House of Representatives
25 February 1975

29th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.

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– I wish to inform the House that we have present in the Gallery this afternoon a Canadian Parliamentary delegation, being members of the Canadian Advisory Commission on Parliamentary Accommodation. The delegation is led by Senator the Hon. G. J. McIlraith, P.C., Q.C. On behalf of the House I extend a very warm welcome to these gentlemen.

Honourable members- Hear, hear!

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:

Family Law Bill

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:

  1. That the present matrimonial laws are archaic, unrealistic and cruel and the cause of so much distress, bitterness and injustice as to make their continued operation intolerable to the vast majority of fair minded citizens of Australia and that the Family Law Bill at present before Parliament should be passed without delay.
  2. That the ground of Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage determined by a maximum of twelve months’ separation, embodied in the Family Law Bill already passed in the Senate, be the sole ground for divorce.
  3. That there is widespread dissatisfaction with the enormous discretionary powers given Judges in the present legislation and that the non fault maintenance concept (according to need) based on specific criteria, as enunciated in Clause 54 (2) of the Family Law Bill 1974 No. 2, should be tried and we humbly pray Members of the House will restore thus concept fully by deleting Clause 75 ( n) from the new Bill “as read a third time”.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hayden, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Cross, Dr Jenkins, Mr Kerin and Mr Thorburn.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

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 marriage is an exclusive lifelong partnership between one woman and one man, which should not be dissolved at the will of one party after 12 months notice nor without a reasonable attempt at reconciliation and

That a husband should normally be responsible for maintaining his wife and children within marriage.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Family Law Bill 1 974 be amended

  1. To require a reasonable attempt at reconciliation with the aid of counselling at least twelve months prior to the application for a divorce;
  2. To specify three objective tests for irretrievable breakdown, namely

    1. intolerable behaviour,
    2. desertion for at least 2 years,
    3. separation for at least 3 years;

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Stewart, Mr Anthony, Mr Adermann, Mrs Child, Mr Jarman, Mr Keogh, Mr Kerin and Mr Thorburn.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned, all being of or above the age of 18 years as follows:-

  1. 1 ) Your Petitioners oppose and seek the deletion of those provisions of the Family Law Bill 1974 which supplant the existing grounds by the introduction of the sole ground of irretrievable break-down, which remove any consideration of fault, and which will weaken the family unit while causing more widespread injustice because:-

    1. it imposes on society a radical alteration of divorce law far beyond identifiable requirements or desires;
    2. it lowers the status of marriage by permitting people to “drift” into divorce, reduces parental importance and leads to increasing institutionalisation of children with consequential deliquency;
    3. it will not reduce the “in-fighting” in a divorce suit which mainly occurs over matters of property and custody;
    4. it will not encourage maturity in acceptance of marital and parental obligations and responsibilities.
  2. Your Petitioners commend the divorce legislation introduced in Great Britain in 1973, which acknowledges the importance of the family unit, mirrors community requirements, secures justice for innocent people and establishes a realistic definition of irretrievable background, and call for similar legislation to be provided in Australia.

Your Petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will make provision accordingly. by Mr Adermann, Mr Drury and Mr Hodges.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:

It is granted that the present law respecting divorce is deficient in some of its provisions, and needs reforming.

Your petitioners consider preservation of the family essential to the healthy function of society, and that every effort should be made to preserve traditional attitudes to marriage and child-bearing.

Certain aspects of the Family Law Bill 1974 conflict with these concepts, and endanger the security, welfare, education and development of children.

We request that the Bill be not enacted in its present form, and that consideration be given to our concerns in formulating amendments thereto.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Ruddock and Mr Whan.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the Family Law Bill 1974 would be an unjust law if passed since the innocent party could be divorced against his or her will after a year ‘s separation.

That the Bill does not only facilitate divorces but changes the nature of marriage and the husband-wife relationship. Legislation ought to reflect public opinion, not attempt to condition it. Gallup polls indicate 75 per cent of Australians are opposed to the concepts of the Family Law Bill. Therefore Parliament has no.mandate from the people to ask such a far reaching change in the nature of our society.

That children need a stable emotional and psychological environment in which to grow up. This stability is upset by divorce. A high proportion of criminals come from broken homes. Consequently any law which makes divorce easier is harmful to society.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Parliament so vote as to defeat the Family Law Bill.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Stewart, Mr Malcolm Fraser and Dr Jenkins.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

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 there is great urgency to preserve the family as the basic unit in society and therefore the stability of family life requires the urgent attention of Parliament.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:

  1. The present grounds for Divorce should not be changed.
  2. The present requirement of seven days waiting period after notification of intention to marry should be extended to thirty days to provide adequate counselling and education.
  3. Marriage counselling services to further the cause of reconciliation should be more readily available.
  4. Continued social research into the causes of marital instability should be fostered by the Parliament.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.

Petition received.

Metric System

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth-

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 at all will follow the use of the new weights and measures.

That the traditional weights and measures are eminently satisfactory.

Your petitioners therefore 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 to those areas where the greatest inconvenience 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 pray. by Mr Morrison, Mr Gorton, Mr Cross and Dr Jenkins.

Petitions received.

Family Law Bill

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:

  1. That the persons themselves de-register their own marriage with the Family Law Bill used for enforcement only with guidelines provided by Mediators not lawyers, and That it be noted that Queensland had Divorce by Mutual Consent prior to 1959.
  2. That women should be given the same respect and equality as men by Recognising the repugnance to decent women of being regarded as a parasite and second rate citizen, classed with lunatics, criminals, aboriginals, paraplegics and being responsible for lowering the concept of marriage to the status of prostitution in making claims for personal financial support and by deleting Clause 75 (n) of the New Law Bill.
  3. That in any dispute regarding custody of children that immediately and automatically the children become wards of the Court and their care given to the Children’s Welfare Department.
  4. That Matrimonial Property be equally divided with property one owns prior to marriage or inherited during marriage belongs to that person.
  5. That Financial Support be available from the Department based on need without Court Order.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Donald Cameron and Mr Hodges.

Petitions received.

Casual Vacancy in the Senate

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 indignation and condemnation at the Premier of N.S.W.’s proposal to appoint to the Senate seat vacated by Mr Murphy, a person not of the same political convictions as Mr Murphy when he was in the Senate.

We the undersigned, together with the people of N.S.W., last May had the opportunity to express priorities on this matter, and despite the almost infinite variety of political and so-called independent candidates, the electors chose to give prominence to the Labor team. For the Premier of N.S.W. to oppose these electors views as he proposes to do, is surely to act in anarchy.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House protect the people of N.S.W. ‘s basic rights to elect whomsoever they wish to elect in the Senate without fear of mid-term interference of the above described kind. by Mr Armitage.

Petition received.

Family Law Bill

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:

That we support the concept of no-fault divorce in the Family Law Bill because:

  1. . Marriage is not merely a contract; it is a relationship.
  2. If a party withdraws from that relationship for whatever reason there is no good to be achieved by insisting on a continuance of a contractual shell.
  3. Where a marriage relationship has demonstrably broken down divorce should be as quick and simple as possible in the interests of the dignity of the parties and the emotional well-being of the children.

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 Mrs Child.

Petition received.

Devonport and Wynyard Airports

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:

The continuing talk of possible closure of the Devonport and Wynyard airports is of the greatest concern to the people of Devonport and the surrounding districts.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that:

Every effort be made to prevent this closure by any authority which may be empowered to do so.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrEllicott.

Petition received.


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 all 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:

  1. That further mining and export of uranium from Australia except for bio-medical purposes be banned;
  2. That the Australian Atomic Energy Commission be transformed by the rewriting of its charter into an Australian Energy Commission to further the understanding of energy flows through our society and to promote national economic independence and self-sufficiency.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Kerin.

Petition received.


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:

  1. That whales are a significant element in the world’s wildlife heritage.
  2. That whales are highly intellegent, highly evolved creatures.
  3. That there is growing international concern at the continued killing of whales for commercial gain.
  4. That synthetic products are able to fully replace all whale products.
  5. That Australia continues to operate a whaling station and to import whale produce.
  6. That Australia supported a proposal to enforce a ten year moratorium on all commercial whaling at the 25th meeting of the International Whaling Commission held in London, 25-29 June 1973.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to immediately revoke all whaling licenses issued by the Australian Government and to reimpose a total ban on the importation of all whale produce.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McKenzie.

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Werri wa · ALP

I inform the House that the Foreign Minister, Senator Don Willesee, left on 23 February to attend the ESCAP Conference in New Delhi and the Commonwealth Development Ministers Conference in London. He is due to return on 14 March. On 24 March he will leave to lead the Australian delegation to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea being held in Geneva and from 2 April he will attend the Ministerial Meeting of Iron Ore Exporters which is also being held in Geneva. During his absences I shall act as Foreign Minister.

Further, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Dr Moss Cass, also left Australia on 23 February to attend the South Pacific Conference on National Parks and Reserves which is being held in New Zealand. He is due to return on 27 February. In his absence the Minister for Health, Dr Doug Everingham, will act as Minister for the Environment and Conservation.

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-Did the Prime Minister state at the weekend that wage increases were 5 times more important than tariff cuts in creating unemployment? With 3 1 1 000 Australians now out of work, does this mean that wage increases are responsible for the destruction of a quarter of a million jobs? Is this what the Deputy Prime Minister meant when he said that Australia is in its worst recession for half a century?


– I did point out at the weekend, as I have pointed out on other occasions, that it is completely fallacious to attribute the degree of unemployment in Australia at the moment to the tariff cuts made in July 1973. The increases in wages and salaries have been at least four or five times as responsible for the decrease in Australian competitiveness as have the tariff cuts. It is absurd to say that particular factors are responsible for any particular number of people out of work. There are always a considerable number of people out of work, whether there are tariff cuts or wage increases or neither. The fact is’ that in Australia, deplorable as the degree of our unemployment is, it is no worse than that to be found in any country in Western Europe, North America or Japan.

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-I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I refer him to the announced intention of the Leader of the Opposition that a Liberal Government under his leadership would scrap the Prices Justification Tribunal and Medibank. Will this declaration have a damaging effect upon the Prices Justification Tribunal, robbing it of its prestige and effectiveness?


– It appears that the Leader of the Opposition was in full flight over the weekend. He never says what he would do, but he does increasingly say what he would undo or what he would destroy. My recollection is that at the election of last May the Leader ofthe Opposition said that if he were returned to office the Prices Justification Tribunal would be maintained. It is a deplorable feature of Australian politics at the moment that those on the right seem to think that they can go further to the right with impunity. The Australian public would have seen a very good illustration of this over the weekend. The Leader of the Opposition says that he would destroy the Prices Justificaton Tribunal, Medibank, the national compensation scheme and the national superannuation scheme. We have this extraordinary situation that in the Senate at the moment the National Compensation Bill is being considered by a committee composed of equal numbers from both sides ofthe Senate. Now the Leader of the Opposition completely destroys its deliberations. The committee is supposed to be taking evidence at public hearings for the next couple of weeks on a Bill which the Leader of the Opposition says he would repeal. There could be no greater illustration of the sheer negativeness of the Australian Opposition- that is, it will destroy what is already enacted and it will oppose what is being considered by the Parliament

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– My question is directed to the Attorney- General. I refer to an article in the Melbourne ‘Observer’ of last Sunday, based on an extensive interview with a former Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent. Are the allegations contained in the report true? Has the man left ASIO? Will a statement be made clarifying the matter?

Attorney-General · ALP

– I regret that I have to inform the honourable member that I did not read the article to which he refers. Not having read the article, I do not know what the allegations are. I shall make inquiries, however, and arrange to let the honourable member have an answer.

Mr Peacock:

– As soon as possible?


– As soon as possible. The honourable member would be aware, of course, that an inquiry is being conducted into the whole general subject matter by Mr Justice Hope.

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-Has the Minister for Labor and Immigration seen a report in a privately circulated newsletter which states that the Regional Employment Development Scheme is creating active hostility in rural areas? Does the article cite only one example in the electorate of Leichhardt to back its statement? Can the Minister give the House full details concerning the RED Scheme grants to the electorate of Leichhardt? The Minister knows that I have conferred with him and his Department on many occasions in relation to the RED Scheme.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-It is not usual for Inside Canberra’ to publish stories that are not accurate, and usually its publishers show the courtesy of coming to the Minister concerned to verify whether allegations are true. On this occasion that was not done. Had the publishers of the newsletter taken the normal precaution which they usually take in matters of this nature they could have been spared the indignity of being described publicly as publishing a ridiculous, stupid statement that has no substance at all in fact. The honourable member for Leichhardt has been very active in relation to this matter. He has succeeded already in getting approval for no fewer than 30 separate RED projects in his electorate, amounting to a total cost of $1,354,600. I am led to believe by my intelligence information that in the case of the Johnstone Shire, which is the one which was brought to the attention of Mr Whitington or the gentleman who wrote the article in ‘Inside Canberra’, an application was made for Sim to meet the cost of kerbing and guttering which had been displaced as a result of the Queensland floods. Mr Bjelke-Petersen refused to give the shire any money because it has a Labor controlled council, so the council believed that it might get the money by coming to the RED Ministers. It is not the purpose of the RED scheme to pick up the tab when the Liberal and Country Party Premiers refuse to give a local governing authority what it is entitled to receive just because the people of that area happen to elect councillors who do not happen to be members of the Country Party. The RED Ministers eventually were able to find ways of giving $83,000 to that shire. But it is not the function of the RED scheme to meet the cost of expenditure of this sort, amounting in this case to $lm; it is primarily the responsibility of the Queensland Government- not the Australian Government.

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-I ask the Prime Minister: Leaving aside the comparison in receipts of persons who are apprentices and those who are unemployed, will the Prime Minister explain to the House the thinking behind his Government in a system which sees a person eligible for retraining as entitled to receive up to $90 a week and a person who is laid off through the tariff policies of the Government as entitled to receive up to $200 a week? I will be interested if the Minister for Labor and Immigration can answer this part of the question: Why is a private soldier in the Citizen Military Forces while attending a 2-week compulsory camp and working considerably in excess of 8 hours a day entitled to receive only $8 a day for that service?

Mr Whitlam:

– The Minister for Labor and Immigration will answer the question.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-I can only assume that a soldier in the Citizen Military Forces is being paid the same amount as was fixed by the previous Government of which the honourable member was a very prominent and influential member. I am quite certain that my Government would not have reduced the amount. Of course, this is a matter for the Minister for Defence.

Mr McVeigh:

– Why do you not have the guts to look at the matter properly?

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-Mr Speaker, there is some guttersnipe -


-Order! Interjections will cease. If they do not, I will take the appropriate action. The Minister may continue to answer the question.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-As to the income maintenance scheme, I can tell the honourable gentleman that there are not many people, if any, who are still receiving the sum of $200 a week.

Mr Nixon:

-The 6 months is up.


-Order! The Minister will answer the question. I warn the honourable member for Gippsland.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-There will not be any people at all receiving that sum of money after the alteration which was made to the scheme several weeks ago when it was decided that overtime received during the period of the 6 months calculation would be disregarded. I did not hear the rest ofthe honourable gentleman’s question but if he likes to come around and see me in my office later on I will be pleased to answer it privately.

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– My question is to the Minister for Health. Are sufficient doctors graduating from Australian medical schools to satisfy our needs? Can something be done to ensure that those entering medical schools are not only academically the most brilliant students, nearly all of whom want to be specialists? Has he noticed the suggestion of the Doctors Reform Society that there should be assistant doctors? How can we obtain more salt of the earth doctors, namely, general practitioners with a social conscience?

Mr McLeay:

– Keep them out of this Parliament.

Government supporters- No.


– I thank the interjectors who have commended the general practitioners who have moved into this Parliament. The question of supplying more doctors, and particularly more general practitioners, is one that has exercised the minds not only of the Government but also of the Australian Medical Association and all sorts of people who are concerned with the present trends. Over a period of 7 years the proportion of general practitioners to population has remained fairly stationary. The average age of general practitioners is rising and the average number of hours they work per week is declining. So obviously this is getting close to a crisis situation.

The Government has moved to do several things about it. First of all it has funded universities to set up schools of community medicine and general practice so that undergraduates, before they graduate will get a taste of what general practice really is. All too often during their undergraduate years they learn about the rare conditions and do not see the bread and butter conditions with which general practitioners have to deal- or, as we used to say, they learn about the canaries but cannot recognise the sparrows.

