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 or Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measures of this country is causing and will cause widespread inconvenience, confusion, expense and distress.
That there is no certainty that any significant benefits or indeed any benefits at all will follow the use of the new weights and measures.
That the traditional weights and measures are eminently satisfactory.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed, and that the Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional and familiar units to be restored in those areas where the greatest inconveniences and distress are occurring, that is to say, in meteorology, in road distances, in sport, in the building and allied trades, in the printing trade, and in retail trade.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever humbly pray. by Mr Garrick, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Mathews and Mr Oldmeadow.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas uranium found in vast quantities in Australia is the raw material for the nuclear fission reaction.
And whereas presently assured reserves of uranium in Australia represent a potential production of over 540,000 kilograms of Plutonium 239 if utilized in Light Water Reactors overseas,
And whereas the Maximum Permissible Inhalation of Plutonium 239 is 0.00000025 gram,
And whereas Plutonium 239 is one of the most dangerous substances human society has ever created, causing mutations and cancers,
And whereas there are no methods of safely and absolutely confining Plutonium from the biosphere for the requisite quarter of a million years,
And whereas Plutonium coming in contact with the air forms an aerosol cloud of micron-sized particles, its most dangerous form,
And whereas the export of uranium may return to us an import of Plutonium particles dispersed in the global environment via the circulation of the atmosphere,
And whereas there are no sure safeguards against the military use of nuclear fission, and the nuclear proliferation represents a prime environmental threat to all forms of life on the only earth available to us,
And that it is therefore an act of self-preservation to demand a halt to ail exports of uranium except for bio-medical uses.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in the House assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Clayton and Mr Mathews.
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 we strongly oppose the easing of restrictions on the importation, production in Australia, sale or distribution of pornographic material whether in films, printed matter or any other format.
That any alteration to the Television Programme Standards of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which permits the exploitation of sex or violence is unacceptable to us.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing Television Programme Standards or to permit easier entry into Australia, or production in Australia, of pornographic material.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrCorbett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members orthe House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
We the undersigned citizens of Australia do humbly petition the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia that it might take such steps as may be necessary either to direct the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to preserve and restore The Palace Hotel or itself acquire the said Palace Hotel St George’s Terrace, Perth on its present site so as to preserve and restore it in perpetuity.
Further we do humbly petition this honourable Parliament to make such funds as may be necessary available to purchase the entire contents of the said Hotel from the owners thereof.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Drummond.
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:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law of this land the principle that marriage is only temporary and the family no longer the fundamental unit of society.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hodges.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been independent states and members of the predecessor of the United Nations to wit the League of Nations;
That Hitler and Stalin on 23 August and 28 September 1939 in a secret deal plotted to deprive Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania of their statehood and sovereignty;
That subsequently to this secret deal between Stalin and Hitler the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by force of arms and incorporated these three Baltic States into the Soviet Union;
That such an occupation by force of arms is illegal under international law and cannot become a prescriptive right with passing of time.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the House of Representatives assembled revoke the decision of the Australian Government to recognize de jure the illegal occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable, the Speaker, and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia repsectfully showeth-
That the proposed ‘free’ 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 Federal Government has (i) discontinued the official use of the word Commonwealth, (ii) attempted to alter the law to discontinue appeals to the Privy Council and (iii) eroded the sovereign rights of the States.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House not allow the present Government to change the status of Australia from that of a Monarchy to that of a Republic.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McVeigh.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectively shows:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law of this land the Family Law Bill in its present form.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McVeigh.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Australia in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Family Law Bill be debated and passed as soon as possible.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Mathews.
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:
We the undersigned do humbly request that the Australian Government commission an enquiry into the provision and funding of the State and Municipal Public Libraries throughout Australia. Public Libraries are an essential part of the nation’s facilities for education and information, and the cultural life of the people. Organisation and financing methods to date have manifestly failed to develop Public Libraries to the standard that Australia needs, therefore it is imperative that a thorough national enquiry be conducted.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will press for the long-awaited Enquiry into Public Libraries throughout Australia with the utmost of urgency.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Oldmeadow.
-I refer the Minister for Transport to his answer to a question asked in this House on 1 3 November in which he said that he would be receiving representations from Tasmanian members and senators of the Parliament on the possible closure of one or other of the Devonport and Wynyard airports. Had the Minister, previous to making that statement, made an interim decision to close at least one of those airports? Has the Minister received and considered those representations? Will the Minister now dispel rumours that have been circulating and assure the House and the people of those cities that neither of the airports will be closed and that the high standard of safety equipment for which Australia has been noted will be maintained at both airports?
– A good question.
-Hello, Phillip; you are back again with us. Welcome home.
– The honourable Minister.
-Mr Speaker, let us get the picture in its true perspective. I did not start closing down fire fighting services at airports. My predecessors started that.
– Who was that?
-My predecessors, Senator Cotton when he was Minister for Civil Aviation, and also Sir Reginald Swartz. They were the people who started it- members of the Party to which honourable members opposite belong. Let us have a look at the position. The Government believes that the airline industry has been buttered up for too long. Therefore, we have been setting out to try to get a more reasonable allocation of resources throughout this country. If honourable members opposite disagree with that, let them say so and we will know where they stand. We have set out to try to get a more reasonable allocation of resources, looking at the true costs of aviation which is a luxury industry, and trying to get those costs back onto a more even level than they have been on in the past. The Government decided that it would set up an industry commission to look at various aspects of civil aviation. This is what we have done. Members of that industry commission have been talking to people engaged in the industry. I point out that the commission is made up of people from within the industry.
Two points have been put forward for the Government’s consideration by the commission. These points were not initiated by me but by the industry. One point is that either Wynyard or Devonport airports, or both of them, should be closed. I indicated last week that Government members and senators from Tasmania would be coming to see me on the matter, which they did. I gave them an assurance that I was not responsible for bringing forward this idea; that when the commission completed its investigations, it would report to me; and that I would have a look at the report. I stated that I would discuss with them again what the industry commission was recommending to me. I would then, if need be, take the matter to Cabinet and ask the Government for a decision. The honourable member had better wake up to himself. We made that decision last week.
Turning to the question of the withdrawal of fire services, I state that once again this was a recommendation of the industry. It stated that we should look at the withdrawal of fire services from certain airports. As I said a moment ago, the previous Government, which honourable members opposite supported, started this move. My predecessors, Senator Cotton and Sir Reginald Swartz, were the people who first started closing down fire services at airports where it was considered that they were unnecessary.
I give honourable members one assurance: The standards of civil aviation in Australia, whilst ever I am Minister, will never fall below the standards that are recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and which have been set up over the years. The honourable member for Wentworth can yak, yak there all that he likes, but what he had to say was a lot of garbage.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Transport been drawn to a claim by executive officers of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots that pilots of Trans-Austalia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia receive salaries ranging from between $7,000 to $21,000 per annum? Has he any information relating to the actual earnings of domestic airline pilots in Australia?
– Tell us about your blackmail of Ansetts. Blackmailer Jones, they ought to call you.
-Order! The honourable member for Gippsland will contain himself.
-If weak-kneed Nixon wants to ask a question on this, why does not he do so?
– If I was as weak-kneed as you, I would walk out.
– Order! I warn the honourable member for Gippsland.
-Do not toss him out, Mr Speaker.
– I warn the honourable member for Gippsland.
-Don’t get tossed out, Peter. I want you here. Mr Speaker, I have seen Press reports of statements made by executive officers of the Pilots Federation that its members only receive between $7,000 and $21,000 a year. This is not true and if the Opposition will grant me leave I will incorporate in Hansard a table which shows the actual earnings of all Trans-Australia Airlines pilots who have worked in a particular category for 1 2 months.
-Is leave granted?
- Mr Speaker, I will have a look at the table and let the Minister know later, as is the usual practice.
– The table that I have just handed to the Opposition spokesman on transport matters will show the actual earnings of pilots for 1973-74. One pilot earned $8,532 and he was the only one who earned less than $9,000. Forty-three pilots earned between $9,000 and $10,000; 192 earned between $10,000 and $15,000; 138 earned between $15,000 and $20,000; 125 earned between $20,000 and $25,000 and 36 earned more than $25,000. The top fellow earned $27,365. Honourable members can see that these fellows are really having a bad trot, particularly if they look at the way pilots’ salaries have increased since Boeing 727s were introduced in 1964. In that period pilots received increases totalling 148 per cent, whereas people who are supposed to be highly paid, namely the Second Division officers of the Australian Public Service, in that period received increases totalling only 107 per cent. More than half of that percentage was obtained in the last 2 years. Third Division officers of the Public Service have had increases totalling 119 per cent, but in recent years only.
Engineers grade 2 have had increases of 117 per cent. So if honourable members would like to compare the pilots with those in similar wage groups-
– How many hours do they work?
-They work a maximum of 84 hours a month; not 84 hours a week, but 84 hours a month. If the percentage increases received by pilots were compared with the increases received by people in any other classification, it would be found that the pilots have done particularly well and that there is no justification for salary increases.
-Is leave granted for the incorporation of the table in Hansard? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Gross pay comprises: base pay, plus pay Tor each credited hour.
Credited hours are hours of duty which attract pay under the Pilots’ Agreement, and have regard to revenue flying hours, duties before and after nights, training, simulator and license renewal, as well as standby time away from base, Le. non productive time.
Pilots in their trainee period have been excluded.
It is noted that promotions to higher aircraft types have occurred during the period.
The schedules attached clearly show that pilots receive salaries in excess of the Guaranteed Minimum Pay.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Last week the Prime Minister announced new tax reductions, but said that they would not be reflected in pay as you earn deductions until the first pay day after 1 January next year. The Prime Minister would be aware that industry shuts down for the Christmas and annual leave period in the third week in December. WD1 he agree to grant to taxpayers a Christmas tax deduction bonus by authorising pay as you earn deductions to be made at reduced rates for holiday pay packets even though they are paid before 1 January?
– As I understand the technical position, it is not possible for the Taxation Office to make adjustments to tax collections in less than 2 months after the legislation is passed by the Parliament. Accordingly it might not be within the first pay period in January that the new deductions could be made. The deductions however will be calculated from 1 January.
-Has the attention of the Minister for Labor and Immigration been drawn to the report of massive dismissals in the United States car industry? If his attention has been drawn to the report, what impact will this have on the Australian domestic car market and, as a consequence, the Australian work force?
– Funnily enough I did notice this in this morning’s newspaper. I take it that the honourable gentleman imagined that I would have seen the newspaper and therefore this really is a question without notice. There has been a very sharp downturn in the output of cars throughout the whole world, mainly because there has been a very much sharper downturn in the demand for cars, or in the capacity of people to buy cars.
– Demand went up last month to exactly the same level as for the last month of last year. Did you not read the newspapers this morning?
-Will you keep quiet while the Minister is on his feet? The Chrysler company in America has closed 1 3 of its 14 plants for the whole of the December period. The Melbourne ‘Age’ of today’s date carries the headline: ‘ 140,000 to lose jobs in United States car industry’. That article commences:
More than 142,000 car workers -almost one-quarter of the US auto industry work force- will be out of work following a Chrysler Christmas shutdown decision announced yesterday.
The article goes on to say that General Motors has laid off 53,000 workers and that Ford has laid off 18,675 workers in the United States of America. Nobody can say that those workers are being sacked because of tariff decisions because there has been no change in the tariff policy of the United States Government prior to this decision being taken.
All over the world the car industry is in trouble because it is producing more cars than it is able to find people to buy them. Even in a low wage country like Spain, not affected by tariff policies, the car industry is closing down. Even in the United Kingdom, not affected by any tariff policy, the car industry is closing down. The same is true also of other countries not affected by tariff changes, namely, West Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and indeed all other countries in Europe where the car industry is grinding to a halt without any effect by tariff decisions in those countries. The tariff decision in this country had no effect on the car industry, and I say that quite definitely. I say it because I am entitled to assume or to deduce from what is happening in the car industry all around the world where there has been no change in tariff policy that what is happening there is happening here for the same reason.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the Prime Minister’s stated concern to boost the private sector of the economy, does this put paid to the Treasurer’s now well quoted strategy in his Budget Speech last September, part of which I now quote:
The relatively subdued conditions-in prospect in the private sector provide the first real opportunity to transfer resources to the public sector.
If the Government is concerned about the private sector and the credit squeeze, why did not the Government defer the collection of quarterly company taxation thus leaving $400m in circulation? Why did not the Government agree to advance sufficient funds from the Reserve Bank to the Australian Wheat Board to enable a first advance of $1.80 a bushel for this season’s crop now selling on the overseas market at $4 a bushel, thus injecting another $2 50m into the banking system? How serious was the Prime Minister when he expressed concern in New York about the world food crisis and Australia’s capacity to produce more grain? Does the Prime Minister agree that such an increase-
-Order! The honourable gentleman will ask his question.
– Yes. Does the Prime Minister agree that such an increase in the first advance payment would inject a new confidence into the wheat industry and give it the resources to produce the grain which is required? If he does, will the Government reconsider the request by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation?
– The Treasurer and I believed that more assistance would be given to the economy by an overall reduction in company tax than by a deferment of the quarterly instalments of company tax. The effect would be earlier; it would be more enduring. The deferment of the quarterly instalments would in fact only be a deferment. It would not relieve the companies of the necessity of paying the tax later, if not sooner. They will be more assisted by knowing the tax is coming down not only for this quarter but for future quarters as well.
The honourable gentleman then asked me the Government’s attitude towards the production of food. Australia is one of the decreasing number of countries which can produce grains in excess of their own requirements. Accordingly, I did make the statement to which the honourable gentleman referred in addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations. I discussed it later with the new Administration in Washington. I am happy to pay tribute to the successful efforts that my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Ken Wriedt, made at the World Food Conference in Rome. Australia, Canada, West Germany and Sweden gave a lead to the other relatively developed countries. I hope that as a result of the lead which Australia has given- and properly given; Australia can afford to give a lead in this matter- the scourge of starvation afflicting 3 continents will be alleviated.
– I address my question to the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Overseas Trade. In view of the fact that Australian businessmen, especially those in South Australia with whom I have discussed the problem, are experiencing difficulties in penetrating the Middle East market even though they are competitive, I ask the Minister: Will he consider leading a business mission to the area in order to assist and increase the flow of trade between that important area of the world and Australia?
– The honourable member has provided correspondence for me showing the interest of people in South Australia in trade with the oil exporting countries and I have seen additional evidence of that from other parts of Australia, indicating the desire of Australians to trade in this area and at the same time the vast opportunities that are available because about $60,000m will be surplus to normal trading requirements of the oil exporting countries. This is not only making a great potential market; it has also at the same time dislocated the international flow of investment, which is one of the significant causes of the world wide economic recession today- far more than is the increase in the price of oil. These conditions and problems I think deserve very careful examination by Australia. I think the suggestion that we should have a business mission working in this area is a good one. We have a first rate ambassador in Jedda, Mr Haig. There is a small party of officials- two or three- from my own Department there at the moment. When we have reports from these people I would then be quite prepared to receive any evidence of interest and any requests from business people who desire to go on a mission to this area. If necessary and desirable I would be quite pleased to go with them. I will have the matter attended to and we will see what can be done.
– I ask the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that he has been invited to open the new main grandstand at the Brisbane Cricket Ground- which is situated in my electorate of Griffith- prior to the start of the First Test on 29 November? If this is correct, who extended the invitation to him? If it was Alderman Clem Jones, is the Prime Minister aware that. Alderman Jones is alleged to have done it without the approval of the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust or the Queensland Cricket Association? Finally, how does he feel about opening a new grandstand funded by the Joh BjelkePetersenGordon Chalk State Government, a government to which he is so bitterly opposed?
– I was happy to receive an invitation to this function and to accept it. I hope that the honourable gentleman also will receive an invitation, if he has not already received an invitation to it. As honourable members know, I expect that Federal members will be asked to public functions in their electorates which I am asked to attend. As I understand the position a Queensland State government instrumentality lent money for the grandstand at about IS per cent interest. This is a marked contrast to the attitude adopted by my colleague Mr Frank Stewart, the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, who is acknowledged from one end of Australia to the other as having done more than any other person to facilitate the participation of Australians in sport, an area in which in his day he was an outstanding performer.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Environment who is representing the Minister for Health. The Minister is no doubt aware that what is called passive protection against tetanus in individuals previously sensitised by equine tetanus anti toxin which is derived from horse serum has been a major problem because of the possibility of severe reactions. Also the Minister is no doubt aware that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has now developed the manufacture of a tetanus immunoglobulin of human origin. I ask the Minister Is it fact that this preparation is virtually reaction-free making preliminary screening tests unnecessary and that it persists in the circulation for very much longer? As the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories does not employ many medical detailers- that is, salesmen- will the Government ensure that this information is drawn to the attention of every medical practitioner in Australia, together with the information that this preparation is provided free of charge from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?
– It is true that work, both overseas and in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, has evolved a human derived immunoglobulin to combat tetanus to replace the one derived from horse serum which was prone to give reactions to many of us. I am sure there are many members in this place who have been to a doctor for tetanus anti toxin, and have had an injection in the skin and everyone has sat around waiting to see how they would react. It is true that the human product does not give the sort of reactions caused by the product derived from horse serum and therefore is very much safer. It is also a fact that because of its longer persistence in the bloodstream it lasts for three or four weeks which is beyond the average incubation period for tetanus. Therefore it is a safer procedure on these grounds as well.
Supplies have been available since the beginning of this year. Production is now adequate enough to ensure that all needs can be filled. Therefore the horse serum will in fact be removed from the pharmaceutical benefit listing from 1 December. I am not sure how adequately the medical profession or the community have been informed of this so I shall certainly instruct my Department to make sure that the medical profession does know about it and the fact that it is freely available because all human blood products are free. Therefore even the fee has now been abolished.
– I address a question to the Minister for Services and Property. I inform him that on Friday 1 November during the installation of a sophisticated machine on the 12th floor of the Australian Government Centre in Brisbane power was disrupted to the entire building and I was caught on my own in one lift for 15 minutes between the 10th and 11th floors. I might add that I was caught in pitch blackness in what one might describe as extremely frightening circumstances. Will the Minister inform the House of the nature of the machine and its approximate cost and whether the equipment is for the use of all departments and members in the building or for the exclusive use of the Prime Minister and Ministers? Is it expected that the machine and operating staff will be gainfully employed? Have similar machines been installed elsewhere in Australia?
– I advise the honourable member that his grave predicament is news to me. I could not work out from his question whether he was frightened of the dark or frightened because nobody was in there with him. Might I congratulate him in that respect on his bad luck. I can understand his dilemma in those circumstances. As a matter of fact, I think he might be entitled to a miraculous medal. I do not know the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate occurrence but I will personally investigate the matter to see if a repetition of such a nightmare event for the honourable member can be avoided.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. What basis of participation in off-shore minerals search will be followed by the Petroleum and Minerals Authority?
-The policy in this regard has already been made quite clear. When I announced recently the arrangement with the Peko-EZ group regarding the development of uranium in the Northern Territory I said that precisely the same principles would apply in respect of offshore oil search and development. We have quite a number of very substantial major oil companies which wish to participate in development and search on the North-west Shelf and the Government will be very pleased to co-operate with them.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Northern Development. The Minister will be aware that there is growing concern in the fruit industry that the sugar agreement was allowed to expire at the end of September and there appear to be no plans for the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee meetings which are usually held in late November to fix minimum prices in respect of certain fruit varieties. Will the Minister ensure that, if it is not possible for a new sugar agreement to be reached in time for this fruit season, the present agreement will be extended so that minimum prices can be set? Does the Minister agree that without a sugar agreement the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee cannot set stable prices and this would be contrary to the Labor Government’s support for incomes stability in agriculture?
– It is quite apparent that whoever is advising the honourable member knows very little about the operation of the domestic sugar agreement. It is a fact that the sugar agreement technically expired at 30 June this year but this was extended by agreement between the Queensland Government and the Australian Government. The whole matter of pricing under the domestic sugar agreement is under consideration by the 2 governments. The whole matter of support by the sugar industry to the fruit industry by way of both the export rebate and domestic rebate is under consideration. The mechanism is working, and I am surprised that the honourable member does not know that. There is no breakdown whatsoever between the 2 governments with respect to this agreement. I might add that discussions will be proceeding very shortly with respect to the domestic price and the domestic fruit rebate and I expect to be able to make an announcement shortly. But there is no breakdown whatsoever, and I am surprised that the honourable member did not know that.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, and I refer to a question asked by the honourable member for Balaclava on Tuesday concerning retrenchments at Pilkington ACI Limited. Will the Minister make inquiries to ascertain whether Pilkington ACI has during the last few months imported from South Africa 10,000 tempered replacement windscreens representing 120,000 square feet of float glass and whether a company named Vitrum has imported from a South African companya company in which Pilkington has a large financial holding- 20,11 1 laminated replacement windscreens representing 480,000 square feet of float glass? What percentage of its business would that account for? What proportion of the likely retrenchments would that account for? Is it also a fact that recently PilkingtonACI received some protection or assistance from the Government from competition consequential upon the refusal of a takeover bid by an American company operating in the same sort of business as Pilkington-ACI?
– I thank the honourable member for the question, I certainly will cause inquiries of the kind he has in mind to be made of the Department and in the industry. I can say at this stage that it is known that Pilkington ACI has made significant imports of windscreens. I do not have the information before me at this stage as to whether they have come from a company in South Africa with which it has any financial understanding or relationship. However, I am informed that the importation of windscreens would not have had a significant effect on the retrenchments that are being made by the company at this time.
As far as the latter part of the question is concerned, it is true that last year the Government did disallow a proposed takeover of the company Nielsen and Moller Pty Ltd, which was an Australian firm producing windscreens for automobiles, by PPG Industries, which is a major United States manufacturer of glass, chemicals, paint and fibreglass. The thinking, which will appeal to honourable members of this House, was that the takeover would have led in that set of circumstances to increased fragmentation in the industry. As to the other aspects of the honourable member’s question, I will make inquiries and give him a detailed answer.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. It follows the question asked earlier by the honourable member for Griffith concerning the invitation extended to the Prime Minister to open the new stand at the Brisbane Cricket Ground. I ask: Will the Prime Minister be good enough to make inquiries as to the manner in which this invitation was extended to him? Will he find out whether it is correct that no member of the Queensland Cricket Association executive was informed of this invitation or has received an invitation to it, and that Sir Gordon Chalk is in fact the only person who was officially invited by the executive to perform such a function? Will the Prime Minister find out whether the person who has invited him has attempted to use improperly the prestigious office of the Prime Minister? If his inquiries lead him to that conclusion will the Prime Minister indicate to the person who has invited him that he will not attend and have his office used in this manner during a State election campaign?
– I must confess that I do not go behind invitations which I receive to see by what process they came to be issued. I have received many invitations to Queensland sporting functions, including functions to open sporting premises in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. I have, I think, opened football stands in Brisbane and the football club’s premises on the sports ground at Townsville. I do not feel disposed to change my practice by saying: ‘Are you sure you are entitled to ask me?’.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Bearing in mind the large increase in the export earnings of the coal industry and the expansion of employment opportunities that have flowed from the policies and actions of the Government, is the Minister able to advise honourable members what further action is proposed to boost coal industry earnings and whether this will mean more jobs?
-The prospects for the coal industry internally and, more particularly, in the export market have never been better in this century. As a matter of fact, on 9 December a deputation will be coming to Australia from Japan as a natural follow up to the arrangements which we made with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Tanaka. It will be the most high powered deputation from the coal consuming interests in Japan that has ever visited this country. It will, in addition, be followed in the same week by another deputation from the European Economic Community which is interested in solving its problems which are of a major nature. The Economic Community’s coal resources are being depleted rapidly. On Tuesday of this week I was interviewed by a representative of a major American power generating group who indicated that the group would take at least 10 million tonnes of coal a year if we were in a position to provide it, and that this would escalate to 30 million tonnes a year.
There will be a need for us to work in the closest co-operation, firstly, with the Japanese to ensure that we can meet their full requirements. Japan is our major trading partner and is heavily dependent on us for energy supplies. In turn, a considerable intake of labour into the coal industry will be required. We are able to give to the various unions associated with that industry an assurance of a continuity of employment. In the past there has been a traditional fear of redundancy because of the unfortunate competition that has existed. Having satisfied the unions, we will have to look at the coal loading equipment at the various harbours of Australia. More than that, we will need to upgrade the whole of the harbour system of the main coal exporting centres of eastern Australia. I would say that it will be a matter for the coal industry itself to negotiate with the representatives of the various unions as to the benefits that will be received. For Australia it will mean that we will get an income from the export of coal which frankly, will be far beyond the expectations of most members of this House. The future, in world terms, will be one of acute international shortage. In fact, if we were to meet all the demands that could be placed on us, even the very fine resources which we have in Australia could find their limitations.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture: Is it correct that the reason for the delay in announcing sugar prices is due to the fact that the submission you put to Cabinet 8 weeks ago has not yet been considered? Is it also true that both the Queensland Government and the Queensland Sugar Board have been asked to prepare memoranda on the submission you have so far put to them? Does industry, and the canned fruit industry particularly, expect increasing prices which will upset their economies as a result of the submission that the Minister has put forward to Cabinet?
– I have just answered a question on this subject. What amazes me is that the honourable member for Angas is even more out of date than the honourable member who asked a question earlier. The honourable member for Angas does not know anything about the subject. He should talk to the Queensland Government which apparently knows better than the Australian Government. That Government ought to be able to acquaint him with the facts on the canned fruit industry. What he does not seem to understand is that the canned fruit industry in Australia is getting sugar at one quarter of the world price. The honourable member for Angas is so far out of date with the facts about the sugar industry that I suggest that he go back to the people who put him up to this question and acquaint himself with the facts.
-Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Australian economy generally and business confidence specifically is being affected by the continued threats from the Opposition parties, particularly the Country Party, to force an early election by again blocking Government business in the Senate?
– It is true that for some time business at home and abroad was disturbed by these constant threats or rumours that again the Country Party and the Liberal Party in the Senate would refuse supply. I believe, however, that the public in Australia and also business people overseas who are interested in Australia have come to realise that people can cry wolf too often. It affects the credibility of the Opposition rather than of the Government to make these constant suggestions that there will be a premature election. The Government has embarked upon its program on the basis of being in office for 3 years. That is the mandate which we sought last May and which reaffirmed the mandate we had sought in December 1972. It is significant that last April and May when the Country Party, with the Liberal Party tagging along, made its illfated effort to change the Government, there was never any suggestion by the Leader of the Country Party or the Leader of the Liberal Party that if they again failed to secure a majority in the House of Representatives they would try to use votes in the Senate, which is always more evenly balanced in numbers, to deny supply again. A great deal is made of mandates in debates on these subjects. What is quite clear is that the Country Party and the Liberal Party never sought a mandate- still less did they get a mandateto deny supply again. I welcome the opportunity to assure people at home and abroad that the Government is confident that it will be able to discharge the whole of its 3-year mandate.
– My question refers to the Prime Minister’s continuing refusal to confirm the security of tenure of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports as Federal Treasurer of this country. Is the honourable gentleman aware that, in the context of that continuing refusal to confirm the position of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports as Federal Treasurer, the President of the Australian Labor Party and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is reported as having demanded that the Prime Minister make a statement on the future of the Treasurer? That gentleman in question went on to say that there ought to be an unequivocal statement that no change is planned or about to be planned. Does the Prime Minister consider it consistent with the practice of Cabinet government and the question of loyalty to one’s colleagues to treat with such distain a member, and a senior member, of his Ministry who has served well this House, his Party and, indeed, his Prime Minister and the Cabinet of which he is a member? Will the Prime Minister confirm what in fact is the position that Mr Crean holds at the present time and will hold in the future?
-This matter was last raised a week ago. I would have thought that after the trouncing the Leader of the Opposition got on that occasion it would not have been raised again. On that occasion the right honourable gentleman invited me to confirm the security of tenure of two of my Ministers. Three hours later in Brisbane he suggested that I should confirm the tenure of three others. As I said before, if I fall for this line in the next 2½ years he will go through the whole of the Ministry. I have nothing to add to the answers I have given previously.
I ask that further questions be placed on notice since it is SO minutes since we met.
Mr CREAN (Melbourne PortsTreasurer)For the information of honourable members I present a statement entitled: ‘ 1974 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group’.
– Pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-1970, I present the thirteenth annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30 June 1974, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the course of a debate in the House yesterday the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby), referring to the 25 per cent tariff cut in July 1 973, said:
The Opposition front bench spokesman on these matters, the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards), accepted the across the board tariff reductions at that time as being a useful weapon against inflation.
I have with me a statement that I issued at the first opportunity following that reduction in tariffs. I stated:
The Labor Government nevertheless chose to proceed by the July across-the-board cut which was arbitrary, doctrinaire and opportunist, possibly illegal, and to boot inapposite to its professed purpose. 1 went on to state:
The fact is that no-one believes that the cuts will have any significant effect in restraining the gallop of inflation- they go to none of the short-to-medium-term causes of our present predicament.
I concluded by stating:
What is of dominant importance is the unpredictable but potentially very damaging effect of the tariff cut on business confidence- on the long-term forward planning by industry on which the thrust of continued sound growth depends.
I made several speeches on 28 August 1973 embodying other remarks. Then, on 18 October 1973 in my speech on the Industries Assistance Commission Bill to which I gather that the Minister for Manufacturing Industry was also making some reference yesterday, I said:
But I take the oportunity of saying that that -
That is, the 25 per cent cut in tariffs- is not the sort of treatment that this side of the House would wish to mete out to industry.
I went on to say- and I conclude my personal explanation with this:
I only give this warning: As the world boom reaches its peak- it may have already done so- there will be a flood of imports and a setback to industry in this country of very significant proportions and that will be a major contributing factor to the stagflation . . . which will in due time inevitably be the outcome of the policies of this Government. Meanwhile the damaging effect of this measure -
That is, the 25 per cent tariff cut- will be on business confidence and the long term forward planning by industry on which the thrust of continued sound economic growth depends and on which many of the proposed policy objectives of the Government depend.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Housing Agreement Bill 1974
States Grants ( Housing Assistance) Bill 1 974
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next at 2.15 p.m.
– I would like to raise one matter with the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) and it is this: Having regard to the current airline stoppage, I ask what the Government ‘s position would be relating to the Parliament sitting tomorrow? If the airlines are not functioning, I invite the Minister to agree that it would be a waste of time to seek to move members of Parliament out of Canberra by other means and not to sit tomorrow. Taking the various assumptions which are available, that is firstly that the airline strike will continue tomorrow and secondly that the strike continues for some longer period of time, it is my understanding that some members propose to return to Canberra on Monday at no mean inconvenience. Very properly this is the case because Parliament has the first call upon members’ time. Members will be required to break arrangements of long standing to return on Monday, but it might not be possible to return on Monday. Being an Irishman the Leader of the House will understand me when I put the case in that fashion. But I invite the honourable gentleman to consider explaining to the House what the Government’s attitude would be, taking the first assumption. I would not like the honourable gentleman to get the impression that we are all passionately interested in pursuing his company, even on Friday, making it 5 days a week. Even those of us with a sense of charity could make the worst of a bad thing.
– May I reply to the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). The suggestion he has made is one that has occurred to the Government. At the outset let me say that I will discuss his proposal with my opposite number from the other side of the Parliament because I am inclined to agree that if we are to be kept here tomorrow because of the strike or for other reasons, it may be preferable for the Parliament to sit tomorrow and to eliminate the Monday sitting. Without being over humorous, we might in certain circumstances be able to sit through the weekend. If we are forced to remain here this weekend there will be a lot of idle politicians and I would not want to see people with such a high rate of salary doing nothing on those 2 days. But in any case I say quite seriously that I will consider what the honourable member has said. In the light of the developments in the strike, I will report to Parliament and 1 will dicuss the matter again with honourable members opposite as soon as I am in a position to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That this House-
1 ) expresses its belief that there should be no discrimination of any kind attached to an ex-nuptial child and that the word ‘illegitimate’ which has been used to date to describe children born out of wedlock is totally inapproriate and should be removed from all Commonwealth legislation and from common usage, and
is of opinion that, as a matter of priority, legislation should be introduced to protect the rights of ex-nuptial children and, in particular, insofar as the Commonwealth Government is concerned, to remove the word ‘illegitimate’ from all existing Commonwealth legislation and to amend existing Commonwealth legislation to ensure that ex-nuptial children have the right to participate in the same benefits and entitlements that any other child in the community is able to receive.
I have asked that the word ‘illegitimate’ be included in inverted commas because in the context of this debate it is not a proper word, as I hope to demonstrate. The subject of the motion has rarely been discussed in this House. I have no recollection of it ever having been discussed. The circumstances facing ex-nuptial children and the lives our society allows them to lead are subjects that should be understood widely and debated frequently, if need be until the concepts of the motion I am putting are accepted. One is reluctant to find it necessary to isolate the separate category of people and discuss them as though they were a unique human species. They are not. But regrettably this needs to be done because unless we specifically direct our attention to exnuptial children, we will continue to assume that they need no special help. To be born illegitimate is to be born disadvantaged. To be described as illegitimate is a gross discrimination and unfairness in itself. Society has held, and perhaps for some time to come may continue to hold, strong and varying views on the subject of children born out of wedlock. I believe that our community attitudes in the past have been too narrow. We have concentrated on the moral aspects of the relationship between a man and a woman and debated the propriety of extramarital sex. We have concerned ourselves with the need that society has for ensuring that the relationship between a man and a woman is stable and that the family life surrounding them is balanced. But in the midst of those concerns we have largely ignored the needs of the third person- the child born to an unmarried mother, a widow, a separated wife or to a married woman who has a relationship with a man who is not her husband.
The purpose of this motion is to ask the community to reassess its attitudes that it has adopted towards ex-nuptial children, to familiarise itself with the difficulties that it may have caused ex-nuptial children and to recognise the harm this has done to the community itself. This is an area where legislators cannot achieve a total result. It is a relatively easy thing to legislate to abolish the concept of illegitimacy in a legal sense. That must be done. Certainly the law has discriminated against ex-nuptial children, particularly in areas such as the right to participate in the estate of its natural father or to establish as a right the identity of its father. But the removal of these disabilities still leaves a far more significant problem, that is, the attitude that society has towards the child. I should make the point that when I use the word ‘child’ we must remember that it is a child while it is young, but that same child carried that attitude right through adulthood.
In Australia we know very little about how the ex-nuptial child is faring. There are serious gaps in our knowledge which we must move to correct. There are no longitudinal studies at all that I know of that have been conducted in Australia to determine the welfare and the progress of the exnuptial child. There have been longitudinal studies done in the United Kingdom to which I will come shortly. But quite clearly the reason there have been no such longitudinal studies in Australia is that no funds have been provided for the purpose and largely because the community, knowing its attitude, has felt that it would be a gross intrusion on the rights of the person to inquire into what has happened to the ex-nuptial child as it has grown older.
On the legal side, measures are now being taken to improve the situation facing ex-nuptial children. As honourable members may be aware, the New Zealand Government has acted as an initiator in this process by passing a Status of Children Act 1969 which has as its main aim the statement of the concept that all children should be of equal status and that the relationship between every person and his father and mother shall be determined irrespective of whether the father and mother are or have been married to each other. The rule of construction whereby in any instrument words of relationship signify only ‘legitimate’ relationship in the absence of contrary expression of intention is abolished. The Act outlines ways in which paternity is to be recognised and proved.
Since the passing of that Act, Bills have been introduced by the Tasmanian, South Australian and Victorian Governments along basically similar lines incorporating in each case a schedule which amends existing legislation to remove the word ‘illegitimate’ where it occurs and to ensure that an ex-nuptial child is not excluded by way of definition from participating in benefits and entitlements that should be available to him or to her. There is a similar need for Commonwealth legislation of that kind. As one instance of Commonwealth legislation which is discriminatory in this sense, I mention the Commonwealth Superannuation Act where the definition of ‘child’ includes an adopted child but does not include an ex-nuptial child. Existing Commonwealth legislation must be examined to ensure that this type of anomaly is removed. It is important to recognise that, having done this legal exercise, we will have embarked only on the first long overdue step. There will be significant problems that will remain for the Australian people to resolve in their own hearts and minds. We will need to examine the social and educational implications of being born ex-nuptial.
As an example of the kind of attention that we ought to be giving this question, I refer to the study undertaken by the Children’s Bureau in the United Kingdom and the results of national studies undertaken there. In 1958 the children of a whole week’s births were included in a perinatal mortality study. This included 17,000 births, both legitimate and ex-nuptial children. Since 1958, children have been studied in follow up surveys as part of the childhood study. This is the longitudinal study to which I referred earlier. The findings of the study which have been summarised in a report by the National Children’s Bureau are quite disturbing. I mention some of them.
The findings regarding pregnancy management suggest that mothers-to-be of ex-nuptial children take much less care of themselves and consequently of the unborn child. A significant proportion do not seek any pre-natal care at all or seek it later than is medically advisable. More ex-nuptial babies are born with a birth weight lower than 2,500 grams. Twice the proportion are of very low birth weight and in general the babies are lighter by far. In all aspects of ability and attainment the ex-nuptial group did significantly less well than the child born in marriage or the adopted child.
For example, a higher proportion were below average for their age in general knowledge, oral ability, creativity and perceptual development. Even those living in the relatively more favourable circumstances of middle-class homes did less well. The same pattern was found in relation to attainment in reading and arithmetic. Adopted children were the best readers, then nuptial children next with ex-nuptial children faring worst being on average one year behind in reading the level of the other children. I quote from the overall conclusion of the report:
Overall they -
That is, ex-nuptial children- . . . were beset by a multiplicity of unfavourable circumstances which not only gave them a relatively poorer start in life but which continued to build up into a complex web of cumulative and interacting disadvantages and deprivations.
I have no doubt that some of those findings- indeed virtually all of those findings- would apply equally to the Australian situation.
It is to these sorts of implications that we must direct our attention. The future of Australia depends on the success that we allow every individual in it to enjoy. The deprivations that the ex-nuptials face are very real. Apart from persecuting individuals who have no choice in the circumstances of their birth, society persecutes itself by so doing. We must accept totally the principle that the long-term welfare of the child should be the first and paramount consideration. This principle should be the basis of determining all policy and practice for all children without differentiation as between them. Making children suffer because of actions taken by others which are certainly beyond the child’s control, it not even existing at the time of the complained of behaviour, is cruel and ill-fitting a society which should adopt such attitudes. Society should recognise the immeasurable asset of its own people and its own children. It should not under any circumstances allow itself to set patterns which would discriminate against them.
I have previously announced that a future Liberal-Country Party Government will establish a children’s bureau in the proposed Department of Community of Development. That bureau will provide a central source of input to a committee of Ministers concerned with specific aspects of the welfare of children. It will monitor community trends and conduct multidisciplinary research. I would expect that some of the questions studied by the United Kingdom’s Children’s Bureau to which I have referred would be considered by the Australian Children’s Bureau. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement which I made on 27 October last.
