative body of the pig industry has requested that the pig slaughter levy be increased to provide funds for the promotion of pigmeat. The Government has announced that it will introduce the necessary legislation.
Recommendation (v). The Minister for Agriculture has announced that he intends reviewing the composition, powers and functions of all marketing boards, including the Meat Board.
Recommendation (vi). The Minister for Science announced on 13 September 1973 the Government’s decision to establish the Interim Commission on Consumer Standards. The I.C.C.S. is to advise the Government on matters concerning consumer protection, particularly standards and liaise with consumer groups on matters of direct interest to consumers.
One of the results of initiatives made by the I.C.C.S. has been the recent formation of the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations which will be invited to submit matters of concern to consumers to the Government.
Recommendation (vii). Data has been collected from exporters concerning sales under forward contracts, but owing to the present low level of forward contracts such information is of little value.
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1 ) The Australian Government Department of Housing and Construction has advised that a survey of pollution levels in Cockburn Sound was completed during the last stages of construction of the causeway in 1973 and another survey was undertaken after the construction had been completed. These surveys were jointly commissioned by the Fremantle Port Authority and the Department of Housing and Construction. When compared with the earlier joint surveys, which had been undertaken from 1970 onwards, they showed that:
The Department of Housing and Construction has advised that it is expected that further surveys will be undertaken but they have not been scheduled at this time; the Department is discussing the nature and timing of these with the State Department of Environment Protection and the Fremantle Port Authority.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
As Indulkana Aboriginal Reserve occupies an area of 12 square miles, ringed by a dog-proof fence and surrounded by Granite Downs Station, in north-west South Australia, have any moves been made by the South Australian or Australian Government to acquire further areas from Granite Downs Station to ensure that Aborigines have free access to adjacent areas of great significance to them.
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable members’ question:
I am aware of the situation at Indulkana and recently discussed it with the South Australian Minister for Community Welfare in the context of the application of the principle behind the recommmendations of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission to South Australia. My Department is also examining action which might be taken to increase the land available to the community at Indulkana.
asked the Minister for Northern Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
In addition, firms of management consultants with a similar wide field of interest and expertise were engaged by the Pilbara Study Group, a joint Federal/State body, to provide specialised technical information on various aspects of developmental projects such as port development studies, environmental studies, infrastructure studies, town planning studies, etc. in connection with the overall study of proposals for the development of the Pilbara Region of Western Australia.
Also a firm of management consultants of a similar kind was engaged by the Burdekin Project Committee, a joint Federal/State Committee, to carry out a study of the interdependence of the Burdekin Basin and the city of Townsville in future developmental planning in that region.
The Secretary of the Department, who is joint Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Pilbara Study and joint Chairman of the Burdekin Project Committee, is the approving authority in respect of all the abovementioned consultancies, exercising this authority jointly in the case of the Pilbara Study Group and the Burdekin Project Committee
Department of the Northern Territory: Research and Development Staff (Question No. 872)
asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Fisheries: Research into life cycles, growth patterns, catch efforts on various prawn and fish species in Northern Territory waters;
Wildlife: Research into distribution of fauna, the development of wildlife reserves and identifying and controlling the effects of possible mining ventures;
Department of the Capital Territory: Research and Development Staff (Question No. 883)
asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)to (5)
The question has little relevance to the operations of the Department of the Capital Territory and authorities under my control.
The nature of the work of these organisations does not require the preparation of specific research and development programs.
Project officers are engaged from time to time to concentrate on special projects with which the Department and authorities are concerned and some officers of the Department allocate a portion of their time to particular projects. However, there are no Research Officers as such within their organisations.
asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
I am confident that Mr J. F. Nimmo, who is conducting the Commission of Inquiry into transport charges to and from Tasmania, is proceeding with his investigatons as expeditiously as possible.
The Government has not set a time limit on the duration of the inquiry.
The Government wishes and expects to have the Commission’s Report as soon as its investigations can be properly completed. The actual completion time depends on the nature and extent of the evidence submitted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
The members of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee Sub-Committees are:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
In August 1974 there were 94 slaughtering establishments listed from which meat might be derived for export to the U.S.A. and 13 not listed.
asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:
Has the Government criticised the new airlines hostess award; if so, does he intend to use the powers conferred on him in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to appeal against the award.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
First, the current policies of the Australian Wool Corporation, and secondly, the question of the Corporation’s longer term marketing proposal. The statement to which the Member for Wannon has referred was made in the context of the Corporation’s purchases over a particular period. The Minister continues to stand behind the commercial judgment of the Australian Wool Corporation. The attitude of the Minister has therefore not changed.
The proposal mentioned in the question refers presumably to the Corporation’s longer term marketing proposals as submitted in its report on wool marketing. The Minister has stated that he is in basic agreement with the broad proposals put forward by the Australian Wool Corporation, but that he is not yet in a position to commit the Government to the proposals. Further, he has indicated that many of the detailed marketing aspects need to be considered. An Interdepartmental Committee is at present examining these aspects and will be reporting in the near future.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the answer to the honourable member’s question as follows:
The above grants have been paid to CSIRO, State Department of Agriculture (or Primary Industries), State Departments of Fisheries, Universities, South Australian Fishermen’s Co-operative Ltd, the Australian Wool Corporation and the Australian Barley Board.
asked the Prime Minister upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government expects that these restraints will result in a critical review by departments of procedures and work priorities.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, upon notice:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1974/19740926_reps_29_hor90/>.