Another initiative has been to fund the family medicine plan which is a program of training administered, planned, designed and carried on by the College of General Practitioners. This has received universal acclaim from every organisation except, I think, the Society of General Practitioners which represents a minority group opposed on principle to anything done by governments anyway. In its first 12 months the plan has already enrolled over 300 doctors who are training in general practice. Not only the trainees but also their principals- the people employing them- have been enthusiastic about the plan. They are doctors chosen by the College for their ability to train juniors. The assistants salary is subsidised by the Government for the first 2 years ofthe doctor’s assistanceship particularly the first year. The whole scheme is funded 100 per cent by my Department on the recommendation of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission. The Commission was ‘ another initiative of this Government.

As regards the output of graduates generally, the Karmel Committee on Medical Education has recommended the scope and location of new medical schools and where extension of medical schools should occur. The Committee foreshadowed an increasing proportion of graduates to population between now and 1990 or 2000 which it believes will be adequate.

In other words it is not a shortage of graduates that is the problem, but there is a mal- , distribution of graduates as between, say, the area of general practice and other areas of medicine that may be more glamorous and more attractive. In short, I think that we have done as much as we can, in the present state of our knowledge, to offset the difficulties. We tabled recently in this Parliament a report from the Hospitals and Health Services Commission on health careers, personnel and training. The suggestion that the honourable member has made of using nurse practitioners and other medical assistants to eke out the scarce resources of doctors appeals to me. I have said this consistently both before and since I have been in the Ministry. This matter is under active consideration. It has considerable support, particularly for isolated areas where bush nurses have been doing this sort of work under difficulties for many years.

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– In view of the concern caused by statements made as to the threatened or actual discontinuance of the travelling post office, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral clarify the position? Will the Minister either confirm or refute the implication apparent in correspondence that an agreement has been reached between the Australian Post Office and the New South Wales Government on a time-table for the cessation of this valuable service? I ask the Minister to inform the House and the nation of the facts of this matter.

Special Minister of State · KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

-The position is as the honourable member says. The travelling post office service is in jeopardy because of a decision apparently made by the New South Wales Government to withdraw certain rail services. The Postmaster-General has confirmed that he is most anxious to retain this service and has, in fact, never requested any withdrawal of it. There is an agreement between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government that the agreement establishing the service can be altered by either party giving 12 months’ notice. It is significant that the New South Wales Government has given such notice. So it would appear as the honourable member fears that the service will be terminated because the rail services will not be available. The PostmasterGeneral, however, assures me that he has arranged for the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to discuss this matter personally with the appropriate Minister in the New South Wales Government. There has been correspondence between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Minister in which the PostmasterGeneral has urged the retention of the service. In other words, the Government is anxious that the service be maintained because of its great benefit to rural areas. As the honourable member will appreciate, if the train services are discontinued the Australian Government has no alternative but to use other services which would not be as effective. Nevertheless, every effort will be made to maintain the service.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In answering a question from the Leader of the Australian Country Party last Thursday, the Prime Minister excluded the Deputy Prime Minister from the list he gave of Ministers whose staff had been given full security clearances. Has he taken any steps since to ascertain the position with respect to the staff of the Deputy Prime Minister?


– I repeated last Thursday what I said some 2 years before. I had not been asked any questions since then. Later that day in speaking to a matter of public importance introduced by the honourable member for Mackellar the Deputy Prime Minister stated the position as regards his staff. I myself said that if any honourable members had any qualms about these matters they should raise them with me. I would take this opportunity to say that if any person has any doubt at all about the integrity or the security of any person on the staff of a Minister the decent thing, surely, is to let the Minister know. (Opposition members interjecting) -

Mr Anthony:

– Ha, ha.


-Order! The question has been asked. The Prime Minister will answer the question.


-The Leader of the Australian Country Party finds it amusing that people should mention to an employer that there is somebody on his staff who is not fit to be on his staff. I would have thought that was the decent course. But, of course, it now seems that the Leaders of the Opposition are prepared to support private members- those on their last gasp or last rasp- bringing up charges against individuals and against Ministers.

The honourable member for Mackellar last Thursday brought up as a matter of urgency an attack on the Treasurer, the Deputy Prime Minister, and he could not have made that attack had there not been a sufficient number of members in the Opposition to rise to support him when the matter was called on. It is significant that the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country Party, who rose to support him, did not speak themselves; none of them sought to speak.

Opposition members- We were gagged.



– Their names were not on the list given to you, Mr Speaker, and none of them rose to speak unannounced. One would think that if the Deputy Prime Minister had committed any act or was likely to commit any act which was inappropriate to his office or was a danger to the country, the Leader of the Opposition would have seen fit to make the allegation, or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Country Party. But no, they hide behind a man who is in his last term in the Parliament, a man who has disgraced the most honoured name in this Parliament by his consistent vilification for a quarter of a century. They hide behind a man who is on the way out. They will not stand up themselves to make the allegation. If my deputy -

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– A point of order.


-Ah, a bit of leadership. The leader!

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

- Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Mackellar is not in the chamber today. He is otherwise occupied. Some ofthe things that the Prime Minister said would be, I would have thought, regarded as gravely offensive by the honourable member. The Prime Minister is taking this opportunity in the honourable member’s absence to say things in relation to him that are thoroughly unparliamentary. Could I suggest that since he is forcibly absent, Mr Speaker, there is therefore a duty upon you. from the Chair, to protect him using your rights and prerogatives.


-If the honourable member for Mackellar thinks he has been insulted I will give him the usual opportunity to speak when he returns tomorrow. The Prime Minister may continue to answer the question.


-At least the next Leader of the Opposition has been prepared to defend the conduct of the honourable member for Mackellar. The honourable member for Mackellar read in the House under privilege, with the support, we later learned, of his leader, an article which had been peddled around every newspaper office in Australia and which none of them was prepared to publish. That is the type of leadership we get from the Liberal Party and the Country Party- willing to wound and yet afraid to strike.

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Mr Donald Cameron:

– I direct my question to the Attorney-General and allude to the fact that due to a tip-off to the Commonwealth Police that there was to be a break and entry into the home of Miss Junie Morosi, the Commonwealth Police were called out to surround the house. I ask the Minister: Who would have ordered the Commonwealth Police to do a job which is normally the duty of a State police force? Is it correct for this side of the House to take it that if any ministerial staff members or members on the Government side are in trouble in the future they will have the protection of the Commonwealth Police Force?


-My understanding is that an informant did pass certain information to the Commonwealth police. I do not know whether he passed information to the New South Wales police. It may be that he did; it may be that he did not. My understanding is that the Commonwealth police then took the appropriate action and effected an arrest. That power is within their authority and certainly they did have authority to make the arrest. An information was laid and proceedings then commenced in the magistrates court. I understand that the gentleman who was arrested was charged with stealing. There may have been another charge- I think there wasabout illegal use, a false number plate or an offence of that kind. I understand that the charge was read and that the person concerned pleaded guilty, certainly to one charge, perhaps both, and was dealt with by the magistrate. Everything that has been put to me confirms that the police acted properly, that the magistrate acted properly and that the man was dealt with properly.

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-Mr Speaker, I address to you a question concerning standing order 152 which relates to the proper administration of the Standing Orders of this House. I ask: Is it properly and sensibly within the Standing Orders of this House for an honourable member to use in debate a form of language such as ‘Woof, woof? I refer, of course, to the example shown in Hansard at page 427 of 19 February 1975 which shows that the Leader of the Opposition made the remarkable contribution: ‘Come on. Woof, woof!’. In seeking your ruling, Mr Speaker, I should mention, in case it is relevant that the expression ‘woof, woof had an exclamation mark following it.


– As is my usual custom, I read the Hansard report of last week. I do not think woof, woof is a very devastating term to apply to anyone. I also read the term ‘ga-ga’. Only last Saturday morning I was visited by a relative of mine; a little grandnephew. He was playing with a silky terrier which says ‘woof, woof, and the little grandnephew says ‘ga-ga ‘, so I do not think there is anything very devastating about the terms. Sometimes in this House, I imagine, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition show a dislike of one another but underneath it all I really think they love each other.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. Has the Department of Defence decided to recall all .303 rifles from cadet units? If so, why? Will the Department replace recalled .303 rifles with SLRs for each cadet? If not, why not? If the Department will not replace these rifles with SLRs, will each unit be permitted to purchase .303 rifles from the Department for its own use?

Minister for Defence · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

-Yes, the Department of Defence has recalled from the cadet corps units throughout Australia the .303 rifles. There are 3 reasons for this. The first is that the recommendation for this action was contained in the report of the Millar Committee which investigated the Australian cadet corps and pointed out that the 303 rifle in many cases was far too heavy for cadets.

Mr Fairbairn:

– Ha, ha.

Mr Bourchier:

– Give them spears.


– I am merely quoting what is in the report. The honourable members may dispute it if they wish to do so. The second reason is that we do not manufacture .303 ammunition in Australia; it has to be imported and it is very costly. The third reason is the question of security which has been raised in this House on a number of occasions. It is well known that there have been problems of security in relation to armouries located at Australian schools for the cadet corps. Basically, they are the 3 reasons. The 22 rifle will be retained for shooting practice and the 7.62 millimetre SLR will be made available to cadet corps units for shooting practice and for ceremonial purposes.

In the last part of his question, the honourable member asked whether it would be possible for cadet corps to purchase .303 rifles. This is a matter for my colleague, Senator James McClelland, the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, to determine. Once rifles have been declared for disposal, it is a matter for him to determine what should happen to them. But if the honourable member is asking for my own personal view, the answer would be no. I would be reluctant to allow .303 rifles to be purchased by school cadet corps and kept under their own management in armouries at the schools.

page 635




-Is the Prime Minister aware of any development in the matter of trade with Japan subsequent to the recent statement on this subject by the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen?


– I hate to state that Mr Bjelke-Petersen does not rate very highly in Japan or in other countries. There has been no reaction from Japan at all. Nevertheless, I must say that in this matter in which Mr BjelkePetersen said to the Japanese: ‘No coal from Queensland unless you buy Queensland beef, my attitude towards him is the same as the attitude of the honourable member for Hotham, Mr Chipp. At least the honourable member for Hotham was prepared to state what he said was the Opposition policy or at least Liberal Party policy, although the Leader of the Opposition was not prepared to state what the policy was save in the most muted and deferential terms.

The Deputy Leader of the Country Party aided and abetted Mr Bjelke- Petersen.

Let me be precise. Let me recall the precise terms. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party said:

At least the Queensland Government has a little bit of get up and go. Not only has the Premier of that State the ability to get up and demonstrably show that he is prepared to back his stand when it comes to trying to secure markets. . . . and so on. He was backing Mr Bjelke-Petersen ‘s resources diplomacy or resources blackmail. 1 quote next from the Australian Broadcasting Commission program ‘This Day Tonight’ on which last evening the honourable member for Hotham said:

I stated at that conference Liberal policy- Opposition policy- on resources. Mr Snedden has said, and it has been endorsed, when we are in government we will not resort to resources blackmail. Mr Bjelke-Petersen’s statement is on the record and 1 decided that, when asked the question, I wanted to put it straight. We are not for it in the Federal Opposition.

Well, bravo for the honourable member for Hotham. He is prepared to state an Australian attitude. I must confess that I did not know until I read this transcript that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, had said anything about it at all. But, at all events, it is good to know that there are some people in the Opposition -

Mr Katter:

– Leave the honourable member for Hotham alone.


-Order! I warn the honourable member for Kennedy.


-Mr Speaker, there are some people in the Liberal Party at least who are prepared to state a proper national and international attitude. Japan is Australia’s principal market, by far the largest market that Australia has, and it would be not only very dishonourable but also completely foolish for Australia to take the attitude towards Japan that Mr BjelkePetersen has advocated.

I was in Tasmania again at the weekend. People there are still ropable about what Mr Bjelke-Petersen said concerning their products. Honourable members will remember that, after the reception he had in Tasmania when trying to implant or resuscitate the Country Party there, he returned to Queensland and said: ‘We want Japan to buy beef from Queensland, not from Tasmania, or New Zealand, or any other foreign country’.

Let me put the record straight in case the Japanese are at all concerned about it. The Australian Parliament is vested by the Constitution with the power over trade and commerce with other countries. Accordingly, this Parliament and the Government which has a majority in the House which forms governments will see that any contracts which Japan has with this country are faithfully observed. We could, in this Parliament, pass any law to override any inconsistent State law.

Mr Anthony:

– Irrespective of State rights.


-Order! The Leader of the Country Party -


-That is, we will see that Australian contracts are honoured. I agree with the statement by the honourable member for Hotham that only a fool would disregard history in this matter. Japan was driven to hostilities against us, among others, in 1941 because she was cut off from markets and resources. Only a fool would advocate Australia being party to cutting Japan off again from resources and markets.

Mr Anthony:

– What about uranium?


-I warn the Leader ofthe Australian Country Party.

page 636




– I ask the Minister for Northern Development: When does the Government intend to assist effectively cattle producers in Australia to overcome the greatest financial crisis this industry has ever experienced? Is at least $150m required at low interest rates to save this situation? Does the Minister know that the interest rate of 1 Vi per cent on the $20m made available through the Commonwealth Development Bank is too high under the present pressed conditions and that producers do not even make applications because it is impossible to service such loans? Will the Minister immediately take action to provide fair and adequate assistance to cattle producers in this country?

Minister for Northern Development · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Apparently the honourable member is still unaware of the proposition put up by the Australian National Cattlemen’s Council.

Mr Hewson:

– Do not give us that rubbish again.


-That just shows the views of members of the Australian Country Party. They call the Australian National Cattlemen’s Council ‘rubbish’. That is what they do.


-Order! The House will come to order.


-The supreme voice ofthe cattlemen’s associations of Australia- one has only to read the letter -

Mr Nixon:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the first place the Minister has not stated the interjection correctly. My point of order is that the Minister has not caught up with the cattlemen’s latest recommendations.


-No point of order is involved.


-Last Friday in Yeppoon we saw one of the most disgraceful exhibitions by the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, who made a vicious attack on the Minister for Health, Dr Everingham. (Mr Anthony- interjecting)-


-Order! The Leader of the Country Party.


– It was so vicious that cattlemen from that conference came to me in Mackay and apologised. They made a statement condemning die Queensland Premier for his attacks on the Minister. This is the type of rabble rousing crowd opposite- the Country Party here- who did the same thing with the wool industry -

Mr Katter:

– Answer the question.


-I name the honourable member for Kennedy.

Mr Daly:

- Mr Speaker, I know that the honourable member has transgressed but I wonder whether he would be prepared to apologise to the Chair.

Government supporters- No.


-I have asked the honourable member for Kennedy on 3 occasions today to cease interjecting. I gave him a final warning. However, at the request of the Leader of the House, if the honourable member for Kennedy apologises I will accept an apology.

Mr Katter:

– I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker. But my God let them go out and see what the country is going through.


-Order!. The Minister may proceed to answer the question.


– What is needed most of all from the cattle industry is a proposition, a program, a plan with respect to what it wants.

Mr Anthony:

– Why do you not do something yourself instead of talking about it?


– Order! I name the Leader of the Country Party.

Mr Anthony:

– I am sick of all this bloody talk.

Motion (by Mr Daly) put:

That the Leader of the Country Party be suspended from the service of the House.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)

AYES: 62

NOES: 58

Majority……. 4



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 637




– I address my question to the Prime Minister. I ask this question because today is the sixth anniversary of the judgment in Moore v. Doyle in which the Australian Industrial Court unanimously urged the Australian, New South

Wales, Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian Attorneys-General to devise a system of trade union organisation which would enable the one body to represent its relevant members in both the Federal and State arbitration systems. I ask the Prime Minister whether any of the 4 States have acted on Mr Justice Sweeney’s recommendations for meeting the situation, which were included in his report tabled on 1 August last, and whether any of them have passed legislation to complement the Act passed by this Parliament 4 months ago.