-Is leave granted?
– I have not seen it. May I have a look?
-This consideration has been with me for a very considerable period of time. The organisation most concerned with it in Australia is the National Council for the Single Mother and Her Child. I was written to by the Honorary Secretary of that body and I replied to her on 25 July last, as I have said, in these terms:
Thank you for your letter of 10 July on behalf of the National Council of the Single Mother and her Child in which you seek the support of the Liberal party for legislation to remove the legal disabilities of children born out of wedlock.
The Liberal Party accepts the need for action to be taken to remove wherever practicable existing legal disabilities.
I am aware of the New Zealand Status of Children Act 1 969, as well as the report by the Law Reform Committee of Tasmania.
I have asked Senator Greenwood and Mr Chipp- the shadow Minister for Social Welfare- to examine this matter as soon as possible.
My motion has arisen out of a long belief of mine that there is need for reform, and is the result of the activities of my colleagues and of myself and, if I may say so, a very important contribution made by a member of my staff, Mr John Goodfellow. Finally, I wish to say something of the work being undertaken by the National Council for the Single Mother and Her Child and the various organisations associated with it. By coincidence my wife attended a seminar of that National Council in Melbourne last night and it is sheer chance that on this general business day I should have been able to pursue the matter this morning. In this matter, as in many other areas, it has been left to a voluntary group in the community to point out to governments and the community generally the need to take positive action to improve the situation of ex-nuptial children. I support the aims and objectives of the National Council which are:
To ensure that the child born out of wedlock has a fair start in life.
To press for better services for those who have had an ex-nuptial child.
To facilitate a positive attitude on the part of the ex-nuptial child towards his or her natural parents.
-If I may interrupt at this point could I clear up the matter of whether leave is granted for the document to be incorporated.
– Leave is not granted.
-Leave is not granted.
– I find it just incredible that a document on a matter of such social significance and importance should not be permitted to be incorporated in Hansard by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby) who apparently intends to move an amendment to my motion. The document which I asked to be incorporated and for which leave has been refused is a Press release by me headed ‘Children’s Bureau’. It reads:
The Department of Community Development to be established by the next Liberal and Country Party Government will include a Children ‘s Bureau in its structure.
Children’s needs cannot be categorised as belonging to one specific departmental area. Children’s problems encompass health, education, social welfare, recreation and cultural development. All authorities involved with current programs in child development in Australia now emphasise the need to integrate programs. This necessitates the formation of a central unit, which will be the role of the Children ‘s Bureau.
I do not accept that the present Government’s intention to allocate all administrative responsibility for childhood services to a single Commission is either desirable or practical Consequently, I do not support the concept of a Children’s Commission as advocated by the Labor Government.
The powers to be allocated to that Commission will tend to make it more coercive than responsive, unnecessarily restricting planning for childhood services to one body. Separated as a statutory body from the Department, the Commission is likely to become inflexible and bureaucratic
By contrast, the Children’s Bureau under the LiberalCountry Party Government will provide a central source of input to a committee of Ministers who will retain the responsibility for the administration of programs within their specific portfolios- e.g., health, education and social welfare. The Children’s Bureau will not administer programs nor control funding of them. It will monitor community trends, assist in evaluating the effectiveness of on-going programs, conduct multi-disciplinary research, disseminate information to and from the community and provide advisory services to parents and community groups.
The Bureau’s personnel will combine public servants with individuals in the community. It will establish advisory panels with wide representation to include educators, health experts, social workers, teachers. Unlike a Commission, which would have set personnel appointed for a specific period, the composition of the Bureau- panels will be flexible so that when particular problems arise, extra community or public service personnel may be added to provide temporary additional advice and contribution to that of the Bureau ‘s staff.
The Department of Community Development will have a number of Bureaus with advisory panels operating in a similar fashion. These will initially include the handicapped, the aged, migrants, youth and women. The basic purpose of each Bureau will be to provide direct contact between the bureaucracy, the Government, State and local government, and the community. The panels will be catalysts for action on specific issues across a number of departments. They will look at problems of each group in the broadest sense and in collaboration with other Ministers suggest joint policy programs.
The bureau will have a role in changing community attitudes where they must be changed. I trust that the ready acceptance of the House of this motion that I have moved will give the indication to the Council and to the children and mothers it represents that each of us recognises that we have inadequately considered the needs of ex-nuptial children in the past and that we will accept the responsibility to remove to the maximum extent possible disabilities facing them.
-Is the motion seconded?
-I second the motion, Mr Speaker. Even with man’s great intelligence and ingenuity there is one thing that he has never been able to do and there is one thing he will never be able to do, that is, to choose his own parents. We are each the product of a union of a man and a woman. We had no control of whom those 2 people were, where they might have been, what nationality they might have been, what their wealth might have been, what their educational or socio-economic status might have been. Therefore all human beings in one sense are either gynaecological or geographic accidents. This motion is brought forward by us today because this is a day on which non-government business can be brought on. We are hoping for a unanimous vote of the House expressing its view as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has stated. We know that the terms of the motion already have been adopted as a matter of principle by the Standing Committee of Australian and New Zealand Attorneys-General. It was announced in February of this year. We know that there could be difficulties in implementing it in forms of legislation because this itself takes time. But we on this side of the House believed that it would serve a useful purpose if this House of Parliament in Australia unanimously expressed a view on this social reform. About 20 seconds before I rose to speak I was handed a proposed amendment which I understand is to be moved by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby). On the face of it, without my looking at it in depth, it appalls me that even in a matter like this the Government cannot stop playing dirty politics. The amendment proposes to omit -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to discuss an amendment that has not been moved. The Leader of the Opposition can speak to the amendment if he so desires when it is moved. He has already spoken as the mover of the motion now being considered. He is entitled to speak again in speaking to the amendment when it is moved if he so desires.
– I rise on a point of order to seek clarification. The practice of the House is to distribute the amendment in advance.
-It has not been moved yet.
– No, it has not been moved, but it would facilitate discussion if the amendment foreshadowed could be referred to by my colleague.
-No, the honourable member cannot discuss the amendment until such time as it is moved. The Leader of the Opposition will be entitled to discuss it again when it is moved. He is entitled to actually debate the amendment as the mover of the motion when the amendment is moved.
- Mr Speaker, I will not canvass or transgress your ruling. But may I correct you? You have given a very correct ruling as a Speaker but you are wrong in practice because we will not be able to discuss this amendment if the Government follows its normal practice of gagging the debate as soon as the Minister for Manufacturing Industry has spoken.
– That is the agreement.
– He says: ‘That is the agreement’.
-Order! The mover of the motion- that is the Leader of the Opposition- is quite entitled to discuss the amendment when it is moved. However, the honourable member is not entitled to discuss the amendment until such time as it is moved.
-I will accept that, Mr Speaker. I just make the point that we will not be allowed to discuss the amendment because the Government will gag the debate as soon as the Minister has moved the amendment. I put it this way: If the Government contemplated introducing an amendment to this motion in words such as ‘supports the Australian Government’s decision to legislate’, that to me is reducing the debate to the level of dirty politics while the Government is trying to get some sort of credit. Why on earth on general business day cannot the Government mix in with the Opposition and talk about these matters of social reform on a non-party, nonpartisan basis? Surely to God this is the forum of the nation and we can debate these things on a non-partisan basis from time to time. Therefore I am sorry that the Government has seen fit to introduce politics into this matter.
Because of the position of wealth, nationality and our parentage we are what we are. Therefore it behoves those of us who one might call lucky to be born into a lucky and affluent country, a country which does not have the oppression, disease and poverty of some other countries, to feel sympathy for other people. That is why I was appalled this morning to hear the answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in which he boastfully said that we should be proud of our record of giving aid as announced by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) at the World Food Conference. We gave $16m in the form of wheat to Bangladesh in a week that fortuitously Australians bet $20m on one horse race. How that can be regarded as a generous contribution confounds me.
Therefore we do owe sympathy to those people who through no fault of their own are disadvantaged. As my Leader has said, the exnuptial child is disadvantaged because of circumstances completely beyond his control. I completely support my Leader in our belief that none of us in legislation, speech or in any way should continue under any circumstances to use that hideous word ‘illegitimate’. The whole connotation of that word applies to the child as if it is the child’s fault that he has been born under these circumstances. Many suggestions have been made of alternative terms that could be used, terms such as ex-nuptual child, natural child and child of a single mother. These are some suggestions of the terms that could be used without the stigma which the word ‘illegitimate’ connotes.
This is an appropriate time for the Parliament to debate and to pass this motion because there is a growing incidence of natural children who for a variety of reasons are born out of marriage. I do not think that it is competent or necessary for me to canvass those reasons today. But what this does not necessarily mean is that there is a growth of promiscuity; it does not necessarily mean that there is a growth in the incidence of extra marital intercourse. What it does mean, I suggest, is that there is no longer, thank God, that outdated procedure thought necessary of the shotgun marriage. I can think of no worse social custom than the parents of a child who is conceived as a result of their actions when half drunk in the back of a motor car getting married because they feel that to avoid social stigma they are forced to do so. This sort of situation carries with it the inevitable tragic results. As society becomes more sophisticated the number of children born out of marriage will increase.
I do not want to canvass in the short time at my disposal this morning whether this one custom in the community is a good or a bad thing sociologically. I have views on this matter myself. I refer to the custom whereby unmarried women who become pregnant and do not wish or are not able to have an abortion or a termination quietly have the child adopted by some agency. That custom too is changing in that more and more single mothers are keeping their children. I do not have the statistics of the percentage of unmarried mothers who kept their children 10 years ago. I should think it would be quite small. But I am astonished today to notice that 40 per cent of single mothers now keep their children. This point would not have had so much importance had the children been formally adopted under the old style. But in the present circumstances the motion now before the premier House of Parliament in Australia becomes more interesting.
As my Leader said, one could, if one wanted to- and it is not my wish to do this- revel in the pastime of moralising about people who engage in extra marital intercourse. But, as my Leader said, that is not the point. We are not talking about the responsibility that people have. We must be unanimous that the child- whatever the faults, if there are any, of the parents- is completely blameless. Therefore why have this stigma? There is another reason for this motion. One would have thought that in this year of grace and enlightenment sexual ignorance would be disappearing in Australia. But such is not the case. A journal of the Australian Medical Association, which is not a notoriously radical or irresponsible body, recently estimated that each year a mininmum of 250,000 women in Australia become pregnant who do not wish to become pregnant. Thi§ highlights another area which is not directly applicable to the resolution but one which I think is pertinent. If those figures prove anything- and I believe they are minimum figures- they prove beyond any doubt that there is massive sexual ignorance in Australia today. But we still have those bastions who vigorously and maniacally oppose any forms of sex education, oppose the advertising of contraceptives and oppose any resolutions for sexual enlightenment among people.
The Liberal Party has definite views on this matter. I would like to have some material incorporated in Hansard but I will not even bring myself down to the Minister’s level to ask for leave to do so having in mind the way in which he refused leave for my Leader to incorporate the responsible document of the Liberal Party ‘s policies in the area of sex education, women’s community health centres and the like.
– Would you agree to that being incorporated?
– Show it to me. I only asked to see the document to which the Leader of the Opposition referred in his speech.
-Is that a request?
– I do not know what is in it. I have never seen the Liberal Party program.
– Is the honourable member requesting that something be incorporated in Hansard?
-My time is running out. The Minister says that he has never seen the Liberal Party policy. I find that an extraordinary statement. My Leader mentioned the disadvantages that are suffered by children born out of marriage- the Commonwealth Superannuation Act, the property inheritance where ex-nuptial children have to sue and fight to contest their natural rights; the embarrassment that one has to go through in paternity tests; and the housing difficulties encountered by single mothers with children. That sort of thing also rubs off on the child. All of these disadvantages must, as my Leader suggested, have an enormous psychological impact on that child, whose only sin is that he was born of parents whom he could not choose. This society, this Parliament, this Government, my Party have gone a long way with their recognition of the single mother. Is it not now time that we turned our attention to the child?
– One can be in complete agreement with the final proposition put by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) that it is indeed time that the community and this Parliament, containing as it does the various political parties, should turn its attention to the child. I am in complete agreement with much of what I have heard, or perhaps all of what I have heard, from the two previous speakers. Unfortunately, some animosity has crept into the debate, and that is a pity, because there is such agreement between the parties on this matter. In response to the suggestions that there is politics in this, I suppose one has to say that indeed there seems to be politics in this, and it is to be regretted.
The facts are that on 1 August the Government, speaking in the Senate through the voice of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) declared its commitment to the removal of” the distinction between ex-nuptial children and other children. That fact would be well known to both honourable members who have spoken. On Tuesday last the Attorney-General brought into Cabinet a submission seeking to give effect to the very proposition that the 2 honourable gentlemen now espouse.
– I acknowledge that.
-Of course, but one has to follow it a little further.
– I was wholly unaware of that.
– I hear you. That decision of Cabinet on Tuesday to introduce legislation giving effect to this ideal was confirmed by the Parliamentary Labor Party Caucus yesterday and the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr Cairns) held his usual Press conference yesterday afternoon and announced it to the world. Then last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) gave notice of his intention to move this proposition here today. Those are the facts. I do not seek to make any political mileage or to take any kudos from them, but one wonders why the notice of motion appeared late last night in the name of the Leader of the Opposition following a Press statement by the Government a few hours earlier that it was going to do this very thing. Let us leave it on that basis. I move:
The amendment just regulates the matter and puts it in proper form. This Government is very proud of what it has managed to achieve in the short time that it has been in office in terms of doing away with discrimination- where it has had a measure of success- because discrimination exists in a whole range of areas, as the honourable member for Hotham pointed out when he directed his remarks to the ex-nuptial child. The question is of giving support to the disadvantaged. The increased expenditures by this Government on education give support to the disadvantaged. The increased expenditures on Aborigines in Australia give support to the disadvantaged. If one looks at the same subject of Aboriginal welfare and the determination of this Government to remove all forms of discrimination from its legislation, that also gives support to the disadvantaged. The same can be said of the Government’s policies on pensions, welfare housing and social services generally. So this Government has made enormous progress in terms of allocating resources and giving support to the disadvantaged, and the announcement made yesterday is just a continuation of that general process.
The Government has announced its intentions in regard to a human rights Bill. It has announced its intentions in regard to a general form of anti-discrimination legislation based upon the United Nations measures with which we are all familiar. It has done its best with the city of Newcastle to remove the discrimination which exists against Aborigines. It has done its best by the provision of enhanced legal aid schemes to take account of the fact that poor people in the community cannot afford the services of lawyers. So it all goes to a degree of consistency running through the Government’s policy to create a more just, a more equitable, a less discriminatory society.
When one directs one’s attention to the exnuptial child one sees the same determination being extended there. As I have said, a very great deal of progress has been made. The most recent initiative- and it has not been resolved yet- is the introduction into the Senate of the Family Law Bill. As honourable members know, that is a Government measure, but only to the point of being introduced in the Senate and being brought to a vote. In other words, from the Government’s point of view, and one hopes that it will be the same with the Opposition parties, there will be a free vote on the social issues which are being dealt with in that legislation.
– I think the Minister is getting a little bit wide of the motion before the Chair, which is in regard to ex-nuptial children.
– I take your point, Mr Speaker, but surely the emphasis has to be given because the Family Law Bill touches directly on the issue that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition and dealt with in a follow-up way by the honourable member for Hotham: It deals with children; it deals with custody; it deals with maintenance; it deals wirh access and other matters of that sort. So there is the introduction of reason and honesty into all these areas.
– Are you saying that we should have a free vote? We have already committed ourselves to having a free vote.
-I am very pleased to hear that. I was not aware of that, but I am very pleased to hear you say it and confirm it. So the whole point is that when one comes to the question of the ex-nuptial child one is in complete agreement with everything that was said by both the previous speakers. But one could go further and say that it is not only a matter of sympathy, although sympathy certainly plays a part, but is also a matter of honesty. It is the absence of cant, the absence of hypocrisy, which is so terribly important. I think it was the honourable member for Hotham who said that there is a lot of hypocrisy, there is a lot of cant in the community on these social subjects. Sometimes people are very emotional about them. We are all familiar with the degree of heat and emotion that crept into the so-called anti-abortion legislation when it was introduced into this House by private members not so long ago. But if one takes account of the fact that our young people in the community today are growing up with a far greater degree of honesty than perhaps people of my generation and of older generations had, one sees the reason for the lack of understanding by them of why these forms of discrimination are allowed to persist. Parliament should not just drag behind emerging public opinion like that, it should try to keep abreast of it and, indeed, lead it if it can.
The honourable member for Hotham mentioned the conservatism, if you like, of community attitudes, reflecting itself occasionally through politicians, on the contraceptive issue. This Government removed the sales tax on contraceptives, again recognising the importance of this subject. In case of the Australian Capital Territory, when I was Minister for the Capital Territory more than a year or so ago one of the first things that I managed to do was to remove the ban on the advertising of contraceptive services. The Government proudly took upon itself the right and the obligation, if necessary, to advertise the availability of contraceptive advice and contraceptive services in the Australian Capital Territory community. The Australian Capital Territory still leads Australia in that respect and we can all take some degree of pride in it. But the fact remains that one has to go much further. The difficulty is that although legislators like ourselves, can remove the form of the discrimination as it exists in the legislation and can even outlaw the discrimination in some cases or try to outlaw it, the community attitudes themselves are very difficult to erase. The role of the legislator in that case then becomes as much a role of educator as of legislator because, as long as he does not run away from the issues and as long as he does not bow down to the hysterical pressures that are sometimes mounted upon him, he can in fact lead public opinion and mould it, which could lead to the more just society we are all trying to achieve.
I will not take very much more time, but I am reminded of some facts that the honourable member for Hotham mentioned when he talked about 40 per cent of the unmarried mothers of today not adopting out their children but seeking to keep them. That, too, is a sign of emancipating times. I am reminded of a figure- I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but it is in my mind from some past piece of reading somewhere- to the effect that something like 60 per cent of all first children are conceived out of wedlock. I think that the changing community attitudes, which are changing slowly, are an honest recognition of that fact. The shotgun marriage, as it was referred to, is to be deplored. The easier forms, the more honest forms of divorce, will help to overcome that as the whole debate moves to a new and better plane.
– The amendment is not acceptable to me. It is not acceptable to me basically for 2 reasons: Firstly, because it is a reaction by the Government on the basis that there is a political intention and it wants to succeed on a political supremacy basis, which is not the right way in which to deal with a national purpose issue of this kind; and, secondly, because the amendment refers to the Australian Government’s decision to legislate and we have not seen the legislation, therefore we cannot support such a decision. Indeed -
– It is only a statement of principle.
-The statement of principle is there, that is, that this House is of the opinion that, as a matter of priority, legislation should be introduced.
– But then it goes on to state your principle. I have adopted your principle.
– That is right, that legislation should be introduced.
– It is your principle. I have not changed that.
– No, but what the Minister for Manufacturing Industry has done is seek to change the motion by having words inserted in it so as to pick up a political advantage of some kind.
– If you oppose it, you will be opposing your own principle.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has the call.
-The other thing is that the amendment seeks to remove from my motion the concept of priority.
– Indeed it does, yes.
-It seeks to remove priority totally. The proposition is not acceptable to me if it just seeks to support the decision on a Kathleen Mavourneen basis, whenever that might be. I want priority to be given to this matter. My whole purpose in moving this motion was to give leadership to the community on social attitudes, and to give leadership to the community on social attitudes requires priority to be given to legislative prescription, hopefully on a bipartisan basis. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry spoke about the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) had announced yesterday a decision taken by the Caucus on this matter in the morning. It so happens that neither I nor, 1 think, anybody else on this side of the House was made aware of it. It shows how important it is that this expression of opinion be carried by the House that that announcement apparently went totally unnoticed.
– It must have been the only thing happening in this House of which you were unaware.
– I have a fairly good intelligence system, I confess, but it so happens that I was unaware of that announcement being made yesterday. For the Minister’s information, I did go to Sydney yesterday and I had to come back to Canberra by car at night because of the airline strike, but before I left Canberra I gave instructions to my Private Secretary, Mr Goodfellow, to go ahead because I believed that I could persuade the honourable member for MacKellar, Mr Wentworth, to give me priority over his General Business items. The honourable gentleman succumbed to my charms in a motor car trip between Sydney and Canberra at about 3 a.m. this morning. I had asked the Opposition Whip, Mr Garland, to withdraw his notice of motion, which was No. 3, and to put mine in its place.
We get the opportunity only once every fortnight when the House is sitting to put forward these matters. The matter I chose to put forward two weeks ago was the establishment of a committee of the House on a totally non-political basis to look at the very serious problem of word blindness in children and the associated problems of dyslexia and the incapacity to absorb education even though the intellect is in advance of the level of education etc. It so happens that I gave that matter my attention a fortnight ago and left this matter until this occasion. I really do deprecate the suggestion of the Minister that I was in some way trying to impose our views before the Government’s views became known. That is nonsense. There is not a man on this side of the House- I hope that there is not one on the other side of the House- who does not regard the continuance of social attitudes towards exnuptial children in the fashion that they have existed up until now as being wrong. The Opposition will oppose the amendment, which seeks to substitute certain words in relation to the following part of my motion:
That this House . . . is of opinion that, as a matter of priority, legislation should be introduced . . .
The Minister for Manufacturing Industry wants some of those words eliminated and others substituted in their place so that the relevant part of the motion would read:
That this House . . . supports the Australian Government’s decision to legislate.
For goodness ‘ sake why does it have to be put in that political sense? Why does it have to be put in any political sense? Why do we on this side of the House, concerned as we are about this matter, have to pay some sort of obeisance to the pride of the Government because it thought of it first, which is a lot of nonsense because it did not? Let us get back to basic reality. What we want is a unanimous expression of opinion by this House- by every member of it. Those are the words which would give expression to that unanimity of opinion on this major national issue in the social field. I call upon the Minister to reconsider pursuing his amendment. 1 pay tribute warmly and generously to his efforts and to the efforts of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to get such legislation introduced. That is fine with me. But do not, for goodness’ sake, try to put this motion into terms in which the House is being asked to applaud the Government. We want the matter to be considered on a non-political basis. We want a unanimous expression of opinion on this matter by the House in the terms of my motion, which I will again read:
That this House-
1 ) expresses its belief that there should be no discrimination of any kind attached to an ex-nuptial child and that the word illegitimate which has been used to date to describe children born out of wedlock is totally inappropriate and should be removed from all Commonwealth legislation and from common usage, and
is of opinion that, as a matter of priority, legislation should be introduced to protect the rights of ex-nuptial children and, in particular, insofaras the Commonwealth Government is concerned, to remove the word illegitimate from all existing Commonwealth legislation and to amend existing Commonwealth legislation to ensure that ex-nuptial children have the right to participate in the same benefits and entitlements that any other child in the community is able to receive.
Please accept those words and do not fiddle around by trying to make it in some way party political.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has moved a certain motion today and the Government, as the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby) stated in his reply, gave effect to this legislation, administratively, a couple of days ago. The fact of the matter is, in blunt terms, that the Leader of the Opposition has been caught with his pants down. The apology he just made cuts no ice whatever because we are giving effect- this has already been decided by the Government- to the proposals which he outlined this morning. Now the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament will vote against the very proposal which he enunciated in the amendment which he read to the House. That being the position, Mr Speaker, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The original question was that the motion be agreed to, to which motion the Minister for Manufacturing Industry has moved as an amendment that certain words be omitted with a view to the substitution of other words. The question is:
That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the time for the discussion of notices, General Business, be extended until 12.4S p.m.
-Mr Speaker, may I have your indulgence for 30 seconds?
-The honourable gentleman can speak to this motion. He does not have to seek my indulgence.
– I will not abuse the situation; I will stick to 30 seconds. While regretting the 2 phases of the amendment, namely, that the priority has gone out of the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), and, secondly, the false eulogy that the Government has introduced, praising the Australian Government, and because the Opposition believes that this is such an important social issue and that there should be unanimity in this House on the issue, the Opposition will vote for the motion as amended.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-The question now is: ‘That the motion, as amended, be agreed to’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
-Order! Would the honourable member like to stand or sit ?
– I think I will keep my seat. I move:
Sir, I know you will realise that this is a substantial motion which has procedural implications because what might otherwise be improper and unparliamentary to say about the veracity of Ministers in debate, becomes proper now in regard to this substantial motion.
Referring to this procedural matter, I remember a debate which took place in this House on 31 October 1967 when the House was considering the untrue and misleading information given allegedly by Ministers, and this kind of expression was procedurally permitted. But that motion was moved in 1 967 on what I believe to have been trivial and fallacious premises- and the instances which I shall give in relation to this Government will be both substantiated and substantial. In speaking to that motion in 1967 the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) put forward a principle which I believe to be true. I want to read from what he said in that debate. It was a debate questioning the veracity of Ministers. The honourable gentleman said:
This is as serious a motion as could be moved in any legislature. It goes to the basis of responsible government. If Parliament cannot rely on the veracity and credibility of information which it seeks from the Government and which the Government gives, the whole fabric of parliamentary democracy and of responsible government is destroyed.
This principle was properly enunciated. Whatever one may have thought about the debate which took place at that time this principle stands. I accept the present Prime minister’s enunciation of that principle.
My motion is concerned with not just Ministers being evasive in this House, although there is a question of continued evasiveness which might almost amount to a deliberate attempt to mislead; but rather I refer to things which are said here by Ministers which are untrue, and which I believe must have been known to be untrue by the people who said them. I want to try to put this in perspective. There is perhaps nothing very new in what I am bringing up. What I am bringing up is the nature of the consistent lying which is taking place in this House and to the country by Ministers and by the Prime Minister. I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not here because I did advise him today that I intended to mention him in the debate. I hoped that he would be here if he felt fit. to defend himself from what I am going to say. I do’ not speak only of the Prime Minister, although time perhaps will constrain me from giving the full catalogue of mendacity which characterises the actions of this Government.
I want to talk specifically about 6 matters which have arisen. There is, first of all, the breaking of pairs in the Senate; secondly, the lies which were told about the date on which Senator Gair’s resignation was effective; thirdly, the Prime Minister’s statement in this House about the insignificance of communist penetration into the trade unions when he must have known that he was saying something which was untrue and that he was saying it with a deliberate intent to mislead the House and the country; fourthly, only a few days ago his denial of his own statements about the Government’s tariff policy, in relation to which he was proved to be wrong by the existence of a tape recording; fifthly, the major matter of deceiving not only the House but also attempting to deceive the country by the false things he said, knowing them to be false, in the election campaign of May; and sixthly- it is a small matter- the little meanness of an attack the Prime Minister made on some academics knowing that what he said was untrue. This is not a full catalogue of mendacity. It is not possible for me in the short time available to catalogue all of the things, which have been said in this House and outside in the media by Ministers, which were untrue and which they knew to be untrue when they uttered them.
Let me go to the first matter relating to pairs in the Senate. It is important that the arrangements made between Leaders in the House and by members in the House should be honoured. In looking at the report of the Senate debate I find that on 10 May 1973 the Labor Party broke a firm arrangement about pairs in order to win a vote. Senator Murphy defended himself not by denying the breaking of the pairs arrangement but by saying that he was excused in breaking the arrangement because:
What has happened is that the convention or the tradition that the Government should have an effective majority on committees has been broken.
He defended himself by simply saying -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. The motion before the Chair states:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is essential, having regard to experiences over the past 2 years, that the Ministers should be truthful in their statements both in this House and in the public media.
What precisely does the question of pairs in the Senate have to do with this motion?
– I am speaking of the truthfulness of the Minister.
-In regard to the point of order I suggest that the honourable member keep to the substantive question involved in his motion.
– I am speaking of the truthfulness of a Minister. If honourable members opposite do not want to discuss it and want to avoid the question, who am I to press it? There are plenty of other things that I can say. I now come to the disgraceful circumstances arising from the resignation of Senator Gair from the Senate.
- Senator who?
-I refer to the resignation of Senator Gair from the Senate. The date of the resignation is crucially important. There was an arrangement cooked up by the Government. It was meant to be kept secret. The resignation was not effective. When the Premier of Queensland foreclosed on the Government’s plot to try to gain control of the Senate by manipulating the resignation of Senator Gair, the Prime Minister said in this House on 4 April 1974 as reported at page 999 of Hansard- he knew this to be false- that Senator G air’s resignation had: been effective at an earlier date. He went on to say:
I was under no impression that his resignation from the Senate was required. I was under the impression that under the Constitution his seat had been vacated.
This is the Government which, knowing that the arrangement had been made, had allowed Senator Gair, its pawn, to vote in the Senate as a senator knowing that he had accepted a post but thinking quite correctly at that time that this did not yet imply his resignation from the Senate. This was a lie put across the country by the Prime Minister and Senator Murphy. It is a direct lie. There is no doubt about it whatsoever. I put that situation to the House and ask it to consider the question of the veracity of a government which, in a matter of major policy of this character, can behave in such a manner.
I then come to the statement which the Prime Minister made in the House on 19 September of this year in answer to a question by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony). I quote exactly the words that the Prime Minister used in replying to that question:
The communist parties- there are about 3 in Australia at the moment- have never been so politically insignificant and we believe that the trade union movement has never been in better hands.
Mr Anthony’s question related to communist influence in trade unions. There is no question that the Prime Minister knew of that influence. When he spoke as he did, he was lying to the House. It is inconceivable that he did not know that it was a lie. It is inconceivable that this man did not know that he was lying to the House when he said that. Subsequently, I and the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) read into Hansard lists of names of open communists in key positions in key unions. The unions included the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union of Australia and the maritime unions. The Prime Minister has made no withdrawal of his statement.
Whether the communists are in control of the unions is a matter of grave political consequence. The Prime Minister has said something in the House which is false. I believe he knew that it was false when he said it. There is every reason to believe that he was lying. But even if he was not lying, why has he made no retraction of that statement when the evidence to the contrary is here now in Hansard? We have this question of the Prime Minister misleading the House, of saying something which was untrue. He must have known it was untrue when he said it. Still, when the evidence to the contrary comes out, there is no retraction from him. The false statement is let lie in this House. I think that this is evidence of the kind of Prime Minister that we have and the kind of morality which informs the policies of the present Government.
I now come to something that happened in this House only a few days ago. On 13 November 1974 I asked this question in regard to tariff slashing:
Does the Prime Minister recall on 24 September the taped ‘AM’ broadcast … in which he supported the concept that tariff slashing was to be commended even though it meant a certain amount of unemployment and characterised as ‘nervous Nellies’ those people who were frightened of a certain amount of unemployment?
The Prime Minister said that ‘I did not accurately represent anything that he had said’. He denied his own statement. Apparently, he believed that that denial could stand because there was no evidence to the contrary. But there is evidence to the contrary. There is a tape recording of the Prime Minister’s voice which shows what he himself said. That tape recording is in the library and it stands to convict the Prime Minister of having said something in the Parliament which is false. It may be that in this case the Prime Minister did not he. It may be just that he misremembered what he had said. It may be that there was some kind of Freudian slip. Because of his guilt in this major matter- tariffs and unemployment are major matters- through some kind of Freudian process it may have been repressed in his memory. If that is so, why has he not yet come clean and made amends to this House by means of a proper apology? The fact that he has said nothing almost seems to argue his guilt in this instance.
The next case I cite involves something which is clearly on the record. It involves an attempt to deceive not just this House but the whole of the Australian electorate. This Government is illegitimate. It has been conceived in sin because it has been elected on a completely false pretence. This illegitimate Government cajoled the electorate. Every honourable member opposite knows that he sits in government by fraud. It is a fraudulent Government. Honourable members opposite cajoled the electorate on the 3 promises that they made. They stated that they were going to cure inflation and get interest rates down and that there would be no unemployment. These statements were made by the then Prime Minister having access to all the confidential records and knowing that when he said these things to the electorate they were untrue. It was not just a mistake. If the Prime Minister had been a person who did not have access to the records then perhaps it could be said that it was a mistake. But for a man with access to all the confidential records of the Government and knowing the economic situation from the inside to have said these things which were so patently untrue could scarcely have been a mistake. The Government that occupies the Treasury benches is in power because of a fraud put over the Australian people.
Let me leave the so-called ‘whoppers’ that relate to important issues and let me turn to a little bit of meanness on the part of the Prime Minister. When he was trying to get the referendum proposals through, certain professors wrote a letter which derided the Government’s case. In Perth the Prime Minister said- his remarks were recorded verbatim by Miss Sutherland of the Australian Broadcasting Commission- that the professors were ‘second or third raters’. He said this of the leading economists in Australia. They were also the advisers which the Government had chosen for some of its own policies. I do not have time to read out all the names but I say that this was a mean little slur, an academic slur, by the Prime Minister. He must have known that what he said was untrue. Just before the referendum he lied to the people for the purpose of getting the referendum through. He failed.
As I have said, these instances are only a few small pages from the catalogue of mendacity. I conclude by referring to a remark made in 1967 by the present Leader of the House (Mr Daly). During the debate of 31 October 1967, to which I referred at the outset, he said that even if the motion on ministerial veracity were not carried, the Government should resign. His words are recorded in Hansard and I quote them. He said: ‘It is not the vote of the House that matters, it is the fact of lying ‘. A government that is based on lies, that owes its existence to lies and that has lied in this House is not worthy, and the Minister knows it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-I second the motion and I seek to speak to it now. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in his usual dispassionate and objective manner has given impeccable evidence as to 6 deliberate untruths. Those untruths are quite clear and need to be reiterated once again for what they involve. As is his wont, the honourable member for Mackellar has concentrated his remarks on the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). He has established a clear case that members of this Parliament and people outside it have been deliberately misled. Those cases involve one in the Senate- the manner of the Senator Gair episode- the matter of communist penetration within the union movement and the famous ‘nervous Nellies’ comment concerning tariff policy which has been shown to be a lie. The evidence for that is quite clearly on tape. The honourable member mentioned also a series of untruths and deliberate untruths that was manifested and propogated during the election campaign and the very unnecessary and cruel denigration of a number of Australia’s leading academics and economists during the referendum campaign last year. I understand that the latter statement was made in Adelaide. It was unnecessary, it was unfair and it was cruel. It was an attempted slur on the reputation of men who have demonstrated their considerable intellectual capacity. They, of course, exposed the falsity of the referendum campaign last year in relation to prices and incomes, and for that they had to pay the price.
The honourable member for Mackellar has taken as his motto the truth of the situations which the Prime Minister has sought to ignore. He has had a slavish attachment to those propositions and in maintaining this slavish attachment to them, he has indicated that there are 6 instances in which truth and honesty have been ignored. I believe that that is well recognised by the people of Australia. I go a little bit further and deal with statements made by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) and an unfortunate statement made by the Treasurer (Mr Crean), for whom nobody on this side of the House has any ill will whatsoever. I would also like to deal with a series of misrepresentations which cannot be put out of time, which deserve not to be misunderstood and which were made by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson). The most serious undertaking any government can make and the most solemn pledge any government can make relate to employment. It is the longest existing guarantee that any government can make, and that guarantee which has been made by the Government, by Ministers with particular executive responsibilities and by members of the Australian Labor Party is the pledge to find work in Australia for those who want to work. It is a guarantee which was made, when the present Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) was a member of this House, on behalf of John Curtin and with the knowledge of the late Ben Chifley when he was Treasurer of this country. It was a solemn pledge to maintain full employment That pledge has been broken. Did the Prime Minister indicate during the last election campaign the kind of Australia which he was seeking to bring in? One has to go back to the cartoons of the 1930s.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER Order! I would remind the honourable member for Lilley that the terms of the motion before the House deal with the veracity of statements made by Ministers both in the House and in the public media. While that motion is fairly tight, it is also loose in another way. The honourable member should stick to the terms of the motion.
-Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker but you will realise that the motion moved by the honourable member for Mackellar contains the words ‘should be truthful in thenstatements both in this House and in the public media’. Both circumstances are involved and from time to time I might shift from one to the other, as I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would acknowledge. Unemployment falls into that category. Let me indicate the untruths in the most important and solemn statement made by the Prime Minister at Terrigal on 5 May 1973 at a function which I had been privileged to attend. He said:
Governments and their authorities must follow responsible policies in pricing and employment conditions. This is the context into which prices and incomes policies have to be fitted.
He had to follow up that statement with a clear statement on inflation and unemployment at the end of the speech made to the Industrial Relations Society. He said:
No solution is acceptable if its burdens are not shared fairly by the whole community. No solution is acceptable if it discriminates against the weakest and the most defenceless sections of society. No solution is acceptable if it tolerates high levels of unemployment.
They were brave words said in May 1973. The Prime Minister having made that pledge, having made that statement and having had it believed, there has been caused within this country the steepest slide into unemployment ever recorded. There has been a clear repudiation of that statement. Were we ever told that the type of Australia which we were to expect in the 1970s was to be a reversion to the 1930s? Who could fail to remember the cartoons in the newspapers of Australia, such as the ‘Bulletin’ in the 1930s. One cartoon depicted a breadwinner seeking employment but unable to find it. He had a family to support and he knocked on doors asking the lady of the home in any street in Australia whether they had any work for him. They said that he could chop wood in the back yard. That is the type of Australia that is being built in the 1970s.
– What a lot of rubbish.
– I rise to take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Blaxland is not in his seat.
– I would suggest that the honourable member give consideration to the rules governing points of order.
– The evident truth of these statements has catalysed some people out of their sleep. Those statements are quite clear and those conditions are being experienced today.
Bread winners have had denied to them the promise made during the last election campaign and the election campaign before that concerning employment and employment opportunities. One can refer to a series of these statements. Let me deal with one other which I think is quite important. In November last year the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) as he then was made the following statement which was reported throughout Australia:
We intend to get interest rates back to a tolerable level as soon as possible- 1 hope within 6 months. We are a low interest Government.
The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) is in paroxysms of laughter at that proposition. That may have been an incorrect policy statement made in the heat of the moment in November 1973. He may have miscalculated as to policy. But there was a repeat of that proposition, that promise, in April and in May of this year leading up to an election campaign. The promise was repeated that interest rates would be reduced and that they would be substantially reduced again within 6 months.
– Who said that?
– The present Minister for Housing and Construction. He is a victim of circumstance but there it is- a repetition of a promise which he knew could not be kept, which had not been kept from November 1973 and which was not going to be kept in the months subsequent to April and May 1974. It might be said: ‘Well, there is a misunderstanding as to the consequences of that policy’. There was no misunderstanding as to the consequences of the statement last year. There was certainly none in April and May this year. We are now at the end of 1974, almost a year after the first promise made by a Minister with executive responsibility, in the media in Australia and in this House. Is that the type of Australia that was promised to the people in the election campaigns in 1972 and 1974? There is no mention of that type of Australia. While these statements involve policy matters, they are nevertheless as precise and as clear untruths as the six which have been nominated in some detail by the honourable member for Mackellar. I come to the final one -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The terms of the motion deal with untruths that have been spoken either in the House or outside the House. The honourable member is fabricating a case based on policy statements made by Ministers in which they said that such and such would be the case, if possible, in the light of economic circumstances.