– It is disturbing and deplorable that no Liberal or Country Party Government has yet introduced any measures which the Industrial Court 6 years ago said were urgently needed and which Mr Justice Sweeney drafted 7 months ago. The Dunstan Government in South Australia enacted legislation which came into force in January 1973. 1 wrote that same month to the Premiers of the other States which have systems of industrial arbitration- New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australiacommending the South Australian legislation to them. In the autumn session of this Parliament in 1973 my Government introduced the first Federal legislation to implement the Court’s advice, but the Opposition, which in government had introduced no measures, defeated the Bill in the Senate. An amendment to overcome one deficiency to which the Court directed attention was passed by the Federal Parliament in November 1973, but by the fifth anniversary of the judgment no further action had yet been taken by any of the State parliaments. Accordingly, a year ago the Government appointed Mr Justice J. B. Sweeney to inquire into and report upon the legislative changes necessary to carry out the advice of the Industrial Court. I sent the Premiers a copy of His Honour’s report on 18 July last and drew particular attention to his recommendation for complementary State legislation. The Federal legislation which His Honour drafted was passed on 24 October last, and I so advised the Premiers on the following day. I understand that South Australia is prepared to pass the complementary legislation. I received acknowledgments only from the former Premier of New South Wales and the Acting Premier of Queensland. I have not yet heard from the Premier of Western Australia. I shall now telegraph all the Premiers again.

The situation is fully as serious as it was when the Industrial Court expressed its strong views 6 years ago. There are some 300 registered trade unions in Austrafia- more than in any country in the world. Approximately 150 unions are registered with the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission; 117 of them have branches registered in one or more or all of the 4 States which have a separate system of registration. There are approximately 80 employer organisations registered under the Federal Act. As the Court said 6 years ago ‘a system of trade union organisation is urgently needed which would enable the one body to represent its relevant members in both the Federal and State arbitration systems’. It is surely intolerable that LiberalCountry Party State governments have ignored the Court’s urgent recommendations for 6 years.

page 638


Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– Pursuant to section 29 of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924-1973 and the Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Act 1958-1973, I present the annual report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board for the year ended 30 June 1974.

page 638


Mr Clyde Cameron:

– For the information of honourable members I present the first report, in 2 volumes, of the National Population Inquiry, entitled: ‘Population and Australia- a demographic analysis and projection’.

Mr MacKellar:

- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. This is an extremely important report and it has already been leaked to the Press. Members of the Parliament have not had a chance to debate it. I ask that the Minister move that the House take note ofthe paper, and give an assurance to the House that the report will be debated.


-That is not a point of order. It is a matter for the Minister to decide.

page 638


Mr ENDERBY (CanberraAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise)For the information of honourable members I present a Green Paper entitled ‘A Review of Australia’s Customs Valuation System’ prepared by the interdepartmental committee established by the Government in July 1973 to examine and report on the desirability of Australia’s adopting the Brussels definition of value for Customs purposes.

page 639


Minister for Health · Capricornia · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Computer Services Planning Committee on the provision of computing facilities and systems for health services in the Australian Capital Territory.

page 639


Leader of the Opposition · Bruce

- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?


-Yes. I have been misrepresented in a newspaper report to which I referred last week and in a question that arose out of that false report asked by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). Last Wednesday I made a personal explanation in the Parliament. The question is to be found at page 359 of Hansard. Since then I have been further misrepresented by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and I think it is necessary that I put the matter in context in this single personal explanation. On 1 7 February at a function at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne I was asked about the present system of tertiary allowances and scholarships. I replied:

I am not satisfied that the Australian Government is distributing the education dollar right. I think that the scholarships operate unfairly to a great number. Of the two systems - of scholarships-

I prefer the old system.

On 18 February on page 3 of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald ‘ there appeared a report of the luncheon. It incorrectly interpreted those comments of mine to mean that I would re-introduce university fees and abolish tertiary allowances. My comments permitted of no such possible construction. The report was totally incorrect. University fees will not be re-introduced under a Liberal-Country Party government. Assistance to students will be increased. That is the written policy of the 2 Parties. The policy is binding on all members of both Parties.

On Tuesday, 18 February, the honourable member for Holt asked the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) to comment on the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ report. The Minister commented on it, assuming that the report was correct. Later that day the Minister issued a Press statement commenting further on the reported statement. I was not in the House on 18 February. At the first available opportunity- the next day, 19 February- I made a personal explanation and stated categorically that the report was wrong. The policy of the Liberal and Country Parties as printed in the policy document “The Way Ahead’ states:

We will not re-introduce the payment of fees by students in universities and tertiary colleges. We shall review existing means tested tertiary allowances to see that students can undertake tertiary education.

We promised:

Revision of the grants to needy students undertaking tertiary education to ensure that they are adequate.

Rules governing allowances to tertiary students should be reviewed to make more realistic and humane the requirements in relation to the circumstances in which the student is living. There should be less reliance on bureaucratic control.

We will investigate the desirability of establishing a tertiary students’ loan scheme to cover necessary costs and at the same time encourage self-help.

Revision of the effectiveness, in the light of the TAFE Committee report, and generally of current assistance to technical education students.

That is our policy. My personal explanation last Wednesday indicated that the report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ was false. I assumed that all honourable members would, as is the convention of the House, take note of my explanation and not continue to attribute the false report to me.

However, on last Sunday, 23 February, in Launceston the Prime Minister addressed the Tasmanian State Australian Labor Party Conference and said:

Only last week in an unguarded moment, Mr Snedden let slip one of Liberal’s less attractive promises- the restoration of fees for tertiary education and a cutback in student allowances. That’s the sort of Liberal economy measure the youth of Australia could expect.

That shows the tactics of the Prime Minister. It is quite clearly a smear campaign of misrepresentation and mistruth and, if I were allowed to do so, I would call it utter dishonesty. One wonders why we have the established convention of allowing honourable members to make personal explanations if people like the Prime Minister lack the decency to take note of them. Any further statements by the Prime Minister or any member of his Government imputing to me any suggestion of a restoration of tertiary fees will be a gross misrepresentation, wilful deceit and, in the Prime Minister’s own words, a peddling of lies.

page 640


Report of Public Works Committee

Mr Keith Johnson:

-In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1974, 1 present the report relating to the following proposed work:

Central Hospital Services Complex- Stage 2 in the Australian Capital Territory.

Ordered that the report be printed.

page 640


General Reports

Mr Keith Johnson:

-In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1974, 1 present the Thirtyseventh General Report and the Thirty-eighth General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

Ordered that the reports be printed.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-I seek leave to make a short statement.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-I thank the House for the opportunity to pay a tribute to those people who no longer serve on the Public Works Committee. Mr remarks relate to the Thirtyseventh General Report. During the middle of last year- in May- there was an election, which is the reason why two annual reports have been presented for last year. The election in May caused disruption to the Public Works Committee, and the membership of the Committee changed. Mr Fulton, the honourable member for Leichhardt, Mr Whittorn, the former honourable member for Balaclava, and Mr Corbett, the honourable member for Maranoa, did not seek re-appointment to the Committee. Mr Whittorn did not seek re-appointment to the Committee because he did not seek re-election to this Parliament. I wish to pay tribute to his contribution to the work of the Committee for 5 years from 25 November 1969 to 11 April 1974. Mr Corbett, who had the same length of service, from 25 November 1969 to 1 1 April 1974- also 5 yearsfound his other parliamentary duties such that time did not permit his usual devotion to his duties as a member of the Committee.

Mr Fulton, the honourable member for Leichhardt, served a decade with the Committee, from 4 March 1964 until 1 1 April 1974. During his 10 years of service Mr Fulton served as Deputy Chairman and from 7 March 1973 to 11 April 1974 served a distinguished period as Chairman of the Committee. It was my privilege to serve for only one year with these 3 gentlemen but I would feel remiss if I did not take this opportunity to mention their service. As Mr Fulton was the only chairman with whom I have served I am unable to make comparisons, but I can say that his wisdom, fairness and judgment have been an inspiration to me. It is well that the service of these gentlemen be recognised.

page 640


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The Government’s equivocal attitude towards the future of East Timor and its failure to take urgent action to ensure a solution in accordance with the wishes of the East Timorese people and in the interests of the region.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their place. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)


-This issue is raised as a matter of public importance. It is a matter which should be dealt with urgently by this Parliament. We see it as a clear public responsibility that any doubts and public concern should be settled. We want to ensure firstly continuing close and friendly relations with Indonesia. I stress that. We place great value on those relations. Indeed, we place them in the highest possible priority. But we also want to ensure, secondly, a just and democratic determination of the future of the people of East Timor, through a free act of self- determination. We wish to ensure, thirdly, the strength of regional co-operation and consultation which is developing. We do not want to see anything happen to damage that present situation.

As I understand it there are 2 major parties, Fretilin and the UDT, which is the Democratic Union of Timor, which have come together and formed a common program for independence which, in effect, brings the political forces with a following suggested to be as high as 95 per cent of politically concerned Timorese under one leadership. The new leadership has apparently been pressing Portugal for an early declaration that it intends to support independence for East Timor. The Portuguese, as I understand it- I recall a discussion with their Territories Minister who visited Australia last year confirming thisindicated that they would be prepared to enter into discussions regarding a program for selfgovernment. Lately, however, there have been alarming Press reports from Indonesia suggesting military operations. These reports apparently emanate from departmental sources who are concerned at the possibility of an armed Indonesian military operation within the near future. This would place severe strains on AustralianIndonesian relations. We hope the Indonesians would wish, as we would, to avoid this.

It is our purpose in initiating this debate to urge the Government to action. Ringing rhetoric will not solve it, nor will ideological fantasy. We are faced with some potentially difficult facts which will show whether this Labor Government has any consistency, any honesty or indeed any authority in international affairs. There are some points I immediately want to make on that score. Firstly, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) gave approval for Indonesia to take over East Timor when he had discussions with President Suharto last year. Secondly, when a leading Timorese politician visited Australia in July of last year the Government refused to see him although he had just come from extensive discussions with Indonesian leaders, including the Indonesian Foreign Minister. Thirdly, only now is the Government- today- sending someone to Dili to investigate the matter which should have been done six or twelve months ago. Fourthly, our relations, as I have said, with Indonesia are absolutely vital and I stress this. Fifthly, the decision regarding the future of East Timor rests with Portugal and the Timorese alone and not with Australia or Indonesia as parties principal, as this convoluted foreign policy of the present Government may seem to be in aiding Indonesia with her ambitions over Timor. Sixthly, Australia should seek to bring the parties together for discussion.

I want to say that the most important action Australia can take is to bring the Timorese, the Indonesians and the Portuguese together to discuss this matter. But so bad are the relations between this Government and the people of East Timor that there has been virtually no communication between Australia and the people of Timor. As I understand it I am the only one in possession of a cable that has been sent by the leading organisations in Timor not to the Government but to me. As I understand it relations between Australia and Dili- that is, Timor- have virtually broken down. What sort of a situation is it when people, under some sort of siege, feel they must cable the Opposition spokesman in a country as close to them as Australia? The euphoria that the Prime Minister speaks about that he feels in the conduct of foreign affairs falls to the ground with that act. I ask honourable members to listen to the words of the Prime Minister when he was in Washington:

But gentlemen, what a relief it is, what an exhilaration it is, what a help it is to be moving on the wave of great events rather than swimming against the tide.

He has been drowned by his own rhetoric. Relations in an area so delicate as this cannot even be handled by a Government that holds itself out as a humane, anti-colonialist government that seems to be giving credence to ambitious people elsewhere. The Prime Minister has compromised Australia’s position and it is a tragic foreign policy failure.

Mr Morrison:

– I rise on a point of order. The honourable gentleman, as I understand it, alluded to a cable that he has received. I believe that under the Standing Orders if any document is referred to it should be tabled.


-There is no point of order involved.


-There is no point of order in the matter. If the Department of Foreign Affairs were aware of what is transpiring it would know that at approximately 5 p.m. last night I advised it of the receipt of this cable. As I understand it nothing has been done about it since then and no’ one has seen me about it. I was duty bound to tell the officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs about it. I can take it no further if the Government is not prepared to act upon it. I have executed my duty and that is it. I read the cable over the telephone to an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs. There have been alarming Press reports to which I referred earlier.

It is our purpose in initiating this debate to see what influence the Government can bring to bear at this stage on a matter that is being described in the Press as an invasion. ‘Indonesia to be told: don’t invade Timor. PM plans strong note to Suharto ‘ is the headline in this morning’s Australian’. It states that the Prime Minister is going to write a letter which he is going to give to the next Ambassador to Indonesia. Presumably when that gentleman arrives in 14 days time, dog-eared from being in bis pocket for 14 days the letter will be given to Indonesian authorities. The Government can spend Sim junketing around the world but it cannot send a cable to_ our delegation in Indonesia. A dog-eared letter ten to fourteen days old is the sum total of the contribution allegedly to be made by this grandiose Prime Minister.

In September of last year- for those who feel the Opposition does not follow events internationally I issued a statement critical of this man who claims to be Prime Minister who had indicated to the Indonesian President in private that he, as representative of the Australian Labor Government, would not object if East Timor became part of Indonesia. I understand that in the Department of Foreign Affairs there is an 8-page summation of that discussion, 7 pages of which deal with this verbose gentleman, speaking on behalf of Australia, giving his undertakings that logic determined that Indonesia should take over East Timor. This is the man who stands in front of the Labor Party and who for years has called for the rights of people in the world to selfdetermination. I said at that time, 6 months ago, that there should be no pre-conditions on or prejudgments on the future of Portuguese Timor. Time will not permit me to go through the statement I made at that stage in detail. I indicated that there should be no constraints and no intimidation in any act of self-determination.

The Prime Minister made it clear that he would go along with the intergration of East Timor into Indonesia. Even at that stage there were clearly strains in the Government’s relations with Indonesia. The ‘Australian’ also states this morning that despite the fact that the Prime Minister had said Indonesia should take over East Timor, in December last year the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee)apparently not advised of the Prime Minister’s undertakings- told a Press conference in Singapore that he did not agree with the Indonesian attitude to the colony. What is the Government ‘s attitude? Has it given encouragement to the Indonesians? Has it compromised the decision for self determination in East Timor? This is a matter that ought to be clarified. Australia, even at this late stage, should be urging the Indonesians to restrain themselves and to get talks going. This is the Government that talks of self determination as a basic principle. Let it now support this principle unequivocally in East Timor. The Prime Minister in the United Nations last year said:

An attempt by any state to bring about political or economic change in another through unconstitutional, clandestine, corrupt methods, by assassination or terrorism, undermines the rule of international law, encourages adverturism and anarchy, endangers world peace and turns quite quickly against even the most powerful nations who would seek to advance their cause by such methods.

He might also have added that suggestions or fears of such action can have a similar result.

This is the Prime Minister who finds foreign policy, so ‘exhilarating’, the Prime Minister who ought to exercise some preventive diplomacy instead of his oft quoted resources diplomacythat preventive diplomacy he spoke about last September in New York.

I have spoken of an East Timorese leader who came to Australia in July last year. The Minister refused to see him then. The Minister saw him later in the year. I would point out that on both occasions representatives of the Opposition saw this gentleman. On both occasions I held discussions with members of the Indonesian Embassy because I was concerned about the matter. I talked with the Indonesians and I talked with the Timorese. But the Minister for Science, who is sitting at the table, was sadly lacking in both directions. So possessed was he with the desire to fill the rooms with rhetoric that he spoke of logic dictating the takeover of smaller territories.

When I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) a question in October last year about the talks that he eventually had with an East Timorese leader he refused to reveal details. In answer to yet another question I asked he asserted the right of all people of East Timor to self determination. How empty and in contrast with the Prime Minister’s private undertakings to the President of Indonesia. The Prime Minister has already imposed constraints by his undiplomatic behaviour. The Government should ensure that the Indonesian Government is not in any way imposing constraints on their freedom. The Indonesians were our closest friends. We used to be able to discuss with them in the utmost secrecy matters of confidentiality between both parties without endangering the other countries in the region. The Prime Minister should be able to ensure that the Indonesian Government is not in any way, even inadvertantly, imposing constraints on the freedom of action of the East Timorese people.