Order! The honourable member has made his point.
– It is far away from -
– May I just make my point?
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
– Order! If the honourable member wants me to rule on the point of order I suggest that he keep quiet while I do so. The motion is broadly couched and I think it allows fairly broad debate. I call the honourable member for Lilley.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. If it were to be contended that statments are not required to be true if they are policy statements from Ministers, where do we go? If policy statements from Ministers are to be judged true or untrue only when they are said in this House and not outside when they are quoted, where are we? What does executive responsibility mean? What does executive truth mean? In terms of the open society, people require Ministers to be quoted verbatim. The situation of many Australians depends upon the precise understanding given to terms. The honourable member for Blaxland who is trying to interject again has apparently awakened from his sleep but he will have to raise his voice if he wishes to be heard. In the original comment that he made in 1967, the then Leader of the Opposition made it quite clear that these matters are as serious as any legislature can consider. They strike and they lie at the heart of what responsible government is supposed to mean in any country. People rely upon statements of accuracy and statements of truth made by Ministers. They must rely upon them in any democratic community. The fabric of government is and must be concerned with these matters. There is not an innocent misunderstanding.
I refer to a statement by the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) who said: ‘We believe in a full employment society’, while at the same time he was deliberately driving Australians into an unemployed society. The statement was made by the Government that it is interested in the individuality of people, and their ability to express themselves and to make their own way in life. People who are unemployed are unable to do that. For that reason precisely, I return to the most important pledge which was made and which has been re-affirmed by the Government. It is the pledge to find full employment for those who want to work. This is the umbrella standing over all other policies. It is an obligation accepted by governments in relation to activities in a nation. I have brought forward several matters. The six brought forward originally by the honourable member for Mackellar were presented by him with his own precise details, in a clear manner and in as objective and as truthful a manner as it would be possible to present any evidence in this House. We ask only that his statements, his charges and his indication of the breaking of guarantees be looked at, that they be answered by the Government and that they be answered, above all; in the truthful and objective manner that was a characteristic of his presentation.
– I completely dismiss the last speech which was made only to stonewall and to prevent me replying to the allegations made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in his usual manner and in a speech which has been repeated again and again. I could not help thinking how right the President of the Liberal Party was when he said in Victoria that there are some veterans in the Liberal Party who have outworn their usefulness here. He must have been listening to the honourable member for Mackellar. The honourable member has 3 phobias- Labor, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Communist Party, in that order. Now he has added ex-Senator Gair. It was not always that way. Were not ex-Senator Gair and the honourable member the darlings together in the anti-communist cause? Remember how the honourable member would stand and praise the former senator? Now. suddenly he has deserted his friend, the former senator, who has been elevated to a high and distinguished office which we thought the Liberals would appreciate. But this is the changing pattern of the honourable member for Mackellar.
I have been left with only about 7 minutes in which to reply to the dirt, filth and lies that they have heaped on this Ministry. I will reply in pretty quick time. We will see what can be done in that time. Let me tell honourable members opposite that the Ministers of this Government are truthful and factual. They believe in open government. They put it into practice. They report directly and frequently to the Parliament. Here I have an index to the papers presented to the Parliament in the 1974 session of the 29th Parliament. The document covers 52 pages and sets out the names of reports and factual presentations of Government business by Ministers of this Government.
Printed in another document which I now show to the House, set out on 32 pages, are the actions and achievements of the first 12 months of the Whitlam Government. The Opposition refused the Prime Minister last year the right to incorporate that statement in Hansard. Included in that document are some of the greatest achievements, most forthright statements and demonstration of open government ever initiated or made in this country. Why have honourable members opposite tried to destroy the Prime Minister? They know that he is a statesman. They are afraid of him. They know also that he is forthright, capable and lucid. He has achievment and performance. They know that they have no one to match him in truthfulness, integrity or standing with the people of this country.
The Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) is acknowledged at home and abroad by industry and supporters of the Government as brilliant, capable, honest and outstanding. Members of the Opposition know that his presentation of papers is outstanding in the Parliament. These allegations of lies were misrepresentations by the Opposition, as the honourable member for Blaxland said. They were half truths, smear and innuendo under the privilege of Parliament, trying to break down men who with great integrity are leading this Government.
I could run right through the Ministry. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has given outstanding and truthful statements to this Parliament. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) also has given knowledge and understanding that the Opposition never realised was possible. The Opposition tried to destroy the integrity of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). He completely answered the charge and is now acclaimed at home and abroad not only as a most outstanding man in his capacity as Minister but also as truthful, honest and forthright in presenting to the people the things that really matter.
I would need an hour to state the situation. Take the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron), an outstanding orator with great knowledge of industrial relations, forthright with unions and employers, who in every way gives an inspiring example of what should be done by Ministers of integrity and honesty. I have not time to read an Australian Country Party survey conducted by W. D. Scott and Company. It is a survey of how Country Party voters and potential Country Party voters view the Party and national issues. Somebody who was interviewed in Dalby in Queensland said that Whitlam overshadows all the rest and that he had grown in the public’s estimation. That was said by a Country Party supporter. However, my time is limited and I now wish formally to move the following motion to give the lie to all those opposite. I move:
The words of that motion answer the unsubstantiated charges of those opposite. I formally move:
That the question be now put. (Opposition members interjecting)-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I warn honourable members that if they do not resume their seats I will name them. The Minister cannot move that the question be put until I propose the question that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, before you propose that question -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The original question was that the motion be agreed to. To this motion the Minister for Services and Property has proposed that all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting other words in place thereof. The question now is: That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question. (Opposition members rising.)
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– On a point of order -
– I must put the question.
– I stood before the Minister did. You looked at me and gave the Minister the call.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I suggest that he study the Standing Orders. The motion that the question be put may be moved at any time whether or not an honourable member is on his feet.
– Do the Standing Orders not also provide that an honourable member may rise on a point of order?
– The honourable member will be recorded as rising. You did not mention anything of the point of order. You did not have the call. You rose but you did not have the call. The motion was moved before anyone had the call.
– For 10 seconds, with your indulgence the very point of my rising is that -
-Order! The question is that the question be now put. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– My point, Mr Deputy Speaker, is that you cannot accept the amendment. How can you put the question if I am rising on a point of order?
-Order! There is no point of order. The amendment was moved by the Minister. I ruled out of order the first motion that the question be now put-
– But I am suggesting it is out of order. I am suggesting that you cannot accept the amendment. Surely I have that right to put a proposition to you that you cannot accept the amendment.
– You have no point of order. If the honourable gentleman will sit down I may be able to explain the situation to him. The Minister, before he resumed his seat, moved that the question be now put. I ruled that motion out of order on the ground that the original question had not been put by the Chair. I put the question from the chair as I am required to do before I can call any other speaker. You rose and a couple of other honourable members rose. No one was called. The Minister immediately moved that the question be now put. I now put that question.
– You did not call me.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member read Hansard tomorrow. It will show that honourable members were rising.
– By the indulgence of the House, sir -
-Order! The honourable member may not speak with the indulgence of the House. The question is: That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Daly’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
The major purposes of this Bill are to provide a program of financial assistance for seven nongovernment teachers colleges for 1974 and 1975, and to provide for variations in both capital and recurrent costs for all colleges of advanced education which were not allowed for when the programs for the 1973-75 triennium were adopted. In 1973 the Government amended the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act to give effect to the decision that former State government teachers colleges as they moved towards autonomy would be funded by the Australian Government as colleges of advanced education. Consistent with the policy that these teachers colleges should be so funded, the Commission on Advanced Education was asked to report on the assistance to be provided for approved nongovernment teachers colleges. The Commission’s report was tabled on 17 July 1974. The recommendations have been accepted by the Government and this Bill gives legislative effect to this decision which involves a commitment of up to $6,543,820 in the years 1974 and 1975. This undertaking of the Prime Minister has been met this year with the extension of student allowances and recurrent funds in the nongovernment teacher education area.
In accordance with the Government’s decision of 23 August 1974 the Bill also provides funds for recurrent expenditure of up to $230,000 for the establishment of recreation leadership courses at colleges of advanced education. The Bill also seeks the transfer of $lm of capital funds from section 10 to section 9 of the principal Act. This allows for additional funds to be provided for student residences and affiliated colleges in country areas, and better reflects the demand made for funds under these sections. It is a growing concern of the Government to adapt tertiary education and technical and further education to the needs of country people and to do this the cost of residential accommodation must increasingly be met. This is a first step. The Government intends to propose amendments to the principal Act during each Budget session to take account of variations in costs. The indices used by the Universities Commission will also be used by the Commission on Advanced Education to calculate cost variations for the college system.
Honourable members will recall that this Government has provided assistance for courses in dental therapy at the Western Australian Institute of Technology, social work at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, social work and physical education at the Preston Institute of Technology and physical education at the Footscray Institute of Technology in Victoria. Grants have also been provided for courses in special education and for the preparation of preschool teachers. The Bill provides for variations in these specified grants to allow for increases in costs. Additional grants to cover increases in running costs are also provided for student residences and affiliated colleges. In accordance with established government policy, following the national wage case decision of May 1974 adjustments have been made to salaries payable to academic staff at colleges of advanced education. Amounts to cover these increases have been provided in this Bill. This amendment provides an additional $47m in the 1 973-75 triennium for colleges of advanced education and non-government teachers colleges. I wish the Bill a speedy passage through the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Bill 1974 is to provide funds for post-school technical and further education in the States in accordance with the general program of development recommended by the Committee on Technical and Further Education. The Committee was established under the chairmanship of Mr Myer Kangan, in April 1973, to advise on the development of technical and further education and to make recommendations on the financial assistance to be provided to government institutions providing technical and further education. The Committee reported to the Government in April 1974 and its report was immediately tabled.
The Prime Minister in his policy speech earlier this year referred to the Committee’s report. He stated that ‘we are determined that technical education shall cease to be the Cinderella of Australian education’. He went on to say that the reports which the Government had commissioned will provide an effective and expert basis for bold new initiatives to allow technical skills to find their proper and honoured place in a changing society. The Bill which I am introducing is an expression of our determination to give technical education that place. The Government has endorsed the approach adopted in the Kangan report of a national program to upgrade technical and further education, with the Australian Government providing funds additional to a maintained effort by the States. We do not wish to see technical and further education defined in any narrow way, related only to skills required by industry. The definition of technical and further education in the Bill covers the broad range of post-school education, including courses which have a vocational bias in order to meet occupational requirements and also courses which are not necessarily vocational but are designed to meet community needs. The Bill is therefore aimed at meeting national needs for an adequately educated and skilled workforce as well as providing continuing education for the adult population.
The scope and status of non-government institutions in the technical and further education field are so diverse that a good deal of consideration needs to be given to the nature of the assistance they might receive. The needs of these institutions, of which two of the more widely known are the Workers Educational Association and the Victorian Council of Adult Education, are, with one exception, not being taken into account by the Bill. The question of support for them will be the subject of a report by the proposed Technical and Further Education Commission and submissions from voluntary bodies not operated for profit have already been sought.
There is one non-government institution which for special reasons is deemed by the Bill to be a government instrumentality so that it may continue to receive grants to offset the student fees which the Government has undertaken to meet. This institution is the College of Nursing, Australia. The college, a private organisation, provides some sub-tertiary courses in nursing practice and administration as well as tertiary courses. Both of these groups of courses have been receiving fees reimbursement grants and the tertiary courses are continuing to do so under arrangements for colleges of advanced education. So that the sub-tertiary courses can continue to receive reimbursement grants, the college is being treated as a State instrumentality and we will arrange with the States for part of the recurrent grants they receive to be paid to the college.
The report of the Committee on Technical and Further Education recommended that grants totalling nearly $ 105m be provided to the States over the 18-month period 1 July 1974 to 31 December 1975. The total appropriation under the Bill is $89m spread over the 2-year period 1 July 1974 to 30 June 1976. A further $7.2m, appropriated under previous technical training legislation and unspent at 30 June last, is also available for expenditure. Together with the $3.5m to be available to the Australian Capital Territory and $250,000 provided for research, the total amount which we have set aside for technical and further education over the 2 years is $100m. This sum does not take account of a further $ 18.8m which has been calculated as necessary for additional fees reimbursement. I shall refer to this point later.
If a single justification were needed for the level of expenditure we propose, it is given by the fact that the 1971 census recorded that some 67 per cent of men and some 80 per cent of women in the workforce claimed no formally recognised post-school qualification of any kind. While the provision of grants for training within industry, which is the province of my colleague the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron), was excluded from the Kangan Committee’s terms of reference, it will be recognised that the program we are putting forward will be of some consequence in providing the buildings, the equipment and the trained staff to cater for those people who undertake courses of training or re-training at technical colleges under the national employment and training scheme.
While our proposed contribution to technical and further education is considerable, I would like to acknowledge the concern which has been expressed by the States regarding the adequacy of the provision for general recurrent grants within the total sums. The States refer to their loss of revenue resulting from the abolition of student fees, the increased enrolment in their technical colleges and the higher running costs. The Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education has given me its advice on this matter and I expect to be able to make a statement shortly. With the concurrence of honourable members, I shall have incorporated in Hansard a table summarising the various grants to the States which are to be appropriated, as set out in the Schedules to the Bill.
-Is leave granted?
-Leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– I thank the House and the honourable member for Moreton. The Bill sets out the purposes for which the funds appropriated under various headings, as shown in the Schedules, may be applied and the conditions to be attached to the grants. The approach adopted in the Bill is that general purpose recurrent grants are payable to the States as a matter of course, while grants for particular recurrent purposes and for capital purposes may be authorised by the Minister up to the limits of the appropriation and the particular programs or projects must be approved by the Minister. The recipients of the grants are required to account to the Minister for their use and to provide him with information on which he can report annually to the Parliament on the progress made under the program. The Minister is empowered to obtain statistical and other information on which the improvement in quality resulting from the grants can be gauged.
While the Bill provides for particular amounts to be available to each State for particular purposes, as recommended by the Kangan report, it permits some flexibility in their use. Where a State is unable to make use of all of the capital funds available to it, the surplus may be transferred, by regulation, to another State. Particular purpose recurrent grants to a State may be used for general recurrent purposes and tied recurrent grants, contained in Schedules 4, 5 and 6 of the Bill, which are unused in 1974-75 may be used in 1975-76.
The States will be expected to continue their own support for technical education. The report of the Committee proposes a precise formula to guarantee the maintenance of the previous level of State expenditure on technical education as a proportion of total expenditure. We consider this suggestion to be too restrictive. Instead, I propose that there be a degree of flexibility and I intend to take up with the States satisfactory arrangements for the maintenance of State effort along the lines of those developed for the Schools Commission grants. It is to be understood that courses which are funded under other programs of assistance by the Government will not be eligible for grants under this legislation.
I would like to mention in the context of this Bill, although the thought applies more widely, that we see considerable economies being effected if what are basically educational buildings are so designed that they are suitable for other uses. In approving major capital projects under this program, I would see it appropriate for discussions to be held with the States on the multi-purpose use of buildings in the interests of ensuring the integration of community and educational needs.
I turn now to the individual grants which are being provided by the Bill. In all, the Bill appropriates $89,018,000, the bulk of which is allocated among the States broadly to reflect their student populations and their needs. General building grants of $25. 85m are to be provided under section 6 of the Bill. These grants may be used for the preparation of development plans for technical colleges and similar institutions, for the purchase of land and for the construction and initial furnishing and equipping of the buildings. The grants of $ 15.087m for minor works and equipment which the Bill provides for should do much to ensure an improvement in the facilities available at existing colleges. Minor works are denned by the Bill as those which cost up to $40,000.
The Bill appropriates $4m for the construction of student residential accommodation for existing colleges. Accommodation at new colleges may be provided from the general building grants. I regard the provision of residential accommodation for technical college students as a most important and desirable feature of the legislation. Assistance for student accommodation has long been a recognised feature of our grants to universities but here, for the first time, we intend to provide accommodation for technical college students. These student residentials will facilitate the development of block release training, both for apprentices and for students taking other courses. Reasonably priced residential accommodation is essential for country students who need to attend colleges full time for at least part of their courses. The States will be invited to submit proposals for the residential projects at their existing colleges.
Parliament is being asked to make the first grants by an Australian Government towards the recurrent expenditure of technical institutions in the States. Previous grants to the States for technical training were specifically for the construction and equipping of training colleges and other institutions. The Bill appropriates $29.8 lm for general purpose grants, which the States may spend on technical and further education as they see fit. Included in the general purpose grant of $29.8 lm is a component to compensate the States for the abolition of fees at technical colleges. The Committee’s report recommends that a formula be developed for the provision of grants after December 1975 to cover loss of income resulting from fee abolition. We have not accepted the recommendation in this form. However, the States’ needs and resources will be taken into account in recommending future grants, without making a notional separation of the amount which they would have received as fees had fees not been abolished.
Additional to the amounts provided for general purpose grants, the sum of $9.81 m is to be available to the States for expenditure in the areas listed in clause 14 of the Bill. These areas include curriculum research and development, improvement of library services and the provision of external study facilities and student counselling services. The States will be expected to submit general programs of their proposed expenditure in these areas in order to be eligible for payments from the $9.8 lm. Each State will need flexibility in allocating the amount available to it to suit its particular needs and the amounts and proportions which the report suggests should be used for particular purposes, are to serve only as a guideline.
It is my personal hope that the States will be generous in allocating amounts to that purpose in clause 14 which is concerned with the provision of staff to promote safety, health and welfare in individual colleges. I think it is right to place a high priority on expenditure in these areas.
Again as recommended by the report, the Bill provides recurrent expenditure grants for some specific purposes. The amounts are earmarked for the purposes designated because of the importance which the Committee places on stimulating qualitative improvement through initiating a range of innovative measures. Accordingly, the States will be expected to submit specific projects for approval. The purposes to which the grants may be put, referred to in clauses 17, 19 and 21 of the Bill, are: $2.4m for in-service teaching staff development; $805,000 in total for the provision of library furnishings, the training of library technicians and the investigation of the feasibility of a bibliographic centre; $lm for furthering the concept of unrestricted access to recurrent education; $56,000 for the development of proposals for community colleges; and $200,000 for the design of model library resource centres.
The Bill does not allocate among the States the last 2 items I have mentioned. The $56,000 is to be available for distribution among those States which wish to develop proposals for community colleges. I have no firm definition of what a community college should be because I would expect them to vary in nature and scope to meet particular community needs. Broadly, their purpose is to provide a wide range of courses, which could include courses enabling adults to make good deficiencies in their primary and secondary schooling and courses at diploma level which are demanded by the community. Those colleges would be particularly valuable in locations removed from large metropolitan centres, opening new horizons to people cut off from the mainstreams of educational opportunities, assisting them to transfer from one type of course to another and encouraging the kind of broad based education which widens job prospects. The Darwin Community College is an example of what can be achieved in this area.
The $200,000 provided for the design of model library resource centres is also to be available to States which intend to develop these centres. States wishing to share in the funds for the development of community colleges and library resource centres will need to submit firm proposals. The total of the recurrent expenditure grants to the States is $44,081,000 over the 2 year period. I think it will be agreed that this amount will have a great influence on the number and quality of the teaching and ancillary staff at technical institutions.
The Bill before us is a States Grants Bill and as such it makes no provision for expenditure in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The broad principles of the Committee’s report which the Government has accepted are to apply in these Territories as well as in the States and provision is being made elsewhere for expenditure in the Territories.
In its examination of the barriers preventing ready access to technical and further education, the Committee refers to the special problems faced by people in rural areas, by women and girls, and by handicapped persons and migrants. Special consideration must be given to these groups when plans for the expenditure of the funds we are providing are being drawn up. I shall be asking the States to ensure that the needs of these groups are taken into account by the various education authorities.
The pressure of Parliamentary business during this Budget session has been very great and for this reason alone we have decided to delay the introduction of legislation to establish the Technical and Further Education Commission as a statutory body. Obviously, the most important task is to get the money flowing into the technical colleges and to this end we have given priority to this Bill. I would like to make it clear that the work which will be undertaken by the Commission is being effectively carried out by the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education under the chairmanship of Professor Richardson of Macquarie University. I express my appreciation to him and to his Committee.
We live in a world of rapid technological change- change that is brought about by informed, creative people. Resistance to change and fear of change are natural attitudes when people cannot see the effects of change on themselves. We endorse the approach of the Kangan Committee that technical and further education should develop the general education of individuals as well as providing them with specialised training. In this way, people will become confident of meeting change because the breadth of their education fits them for alternative employment. I wish the Bill a speedy passage through the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bryant and read a first time.
– I move:
This BUI is the second in a series of four which the Government will bring down in order to ensure that Aboriginal communities will be able to obtain land and, among other things, develop the economic potential of that land as they wish. The first measure in this series is the Aboriginal Loans Commission Bill which has been introduced into this House after passage through the Senate last week. It establishes the Aboriginal Enterprises Fund and the Aboriginal Housing and Personal Loans Fund.
The Aboriginal Land Fund Bill, the second major piece of legislation in this series, will establish an Aboriginal Land Fund and formalise arrangements the Government has made since coming into office to provide land for Aboriginal communities. Where appropriate and desired by them, the communities will be able to develop the land with loan assistance from the Aboriginal Enterprises Fund, as well as with grants.
The third measure will be a Bill to provide for the incorporation of Aboriginal councils and associations. This will simplify and adapt incorporation requirements to make it easier for groups and communities to set up legal entities which can receive and use grants and other funds from Australian Government and other sources and can act corporately for a variety of purposes.
The fourth measure, the Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Bill, will vest reserve and certain other lands in the Northern Territory in Aboriginal trusts and will establish an Aboriginal Land Commission.
Honourable members will be aware that the Labor Government recognises Aboriginal rights in land, and moved early in 1 973 to set up an Aboriginal Land Rights Commission to inquire into and report on appropriate means to recognise and establish Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory in the first instance. Mr Justice A. E. Woodward presented his second report in May of this year, and the Government accepted its recommendations in principle. In addition to recommending that Aboriginal reserves and certain other lands in the Northern Territory should be vested in Aborigines, and that machinery should be set up to enable Aboriginal claims to other lands to be considered, the report recommended that a fund or funds should be set up from which additional lands could be purchased for Aborigines.
Lands purchased with these funds should include pastoral leases or substantial parts of such leases for social purposes, as economic ventures or as both, and land in town for residential and camping purposes. Mr Justice Woodward suggested that such funds should be seen as providing compensation in the form of useful land to those Aborigines who have lost their lands. Although the recommendations of the report apply to the Northern Territory the recommendations for a land fund are, of course, equally relevant in the States. This Bill will establish a national land fund.
Arrangements proposed in the Bill will formalise existing Government policy and practice in respect of acquisition of land by Aboriginals. Although the former Government did not recognise Aboriginal rights in land, it did recognise the need of many Aboriginals living outside reserves for land to use and develop for economic and social purposes. On 26 January 1972 the then Prime Minister announced that the Government would appropriate a sum of $5m to purchase land outside reserves for Aboriginal communities, and would contemplate providing a further $2m in each year for the ensuing 4 years for this purpose. This Government has endorsed and extended this approach by undertaking to establish an Aboriginal land fund to purchase or acquire land for significant continuing Aboriginal communities, and to appropriate $5m each year to this fund for the next ten years.
Funds for the purchase of land by Aboriginals have to date been made available within the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account. A number of properties have already been acquired for Aboriginal groups throughout Australia, including several sheep and cattle stations in Western Australia, Willowra and Kildurk in the Northern Territory, Everard Park- now known as Mimili- in South Australia and land adjacent to the Cummeragunga Reserve in New South Wales. The balance of funds already appropriated by the Government for the acquisition of land for Aboriginals will be paid into the Land Fund.
– How much?
-The Aboriginal Land Fund Bill provides for the establishment of a Commission, appointed by the Governor-General and responsible to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to administer the funds. The Commission will comprise a chairman and 4 members, at least 2 of whom shall be Aboriginals. Although the Commission will be small and its members will be part time, it will have full statutory powers. Staff to assist the Commission will be employed under the Public Service Act, within the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Land acquired with moneys from the Land Fund will not be able to be sold under writ of execution or like attachment. This provision is included to ensure that land vested in Aboriginal corporations cannot be alienated without Government approval. In answer to the interjection of the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), I will arrange for such information as he requires to proceed with the debate to be made available to him. I commend the Aboriginal Land Fund Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hunt) adjourned. (Quorum formed.)
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1974, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of Sanderson high school, Darwin.
The proposal is the construction of a facility for 1,100 high school pupils to serve the district of Sanderson in Darwin. The high school will be almost identical with Dripstone High School which was examined by the Committee and recommended in 1973. It will comprise the following major elements of accommodation which have been planned to achieve the optimum functional relationships: Administration, library/resource centre, subject areas, science department, art/craft department, theatre, assembly area, lunch area and canteen. The design also allows for the use of the following facilities by the community outside school hours: Art/craft department, library/resources centre. The building will consist of exposed steel rafters, with non load bearing external concrete block walls and lightweight internal partitions. The building will be constructed of steel columns supporting steel rafters, with non load bearing external concrete block walls and coloured steel deck roofing. Lightweight internal partitions will be installed, and carpets and accoustic ceilings will be used to reduce the general noise level. The building will be air conditioned and fire protection systems will be installed. Windows will be tinted to alleviate glare and provided with hoods. The site will be landscaped. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $6.65m at October 1974 prices. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The proposal is to provide a studio office and service complex to house the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Music Department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Queensland Branch, with facilities for high quality sound recording and transmission with limited facilities for television production using mobile equipment. Construction will be of reinforced concrete founded on piles, with metal roofing over a concrete slab. The building will be air conditioned, with carpet and special finishes to provide sound attenuation and to create the special acoustic climate required in certain areas. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $2,325,000 at August 1974 prices. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 13 November, on motion by Mr Charles Jones:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1 974 as they are related measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-We are debating the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill and the Air Navigation Bill, the purpose of which is to amend th# Air Navigation Act by increasing air navigation charges. In his second reading speech on the Air Navigation Bill the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) sets out information in relation to the cost of the provision, operation and maintenance of air navigation facilities and services throughout Australia, which amounts to approximately $ 1 40m. He stated:
Revenue received from the users of those facilities and services totalled $75m. Of this amount, $33m came from air navigation charges paid by aircraft operators, SI I.Sm from hangar and building rentals and terminal concession charges and the like, and $30.5m from aviation fuel taxes. This left a deficit between revenue and expenditure of $65m. . .
The Minister goes on to point out in his second reading speech that special aerodromes for general aviation aircraft- Archerfield, Bankstown, Cambridge, Essendon, Jandakot, Moorabbin and Parafield, are being provided in all capital cities by the taxpayer. He states:
Last year, these aerodromes alone cost $IOm to operate and maintain. In addition, facilities have been provided at other airports largely for general aviation aircraft, things like light aircraft aprons and taxiways, traffic control and flight service units, communications and fire units.
The Minister goes on to point out that:
Total recovery from the general aviation industry including air navigation charges, commercial revenue and aviation fuel tax amounted to less than $4.5m, a recovery rate of only 44 per cent.
He points out further
The Government sees no reason why all sectors of the aviation industry should not pay their way at least to the extent of the 80 per cent recovery target set by the Government.
The Minister also points out rightly that this 80 per cent recovery target was set by the previous Government, although it had never moved seriously to reach that target because it recognised that general aviation was not in a position to maintain the sort of services required by the Australian people and at the same time meet such increased charges. The previous LiberalCountry Party governments showed much more sympathy for the problems of general aviation than has been shown to it by the present Government. The Government has moved very harshly in the last 2 years to implement its decision to set the recovery target for these services at 80 per cent. Last year it increased general navigation charges by 100 per cent and air navigation charges by 1 5 per cent. This year there has been a 50 per cent increase in general navigation charges and a 15 per cent increase in air navigation charges. There has been a general downturn in the economy affecting general aviation very seriously. It is quite paradoxical that the Government should, when it is talking about tackling the problems of inflation, so increase charges for those services it provides to general aviation which must then pass on the charges at another point. Or course, the higher cost to general aviation has to be passed on to the consumer. The Minister has not only steeply increased the fixed costs. These new increases in costs are to be extended into a number of new areas. They include the new charge for the issue of flight crew and air crew licences, the new charge for services provided in respect of airworthiness matters, even an application fee for the service affecting the issue or variation of certificates of registration will be charged for. Apparently, a building fee will be even charged on land controlled by the air transport group of the Department of Transport for anybody in general aviation who builds on Government land. The Minister states in his second reading speech, as reported at page 3441 of Hansard:
It is intended, of course, to charge for many other services provided by the Department. The specific services mentioned are illustrative only. It is further intended that the full commercial cost of providing these services will be recovered.
No honourable member in the Parliament knows what that means. Earlier in his second reading speech, the Minister points out:
The actual charges have not yet been determined but will be tabled in the Parliament as amendments to the Regulations before implementation.
So not only do we not know what the charges will be; also we do not know the areas in which those charges are to be made. For that reason I propose to move an amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a second time. The amendment stands in my name and copies of it are being circulated to honourable members. I move:
I say that we are not opposing the Bill because it is a Budget Bill and the Opposition has agreed that the Budget Bills must be passed-
The House is of the opinion that in view of the effect on the inflationary spiral, the Government should state in some detail the proposed increase in fees and charges covering a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry.
I think that it is quite improper that any parliament should pass a Bill seeking to increase charges when those increases are not stipulated by the Minister, but will be covered individually by him at some future time. Therefore, to put the matter in order I think that the Minister should tell us clearly in what areas these new charges will be raised. I think that it is quite wrong for the Minister just to allude in his second reading speech to the fact that certain extra charges will be made.
Last week during the debate on the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill I tried to point out some of the problems that were facing general aviation and civil aviation. I had some difficulty with the Deputy Speaker at the time. He would not let me proceed along those lines. I want to raise these questions today because, as that Deputy Speaker said, they obviously fit more correctly into the context of these Bills. I have received a long submission from general aviation. I am only sorry that I do not have a chance to read it all into the Hansard record or to have it included in Hansard. However, I would like to read some portions of it. It states:
It is one thing to share money between forms of transport It is quite another to deprive one form and to pursue a policy of repression towards it, which is what is occurring in air transport.
The policy which has dictated the imposition of an 80 per cent cost return means that the ‘industry’, instead of being the province of the operational and service orientated members of the Department and the airlines, is controlled by those whose interests are purely economic.
Why has the ATG (Air Transport Group) segment of the Department of Transport been singled out to accept the burden of 80 per cent cost return and not the other 2 groups? That is, rail and road transport. Is it because of the Minister’s bigoted belief that only the wealthy travel by air?
This morning we have heard the Minister describe air travel as a luxury travel. I would like him to go out and check the position of the ordinary tourist today who uses civil aviation to find out how wrong that statement is. Air travel today is not luxury travel in a nation the size of Australia. The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) could not get to Parliament every week if it was not for air travel. Other honourable members could not get here either.
– And we cannot get home.
– We cannot get home because the Minister for Transport has caused a strike in the airlines. That is why we cannot get home. I will come to that in a moment. I ask: What other sections of the public transport services has a similar requirement to raise 80 per cent of its service fees? Indeed, what other countries do not have a separate identifiable civil aviation authority? Can any member of this House name countries that do not have a separate identifiable civil aviation department? I can give honourable members five. They are: Equatorial Guinearather like Australia with air transport merged with other sections of transport- Fiji, Gambia, Ruanda and Western Samoa. So we are in the big league. We have really put civil aviation into the big league in this country. The submission goes on to quote from the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) which has implications extending well beyond its surface reference to the financial recovery of costs. It quotes the Treasurer as follows:
The Department of Transport provides a wide variety of services to the aviation industry for which little or no charge is made. The Government sees no reason why these costs should not also be recovered. Accordingly, we propose that charges for these sen-ices should be introduced in 1974-75 and increased progressively so as to achieve full recovery by 1976-77.
The submission states further.
Before dealing with the effect of the 80 per cent recovery policy, it should be noted that the second paragraph quoted clearly indicates a 100 per cent recovery program. To the pilot and/or the airlines, it will mean that all licence renewals, publications, etc., will be a charge item and the gap between charges and recovery will widen even further .
This will be the position, given the figures that the Minister has cited in his second reading speech. The submission goes on to state:
From the ‘recovery’ items, the bulk of the return is achieved through air navigation charges, and aviation fuel tax. To provide the 80 per cent recovery figure charges would need to be increased by a phenominal-
I ask the House to note this- $37. 17m in the year quoted above. However, air navigation charges can only be increased up to a maximum of 15 per cent per annum and the aviation fuel tax increases are restricted to the increase proposed from time to time on motor spirit. With inflation at 15 percent per annum -
Obviously this submission was written before last week when the latest figures suggested an inflation rate of 25 per cent or 30 per cent per annum. The submission goes on:
Increases from these sources can never bridge the gap between costs and recovery. What then is the aim of the Government? There is only one, that is to reduce expenditure so as to bring the total costs closer to the total return. How is it proposed to achieve this saving? By the introduction of some or all of the following measures: Disposal of certain Government aerodromes- closure or transfer, reduction in the size of the departmental aircraft fleet -
I do not disagree with that statement. I understand that the Minister uses the aircraft like a private taxi service.
– You know that is a deliberate lie.
-Order! The Minister will withdraw that remark.
– It is a deliberate untruth. I withdraw the statement.
-Order! The Minister cannot get around the situation; he must withdraw the remark.
– I have withdrawn it. It is a deliberate untruth.
-Order! The Minister must withdraw the words ‘deliberate untruth ‘.
– I withdraw those remarks. In that case it was not true.
-Call him a big fibber.
– My remarks may be a slight exaggeration, Mr Speaker, but basically they are true. I was at the Canberra airport one day when a departmental aircraft came from Melbourne to land at Canberra to pick up the Minister for Transport to take him to Newcastle. That was last year. 1 saw it myself.
-Order! I have the second reading speeches of both of the cognate Bills before me and they deal specifically with navigational charges. I suggest that the honourable member for Gippsland keep to the matters before the Chair.
– I just mention that as an aside, Mr Speaker.
-Please do not.
– The submission I have from the air industry suggests the ways that the Government is proposing to tackle this cost problem. It states:
Withdrawal of departmental rescue and fire fighting services from capital city secondary airports, revision of criteria for the provision of rescue and fire fighting at aerodromes with regular public transport services, review of hours of operation of airways operations and related services, to relate capacity, cost and operational need for services, review of formula for payment of, and need for, meteorological services, introduction of a passenger service charge, withdrawal of regular public transport services from Wynyard or Devonport, withdraw or restrict the use of facilities, review operational standards, reduce maintenance.
The submission concludes with these remarks:
The industry is on a path leading to contraction, reduced services, and reduced safety standards. It is time for the aviation conscious public of Australia to see the inevitable result unless there is a dramatic change forced upon the Minister for Transport.
They are very strong words about what has been one of the prides of Australia, that is, the former Department of Civil Aviation and its general activities. The Minister for Transport has a heavy responsibility to see that there is no slackening in the safety and other services at airports throughout Australia. The people of Australia demand safety and it is not proper for the Minister to make changes to the practised safety provisions of aerodromes around Australia without a proper inquiry. I believe that the Minister, if he is so mad keen to cut the air services group within the Department of Transport down to size as he seems to be, ought to set up a special committee of the House of Representatives to study the question, instead of going off on an ad hoc basis closing down fire services and reducing safety standards in general. I am told that if there is a breakdown in radio services after 5 p.m. at some airports around Australia, officials do not even have the right to call a technician or a maintenance man and the fault cannot be fixed until next day. I am told also that if aircraft land at Townsville or Cairns after 5 o’clock fire services are not available because the Government does not wish to pay double time to the people who run the services. It is time that the Minister set out to shake himself out of his lethargy and do something constructive for the air transport group instead of hacking away at it.
There is a threat to remove fire services from aerodromes such as Archerfield in Queensland, Bankstown, Dubbo, Camden, Tamworth Moorabbin, Parafield, Jandakot, Geraldton and Devonport or Wynyard. I quoted from copies of minutes of a meeting between the air transport group and the unions concerned. It is quite improper for the Minister to consider reducing services of this nature. It is no good the Minister saying during question time that when Senator Cotton was Minister for Civil Aviation he also had this matter under consideration. That is an entirely different thing. There is a difference between having something under consideration and putting it into practice. When it comes to safety, there is no way that a valuation or a price can be put on it. If the Minister for Transport is going to keep following that approach, then the whole of the operations of air transport will be in difficulty. There are places in civil aviation where savings can be made and properly made. I have a submission from the Professional Radio Employees Institute and it states:
PREIA is opposed to operational control -
I point out to the House that operational control is not the control of the aircraft in flight and is not related to safety, which is what is called area control or approach control. Operational control is simply a bureaucratic controlling of all aircraft in Australia from day to day. The PREI proved to me in the submission that there is absolutely no justification for the extension of operational control to ports such as Port Hedland and Alice Springs. But the Minister backed right off under pressure from the Civil Air Operations Officers Association of Australia. He squibbed it.
– No, not this man.
-He did, he squibbed it. He talks about the proper use of resources. He is a union man and the honourable member for Hunter knows it. The Minister is a union lackey, no more and no less.
– Not him; you watch how he handles the pilots.
-The Minister cannot handle the pilots. He made the greatest mess up in his life with the pilots. They are on strike because of him.
– You had no guts to take on the pilots when you were the Minister and you know it.
– I have done bareback riding and have ridden calves in shows. I will show you how much guts I have. The PREI has proved demonstrably that the Minister is prepared to spend a lot of money under this operational control to satisfy the members of the Civil Air Operations Officers Association of Australia. At the same time, he does not justify the proper use of resources. At the same time he is taking away improperly fire services from a number of airports around Australia. He has a lot to answer for. Before there is any further dismantling of safety services, the Minister should put down in this Parliament a statement of his intention and let it be debated. Safety standards in civil aviation are not a matter for political point scoring; they are a matter of great public interest and should not be tampered with without proper consideration and debate. I have just been informed that there will be a big debate in the next hour or so as to who will be the Treasurer. The Minister for Transport might be moved out of his portfolio. He is making such a muck of it along with the muck that the Treasurer has made of his portfolio.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will keep to the motion.
– It seems that civil aviation in this country is heading the same way as the Post Office, that is, towards a reduction in back-up services being provided. If the cost of amalgamating the Department of Civil Aviation with the Department of Transport is to be cuts in safety, services and departmental responsibilities, the sooner the former Department is put on its own feet again the better. The Minister keeps on stating that he is seeking a better use of resources, but there are two clear examples of his double standards in this regard. The first relates to Western Australia. Ansett Airlines of Australia was given a licence to operate on the route from Perth to Darwin and stops in between, so long as expensive demands were not made by it for aerodrome reconstruction. To meet the special need within that parameter Ansett bought F28 jets. Now we find the Minister saying not only that TAA should traverse the same route- that might be fair enough- but also that the Government is prepared to spend millions of dollars upgrading areodromes and facilities to carry DC9s, especially for TAA. The second example of his double standard is the withdrawal of $120,000 subsidy on the air service to King Island and Flinders Island. The Tasmanian Year Book shows that 23,000 passengers went to King Island and 1 1,000 to Flinders Island. Therefore the subsidy was about $4 per head. At the same time the Minister for Transport introduced a subsidy of $lm on the ‘Empress of Australia’ service.
From passenger figures taken out by the Department of Industrial Development in Tasmania, that subsidy works out at about $20 a head. Here is a Government withdrawing a subsidy to the people of an island, who have no alternative transport, and putting a subsidy on tourist traffic where there is alternative transport. Furthermore, the result is that the people of Flinders Island and King Island now have to make do with a smaller aircraft- an Aero Commander aircraft- servicing their needs whilst in Western Australia, to make Trans-Australia Airlines happy the Minister will spend millions of dollars doubling up on an already efficient jet service with larger aircraft, thus reducing profitability.
I have a copy of the submission that the Minister’s representative made to the royal commission in Western Australia pointing out the costs involved. There is a cost of $250,000 at Kununurra and costs of $500,000 for strengthening and $650,000 for lengthening the runway at Port Hedland. The Minister talks about proper use of resources. Double standards is all he knows about. This Government must rank as the most inconsistent ever in history. One has only to consider the Qantas pay dispute to see another example. For years, both in Opposition and in Government, the Labor Party treated the right to negotiate as a sacred cow and, failing negotiation, arbitrators’ decisions were said by Labor to have the force of law and therefore indisputable.
-Order! I fail to see anything in either of the second reading speeches in regard to pilots’ pay. Can the honourable member see that in either second reading speech?
– I can see a direct connection.
– If you let me go on, I will make the point.
– I will not let you go on at all. The fact is that that matter is not referred to in either of the Bills. You will have to refer to air navigation charges.
-Right. I will refer to air navigation charges. Qantas has pilots and hostesses. Pilots fly the planes in and land at Sydney airport, the dearest international airport in the world at which Qantas planes land. Those planes have pilots who are affected by salary.
-Order! I will not allow the honourable member for Gippsland to get around what I have just stated. If the honourable member continues to flout what is in the Standing Orders in trying to get around what I have said, I will ask him to resume his seat. The fact is that what a pilot receives has nothing to do with air navigation charges or airport services.
– Well, I move:
-The honourable member must submit his motion in writing.
– You have not anybody here to second it.
– Somebody will second it, do not worry.
– I will second it.
-We do not want a seconder until the honourable member has finished his speech.
– If you proceed with it, we will move that the question be put.
-Did you hear that threat, Mr Speaker?
– This is a case of democracy at work.
– Democracy at work.
– I am being gagged on the proper consideration of a Bill. He is going to move that the question be put.
-Order! I will name you if you keep on flouting the Chair.
– So, make the most of it.
– I will enjoy it, do not worry.
Suspension of Standing Orders
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Gippsland speaking on matters appertaining to airport charges, navigation charges and aeroplanes, pilots’ pay, and other such matters. (Mr Nixon having submitted his. motion in writing)-
– I am sorry to have to do this with respect to this Bill, but quite clearly there is no way in the world that, as shadow Minister for Transport, I am going to be allowed to debate properly the issues regarding civil aviation in Australia today without the suspension of Standing Orders. I must move this motion because there are very serious matters affecting civil aviation going on in the community today, that you, Mr Speaker, have ruled out of order as not being part -
-Order! I have not ruled out of order anything.
– You have ruled me out of order.
– I have not ruled you out of order. I am complying with the Standing Orders.
– Well, you have ruled me out of order -
– I have not ruled you out of order at all. Do not argue with the Chair. I am complying with the Standing Orders.
– There is something wrong somewhere. There has been a very serious misunderstanding. Perhaps I do not need to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I have not ruled you out of order at all. I am complying with the Standing Orders.
– You do not know what you are talking about, that is the problem.
– 1 will tell you what I am talking about. I am talking about the mess up the Minister for Transport has made of civil aviation in this country. That is what I am talking about but I am not allowed to debate it in the Parliament.
-Order! You have moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Go on with your motion.
– I have had to move for the suspension of Standing Orders so that I can properly debate this issue. I deal first with the Qantas pilots’ pay dispute. The Minister, having messed that up, finally got a worse decision by referring it to Mr Justice Coldham -
-Order! The motion before the Chair does not permit a discussion of the subject matter. The motion before the chair relates to why Standing Orders should be suspended. I ask him to keep to the motion why Standing
Orders should be suspended and not to discuss the subject matter.
– Yes, I am trying to show why Standing Orders ought to be suspended.
– You stick to that.
– The Qantas pilots’ pay dispute is one reason that the Standing Orders should be suspended, so that we can properly discuss the merits or the demerits of the handling of that matter by the Minister for Transport. The second point is the handling of the present dispute with civil aviation groups in Australia and the pilots. I believe that the Standing Orders ought to be suspended so that we can discuss how the Minister has messed up his handling of this issue by referring it direct to arbitration instead of allowing employers and employees to get together in negotiation and to use the proper forms of arbitration and conciliation. I should put conciliation first as conciliation has always been regarded by the Labor Party, by the Government and indeed by the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) to be a sacred cow and to be preferred to pushing a matter without conciliation, without negotiation and without discussion straight to arbitration. That is why I am forced to move for the suspension of Standing Orders.
The Minister for Transport has been improper in his misuse of the laws of this Parliament. He has been using what are really literally standover tactics. I think that the Parliament ought to be given the right to discuss this. I had hoped that the legislation on air navigation charges would give us the right to discuss that matter. As I am apparently beyond the Standing Orders in that hope, I therefore have moved that the Standing Orders be suspended so that I can discuss that matter.
The Minister has adopted a very dogmatic attitude on this matter, a quite improper attitude. Indeed a precedent has been created, so much so, that I doubt whether any employer or employee in Australia now can take the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as it stands in this Parliament as being a genuine Act and as being one which has the force of law of this Parliament. He has so transgressed the procedures of conciliation that, in future, I do not see how anybody on the other side of this House can hold up his head and say that he believes in conciliation. Whether a dispute involves pilots, plumbers, bakers or handymen is totally irrelevant. The fact is that there are agreed procedures for negotiation.
The final reason that Standing Orders ought to be suspended is the effect that these matters have had on the people of Australia and the airlines involved. Let us consider the people of Australia. They have been put to great inconvenience and great distress simply because of the moods of the Minister for Transport, and for no other reason. There was no need for a strike. There would not have been a strike if the Minister for Transport had not caused it. The Minister is to blame entirely for the distress caused to the thousands of people who were wanting to travel today by civil aviation. It may well be that Trans-Australia Airlines can stand this strike for a day or two. The Minister might treat TAA differently from the way he said he would treat Qantas. He said: ‘No way in the world will Qantas get a subsidy from the Government.’ I wonder whether, if the transport strike goes on for weeks, TAA will get a subsidy from the Government.
The second consideration is that Ansett Airlines of Australia does not have the taxpayers’ pocket behind it. It may well be that in the Minister’s mind this is one way of bruising the private enterprise airline. That is another reason why I say that the Standing Orders should be suspended, so that these matters can be properly discussed during the course of this afternoon’s debate on the Air Navigation Bill. It is a hypocritical situation when we have very important matters facing the nation and this Parliament -
- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not like to draw your attention to it, but the honourable member has spoken on everything but the reason why Standing Orders should be suspended. He is now dealing with the substance of the motion. We all understand that he wants to grandstand and to prove that he is a real militant in view of the failure of the farmers’ demonstration yesterday but, Sir, would you bring him to -
-Order! I call the honourable member for Gippsland.
– That point of order is a reflection on the Chair and the Minister ought to withdraw it. The simple fact is that whether we like it or not the Minister for Transport and the Labor Government have prejudiced the whole of the industrial relationship between employer and employee in Australia as a result of the Minister’s forcing arbitration on one group of employees. Who will be next? That is the question. Will the Government just arbitrarily declare those who can go to negotiation and those who have to go to arbitration? No longer can the Australian Labor Party members say here that conciliation is a sacred cow.
For years I sat on the other side of the chamber and listened to blasts from the present Minister for Transport and the present Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron), telling us why we would never get industrial peace while there are sanctions and the force of arbitration in industrial law. For years they said to us: ‘Conciliation is the only way. Let there be proper discussion between the employee and the employer.’ What happened? When the very first test came on this question they went to water and they started making accusations about high levels of pay. The Minister for Transport gets a higher level of pay than most pilots and he is not worth half of what he gets, but who makes that judgment?
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker -
-Order! The honourable member for Gippsland should keep to the reason why Standing Orders should be suspended.
-Thank you, Mr Speaker, I am trying to give all the reasons why Standing Orders ought to be suspended.
– You are going like a draught horse.
– You are going like the old grey mare. I am not sure whether you broke your ankle or your fetlock but you are not improved by it.
– My mentality has not been damaged.
-That is what has been damaged. You are not improved by it. The simple fact is that we face today in Australia a new change and a new approach on civil aviation matters. The Minister for Transport has said from time to time that civil aviation has been the spoilt baby or the spoilt darling of the transport field. The whole approach he has taken has been to downgrade it and to lessen the services available to the people of Australia.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. The honourable member is still not debating the question why Standing Orders should be suspended; he is debating the substance of the motion. I point out that it is difficult to confine oneself to the substance of a motion of this nature. When it is moved in a frivolous manner like this it is exceedingly more difficult. But I suggest that the honourable member has had a lot of tolerance from you and that he should proceed to debate the motion. Whilst honourable members know the substance of the things under discussion they have not yet heard clearly the reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended. I believe that the honourable member should be asked to confine himself to those remarks because it is important that we on this side of the House know just what he means. We know the substance of the Bill but we cannot understand why the honourable member is dissenting from what I consider to be an extremely wise ruling by you, Mr Speaker. It is only in protection of you that I raise this matter.
– The Minister is doing his best to take up my time. I have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders so that the proper matters affecting civil aviation in Australia can be debated.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to move that he be given an extension of time.
– There is no extension of time. Is the motion seconded?
-I second the motion. I would draw to your attention, Mr Speaker, the fact that in the second reading speeches of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) on both of these measures these comments were made. He said that there is absolutely no justification for continuing the heavy subsidy support of the general aviation industry which makes heavy demands -
-Order! The honourable member has to speak to the reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended.
-Yes, Sir, I understand that.
– You have to talk to the motion as well as understand it.
– I submit to you, with respect, that it was necessary for the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) to move that Standing Orders be suspended because he was in fact being prevented from dealing with those particular matters that were dealt with by the Minister when he referred to there being absolutely no justification for continuing the heavy subsidy support of the general aviation industry. I understand that you have ruled that pilots’ salaries and issues of that nature are not relevant. I appreciate that.
-Order! No, I did not give any ruling at all. I am upholding Standing Orders by saying that the matters are not relevant to the motion before the Chair. It is not a ruling.
-Yes, I understand that, Sir. The Minister has made it quite clear what the
Government’s policy will be and I will admit that it is consistent with the decision made in 1960 by the then Commonwealth Government to adopt a long term policy for ultimate recovery of costs of air transport facilities provided by the Government. But the fact that I think we must make quite clear here- this is why we seek the suspension of the Standing Orders- is that the end result of this policy is the destruction of general aviation in Australia. It will prevent companies which operate into Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory from being economically viable. There has to be a differentiation, I submit, by this Parliament between those smaller charter companies, regular public transport operators, third level operators, who are seeking to operate out into the hinterland of Australia. The larger companies under the dual system can survive. Ansett Airlines of Australia and Trans-Australia Airlines are doing reasonably well.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker.
– I have asked the honourable gentleman to speak to the motion before the Chair, and to give the reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended, not to get onto the subject matter. It is a most difficult task but I know that the honourable member can overcome most difficulties and I am asking him to do so.
-Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do understand that I am seconding the motion that Standing Orders be suspended. That is perfectly true. The reason why Standing Orders should be suspended is that matter was brought into the Minister’s second reading speech on this Bill which was, I submit, not strictly germane to a strict interpretation of airline charges without there being reference to extra matters that were associated with the results of the increases in airline charges. The point I am trying to make is that in the end result general aviation will suffer. Whilst the major companies like Ansett and TAA will be able to operate viably in an economic sense, the smaller companies throughout Australia will be in very serious trouble indeed. I second the motion.
– We have just listened once again to the Opposition spokesman on transport, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon). He ran out of paper. He thought he was going to turn this debate this afternoon into an argument about pilots’ salaries and Cabinet salaries and anything else he wanted to toss into the ring. The Air Navigation Bill is very clear. It outlines just what we are aiming to do with air navigation charges. It sets out quite clearly what the Government is proposing to do and the reasons why we are proposing to do it. If the honourable member for Gippsland would only look at the facts and deal with the facts he would see that it is quite clear that there is a great case to justify an increase in air navigation charges.
-Order! The Minister has to keep to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
-I thought I was doing that, Mr Speaker.
-Not as yet.
-I beg your pardon, Sir, but I thought I was doing that.
– You have not mentioned it as yet.
-I have not? Naturally you would understand that I am opposing the proposition to suspend Standing Orders which was moved by the honourable member for Gippsland because he has run out of puff and wants to introduce irrelevant matters. The honourable member could have brought on a matter of public importance today if he so desired and he could have dealt with Jones and with Cameron at that time. But to do so the Opposition would have had to give up the time available for general business. It decided that it was not prepared to do that and therefore did not bring on a matter of public importance.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I submit that the Minister is flouting your ruling. He is not talking to the motion before the Chair.
-Order! I allowed some latitude to the other 2 speakers. I know- at least I hope- that the Minister will come back to the motion before the Chair.
-This is why I am saying that the Opposition is not fair dinkum about what it is doing. It is trying to flout Standing Orders. I have never heard anything so preposterous in all my life. We have a Bill which clearly sets out the clear guidelines of what the debate should be about and yet the honourable member for Gippsland wants to broaden it into a general debate. That is just not on and the honourable member knows it is not on. The honourable member should direct his remarks to what is contained in the Bill. I believe that the Speaker was most tolerant in the way he let the honourable member wander all over the place before he pulled him up.
The honourable member for Gippsland wanted to raise the question of pilots’ salaries. He tried to question what the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) and myself have been doing in regard to this matter. But if one looks at the record of the Opposition one can see that only a few months ago honourable members opposite were demanding that the Navy be brought in to man ships. I want honourable members opposite to tell us where they are going? Is it not a fact that they advocated the use of the Services when people were on strike? The honourable member for Gippsland should have a look in the mirror so that he can see what he looks like. The honourable member has distorted the whole of the Bill. The honourable member and his colleagues have told half truths and untruths continually over the week.
The honourable member said that I was setting out to close Wynyard and Devonport airports. He said that I was going to withdraw the fire services. In reply to a question from the Opposition’s alleged spokesman on Tasmanian affairs, the honourable member heard me outline to him that I did not originate those matters, that it was the industry itself which we had asked to put forward ideas and proposals as to how civil aviation costs could be curtailed. The honourable member knows full well that that was the case because I stated in this place this morning that I had not originated those things. The honourable member said here today in typical Goebbels lying fashion that this was something that we were doing when in fact he knew at the time that it was not the truth. The honourable member knows what he is trying to do. He is trying to embarrass the Labor members from Tasmania by trying to make out that they are not doing anything. The Tasmanian members were the first to move when they found out what the honourable member was saying. Even the Opposition spokesman on Tasmanian affairs did not know that this matter had been discussed last week and that assurances had been given and decisions had been made. A member of the Opposition asked a question yesterday of the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) in regard to a Bill that was introduced into this place last Wednesday.
-Order! The Minister is not speaking to the motion before the Chair. The motion before the Chair is that Standing Orders should be suspended, and I have an inkling that he is opposing it.
-I can see no justification for it. As I have already said, the honourable member for Gippsland has moved his motion to suspend Standing Orders because he has run out of puff. He has got nothing further to bring before the Parliament to substantiate his arguments against air navigation charges and the Air Navigation Bill. He knows that his arguments are crook. He has come in here and talked about what we are allegedly doing when in reality if we examine the facts as to just what air navigation charges represent as far as a charge on the industry is concerned the situation can be seen in a different light. For example, air navigation charges represent only 2.28 per cent of the total cost of operating a club training aircraft such as a Piper 528-140. The way in which the honourable member has come in here and tried to say that this Government is knocking general aviation just shows that he does not know what he is talking about. The increase in air navigation charges brings them to 1.12 per cent of the total operating cost of a 10-seater aircraft. Just what is the honourable member complaining about? Honourable members opposite are just a pack of hypocrites and humbugs and they know that they are.
– Bring him back to the motion.
-Order! The motion before the Chair is the suspension of Standing Orders.
– Yes, that is what I am speaking against. The honourable member for Gippsland has raised many matters, but because he had nothing more to say he moved the suspension of Standing Orders so that he could be heard on some irrelevant matter that has nothing to do with air navigation charges. Why does he not at the next sitting of this Parliament bring on for discussion a matter of public importance and declare where the Opposition stands?
The Opposition has been critical of our attitude on the pilots’ issue in regard to Qantas Airways Ltd. I will say this to honourable members opposite: One of the leaders of their Party came to me and said: ‘That was a monstrous decision that has been brought down. Why does your Minister for Labor not go and talk to Fraser, the shadow Minister for Labor; why does he not go and talk to him and we will back you on whatever action you like to take to bring these fellows into line? They have to be brought into line’.
-Who said that?
-One of the leaders of the Liberal Party, not the Australian Country Party.
– There are a lot of them.
-I know that there are a lot of them. The fact of the matter is that this is the way he approached me. Therefore the honourable member should not come in here and talk to me about what we have done. All that you fellows think you can do is to score points for your case. But the Minister for Labor and Immigration and myself have had the courage to stand up to these people and to stop them standing over the airlines. I know that Ansett wrote the speech delivered by the honourable member to day.
-Ansett-the Ansett organisation. It wrote the speech that was delivered by the honourable member today. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that Ansett has been writing the speeches of the Liberal and Country parties in regard to airports, air navigation and the like for years.
– Are you accusing the honourable member for Gippsland of reading an Ansett publication?
-A11 I am saying to the honourable member is -
-Order! I would ask the Minister to spend the remaining minute and a half of his speech on the motion before the Chair.
-What I am saying to the honourable member is this: The Liberal and Country parties have been the mouthpiece of the Ansett organisation in this place for years. They have done everything that the Ansett organisation wanted them to do. They have toadied to it and given it everything that it has asked for. The Liberal and Country parties gave the Ansett organisation any increases that it wanted. They gave it services when it wanted them. When Ansett opposed the move for Trans-Australia Airlines to operate within Western Australia those parties pulled away from that arrangement.
So it does not matter which way one looks at this whole question of the suspension of Standing Orders. It is pure and simple humbug for the Opposition to put forward this proposition and to raise a matter that has nothing whatever to do with the Bill under consideration at the moment. The Opposition could raise these matters by way of a discussion of a matter of public importance when Parliament meets next Monday or Tuesday but it has chosen not to do so. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, the Government should oppose the suspension of Standing Orders.
-I believe that the motion to suspend Standing Orders is important in this case. The statements we have just heard from the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) on this question have highlighted that in the minds of all honourable members. There are many matters associated with aircraft. They include air navigation charges, the siting of airports and pilots’ salaries. These matters ought to be discussed in a total sense and in a total debate because they are intimately related. I believe it is important that the suspension be carried so that -
-Order! The time allotted for the debate has expired.
That the motion (Mr Nixon’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-Yes, Mr Speaker. I second the amendment, which reads as follows:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘whilst not opposing the passage of this Bill the House is of the opinion that in view of the effect on the inflationary spiral, the Government should state in some detail the proposed increase in fees and charges covering a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry’.
I stress again that the reason for this amendment is that if the charges are increased in the way suggested in the Minister’s second reading speeches and if the program is followed to the stage where 80 per cent of the costs met by the Government are to be expected from the civil aviation industry in return- and I admit that in 1960 the Liberal-Country Party Government started this process- the end result will be that there will be no third level operators functioning in Australia. There will be no charter operators, there will be no Connair, there will be no Forrester-Stephens, there will be no Masling, there will be no Bush Pilots company in Queensland. I warn the Government that this will be the effective result. The Minister talked about 1.9 per cent of cost. Does he not realise that most of these people are in a marginal industry and their profits run at somewhere less than 5 per cent and that after they have paid their taxation they are in a marginal position. Very often while they are being invited by governments and authorities to go into the use of much more expensive aircraft they find themselves in a position where they have to borrow from banks and they have got to service the borrowing. They cannot elevate their charges for air fares and for charter operations beyond a certain level, which is an optimum level within the industry, and they will become bankrupt. That has been the story throughout Australia over the last few years. It would have been the story in major civil aviation in Australia if there had not been the dual system in which agreements have been reached between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia on operations along the trunk routes of Australia. If there had been more than 2 operators on the trunk routes over the last 10 years there would have been people going bankrupt. In view of the inflationary spiral, and the impact of rising fuel costs and so forth this will be the end result.
I know that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) is justified in saying that this policy was introduced long before he became Minister for Transport. I accept that. The point I am trying to stress in the Parliament is this: If we want to maintain decentralisation and if we want to. maintain the services which are decentralised and which are so vital to people living in the Northern Territory, north-western Queensland; Western Australia and Tasmania, as my colleague and friend, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), will admit, we have to have 2 chapters in this book and we cannot afford to bring to bear upon general aviation Government policy which is set out in terms that are related to the economic viability pattern of the major trunk operators throughout the country. I make this appeal confident in the hope that the Parliament will appreciate that what I am saying is true. There are people in this Parliament who have tried to make money running aeroplanes. I ask honourable members to accept my assurance that it is an entirely marginal prospect and that the dividends paid to and profit levels of shareholders are absolutely marginal.
When the Minister is talking about the figure of 1 .9 per cent in relation to the operating costs of an aircraft he can be talking about 60 per cent of the profit in the unit. He does not seem to understand that. The Minister does not look at the other great modes of transport for which he is responsible and demand that there be a gradual process -
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Would the honourable member for North Sydney like me to give him the 2 tables I have in my hand so that he can seek to have them incorporated in Hansard?
Order! No point of order is involved.
-The Minister has implied that he is fully aware of the impact of these charges and costs upon all of the smaller companies- the aero clubs and training organisationsthroughout Australia. He knows full well that his main responsibility is related to the major companies of Ansett, TAA and, at an international level, Qantas Airways Limited. But he has not been prepared to say that he has studied the impact of these rising charges, which have not yet been defined with clarity and which will not be defined clearly until the Treasury or the Treasurer, whoever that may be, decides the level to which these charges will go. As I see it, what he does not understand is the overall impact upon the smaller companies that are so vital, as I have said, to Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory. They are absolutely essential. They cannot be expected, having regard to inflation, wages, fuel costs and everything else, to survive if they have to operate on such a marginal level of profit. With any increase in charges they are likely to be sent into a bankrupt position. If the Minister can stand up in this House and assure us that the smaller regular public transport operators, which after all have to make this information available to this Department, are economically viable he will be justifying his argument. However, as I see the situation that is not the case. All the advice we have had from within the industry throughout Australia indicates quite clearly that if this process is allowed to continue the policy of the Government will be proved to be wrong, I am prepared to admit that it will also prove that the policy introduced in 1960 was equally wrong. On that basis, I second the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon).
-I would like to reply immediately to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), which provides that the Government should state in some detail the proposed increase in fees and charges covering a wide variety of other services provided to the aviation industry. As a former Minister of the Crown, the honourable member for Gippsland would know quite well that these charges are brought in by way of regulations, that these regulations he on the table of both Houses of the Parliament for 15 sitting days during which time they are scrutinised by members of both Houses of the Parliament and that a motion for their disallowance can be moved in either House. So there is absolutely no need for the amendment to have been moved by the honourable member for Gippsland.
I wish to return now to the provisions of the Bill and to remind the House what it is all about because a lot of extraneous matter has been brought into the debate. I remind the House that we are debating the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1974. As the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) said in his second reading speech:
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the rates of air navigation charges, and to make other changes in the Act which the Government feels to be desirable.
The Minister went on to say:
In 1973-74 the cost of providing, operating and maintaining air navigation facilities and services throughout Australia amounted to S140m. Revenue received from the users of those facilities and services totalled $75m. Of this amount, $33m came from air navigation charges paid by aircraft operators, $ 11.5m from hangar and building rentals and terminal concession charges and the like, and $30.5m from aviation fuel taxes. This left a deficit between revenue and expenditure of $65m, a deficit which the Australian taxpayer was called upon to bear.
As the Minister pointed out, put in another context the Australian taxpayer was asked to pay more than $6 for each passenger who travelled by air within, to or from Australia.
It has been readily admitted today that the move was made in 1960 by the then LiberalCountry Party Government but that that Government set no target date for achieving its objective either in full or in part. Last year the Government decided to accelerate the cost recovery program. In the 1973 airlines agreement the Government undertook to consult with both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia on the level of departmental costs and on the program of works. This consultation was extended to include all segments of the industry- the charter operators, the flying training organisations and the other airlines. I point out that separate consultation took place with the union organisations representing employees within the air transport group.
A report on this very searching review of departmental costs and industry consultation by what is called the industry committee has not yet been considered by the Government. I do not know how many times I have to point out to the honourable member for Gippsland, the Press in Tasmania and the Opposition’s shadow minister for Tasmania that the report has not yet been considered by the Government. The Minister for Transport and his colleagues will, of course, take into account the views represented to him by the unions, by the local communities and by the industry. I know that he has certainly taken into account the views of Tasmania as expressed at the public meeting that was held in Devonport last Monday afternoon. I congratulate him and thank him very much for being so considerate in this matter. I again emphasise that no decisions have been taken yet. The Minister has assured me that at no time has he referred to the industry committee the question of the closure of either Wynyard or Devonport airports or of both. He has not referred that question to the industry committee.
When I had discussions with him on Tuesday of last week the Minister was unaware of the public disquiet and of the controversy which had been aroused by a Press statement by a Mr B. Croft, the Executive Vice-President of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. That statement appeared in the newspapers. It was a very vicious and I think unwise statement. Apparently it was a pay back of certain Ministers of the Government. I wish to quote the statement that appeared in the newspapers.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House while this important statement is being made.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Order! Ring the bells. (The bells being rung)-
– You are having your bit of fun, Nixon. Just keep going the way you are. (Quorum formed).
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, when the honorable member for Gippsland called a quorum I heard the Government Whip utter to him a threat in respect of a quite proper and justified action that he had taken in this House. I think you, Mr Speaker, should ask the Government Whip to withdraw the kind of bludgeoning threats in which he is indulging.
-Order! Any accusations of this type must be substantiated.
– I heard them Sir. They are substantiated.
-Order! What were the exact words you heard?
– ‘You will pay for this’.
- Mr Speaker, it is a complete lie.
-Order! The honourable member for Bonython must withdraw that word.
– I will withdraw it, knowing the type of person who said it.
-Order! Personal reflections are out of order. I know that a lot of members in the House owe the honourable member for Bonython money; I thought he might have been asking them to pay him back. The fact is that I do not know what was said. I was not in the House. I have just come into the House. I thought a division was being called when I took the chair for the quorum.
– I understand, Mr Speaker.
– I do not know what ‘you will pay for this’ meant.
– He threatened me, Mr Speaker.
– He threatened the honourable member for Gippsland. This is a most serious matter. We know that the Government Whip has got the numbers in this House and that he can do anything he likes in this House.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
- Mr Speaker -
-Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will resume his seat. I do not know whether it is the use of a disgraceful term to say ‘you will pay for this ‘.
– On the point of order, Mr Speaker, it was the tone in his voice.
– If I may speak to the point of order, Mr Speaker, you said that you did not know whether it was a disgraceful thing to say. I submit that when a remark of this character comes from the Government Whip- we know that in this House the Government has the numbersit is riding roughshod over this House and the rights of every member of this House.
-Order! If the honourable gentleman does not resume his seat he will not get the call again. The honourable member for Mackellar will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Braddon.
-Before the interruption I was referring to a mischievous statement made by Mr Bruce Croft. The ‘Advocate’ on 8 November states:
The closure of either the Devonport or Wynyard airport by the Australian Government was predicted as inevitable by the executive vice-president of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (Mr Bruce Croft) yesterday. Mr Croft said he believed it was ‘fairly obvious’ that either the Devonport Airport, in the Latrobe Municipality, or the Wynyard Airport would be closed because of the Government’s planned cutback of expenditure.
I want to point out emphatically that the Minister did not know anything about these rumours to close airports. However, he made inquiries last week and he found that the industry committee was examining a submission made by the industry. I want to repeat emphatically that it was a submission made by the industry- not by the Government and not by the Minister for Transport- for the closure of both or either of the airports. Let me state here that the public of Tasmania will never tolerate any action to close either or both of these airports. This was clearly shown at a meeting at Devonport last Monday. Those airports rank eighth and ninth in importance in Australia outside the capital cities. Tas- . manians are air-minded people because apart from the ‘Empress of Australia’ we are denied the benefits of rail and road transport when travelling from Tasmania to any other State. I repeat that the Minister has not received a copy of the report. He has agreed that when he does receive it he will confer again with the Tasmanian senators and members of the House of Representatives in the event of there being any unfavourable recommendations affecting Tasmania. Again, I thank the Minister for the consideration that he has given to the members and senators from Tasmania.
I turn now to the question of fire protection services and I want to quash the rumours relating to their withdrawal in Tasmania. Here, again, this proposal was put up by the industry to the industry committee and not by this Minister. No decision has been taken or will be taken until the report is received. The honourable member for Gippsland, who spoke earlier this afternoon, practised the Goebbels lie, as the Minister pointed out, because he went on in all the matters to which he referred to accuse the Minister of putting up the proposals when in fact the industry put up the proposals to the industry committee We certainly know that it was not our Minister who made such proposals. These suggestions were put up by the industry itself.
Again, to quash this rumour, I want to refer briefly to the latest report of ‘Australian Transport 1973-74’. Page 46 of that report in relation to fire stations states that current planning envisages the commissioning of new units at Karratha in Western Australia and Albury, New South Wales, next year. If honourable members examine the figures at the end of this official document they will find that at Karratha there were 52,621 passengers with 29,959 aircraft movements. Devonport had almost double this traffic with 95,431 passengers 2 years ago, and that figure increased last year to 105,447 passengers. Albury, where the Government intends to put in a new unit, had 71,201 passengers last year. That figure is not up to even three-quarters of the number of people who pass through
Devonport, airport each year. The other northwest coast airport, Wynyard, is also well above both Karratha and Albury- both in passenger movement and in aircraft movement. This must silence the critics of this Government who persistently use the malicious rumour that fire protection services at Wynyard and Devenport are to be withdrawn. I point out again that these airports are eighth and ninth in importance outside the capital cities.
If honourable members turn to the last page of the Minister’s second reading speech they will notice that he sets out the standards that should be applied for the retention of airport services. The Minister stated that there were three such standards. First, that as a minimum, aerodromes should be served by F27 aircraft. The airports at Wynyard and Devonport are both serviced by F27 aircraft, so that requirement is met. The Minister points out also that at present, under existing criteria, there should be at least 25,000 passengers a year. I have pointed that last year at Devonport there were 4 times that number of passengers- 105,447 at Devonport and 88,074at Wynyard. The Minister points out also that there should be at least eight regular movements a day, which works out at 2,920 movements a year. Last year Devonport Airport had twice as many aircraft movements, the number totalling 5,390. We had almost twice as many also at Wynyard Airport with 5,086 aircraft movements. This clarifies the position and shows that at present both airports satisfy all the standards laid down.
I turn now to the general aviation industry. This Government has been wrongly accused of causing financial hardship to the general aviation industry by again increasing air navigation charges. In the time that is available to me, following that stupid interruption by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), I hope that I will be able to answer the charges made by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham). I am tired of reading and hearing through the various forms of the media comments- this afternoon I have been listening to similar comments- by the general aviation section that the rises in air navigation charges are exorbitant and will financially cripple the general aviation operators. These comments are far from the truth. Let us examine the facts. Air navigation charges are among the minor elements in the total cost of operating an aircraft in the general aviation field. The major cost components are fuel and crew costs, each comprising about 20 per cent of the total cost; engineering costs comprise 34 per cent, and interest and depreciation costs comprise about 22 per cent. Air navigation charges, on an average, comprise about 2 per cent of the total operating cost of an aircraft. So we come to the fact that the proposed increases in air navigation charges relate to about one-third of 1 per cent of total operation costs. The general aviation industry should be looking at the escalation in overall operating costs that matter and not at some minor increase in the Government charge for air navigation facilities. To further emphasise the minor importance of air navigation charges in relation to total operating cost, I will outline the percentage of air navigation charges to the total cost for specific aircraft, and this incorporates the new charges for air navigation over 1,000 hours utilisation. Because of the time factor, Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table setting out this information.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– The table shows that for a Cessna 182 the percentage of air navigation charges to the total cost is 2.3 per cent; for a Beechcraft Baron the percentage of air navigation charges to the total cost is 1.72 per cent, and for a Piper Navajo the percentage of air navigation charges to the total cost is 1.9 per cent. If one talks about a marginal utilisation limit of around 400 hours the percentage of air navigation charges to the total operating cost is less than 6 per cent. Let us look at a larger aircraft, the Learjet an aircraft used for transporting commercial executives around Australia. The charter rate for such an aircraft is $450 an hour. Assuming a utilisation of 1,000 hours, the air navigation charges for this type of aircraft, amounting to $3,767, are only a minor part- 0.83 per cent- of the total revenue, not a very impressive component. Even for a 600 hour utilisation the percentage is only 1.4 per cent. Trans-Australia Airlines, on the other hand, paid $6.65m in 1973-74 in air navigation charges.
This represents 4.5 per cent of its total operating revenue. I compare that percentage again with the 2.3 per cent for a Cessna 182, 1.72 per cent for a Beechcraft Baron and 1.9 per cent for a Piper Navajo. So let the members of the Opposition in this House and the spokesmen for the general aviation industry look at the facts in an objective manner. Let us hear no more about the crippling financial burden imposed by the Government through an increase in air navigation charges. The Government is determined that the general taxpayer should no longer be called upon to support inefficiency in the general aviation industry by subsidising air navigation charges. The user must pay his way. General aviation operators must pay for the use of government airway facilities. I have here a table setting out the costs associated with a club training aircraft- a Piper PA28- and I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard. I indicate that I have shown it to the honourable member for Gippsland.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-I thank the House. If general aviation is becoming the victim of government policy this is not indicated by the statistics of aircraft registrations, flying licences, aircraft movements at their special airports and the hours flown as shown by a table which I have here and which I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard. I indicate that I have shown it to the honourable member for Gippsland.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-A moment ago I said that the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) said in this House: ‘You will pay for that’. I now inform you, Sir, that his exact words were: ‘You will regret that’. I know that the meaning is the same but I do like to be accurate in all of these things. The words he used were: ‘You will regret that’. I take his version.
Mr NIXON (Gippsland )-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) and also by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones). At no stage did I say that the Minister had referred the closure of the Wynyard or Devonport airports to any body for study.
– It sounded like it.
– If the honourable member looks at Hansard I think he will find that I referred to the minutes of a series of meetings between the Air Transport Group and the unions involved when they talked about the closure of the Wynyard or the Devonport airport.
– I wish to refer particularly to the second reading speech of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones). I do this because I think it is important for preciseness that I indicate that the remarks I propose to make in this debate arise clearly from remarks made by the Minister. I refer particularly to the third paragraph of his second reading speech on the Air Navigation Bill 1974. The Minister said:
There is absolutely no justification for continuing the heavy subsidy support of the general aviation industry which makes heavy demands on aviation facilities and on the funds to provide and maintain them.
It is clear that this Bill relates to aviation facilities and the funds necessary to provide such facilities, not just navigation facilities. In his second reading speech on the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill the Minister made reference to what his Department was proposing to do. He indicated clearly that the Department is critically reviewing all of its air transport activities with a view to effecting economies, wherever they can be made, in consultation with the airlines and, the Minister implied, with the general aviation industry and representatives of the various employee organisations concerned. Having regard to the comments made in relation to Mr Croft and the alleged lack of information on his part in these negotiations and discussions, as well as the suggestions that he was in some way misinformed, I am surprised that this is the case in view of the obvious intention of the Government that people such as he ought to have been consulted about these savings before they were initiated. Having regard to the tone of his remarks in newspaper reports that I have read, I am very surprised to learn that there appears to have been in these matters a lack of consultation.
I refer to the speech made by the Minister on Friday, 10 May, at the Baulkham Hills Community Centre. The Minister will recall this speech, during which he spoke about the cost of establishing new airport and aircraft facilities. Certainly it was a speech on which I would commend him, because the information given was along the lines of the informed material that many members of this House had given to the Minister and along the lines of the information contained in the Spring Report which had been prepared in relation to the proposed Galston airport by the Galston Airport Protest Committee. I had proposed to take honourable members through some of the early debates on this matter but time does not permit me to do that. The Minister indicated that the site at Galston would be much more expensive to develop than any other site. In that speech he dealt with the fact that the acquisition of the land would cost $120m. He mentioned also that 900 homes would have to be replaced and that another 400 homes would have to be taken in order to provide space for roadways leading to the airport. He said that runways would cost $20m to $30m more than they would cost at any other site. It is clear that substantial savings would be made in terms of air navigation charges if the Government were not to embark on such an extravagant proposal. Towards the end of his speech the Minister gave an undertaking to the people concerned in that area. He said:
I hope some small comfort can be gained from knowing that I am against Galston. Now that the preliminary study has been completed I will be recommending to Cabinet that the Government should not proceed with the major study which will mean that Galston will not be the site.
So far as I know and, I imagine, so far as any other honourable member and certainly the residents in this area know, no such decision has been made by the Cabinet. I can assume only that the matter has not been taken before the Cabinet. I would like to know in this important debate in which the cost of establishing air navigation charges is so relevant whether this substantial saving will be affected by this disastrous proposal being abandoned forthwith. I hope that the Minister for Transport will take this opportunity briefly to assure me and the residents of this area that this proposal will not be proceeded with and that the matter has been dealt with by Cabinet, or will indicate a program that we will know about which will indicate the manner in which Cabinet proposes to deal with the matter and when this will be.