I understand that an Australian official is to visit Dili today. I have already mentioned this. The Government should have devoted more attention to this issue and should have sought to influence the course of events in a direction which would have posed no threat to Australian or Indonesian interests and to the relations between these 2 powers. We seek to ensure that the relations between Australia and Indonesia are sound. The Whitlam Government inherited soundly based close relations between Australia and Indonesia, a relationship which had been carefully groomed since the Suharto Government came to power. It is disturbing that this relationship could be endangered by developments in Portuguese Timor, partly because the Australian Government has treated the issue with scant regard for the interests of the people of East Timor.

As I have said, yesterday I received a telegram from a political leader who on his second visit to Australia was seen by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Among other things, it said:

Coalition Fretilinudt holding over 95 per cent Timors population call your support independence East Timor. Australia has great responsibility maintenance peace this geographical area thus to prevent any conflict real will Timorese people must be respected. Coalition is prepared start talks Australian. Indonesian Government for cooperation towards peace political stability sea.

The Government did not act upon this matter. It has no response to it now. The Prime Minister ought to be doing more than writing a letter which meander through the Australian States and onwards to Indonesia in over ten to fourteen days. I trust that the Government will have already rectified that allegation made by a spokesman from the Department of Foreign Affairs. I trust that the Government will at least have sent an immediate cable. We believe and hope that the Indonesian Government shares with us a respect for the right of colonial territories to determine their future. As members of the United Nations and as participants in cooperation in this region we, with others, such as Papua New Guinea, also share a concern for the development of the region, for co-operation, consultation and for the security and wellbeing of all in the region.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Science · St George · ALP

– That was one of the most extraordinary speeches that I have heard from the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). He began by asserting that the purpose of his speech was not to disrupt Australia’s very close relations with Indonesia. Yet the rest of his speech was designed to create a barrier to these very close relations and the continuing discussion that Australia has had with Indonesia and Portugal over this very question. It is a great pity when any member of the Opposition, in order to substantiate his own position in the party, seeks to create in the public mind a difference of opinion between Australia and Indonesia and between the countries in this area that are vitally concerned with the future of Timor.

The honourable member mentioned that he has raised this question before, and indeed he has. In a debate in this House last October he did raise the question of Portuguese Timor. But I might remind him- and he can look at page 3046 of Hansard for 30 October 1974- that he did not even have the courtesy to wait until a reply was forthcoming. He argued in his introductory statement what the Australian position was in regard to Portuguese Timor. Having made the assertion for the public galleries and the Press, he promptly, like a prima donna, departed the chamber and did not wait for what was said subsequently. What was said subsequently is in fact Australian policy and it continues to be Australian policy. On that occasion I said:

The Government -

That is the Australian Governmentdoes not seek any special position in Portuguese Timor and it believes that the views and attitudes and of the people of Portuguese Timor should be decisive. The Government has indicated that if the people of Portuguese Timor wish to associate themselves in some way with Indonesia, Australia would welcome this provided -and I repeat ‘provided’- that the decision were based on an internationally accepted act of self-determination, (n short, the Government believes that the Timorese people should be allowed to proceed deliberately towards a decision about their own future . . .

It is quite clear that the honourable gentleman did not even bother reading Hansard. He certainly was not in the chamber when the statement was made.

The honourable member talked about a lack of discussion between Australia, Indonesia and Portugal. Perhaps 1 could remind the honourable gentleman that very intensive discussions have taken place on this very subject. The honourable member alluded to discussions between the Prime Minister and President Suharto in September. These discussions put forward the Australian viewpoint that self-determination was a principal issue, a principal concern, for the Australian people and for the Australian Government. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) had discussions in New York in October with Mr Soares, the Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Dr Adam Malik, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Indonesia. A considerable amount of the time taken up by these discussions dwelt on this very subject, a subject which the Opposition had not even worried about to that stage, a subject that we saw was going to be vital in our relations with Indonesia, vital in terms of the peace and stability of this part of the world. This matter has been a cause of concern to the Australian Government for a long time.

Dr Santos, the Portuguese Minister for InterTerritorial Co-ordination, visited Australia on 13-16 October. He came to Australia because he knew of our concern and because he knew of the role that Australia could play in discussions with Indonesia. On that visit Dr Santos saw the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He also saw me in my capacity as Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Matters Relating to Papua New Guinea. Since that date there has, in these top level discussions with the Portuguese and the Indonesians, been intense diplomatic activity taking place in Lisbon, Jakarta, New York and Canberra. All of these discussions reiterated the Australian viewpoint and the Australian viewpoint is well known in Indonesia not only amongst the Ministers and the Cabinet in Indonesia but also amongst the Indonesian people. If I may I will quote to the House from an article in one of the Indonesian newspapers, the New Standard’, which came out yesterday. It states: . . although Indonesia makes no legal claim whatsoever to Portuguese Timor, it regards the Territory as geographically a part of the Indonesian world. For cultural, ethnic and historical reasons an integration of the territory into Indonesia would represent valid decolonisation and the most natural source to that end. Australia which has been following the developments in the Territory with concern, has no ambitions in the area. It is however firmly committed to the principle of self determination of all remaining colonial territories.

Honourable members will notice that it is a repetition throughout of the propositions and the statements that have been made by the Australian Government. We have come out very clearly before any action may be contemplated or may be taken by either the Portuguese or the Indonesians. And what a change this is. The honourable member for Kooyong talks about influence in world affairs. If he looks back through the record to see what his predecessors in foreign affairs said on the subject when India moved into Goa he will see what the comment and response was then. Australia had no influence at that stage on India or any other pan of the world. When India moved into Goa with forcible aggression and took over Goa there was a plaintive statement by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Menzies, to the effect that Well, we do understand India’s reasons and it is rather bad that it happened that way’. That is the type of dynamic politics in foreign affairs that was conducted by honourable gentlemen opposite when they were sitting on the Government benches.

We on this side have taken every opportunity for discussion- high level discussion. I want to make it very clear because obviously the honourable member for Kooyong and other honourable members opposite find it very difficult to understand clear and concise terminology. The Australian Government’s position in relation to both Portugal and Indonesia is clear, has been clear and it is well understood by both the Portuguese and the Indonesians. We support a measured and deliberate process of decolonisation in Portuguese Timor through arrangements leading to an internationally acceptable act of selfdetermination. We do not believe that political development in the Territory has yet reached a stage at which such an act could take place. We look to Portugal to maintain its responsibilities in the Territory in order to bring about the necessary conditions for it. We do understand Indonesia’s substantial interest in the future of the Territory. Is this so remarkably odd when Indonesia and Portugal have half of the island of Timor and the island of Timor itself is part of the geographical entity of the Indonesian Archipeligo? Quite obviously Indonesia does have a very close and concerned interest in the future development of Portuguese Timor. We believe that there is time and opportunity for a political solution to be found which will meet the proper aspirations of the people of the Territory and also the natural interests of Indonesia.

We have made it very clear to the Indonesian Government that we would be seriously concerned if there were to be any unilateral action on the part of Indonesia which would prevent an act of self-determination in Portuguese Timor. The Indonesian Government is aware of the Australian attitude and of the importance which the Australian Government attaches to an internationally acceptable act of self-determination. The honourable member for Kooyong has followed up Press reports and has indicated that there is a possibility, so he says- or some pundit of the Press likes to think there is- that there may be some Indonesian military activity in the area. I should like to quote from a statement that was reported last night from Jakarta. It says:

Indonesian Defence Ministry officials today dismissed as totally untrue Australian newspaper reports that Indonesia planned to invade Portuguese Timor within the next few weeks. An official in the Defence Ministry said in reply to a question that the reports were false and totally without foundation.

The honourable member for Kooyong has always recognised- he even restated it todaythat the basis of these discussions that take place at the top level between Foreign Ministers, Ministers and the Prime Minister and senior representatives of the Indonesian Government and Portuguese Government, the views that are expressed and a lot of the things that make the diplomatic worlds turn round, must remain secret and must remain confidential. The honourable member pointed out that that was one of the propositions to which the former Government, a government of which he was a Minister, adhered. In all these discussions we have put very forcibly the Australian viewpoint. Because of the position that Australia has now reached in international affairs throughout the world, because we de undertake a policy that is essentially Australian, a policy which owes its influence to no other country but Australia, because we have been accepted in the international community as people who can stand on their own feet and are recognised and appreciated for doing exactly that, we have a degree of influence to which the Opposition when it was in govern- * ment could never aspire and we have been exerting that influence, not from yesterday when the honourable member for Kooyong happened to read a Press report or receive a telegram from somewhere in Timor which he is not prepared to table. It is only when he can see an opportunity for some short term political capital, when he is thinking about tomorrow’s headlines rather than the future of the People of Portuguese Timor or the future of Australia’s relations with Indonesia that -

Mr Peacock:

– I rise to a point of order. As the records of this Parliament will show I have had an interest in this matter that goes back far beyond yesterday both in questions and speeches.


-Yes, that is so.


– And before yesterday, but the point is that it is a cheap political gimmick. I have a great respect for the honourable member for Kooyong. He knows full well the significance of bringing this issue into public debate at the very moment when Australia is in very close consultation with Indonesia and at the very moment when Australia is in close consultation with Portugal. It is because we have achieved a position in world affairs which Australia has never had before that we are able to conduct these negotiations and that our viewpoint will not only be respected but will be listened to, and I am sure that the viewpoint which we will put forward will be acted upon. So I very much regret that the honourable member for Kooyong has sought today to bring to public debate for very base personal political motives a problem that nobody says is easy, a problem that has continually concerned Australia and to which since last September and October we have devoted our attention. I believe that the honourable member and the Opposition have done a disservice to this House and to Australia’s relations with

Indonesia and Portugal in bringing up this matter for debate. We are acting responsibly on behalf of the Australian people and looking towards not tomorrow’s headlines but the peace and the stability of Indonesia, of the Indonesian Archipelago and the peace and stability of that part ofthe world in which we live.

New England

-In an incredible fashion the Minister for Science (Mr Morrison) has just suggested that this Parliament should not be discussing a matter which is of national importance, a matter which is canvassed across the front pages in the headlines of almost every Australian newspaper, a matter which is currently of very real public moment in this country. Yet this open Government is asserting that this matter should not be canvassed in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. That alone is an absolutely deplorable consequence of the statement which has just been made by the Minister for Science. The second part is the implications which flow from statements which he has made about the independently Australian attitude which has been established by this Whitlam Government. He talks about the degree of influence that the Labor Government has been able to accomplish in international arenas; yet he fails to mention that one of the fundamental causes for our disquiet on this side of the House is the contrast between the publicly expressed and stated attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), of his Government and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) on this very issue.

Let me revert to the opening comment by my colleague, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). On this side of the House and, I believe, bilaterally within the Parliament, there is a universal desire to maintain close and friendly relations with Indonesia. We on this side of the House happen to believe that regional security and regional discussions in matters pertaining to foreign policy are a fundamental way by which the whole of this nation ‘s foreign policy should be approached. Quite in contrast to that the Prime Minister made to this Parliament a statement, only a fortnight ago, on his return from his recent 6 weeks’ jaunt abroad. In that statement, the Prime Minister spoke in grandiose terms of his participation in world affairs but neglected an area which is now obviously at a point where anything can happen.

Since last April, since the coup in Portugal, obviously the future of Timor has been a matter of public debate and of very real concern, certainly to members on this side of the House. I am delighted to know that members of the Government have actually been talking about it. But the difficulty with this Government’s talks is that it would seem that its foreign policy is motivated at several levels. We have private discussions by the Prime Minister. We are told about those private discussions in the media for the media tell us more than the Prime Minister himself. But even in this Parliament from statements that he makes to us, we learn that those private discussions are leading this country in a way which is distinctly to our advantage. Yet, in a very important matter of public concern about a colonial country which is so adjacent to our own that it is only 55 kilometres from the north-west coast of Australia, we find that the Prime Minister in his personal discussions has an attitude different from that of his Foreign Minister. At a time when the matter is being blazoned across the headlines of the newspapers, I believe it is important that we elicit from the Government just what it is doing and that the people of Australia be shown that there is a capacity by Australia to act in such a way as to ensure that the people in our vicinity will act, as we believe they will, responsibly and that those within eastern Timor will be given an opportunity to express their own point of view in accordance with the statements that the Indonesian Foreign Minister and others have already asserted will be so.

The difficulty is that the statements by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Adam Malik, and the statements by the Australian Foreign Minister and the Austraiian Prime Minister are in such marked contrast. Let me, for the sake of the Minister for Science, go back to the statement that was canvassed by the Prime Minister after his discussions with President Suharto in Indonesia late last year. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald’ on 16 November 1974, Peter Hastings commented on the attitude of Indonesia after there had been various comments by members of the Government that the Prime Minister did not say what he is alleged to have said. This article states:

There should be no misunderstanding in Canberra, either, about the conviction of many Indonesians that the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, gave Indonesia the green light for a takeover in his talks with President Suharto in Jogjakarta a few weeks ago when his briefing officer told Pressmen that the Prime Minister regarded an independent Portuguese Timor as non-viable economically and a ‘potential threat to regional stability’.

It is important that, irrespective of denials by the Government, it is recognised that there is an attitude of belief in Indonesia that the Australian

Prime Minister has stated that he and the Australian Government would be sympathetic to some type of takeover by Indonesia.

It is interesting that in this debate this afternoon, on a matter of critical foreign policy importance to this country, the Prime Minister did not even participate. Yet, earlier in the afternoon, we were told that he is Acting Foreign Minister. So, the Acting Foreign Minister having just returned from his jaunts to Europe, sent one of his more junior Ministers into the House who tells us: ‘We have been talking about this all the time. We are really worried about it. We have established a new independence in attitude’.

Mr Killen:

– There is no evidence of it.


– There is no evidence of it whatsoever. Not only is there no evidence of concern but also is there distinct evidence and tragically evidence of belief in Indonesia that the attitude of the Prime Minister, the attitude of Australia’s Acting Foreign Minister, is completely in contradiction to that of Mr Adam Malik, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, and to the attitude of the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs who in Singapore on 5 December last told a Press conference that he, Senator Willesee, did not agree with the Indonesian attitude to the colony of Timor. The Indonesian attitude to the colony at that stage was said to be that independence for east Timor was not a practical option.

It is true that, as far as the Australian people are concerned, there are several things that we expect of this Government. First of all, we on this side of the Parliament believe that the Prime Minister has a responsibility to remove the justifiable doubts that there are in the minds of the Australian people as to what his attitude is and what the attitude of the Australian Government is on this matter. It is of no use the Minister for Science coming in here and pretending to state what the Australian Government’s attitude is; nor indeed for my friend, the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), who will follow me in this debate, to do so. The Prime Minister of Australia has on record a statement which rightly or wrongly is being taken by many people to be the expression of a belief that the Australian Government condones the appropriation of Portuguese Timor by Indonesia. Were that to be so or not, it is important that the Prime Minister’s attitude be declared.

The second point is that it is important that the Australian Government should take positive initiatives in public and not just in private places to demonstrate its concern for the maintenance of regional security in our particular part of the world. It is nonsense for the Minister for Science to talk about any parallel between the rights of government and the roles of government in the Indian acquisition of Goa in the same sentence even as our rights and roles with respect to the future of Portuguese Timor.

I believe that there is an opportunity for the Australian Government in international forums and certainly in regional forums to ensure that this whole matter is canvassed, that there are discussions not just, as he asserted, in Lisbon, Jakarta, New York and Canberra, but that there are discussions in a public way which will ensure Australia’s long term continued interest in the maintenance of the closest and friendliest relations with Indonesia will be preserved and that the future of Timor is settled in such a way as to ensure the maintenance of peace in this region and to ensure that ultimately the rights of the people of Timor are not denied. I regard it as being a great tragedy that in this debate the Prime Minister himself has not been prepared to assert the Government’s attitude but that instead we have had an apology from the Minister for Science saying: ‘Really, don’t you worry, Australian people. All is in the best of hands. But we are just not going to tell you anything about that’. That attitude is not good enough. This is a matter of national importance which requires national action. It is a tragedy that we have not a government that is capable of such positive action.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-If any good is to come out of this discussion it is that the Opposition has quite clearly stated its support for the Government’s policy of self-determination by the people of Portuguese Timor. I shall answer one or two of the points that have been made. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) said that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is on record on the question of allowing Indonesia to take over what will be the former Portuguese territory in East Timor. Let us just look at that statement that the Prime Minister is on record. When one looks at this record one finds that it is an article by Peter Hastings in an Australian newspaper- I trunk it was the Melbourne ‘Age’. There is no question that the Prime Minister made any statement on what, after all, were confidential discussions between him and the President of Indonesia. So the Opposition again is, as it has done on previous occasions, basing its foreign policy on newspaper reports. In this debate, notwithstanding some emphatic denials from the Indonesian defence authorities, the Opposition’s argument is based on newspaper reports.