-I desire to-
Motion ( by Mr Daly) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Nixon’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original 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 Charles Jones) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 17 October, on motion by Mr Charles Jones:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23 October, on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The International Development Association (Further Payment) Bill 1974 seeks parliamentary approval for Australia’s financial contribution to the fourth replenishment of the resources of the International Development Association. The Australian commitment equals 2 per cent of total funds amounting to US$4.5 billion being provided by member nations to the Association during the triennium commencing on 1 July this year. The Bill before the House therefore makes provision for Australia’s contribution of $60.8m-an amount equal to US$90m at the time of the Nairobi Agreement on 27 September 1973. The Opposition Parties support the Bill. Australia is, of course, a foundation member of the International Development Association. In introducing the legislation for Australia’s first financial commitment in 1960, the then Treasurer, the right honourable Harold Holt, said of the Association: it represents an important new international initiative directed towards helping to solve what is the most important and most challenging issue of our time, namely, that offinding the means to finance the development of the under-developed countries.
Successive Liberal-Country Party governments supported the International Development Association as an essential feature of their multilateral aid programs. In addition to the initial subscription provided by the Menzies Government in 1 960, subscriptions totalling 2 per cent of the US$4.35 billion provided for the following 3 trienniums were made. The present Treasurer (Mr Crean) in the past has been critical of the capacity of the Association effectively to meet the problems of the less developed nations and of the level of multi-lateral aid committed by previous Australian governments. He described the initial financial resources of US$750m provided to the Association as trivial. During the triennium for which this Bill is designed, US$4.5 billion will be provided. This is a significant increase and is, in itself, a measure of the Association ‘s success in providing international development finance.
The Labor Party’s views in opposition have not been matched by its actions in government. The Government has given no evidence of its policy pledge to work towards the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product for official development assistance. In 1972 the former Government spent $228m or . 59 per cent of gross national product on foreign aid programs. In Labor’s first year of office, 1973, the foreign aid proportion of Australia’s gross national product was reduced to . 44 per cent, a miserable contribution falling far short of what is required. It reflects the double standards of the Labor Party when in office. The position has not been fully restored by the estimated outlays on foreign aid contained in the 1974-75 Budget documents. During the debate on the Asian Development Fund Bill in this House on 18 September I stressed the continuing deterioration in the economic circumstances of the lesser developed nations in relation to the developed nations. I firmly believe that Australia’s foreign aid programs- both bi-lateral and multilateralshould be upgraded. Such a policy is not inconsistent with the requirements of sound domestic management of the economy. The particular feature of the International Development Association which merits comment is its method of aid disbursement. Loans from the Association are non-interest bearing and repayable over a 50-year period. Many of those nations currently in receipt of development aid have excessive levels of external debt. Financial aid which serves to exacerbate the external debt position of the lesser developed nations will inevitably be counter productive. The Opposition Parties attach considerable importance to the legislation before the House. We will co-operate to expedite its passage through the Parliament.
-As has been pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), the Opposition has no objection to this legislation. On the contrary, it is obviously in Australia’s long term interests that we maintain a very close relationship with the International Development Association and we support the activities which that organisation has been carrying on for some years. I wish to take this opportunity to advise the House of some of the background to the IDA and of the work in which it is presently involved.
The International Development Association is an affiliate of the World Bank. It came into being in 1960, and was the culmination of a vigorous campaign by the less developed countries for a sizable fund, basically under United Nations control, to provide grants and long term, low level interest loans for economic and social development. The IDA is not under United Nations control not does it make grants but loans. It operates by weighted voting following the World Bank’s general pattern of voting rights and the less developed countries have a slightly stronger voice in IDA than they have had in the World Bank. The IDA as an international organisation is closely affiliated with the World Bank and has a fund administered by it. IDA’s aim is to finance the same types of projects as does the Bank. These are based on the same standards of selection. However, its terms are different and place a lighter burden on the balance of payments of the borrowing countries. In effect, IDA has served to broaden substantially the range of nations with which the World Bank deals and to increase the amount of financing it provides.
In ‘Partners in Development’, a book published by Lester Pearson, he described the IDA as: . . . in effect the World Bank operating according to a special set of instructions for the management of a special fund.
As Mr Pearson pointed out, the President of the World Bank is also the President of IDA while the Executive Board’s staff for the 2 organisations are identical.
Despite the initial doubts about the operations of the International Development Association when it was established, it has achieved a commendable record in development finance and for its efficient administration of the funds placed within its care. It should be noted that if the volume of IDA credits had not been increased in proportion to total loans and credits from the World Bank group to less developed countries, the group’s net transfer to those countries would probably have become negligible over the years. Indeed, the Bank group’s future financial contribution to the less developed world is essentially dependent upon further rises in the level of IDA activities.
During 1973, for instance, more than 70 per cent of IDA resources had been channelled to the poorest countries, that is, those with a per capita gross national product of US$120 per annum or less, while at the same time increasing attention had been given to those countries designated by the United Nations General Assembly as ‘least developed’. In the 1973 report of the World Bank, the Executive Directors: . . . concluded that while IDA’s basic lending policy should be maintained, the greater emphasis which had been given to the very poor countries, including the ‘least developed ‘, should be continued.
It was urged also that the International Development Association in particular should continue to place: . . . increasing emphasis on lending to those sectors which were of direct relevance to the bulk of the population in developing countries.
For example, in agriculture. In the light of the world food shortage, it is interesting to note that in 1973 IDA lent $938m for agriculture. This volume exceeded that of any other sector of the World Bank for the first time in the history of the activities of the World Bank Group, and was more than twice as large as in the previous financial year. The increase in expenditure in the agricultural sector was a matter of deliberate policy in recognition of the dramatic deterioration which is taking place in the global food situation and the fact that the unprecedented combination of adverse weather conditions in large parts of the world had resulted in serious shortfalls in food grain production as well as a precipitous decline in grain reserves and a demand for scarce supplies which itself has had the effect of raising world food prices sharply.
The role of IDA might well be critical in putting into practice the ideas which have emerged recently from the United Nations World Food Conference, the objectives of which include the attaining of a target of 10 million tons of food aid a year for the next 3 years to those nations in most desperate need, the establishing of a system of internationally co-ordinated food reserves to guard against further shortages in case of poor harvests such as occurred this year, and the arranging of an international exchange of information about food production and stocks. There are divergencies on how these objectives should be approached. But one group, including the United States of America, favours a co-ordinating group to include the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Development Program which would serve to stimulate a flow of funds and help with arriving at decisions on how best to use them. If this proposal is sucessful the role of the IDA will be more important than ever.
The International Development Association specialises in lending to developing countries with low gross national product per capita incomes. This will become more relevant. For example, between 1969 and 1973, IDA loans to countries with a gross national product per capita income of less than US$120 amounted to US$2,785m while the World Bank loans to this group during the same period totalled US$842m, which was significantly less. It is also worth noting that in 1972-73 IDA credits to Asian countries, which are particularly relevant to Australia’s aid program, amounted to US$883m while World Bank loans to this area for the same period amounted to only US$408m. Moreover, IDA credits to Asia amounted to more than half of the Bank’s total credit operations.
Thus the IDA’s operations in the vitally important agricultural sector in the Asian region emphasises the significance of this organisation for Australia and why it should continue to enjoy our strong support.
In 1972-73, the World Bank on the other hand devoted much of its attention to the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Its loans to Latin America amounted to US$638m and to Africa and the Middle East US$768m which is more than three times the amount of loans the Bank was prepared to grant to countries in the Asian region. Australia’s continued contributions to IDA which in 1974 will total more than $55m are a very relevant aspect of our total multinational aid program to the developing world and most specifically to those countries in our own region.
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.
-With the indulgence of the House, may I address a procedural question? I see on the ‘Daily Program’ that we were to have tariff proposals at approximately 4 p.m. from Dr J. F. Cairns, the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and
Excise. I wonder when it is likely that those tariff proposals will be introduced?
– I can advise the honourable member only that Dr Cairns was called away and I understand that the tariff proposals will be introduced later.
– May I ask the Minister the reason why Dr Cairns was called away?
-No, that is not in order.
Debate resumed from 14 November on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Taxation Administration Bill 1 974 as they are related measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-The Banking Bill 1974 is, of course, a major economic proposal for the purposes of legislation brought down by the Government. But the critical question which is before all Australia at present is very much: Who in fact holds the position of Federal Treasurer. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Press gallery has been running all afternoon the story that the Federal Treasurer of Australia has been sacked- I refer of course to Treasurer Frank Crean- and that at present his replacement is the former Minister for Overseas Trade, now the new Treasurer, Dr J. F. Cairns. I want to say on that subject, which is a critical question to any economic measure, that in fact the former Treasurer, Frank Crean, has been made the fall guy of Labor’s economic policies. Prime Minister Whitlam has simply, in terms of the announcements which he has yet to makebut the story is well known to every member of this chamber- brought to an end the Judas type role which he has been playing out during the course of recent weeks.
Mr Frank Crean, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, who is well regarded and well respected on both sides of this Parliament, now joins the ranks of the Lance Barnards who have served well but who have been stabbed in the back by their leader. If ever the Prime Minister of this country has had an uneasy moment- and he has had a series of them- he will be more uneasy, I suggest, now that Dr Cairns is effectively taking over the Treasury chair. Dr Cairns, the former Minister for Overseas Trade, will be remembered as the much proclaimed architect of the disastrous 1974-75 Budget. It is clear, I believe, to many Australians outside this chamber that the Prime Minister’s inept and callous handling of this issue has substantially contributed to the decline in the level of business confidence and is but a futher reflection of the disintegration of government in Canberra. One of the ironies, as I interpret it, of the indulgence of the Chair and of honourable gentlemen opposite in allowing me to make these comments about this matter is clearly their reluctance to be drawn into the issue of who is the Federal Treasurer of Australia.
– Silence is agreement.
– Yes, it is.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest that the honourable gentleman should relate his remarks to the Bill.
– I would have thought in fairness that with any major economic initiative which comes into this House and is in the hands of the Federal Treasurer- brought in by Treasurer Crean- it was a fair proposition to start on the basis that this nation deserves the opportunity to know whether the Treasurer is still in charge of the legislation. I have made that point and I do not intend, at this moment at any rate, to emphasise what in fact are some of the very serious questions which are facing this Government and which reflect the total disintegration of the Australian Labor Party in Canberra.
The Banking Bill 1974 before the House seeks to strengthen the effectiveness of regulations governing exchange controls and to eliminate taxation avoidance and evasion through overseas transactions with tax havens by providing for a more comprehensive legislative base for tax screening arrangements. The Banking Bill 1974 seeks to put beyond doubt the power of the Australian Government to make regulations with respect to all types of overseas transactions. In doing this it proposes to take full advantage of the constitutional powers of the Government to regulate overseas financial transactions. The Bill also provides for financial acts and transactions of Australian residents which take place overseas to be brought within the ambit of the exchange control regulations. Provision is made to validate, for civil purposes only, past and future transactions which have been entered into without exchange control approval, the main objective here being to prevent the non-approval of such transactions becoming grounds for alleging their invalidity, thereby permitting persons to renege on their obligations to a contract.
The other major measure proposed in the Bill is to require the Reserve Bank to refuse applications for exchange control approval unless the applicant produces a tax clearance certificate from the Commissioner of Taxation to the effect that the transaction proposed is not associated with tax avoidance or evasion. This ensures that any decision by the Reserve Bank to refuse exchange control approval on tax avoidance or tax evasion grounds cannot be challenged- the relevant discretion on this point being left with the Commission of Taxation.
The purpose of the Taxation Administration Bill 1974, which I shall deal with later in the debate, is to provide for the rules necessary for the provision of these tax clearance certificates. It is clear that from time to time new initiatives are required to allow the administration of such Acts as the Banking Act to proceed with the maximum effectiveness. When it becomes apparent that certain legislation is no longer adequate or is open to uncertainty of interpretation so that it is prevented from fulfilling its original purpose, such legislation should of course be reviewed. The Opposition Parties concur with the Government in respect of this Bill that this is the case. We therefore support the amendments proposed by the Bill.
Effective exchange control measures are an important tool amongst those available to a government for the purposes of economic and financial management. Section 39 of the Banking Act provides the Government with the power to make regulations on exchange controls to protect the currency or the public credit of Australia or to conserve, in the national interest, Australia’s foreign exchange resources. That section of the Act has remained virtually unchanged, except for minor amendments, for approximately 30 years. However, as it is now worded there is some uncertainty as to whether it provides the Government with the power to make regulations in respect of all types of overseas transactions. If the legislation is not comprehensive enough to prevent some transactions from slipping under the net of exchange control regulations the effectiveness of exchange controls as an instrument of economic and financial management is severely weakened. The proposed amendment to this section should ensure that regulations may be made to control the increasingly sophisticated nature of overseas financial transactions. The inclusion of section 3 9A- which specifically provides for financial acts and transactions of Australian residents which take place overseas to be brought within the ambit of exchange control regulations- will be a further bar to the fulfilment of contracts which are contrary to Government policy.
The Opposition Parties support the amendment proposed in this Bill which deals with the extension of tax screening arrangements before exchange control approval is granted. The measures are designed to close loopholes in our taxation legislation which are open to abuse by unscrupulous persons seeking to minimise or to eliminate completely the tax for which they are liable. The cost to Australian revenue each year through such evasion runs into millions of dollars. On two occasions in 1973 we supported Bills directed to a similar purpose. We supported the proposals in the Banking Bill (No. 2) 1973 which sought to remove any legal doubt which might have existed with respect to the arrangements for taxation screening of applications to the exchange control authorities involving tax havens.
We also supported legislation to prevent the use of tax havens for the purposes of avoiding or minimising taxation which is due to the Australian Government. Our position in this regard was stated clearly during the debate on the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1973 which was designed to prevent Norfolk Island and, to a lesser extent, Papua New Guinea, being used as tax havens. The proposals of that particular Bill also related to Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island.
On 19 July 1972, the former Treasurer and present Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, foreshadowed legislative measures to curtail tax avoidance with respect to Papua New Guinea, Norfolk, Cocos Islands and Christmas Island. The legislation foreshadowed then has since been passed by the House. At that time Mr Snedden gave a general indication of future actions in this field in these terms:
I have been speaking about the tax haven status of places under Australian jurisdiction. The Government has also directed that the problem of other tax havens be examined with a view to taking action to prevent losses of Australian revenue through resort to these places.
The Opposition parties recognise that the tightening of the Australian tax law in recent years to curb tax avoidance within Australia has led to persons carrying out avoidance transactions outside Australia and beyond the scope of existing taxation laws. In principle, we are prepared to support such action as is appropriate to ensure that obligations which are the legal intent of the Government are carried out. Avoidance of taxation is a clear abrogation of social responsibility and it ought not to be condoned or abetted by the exercise of legal expertise.
The proposal to validate acts or transactions which have already been entered into without exchange control approval are also supported by the Opposition parties. At present the absence of the appropriate authority could not only result in a transaction between a resident of Australia and an overseas resident being illegal and subject to a penalty under the Banking Act, but it could also result in the contract being null and void. The proposed amendment designed to validate past and future transactions, entered into without exchange control approval, should assist in the avoidance of these problems. It should be noted that validation would in no way prevent a person being convicted of an offence against the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations for having failed to obtain exchange control approval.
The Opposition parties accept this Bill as an attempt to restore to the Banking Act its original purpose with respect to its powers to make regulations on exchange controls. In supporting it we believe that it will achieve this objective without imposing undue constraints on ordinary business transactions. In short, this Bill is simply designed to remove any legal doubts about, and to validate, procedures which are now in operation. The Opposition parties support the Bill.
The amendments proposed by the Taxation Administration Bill which is consequential to the Banking Bill 1974 are those related to provisions in the Banking Bill requiring the Reserve Bank, in appropriate cases, to refuse exchange control approval unless a tax clearance certificate issued by the Commissioner of Taxation is produced. Under the Banking Act the Treasurer is given authority to declare that classes of transactions with persons in tax havens are to be subject to tax screening. If a proposed transaction falls with such a class or if the Reserve Bank considers that an exchange control application should be subjected to screening, the Bank is to require the applicant to obtain from the Commissioner, under the Taxation Administration Act, a tax clearance certificate before approval is granted.
The Taxation Administration Bill, in essence, sets out the rules which govern the issuing of tax .clearance certificates by the Taxation Commissioner. The proposed measures will place the question of deciding whether a proposed transaction involves tax avoidance or evasion within the jurisdication of the Commissioner of Taxation. This will mean that the Reserve Bank’s decision to refuse exchange control approval will be beyond challenge. However, the applicant for exchange control approval may have the matter referred to a Taxation Board of Review. A further right of appeal is proposed to the High Court on any matter of law involved in a decision of a Board of Review.
Tax surveillance has been an area of very high priority to the Opposition parties. We stated our position clearly in our policy document entitled ‘The Way Ahead’ which was produced prior to the May 1974 elections. In that document we said:
We will review the Income Tax Assessment Act and associated legislation to ensure as far as possible that the repatriation of funds, in all its forms, does not constitute an avoidance of revenue to which Australia is justly entitled . . . Taxation surveillance both on a domestic and an international basis will be an important area for the attention of a Liberal-Country Party Government.
Like the present Government, the Opposition parties are concerned that various aspects of taxation legislation have been open to abuse by unscrupulous persons seeking to minimise or eliminate completely the tax for which they are liable.
Other amendments proposed in this Bill cover such considerations as secrecy of information divulged for the purpose of applying for a tax clearance, the power of the Commissioner to obtain relevant information and the matter of offences in this area. We believe that this second Bill represents a further positive step towards the further protection of Australian revenue. It has the Opposition parties’ full support.
– I wish to raise one or two matters concerning the Banking Bill which I think ought to be explored because this Bill has associated with it a number of very important issues. The heart of the Banking Bill lies in the proposed new section 39 which is a much more detailed recitation of the powers which it could be construed accrue to the Commonwealth under the various placitums under section 51, namely section 51(1), 51 (12) and 51 (20). Although these sub-sections are largely of a technical nature, their philosophy and their application cannot be ignored. In a few words the proposed new section 39 makes it perfectly clear that there is immense power which the Commonwealth has under the Constitution, which is granted and delineated clearly in terms of the Banking Act and able to be administered by the Reserve Bank in relation to overseas countries, foreign investment, the purposes to which investment may be directed and the circumstances in which it would be allowed.
The powers contained in the legislation mean a great deal domestically too because immediately the powers under proposed new section 39 are nominated one comes face to face with the proposition: to what extent are the domestic living conditions and economic conditions in Australia a prey to overseas circumstances? Expressed in simple terms, the proposed new section 39, which I will look at in some detail and direct one or two questions about makes it clear that a Prime Minister is not a person with no clothes. It ensures that he will be garmented, that he has every covering in regard to his dealings with the rest of the world and there is conferred on him and on a government immense power which can be wielded in an appropriate manner. The weapons are there and they deserve to be explored.
The preamble to the proposed new section 39- which I have said is the heart of this legislationis interesting in comparison with the present one under which the Governor-General is given an umbrella power with respect to regulations on foreign exchange for two general purposes- for the protection of the currency or the public credit of the Commonwealth, or in order to conserve in the national interest the foreign exchange resources of the Commonwealth. That is the end of the 2 general powers. In clause 39 there is an additional power explicitly conferred on him, and that additional power relates to, in the words of the clause: foreign investment in Australia, Australian investment outside Australia, foreign ownership or control of property in Australia or of Australian property outside Australia or Australian ownership or control of property outside Australia or of foreign property in Australia.
I hesitate to read that, but that should make the lawyers happy. So there is conferred quite explicitly on the Governor-General the additional power concerning the nature of foreign investment to and from this country. The barriers are there to be raised if the Government desires to do so.
Going to the substance of clause 39- and I will do so in only one or two minutes- in the original section of the Banking Act these powers to make regulations are made explicit in relation to currency, security and goods, and, the section concerns the powers of appeal. In the new provision these powers are delineated in terms of currency, securities, property, goods and the ability to deal with persons abroad. In addition to that there is a relationship proposed in clause 39 (5) (a) and (b) concerning bodies corporate inside and outside this nation, and it is in relation to that last matter that I should like eventually to ask a question. The question I should like to put ultimately relates to the intention of the Government in the utilisation of the section and in those consultations it will have with the Reserve Bank concerning the investment of Arab funds in Australia in property or in other areas. It is appropriate in these circumstances to explore that and I hope that an appropriate reply can be given. It is a policy question.
So we come back to the eventual philosophical proposition. If there were a leakage anywhere in the administration of domestic economic policy in Australia this would cover the leak. In fact, in terms of the fiscal and tax policies available to Australia, a government now has complete control, unfettered and unchallenged control, with respect to money supply in this nation and the growth or the contraction of money supply. It is made clear that the Government has almost complete control with respect to the most important price in this nation. It has price controleffective price control- with respect to the cost of money, and that is the cost that is the most pervasive and of the greatest significance in Australia. The proposed clause 39 puts aside all arguments in relation to those matters. The Government has control over the money supply and over the price of money or the cost of money; in fact, it has effective control with respect to interest rates. To make perhaps a political comment on the matter, it means that when unemployment occurs in Australia, or when inflation occurs in Australia, to claim the international transmission of unemployment or of inflation to this country is a piece of nonsense. Clause 39 makes it clear that such conditions overseas have no part to play and can no longer provide even a vague alibi for what is happening in this nation. The alibi is stripped away.
Therefore, when one looks at the money supply in this country and when one examines the rate of change in money supply, which has a great deal to do with interest rates available in this nation, and when one refers to the new indices of money supply, Ml, M2 and M3- I dislike using those terms; they sound rather like the British Secret Service- and when one looks at the first source of money supply over a period of five or six months one finds it has decreased in absolute terms by something like $700m. That is essentially government-caused, because the compensating actions available to a government to alter the money supply just have not been utilised. There is no excuse in the matter. I am not saying that it was necessarily incorrect to reduce the rate of growth in money supply or to reduce money supply, but it is governmentcaused. It cannot be ascribed to somebody outside this nation, and that is a piece of information which I know Government members will be anxious to convey to Mr Hawke and to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). They do not seem to have caught up with the fact that this Bill has been introduced. When one adds savings bank deposits and trading bank deposits to the money supply, there has been a contraction over the same period of time of something like $800m. Again, that has occurred because there has been a deliberate, a calculated policy decision.
When as a result of those matters we find that, due to domestic economic conditions, private enterprise is retracting and actually reducing its production, when we find as a result of that that there is an actual physical decline in the work force employed in Australia in the last month, a decline of 9,000 persons- and this is not a failure to grow quickly enough but an absolute, actual decline- this has a relationship to the powers which are proposed to be conferred under this Bill. They are powers which the Reserve Bank always thought related to it and its administration of the various sections in the Banking Act. So conditions in Australia, the allocation of resources, the barriers behind which this economy can grow or develop, are man-made; they are not accidental. Australia is in no way prey to external sources or external conditions. We only ask that in the use of this power the Government be careful and wise. And it is in relation to those things that I ask the Minister, or those Treasury officials who may be available to advise him, how it is intended to use these powers in relation to the prospect of massive Arab investment in Australia. That question deserves to be answered, and it deserves to be answered with respect to 3 parts of clause 39 of the Bill.
If I may digress for one moment, I would say this: The tariff powers in this nation are powers which are akin to, and rest on some of the same foundations as, the powers of the Reserve Bank in relation to money, exchange and foreign investment. I believe that if there is one mistake that has been made it was not the mistake of attempting to reduce the level of tariffs, it was the precipitate nature of that reduction and the grossness of the measure; but the necessary response in Australia to this slashing of tariffs did not occur. What had to be done was to secure within the powers that I have nominated the reallocation of resources in this country, to clear reallocation of resources in this country in an almost ultra private enterprise sense. Capital resources, human and material resources should have gone, and should have been enabled to go, to those areas where we could work at what we do best, and if there was a philosophical road block in respect of those matters it was that, having made the decision about tariffs, an interventionist socialist government could not of its nature allow the necessary reallocation of capital and of human resources to fulfil those purposes, to do what other Ministers have called those things that we can do best.
If I may return in some detail to other aspects of this Bill: With respect to the Arab oil money it is known that the Arabs have available to them in other parts of the world something like $20,000m. I am old fashioned enough still to use the English terminology. It is known also that immense investments have been made in some enterprises in Europe. I understand that immense investments have been made in the Krupps works in Germany. Immense investments have been attempted to be made- mainly equity- in other sources of energy or power, even oil, in other parts of the world. So it is quite clear that there has been an attempt to utilise this money to create something of a monopoly situation in those areas of world life.
With respect to this nation, I ask: What would be the advice of the Government, if this Bill is passed, concerning clauses 39 (2) (j), 39 (5) (a) and 39 (5) (b)? Clause 39 (2) (j) and the 3 subsequent sub-clauses concern the control or prohibition of the control of property in Australia by persons. Will those clauses be utilised in relation to overseas investment of that type? Secondly, I ask in relation to clauses 39 (5) (a) and 39 (5) (b): In case corporations are involved in these transactions will regulations be made with respect to the corporations power under this section to prohibit or to encourage such investment or with respect to the circumstances in which there will be a prohibition or an encouragement of such an investment in this nation? I believe that those questions are allowable to be contemplated. I suggest that they were very important policy decisions which rested with the Government when this Bill was brought forward.
If I may I wish to make one further point. The philosophy of the Banking Bill makes it quite clear that the international transmission to a subservient nation of domestic problems overseas is a piece of nonsense. There may be difficulties in relation to the balance of payments situation, as there are now. The balance of payments situations may decline over the term of a year by something like $ 1,800m, $ 1,900m or $2,000m but appropriate compensating action can be taken in a variety of manners. I do not rule out the fact that the fiscal ways of compensating for what is happening- the budgetary, taxation and public expenditure ways of compensating for it- are out of order. I have never said that, nor would I say it. It may be judged, for example, that for the purposes of full employment the fiscal, budgetary and expenditure policies should be utilised so as to cause more resources to be used than would otherwise be the case. In fact their use may cause 100,000 people less to be unemployed than would otherwise be the case, I do not say those things, but I ask: What is the Government’s intention concerning that type of overseas investment? What is its intention concerning the use of these powers on that type of investment? This Bill makes it quite clear- I return to the 2 precise points- that in respect of changes in the money situation in Australia and changes in the nature of the credit squeeze in Australia a government is responsible and that in relation to the supply of money a government and the Reserve Bank are responsible. It also makes it quite clear that there is an unfettered control, not transmitted from overseas, over the cost of money, that is, the interest rates that are generally applicable in this nation. They are some of the weapons with which the Government or, to use a term from history, the emperor is arrayed. What we want to know is: In respect of what matters, how and for what purposes will these powers be utilised?
-The Opposition supports this Bill. The intention of the Bill is to strengthen the exchange controls of this country and to eliminate tax avoidance, particularly through the use of tax havens. I do not regard this Bill as being in any way a political Bill, but I think it is important that some of the ramifications of it be aired. I also think that in this atmosphere we should remember that the previous Liberal-Country Party Government had made moves in this direction. It was realised then, as it is now, that there needed to be changes in the taxation administration and in the controls over funds going overseas and that all governments have a responsibility to the community to see that these things are in fact implemented. I pay tribute to Mr Snedden and Mr McMahon for initiating these moves in the previous Government. I also compliment the present Government on carrying them out.
Under this legislation the Government will be seeking to exercise its complete constitutional power over overseas transactions. I think that that is appropriate. It will do that by bringing under exchange control regulations all matters concerned with the flow of money and other financial assets out of Australia. I think that this is one of those powers which the Government has the responsibility to use to the fullest. Of course, it is in Australia’s interests- short term, long term or any term- to ensure that we do have protection for the financial resources that exist in this country and that have accumulated within it. Under this legislation the Reserve Bank will be able to refuse applications for exchange control approval if in fact the applicants have not sought from the Commissioner of Taxation an approval which clears the particular transactions for tax purposes. It will require people who want to move money around the world from Australia to satisfy the Commissioner of Taxation that there is no ulterior motive in their doing so, that there is no tax avoidance motive in their doing so and that they are doing so in the normal course of personal or business financial transactions.
It seems to me that events in recent years, particularly during the mining boom, have drawn attention to the need to tighten up the legislation of this nature. There can be little doubt, although there were significant abuses of the taxation legislation beforehand, that we now have a far greater degree of sophistication among our fellow Australians who are operating with big money, with hot money and with all sorts of money. The law definitely has been bent to fairly significant proportions. This legislation will have the effect of ensuring that Australian money is protected within Australia and that the professional rogues will not be able to shift money from Australia to tax havens or to salt it away in Swiss banks and things of that nature, particularly if there is a tax element involved.
In this respect the actions of the Barton family come readily to mind. The Bartons, probably more so than anybody else, have abused the financial controls that operate in relation to the governing of the movement of funds out of Australia. They somehow managed to get out of Australia the enormous amounts of money which they had filched from the Australian investing public and put into their own back pockets. The significance of this has been borne out recently by the apparent decision to give the Bartons citizenship in Paraguay. I understand that, immediately that decision had been announced, Mr Barton made arrangements to purchase the largest dairy in Paraguay and also to take over a grazing property of quite significant proportions. There is no doubt in my mind, and probably no doubt in the minds of most honourable members in this chamber, that the money which is now being spent to purchase Paraguayan assets rightly belongs to small, medium and some larger investors in Australia.
I think if we can achieve a situation- perhaps by the amendments proposed to this Bill- of ensuring that things like that cannot happen we will certainly go a long way towards protecting the assets of the Australian people and, naturally, of the country itself. There will always be people who are prepared to take advantage of loopholes in the law and people who will straight out set out to break the law to achieve their ends. By tightening this legislation we will have a position where it is more likely that the funds will at least be in Australia and that money gained by tax avoidance and by other illegal means, which so far has been going overseas, will remain in Australia. Perhaps there will be legislation providing for the recovery of that sort of money, if that should be required. If the money is still in Australia it will be that much easier to recover.
A need for change has existed for a long time in this area of legislation and controls. Because of the sophisticated and increasingly sophisticated money markets throughout the world, and because of unscrupulous people who operate in this market, both within and without Australia, a great deal of pressure has been put on legislation as it exists. There has been much temptation for people to abuse the laws as they exist. It is a government’s responsibility- we recognise it and the present Government recognises it- to see that the legislation which operates and gives power for these controls is kept up to a proper standard so that these practices are not allowed to continue.
It was mentioned by my colleagues earlier in this debate that clause 39 is one of a quite critical nature. The Country Party wishes to support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) in hoping that the changes to this < section will be comprehensive so that there will not be loopholes or ways in which people can slip around the provisions that will prevail as a result of this legislation. I think it is perfectly obvious from the history of mankind that it is basic to human nature that when legislation exists people will always seek to find ways around it.
I do not have very much doubt, once these amendments have been implemented and the legislation has been altered, unscrupulous people will find other ways of avoiding tax and of moving funds outside Australia, one way or the other. It is to be hoped that the Government, the Treasury, the Taxation Commissioner and other responsible bodies will keep an ear to the ground to find out what these new methods are and what loopholes have been created, and to ensure that these are again closed. If we are able to keep on making sure every time another discrepancy occurs or a loophole is discovered that we close it quickly, we should be fairly successful, I would suggest, in keeping for Australia what rightly belongs to Australia and also ensuring that the revenue itself is not denied contributions which should in fact be paid to it.
It is Australia’s financial resources that we are concerned about in this Bill. To a lesser extent, I suppose, the Budget also is involved. The amount of money which is involved is probably not significant enough to have a serious effect on budgeting but it is Australia’s resources and the assets of Australian people, as opposed to the community and to the society, that are at stake when we are dealing with these unscrupulous company promoters and people of that nature.
I suggested earlier- I say it again- that if we are able to keep these funds in Australia we will have gone a long way towards being able to recover them and to repay them to the people to whom they belong. I think it is worth pointing out also that this is a worthwhile proposal. The amendments are good and so long as the question about clause 39 can be answered satisfactorily they will certainly improve the position in Australia. But it should be mentioned that we have to take these moves, as with other moves, in the context of a total package or a total policy. We must be able to look at this tax measure along with the overall tax laws which exist.
Although I commend the Government on closing these loopholes, action should perhaps be taken in the context of a total overhaul of tax legislation, tax rates and general tax laws. If this can be done I think we would again have gone a long way towards solving the problems that we face in this economy, of which tax avoidance and the movement of funds is only a part. We should be looking at the question of the total role of taxation in the economy- what importance it has to revenue, what effects it has both socially and economically on people- and seeing in what ways the total Australian tax structure and tax legislation can be revised and a situation developed whereby we are operating under a total impact policy. This extends, of course, right throughout the economy because as soon as we start getting involved in taxation we will become involved in supply and demand, company profits, personal earnings, expenditure, consumer price indexes, inflation and, of course, unemployment.
I do not want to travel wide of this Bill. I would have thought that a significant number of occasions are made available for us to speak about the overall economic policy of Australia. But it cannot be stressed enough that we need to get away from the wishy-washy sort of approach that the Government is taking towards this particular policy at the moment, the patches and pieces approach to changing this and to changing that, with all the reversals of decisions that we have seen in recent months from the Government, Caucus and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We need to develop a policy so that Australia knows what economic policy is operating, what taxation policy is operating and what loopholes there may be or may have been so that people have a total understanding of what they can expect to do with the funds that are at their disposal. I think this is critical to democracy. It is critical to free enterprise, whether or not the Government chooses to accept that phrase. It is critical to the whole gamut of Australian life.
If we are not prepared to give people the ground rules under which they are operating and under which they can expect to operate for a significant period of time, we cannot expect the economy to be prepared to function on any sort of logical basis or on any sort of long-term basis. If in fact we are not prepared to exercise or to allow people to exercise their democratic rights and to exercise the control and the direction of the funds that are at their disposal, we are not doing the right thing by our people. We are living in a democracy and people do have the rights. It is very important to me and to most members of this Opposition- in fact to some supporters of the Government, which is to their credit- that people are made aware of the long term situation which surrounds all these different aspects of their lives.
If we can say to people: ‘You can operate with a fair degree of confidence on these guidelines for the next four or five years’, that is going to make people content; that is going to allow people to make investment decisions, and so many other decisions, which will affect the livelihood of this country and the future of the economy. Taxation, about which we are talking under this legislation, is part of that. It is a very vital part of it because people have to make long term planning decisions in the light of the taxation liabilities they will have. They have to be able to make long term decisions in relation to investment, depreciation and payments back and forth between overseas subsidiaries, the parent company and associates. They have to be able to make decisions in the light of the fact that the amendments contained in this legislation will close taxation loopholes.
We are not opposing the amendments; we are supporting them. I am calling on the Government and the Treasurer, whoever he may be at the moment, as soon as possible to give to Australian industry and to the residents of this country and to the taxpayers of this country a basic document, a basic statement, setting out the overall and total economic approach of this Government. We have to be able to give to the people the ground rules on which they will be able to operate on a long term basis. This in turn will have run through effects on the whole economy, because it will have an effect on employment and unemployment. If investment is able to start winding up again then jobs will be made available. It is only by doing things such as this that jobs will be made available. Such actions will affect the rate of inflation and the rate of government expenditure in this country, having in mind the relationship between the public sector and the private and ordinary tax paying sector.
I appeal to the Treasurer and to the Government to look closely at all of these matters because by means of this legislation we are taking a step- I commend the Government for it- in saying: ‘OK, this is a situation which has to be fixed; this is a situation which must be altered’. We are losing millions of dollars overseas every year in straight cash terms which are being used by ratbags like the Bartons to purchase assets in Paraguay. Because of tax havens the amount of money that is being lost to revenue is significant and growing. The Government has said: ‘All right, we are going to fix this’. I compliment the Government for it. But let us keep the process moving. Let us say: ‘We have done that and we are going to do this next, in the context of a total overall philosophy which we are prepared to lay down for the Australian economy’. We must have an agreement between the Government and its trade union support so that these things will be accepted and understood by the total Labor movement- its industrial wing and its political wing.
The Opposition, for its part, is perfectly prepared to accept from the Government a statement of its total overall economic strategy and planning. I am not going to say that we will agree with it, but at least the Australian community, the Australian people and the Australian taxpayers will know where they stand. We cannot dispute- we do not have the numbers to disputewhat the Government might seek to impose on the community. The fact that we do not have the numbers has enabled the Government to introduce many pieces of legislation and regulations which have created so much chaos in this fine community of Australia. If the Government had not had the numbers, we could have guaranteed and assured the Australian people that all of these things would not have happened. There have been several reversals in government opinion and in government policy in recent months. We seriously and sincerely call on the Government to say: ‘We have now fixed up this area of tax legislation; we have closed the loopholes and we are moving in the direction of seeing that the Australian legislation is able to operate on a satisfactory, sensible and rational basis’. The Government should then extend that action across the board to its other economic areas and policies. Let us have a total policy from the Government on how this country will be run, what the Treasury will dictate, and what will and will not happen over the next four or five years.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I have called the honourable member for Adelaide.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker -
-The honourable member can rise on a point of order, but that is all.
-I rise to -
– I had the call before the honourable member for Adelaide.
-The honourable member for Flinders has spoken in the debate. He cannot have the call. He knows that. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
-The call always goes from one side of the House to the other, and I have been in this House waiting for the call. Indeed, waiting to take part in this debate -
– If you want to heed the facts -
-Order! There are certain procedures to be followed in this House which even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has to follow.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. We do not have to have insults of that kind.
-Order! The honourable gentleman has spoken in the debate.
– It is a reflection on, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
-Is not a reflection on him. He has spoken in the debate. He is not entitled to the call again in this debate. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
– I rise on a point of order. I was not referring to that point but to the manner in which you addressed him, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I think it is uncalled for.
– I do not think it is very courteous either of the honourable gentleman to continue to answer back to the Chair. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
-I have been waiting in this House to take part in this debate. Indeed, I thought that I would wait until there was something to answer in the debate before I made my contribution, but I have waited in vain. I must confess that I hope that not too many people had the misfortune to listen to the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher) who took his full 20 minutes on this subject. You were very tolerant, Mr Deputy Speaker, because he hardly touched on the subject of these 2 Bills during the time he was on his feet. He started by saying that he supported the Government in the matter of the Taxation Administration Bill 1974 and the Banking Bill 1974. He then strung together so many cliches that I hope nobody will have to read them. Indeed, as I said earlier, I hope that not too many had to listen to them.
The fact is that the Government has taken an initiative in this matter for which, to my knowledge, the country has been waiting for 5 years. I entered this House in October 1969. 1 can well recall the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) in early 1970 drawing attention to the tax havens which existed. The honourable member for Hawker is another Labor member from my own State of South Australia. I can well recall the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), who is a Labor member from New
South Wales, drawing attention to the existence of these tax havens. When we were in Opposition during that period from 1969 to 1972 1 also drew attention to the tax reform that was required in relation to tax havens.
The one initiative that was taken in relation to this matter of tax reform during that period- the last 3 years of the 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government and which I can support in any way- was the McMahon Government’s setting up of the Asprey Royal Commission into taxation. For the honourable member for Hume to sermonise on all of the initiatives taken by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government was an example of someone completely misleading this House. I say again what I indicated earlier: We have been waiting for all of this time for legislation in relation to tax havens. It is only because of the extremely busy schedule of legislation which has been introduced since December 1972, when the Australian Labor Government took office, that we have had to wait this length of time, since we had a Labor Government in this country, to bring in measures such as these. So I am at least glad that the Opposition is supporting this legislation.
Having heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the honourable member for Hume in particular, I state that, in constrast I consider that the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) had a contribution to make to this debate. I will come to deal with his contribution in a moment. Having accepted that the honourable member for Lilley had a contribution to make, I mention again that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Hume in saying that they supported these measures did nothing but read other Government second reading speeches or generally sermonise on the need for taxation. They tried to use phrases of a kind they would use if they needed to rise in the House to support motherhood. It has been a sad debate from the point of view of the contributions from those 2 members of the Opposition.
Let me go over the purposes of these 2 Bills once again. The first purpose is to take full advantage of the constitutional powers of the Australian Government in relation to exchange control regulation of the financial aspects of overseas transactions. The second purpose is to provide for the extra territorial application of the banking foreign exchange regulations. The third purpose is to include provisions that validate for the purpose of any civil proceedings, acts or transactions already entered into or which might be entered into in future without the proper exchange control authority, the right of the Government to prosecute persons for breaches of the banking foreign exchange regulations. Those purposes have been set out by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his second reading speech on the Banking Bill 1 974. Similar purposes are set out in the Taxation Administration Bill 1974 as these are complementary measures.
The honourable member for Lilley drew particular attention to the powers contained in the proposed new section 39. If I understood him correctly he pointed out that although these were powers which were held under the Constitution since the Constitution was formulated, in articulating them in this way in these Bills we were drawing attention not only to the powers but also, if I interpreted him correctly, to the great dangers in these powers.
– I was referring to the correct use of them. That is what I was interested in.
– I stand corrected. Apparently, the honourable member was drawing attention to the fact that we must be watchdogs and make sure that the powers are properly used. I take his point. They are important powers. However, if I may coin a phrase, I think it is sleight of hand to expect that because these powers are now articulated in this way we can ex post facto suggest that the Government is responsible for the international transmission of inflation that has occurred in the past. Perhaps it could be argued that the Government by setting out these powers and using them wisely in the future has less excuse for the international transmission of inflation. I add straight away that I would take issue with that but perhaps it could be argued. Certainly, one could not argue, as I think the honourable member for Lilley tried to argue during what was at least a novel contribution in contra-distinction to the contributions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Hume, that the past was such that the Government could be blamed for the international transmission of inflation. That could not be so.
But let us just talk about the future. I do not believe in any way that the proposed new section 39, if used properly, will do anything but ameliorate the effects of the international transmission of inflation. As the honourable member for Lilley well knows- he is one of the few Opposition members who knows anything about this subject of economics- the fact that an importer of timber in this country is obliged to pay so much more for a cargo of timber from the west coast of America could not be affected by the new section 39 unless one imagined that those powers could be used in some way to alter exchange rates in relation to just that one importation of timber.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to take a point of order. The point of order I take is that this is a debate on very significant Treasury Bills. The Treasurer, whoever he may happen to be, is not in the -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He has not raised a point of order and he knows that.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I move -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, am I entitled to move -
-Order! I will name the honourable member if he does not resume his seat.
– Are you threatening, Mr Deputy Speaker -
-The honourable member has taken a point of order. I have told him that the point of order has been ruled out of order and he no longer has the call.
– You do not allow me the opportunity to move a motion whilst I have the call?
-I will not allow the honourable member the opportunity to stand up in this House, interrupt an honourable member who is speaking and move a motion. The honourable member knows that he is not allowed to do that and the Chair would be remiss in its duty if it allowed him to do that. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
– Of course, this is another example of the rowdyism of the Opposition in its endeavour to flout the Standing Orders of this House.
That the ruling be dissented from.
-The honourable member will put that motion in writing. (Mr Lynch having submitted his motion in writing)-
-I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I move dissent from your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, because it is my belief that because these are essential economic pieces of Government legislation the Treasurer (Mr Crean) who is in charge of the legislation ought to be in the chamber.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the honourable member for Flinders be not further heard.
– That shows how far you are running -
-The question is: ‘That the Deputy Leader of the Opposition be not further heard ‘. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think that the ayes have it. Is the motion of dissent seconded?
– I second that motion.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
– I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
-This Bill is affecting -
– I have the call.
-Order! I have asked whether the motion is seconded. It appears to be signed by a person other than the person who has seconded it. It appears as if the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) has signed the paper as being the seconder to the motion.
– I seconded the motion.
– All right; I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to take a point of order.
-The Leader of the Country Party stood and seconded the motion. I am sorry; there can be no debate on this matter. The question is: ‘That the motion be agreed to’. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary say no. I think that the noes have it.
– Do the noes have it?
-The motion was: ‘That the ruling of the Chair be dissented from’.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. As I understood the motion which was moved by the Leader of the House, he tried to avoid the problem of the Treasurer by moving that we be no longer heard.
-That question was put some considerable time ago. I then asked for a seconder to the motion of dissent, which I received, and I then put that question.
– It was not heard by honourable members on this side of the chamber. It is a travesty of the proceedings of the House.
– I remind the gentlemen on the Opposition benches that I would not call for a seconder for the motion of dissent if the motion that the honourable member for Flinders be not further heard was still before the Chair.
– A motion was moved for dissent from your ruling.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) moved that motion and I seconded it by signing. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition commenced to speak and the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) moved that he be not further heard.
– That is correct. That was the motion before the Chair. That was carried. I then asked whether the motion for dissent was seconded. The honourable gentleman rose and said that he seconded the motion. I put the question on that motion as no one else was entitled to speak and I declared that motion lost. That is the situation we are at now.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I move dissent from your ruling.
-That is not in order. There is a motion of dissent before the Chair.
– I dissent from your ruling because I do not believe that your ruling was correct. I was ready to speak, but I believe you were acting on the -
– I asked if the motion was seconded. The right honourable member rose, seconded the motion and resumed his seat.
– I was ready but you had another motion before the Chair.
-Order! It is one thing to argue about whether the right honourable member has missed his call or not. The right honourable gentleman rose and said that he seconded the motion. While the other motion was before the Chair there was no way in which I could ask for a seconder. The mover was still on his feet.
– That is the point of order I rise on. I dissent from your ruling. I disagree with your ruling and I move dissent from your ruling.
– It is not a ruling; it is a matter of fact. I still have a motion of dissent before the Chair and I cannot accept a second one. I have declared the motion of dissent lost.
– Do I get the right of seconding the motion?
-You have seconded the motion and you have resumed your seat.
– Do I get the right to speak?
– I have put the question. I am not going to put it again.
– I think you were acting very smartly.
-The question is lost.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, it is my clear recollection that on two previous occasions you have taken the same course of action to rule that you had called another person, denying the first person who was implicated in the business before the House the right to exercise his privilege in this House. I believe you should correct your mistake on this occasion.
-Order! I have not called any other person.
– You called the honourable member for Mackellar.
-The honourable member for Adelaide is speaking to the Bill which is before the House. He was interrupted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The motion before the House is that the Banking Bill be read a second time.
– The point at which the dissent from your ruling was moved, Mr Deputy Speaker, was the end of the honourable member for Adelaide speaking to the House.
-That was an interruption.
– There is no question about it.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, unless you called him again your ruling is quite wrong. You did not call him again. You have informed the House that he was speaking. Of course, the facts of the matter are that you did not call him. You made a mistake and you should correct your ruling.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The question has been put. I have declared it lost. I now call the honourable member for Adelaide.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You say there has been a ruling on it; I say there has not been a ruling. Therefore I move dissent from your ruling.
– Order! There is no question of a ruling. It is a question of a motion being put before the House and a declaration of the result. Your only choice on that was whether you called a division or not. There is no ruling in that.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, there is a disagreement between you and me and the only course under Standing Orders by which I may disagree is to move dissent from your ruling. I move dissent from your ruling.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the ruling is that the declaration has been carried.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this is another example of the rowdiness of the Opposition. We have had one or two examples of this.
– I have been interrupted while speaking on the Banking Bill.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, if we continued after being called to order you would have us thrown out.
– I may well yet.
– I rise on a point of order. The point of order that was raised by the Leader of the Country Party was that the vote had not in fact been taken. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, from the chair, disagreed.
-Order! There is not a question of disagreement.
– I would like to make my point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– I suggest that the honourable member read the procedures of the House.
– I am entitled to make the point of order and you are entitled then to rule on it. I would like to make the point of order. The Leader of the Australian Country Party took the point of order that a vote had not been taken. You disagreed with that submission before the Chair, but the fact remains that there can be a point of order on whether or not a vote has been taken. I believe that is a matter which is consistent with the precedents of this House because an occupant of the chair cannot at any time during any debate simply rule that a vote has been taken without having the capacity in the chamber to have that tested by taking a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The vote was taken. I think every member of this chamber is aware of that. If any objection to the vote was taken the honourable member could have called for a division, but he did not do so. I asked for a seconder of the motion of dissent. The Leader of the Country Party seconded the motion.
– Can you not read?
-Some signatures I can read and some I cannot. That is something that is not in question. The right honourable member seconded the motion and resumed his seat. I then put the question.
– He reserved his right to speak.
-An honourable member cannot reserve his right to speak in a debate in which no one else is entitled to speak. The motion has been dealt with.
– It is your duty to call him.
-No division was called. There was no suggestion of any division being called.
– It is not a division.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER Order!
– It is a question of calling the seconder.
– I warn the honourable member for Cowper.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
-Order! I will not accept any further points of order. If the Opposition was not prepared to call for a division on a question when I put it I am not taking any further points of order.
– Look, you are not a school teacher talking to school kids.
– I warn the honourable member for Gippsland.
– You should protect the rights of members of this Parliament.
-That is exactly what I am trying to do. I am trying to protect the rights of the honourable member for Adelaide, whose time has been taken up by this procedure.
– I have taken a point of order.
– I will listen to the honourable member, but if it is not a point of order -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Ring the bells. (The bells being rung)-
– The point of order must take precedence.
-Not on a quorum; the honourable member ought to know that.
– That may be what the point of order is about.
-Not when a member was on his feet when it was taken.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, why are the bells still ringing when there is a quorum present?
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I will take advice from the Clerks, not the assistant deputy whips. A quorum is now present. I call the honourable member for Adelaide.
– I rise on a point of order.
– I have called the honourable member for Adelaide. I will not entertain any more delays on this Bill.
– I was speaking to a point of order when the quorum was called.
– All right. I will give the honourable member that privilege. It had better be a point of order; otherwise I will not tolerate it.
-The members of the Opposition have given another example tonight of the way -
Opposition members- Sit down.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. If honourable members do not behave themselves I will suspend the sitting of the House. I call the honourable member for Gippsland.
– My point of order is that it is proper practice, I believe, for the seconder of a motion to be called and given the right to speak. You did not call the Leader of the Country Party, who was the seconder of the motion, as you can see by the piece of paper on which the motion of dissent is written.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to speak to that point of order.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I will look after this matter myself. The Leader of the Country Party rose and indicated that he seconded the motion and immediately resumed his seat. I do not call an honourable member who is no longer standing. I call the honourable member for Adelaide. Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– You scab. Why do you not get the Prime Minister to come into the House and announce that the Treasurer has been sacked?
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– Where is Klugman?
-I will name the next honourable member who makes any interjection at all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion ( by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– This is a most important measure. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) was quite right.
Motion ( by Mr Daly) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (The Deputy Speaker-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.21 to 8 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 14 November on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 October on motion by Dr Patterson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill and the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill, as they are associated measures. Separate questions will of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-These 3 Bills, the Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill, the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill and the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill, the Opposition regard as important and urgent. The Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill provides some $4.4m to the Queensland Government for the cost of building some of the works associated with phase 1 of stage 1 of the Bundaberg Irrigation program. The Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill provides $3m to the Queensland Government towards the cost of constructing a weir on the Burdekin River near Clare. The Queensland
Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill provides $125,000 to assist in the contraction of needed flood mitigation works on the Proserpine River. These 3 Bills have the support of the Opposition. In expressing that support, I think there are several matters that should be raised by me in this debate in relation to the nature of Queensland’s funding program for water resource works in Queensland.
Last year Cabinet approved a document submitted by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) on water resources management. The basic philosophy expressed in that document was stated to be:
The conservation, development and management of water resources must take place in the broader framework not only of development and management of resources generally, but . also of the overall economic, environmental and social planning.
The philosophy of that approach has the support of the Opposition. We have long recognised the fact that dams should not be built solely to provide water, however important that might be. They should be buUt to provide supplies of water resources bearing in mind the need of the communitywhether it be urban or rural- for the stored water resources, and taking appreciation of the fact that wastage or depletion of resources, whether they be soU, water, vegetation or timber, be kept to the absolute minimum.
With respect to the Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill, the Opposition appreciates that this further grant to the Queensland Government foUows a grant by the former Liberal-Country Party Government of $12.8m for the construction of the Monduran Dam, the Gin Gin channel and the construction of a pumping station to link the Kolan and Burnett Rivers. The construction work on this project during the past year has been held up by unseasonal conditions. Heavy rain and, at times, flooding have resulted in the works program falling behind. The $4.4m provided under this Bill is basically to meet the escalating costs of the project which mainly stem from inflation and rising wage rates. It has been some time since the request was made by the Queensland Government for the $4.4m supplementary grant. I should like to put on record that the Opposition believes that this sum may not be enough to meet the works program envisaged in this Bill because of the factors I have enumerated. Whether the estimates given are sound or not, nothing in recent times indicates that the inflationary trend is not still on the upward spiral and in that case, of course, the $4.4m wUl not be enough.
-Too little, too late.
– It is better to get something some of the time, I suppose, but my friend the honourable member for Darling Downs is pretty right. If this is the case, I think the Government should immediately consult the Queensland Government to assess what further supplementary funds are necessary. We cannot have a project of this kind held up simply because of the economic policies of this Government and inflationary trends cutting into the amount of money allocated for it originally.
The importance of this project to the Bundaberg district cannot be overstated. The Bundaberg area is one of the most important agricultural regions of Australia. It is a centre of diversified farming and pastoral activity. The provision of irrigation will improve this diversity, lift farm efficiency and create a greater amount of stability for producers. Those are objectives that we should all be prepared to support, and the Opposition supports them. In past decades rural production in the Bundaberg area has been at times severely affected by protracted droughts and on occasions extensive flooding. The completion of the works provided for in this Bill will reduce the likelihood of such natural disasters causing the amount of damage that they have caused in the past and will reduce their effect.
For example, the 1964 drought not only severely retarded rural production in the Bundaberg area but also caused delays in the return of farm production to normal levels. Over the past 5 years particularly the diversity of production in the Bundaberg region has become more pronounced, thereby making this proposed work even more important. Soya bean cropping is now widespread. The acreage of sugar planted has increased and the acreage of summer grain crops has increased. The acreage involved in beef production has also increased. With the exception of beef production, these primary industries are among the most viable at present in Australia.
The Opposition welcomes this diversity, believing that it will give a commensurate improvement in farm income and stability for the region. However, I suggest to the Government, in addition to the suggestion already made, that more funds should be provided, that the Government should give urgent consideration to where these works could be used in providing employment opportunities under the Regional Employment Development Scheme. That is a good place to use some of these funds.
– Productive works.
-That is so. Escalation of employment opportunities, for example, by the subcontracting of works associated with the Bundaberg irrigation program, with finance being drawn from the RED grants would allow the entire program to return to its normal schedule and so overcome the delays caused by bad weather conditions last year and this year. It would provide needed job opportunities for people displaced from work due to the downturnthis is an important factor in relation to these Bills- particularly in the beef industry and also in the manufacturing industries of the area caused by the Government’s regressive, harsh, irresponsible economic policies. I have not exhausted the adjectives I would like to use in relation to the Government’s economic policies. I know for a fact that early this month, on 7 November, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) visited the area in which the Bundaberg irrigation works are being undertaken. I also understand that the point was made that the escalation of the program of construction of these works would provide employment opportunities- of course it would. I believe the suggestion is a good idea and I recommend it to the Government.
The water that will be stored as a result of this program and later used in production will undoubtedly contribute to a wider and fuller prosperity for the district in terms of local production. I interpose here that this scheme was introduced by the former Liberal-Country Party Government. I personally welcome the proposal and I urge the Government to give sound and serious consideration to my suggestion that the work be expanded. In a project of this kind the completion of the work at the earliest possible time is an important factor. It is an important factor at any time. It is doubly important when we are faced with escalating costs and with spiralling inflation which in my view will continue at a greater rate- although I am sorry to have to say that- than at the present time. The completion of this project will, as the Minister has said, almost completely protect the sugar industry in the Bundaberg region against the ravages of water stress. That is very important in that area, an area which has suffered very greatly as I am sure the Minister would agree, as a result of water stress over the years.
Such an achievement is commendable. It is worth while remembering at this time- and I again make this point- that it was a LiberalCountry Party Government that introduced the project. Do not let us forget that. Up to the time of its introduction- this is another point I want to emphasise- the Labor Party had not advocated a program for such a project in the Bundaberg area. So the credit for introducing and instigating -
– Rubbish. You do not know what you are talking about. Read some of my reports.
-Look, your policies are not often accepted by the Government anyhow. So it would not matter much what you said to the Government as far as I can see. At the time of its introduction the Bundaberg area was represented politically at the State and Federal level by Labor members of Parliament but we did not hear much from them as to what should be done in this area. It was left to the LiberalCountry Party Government to provide the scheme that is now being proceeded with. Those members could not appreciate the far-sighted needs for this project. Despite the comments of the Minister, the Liberal and Country Parties saw, recognised and acted upon them.
I turn now to the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill. The Opposition supports the construction of the Clare Weir. I am sure that the Minister will be pleased to know that. The development of this weir on the Burdekin River near Townsville will improve the rural, commercial and urban utilisation of water flow in the Burdekin River basin. That of course, is a good thing. We appreciate this action. This development will improve farming conditions and provide substantial water resources which are necessary for local commercial undertakings and growing urban needs. The provision of $3m is well below the $3. 8m sought by the Queensland Government not only for the Clare Weir but also for the Urannah Dam. It is very regrettable that the Government has not sought to act on the Urannah Dam proposal because the Opposition believes that the integrated development of the Clare Weir plus the construction of the Urannah Dam would improve the water resource storage position of the area concerned. If the Minister is so influential in the Government why did he not have that incorporated in the legislation before us? Let him explain if he can why the Government has turned down this aspect of the total concept.
– Tell us how much you gave for the Urannah Dam in 23 years?
-Australia increasingly in the future must look forward to developing wherever possible its opportunities to become more of a major food supplier to the world. The Minister asked why we did not do it for 23 years. In answer to him I say that we were progressing favourably. We were agreeable together with the Queensland and New South Wales governments in regard to the construction of the Pike Creek Dam, which is now known as the Glenlyon Dam. What did this Government do in regard to this project? It walked out on it. It repudiated the undertaking given by the Liberal-Country Party Government to construct this dam on a 3-way basis. The worth of the dam is demonstrated by the fact that the Queensland and New South Wales Governments short as they are of funds which have been denied them by this Government, are prepared to go on and construct the dam out of their own resources. It is a shame that this type of approach to water conservation has been taken by this Government. The Minister at the table was not every concerned about this project because his electorate does not happen to be near it. He lives in another part of Queensland and he does not worry very much about anywhere else.
Australia increasingly must look forward to its development with respect to becoming a bigger food supplier in the world. The construction of the Clare Weir and the Urannah Dam would have allowed Australia to help to meet its obligations for this grave international need. Despite the low market for beef this prospect is standing out as one of the great problems confronting the world today. In this country we can play a very substantial part providing it has the assistance of the Government that is in office and providing that we have a reasonably sound economy. But that is something that this Government cannot provide. It is regrettable that the Government has not sought to go on with the proposal to give financial assistance for the development of the Urannah Dam. The grant for the Clare Weir is dependent on the Queensland Government carrying out further development works worth $1.6m.
It is interesting to note that the Queensland Government has been criticised for not cooperating with the Federal Government. It will co-operate as long as it has a reasonable chance to co-operate and providing the conditions under which the funds are advanced are consistent with the ideas of the Queensland Government and do not cut across State rights. The fact that the Queensland Government has to provide $1.6m illustrates this particular point. This shows up the fallacy of the argument of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that he cannot get co-operation from the Queensland Government when it comes to projects which are necessary to improve the economy of Queensland. The Queensland
Government is anxious to get money on any reasonable terms to develop the State.
I would now like to turn to the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill. Again the Opposition fully supports the project. The Minister for Northern Development sitting at the table will be fully aware of the grave problems which the Proserpine River Valley has encountered through repeated floods. An amount of $120,000 is to be made available by the Commonwealth for this project. Also $120,000 will be made available by the Queensland Government and $60,000 by the Proserpine River Improvement Trust. So here again the Queensland Government is playing its part and the people of the Proserpine River Improvement Trust are also playing their part. I pay a tribute to them for what they are doing.
This program has the full support of the Queensland Government. However, it should be pointed out that the Federal Government has agreed only to the first year of the program. Why has it done that? Why not go on and see it finished? Is the Commonwealth Government going to let the load fall just on the Queensland Government? Will it let whatever load is left after that time fall on the Queensland Government or will it come to the party later on? The Queensland Government has no guarantee that the Commonwealth Government will come in later. The Queensland Government has to go into the project and do its best. It will see the project through. The State Government has to put up the balance of the finance for the remaining years of the program. That is a shocking state of affairs.
The Minister will claim that he has some appreciation of the need for this sort of work but he is prepared to walk out at the end of 1 year and let the Queensland Government with its limited funds carry the burden of the rest of the program. This brings into question the sincerity of the Government in relation to the conservation of Queensland river water resources. It is a program on the Proserpine River designed to reduce flooding.
– Were does it say that? You do not even know the Act.
– I know enough about it to know that this Government is giving a lot less money than it ought to be giving, and that is something that the Minister could turn his attention to rather than anything else. If he wants to help the people in that area he should get more money from the Federal Government. That is what he wants to do. Criticising me will not help the people in that area. He should get the Prime Minister to help these people. That is what he should do. If he concentrates on that he will be doing a good job for them. But he is not getting very far in his efforts.
The program on the Proserpine River is designed to reduce flooding and protect soil, water resources, farm resources and urban resources. The Federal Government is prepared to meet only some of the commitment in the first year. If I do not know anything about this matter the Minister should tell me what is wrong with that contention. He should tell me all about it. When he replies he should tell me how much more he will do for the people in this area. If the Government has any sincerity at all in this program it should look at widening and continuing its involvement until the completion of the program. This Government, which holds the purse strings of the nation, is making the Queensland Government which is short of funds cany the share of the burden that it should not have to carry. It is doing a wonderful job in accepting this load in the area of north Queensland and in accepting the responsibility to provide water which can be used for food production that is so desperately needed throughout the world and will become more desperately needed as time goes on.
I find it is almost hypocritical on the Minister’s part to say that this Bill was in keeping with the Australian Government’s positive and constructive approach towards flood damage restoration and flood mitigation. The Government is basically keeping its commitment down in the funding of the Proserpine flood mitigation project program to what I would regard almost as a low as possible level. I think it is a disgusting exhibition of the lack of interest and lack of government appreciation of the problem that faces the people in that area. I believe that the Government should review its commitment to this program. I ask the Minister at the table to do that. Although I might wish him well, I do not think he has any hope of success in persuading the Government to do it.
I believe that the Government should review its commitment so as to ensure that the completion of this project will not be jeopardised because of the penny-pinching attitude of the Commonwealth towards providing finance for a worth while and urgently needed undertaking. The program is not only in the interests of the community of the Proserpine River valley but it is also in the interests of the total community. It covers a wider field than just the Proserpine River valley. The Government needs to recognise that any efforts which will reduce the severity of natural disasters affect all Australians to some degree, and a reduction of flood frequencies along the Proserpine River through this program deserves a commitment in the national interest. It is to the very great credit of the Queensland Government that it is prepared to find the balance of the funds above the miserable amount that the Australian Government is going to give, which cut out at the end of one year. Honourable members on the Government side who are interjecting should have a look at the Bill. I believe the honourable member for Kingston would be prepared to support me in this if he had a look at the Bill. Anyone with a reasonable amount of common sense would certainly do that.
In recent weeks the Labor Government has decided to intrude in the Queensland election campaign, using the claim that the Queensland Government is jeopardising the opportunities of Queenslanders to receive funds from the Commonwealth Government. I say that they are accepting -
– So it is.
-You would not know. You just interject for the sake of interjecting. The point is that the rejection of whatever Commonwealth funds have been rejected by the Queensland Government has been because the Commonwealth has sought only to extend those funds where they have strings attached to them. That is the basic reason for the rejection. You will not get the Queensland Government to accept funds from an Australian Government which is attaching strings to those funds to enable it to have its own centralist policies adopted in Queensland. (Government members interjecting).
-Order! Interjections will cease and the honourable member will address the Chair.
-Yes, Mr Speaker. I am very pleased to do that because it is much nicer looking at you than at some of the people who are making the interjections that are flying around. It is a real relief. I repeat that the reason for the rejection by the Queensland Government of whatever Commonwealth Government funds have been rejected has been because those funds have had strings attached to them and the acceptance of the funds would jeopardise the sovereignty of the State. Do not forget that. That is important, and I do not say it lightly. The 3 Bills that we are now debating show the reverse of the argument that the Government has been using in respect of the Queensland Government. The
Queensland Government is accepting funds from the Commonwealth for the construction of these 3 projects. That indicates its willingness to go along with any reasonable and sensible program. It is important to remember that in regard to one program, the Proserpine flood mitigation program, the Federal Gvernment is making what I regard as the least possible commitment, and I emphasise that point again to the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson). He should know that area as well as anybody and he ought to be ashamed of the miserable part that the Australian Government is playing in that program.
With regard to the other 2 projects, the Bundaberg irrigation program and the Clare Weir, the Commonwealth is providing what I would think could be inadequate finance in view of the inflation which has been promoted in large part by it. The Commonwealth Government has also declined to fund wider programs of assistance involving these 2 areas, programs which have been suggested by the Queensland Government after careful study. No matter what the Minister says, they were suggested by the Queensland Government The programs are supported by the Queensland Government and it will support any reasonable project on the same basis.
Criticism has been levelled at the attitude of the Queensland Government towards the operation of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation as a consultant to the Federal Government on future water conservation and flood mitigation programs. The Government has argued that the Corporation should not have to listen to the arguments of the Queensland Government on priorities for projects. Why? Why should not the Queensland Government, elected by the people of Queensland, be heard? Why should the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, whatever its capacity, usurp the duties of the Queensland State Government, or any other State government? And this is what Govenment supporters want, judging from their interjections. Is that what they want? They want a statutory authority to take over the State Government. Of course they do. That is their objective. I totally reject this argument by the Government. The argument fails to recognise that the Queensland Government and its authorities have a deep and intense knowledge stemming from many years of research and study into water conservation and flood mitigation needs, and I believe that it consequently should be involved in full consultation with the Commonwealth. The Queensland Government is quite prepared to consult with the Commonwealth Government. Is that not the democratic method of operation? Do you want the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to override the Queensland Government just because the Corporation has some expertise in the field? Is that what honourable members on the Government side feel about democratic government?
This Government is quite obviously trying to prevent the Queensland Government from drawing up a list of priorities which are more in tune with the needs of Queensland and which are based on the Queensland Government’s own experience. It is rejecting the right of the Queensland Government to question in government to government talks the priorities and evaluations decided upon by the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. Of course we should allow the Queensland Government to question those priorities. Of course we should. This is a federation, and the voice of the Queensland Government, and of any other State government for that matter, should be heard in matters that effect their State. Unless we get away from the centralist ideals that this Government seems to have, then it is going to be to the very great disadvantage of the States of Australia.
The attitude of the Queensland Government in this matter is a responsible one and a commendable one. If the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is to operate effectively in the area of water conservation and flood mitigation within the States it must be directed by the Minister to consult fully with the State Government and its agencies concerned. Now, is there any objection to that? Do Government members have any objection to the Corporation consulting with the State authorities? They certainly should not have any objection, but they are quiet now. Possibly they realise at long last the logic of the argument I have put up. Not to allow the State Government and its agencies to consult with the Corporation is a retrograde step and is not in the interests of democracy, it is not in the interests of the people of Queensland. I should like to ask the Minister for Northern Development what appreciation he had of the great quality of Fred Haig, the chief man in that field. He was a very good man, and there are not many better authorities in this country on this subject than Fred Haig was. We still have in the State of Queensland and in other States people who are quite capable of evaluating water conservation proposals. Not to allow the State Government to consult with the Commonwealth is to heighten the risk of coming to an ill advised and ill informed decision which could lead to the squandering of public funds and the misuse of our natural resources.
One point I want to emphasise again is that I completely refute the argument that the Queensland Government is not prepared to cooperate with the Federal Government in any way. I claim that the Federal Government walked out on the Queensland and New South Wales State Governments in regard to the Glenlyon Dam and left the project to them. To the credit of those States, they are going ahead with it, and only recently I heard that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, which the Minister for the Capital Territory might know something about, is quite interested in getting a property which bestrides that river that is going to be served by the Glenlyon Dam. There are some 2200 acres of potential irrigation land on the Queensland side. One Federal Government was quite prepared to use the water but was not prepared to provide the funds to build a dam to get the water supplied to that area.
The Opposition has made its position clear in connection with these Bills. It supports the Bills. I have made the points that I feel should be made in refutation of what has been claimed about the Queensland Government. The Queensland Government is very anxious to proceed with worthwhile projects. Indeed, it has proved that in many ways. The inland town of St George in Queensland has progressed favourably through irrigation. Dams have been built at Coolmunda and other inland areas of Queensland in which possibly a cost benefit analysis might not show quite as high a result as sometimes we look for. But, as I quoted earlier, the basic philosophy expressed by this Government is that the conservation, development and management of water resources must take place in the broader framework not only of the development and management of resources generally but also of the overall economic environment and social platform. That is what has happened as a result of the great effort made by the Queensland Government in the matter of water conservation.
I again urge the Minister for Northern Development and the Australian Government to be prepared to be a bit more generous about the providing of water for this the driest continent in the world. The provision of water is the very foundation of decentralisation. If the Government has any ideas about decentralisation it must be prepared to support the construction of major water conservation projects in this country. It is not prepared to do so or, if it is, it is prepared to do so only in a very niggardly fashion. I conclude by saying that it is all very well for some of those honourable members who interjected during my speech tonight to be critical about this matter because so much of the water resources in the southern or south-eastern part of the Commonwealth has been harnessed to the very great advantage of that area, but we want to see the other States deriving the benefit that can be derived within that framework in their own areas which, of course, would be to the benefit of all the Australian people.
– This evening we are discussing 3 Billsthe Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill, the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill and the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill. The Opposition supports all 3 Bills. We welcome the fact that the Government has seen fit to bring these Bills on for debate this week. I must admit that I am wondering whether, if there had not been an election in Queensland soon, these Bills would have been given precedence over all the hotchpotch of proposed legislation which has flown out of the Labor Government’s maladministration of the Australian economy. However, they are before us today. The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson), who is at the table and whom I have known well for years, is a Queenslander. He is a rugged Queenslander. I hope that he will get a degree of satisfaction out of the measures which we are discussing tonight.
I suppose the richness of the State of Queensland is gradually dawning upon members of the Australian Labor Party. Enormous potential for growth in both resources development and population is possessed by this large and outstanding State. It has the ability to contribute to the overseas earnings of Australia. When the Labor Government came to office not quite 2 years ago we had substantial overseas credit. It inherited a very healthy economy, including substantial overseas credits. But what damage it has been able to wreak upon them in just 2 short years. We are now getting back to the problems we had before 1960. A balance of payments problem will be facing this nation as well as the problems of unemployment and inflation if the Labor Government does not grasp the significance of overseas earnings. Of course, the development of the richness of central Queensland can help enormously in this respect. I am pleased to see that areas like Bundaberg, Proserpine and the Burdekin have been included in these measures. When one talks about decentralisation one should not be so concerned about grandiose schemes like Albury- Wodonga; one needs to be concerned about areas which have shown potential and which have been known for decades to have potential. As with many other things, the Labor Government has been rather slow to recognise this simple fact of life.
The Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill provides for the allocation of an additional $4.4m for the completion of certain works to the first stage of the Bundaberg irrigation program. The original Act of 1970 allocated $ 12.8m. Of course, with the increases in the cost of materials and manpower an additional $4. 4m has to be allocated to cover this initial stage. This irrigation project is just as significant to the Australian economy as it is to the Queensland economy because it is in a vast cane growing area. We are all aware of the tremendous world prices being obtained today for sugar. Sugar is significant not only to the world economy but also to the Queensland and Australian economy. This project not only will help the sugar industry and the cane growers but also will have an impact upon the urban development of the Bundaberg area and the growing industrial base of the region.
The Government ought to realise and all Australians ought to realise that the reason for the introduction of this Bill is the substantial rate of inflation within the Australian economy. Let us examine the position in this respect. This additional finance would not have been needed if the Labor Government had been able to manage the economy. This Bill is simply designed to take up the necessary increase in cost caused by inflation. Let us again look at the Government’s record in that respect. It came to office in December 1 972 with a rate of inflation of about 5 per cent in the Australian economy. Inflation is now running at 4 times at least- probably 5 times- that rate. That is another record of the Labor Government. It has achieved a record rate of inflation just as it has achieved a record rate of unemployment. It is amazing to me how long it has taken the Government to learn a few simple facts of life. It has gradually dawned on the Government that wage demands, which it militantly supported in the early days of its taking office by having the Public Service as a pacesetter and by allowing some of its Ministers, people who ought to be responsible in government, to encourage militant trade unions to use their muscle in their wage demands, are one of the reasons why this Bill is before us. This Bill provides for an increase of $4.4m in the expenditure on the Bundaberg irrigation scheme.
I move on to the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill. It seeks to provide for a much smaller amount- $120,000. In his second reading speech the Minister for Northern Development said:
The purpose of this Bill is to enable a grant of up to $120,000 to be made available to Queensland for the construction of urgently needed flood mitigation works on the Proserpine River. The grant is conditional upon matching expenditure being provided by the Queensland Government and the Proserpine River Improvement Trust on the basis of 40 per cent Federal, 40 per cent State and 20 per cent local authority contributions and is consistent with the Government ‘5 overall approach to the problem of flood mitigation.
Fine words. Nobody can argue with them. I wish the Minister could have more success in convincing his Cabinet and Caucus colleagues of the importance of flood mitigation right throughout the State of Queensland- indeed right throughout the Australian nation.
The Minister mentioned the floods of 1974 and the need for flood mitigation schemes. Of course, such schemes are necessary not only in the Proserpine area; they are necessary also in central and northern Queensland. Look at the havoc created by the January 1974 floods in the city of Brisbane. In my own electorate of McPherson nearly 2,300 homes were inundated. The need for flood mitigation works goes far beyond this Bill. The principle provided for in the Bill of 40 per cent Federal, 40 per cent State and 20 per cent local authority contribution is desirable, but the amount of money involved in this instance is not large and its provision should be extended. The Gold Coast City Council, which is in my electorate, has put flood mitigation schemes to the Government only to have them rejected time and time again by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and almost every significant Labor Minister. We want to see the share of responsibility accepted by the Federal Government extended far beyond Proserpine. We want to see it extended right throughout Queensland, to the benefit not only of the people but also of the resources and property of the State.
The third Bill with which we are dealing is the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill, which seeks the allocation of $3m initially for the beginning of what I hope one day will be a very great scheme on the Burdekin River. We are all aware that the Burdekin River is one of the great underdeveloped water resources of the Australian nation. As was pointed out by the Minister in his second reading speech there are vast flood plains in that area which have great potential for agricultural development. The Clare Weir scheme has prospects for flood mitigation which are desirable. It is not being developed for agricultural purposes only. It will be of long term benefit for the generation of power. If we are to have a growing industrial base we must have power resources available to us. It is the beginning of what I hope will be a substantial and successful development of the Burdekin area in northern Queensland. I wish to quote again from the Minister’s second reading speech. In referring to the State of Queensland he said:
Clare Weir represents the first significant step in a partnership with the State in the development of the Burdekin Basin.
This is where trouble has occurred between the Federal Government and the Queensland Government. There should not be conflict between the 2 Governments. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) continues to say- quite falsely in my view- that the Federal Government is being obstructed by the Queensland Government. The Queensland Government will co-operate with the Federal Government in anything that is in the interest of the State of Queensland. But what we will not accept and what the Bjelke-Petersen and Chalk Government will not accept is domination and confrontation. It will not accept approaches by the Federal Government which are designed to take away the State’s responsibilities. The Labor Government has to appreciate this fact.
So far as the Queensland Government is concerned, no problem exists in relation to cooperation between the Federal Government and the Queensland Government. The Queensland Government’s approach is that on any reasonable proposition it will co-operate with the Federal Government. If the Labor Government tries to dominate the Queensland Government and tries to take away from a constitutionally elected State government its constitutional rights then, of course, the Federal Government cannot expect to get co-operation. Honourable members will see- I notice the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) nods his head- on 7 December that the people of Queensland substantially support the point of view I have just stated. After all, the Government is dealing with a State government which has been in office since 1957 and which has a substantial majority. It is dealing with a State government that under 3 prestigous Premiers -
– Who were they?
-Sir Francis Nicklin, the late Mr Pizzey and Mr Bjelke-Petersen.
There has been enormous growth and development in Queensland. If we compare the situation since 1957 with what happened under almost 30 years of Labor administration during which we struggled on with hardly any development at all, we see that in that 17 years of Country-Liberal Party Government there has been an explosion of growth. If the Federal Government had a Treasurer like Sir Gordon Chalk it would not be making changes within its Ministry, as is apparently going on within the Australian Government. If the Labor Party had somebody with the capacity to administer the economy of Australiasuch as Sir Gordon Chalk has administered the economy of Queensland- the Government would not have to be changing its mind about economic policies.
– Would he be a better Premier than Joh?
– The honourable member for Bowman interjects but I want to say to the Minister at the table that he ought to be careful because we have seen what has happened to the Minister for Defence one day, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the next day, the Treasurer the next day, and so on. It might get down to the Minister for Northern Development one of these days. The Government might have a Cabinet reshuffle involving the Minister for Northern Development.