When I was listening to the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, talking about relations with Indonesia- this very sensitive area of Australian foreign policy- I could not help thinking that his distinguished predecessor, Sir Garfield Barwick, made a contribution to Indonesian-Australian relations which has never been properly recognised in Australia. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party and I were members of a parliamentary delegation which went to Sarawak and Sabah at the end of Indonesian confrontation. We were very much aware of the fact that during that period when Indonesian and Australian troops were exchanging fire in North Borneo, when people were being killed, we were able to talk to the government of Indonesia because of good relations that had been established. The sad part about this discussion is that it is based on newspaper reports and could prejudice those good relations built up very carefully over the years.

I wish that the honourable member for Kooyong had some concept of the responsible attitude of his distinguished predecessor who, if I might add in passing, was later elevated by his government to an important position on the High Court of Australia. This irresponsible attack, based as it is on unconfirmed newspaper reports, stands out in contrast with the bi-partisan attitude of the Australian Labor Party in opposition over many years prior to 1972 when we supported every effort made by the then government for better relations with Indonesia. We were criticised by the honourable member for Kooyong because we have no representative in Dili. I remind members of the Opposition that it was their Government that closed the consulate in Dili. The facts about the importance of Timor- its nearness to our shores- surely have not developed only in the last month or two; they have been facts that have been transparently obvious to every member of this House over a substantial period of time. It is a fact that Mr Taylor, a senior political adviser of the Australian Embassy, is on his way from Jakarta to east Timor now. It is not the first time that there have been representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs there in recent times. Lest anyone hearing that he is on his way there today should think that this is some arrangement made since the honourable member for Kooyong raised this matter in the House, I state that these arrangements that Mr Taylor would go to Dili were made many weeks ago. Mr McLennan, a senior officer of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, visited east Timor late last year and spent some time there reporting to the Government on these questions.

The point was made with a lot of drama that a letter will be in the pocket of Mr Woolcott for the next 14 days as he perambulates around the States on his way to Jakarta. The truth of the matter is that he leaves for Jakarta on Thursdayin 2 days. That is just a difference of 12 days, not really very much! Mr Woolcott is going to Jakarta with great expedition. I made the point of the emphatic denials. The Australian Government, of course, has sought official confirmation of these denials from the Indonesian Government. Australia supports an act of selfdetermination by Portuguese Timor. I trust that it will be a meaningful act of self-determination. These people, notwithstanding the fact that they come from the multitude of people in the Indonesian Archipelago, have had the impact upon them of 400 years of Portuguese cultural influence and one cannot erode that. It is a matter for them to make the decision on what their future might be.

The point was made that when Mr Horta came to Australia on the first occasion the Minister for Foreign Affairs did not see him. May I put the background to the House? Mr Horta at that time represented one of 3 nascent political parties in East Timor- Fretilin. I am happy to see that two of the parties- the two which support independencehave come together to make a more powerful political force. It would surely be wrong- this country is still a Portuguese colonyfor the Australian Foreign Minister to receive the representative of one of the political parties of that country. If a more broadly representative delegation had come to Australia from Timor no doubt the Foreign Minister would not have felt that he was compromising himself, the Government or the people in making a choice of selfdetermination if Australia seemed to be siding with one of the 3 political parties in Portuguese Timor.

So it was proper for the Foreign Minister to exercise a discretion in a matter of this kind. I have mentioned that the Australian Government has a policy of self-determination. We recognise the great importance to Indonesia of this small colony. We know that the Indonesians would be concerned to see that forces hostile to Indonesia did not use Portuguese Timor as a base. Having looked at this problem myself I can see no evidence of that at this time. Mr Horta and the Opposition Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee also had discussions but I would not like members of the Opposition to create the impression that Mr Horta discussed these matters only with them. We of the Government members foreign affairs committee had several extremely long sessions with him in which he put his point of view very well. We wish him well in his support for self-determination.

In contrast to newspaper reports, I wish to read 2 short extracts. One is from the report of the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, in Singapore on 5 December.

The Australian position remained as he had expressed it in Parliament several times, that is to say the principle of selfdetermination should apply. He described the three options open to the Timorese people. Asked by Mr Neat -

This is the gentleman from the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission- to say whether Australia accepted the Indonesian argument that independence was not a practical solution, the Minister replied that this was a matter for the people themselves to decide. Australia wanted to be helpful and would certainly not meddle in Portuguese Timor.

The second extract states the policy of the Australian Labor Party on foreign affairs as approved at the 1973 conference. In the last section on foreign affairs dealing with general principles and with the south-east Asian and Pacific areas, it states:

The Labor Party will honour all Australian treaties and alliances which respect the freedom and security and the peoples in the treaty areas and their right to determine their own forms of government without external interference.

That is still the position. The Australian Government supports self-determination. It will not interfere in the internal affairs of Portuguese Timor as it emerges to that state of selfdetermination It will not introduce into the Parliament irresponsible matters for discussion, however important, based on unconfirmed newspaper reports. Our relationship with Indonesia and our hopes for the future of Portuguese Timor are too important for irresponsible activities of that kind.


-The discussion is concluded.

page 648

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1974-1975

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.

Bill presented by Dr J. F. Cairns, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Dr J F Cairns:

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill and the accompanying Appropriation Bill (No. 4), which I shall shortly introduce, seek appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services specified in the Schedule to each Bill. Appropriations totalling approximately $110m-$70.6m in Bill (No. 3) and $39.7m in Bill (No. 4)- are sought to cover expenditures up to 30 June 1975 resulting from the Darwin cyclone.

In addition, appropriations amounting to $225,260,000 are sought to give effect to the arrangements agreed upon at the Premier’s Conference on 14 February for the provision of additional funds to the States to assist employment and to meet certain other commitments for financial assistance to the States, particularly in respect of welfare housing, the Tasman Bridge and other disasters. The provisions for these purposes are included in Bill (No. 4). The Bills also include provisions for a number of other items for which funds additional to those appropriated by Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) are required in advance of the normal additional Estimates Bills which we expect to bring before the Parliament, as usual, early in April.

Darwin Cyclone

The cyclone which struck Darwin in the early hours of Christmas morning largely demolished the city. Honourable members will be aware that the Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) gave very full details of the extent of the damage and losses and the resulting problems when he introduced the Darwin Reconstruction Bill into this House on 11 February 1975.

The Government moved quickly to meet the situation. I visited Darwin, as Acting Prime Minister, on Boxing Day and as a result of what I saw there I authorised the use of all resources at the disposal of the Government for the relief of the city, the evacuation of the majority of its population, the provision of services to care for the evacuees and for the cleaning up of the city and the restoration of essential services. The Natural Disasters Organisation and the Defence Force, the Departments of the Northern Territory, Housing and Construction, Social Security, Manufacturing Industry, and elements of other departments all contributed to the relief operations. I take this opportunity of recording the

Government’s appreciation of the tremendous effort on the part of all concerned.

The normal processes of administration in Darwin were seriously disrupted by the cyclone. Because of this, the amounts included in these Bills for many of the items of expenditure in respect of the cyclone up to 30 June 1975 are very broad estimates only. Nor can we be confident that all the expenditures that need to be the subject of appropriations have yet been clearly identified. Accordingly, contingency provisions of $ 15m in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and $10m in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) are being sought. These contingency provisions would be available only for expenditures resulting from the Darwin cyclone.

I now refer briefly to some of the more significant items of expenditure resulting from the cyclone for which appropriations are sought.

Special Benefit Payments -$3.5m

Persons who were evacuated from Darwin and those who remained were given an emergency cash payment equivalent to 2 weeks’ special benefit free of means test. From 9 January 1975 a similar type of payment was made to persons who qualified under a more liberal means test than normally applies to special benefit. From 6 February Darwin people residing in the southern States were entitled to receive special benefit subject to the normal means test conditions. An appropriation of $3.5m is sought for these payments.

Evacuation of Population- $3.5m

The sum sought in this item is to cover the cost of air charters for the massive air lift that was organised and to pay for fuel, tyres and essential repairs for the vehicles of self evacuated persons, and fares of evacuees between southern cities and country centres.

Repatriation of Population- $2.5m

The Government has undertaken to meet the cost of returning evacuees to Darwin at the appropriate time. This amount is specifically required to meet the return fares of nonGovernment employees. Departments will meet the cost of returning their own employees.

Provision of Emergency Food Supplies-$2,050,000

Under the state of emergency which existed it was necessary for foodstuffs to be issued to the population of Darwin.

Repairs and Maintenance-$26.7m

The Department of Housing and Construction proceeded promptly with the task of clearing the streets, restoring electric power, water supply and sewerage, and with repairs to buildings. Some of these were temporary repairs to enable shelter or working space to become quickly usable. Others were of a more substantial kind.

As an indication of what was achieved, the program for the restoration of public utilities envisaged that by day 35 water supply would be available to all areas requiring supply. That was achieved with very minor exceptions as was the restoration of sewerage facilities. It was planned to waterproof .1000 houses by day 35. Over 1400 houses plus 83 flats were repaired to this standard by then. Fifty per cent of major public buildings were to be be waterproofed and temporarily repaired and this target was also achieved. All roads were cleared to permit traffic and all major roads were cleared fence-to-fence by 10 January.

The achievements reflect a magnificent effort by all concerned. There were very significant contributions by the Defence Force, repair gangs whose equipment included equipment lent by various State authorities and the trade unions’ Darwin volunteer aid program.

Emergency Accommodation

An amount of $2.1m is sought for Commonwealth Hostels for the operation of emergency facilities and the repair of existing hostels, and $1,960,000 for the cost of hiring the vessel Patris’ to provide emergency accommodation. In addition, $ 15m is sought for the purchase of 1000 caravans and 400 demountable units.

Compensation for Surrendered Residential Titles

To facilitate the reconstruction program, owners will be encouraged to surrender titles to residential blocks. As a general rule, compensation will be paid for surrendered titles at precyclone values or the amount paid at auction, whichever the greater. An initial $lm to meet expected payments to 30 June is sought for this purpose.

Interim Darwin Reconstruction Commission and Darwin Reconstruction Commission

Provision of $ 100,000 is made for the administrative expenses of the Interim Commission and a further $100,000 for the Darwin Reconstruction Commission to be established under the Darwin Reconstruction Act. No appropriation is sought in the present Bills for the major reconstruction programs to be put in hand under the authority of the Commission as it is not expected that substantial funds will be required before 1 July 1975. Any requirements that do arise before then can be met from the special contingency fund for Darwin cyclone expenditures.

Compensation for Personal Injury and Death

Compensation for personal injury and death arising from the cyclone will be paid along the lines proposed in the National Compensation Bill 1974 which is currently before the Senate. An appropriation of $300,000 is sought for this purpose.

Loans to Small Businesses

Loans will be available to small businesses unable to obtain finance from normal sources to enable them to return to operation as soon as possible. These loans will be available through the Commonwealth Trading Bank and $lm is sought to enable advances to be made to the bank in the period up to 30 June 1 975.

Other items arising out of the Darwin cyclone

Provision is made for the temporary location in Brisbane of some former Darwin-based elements of the Department of the Northern Territory. Provision is also made for additional allowances to servicemen, members of the police force on duty during the emergency, and for Darwinbased public servants temporarily located in southern cities. Various departments have incurred specific additional administrative expenditures as a result of the cyclone. Additional appropriations have been sought under the relevant items.

Payments to the States

Appropriation Bill (No. 4) will authorise the provision of amounts aggregating $149,260,000 for payments to the States in 1974-75 to assist employment. This represents portion of a total amount of $2 40m additional funds for the States and their authorities which the Australian Government undertook to support following discussions at the Premiers Conference on 14 February. The remaining $90,740,000 of those funds is made up of an addition to the State government’s Loan Council borrowing programs of $40,740,000 and additional borrowing allocations for the States’ larger authorities totalling $50m and is therefore not relevant to this Bill.

More specifically, the Bill provides for additional general revenue grants of $60m, additional capital grants, representing portion of the increases in the State government’s Loan Council programs, of $19,260,000. additional grants of $30m for roads, and $40m for special employment purposes. All these funds are being provided on the basis of firm assurances by the States that they will be used in such a way that they have the greatest practicable effects in terms of employment within the remainder of this financial year. These funds will have a substantial effect in enabling the States to retain employees whose jobs would otherwise have been at risk and in enabling them to take on additional employees. Details of the amounts to be paid to each State are set out in a table which I ask to have incorporated in Hansard.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

Dr J F Cairns:

– This table also includes the distribution of additional amounts to be provided for welfare housing, to which I shall refer in a moment. The roads grants will be subject to provisions of the National Roads Act 1974 and the Roads Grants Act 1974. The special employment-creating grants will be subject to conditions of an appropriate kind, as agreed with the Premiers. The employment grants scheme will, of course, be in addition to the on-going Regional Employment Development scheme, for which further funds are also being sought.

An additional $65m is being provided for payment to the States for welfare housing activities under the 1973-74 Housing Agreement. Of this amount, $47m is for State housing authorities’ programs and $18m for disbursement through the Home Builders’ Accounts to assist families of low and moderate incomes to acquire their own homes. With the additional $6 5m now provided, the total allocation to the States for welfare housing in 1974-75 will reach $375m, an increase of $156m over the 1973-74 allocation. An amount of $4m has also been included in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) for additional housing loans in 1974-75 in the Australian Capital Territory.

Appropriation Bill (No. 4) also authorises the provision of financial assistance of $6m for Tasmania in 1974-75 in connection with the disaster that occurred in Hobart on 5 January 1975 when the Australian National Line’s bulk-ore carrier the Lake Illawarra hit the Tasman Bridge with consequent loss of life and serious damage to the bridge. The Australian Government has undertaken to meet the full costs incurred by the State and its authorities on agreed measures associated with or attributable to the bridge collapse, including assistance to the State in respect of the investigation of a proposal’ for a further permanent bridge across the Derwent River.

The Bill also provides for funds additional to those provided in the Appropriation Act (No. 2) 1974-75 to assist New South Wales and Victoria in meeting the cost of agreed natural disaster relief and restoration measures. The additional funds have been made necessary by damage caused by bushfires in the western region of New South Wales and by further flooding in various areas in Victoria.

Other items

I mentioned earlier that the Bills included provisions for a number of items, additional to the items relating to the Darwin cyclone and assistance to the States, for which further appropriations are required in advance of the normal Additional estimates. In Appropriation Bill (No. 3), an additional $85m has been included for the Regional Employment Development Scheme which is designed to create employment opportunities in areas of relatively high unemployment. Already some 3000 projects to cost $76m have been approved under this scheme, and the Australian Government is committed to provide $60m in respect of these. These projects will provide employment for over 24 000 people, including more than 21 000 from the unemployed. Additional projects are being approved progressively. Emphasis is placed on projects which are able to be commenced promptly and completed in a reasonably short period. The cost of income maintenance payments to individuals under the structional adjustment assistance scheme is expected to reach $69m by the end of 1974-75. Accordingly, provision has been made for an additional $57.2m in Appropriation Bill (No. 3).

Amounts of $6.2m for the National Employment and Training Scheme-the NEAT scheme- and $7.85m for the national apprenticeship assistance scheme are required to supplement existing appropriations- the first because of an unexpected increase in the number of trainees under the scheme and the second as a result of the Government’s decision last month to increase significantly the subsidies payable to employers under the scheme and to pay a training bonus to employers who fail to qualify under the scheme but who take on apprentices.

An additional $4m is sought in respect of hostel accommodation for the aged. The increased requirement arises because of a greater number of applications for assistance than expected when the maximum capital grant was raised to $9,000 a unit following amendment of the Aged Persons Hostels Act in December. An additional $4.5 m is sought to meet the cost of providing nursing home and domiciliary nursing care for veterans.