I ask honourable members to examine the management of Queensland. I ask them to examine the Budget introduced recently by Sir Gordon Chalk. If they do so, they will see effective management of an economy, which is another lesson the Labor Government could learn. As I said earlier, these 3 Bills have the Opposition ‘s support. We regard them as desirable. After 2 years in office the Labor Party Government has grasped- only in the last couple of weeks- the significance of the fact that if it wants to have social reform the private sector of the economy has to be doing well. In 2 years the Labor Government has managed to find out that if it wants social reform someone has to pay for it. If the Labor Government is going to belt business and belt the private sector so that they lack profits and cannot pay taxes, there cannot be social reform. I accept that the Government has learnt that simple lesson.
I ask honourable members opposite to address their minds to another aspect of this matter and to forget their obsession with centralism. Centralism will not work any more than will socialist objectives. The Government should try to accept that we have State governments.
-Order! The 3 Bills before the House have nothing to do with socialism.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I simply wanted, in referring to the cooperation between the Queensland Government and the Federal Government, to demonstrate that the Government could by co-operation with the Queensland Government, have an effective Australian Government. The Government should attempt to have co-operation with the States rather than attempt to have centralist domination. If the Government adopts this sort of approach I am sure that in the future it will have the greatest co-operation with the States and the Australian nation as a whole. If the Government takes this attitude it will deserve and will receive great credit and benefits from the resources and riches of the State of Queensland.
– It is interesting to hear the Opposition this evening- reluctantly though it might be- support the passage of these 3 Bills through the House. I want to refer in particular to some of the remarks made by the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson).
– They were very good too, I thought.
– Yes, some of the comments made by the honourable member for McPherson were certainly significant. I was quite disappointed when I gave him the opportunity to speak in respect of the Treasurer of Queensland that he did not admit- as both the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and Sir Gordon Chalk have admitted- that a happier situation would exist in Queensland if Sir Gordon Chalk were leader of the coalition government and Premier of Queensland than exists under the Joh BjelkePetersen regime. I am sure, Mr Speaker, that I am entitled to compliment the honourable member for McPherson. Although he was not prepared to admit it openly, I could see by the smile on his face at the time when I interjected that he was quite prepared to agree with me that Sir Gordon Chalk would be a better Premier than Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Of course, this does not go quite far enough. If given the opportunity the honourable member for McPherson would probably admit also that there would be greater co- operation between the Queensland Government and the Federal Government. That cooperation can be carried out effectively by the passage of these 3 Bills. These Bills indicate how Queensland can benefit from co-operation with the Federal Government. I am sure that the honourable member for McPherson would agree with me that there would be greater co-operation if Mr Percy Tucker were Leader of the Government and the Premier of Queensland. Of course, on 7 December the people of Queensland will be showing this nation how they feel.
-Order! The honourable member having said that, I now ask him to deal with the 3 Bills.
– Yes, Mr Speaker, I certainly intend to do so. I was simply making a passing reference. When you gave that indulgence to the honourable member for McPherson and the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) they abused that privilege. I do not intend to do the same, Mr Speaker, as I have too much regard for your authority. The essence of these 3 Bills, of course, is the co-operation that this Government seeks from the State governments. The expenditure involved in these 3 Bills is $7. 5m. I am sure this legislation will be approved by the House this evening. It is an excellent example of how the various governments in this nation can cooperate, co-ordinate and get on together. I am sure that the people of Queensland do not care who spends the money. This question was raised by the 2 previous speakers on the Opposition side. They endeavoured to reflect on this Government because of its acceptance of responsibility for the allocation of financial resources to the various States. They suggested that the finances allocated by this Government should be given to the States without any ties and that this Government should accept completely responsibility for the eventual allocation of financial resources.
In effect, this Government would be recreant if it was prepared to do this. The Government realises that the taxpayers money must be expended to the best advantage. I could give excellent examples of how in the past when finance has been made available, particularly to the State of Queensland, the State Government has failed to use that money. I make passing reference to a disclosure which was made today and I do not concentrate on it to any extent because it does not concern the legislation before the House. I refer to the abject failure of the Queensland Government to expend the funds that were allocated by this Government within the last 12 months for government schools. Instead of taking advantage of this excellent opportunity for co-operation the Queensland Government, left to its own resources and given the money without any significant ties attached to it, failed miserably to carry out its responsibilities. This Government, having allocated the funds provided for in this legislation, has a responsibility to direct how and when those funds should be spent. To illustrate this point, I would point out that the funds made available to government schools in Queensland in the 1 974-75 financial year amounted to $21,575,000.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Apart from the fact that the honourable member for Bowman has been brought to heel by you a number of times, what have schools and education to do with the subject of the Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill, the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill and the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill? We have had enough of you allowing the honourable member for Bowman his freedom.
– I agree with the point made by the honourable member for Griffith. I was waiting to see whether any schools were flooded. I call the honourable member for Bowman.
-Obviously the honourable member for Griffith was not listening to my speech. I excuse him for being asleep at the time I made my point. I am only giving these examples of how the Queensland Government, when left on its own to expend the money given to it by this Government, has failed miserably in carrying out that responsibility. Of the $21,575,000 made available to the Queensland Government for government schools in the last financial year, only $3,887,000 was expended. What does this mean? It means that when the Queensland Government had the opportunity to carry out in that State works vitally necessary to the development of that State and to use some of the available unemployed in the State, it has not been prepared to take that opportunity. This Government is giving the Queensland Government an opportunity to make good. In introducing the 3 Bills that we are debating this evening the Australian Government is giving the Queensland Government a further opportunity at last to show its bona fides and at last to show that it is prepared to be honest about the relationship that should exist between the States and the Australian Government. It is giving the Premier of Queensland, in his dying days as Premier of Queensland, an opportunity finally to come forward and to say honestly that he is prepared to co-operate with the Australian Government, that he is prepared to cast away the petty politically advantageous attitudes that he has adopted in the past, and that he is prepared, for the benefit of the people of Queensland who currently are unemployed and who want to see these works carried out, to put forward every effort that he can muster on behalf of his Government to see that immediately these Bills become law the works provided for in them are carried into effect.
The honourable member for Maranoa suggested this evening that there has been some delay on the part of this Government in providing the finance, in particular, for one of the projects covered by these Bills. But when speaking of delay, perhaps it is appropriate that I remind honourable members opposite that the Premier of Queensland has been singularly outstanding for the delays that he has caused in the past when approaches have been made by the Government for co-operation from the Queensland Government.
As we are considering this evening works in relation to flood mitigation in Queensland, I think it appropriate to make some reference in passing to probably one of the most important flood mitigation projects in Queensland which will be carried out for many a long day. I refer to the pending construction of the Wivenhoe Dam. What is the attitude of the Premier of Queensland in regard to this project? To seek cheap political capital he suggested, by means of a propaganda Press release on 10 July, that Queensland would go it alone in the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam. Fortunately we have a very asture alert and wide awake Minister in the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) who was able to prove the next day that the Queensland Premier had been dishonest in this claim that this Government had not been prepared to co-operate in the preparation of the designs and plans for the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam.
My interest in this dam occasioned my asking a question of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) some few weeks ago. I was seeking information from him as to just what was happening in relation to this very important flood mitigation program in Queensland. He was able to tell me that in March this year the Premier of Queensland received a letter from the Prime Minister seeking the Premier’s views on the modification of the dam because, as the Prime Minister rightly asserted at that stage, if the Australian Government was going to assist the State Government it needed to know just what would be involved and what financial contributions, if any, the Australian Government would have to make.
Let me remind honourable members that the 3 Bills that we are considering tonight provide an example of how well projects in Queensland can proceed, of just how effectively the important work necessary for the development of Queensland can be carried out, when the State Government is prepared to do what it is elected by the people of Queensland to do and to cooperate with the Government of this nation which has the responsibility of raising the necessary finances and providing those finances to the State governments. Let me remind honourable members again that the people of Queensland are not interested in the petty political attitudes adopted by the Premier of Queensland when he suggests that taxpayers money should not be spent in Queensland simply because his paltry little 19 per cent Party in the Coalition Government of Queensland cannot have an absolute say on how that finance is to be expended. The people of Queensland want their money to be spent on the development of Queensland. They want a government which is prepared to cooperate with the Government that they elect to the national Parliament.
I cite another example of the failure of the Queensland Government to co-operate with the Federal Government. When the Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of Queensland about this vitally important project that would in the future save Brisbane from a repetition of the disastrous flood that occurred earlier this year, the Premier of Queensland did not see fit to reply to the letter from the Prime Minister until September of this year. The Prime Minister the other day mentioned the numerous occasions on which he has written to the Premier of Queensland asking the Premier to co-operate with him in the various efforts that the Australian Government has been making to carry forward the development of Queensland. Only because of the embarrassment of the disclosures of last weekend was the Premier prepared to reply to the numerous letters from the Prime Minister. Of course, it is important for us to realise that the Premier of Queensland is busily concerned with keeping Sir Gordon Chalk from becoming Premier of Queensland should the present coalition Government, by some mischance, be returned to office on 7 December.
– Or Leader of the Opposition.
– Or to prevent him from becoming, as my colleague the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) reminds me, the next Leader of the Opposition in that State. He is too busy with those problems with which he has been confronted. Although it is not appropriate to stray too far from the Bills under discussion this evening, let me remind you, Mr Speaker, that the Queensland Premier saved himself by his own proxy vote some time ago when his Party wished to cast him out as Leader. I invite the Premier of Queensland again this evening as we in this Parliament consider these 3 very important Bills for the development of Queensland to look once again at the opportunities that are being given for the development of Queensland. Those opportunities are typified in these Bills.
I invite him to cast aside his narrow political attitudes of the past and, even at this late hour, use the example set by these 3 measures to accept the genuine opportunities that are offered to him so frequently by this Australian Government elected by the same people that he believes put him into power, even though under the electoral gerrymander system existing in Queensland they had little opportunity to do otherwise. I invite him to accept these opportunities for the sake of the people of Queensland and to say that the bona fides of the Labor Government have been excellently demonstrated in these important measures of flood relief and dam development provided for this evening in these 3 Bills. I invite the Premier of Queensland to say that in the future he will turn over a new leaf and do everything possible to co-operate with the Federal Government and to co-ordinate his plans with the plans of the Australian Government which, as I have said on three or four occasions this evening, has genuinely and continually sought to introduce into Queensland, money of the Queensland taxpayers for the development of that State in a responsible fashion. I wholeheartedly give my support to these 3 measures and I congratulate the Opposition for taking the attitude that it has taken in supporting them this evening.
-I am delighted to be able to support the remarks of the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson). I must take up a couple of the points mentioned by the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh). I am not a betting man but if he would like to have a little wager on the side as to who will win the Queensland elections I will take him on. I suggest to the honourable member that the Labor Party is a sinking ship and that he should get off along with the rest of the crew. The result of the Queensland election to be held on 7 December will prove this point.
I would like to refute the statements made by the honourable member in relation to unspent Commonwealth funds provided to the States. It is true that every State in the Commonwealth was unable to spend certain funds in certain areas. The main reason for this was the economic bungling of this Federal Labor Government. The finger can be pointed in the same way to every State, whether that State has a LiberalCountry Party Government or a Labor Government.
I suggest also that the honourable member should look at the expenditure of this Federal Government on the Albury-Wodonga project. Once again, expenditure on this project fell short of the mark. So I say to the honourable member Do not point the finger of scorn at Queensland or any other State. Get your own house in order first. He also went on to say that the Premier of Queensland will not co-operate. He went on with all sorts of rubbish about letters being unanswered. If I were the Premier of Queensland I would not trust this Labor Government either. He has been given no reason to trust this Government. As a matter of fact, the people of this country do not even trust this Government any longer. Why should they?
– That is why they elected us on 18 May, is it?
– Let us have an election now and see how honourable members opposite fare. They were able to hoodwink the people on 18 May, but three or four weeks later they could not have won an election.
– The honourable member for Bowman would not be back here again.
– Yes. As the honourable member for McPherson reminds me, the honourable member for Bowman would not be back. He was lucky to be returned to the Parliament last time. I believe that the co-operation that has been received by the Government from the Opposition in relation to the projects covered by these Bills is typical of the co-operation that will be received by this Government if it plays the game with the State of Queensland. I remind members of the Government that these projects were all started prior to this Labor Government coming to power. As a Queenslander, I support these Bills. There are only 2 dams on the fringe of my electorate of Petrie. These are well up in the centre and the northern area of the State. There are two very important purposes for building dams. One is for water conservation and the other is for flood mitigation. I think that all of us are aware of the problems that are being experienced right throughout this country in regard to flooding. The ravages of floods are costing this nation hundreds of millions of dollars annually. All too frequently we find that dams are built with flood mitigation in mind but because of the excessive cost of construction and the need for water conservation so many of the dams that are built for flood mitigation are used as water storage dams.
I wish to speak now in relation to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. On 23 October 1974 the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) asked a Dorothy Dixer question of the Minister at the table, the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson). The question asked on that occasion was in relation to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation operating in Queensland. I want to put the record straight because the Minister was extremely misleading in the answer he gave.
– He often is.
– As the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) reminds me, he often is. I wish to quote the answer of the Minister that is recorded on page 2706 of Hansard. He said:
I understand that it is a fact that the Premier of Queensland is introducing legislation in the Queensland Parliament which will in effect ban the operations of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation in Queensland unless with the express approval of the Premier. I believe that to be a most irresponsible action.
The truth of the matter is that the amendment to the Queensland Act concerned was merely a technical one. It was done for administration purposes to bring the Queensland Act into line with the broadened scope of the Federal Act. Of course, this Act was amended and is now called the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Act 1970-73. The point I am making is that there is nothing underhand as was indicated by the Minister. There is nothing sinister or diabolical about the actions of the Premier of Queensland or, for that matter, the Queensland Government. All of the major construction works carried out in Queensland come under the control of the Premier of that State. The Co-ordinator-General’s Department is in charge. That Department does all of the research, planning and supervision of all major projects in Queensland. Let me remind Government supporters that the programs that are undertaken by the Queensland Government are of quite some magnitude. Do not forget that they include main roads, freeways, dams, harbours, and many other projects. This is the purpose of the Co-ordinator-General’s Department which has been set up in Queensland.
Queensland welcomes the assistance that is forthcoming from these 3 Bills. It is not trying to prevent the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation from entering Queensland, as the Minister endeavoured to make out. It appears to me from the comments and the tone of the Minister that he wants to see the discontinuance of Federal money for these schemes. That is the only impression I can gain from his answer on 23 October.
I want to refer further to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation because it has a very broad charter. It was formed to carry out investigations and to furnish advice in relation to water resources in Australia or elsewhere and in relation to soil, rocks and materials used in the construction of engineering works in Australia and elsewhere, and to design and construct engineering works in Australia or elsewhere, and so on. The inference I draw from what has been said by the Minister is that he wants this authority to operate everywhere in this country. We have seen what has happened with the interference to private enterprise in this country. We have seen a complete about face, a somersault, by this Government when it realised that we were just about on the rocks. It has now changed its tune altogether. As I said, the Minister wants to see the Corporation take over. Surely to goodness this Government has learnt its lesson with the state of the nation as it is, the economy in a shocking position, inflation running at 25 to 30 per cent and unemployment at 190,000. Surely to goodness it has learnt its lesson, as the honourable member for McPherson said a little earlier. Surely it no longer wants to control everything in this country but rather to allow free enterprise a fair go. There is too much bureaucracy today. I would have thought that the Government at this stage would have eased up more than it has.
I want to tell the people of Queensland, who are concerned with these 3 Bills, that this socialist Labor Government will obviously ruin this country. I would like to repeat a point that was made by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) a couple of days ago. I think it is worth mentioning that the pledge taken by Labor Party candidates states:
I also pledge myself to actively support and advocate at all times the Party’s objective, the socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said that he was proud to have signed this. The point is that complete socialisation of this country will not work. This Government has to learn this. Queenslanders will reject socialisation first and foremost, and I stand with them.
– Wait until Marshall Cooke gets hold of you next time.
-I have a habit of dealing with lightweights the same as I deal with all the lightweights opposite. That is exactly the way I will deal with them in the future.
– Wait until Marshall Cooke gets hold of you next time.
-He went where I put all the lightweights, the same as you will go next time. The honourable member for Bowman nearly went at the last election. With the extra support that we will muster for our candidate next time he will go. Mr Bjelke-Petersen and the Queensland Government are prepared to cooperate with the Federal Government. Mr Bjelke-Petersen is not obstructionist, as has been so frequently claimed in this Parliament, but he will stand up for State rights. I support him in that stand, as I am sure the people of this country would. Even the Premiers of South Australia and Tasmania are disenchanted with the Federal Labor Government because they realise that their heads will be on the chopping block also if they go along with the Prime Minister and this Government at the moment.
It is a strange coincidence that these Bills should be going through the House 2 weeks before the Queensland election. It amazes me that the Labor Party in the Federal Parliament would be electioneering for a broken down party in Queensland. Apart from the 3 Bills being discussed tonight, many Dorothy Dix questions have been asked on Queensland. An extra $8m has been promised for housing in Queensland. A statement has been made that the Prime Minister will spend 12 out of 2 1 days in Queensland. He is going there to open a grandstand, as we heard this morning. Apparently the invitation has not been given to him through the right channels. The Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones)- I do not know how he will get to Queensland when the pilots are on strike- is to open a train display in Brisbane tomorrow. It is rather unusual. One might ask why all these moves are being made in relation to Queensland by the Government at this time.
I would like to illustrate to the House and to the Government how Queensland does cooperate with the Federal Government, particularly in relation to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. The Queensland Government has paid $500,000 in fees to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation over the past 4 years.
– That is a big amount, is it not?
– It is a big amount for engineering fees. It is proposed that in excess of $450,000 will be paid to the Corporation for work currently in hand. I mention these points because the Minister by inference in this House recently indicated that Queensland was not interested in the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. What I say disproves what he had to say. The projects being worked on at the moment are the Burdekin reappraisal scheme and the Cania Dam at Monto costing $135,000, and the Corporation is also involved in the Brisbane flood study, which is costing $100,000. So let us not have any more of the comment that the Queensland Government is not interested in the Corporation.
– Why make the legislation?
– It was made because it brought into line the broadened scope -
– Why make it?
– Because it has to come under the authority of someone. The authority in Queensland is the Co-ordinator-General’s Department, which comes under the Premier. It is as simple as that.
I would like to deal specifically with each of the Bills. The Queensland Grant (Bundaberg Irrigation Works) Bill provides for $4.4m. As the honourable member for McPherson so succinctly put it earlier, the reason is that the Monduran Dam will cost and extra $4.4m is basically the inflation that has been let run riot by this Government. The cost of the dam will now be $ 1 7.2m, which is a 34 per cent increase on the estimate, the Minister said in his second reading speech:
The general escalation in salaries, wages and construction materials also contributed to the increased cost of the works being financed by the Australian Government. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Coporation was engaged by my department to advise on the revised cost estimates.
That is an admission that inflation has taken over. This is another project on which the Queensland Government is co-operating with the Federal Government. The Minister also said:
Over the past year, the Australian Government has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of the whole of the Bundaberg Irrigation Project (phase 1 and phase 2). The Department of Northern Development, the Bureau of Agricultiral Economics, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, various State departments -
Did the Minister hear that? He went on: and the Bureau if Sugar Experiment Stations have all contributed to this evaluation.
This is another example of co-operation by the Queensland Government. I move next to the Queensland Grant (Proserpine Flood Mitigation) Bill. This provides for a $120,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government to be matched by the Queensland Government on the basis of 40 per cent Federal, 40 per cent State and 20 per cent local authority contributions. In this House a couple of days ago the honourable member for Darling (Mr FitzPatrick) stated that no government in Australia subsidised local government. What a lot of rubbish. This Bill is another example of a 20-40-40 subsidy. The flood mitigation work for which it provides will obviously be extremely important to the people in the Proserpine district. I referred earlier to the disastrous flooding that occurrs throughout this nation. The floods that come particularly to mind are the Australia Day floods in Brisbane. In that area we are hopeful that we might get the Wivanhoe Dam and the Middle Creek Dam constructed not only for water conservation but also for flood mitigation.
The final Bill is the Queensland Grant (Clare Weir) Bill. It provides $3m to the Queensland Government to go towards the cost of the Clare Weir in the Burdekin area. The Minister in his second reading speech referred to the waste of our resources. He said that only 3.6 per cent of the total runoff is at present committed for industrial, urban and agricultural use in the Burdekin River basin. This is a shocking state of affairs. Obviously the Clare Weir, which is in the early stages of development for water conservation and flood mitigation, will be of great benefit to the Clare basin in future years. This is situated in the dry tropical area and there is a lack of rainfall in this belt. I have seen the Burdekin River in flood. It is several kilometres wide in parts when it is in flood. The continuation of the work on the Clare Weir will be of great benefit to that area.
I reiterate the co-operation of the Queensland Government to date. As I said earlier, we hear so much from the Prime Minister that we would be led to believe that the Premier of Queensland would never sit at the same table as the Prime Minister of Australia or any of his Ministers. That is totally incorrect. I make that point most strongly.
– He would not go to lunch with the Prime Minister.
– He may have had his reasons at the time. The Prime Minister, on occasions, is not very polite either. I have heard some of his own members m_ this.. Parliament on some occasions refer tO’ times when his politeness has left a lot to bC desired. In summing up, I wish to make a couple of points to refute the arguments that were put earlier. I point out than an excellent Budget was introduced in Queensland this year. We have only one budget, that brought down by
Sir Gordon Chalk this year, not 3 budgets in 4 months as was the case with this Government. Queensland has extremely stable government I am surprised that the Prime Minister of this country would have the audacity to denigrate the Premier of Queensland and to criticise Queensland which has a stable Government. Unemployment and inflation in Queensland are very high. All I can say about that situation is that on 7 December we will see the result. I would like to see the face of the honourable member for Bowman on 7 December when we have a resounding victory in the Queensland State election.
-in reply-I thank the House for supporting all 3 Bills which have as their purpose the Proserpine flood mitigation scheme, the extension of the Bundaberg irrigation scheme and the construction of the Clare Weir. The honourable member for Petrie (Mr Hodges) talked principally about co-operation. He did not speak very much about the Bills. I think I should take up certain points that he did make and relate the facts concerning them. He said that all of these projects were started before this Labor Government came to office. This is just arrant nonsense. The Clare Weir is a brand new project. The Proserpine flood mitigation scheme was not even submitted by the Premier of Queensland until this year. It is a fact that the Bundaberg irrigation scheme -
– What about the planning?
-You do not know anything about it. The Proserpine flood mitigation scheme started only after this year’s floods.
– It was in the pipeline for years.
– It was.
-You do not even know what you are talking about.
– I lived in north Queensland.
-Well, you have never seen the Proserpine River, that is obvious.
– I have so. I beg your pardon -
-Order! The honourable member for Petrie will cease interjecting.
– In January this year, the levee banks of the Proserpine River burst at 2 places. One was just below the town of Glen Isla. The other was north of the town 2 miles from the first area, opposite Biggs farm. The river broke its banks. The honourable member would riot even have the faintest idea where that was. This is a most urgent project. It was started this year. It was never planned before this year so do not talk nonsense. The Proserpine River Trust was only formed a couple of months ago. That is how much you know about the subject.
The second point that the honourable member for Petrie made related to the Snowy Mountains. He forgot to tell the House of the performance of the Liberal and Country Parties in Opposition when the Chifley Government was in office. Those Parties boycotted the opening of the Snowy Mountains hydro electric scheme.
– That is in the past. Get to the present.
-You do not like to hear about the past, do you?
– Get back to the present.
-With respect to the present, the former Liberal-Country Party Parties when in power dismantled the Snowy Mountains Authority. It set up the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation and refused to permit it to do any construction work in Australia. Rarely have I heard such pathetic nonsense as has been talked by the honourable member for Petrie on this subject.
The honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson) obviously knows very little about the projects also. He spent most of his time eulogising and supporting his great champion, apparently, Mr Jon Bjelke- Petersen. I find it completely extraordinary for the ex -President of the Liberal Party in Queensland to stand here and champion Mr Bjelke-Petersen. I find it extraordinary but strange things happen in this Parliament. One of the claims made by the honourable member for McPherson was that the Gold Coast flood mitigation project which, as he knows, I have seen first hand and have studied, was put up time and time again to this Government. That project has never been put up to this Government at any stage. Only 2 projects concerning flood mitigation have been put up to this Government by the Premier of Queensland. They are the 2 projects submitted this year with respect to the Proserpine River and the Pioneer River.
Perhaps what the honourable member meant was that that project had been put up to the former Liberal-Country Party Government. It and the other projects were turned down time and time again. The record of the former Liberal-Country Party Government with respect to water conservation in Queensland was pathetic. Everybody sitting on the Opposition side of the House knows that. Ten measures concerned with water conservation in Queensland have been undertaken, and 8 of those have been legislated in the last 2 years by this Labor Government. Let us deal with the facts -
– What are those projects?
– I will deal with them, if you like. Let us take them in order. I mention first the Julius Dam at Mount Isa. How much did the former Government give to that project? Nothing. What about the Kinchant Dam outside Mackay at Mount Kinchant which was designed to serve those areas devastated by recurring droughts in the Eton area? How much did the former Government give to that project? Nothing. Mr William McMahon, Prime Minister in the previous Liberal-Country Party Government, wrote to the Queensland Premier, Mr Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and said that this was economic. He turned down the project.
– Did we not build a dam?
-Did you not build the dam? The dam has not even been built yet. When this Government came to office, one of the first things that it did was to call for an evaluation of the Kinchant Dam. There was no evaluation of the Kinchant Dam. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics, my Department and others involved made an economic appraisal of the project and found it to be highly economic, sound. This Government acted immediately to provide money to the Queensland Government for that project.
The Clare Weir is one of the projects which has been under discussion and consideration for 23 years. I always remember the great words of Mr Fadden, as he was then, in a policy speech delivered in 1949 at Boonah in which he said: ‘We will build the great Burdekin Dam. We will not let it be pigeon-holed for the future’. Those were the words of Sir Arthur Fadden in 1949. For 23 years the Federal Country Party spent not one cent on the Burdekin Dam. Already within 2 years, the Australian Labor Government has financed and will be financing the major share of the cost of constructing the Clare Weir. Let us not have any more of this humbug about what former governments spent in the Burdekin.
– What about the Ross River Dam?
-The honourable member for Maranoa has mentioned the Ross River project in Townsviile. How much did the former
Government spend on that project? Nothing. Already the Australian Labor Government has financed stages 1 and 2 of the Ross River Dam at Townsville. The former Government spent nothing. How much did the former Government spend on the Baralaba Weir? Nothing. The Labor Government is financing the construction of the weir at Baralaba in central Queensland. You have asked for it. You asked the question.
-What about the Bundaberg Dam?
-Order! The honourable member for Maranoa will cease interjecting.
-The honourable member asked what projects the Australian Labor Party had financed. I have said that out of the 10 projects we have financed 8 and the previous Government financed two. That was its dismal record in 23 years. I shall now deal with the matters raised by the honourable member for Maranoa. It is quite obvious that he knows absolutely nothing about any of the 3 projects. Let us deal with the Proserpine one first. One of the statements he made was that the money for the Proserpine project is available for one year only. If he knew anything about the project he would know that a levee bank has to be built before the oncoming wet season. That is why the money is to be available for one year only. The levee has to be constructed before the oncoming wet season. So obviously the honourable member knows nothing about the projects. Apparently what he would like to do - (Opposition members interjecting)
– I suggest that honourable members might like to have a discussion with the Minister outside afterwards on this subject but I suggest that interjections should cease during this section of the debate on these 3 Bills.
-Apparently the honourable member for Maranoa would like to see the levee banks for the Proserpine River projects delayed for a couple of years.
– That is quite illogical. That is not right at all.
-The honourable member for Maranoa criticised this Government for making this money available for one year and one year only. That is all that the life of this particular project is to be. The levee bank has to be built before the wet season in December. The honourable member would not have a clue. He would not know, for example, that the bulldozers, the scrapers and the graders are there operating now and have been operating for the last few months rebuilding these levee banks. He would not have a clue.
– You would not have a clue.
– I remind the Minister that the Chair does not know anything about it at all.
-The Proserpine project was also criticised on the matter of financing. Obviously the Country Party does not know that the terms for finance are based on the terms of the flood mitigation Bills for New South Wales which the Country Party introduced into this Parliament on the 40-40-20 principle. Apparently those Bills were quite all right but when this Government, with complete agreement by the Queensland Premier, follows the flood mitigation project principles for New South Wales members of the Country Party criticise it. The Queensland Government and the local authorities are quite happy about the terms but apparently the honourable member for Maranoa is not happy. Why is he not happy? Because he does not even know the basic elements of the project itself.
-Order! I remind the Minister that the Chair is not very happy either. I suggest that the Minister should make his speech without inciting the members of the Opposition to interject.
-With all respect, they incited me and this is my opportunity now to reply to the statements that they made, despite the fact that most of them were arrant nonsense. That is what I am endeavouring to show.
– I suggest that the Minister will incite me to do something in a moment in regard to both sides.
-The flood mitigation projects in the Proserpine area have been completely endorsed and accepted by the Queensland Government.
– And the Opposition, too.
-Order! The honourable member for Maranoa will cease making comments.
-The Queensland Government has agreed to the method of financing. Only 2 flood mitigation projects so far have been put up by the Queensland Government. One is for the Proserpine River and one is for the Pioneer River. No other projects have been put up by the Queensland Government for northern Queensland. There was one for Brisbane which my colleague the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) referred to. But as far as the watersheds of northern and central Queensland are concerned there have been only 2 projects put up to this point of time by the Queensland Government.
The honourable member for Maranoa criticised this Government for not making enough money available for the Clare Weir project. Within 2 years we have made $5m available for the Clare Weir, but in 23 years of incompetent Liberal-Country Party government the previous Government gave nothing; not one cent did it give to the Clare Weir. Not one cent did it give to the Urannah Dam. Not one cent did it give for the investigation of the Burdekin River project itself. That is what the previous Government did in 23 years. In 2 years this Government has done more for water conservation in Queensland than the Liberal-Country Party Federal Government did in 23 years, and honourable members opposite know it.
– What about jobs?
-What about jobs? The honourable member cannot take it. We are talking about water and I will continue to talk for the next S minutes about water because that is what the Bills are about. The honourable member for Maranoa talked about the Urannah Dam. I doubt whether he knows where the Urannah Dam project is. I shall just tell him. It is not far from the Eungella Dam project. Does the honourable member know where that is? No. When this Government came into power it called for the evaluation of the Urannah Dam project, the preparation of which the previous Government had claimed for 5 years was the reason why it could not carry out a reappraisal of the Burdekin River project. There was no such evaluation of the Urannah Dam project whatsoever. We had to start from scratch, and that is what is being done now. Of course the Queensland Government knew full well the facts and it is just as ashamed about them as this Government is about the pitiful performance of the previous Federal Liberal-Country Party Government with respect to the Urannah Dam. This is why there has been a delay.
For 20 years we have heard the Liberal and Country Parties promising about the great Burdekin River project. I quoted before what the late Sir Arthur Fadden said when he spoke on this matter in delivering an Australian Country Party policy speech at Boonah. Nothing happened. But this Government has acted and the people in Ayr and the people in Home Hill and the people of Townsviile are appreciative of what has been done by this Government for water conservation. As I said, in Townsviile stages one and two of the Ross River Dam are under way. Now the first stage of the great Burdekin River project itself, the Clare Weir, is being undertaken. These are the facts. They speak for themselves.
I have made it quite clear since I have been in this Parliament that I believe that water conservation projects, providing they are based on sound economic principles, are amongst the most important assets that this nation can invest money in. For a long time I have seen millions of acre feet of water flowing wastefully to the sea from areas that are devastated from time to time by droughts- the great Fitzroy Basin and the Burdekin River basin. Forget the politics of this for a moment. This is something in which this Parliament and other parliaments- the Parliament in Queensland or wherever it might beshould co-operate to the hilt to try to overcome the devastation caused by droughts because as sure as night follows day we will get more droughts. The great tragedy of it is that some of the areas where the greatest droughts occur- the east coast of Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentariaare where our greatest undeveloped water supplies are. As far as I am concerned, money spent on water conservation, providing it is soundly based, is of the very highest priority in terms of national development.
I shall just finish my remarks by saying that I think it was the honourable member for Maranoa who asked me what I thought of Fred Haigh. I would think that I knew Fred Haigh better than did any other person in the Parliament. I could be wrong. But I worked with him for 1 7 years before I became a member of Parliament. The late Fred Haigh was a person for whom I had the highest respect. He was a man of outstanding ability and his contribution to water conservation in Queensland will go down in the records of time. He fought against great odds to get money for water conservation projects in Queensland. It was a tragedy to this nation for a man so talented to pass away so young. The nation has lost a great man. His performances, his achievements in water conservation, will go down in history. So let us not in any way try to promote any argument with respect to the late Mr Fred Haigh. He made his mark in Queensland. He was first and foremost an Australian. He wanted to see water conservation projects go on and on. I finish on that point. I thank the House for supporting the 3 Bills.
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 Dr Patterson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 13 November on motion by Dr Patterson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
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 Dr Patterson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 13 November on motion by Dr Patterson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
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 Dr Patterson) read a third time.
– I move:
On 30 October the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) announced that the Government had accepted the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission in its report on steam, gas and water fittings. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 17 which I have just tabled give effect to the tariff changes arising from the Government’s decision. The effect of this decision is that a rate of 20 per cent will apply to tube and pipe fittings of copper and nickel and their alloys and minimum rates of duty will apply to similar fittings of lead, tin and zinc and their alloys. A rate of 25 per cent will apply to the actuators and valves specified in the Commission’s recommendations. This rate will apply also to aerosol valves. The existing provisions on other valves will not be varied, excepting that the common 25 per cent rate will apply from 22 November 1977. The new rates operate from tomorrow. A comprehensive summary of the changes and the duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hunt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19 November, on motion by Mr Bryant:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Aboriginal Loans Commission Bill 1974 as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore that you permit the subject matter of both the Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate? There being no objection, I shall allow that course to be followed.
-The 2 Bills before us which are to be taken in a cognate debate are the States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Bill 1974 and the Aboriginal Loans Commission Bill 1974. The first Bill provides financial assistance to the States for the purpose of assisting Aboriginal people. This is the eighth such Bill. The former Liberal-Country Party Government commenced the principle of allocating funds to the States to assist Aboriginal people. Therefore this is not a new initiative of the Whitlam Government but an extension of a policy developed by former Liberal-Country Party governments.
One should note that the Government proposes to alter the title of the legislation from the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Act to the States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Act. I believe that the motive underlying this change is commendable and desirable. I think that it does in fact take away a degree of the patronising attitude connoted in the title of the legislation. The Bill provides for a total of $40. 79m to be paid to the States which represents a 26 per cent increase in funds over last year’s allocation of $32.25m. This increase in expenditure is not inconsistent with the increases that have taken place since 1969-70. The schedule attached to the legislation shows that the increases since 1969-70 are as follows: In 1969-70 $5,410,000, was allocated under the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill as it was known then; in 1970-71 $7m was allocated; in 1971-72 $9.2m; there was a very substantial jump in 1972-73 to $22m which represents the largest percentage gain; and in 1973-74 there was a further substantial leap to $32,250,000. Again this year there is to be a 26 per cent increase to $40,790,000.
A breakup of the funds roughly reflects the needs of the States and the number of Aboriginals in those States. The Opposition supports the granting of funds for this purpose but deplores the blackmailing tactics of the Government, the blackmailing standover tactics that it has adopted against the Queensland Government and the Queensland people. The Queensland Government has the administrative machinery to expend efficiently its share of the grant for the purpose of assisting Aboriginal people in regard to housing, education and other forms of assistance in that State. I believe that the Queensland Government probably has a far superior administration in its State than the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has in Canberra which he himself has called a disaster area. I want to quote from the second reading speech of the Minister because I think what he said is quite relevant to what I will say later. The Minister said:
Honourable members will also notice that an increase of $400,000 is provided for Queensland in this Bill. The House will be aware of the intransigence on the part of the Queensland Government in respect of the Australian Government’s attempts to achieve a collaborative approach to Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia. A large measure or co-operation has been achieved with all other States. Not only have the Queensland Premier and the Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs refused to co-operate, they have refused even to participate in discussions on matters of mutual concern to the Queensland and Australian Governments in the Aboriginal affairs field. In the light of this attitude, the Australian Government has decided to make funds available under this legislation to the Queensland Government only for programs for which an unavoidable commitment has been entered into.
They are very strong words to express in a second reading speech, and I can only describe them as being standover tactics. No wonder the Aborigines are protesting against the Minister and his Department. No wonder we see a first assistant secretary of the Department, Mr Charles Perkins, protesting outside Parliament House with those who were gathered there. I do not give him any marks for doing it, but that was his decision. A Minister who resorts to these sorts of blackmailing tactics does not earn the respect of his staff or, indeed, of the Aboriginal people.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) informs us that since the Queensland Government will not play his game, will not do what he wants it to do, will not do what it is told, the Queensland Government will be cut back by about $3. 19m and will be left with only $400,000 more than it received last year, in spite of a 20 per cent inflationary cost factor in all levels of administration. The $3. 19m that Queensland will lose will be split amongst the other States, New South Wales getting $ 1.87m, Victoria $730,000 and South Australia $583,000. A great split up, because the Queensland Government is a naughty Government so its money is taken away, it is split amongst the other States, and the Minister says that he will provide additional funds direct to Aboriginal communities in Queensland. I will read the section of the Minister’s second reading speech where he referred to this. He said:
The Australian Government will ensure that additional programs in Queensland will be carried out through local Aboriginal community organisations, the Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs and other instrumentalities. We will ensure that the Aboriginals and Islanders of Queensland are not disadvantaged by this decision and we believe that, because the Australian Government’s approach is to involve Aboriginals to the maximum extent possible in matters affecting them, this decision will ensure greater benefit in the long term to the Aboriginals and Islanders of Queensland.
That is a very, very wide sweeping statement and one with which I am sure most people could argue. I suppose the Minister will say that funds will go into such organisations as housing associations; yet in the last financial year $9m was unspent out of funds that were allocated for this purpose. The Minister admits that the housing associations, which are community associations, had not developed as fast as they could have and that they were slow to get off the ground and get under way, and this does not surprise me one iota.
Early last year I brought a delegation from Moree to meet with the Minister for the Capital
Territory (Mr Bryant), a deputation consisting of the Mayor of Moree and a number of Aboriginal people. The deputation was seeking to obtain funds to try to rehouse 150 Aboriginal people who were then housed in 2 1 caravans. The local council and the New South Wales Government in 1971 moved them out of a flood area and put them into caravans on a temporary basis. Those 150 people had been living- and some still are- in deplorable overcrowded circumstances. Undoubtedly the Minister for the Capital Territory, who was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, now sitting at the table was well aware of the problem because he said: ‘You go home and form a housing association. Get your articles of association drawn up and we will provide the funds’. In fact he said: ‘What is your next problem?’ And that was early last year. Only last week I introduced another deputation from Moree led by Mr Neil Mackerras, who is with the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, which was seeking to find out just where the funds have gone. They have formed their housing association, they have developed their articles of association, but they still have not received the money to get their association off the ground to overcome the immediate problem- and the urgent problem- of people who are still housed in deplorable conditions in caravans in my home town.
In the meantime, the New South Wales Housing Commission and the Housing for Aborigines source of funds has given the only real help to the town of Moree in its efforts to overcome the great backlog of housing needs. As I said earlier, there are still people crowded into 6 caravans at Wiradji Crescent in Moree. So far the housing association concept in Moree has been a failure. The existing Housing Commission facilities in the State of New South Wales have proved to be by far the most effective and efficient means of getting funds to the people who need them most. It has proved that it can deliver the goods as long as it has got the funds available to it. The Housing Commission of New South Wales is a well established body, a body with very experienced officers who are well equipped to undertake projects and programs on a scale that we would like to see take place in Moree, Walgett, Bourke and all the other centres where there are great numbers of Aboriginal people still living in humpies and in deplorable conditions.
– Do the graziers give any help up there?
– As a matter of fact the graziers or the farmers provide probably the only source of employment for a lot of Aboriginal people in the Walgett-Collarenebri area, and the farmers and the community in the Walgett and Moree districts are not anti-Aboriginal. In fact, we do have a great degree of community participation, as the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) well knows. It is a very old hat, unfortunate idea that a lot of people have that those who live amongst the Aboriginal people, whether they be farmers, graziers or townspeople, are antiAboriginal, therefore racist. I have seen this written and I have heard it said. Of course there are people who do not treat the Aborigines well but by and large there is a great degree of cooperation today among people out in those areas to try to ensure that the Aboriginal people get a fair go. It may not always have been that way but I can say that that is the general attitude today.
I want to turn now to what I was saying about the housing commissions. The New South Wales Housing Commission and the similar facilities and bodies that exist in all the States, including Queensland, surely provide the most efficient way to channel funds quickly and directly to the sources of need. It will take some time to set up housing associations, community organisations, and we are not always sure that we are going to get value for money. I am positive that it has been a great blunder on the part of the Government not to try to meet further with the Queensland Government to get that $3. 19m into areas of need in Queensland. I believe that out of spite and childish pique the Minister is going to deny housing to the Queensland Aborigines. The Aborigines themselves have had a taste of the Minister’s standover tactics and his threat to cut off funds to the legal aid service unless it does as it is told, unless it is prepared to act as he wants it to act. I have in front of me some clippings of headlines and reports in various newspapers on this subject. In the ‘Canberra Times’ of 8 November, under the headline ‘End intimidation, Aborigines told’ the following report appeared:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, said yesterday that he would not talk to Aborigines on the present conflict between the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service and his department until ‘all intimidatory action indulged in at Canberra ends’.
A department spokesman confirmed that Senator Cavanagh wanted two tents put up by Aborigines opposite Parliament House removed and a planned demonstration today by 3 busloads of Aborigines called off.
– How do you feel about the tents?
– The report continues:
Senator Cavanagh, who was reported to be upset at the action of the Aborigines, telephoned his statement to the department in Canberra while on a 10-day tour of Aboriginal settlements in Western Australia.
The honourable member for Macquarie asked me how I feel about the tents. That is a good question. Quite frankly, I do not think that it is a right and proper way in which to protest. I have demonstrated that in a very honest way. I did so publicly to my own disadvantage, but I had a job to do. I did not attempt to blackmail the Aborigines opposite Parliament House when the Government of which I was a Minister felt that those tents had to go. If one believes that they should not be there one should not, as a Minister of the Crown, try to blackmail people by saying: ‘If you do not remove those tents you will not get your money’. I turn to a headline in another newspaper- the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
– That is hardly blackmail.
-Well, what is it?
– It is tolerance, I would say
– It is tolerance? All right. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 8 November 1974, under the heading ‘No cash until tent goes’, reported:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, has told the Aboriginal Legal Service of N.S.W. that he will not consider restoring funds to it until the Aboriginal ‘embassy ‘ on the lawns of Parliament House is removed.
Confirming this last night, a spokesman for Senator Cavanagh said Aborigines would also have to end all forms of protest in Canberra before talks could begin. ‘Canberra blacks stop over funds’ was the heading given to an article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 30 October. Another one in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald ‘ said ‘Hawke move to mediate with Minister’. We have Bob Hawke coming into the act. The article reads:
The Federal President of the ALP, Mr Hawke, agreed last night to mediate in the dispute over the N.S.W. Aboriginal Legal Service.
Good for Bob. I have no doubt that he was responsible for overcoming some of the difficulties because the heading given to an article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 9 November reads ‘Cavanagh gives in to blacks. Money talks to be held Monday’. The article stated:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs . . . yesterday backed down in his row with the N.S.W. Aboriginal Legal Service.
Good on him. I hope that he also sees the wisdom of backing down on what has been a blackmailing tactic against the Queensland Government. Therefore I move the following amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill:
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: whilst not opposing the passage of this Bill the House is of the opinion that the Government’s action in reducing the grant to the State of Queensland by $3,190,000 is contrary to the best interests of the Aboriginal people of Queensland and that the Government should take immediate steps to grant to that State a further sum of $3,190,000 as promised in the Budget.
As I said earlier, I believe that the action that the Minister has taken against the Queensland Government and those who are protesting outside this House is a blackmail tactic, a petty tactic. Is it fair to the Queensland Aborigines to deny $3. 19m to the Queensland Government and to say: ‘We will make it up by diverting funds to housing associations when they are established, when the money might be available’? It may not have the resources to spend it. Indeed, I suspect that it will not because, as we learned from this year’s Estimates, $9m in that fund was unspent in any event last year. I believe that the action taken by the Minister, on behalf of the Government, is a contemptible one. I believe and the Opposition believes that it shows no regard for the people for which he is responsible. The protesting Aborigines certainly do not rate either the Minister or his Department highly. Indeed, they seem to want a royal commission of inquiry into the operations of the Department. Some are screaming for the abandonment of the Department and its replacement with a statutory body to administer Aboriginal affairs. In fact, I think that they want almost anything other than what they have at the present time.
The Queensland Department could well be a more effective, acceptable and efficient means of distributing funds for the purposes of advancing the Aboriginal people. Take the Lewis Street project in Redfern. I am sorry that Mr Speaker is not in the chair because I am sure that he would listen with great interest to what I am about to say about this matter. Surely it must be a bad example, a shoddy example of the Department’s housing programs. I understand that, due to the Department’s inability for one reason or another to fund it, the project has now almost stopped, thus dashing the hopes of the enthusiastic Aborigines who started the whole thing off in the time of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, no doubt with the best intentions and the best will in the world. The Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs and its Director have a relatively good record for a State with vast and difficult geographic and climatic conditions; yet they are to be denied $3. 19m because the Queensland Government apparently will not do as the Minister tells it to do.
Of course there has been a history of some dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government on this subject. I remind the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) of the former Minister’s visit to Queensland in the early days after his assumption of office when he tried to interfere with the rights of the Torres Strait islanders.
– You, Sir. I think that the former Minister suggested at one stage that we might be able to trade some of the Torres Strait Islands. Was it not you who did that?
– No. The honourable member’s history is as bad as his politics.
– I beg your pardon, but was there not a dispute? Did you not make a run up into the area and was the Premier of Queensland not concerned?
– I will answer that later.
– The honourable member for Maranoa might have all the facts. I have a memory which does not always serve me well, but I do remember the rather lusty former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs -
– Ask him why he was shifted from the portfolio.
-No, I will not do that. That is not fair. I would like to return to the provisions of the Bill. I have noted that nearly one half of the $40.8m being allocated to the States is for housing. The balance is to be spent on education, health and other areas of need. From my experience in Aboriginal welfare I am bound to say that there is such a diversity in the level of advancement of Aborigines and in the levels of their living conditions that there is no simple common answer to the problem. The problems not only differ from State to State but also from community to community within a State. However, in most situations the greatest needs are housing, employment opportunity, education and adequate health care.
In Moree, I would list the priorities in that order. I mention Moree because it contains the biggest Aboriginal community outside the city of Sydney. Dealing with housing in Moree, the current shortfall is still a very serious problem. As I have already said employment opportunity is very important in today’s economic climate opportunities are not there, although I hope that some of the Regional Employment Development schemes may provide opportunities for the Aborigines in the near future. This, of course, leads to education and vocational training facilities for the young and, indeed, the adults.
Pre-schools are essential. This has been proved in Moree where the Daughters of Charity conduct the Pope Pius Mission. They go right through the town of Moree and to the outskirts of the town each morning with 2 buses and bring every child of a pre-school age to the Pope Pius Mission for pre-school activity and also for medical check-ups. Every doctor in the town is an honorary doctor and, on a roster system, they attend to the health needs of the children. This is proving to be of tremendous advantage to the Aboriginal children. It is proving that this sort of care for the Aboriginal child equips him to enter the primary school, certainly to continue on into high school and hopefully into vocational training and worthwhile, satisfying employment. It will be a long hard road for those who genuinely set out to achieve the resolution of Aboriginal ambitions. It will take all the co-operation we can muster between governments, between black and white, between the Aboriginal communities themselves and, for that matter, between political parties.
I am glad to say that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, upon which I served under the chairmanship of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) is, I think, performing a very valuable role because I do not think any body can serve on a committee that is less party political and which endeavours to approach its task with a more worthwhile objectivity. We must all set out with that common objective to work together to overcome one of the greatest social problems that plagues the country. I am sure that the Government does set out with good intentions. The amount of funds that the Government is allocating to try to overcome the problem I think is indicative of that.
The extension of the Aboriginal Enterprises Assistance Act and, indeed, the Aboriginal Loans Commission has been a very wise step because it will provide a facility now for Aboriginal families to obtain such important household items as refrigerators, furniture, all types of floor coverings and so on. It will give the Aborigines a facility for loans that is not available to them elsewhere and at reasonable interest rates. The Opposition supports both Bills. Whilst it does not oppose the passage of the Bill it is of the opinion that the Government’s action in reducing the grant to Queensland by $3, 1 90,000 is contrary to the best interests of the Aboriginal people of Queensland and that the Government should take immediate steps to grant that State a further sum of $3, 1 90,000 as promised in the Budget.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I would like, first of all, to express my appreciation to the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) for a thoughtful and generous speech in the area of Aboriginal affairs, to which he has a great commitment. Those of us who have been with him in his electorate know the real and genuine interest that he takes in the Aboriginal people who live there. One of the heartening things that has occurred in this Parliament in the time that I have been here- almost 13 years- is the number of people of all political persuasions on both sides of the House who have developed a very real interest in the wellbeing of our Aboriginal fellow Australians.
I should like to make one or two comments on the matters raised by the honourable member for Gwydir. I should like to deal with the general question of Queensland a little later on. The honourable member for Gwydir mentioned the action of the New South Wales Housing Commission in providing houses at Moree when Aboriginal housing associations have not apparently, up to this point of time, been able to deliver the goods. There are, of course, 2 problems involved. Much of the land is Aboriginal reserve land and the New South Wales Housing Commission would not allow houses to be built on that reserve. The other point I should like to make is that, of course, the houses that have been built by the New South Wales Housing Commission under the Housing for Aborigines scheme are funded through the States grants legislation that we have before us.
The honourable member for Gwydir dealt at some length with the position of the New South Wales Aboriginal Aid Service. This is a very worthwhile service. Its foundation goes back to the previous Government. It was assisted by the previous Government although it arose very much out of an Aboriginal initiative. There is a great need for this service. Those of us who have watched the development of the Legal Aid Service and other legal aid services I am sure all agree that they have done a very good job for the Aboriginal people. I do not think anybody doubts the future of the Legal Aid Service. The argument between the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) and the New South Wales Aboriginal Legal Aid Service was on the question of accountability. It must be transparently obvious to members of this House, whatever their political persuasion, that one cannot spend public money allotted through any form of assistance to an organisation unless that organisation is able to account for that public money. If governments do not insist on proper accountability for money given to Aboriginal organisations or the many other organisations that have been assisted by programs of this Government and former governments, then those programs will not survive.
When we came into Government we found that our predecessors had assisted organisations on the basis of a yearly grant and that very often Aborigines, with the best intentions in the world, did not have the administrative capacity to spend that money as well as they might. They have tended to transfer money from one purpose to another- perhaps it was money made available to employ a field officer and perhaps that money was transferred to buy a motor car which might have been the top priority, as they saw it. There was obviously a need to bring this under control.
Under the administration of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) who is sitting at the table, a better form of accountability was introduced. That occurred in the recent past. I am speaking of the financial year which ended on 30 June this year. It follows that some of these organisations which have been assisted on a trial basis and encouraged to develop their capacities have not measured up. It is necessary to point out to those organisations that they have to measure up to proper accounting procedures in the near future if they are to be assisted with public funds. I do not particularly welcome the confrontation or the suggestion that the Legal Aid Service might be cut off without any funds at all. I am sure that if people realise that there are 2 sides to this question and realise that if these programs are to succeed the proper accountability is necessary, there would be a lot more understanding of the position of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
We have 2 Bills before us. I am happy that the Opposition is not opposing either of them. The first Bill is the Aboriginal Loans Commission Bill. It replaces the Aboriginal Enterprises Assistance Act 1968. The Aboriginal Enterprises Assistance Act was a successful piece of legislation. It provided an arrangement whereby Aboriginal business enterprises could be assisted on fairly generous terms in order that Aborigines could start businesses, buy businesses and develop a better income and a better life for themselves. In the experience of the last few years we have now come to realise that there are many other areas in which Aborigines need assistance. I refer, for example, to the actual purchase of a home. When the program of assistance through the States for Aboriginal housing was evolved, no one imaged that Aborigines would actually own land themselves. It was a scheme much like the Commonwealth-State housing scheme in which Aborigines would have made available to them rental homes on a very generous economic rental basis. But those of us who have been interested in this field have found that there have been Aborigines who have acquired their own piece of land or who may have been given a piece of land on which to build a house. Because Aborigines very often live in isolated places where it may not be easy to sell the house to some other person, it is not always easy for them to get the finance. Indeed, I think we would all agree that it is not easy for an Aboriginal person to get finance from a building society or a bank.
– It is not easy for anyone.
-Well, be that as it may. But if the honourable member’s skin was a different colour he would find that it was even harder. This Bill makes provision to assist Aborigines in this whole area of housing- in the provision of furniture and a whole range of other activities, such as paying for funerals and the other calls that Aborigines have on them. Indeed, we all have those calls on us but they have a lesser capacity to meet the demand.
Perhaps it would be worth while to spell out again the policy of the Government, which is to provide such assistance to Aborigines in this generation that the lot of the Aboriginal people of this country might.be so improved that in future generations they might have real equality with all other Australians. The fact that the Opposition is supporting this legislation indicates that the Opposition realises too that it is necessary in this time, in this generation, to assist Aborigines generously in some cases in order that they and their children might enjoy real equality with other Australians in the next generation.
The next piece of legislation before us is the States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Bill 1974. In the discussion tonight on some other pieces of legislation we heard about this centralist Government, this socialist Government, this Government that is grinding the States out of existence. This legislation whereby an increasing amount of assistance has been given to the States for Aboriginal advancement every year is an indication of this Government’s knowledge that many of these services are better provided through the States. It has never been the intention of this Government to set up a Department of Aboriginal Affairs like the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs which has been referred to at some length already and which has, in its day, managed the affairs of Aborigines from the cradle to the grave. Rather we see that at some time in the future this Aboriginal administration that we are setting up may be able to fade away as its responsibilities are taken over by those departments which service all other Australians. That is what we are working towards. It is a long way ahead. I well remember when the late Mr Pizzey, the former member of Isis and Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland, took that office he said to his departmental officers that their function was to work themselves out of a job. I hope that in a long time ahead that is the situation at which we arrive. This Bill is a recognition by this Government that many of these services are better provided by the States because the States provide services such as these to all other members . of the Australian community. The increasing level of assistance is very heartening.
I would like to clear up the question of assistance to Queensland. It will be appreciated that this year Queensland obtains more money than it did last year, but that extra assistance over and above what was committed earlier in the year and which has been given to the other States has been cut down. The Minister has taken this attitude because of the failure of the Queensland Government to co-operate with the Federal Government. I am not one of those people who say that the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland is wrong in all respects. There are some very fine people in the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland. I would regard some of them as my friends, and I hope that they would reciprocate that attitude. However, I think there are many aspects of Aboriginal administration in Queensland which are completely reprehensible. I do not want to go into the question of discriminatory legislation because no doubt that is a matter which we will be canvassing later this year or early next year. Having in mind the large amount of assistance that this Government is giving and previous governments have given to Queensland, one of the things that I find most reprehensible about the Queensland situation is the fact that very few Aboriginal people- I refer to Torres Strait Islanders in this as well- are actually occupying positions of authority or responsibility on Queensland settlements. It is an indictment of the administration of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs that a secondary education for an Aborigine is a one way ticket to the world outside, and that while the junior pass was formerly the level of entry to the Queensland Public Service, to the Queensland Police Force and, in earlier days, to the Queensland teaching profession, hardly any Aborigines have gone into the Queensland Public Service, only a handful have gone into the teaching profession, and I do not know of any who have gone into the Police Force. I would be happy to be corrected on that point. If any have gone into the Police Force, the number is very small indeed.
Queensland is not out of step with this Government, it is out of step with every other Government in Australia on the question of land rights. Let us just look at the situation. South Australia set up a Lands Trust. It was advanced for its day but I think that time has passed it by. The setting up of the Trust was a recognition of Aboriginal land rights. The Liberal Government in Victoria transferred land rights at Lake Tyers and Framlingham to its Aboriginal people some years ago. The Government of New South Wales passed legislation whereby Aborigines on reserves could apply to have those reserves transferred to a lands trust, and that legislation has been on the statute book of New South Wales for some years. The former Labor Government in Western Australia took steps in this direction, and there is no sign that the present LiberalCountry Party Government has any intention of reversing those steps, although I understand that it has some reservations about money accruing from mining on reserves. But land rights are not in question.
We have had a picture painted of us that we are trying to take over the Queensland reserves. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are in the process of transferring the reserves in the Northern Territory to the Aborigines who occupy those reserves, the Aborigines who have traditional claims to those lands. Our purpose in seeking the co-operation of the Queensland Government was that the Queensland Government would face up to those obligations that we have accepted under International Labor Organisation conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of Tribal and Indigenous People. We have an obligation in the international arena to face the other nations of the world in matters such as this. All other Australian States have accepted their obligations and the Government of Queensland has repudiated those obligations. I hope that the Government of Queensland will come to its senses. We know that an election is pending. It is probably a difficult few weeks for the encumbent Government to start changing political attitudes that are well established, but there is plenty of reason at this end of things and
I wish there was a little more reason in Queensland, because we are keen to evolve responsible patterns of Commonwealth-State cooperation in the interests of the Aboriginal people of that State.
I can well understand the frustration of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, when on occasions he has gone to Queensland and negotiated in good faith with the Minister in Queensland, Mr Hewitt. I am not suggesting that Mr Hewitt has not negotiated in good faith, but these negotiations have later been repudiated by the Premier of Queensland. I can see that time is running out. I am happy to support this legislation. I am happy to see that an increasing amount of assistance is to be given to the States. I think that all of us who have been involved in Aboriginal affairs recognise that the States have a role to play, that by and large they play it generously and well, and that a very successful pattern of co-operation has been evolved. I again express the hope that the Queensland Government elected on 7 December will be a Labor Government. However, I recognise the difficulties involved in the electoral boundaries in that State. Whatever government is elected, I hope that we get the same degree of co-operation between that Government and the Federal Government that this Federal Government has received from every other State in the Commonwealth.
-Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr MacPhee (Balaclava) (10.30)- Without referring to anything said in the debate yesterday on the matter of public importance, I wish to raise some matters which are pertinent to that debate, the actual subject matter being the depressed state of manufacturing industries. Supporters of the Government still talk as though business is merely deferring long term investment programs when, in fact, the real problem is finding enough money to sustain operations next week. Companies are selling divisions and assets and are ending production lines in order to remain in business. It is not an exaggeration to say that manufacturing companies are fighting to survive. Of course, I am speaking generally because there are still a few pockets of prosperity. Manufacturers have difficulty in forward planning and in assessing future demand and the cost of meeting it. There is an investment recession in manufacturing industry and it is nonsense for the Government to say that imported inflation is its main cause. Australia has been largely protected from the oil . crisis and there is no excuse for our having a higher rate of inflation than any comparable industrial economies which are largely dependent on imported oil.
Australia’s inflation problems began when the Labor Government promised the Commonwealth Public Service shorter working hours and increased salaries and conditions. Instead of reflecting general levels of wages and conditions, the Commonwealth Public Service became the pacesetter and it is difficult now for the Government to reduce union expectations. As a result, companies cannot generate sufficient cash to sustain a satisfactory level of operations, let alone invest and expand. Investment in new plant and equipment is therefore declining at a sharp rate and it has been this investment which has brought most of the increased productivity of recent years., It is this drop in investment and productivity which will lead to further unemployment.
The Government does not realise that it cannot continue to fund its public spending out of taxation when government policies have such a’ harsh effect on the manufacturing sector. The standard of living of all Australians will decline unless the Government regenerates manufacturing industry. To do this, I suggest that the Government should take the following 10 courses of action: Firstly, it should impose import quotas forthwith for a limited period; secondly, it should reintroduce an extended investment allowance to include new plant and machinery for a period of 2 years With an assurance that it will not be removed in an arbitrary and total fashion. In other words, it ought to be a permanent part of the program for industry albeit the form may change from time to time. Thirdly, the Government should reintroduce generous export incentives to try to give Australian manufacturers economies of scale t6 lower the unit cost of their products, that is, to increase productivity. Fourthly, it should discuss with State governments a joint use of their powers regarding manufacturing industry, in particular, controls over prices and wages oyer a specified period, and the removal of inflationary indirect charges currently levied by both Federal and State governments. Fifthly, the Government should discuss with State governments ways of reducing duplication by State and Federal governments, thereby reducing waste in public spending and the need to draw more money from manufacturing and other parts of the private sector. Sixthly, it should widen the composition of the Jackson Committee investigating manufacturing industry and thereby include genuine manufacturers in its membership. Seventhly, the Government should strengthen the staff of the Department of Manufacturing Industry by adding a few carefully selected persons who have served in manufacturing industry. Many such persons are now unemployed or under-employed as a result of the Government’s policy. Eighthly, it should put action behind the promises for a vital, practical small business bureau to assist small business in these most difficult times. Ninethly when referring matters to the Industries Assistance Commission it should do so in as much detail as possible to ensure that the Commission’s report takes account of as many economic, social and political considerations as are relevant so as to be of maximum value to the Government, industry and the community generally.
Tenthly, it should inform manufacturing .industry and its employees of any views which ‘the Government now has regarding the future of particular industries so that the appropriate redeployment of capital and retraining of labour may occur. This is what should have been done prior to the 25 per cent tariff cuts. No country in the world could have introduced such sweeping and irrational cuts without severely damaging its own business. This action alone showed that the Government simply does not understand the functioning of the economy. Measures such as these will go some way to restoring confidence in the minds of manufacturers and their employees that the Government has learned something from its past errors. Mr Speaker, I do not believe that the present Labor leaders could ever free themselves completely from the myths of their own creation, certainly not sufficiently to make policies based on a real understanding of the value of manufacturing industry to Australia in terms of technology, independence of spirit and initiative, or its contribution to our standard of living.
The most recent illustration of this was the refusal of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) to acknowledge that the greatest problem facing manufacturing industry was one of liquidity. It is still one of liquidity and will be for some time. He therefore refused to consider a general deferment of quarterly payments of company tax and he denied industry the opportunity of finding the cash to tide it over the expenses incurred by annual leave and other such payments and the losses stemming from the holiday period. Many companies will have to borrow money at high interest rates to pay their taxes. The Treasurer has frequently said that each time an employee seeks a wage rise he puts another employee ‘s job in jeopardy. This is correct and stems from the very liquidity problem which the Treasurer denies. It is a fact that many manufacturers are working on wages budgets and when wages rise they retrench employees, as they no longer have the capacity to increase their total wages bill.
The measures of 12 November are a mere cosmetic gesture so far as manufacturing industry is concerned. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was at pains to say on that occasion that his government was not hostile to manufacturing industry, but nothing in his statement suggested that his Government had any understanding or belief in manufacturing industry. The economy will not prosper until there is in power a government which does understand this most vital part of our economy. If the present Government is to make even a gesture towards this understanding, it should make recent company annual reports compulsory reading for its members. Day after day chairmen of companies have spoken with wisdom and experience but their views have been heeded by very few Labor Party identities. Mr Hawke ‘s understanding of micro-economics has been aided by his exposure to the manufacturing industry unions who understand only too well the drastic consequences of the Government’s policies. Mr Dunstan has shown a grasp of the situation not demonstrated by any member of the Federal Labor Government. For instance, Mr Dunstan has said publicly that he recognises that under conventional accounting companies are paying tax and distributing dividends out of grossly overstated profits. As a further illustration of Mr Dunstan ‘s understanding I shall quote from the address of the chairman of one of Australia’s most respected companiesSimpsonPope. Referring to the economic situation, Mr Moxon Simpson stated:
As the Premier pointed out, much of the blame for this situation lies at the door of the academic economists in Canberra, who attacked demand inflation when it was cost inflation which was the trouble, swinging the annual rate of change of volume of money in the course of a single year from an increase of over 25 per cent to under 7 per cent, without correcting for inflation. Since coming to power they expanded Government spending in various directions, many of them admirable in themselves, but which should have been allowed to wait until they could be afforded.
When early warnings of trouble appeared four or five months ago, they said that this now made it possible to divert resources from the private to the public sector.
The report concluded:
At least he and his colleagues have realised the need for a reversal of policy. And indeed, in a country as self-contained as Australia, it is not impossible for this to happen, provided the importance of manufacturing is recognised.
One hopes that the new Treasurer will recognise the importance of manufacturing industry.
– I take this opportunity to make a brief statement at the request of the Treasurer (Mr Crean). I am informed that tonight the Channel 0-lQ. network, covering Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, carried an item reporting a telephone call said to have been made to the Channel by the Treasurer’s son. The report described the caller, a young man, as being very upset. The report said that the young man who claimed to be the Treasurer’s son told the channel:
Those bastards in Canberra are not going to pull my father down.
In fact none of the Treasurer’s 3 sons made any such call to the Channel. The Channel 0-10 network has since broadcast a statement acknowledging that it had been the victim of a hoax.
To say the least, this is a most unprincipled action by the Channel. To accept such an anonymous call without any checking, knowing full well the hurt that it would cause to the parties concerned, is an unprincipled, unjustifiable action. It is this kind of news presentation that brings the media into disrepute. Surely any responsible news medium would check its source before giving public expression to these views on such a prominent national personality.
– Who did pull old Frankie down?
– If the honourable member agrees with these sentiments, let him get up and say so. It is all the more hurtful to all concerned when it involves the family of the person concerned. Political life is hurtful enough to those involved in it without involving their families. This action does little credit to the channel or those concerned in the television presentation, and in my view is deserving of the condemnation of all fairminded citizens. If it is any satisfaction to those ..concerned, they may take comfort from the fact that they have caused considerable distress to the Treasurer and his family by their indefensible, thoughtless and harmful action.
– I desire to draw to the attention of the Government tonight the highly unsatisfactory situation of private members in this Parliament who try to represent the needs of their electorate. One of the rights of private members is their right to question responsible Ministers about Government activities which affect the nation in general or a member’s electorate in particular. In pursuance of these duties we all try whenever we can to question relevant Ministers. Yesterday at question time I asked a question about something which affected my electorate. I asked this question of the Prime Minister:
Is the Prime Minister aware that in order to attract industry to decentralised growth centres such as AlburyWodonga, State governments give concessions to industries which have the effect of increasing their profits? Is he aware that, as a result, half of the concessions granted by States finished up in Commonwealth consolidated revenue?
Of course they are taxable. My question continued:
In view of the fact that every week industries are retrenching staff in this so-called growth centre, when will his Government lay down policies which will attract and maintain industries in this area? In particular, when may we expect the implementation of his 1972 election policy promise for local call telephone access from Albury to Melbourne and Sydney?
I felt that that was a fair question. It was not politically loaded. It was seeking information and it was seeking action. I do not believe that many honourable members opposite realise that State governments give concessions which are taxed by the Commonwealth and finish up as Commonwealth revenue. One would have expected some sort of adequate reply, but the reply I got was completely evasive.
– Who was the Minister?
– It was the Prime Minister. He did not touch on any of the main part of the question. The Prime Minister replied:
The Royal Commission on the Post Office under Sir James Vernon- the second Vernon Royal Commission- made some recommendations upon the matter of concessional telephone and telex charges to designated growth centres. They are being discussed with the State governments.
The entire answer did not touch on the main part of the question at all and it left unanswered the question on decentralisation. If the Prime Minister did not know- one can give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he did not know- at least he might have said that he would contact me later or give a written reply. But no courtesy was extended. I believe a little courtesy and a little consideration would not have been out of place. I cannot even work out why the Prime Minister said that this was a matter for discussion with State governments, because surely we are in charge of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Prime Minister made this promise 2 years ago and he has not implemented it. He should not have made the promise if he could not implement it. Why is he discussing this matter with State governments when he could implement it tomorrow if he wanted to do so?
The fact of the matter is that this was the first question I had asked for one month and it was fobbed off by the Prime Minister. It was a complete waste of time. What opportunity do I and other members have for getting this sort of information? I believe, as private members, we are entitled to receive this sort of information. Will I get another chance to ask a question before Christmas? I very much doubt it. You, Mr Speaker, are the only one who knows the answer to that. I would not be surprised if I have to wait until February or March before I get the chance to ask another question. In any case if I do get the chance to ask another question, no doubt the answer will be just as irrelevant as this answer was.
It goes to show that we have a completely archaic and antiquated system for asking questions in this House. We grind through some 35 to 40 questions and answers a week. They consist of Dorothy Dixers, ministerial statements made in the guise of replies to questions which have been handed out by Ministers and irrelevant and misleading answers. This means there are 800 to 1,000 questions in a year. We should compare this figure with that for the House of Commons. My colleague, the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury), was kind enough to give me a copy of the Tregear report. I recall that Mr Tregear was a very distinguished Clerk of this House who spent some 12 months in the United Kingdom studying the procedures of the House of Commons. He points out in his report that up to 28,000 questions a year are asked and answered in the House of Commons.
– How many here?
– About 800 to 1,000 questions, I suppose.
– Does the House of Commons sit every day?
– No, it does not. It does not have questions on Friday. It sits on Monday, of course. Of course the House of Commons has four to five times as many members as the House of Representatives has.
– Pardon me, are they questions without notice?
– No, they are all questions on notice, as you would know, Mr Speaker, I am sure. Questions are listed. The questioner refers to the number of his question and receives an answer. Supplementary questions can be asked afterwards. Up to 120 questions a day are asked in the House of Commons against something like 12 questions a day here. All the questions out of the 120 questions which remain unanswered receive written replies. What is more, the members receive accurate and relevant answers because there is time to consider the answers. I am not complaining. I have been a Minister myself and I know that when a question is suddenly thrown at a Minister it is difficult for him to give an accurate reply. No Minister with the best will in the world can always have all the facts concerning his Department at his fingertips. In the House of Commons each member is limited to 3 oral questions each day plus supplementaries. What a heaven that would be compared with one question a month in this Parliament if a member is lucky.
I refer now to the questions which are not for oral answer and which would be equivalent to our questions on notice. The departments there are expected to furnish replies within 7 days, and they do. What a paradise. I have had questions on the notice paper for a year. I have not received an answer and I know I will not get one. There is no way in which a member can force an answer. Have we ever thought of the waste caused by printing questions on the notice paper? If the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) cares to look at the notice paper he will see that there are 138 pages of questions on notice on the notice paper today. Each honourable member receives 2 copies of the notice paper. This means that each day 32,000 pages are involved in the distribution of the notice paper to honourable members alone. Taking into account the other copies which are distributed, more than 100,000 pages per week are devoted to setting out questions on notice which are not answered and which lay on the notice paper for a considerable period.
- Mr Speaker, I rise to take a point of order. The honourable member has stated that one of his questions has been on the notice paper for 12 months. The first question appearing on the notice paper is dated 10 July 1974.
– No point of order is involved.
– I can answer that very quickly. The question was put on notice in the term of the previous Parliament. When that Parliament was dissolved and the new Parliament elected the question was resubmitted, and it was remained unanswered, so it has actually been on the notice paper for more than 12 months both in the term of this Parliament and in the term of the previous Parliament.
I hope that no one will ask: ‘What did you do?* It is terribly easy to say: ‘You did the same sort of thing’. Perhaps we did. But we should realise that the Minister of today is the backbencher of tomorrow and vice versa. The first thing that we want to see is that there are adequate opportunities in this Parliament for members to question Ministers and to receive accurate replies, not the sort of replies that we have been receiving. I do believe that Ministers should try to improve their courtesy in answering questions and the quality of those answers.
-Order! Before calling the next speaker, I point out that, so far this session, the Opposition has asked 282 questions without notice, of which the 4 leaders and deputy leaders have asked 10 1 questions. The remaining 56 Opposition members have shared 171 questions among them. I call the honourable member for Henty.
-Some months ago a group of doctors -
- Mr Speaker, I rise to take a point of order. You have answered the matter raised by the honourable member for Fairer (Mr Fairbairn) by using figures relating to one side of the story. There is another side to the story and the details -
-The honourable member will resume his seat. 1 may speak -
– You took an unfair position.
-The honourable member will resume his seat.
– He has.
– I can give an explanation when I so desire. If the honourable member looks at the Standing Orders -
– I am complaining about the method -
-The honourable member will remain silent. Read the Standing Orders, if you so desire. I call the honourable member for Henty.
– Some months ago a group of doctors in the East Bentleigh area in Victoria put a very detailed submission to the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) for a community health centre. The centre was to be in East Bentleigh and was to have fee-for-service doctors with free paramedical services, both for the doctors who were to be in the centre and for all other doctors in the area who cared to refer their patients to the centre. There is nothing like this centre in our district. From memory, the nearest community centre with similar services would be at the Southern Memorial Hospital in Caulfield, also heavily subsidised by this Government.
The doctors detailed submission was duly accepted by this Government and a grant of almost $250,000 was made to set up the centre. Land was acquired in East Bentleigh, opposite the Moorabbin Hospital, now in the first stage of building. A public meeting was called. It was held at the Town Hall, Moorabbin, and chaired by the then Mayor. It was very well attended. A full debate on the proposal took place and a vote was taken on whether the community supported a health centre. It was overwhelmingly supported. Only some of the doctors present opposed it. The public meeting elected an interim committee of which I am a member and I, as well as many other people, believed that we were set to get the health centre. Regardless of what the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) has to say on this subject, we need a health centre. The honourable member for Hotham says that community health centres have a place but that priority must be given to putting them in areas where there are few doctors. He recommends that they should be built in the western and northern suburbs of Sydney. We need one too. General practitioners do not cope with alcoholism and drug addiction, do not do social work, do not look after the bewildered or the disturbed child and do not go to help families when they are about to break up.
We need a health centre very badly in this area. The interim committee met and adopted a constitution in accord with the regulations of the Hospitals and Charities Commission. The committee set out to see that the centre would be built and that it would serve the thousands of people in that area. At about this time the Victorian Branch of the Australian Medical Association reared its head again. It is reported in the local newspapers as recommending that doctors do not apply to work in the centre, that they boycott it, and that if the centre does go ahead doctors in the area should advise their patients not to use the free paramedical services which would be provided.
For how long do we have to put up with the fact that the AMA is telling this community who will have a community health centre and who will not? There is a constant prate about free choice. If there are 60 doctors in East Bentleigh and a health centre is built, the choice has been expanded. It has not been made narrower. I think that most of the doctors are speaking through their pockets. The health centre will serve something like 20,000 people. As there are 101,000 people living in Moorabbin where the health centre is being built, I do not think that the doctors will lack for patients. But what I object to is that they are attempting to take away from the community, which voted for the centre, its right to have it. The next phase was rather interesting. The doctors in the area called a private meeting. That was not very democratic. It was not a public meeting like the one called to discuss the health centre. It was a private meeting and one needed an invitation to get in. But more than that, they had a police guard on the door so that people could not get in. At one time there were 4 carloads of police at the hall. I do not know what they expected the two old ladies who were outside to do.
– That is democratic!
– It is extremely democratic; my colleague is quite right there. Two cars left. Obviously there was no business. I would like to know to what lengths such people are prepared to go to prevent intrusion into their practice. To what lengths are people prepared to go to prevent the community from enjoying the very obvious benefits of . free paramedical services? What is important here- doctors’ profits or people’s health? What price is democracy when all opposition is barred from entering a meeting? What happened to free and open debate and what happened to democracy?
Community health centres are a new concept. They will be with us whether we like them or not. Medicine, like everything else, has to move with the times. As social pressures have built up in society today we cannot expect the general practitioner to be able to cope with them. He tends to the physical complaints of the patients who come to him. It is well recognised that we need social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists, home visit nurses and speech therapists freely available to the people who need them. One does not have to live in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne to be in need of the services which will be offered at the centre. Alcoholics and drug addicts do not all live in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne. It is an unfortunate fact that they are spread around the community. I imagine that we have them in my electorate too. Broken homes do not just occur in the western and northern suburbs nor do we have disturbed or deliquent children in only the northern and western suburbs.
This health centre will go ahead because there are enough people in the community at East Bentleigh who are determined that this service will be offered. The doctors’ comments that we are duplicating the services of the hospital being built opposite are just a load of rubbish. The money will go to the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission and I am quite sure that with its efficiency it will not see services duplicated. The hospital will provide its services and the health centre opposite will complement the services that are available in the hospital. There is an enormous area in the south-eastern part of Melbourne which is not well serviced by hospitals. In the inner suburban areas and the inner city there is a lot of excellent servicing through hospitals and quite a bit of community servicing, The area to which I have been referring is virtually in a desert. The Southern Memorial Hospital at Caulfield is a magnificent institution but after all it cannot handle the thousands of people who are living around the southern part of Melbourne.
The health centre will go ahead in spite of the opposition and people will use it in spite of the opposition. I feel that it would be a grave deficiency in our community if we were to revert to the vicious debate that we had last year when the national health scheme was being debated. It did not do any section of the community any good to be torn about by the arguments that went on then. I would not like to see the health centre I am speaking about divide the community.
-Order! It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 15 minutes past 2 o’clock p.m. unless Mr Speaker shall by telegram addressed to each member of the House fix a later time of meeting.
House adjourned at 1 1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1974/19741121_reps_29_hor92/>.