There has been a marked improvement in 1974-75 in the rate of progress in the construction of housing and other capital facilities for the Services. Thus, $8.07 lm is being sought for additional advances to the States for housing being erected for servicemen and $8.36 lm for other capital facilities being constructed by the Department of Housing and Construction. An amount of $19.5m is being provided for the purchase for defence purposes of the Leyland site at Waterloo in Sydney.

Among the remaining amounts included in Appropriation BDI (No. 3) are a number which are needed because of the effect of the devaluation of the Australian dollar on the value in other currencies of amounts appropriated for payments overseas. The amount of $4.4m sought for food aid is one such item.

There is also a number of other particular items for which amounts of additional funds are sought. These include a payment of $2m to the Medical Research Endowment Fund and contributions to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and to the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine, $500,000 each; $ 1.1m for the Department of Labor and Immigration for additional staff; $ 1.35m for the Australian Film Corporation; $723,000 for the Interim Committee for the Children’s Commission, $650,000 for additional staff for members and senators; $500,000 for grants to eligible organisations under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act; $537,000 for Expo 75 at Okinawa; $lm subsidies on ship construction and amounts of $6.2m and $5.3m for the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory Education Services respectively for additions to staff establishments and other increased costs.

In Bill (No. 4) an amount of $ 1 8.57m is sought for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. This is required to finance the purchases of ships and to meet unforeseen changes in the amounts and timing of commitments such as the salvaging of the ‘Lake Illawarra’ and the effects of the devaluation of the Australian dollar. An amount of Sim is also sought for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act. It will be clear from the nature of the items included in these Bills that the granting of these appropriations could not be deferred until the time of the normal additional estimates. They need to be dealt with expeditiously. I commend the Bills to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Garland) adjourned.

page 653


Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.

Bill presented by Dr J. P. Cairns, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Dr J F Cairns:

– I move:

This Bill seeks appropriations of the Consolidated Revenue Fund totalling $288,572,000 for the services outlined in my second reading speech on the introduction of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1974-75. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Garland) adjourned.

page 653


Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Social Security · Oxley · ALP

– I move:

The Bill before the House provides for the more effective supervision by the Australian Government of the operations of medical and hospital benefits organisations registered under the National Health Act. The provisions in this Bill are identical to those, relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations, which were included in the National Health Bill (No. 2) 1974. Honourable members will recall that the National Health Bill (No. 2) 1974 was passed without amendment by this House on 3 December 1974. However, during the debate on the Bill, the Opposition stated that it was not prepared to support the provisions in the Bill relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations. The Bill was amended by the Senate to delete those provisions.

On 1 1 February 1975 1 moved on behalf of the Government that the amendments to the Bill be agreed to and the Bill was passed. The Government agreed to the amendments only because the Senate had agreed to other provisions in the Bill that are very important to the people of Australia. For example, the Bill authorised the provision of certain medical and surgical aids and appliances. The Government did not wish to allow the Senate’s obstruction to prevent the benefits of those provisions from flowing to individuals as quickly as possible. However, as I stated in this House on 11 February 1975, I regard the Senate’s rejection of the provisions in the Bill relating to the supervision of health insurance organisations as representing a severe setback in the attempt by this Parliament to establish the protection of people’s rights. The people in this instance are the contributors to health insurance funds. The point has been properly taken by some of the major inquiries into health insurance funds in this country, that consumers do not have representation on the bodies managing open funds. Accordingly, there is a bounden duty incumbent upon the Australian Government to ensure the protection of the community’s rights in the operation of those funds.

This responsibility is all the greater because of the Government’s financial involvement in the existing private health insurance scheme. The scheme is supported by extremely generous direct and indirect government subsidies. The health insurance organisations could not have grown to their present significance, nor could they continue to operate, except for the very generous support that comes from government sources. For instance, on average over 60 per cent of the cost of medical services covered by medical insurance is met by direct subsidy by the Australian Government through the health insurance scheme and by indirect subsidy from the same source through tax concessions which are a cost borne by the Government. The Australian and State governments are meeting an even higher percentage of the cost ot providing public hospital treatment.

The provisions in the Bill before the House are consistent with the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance- the Nimmo Committee- which was set up by the Liberal-Country Party Government and with recommendations from the major investigation carried out by the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. It was recognised by the Liberal-Country Party Government- and it has caused concern to me- that where an organisation does not comply with the Act, or actions taken under the Act, ultimately the only course of action available is to cancel the registration of the organisation. This is a most unsatisfactory punitive measure as the penalty falls on the contributor who is deprived of Australian Government benefits. Furthermore, deregistration would effectively end any control the Australian Government could exercise over reserves. This could be a most unhappy situation for contributors whose money, in fact, has been accumulated in reserves.

It is a grave deficiency in the provisions of the National Health Act at present that in an extreme case of a health insurance organisation flouting the reasonable directions of government, only the extremely punitive and unsatisfactory measure of deregistration is really available to government. There is no alternative if the Government wishes to ensure that organisations properly discharge their responsibilities to contributors. Following careful consideration of this situation, the Government has framed provisions similar to those in the Insurance Act to protect the interests of contributors. These provisions are compatible with the expressed intentions of the Liberal and Country parties when in office. This Government believes these to be proper measures which should be included in Federal legislation relating to aspects of private insurance to ensure that the administration of such insurance arrangements can be adequately supervised in the interests of contributors. I am placing these proposals before this Parliament again to give the Opposition a further opportunity to objectively consider these measures which in office they intended to propose.

The Bill includes provisions to enable the Minister, where he believes it to be in the contributors’ interests, to request an organisation to show cause why it should not be investigated in relation to specified matters. Where the organisation fails to satisfy the Minister, and he believes it to be in the contributors’ interests, he may appoint an inspector to conduct an investigation into specified matters relating to the affairs of the organisation. The Bill further provides that after he has considered the report of the inspector, the Minister may take such action consistent with the Act as he considers appropriate. This may include making an application to the Australian Industrial Court for the appointment by the Court of a judicial manager to manage the affairs of the fund or for the fund to be wound up by the Court.

Provision is included in the Bill to require a judicial manager, appointed by the Court, to conduct the affairs of the fund with the greatest economy consistent with efficiency and to report to the Court, as soon as possible, as to the course of action to be taken in relation to the fund. This could include recommendations to return the fund to its former management; to transfer all or part of its affairs to another organisation with the consent of the other organisation; or that the fund be wound up. The Bill provides for funds to be wound up under the supervision of the Court upon an application and in accordance with a scheme submitted by the Minister, the judicial manager or the organisation conducting the fund. All schemes for winding up are to be subject to confirmation by the Court which may vary the schemes. The Court is required where practicable to effect the transfer of contributors to a fund to be wound up to a fund conducted by another registered organisation. As I stated earlier, the arrangements I have outlined are along the lines of arrangements provided for in the Insurance Act and I believe that all contributors to health benefits funds would welcome their enactment as a positive step forward in the protection of their interests.

The Bill further provides for the transfer of excess reserves between medical and hospital funds conducted by an organisation. This is an extension of a principle incorporated in the National Health Act by the Liberal-Country Party Government. The Act at present permits a registered organisation to transfer moneys from a medical benefits fund in one State to a medical benefits fund conducted by the organisation in another State. Similar provisions exist in relation to hospital benefits funds. The provision in the Bill will enable moneys to be transferred from a fund in which there are large reserves to a fund operated by the same organisation in which there are inadequate reserves. It will provide an alternative to adjusting the rates of contributions to the respective funds. The transfer of the excess reserves between the funds may be made upon an application by the organisation with the approval of the Minister. Alternatively, the Minister may direct the transfer of reserves in this way after receiving a recommendation from the Registration Committee.

There is an allied provision that concerns the special accounts operated within medical and hospital funds by registered organisations. The special accounts arrangements are authorised by

Division 2 of Part VI ofthe National Health Act. They ensure that contributors continue to receive medical and hospital fund benefits which otherwise they would be denied by the pre-existing, chronic or maximum benefit rules of the organisations. The Government has been very concerned at the tremendous rate of escalation of the cost of these special accounts. For medical and hospital funds combined, Government expenditure on them has risen from $22m in 1970-71 to $55m in 1973-74. The estimated expenditure on special accounts in the current financial year is $84m. This escalation in Government spending arising from underwriting the activities of health benefits funds through the special account mechanism has occurred at the time when there were extremely large reserves accumulated by the funds. The Bill provides that, where it is proper for him to do so, and when he has received a recommendation of the Registration Committee that the moneys standing to the credit of a fund may properly be reduced, the Minister may direct that a portion of any excessive reserves held in a medical or hospital fund may be used to finance, in part, medical and hospital benefits for the long term and chronically ill members of the fund. The specific provision is contained in new section 74c and visualises portion of any excessive reserves being credited to the organisation’s special account for the purpose of providing benefits to high drawing members who are the members usually most in need of protection of health insurance. In any one year in which the Minister makes a direction under this new section, the amount to be transferred is limited to 25 per cent of the amount of the special account deficit of the fund in the last completed financial year. There are provisions in the Bill for directions of the Minister given under new section 74c to be the subject of review. It is intended that the reviews should be conducted by the general administrative appeals tribunal, legislation for which is being prepared by the AttorneyGeneral. However, if it is necessary for a review to be conducted in the interim period before the appeals tribunal is established the Bill provides for an independent tribunal to be established specifically for the purpose of reviewing directions by the Minister. I have in mind that the tribunal which may be established by this Bill will comprise 3 members. One will represent the interests of health benefit organisations, another the interests of contributors to the organisations and the third member would be a qualified accountant.

Honourable members will readily appreciate that the provisions in the Bill are not related to

Medibank- the universal health insurance program. They are designed to enable health insurance organisations to be supervised in a manner that will result in the organisations serving the needs of contributors more effectively. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr MacKellar) adjourned.

page 655


In Committee

Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed from 20 February.

Clause 3.

Clause 8.

Clause 9.

The Commission shall comply with any directions given to it by the Minister with respect to the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers.

Clause 13.

Clause 1 6.

Penalty: $ 1 ,000 or imprisonment for 3 months, or both.

Clause 18.

Clause 19.’

Clause 22.

Clause 24.

Clause 27.

Clause 28.

Clause 30.

Clause 32.

The General Manager may resign his office by writing signed by him and delivered to the Governor-General.

Clause 33.

Clause 34.

Clause 44.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 1 -

In clause 3, sub-clause ( 1 ), leave out ‘60 ‘, insert ‘40 ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 2-

After clause 6, insert the following new clause: 6a. ( 1 ) Where a person suffers loss or damage as a result of a decision or determination of the Commission or of the Minister or of a person acting under the authority of the Commission or of the Minister affecting land or the use of land or the performance of any contract entered into before the commencement of this Act such person may apply to the Court for an award of compensation.

Upon any such application the Court may assess and award compensation for any loss or damage suffered by a person as a result of any such decision or determination and shall determine by whom any compensation so awarded shall be paid.

“The Court” means the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory.’.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 3-

After clause 7, insert the following new clause: 7a. ( 1 ) The Commission may, from time to time, prepare proposals with respect to general planning and development schemes in relation to development and construction in the Darwin Area and shall cause those proposals to be made available for inspection by the public at all reasonable times in the Darwin Area, and in such other places as the Commission determines, for a period of one month.

At any time during the period during which any proposals are made available for public inspection under subsection ( 1 ), a person who has an interest in land in the Darwin Area that is affected by those proposals may object to the proposals.

An objection under sub-section (2) shall be in writing, shall set. out the reasons for the objection and shall be delivered or sent by post to the Commission.

Where an objection is made under sub-section (2), the Commission may, by notice in writing sent to the person making the objection afford that person an opportunity to make submissions to the Commission, either orally or in writing, in connexion with the objection, within such period as is specified by the Commission.

After the expiration of the period within which a person may make submissions under sub-section (4) in connexion with an objection, the Commission may alter the proposals that are the subject of the objection in such manner as it thinks fit, and may recommend to the Minister that those proposals, or those proposals as so altered, be adopted.’.

Senate’s amendment No. 4-

In clause 8, sub-clause ( 1 ), leave out ‘recommendations of the Commission’, insert ‘any recommendations of the Commission under section 7 a ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 5-

In clause 9, leave out the clause, insert the following clause: 9(1) The Commission shall keep the Minister informed ofthe decisions of the Commission with respect to matters of policy in relation to the performance of its functions.

In the event of a difference of opinion between the Minister and the Commission as to the policy which should be followed by the Commission in relation to any matter, the Minister and the Commission shall endeavour to reach agreement.

If the Minister and the Commission are unable to reach agreement, the Governor-General may, by order, determine the policy to be adopted by the Commission in relation to the matter.

The Commission shall thereupon give effect to the policy determined by the order and shall, if the order so requires, continue to give effect to that policy while the order remains in operation.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 6-

In clause 13, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘Territory’, insert Darwin Area’.

Senate’s amendment No. 7-

In clause 16, sub-clause ( 1 ), leave out ‘by oral direction’, insert ‘by direction in writing specifying the reasons therefor’.

Senate’s amendment No. 8-

In clause 16, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘in the opinion of the Commission or of the authorized person, as the case may be,’.

Senate’s amendment No. 9-

In clause 1 8, sub-clause ( 1 ), paragraph (c), leave out ‘the General Manager’, insert ‘ 1 member nominated by the Darwin Citizens ‘ Council ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 10-

In clause 18, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘other than the member referred to in paragraph ( 1 ) (c) ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 1 1-

In clause 18, sub-clause (3), leave out ‘, the General Manager or an Acting General Manager, ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 12-

In clause 1 8, sub-clause ( 3 ), leave out ‘2 ‘, insert ‘ 3 ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 13-

In clause 1 9, sub-clause ( 1 ), after ‘(b)’, insert ‘(c),’.

Senate’s amendment No. 14-

In clause 22, sub-clause (3 ), leave out the sub-clause.

Senate’s amendment No. 15-

In clause 24, sub-clause ( 1), after ‘(b) ‘.insert ‘(c),’.

Senate’s amendment No. 16-

In clause 24, sub-clause (2), after ‘(b), ‘, insert ‘(c),’”.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 17-

In clause 27, after sub-clause (3), insert the following new sub-clause: (3a) Meeting shall be called by reasonable notice to all members of the Commission. ‘.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 1 8-

In clause 28, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘GovernorGeneral ‘, insert ‘Commission ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 19-

In clause 28, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘shall be the executive member of the Commission and ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 20-

In clause 28, sub-clause (3), leave out ‘GovernorGeneral’, , insert ‘Commission’

Senate’s amendment No. 21-

In clause 30, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘is prescribed’, insert ‘determined by the Commission’.

Senate’s amendment No. 22-

In clause 30, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘are prescribed ‘, insert determined by the Commission’.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 23-

In clause 3 1 , leave out the clause.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 24-

In clause 32, leave out ‘Governor-General’, insert ‘Commission’.

Senate ‘s amendment No. 25-

In clause 33, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘Minister’, insert Commission*.

Senate’s amendment No. 26-

In clause 33, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘Minister’, insert Commission’.

Senate’s amendment No. 27-

In clause 33, sub-clause (3), leave out ‘Minister’, insert Commission’.

Senate’s amendment No. 28-

In clause 33, sub-clause (4), leave out ‘Minister’, insert Commission’.

Senate’s amendment No. 29-

In clause 34, sub-clause (1), leave out ‘GovernorGeneral ‘, insert ‘ Commission ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 30-

In clause 34, sub-clause (2), paragraph (a), leave out Minister’, insert ‘Commission’.

Senate’s amendment No. 31-

In clause 34, sub-clause (2), paragraph (b). leave out Minister ‘, insert ‘ Commission ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 32-

In clause 34, sub-clause (2), paragraph (c), leave out the paragraph.

Senate’s amendment No. 33-

In clause 34, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘GovernorGeneral ‘, insert ‘Commission ‘.

Senate’s amendment No. 34-

In clause 44, sub-clause (2), paragraph (a), after ‘to do so, ‘ insert ‘or at the request of the Commission, ‘.

Clause 61.

That the amendment be disagreed to.

Northern Territory

- Mr Chairman, I have already spoken in this debate but I take the opportunity to speak again. I would like to incorporate in Hansard the opinion of Mr Ron Withnall, an independent member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, concerning the amendments to this Bill.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes:

-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-


The Independent Member for Port Darwin in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Mr Ron Withnall, who is a Darwin lawyer, said today that he fully supported the Opposition amendments to the Darwin Reconstruction Bill.

The amendments have the support of the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party of the Legislative Assembly. Mr Withnall said in Canberra that it had been alleged in the Senate debate on the bill that amendments ‘were a move designed to embarrass the Federal Government.

This allegation has been made by Senator McLaren and Senator Cavanagh, as well as Senator Gietzelt

Nothing could be further from the truth.

My support as an independent member for the amendments could not be described as inspired by political enmity. “They are based on a genuine desire to improve the bill in areas where, I think, personally, it ‘s defective.

I know that my attitude has the full support of my electorate and in Darwin as a whole.

In two specific areas of the Bill, I would like to emphasise that I stongly support the amendments designed to involve the people of Darwin of having the right to object to planning proposals as they arise and also the provisions proposing a right of compensation, where persons suffer loss or damage as a result of the Commission s action or the actions ofthe Minister.

In the interests of the people of Darwin, I sincerely urge the Government to accept the amendments, which will make the Bill, an effective and acceptable Act.


– I have received a telegram from the Nightcliff Residents Action Committee concerning the overall power of the Minister for the Northern Territory contained in the clause. The telegram reads as follows:

The Nightcliff Residents Action Committee considers there is an urgent need for a Darwin Reconstruction Commission but requests that the following amendments be made to the Bill now before the House:

That the Commission be autonomous and not be under the direct control of the Minister for the Northern Territory.

There are several other clauses which will become relevant later on. I will read them now so that I will not have to mention them again. They are as follows:

  1. That there be adequate provision for appeal against a decision ofthe Commission by those people affected by that decision.

That motion was in effect moved and passed previously. The telegram continues:

  1. That the provision for any current Act or ordinance affecting the Northern Territory to be changed on request be removed. The Bill should clearly and concisely spell out what Acts or ordinances it is felt will conflict with the operations of the Commission and deal with each specifically.

That is signed by the Secretary. I have said all I intended to say on this clause. The Minister will realise that my opinion and the opinions of my colleagues- both in the Senate and in this chamberare very strongly backed up by the citizens of Darwin. We consider it regrettable that the Government has not accepted this amendment and many ofthe other amendments.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I want to comment briefly on 2 things without wishing in any way to be acrimonious. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) referred to the independent member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Mr Withnall. Apparently my definition of ‘independent’ is somewhat different from his. I mentioned last week that Mr Withnall had sent a long telex- virtually a brief- to the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), but he did not send a copy to me. Similarly, the document which the honourable member for the Northern Territory has just incorporated in Hansard was sent to the honourable member, which is all right, but the independent member did not send a copy to me. If a person is independent he would not be so biased as that; he would give a copy of the document to both sides in this chamber. However, Dr Letts did give me a copy which I have read and which I agreed should be incorporated in Hansard. There was no problem there.

The basic issue involved relates to the ministerial power of direction. Obviously this is what the honourable member for the Northern Territory and some people in the Northern Territory object to. I have pointed out previously that the reconstruction of Darwin will be a tremendous job. It will involve large sums of taxpayers’ money. In fact the Treasurer (Dr J. F. Cairns) a short time ago introduced legislation to appropriate funds for this purpose. The Government believes that it, through the Minister and, obviously, this Parliament, has the responsibility to make certain that that money is spent effectively and efficiently in accordance with its policy, keeping in mind always that it is not the Commission’s money and it is not private money- it is money belonging to the Government of Australia and provided by the people of Australia in taxes and through other types of revenue.

As was pointed out last week, the previous Liberal-Country Party Government provided for ministrial direction of this type in some pieces of legislation which it introduced. This Parliament approved of ministerial direction of this kind with respect to the development of AlburyWodonga. It has been pointed out that the situation in respect of Albury-Wodonga is not the same as that of Darwin. I am the first to admit that. But if ministerial direction is all right for Albury-Wodonga, it most certainly should apply to Darwin. This Bill provides for the reconstruction of a devastated city over a period of 5 years. It provides for the welfare, over a short period, of thousands of people and it involves tremendous sums of money. The Government would argue that this is an excellent example of why there should be provision for ministerial direction. The Minister will be responsible to the Government. I think this has been overlooked. Nobody would expect me as the Minister for the Northern Territory to be making unilateral decisions which were contrary to decisions of the Government or the Cabinet, or the policies given effect to by the Bill itself. In Parliament, of course, my actions are subjected to the scrutiny of members of Parliament. To take this power of direction from me and to place the responsibility not on a member of Parliament, not on a Minister, not on this Parliament or the Government but on an outside body I believe could not be in the best interests of the community and certainly would not be in the ‘ best interests of the taxpayers of Australia.

It could be argued, of course, as occurred in the Senate, that the Commission could be given certain powers, and for the Commission to inform the Minister of what is taking place. Then, if the Minister does not agree with the Commission, the Governor-General, the Government or Cabinet will decide the issue. To my mind what is proposed is an archaic, frustrating and delaying tactic. Certainly it was incorporated in the National Capital Development Commission Act which provided for the development of Canberra over a number of years- that is the principle underlying that argument- but the Government believes that the Minister should have power of direction with respect to the reconstruction of Darwin because of the emergency of the situation and the tremendous amount of money involved. In the eyes of the Government it is quite clear that it is in the best interests of the people of the Northern Territory to get this job done quickly with a minimum of frustration and delay. The Government believes that what it proposes is the best way to achieve that and, therefore, it rejects the amendment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That Senate Amendment No. 9 be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, the following amendment be made:

Clause 18, omit sub-clause (1), substitute the following sub-clause:

The Commission shall consist of 8 members, namely-

a Chairman;

a Deputy Chairman;

the General Manager;

1 member nominated by the Legislative Assembly for the Territory;

1 member nominated by the Corporation of the City of Darwin;

1 member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council; and

2 other members.

The Government cannot accept Senate amendment No. 9 which proposes the replacement of the General Manager on the Commission by one member of the Commission nominated by the Darwin Citizens’ Council. However, the Government will agree to the addition to the Commission of one member from the Darwin Citizens ‘Council.

Mr Calder:

– Did you mean the Assembly in the first place?


-No. All I am saying is that we cannot accept the Senate amendment proposing that one member be nominated by the Darwin Citizens’ Council, but we will accept that the Commission can have one member from the Darwin Citizens’ Council. In other words, it is a question of appointment.

The Government sees the General Manager as the key member of the Commission based in Darwin. In fact, we believe that as the chief executive officer of the Commission he will not be able to hold any other position. He will be selected from applicants who apply to the open advertisements which have already been placed in the Press. The sole criterion for his appointment will be his suitability for the job. It will be a full time position and the successful applicant will be based in Darwin. He will be active, at all times, with respect to the Commission. It is quite clear that he should be an integral part of that Commission. Because of the level at which he will be required to operate during the life of the Commission there will be at all times a need for constant liaison between the Commission and its executive.

For these reasons the Government believes that the General Manager should be a member of the Commission with full voting rights. The Senate amendment proposes that the General Manager shall not be appointed and, as I indicated earlier, substitutes for ‘the General Manager’ the words ‘one member nominated by the Darwin Citizens’ Council’. I will listen to what the honourable member for the Northern Territory has to say about this matter. There are plenty of reasons why a member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council should be appointed by the Governor-General in the same way as are other members of the Commission. If one looks at the situation one can see that the Commission could be stacked. Even though nominations will be called throughout Australia it is not unheard of for such a thing to happen. We could reach the position where a person nominated by the Darwin Citizens ‘ Council is a member of the Corporation of the City of Darwin or the Legislative Assembly and this, of course, could upset the balance of the Commission. The principal objective is to advertise widely in an accepted fashion. The intention is to have the Governor-General appoint a person from the Council to the Commission. The overall objective is to give the Commission as much balance as possible.

I do not want to say anything more than that. It does seem quite clear to me that the General Manager of the Commission must be a full time member of the Commission. He will, of course, be a key and vital part of the Commission. As such he will play a 24 hour a day role, one might say, as opposed to the role played by the parttime members who obviously will not be able to give their full time to the Commission.

Northern Territory

– I probably did not hear the Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) aright, but is the amendment he has moved the amendment set out in the printed form stating that the Commission shall consist of 8 members, namely, a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman, a General Manager, a member nominated by the Legislative Assembly, a member nominated by the Corporation of the City of Darwin, a member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council and two others?

Dr Patterson:

– Yes.


– The Minister knows our original thinking in this matter. It was proposed that the Commission would comprise 2 members from private enterprise, 4 government servants and a Chairman. Therefore our thinking was to try to level up the composition of the membership so as to avoid establishing a great bureaucratic body. That is why the amendment was introduced in the Senate. However, we do not want to hold up the establishment of the Commission. I have just returned from Darwin where I got the message loud and clear that the citizens are calling for the Commission to get into action although they are asking for various amendments to be accepted. We are pleased that a member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council will be on the Commission. We believe that if members are appointed by the Governor-General the Commission, to use the Minister’s own words, could be stacked. So we will eagerly wait to see exactly which people are appointed to the Commission.

The Majority Leader in the Legislative Assembly suggested that a member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council should be represented on the Commission. Although a member of the Council was to be represented on the Commission in an observer capacity, I think it is a good move that he is to be a member of the Commission. One does not know at this time who will be the Deputy Chairman of the Commission. It could well be that he will be a civil servant. One has to bear in mind that if he is, and if he is living in Darwin, he will be under the almost direct instruction of his Minister. That was our thinking on this clause. If the amendment is as printed we have no objection to it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That Senate amendments Nos 10 and 14 be disagreed to.

Amendments Nos 10 and 14 are consequential to amendment No. 9 on which discussion has just concluded. That being so, they, of course, cannot be agreed to and must be rejected.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That Senate amendment No. 13 be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, the following amendments be made:

Clause 19-

Page 7, line 35, omit ‘(d) or (e)’, substitute ‘(d), (e) or (f)’.

Page 7, line 38, omit ‘(f)’, substitute ‘(g)’.

The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will notice that it is proposed to add paragraph (g) to the Bill. One has to be a mathematical genius to work out what is involved. But the consequential amendment has been put forward simply to adjust the original Bill and to take into account the changed order of the membership of the Commission. The Commission, as a result of my amendment No. 9, will not also consist of a member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council, which is set down in paragraph (f) and ‘2 other members ‘, which is set out in paragraph (g).

Mr Donald Cameron:

– May I interrupt the Minister for a moment. I am sorry. I know that there are only half a dozen Opposition members in the House at the moment but there is not one supporter of the Labor Party behind the Minister. Therefore, Mr Chairman, I draw your attention to the state of the Committee.


– Order! If the honourable member does that again I will name him.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– In accordance with Standing Orders, I was drawing your attention to the state of the Committee.


– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable gentleman rose and made a speech. He is entitled to draw attention to the state of the Committee but he is not entitled to make a speech. If he does that again I will name him. (Quorum formed).


– We are used to the smart alec tactics of the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). The result of this is that -

Mr Donald Cameron:

– On a point of order. Under the Standing Orders it is legitimate for me to draw attention to the state of the chamber.


– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.


-The position now is that there are about 50 members of the Labor Party present but look at the other side of this chamber, where there are 2 members of the Liberal Party -

Mr Peacock:

– Fifteen.


– … and about 5 members of the Country Party.


– Order! If the honourable member for Kooyong speaks again I will name him.

Mr MacKellar:

– Do not be silly.


– I suggest that you remain silent too. If you want to play at being members of Parliament that is your business but I view the position seriously.

Mr Peacock:

– I take more than a point of order at that. Would you like to retract those remarks, Mr Chairman? We happen to take the Parliament seriously.


– The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Peacock:

– I object to the remarks you made about playing at Parliament.


– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Peacock:

– Well, are you going to retract those remarks?


-I am not going to retract those remarks. I asked the honourable gentleman to resume his seat. He stood at the table yapping across it after I had twice asked him to resume his seat and he is lucky I did not deal with him. The honourable member for Warringah, who is sitting beside you, told me not to be silly when I ordered you to resume your seat. I call the Minister. I suggest that he deal with the clause..


-That interlude has interrupted the Committee stage of the Darwin Reconstruction Bill, one of the most urgent and pressing Bills before the Parliament. All it boils down to is that the honourable member for Griffith is deliberately frustrating and delaying this Bill again.

We reject Senate amendment No. 13. We simply wish to amend clause 19 by omitting ‘(d) or (e)’ and substituting ‘(d), (e) or (f)’ and by omitting ‘(f)’ and substituting ‘(g)’. Paragraph

  1. refers to one member nominated by the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory. Paragraph (e) refers to one member nominated by the Corporation of the City of Darwin and paragraph (f) refers to one member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council. This is a consequential amendment to the amendments which were accepted by the chamber a few minutes ago. It is simply a matter of re-arranging the actual lettering in the clause to take account of the inclusion of one member of the Darwin Citizens’ Council on the Commission.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That Senate amendment No. IS be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, the following amendment be made:

Clause 24, omit ‘(d) or (e) ‘, substitute ‘(d), (e) or (f)’.

Again this is simply a re-arrangement of the lettering in the clause and, of course, it makes provision for one more member on the Commission. It is a consequential amendment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That Senate amendment No. 16 be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, the following amendment be made:

Clause 24, omit ‘(e) or (f)’, substitute ‘(e), (0 or (g)’.

We reject the Senate amendment in view of what happened to clause 18. We seek the inclusion in clause 24 of paragraph (g) which provides that the Governor-General may terminate appointments as outlined in the amended clause. Again it is a consequential amendment with direct relevance to clause 1 8.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That amendments Nos 18 to 33 be disagreed to.

Many of these are really relevant to whether or not the General Manager is a member of the Commission. If he is a member of the Commission, as the Government insists, then clearly he should be appointed by the GovernorGeneral as are part-time members of the Commission and clearly those matters which are relevant to his terms and conditions of appointment should be within the purview of the Governor-General and governed by the Remuneration Tribunal, as in the case of other members of the Commission. All these amendments again are consequential to the thoughts which have been expressed in the Senate. As I have already explained, if the Governor-General appoints the General Manager, naturallythe terms and conditions will be laid down by the Governor-General in the same way as applies to other members of the Commission.

Northern Territory

-I know that these are all consequential amendments but they are tied up with the feelings of the people of the Northern Territory and that is why we put them forward. Once again they were consequential upon the original alteration made to clause 18 of the Bill. We do not object to the amendments.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– I move:

That the following additional amendment be made:

Clause 61, omit paragraph (e), insert the following paragraph: “(e) making provision for and in relation to reviews and appeals (including appeals to the courts of the Territory) in respect of matters arising under this Act or the regulations; and”.

The Government agrees that in this legislation there should be a right of appeal in appropriate cases. Clause 61 (1) (e) of the Bill as it stands makes provision for appeals in respect of matters arising under the regulations. I stress that it is specifically tied to the regulations. We accept the argument that it is only fair that anything done under this proposed Act which may cause some injustice should be subject to appeal. In the Bill as it stands the clause refers only to regulations and not to provisions in the Act. What this amendment does is widen the appeal provisions to cover not only matters arising under the regulations but also under the Act. Honourable senators who have expressed concern that the Bill does not make it mandatory on the Governor-General to make regulations will be aware that this would be inappropriate as I have mentioned but in my capacity as Minister for the Northern Territory I have undertaken to have regulations prepared as a matter of urgency to provide for appeals in respect of matters arising under the Act- I stress the words ‘under the Act’- and regulations which should be subject to such a process.

I mention also that it is my intention to ask the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) to make the necessary arrangements to have the Darwin Reconstruction Commission come within the terms of the proposed ombudsman Bill itself. It is hoped that, in due course, this Commission also will be subject to the provisions of the legislation relating to administrative tribunals. What has happened now is that there are provisions for appeals in the Bill. Previously these appeal provisions were tied specifically to regulations. Now they will be subject to all the provisions of the Act itself, including the regulations. As I say, the Government believes and agrees that there should be the right of appeal in appropriate cases. Therefore, I have moved accordingly.

Northern Territory

– There should be a right of appeal. The people of Darwin have called for this. I am glad to see that the Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) has recognised the need for this provision and it has been included in the legislation. The Minister mentioned that it was right that the Governor-General should be able to make regulations. The Minister has in hand the preparation of these regulations. I make the point that, whilst the centre of responsibility is in Canberra, by this provision a degree of responsibility is removed from the Northern Territory itself. I am thinking specifically of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. One sub-clause of this clause points very strongly to that end. It is a pity that the newly elected Legislative Assembly has not been granted more authority. If anyone is to make laws for the Northern Territory, I think that the members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly should be vitally concerned in the matter. Whilst not opposing the amendment, I make it clear that we in the Territory think that our Assembly should have been given more authority and more say in this whole matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Resolutions reported; report adopted.

Motion (by Dr Patterson) agreed to:

That Mr Luchetti, Mr Berinson and the mover be appointed a committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to amendments Nos5, 10, 14 and 1 8 to 33 of the Senate.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

-On behalf of the Committee appointed to draw up reasons for the House disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate, I bring up such reasons which are being circulated to honourable members. Those reasons are:

Reasons for disagreeing to Senate Amendment No.5.

Because this Amendment substitutes for a Ministerial power of direction (formerly Clause 9 of the Bill) over the Commission an archaic device with built in delay taken from the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957 whereby disputes between the Commission and the Minister may be determined by Order of the Governor-General.

The reconstruction of Darwin is a task of enormous magnitude involving tremendous Government expenditure and responsibility. It is only consistent with this that the Government through the Minister, has the right to intervene if necessary in the exercise of the grave responsibilities vested in the Commission

The Amendment is not acceptable to the Government. It is the wish of the Government that Clause 9 of the original Bill be restored.

Reasons for disagreeing to Senate Amendments Nos 10 and 14.

Because these Amendments were consequential upon acceptance of Senate Amendment No. 9 which has been disagreed to by the House and the Amendments are no longer relevant.

Reasons for disagreeing to Senate Amendments Nos 18 to 33.

Because these Amendments are relevant to whether or not the General Manager is a member of the Commission. If he is a member of the Commission as the Government insist, clearly then he should be appointed, as are the part time members of the Commission, by the Governor-General. Clearly also those matters which are relevant to his terms and conditions of appointment should be within the purview of the Governor-General, the Minister and the Remuneration Tribunal as the case may be.

The Government does not agree to these Amendments.

I move:

That the Committee ‘s reasons be adopted.

Northern Territory

– While not disagreeing with these reasons, I feel that I must speak once again on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory with regard to Senate Amendment No. 5. The legislation proposes to give the Minister an overall power over the Commission. There has been specific demand for this power not to be given. Under pressure of numbers, we have bowed to what the Government proposes. The Senate’s amendment seeks to substitute for a ministerial power of direction over the Commission- that is, complete and utter control of the whole Commissiona device to delay which is taken from the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957. It is not really an archaic device; it is only 18 years old. As I said earlier in the debate, the supreme control approach in the Bill is far more archaic than the provision now sought.

Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory · Dawson · ALP

– in reply- I again emphasise the point that this Government and Liberal-Country Party governments on many occasions gave power of ministerial direction as is proposed in this legislation. It would be unthinkable with respect to the emergency situation in Darwin if the Darwin Reconstruction Commission Bill were to have provision for less power of direction for the Parliament, the Government or the Minister than that found in other legislation. As I have said before, the power of ministerial direction does not mean that I will make unilateral decisions which will be contrary to the wishes of the Government or Government policy. Above all, I am subject to cross-examination . in this Parliament.

I believe that there are plenty of safeguards in the legislation. Overall, the Government wants to get on with this job of rebuilding Darwin as quickly and as efficiently as possible, taking into account the wishes of the people of Darwin and sound common sense. It is quite clear to some of the people who knew Darwin that there will be differences with respect to where some housing settlements will be located. Obviously we will not build or rebuild houses in danger areas which are subject to tidal wave or storm surge in the event of cyclonic disturbances. It is within the overall provisions with respect to good planning and good common sense that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission will operate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion (by Dr Patterson) agreed to:

That in the message returning the Darwin Reconstruction Bill 1975 to the Senate, the Senate be requested to reconsider the Bill in respect of the amendment made by the House of Representatives to clause 6 1 .

page 664


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 13 February on motion by Mr Enderby:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Suspension of Standing Orders


– I move:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition making a statement as to why the debate on the second reading of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 should not be proceeded with forthwith.

The Government’s decision to bring on for debate today the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 amounts in the view of the Opposition Parties to a complete contempt of this Parliament. It represents a most disgraceful indulgence by any government in the handling of a Bill which has such far reaching implications for the Australian community. It is reflective of the extent of that indulgence that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Enderby) should have conveyed to my office, only one hour ago or thereabouts, a series of new amendments which the Government is apparently to move during the Committee stages of the consideration of this Bill.

I have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders in order to highlight the fact that the Par- “ liament stands in danger of becoming utterly irrelevant when the Government attempts to force through this Bill without adequate debate and without adequate consultation with the industry groups directly involved. It is simply a political manoeuvre and a sham on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who no doubt has exercised his ministerial duress over the new Attorney-General. How can any member of this House on either side properly address himself or herself to a Bill which covers 284 clauses, 8 schedules and an explanatory memorandum which runs for approximately 90 pages, without reasonable foreshadowing by the Government and without the opportunity for effective discussion by the Opposition parties with those people and industry groups which are subject to the impact of this legislation. In considering the motion that Standing Orders be suspended the House should be aware that solicitors’ organisations were advised by the Attorney-General’s Department that analysis of submissions to this Government would commence on 3 March- not now but in fact on 3 March- and have been preparing submissions accordingly. Undertakings to provide adequate time for its consideration were given frequently and recently by senior members of this Government. As recently as last week the Minister representing the Attorney-General assured the Senate in the following terms:

I reiterate the assurance that was given to me by the Attorney-General that full opportunity would be given to any interested party to make representations for amendment of the Bill before it was pressed on with in the House of Representatives.

The fact that this Bill is before this House at this time represents no less than a total breach of that undertaking given to members of the Opposition parties in the Senate by the Minister representing the Attorney-General. The suspension of Standing Orders is moved in order to emphasise that it is not merely a clear breach of undertakings given but a matter of broad concern that the Government should have decided to proceed with the legislation at this stage of the parliamentary session. Its decision to do so is contrary to the assurances given to both the Opposition and the industry which this Bill seeks to regulate. We believe it is inimical to the achievement of the efficient and effective control of our securities markets- an objective shared by Australians in general. It amounts to gross irresponsibility for any government to proceed to debate legislation of such complexity without fully examining the views of those persons and organisations who have a vital and legitimate interest. The Opposition parties have not had an adequate opportunity to examine the submissions which have been received by us.

It was only Thursday of last week when the Attorney-General foreshadowed to the shadow Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, that the debate would be brought on in this chamber today. We are aware of a number of submissions from organisations, which submissions are now in an advanced stage of preparation and would have been available for consideration during the next few weeks. Many of these submissions represent weeks, even months, of work and hundreds of pages of transcript. But so far as the Attorney-General is concerned the submissions on the Bill which is to be introduced might just as well be put in the ash can for all the consideration that he, the Attorney-General, apparently is prepared to give to them and, indeed, to the amendments which I understand he will seek to move during the Committee stage.

I take this opportunity to outline the reactions of industry which so far have been forwarded to both the Government and the Opposition parties. The Australian Associated Stock Exchanges, representing the very industry which this legislation seeks to regulate, sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister yesterday:

Australian Associated Stock Exchanges are greatly concerned that the debate on the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill-

Mr Berinson:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. I agree with the latitude that you have given the Deputy Leader of the Opposition but on the motion to suspend Standing Orders I think we really are straining matters excessively if the present subject matter is to be permitted.


– Until the Clerk just spoke to me I thought that the honourable member had not digressed from the suspension of Standing Orders. I ask the honourable gentleman to keep to the reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended.


-The suspension of Standing Orders is sought to enable the Opposition parties to place on the written record the objections which industry groups throughout Australia have to the precipitous haste with which this Bill has been introduced and to do that -

Mr Enderby:

- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.


– The Minister is becoming very sensitive at such an early stage of the debate, but I can understand that.

Mr Enderby:

– If the reason that Standing Orders should be suspended is so that the Opposition can complain that it is not ready to proceed, the opportunity for that is in the second reading debate. It is not a reason for raising the matter on a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.


-No point of order is involved on that score.


– I thank you for the indulgence of the Chair, Mr Speaker. As I was endeavouring to make clear to the Attorney-General, the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges have indicated that their members are greatly concerned that the debate on this Bill has been brought forward to this week and indeed at very short notice. The organisation goes on in the telegram which I mentioned, to say this:

We fear that neither members of your Government or of the Opposition, or even your new Attorney-General, can yet be in a position to take part in an informed debate on what is a major and complex piece of legislation. The Stock Exchanges late last week submitted lengthy comments on the Bill to the Attorney-General’s Depanment but it would seem that neither the Departmental officers or the AttorneyGeneral himself will have yet had time to consider our detailed proposals. We also understand that various other interested parties have not yet completed their submissions. Therefore, we earnestly request that debate be deferred until Parliament can be better informed. Otherwise attempts by your Government to improve business confidence can only be seriously damaged -

The Institute of Directors has cogently and compellingly expressed the same view. It also has sought opportunity for consultation with the Attorney-General and with officers of his Department. The Australian Chamber of Manufactures said this to the Government:

Deeply concerned -

Mr Berinson:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are really reaching a stage of farce with the introduction of this matter. I think the best way of demonstrating it is to ask: What could possibly be left to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to say if the House did agree to the suspension of Standing Orders? He is saying everything now for which he is seeking an opportunity to speak later. I think that some semblance of moderation has to be shown on his part as well as that of other members of the House.


– Actually I do not have a copy of the Bill before me. It would be difficult for me to make a decision in regard to whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is touching the subject matter or is just reading out protests from some organisations. I ask the honourable gentleman to keep to the reason why Standing Orders should be suspended.


– It is for these various reasons that the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders has been moved, in order that the House should have an adequate opportunity to debate this vital legislation in a meaningful fashion. We do not seek undue delay. We would be happy to debate this legislation during the first week after the forthcoming parliamentary recess. If the Attorney-General insists on pressuring the legislation through the House I believe he will do a grave disservice to the objectives of the Bill which he has introduced.


-The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders seconded?


-Is the motion seconded?


– I second the motion. I say at once, Mr Speaker, that you have my firm assurance that in no way will I attempt either in substance or, indeed, in a peripheral fashion to deal with the merits of the legislation which is in contemplation before this House. It is not the merit of the legislation to which this House should now attend; it should look at its’ own authority. The second reading speech on this Bill was given in this House on Thursday of last week. The Orders of the Day provide for it to pass through all stages by this evening. I repeat: The second reading speech on this Bill was given on Thursday of last week and the Orders of the Day provide for it to pass through all stages by today.

Without doubt, this is the most substantial piece of legislation that has been introduced in a considerable period of time. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) is thoroughly justified in seeking to make a statement to the House because it would seem perfectly clear that some people in the House need informing of the immensity of the legislation in prospect, of the technicality of it, and of the refusal on the part of the Government to listen to and to analyse submissions made to it by people with interest in it. It has always been a great and traditional habit of this Parliament to seek to observe people who have a point of view on legislation. Of course, ultimately the responsibility of approving or disapproving of legislation rests upon those of us who sit in this chamber. To fail to listen to views is grievous enough, but to fail to listen to views after having given the most specific undertakings to listen to those views I can only describe as manifestly wicked.

I move from that. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in this House today said- not on a matter of legislation so I may advert to it- that governments are formed in this House. That is a proposition with which I find myself in wholehearted agreement. Governments are formed in this House. That is a stronger reason for this House to maintain its own authority. The whisperings of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) to the effect that this Bill has been before another place since September last year makes not the slightest impression upon me.

Mr Enderby:

– It should.


-On the contrary. I put this to the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) who interjects with such readiness: What if the other place, the Senate, had so amended a Bill as to make it completely and utterly different from a Bill that went through this House? I ask the honourable gentleman merely to reflect upon that circumstance. Over a long period of time now, I have seen the authority of this chamber being washed awaydrip by drip, the constant, continuing erosion. Yet today the Attorney-General- the parens pater of the country, the man who should stand and speak to defend the views, the rights and the liberties of every subject in this country without fear and without favour- lends the weight of his eminent office and its authority to such a contemptible move as to expect this House of Parliament to deal with this measure in such a short time. It is a disgrace to Parliament and the sooner the people of the country get an understanding of that fact the better.

CanberraAttorneyGeneral · ALP

– Perhaps it was predictable that members of the Opposition would take such action as they have taken because we know they speak for their clients- we know they speak for vested interests in this country. We know the social mischief that was revealed in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange- the Rae Committee. That report, which was presented towards the middle of last year, called for the situation to be put right, as soon as possible. In fact, a recommendation of the Rae Committee report was that a body with the powers of a securities and exchange Commission be set up immediately. It is now 9 months later. May I tell honourable members some aspects they may have overlooked. The proposal to have legislation of this sort can be traced back at least as far as the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in December 1972. It was repeated in the policy speech of March and April 1974. How much time does the Opposition need to reflect on the fact that

Australia needs legislation of this sort to protect Australian investors? There never has been a social situation in Australia crying out more for reform. Consequently it has been studied deeply with the idea of it being reformed and examined with an intensity rarely given to legislation.

The Rae Committee report, presented last year, encompasses many volumes. On 5 December, almost 3 months ago, the then AttorneyGeneral introduced this measure into the Senate. Do we have to assume that members of the Liberal Party who are senators do not speak to members of the Liberal Party who are members of the House of Representatives? Are we asked to believe that honourable members opposite are not sufficiently interested to go to the Senate side of this one building and get a copy of the Bill? It was a public statement. Three months ago the Bill was in the Senate, so members opposite have had 3 months to study it. The explanatory memorandum, which they complain they have not had time to read, has been available for 3 months. Are they saying that they are too lazy or are lacking in interest in the social scandal that was revealed by the Rae Committee report- a committee chaired by a member of their own Party? Are they telling us that they are so lacking in interest and concern for Australia’s welfare -

Mr Garland:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you know, the motion calls for so much of the Standing Orders to be suspended as would permit the Deputy Leader of the Opposition making a statement. I submit that the Attorney-General is not actually speaking to the motion and has not done so since he rose.


-I had a slight inkling that the Attorney-General was wandering a little from the motion before the Chair. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to confine his remarks to reasons why the Standing Orders should not be suspended.


– I am giving every reason why Standing Orders should not be suspended. These reasons should be obvious to honourable members. Opposition members have had almost 3 years to think about this matter. They have had since the middle of last year to know that there has been a crying demand for the situation to be put right. They have known of this Bill as a concrete proposal since the then Attorney-General introduced the measure in the Senate on 5 December, nearly 3 months ago. How much time do they want? Are we driven to the view that their credibility is in issue?

Mr Garland:

– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The Attorney-General has not deviated in the slights est from the argument he was earlier presenting. The question before the House is whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition be permitted to make a statement.


-Order! There is no point of order associated with what the Attorney-General has said since I asked him to confine his remarks to the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.


– I have given many reasons already. The opportunity has been given over and over again to Liberal Party and Country Party members to interest themselves in this matter and to be aware, even in the slightest way, that there was a social wrong crying out to be put right. Their own colleagues in the Senate said so, and said so with a clear and loud voice. Now yielding to pressure, predictably as I said, members opposite say: ‘No, this in not the time; give us more time; slow down; stop; do not effect this reform ‘. One could go on.

I take one point that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) made which can be misleading. He referred to Orders of the Day. He said that all the stages of this Bill are listed. I inform the honourable member that there is no intention on the part of the Government to put the Bill through all its stages today.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– That is a change- a big change.


-No, it is not a change. I spoke to the learned Senator Greenwood, to whom the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred, as long ago as last Thursday and told him that we would be introducing the Bill and that we would allow reasonable time for debate. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition rang me on Sunday I told him again that we would allow reasonable time for debate, and that is our intention. When I spoke to Mr Valder, the Chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange and the Chairman of the Associated Stock Exchanges of Australia, perhaps an hour or so ago, I gave him the same assurances. It is our intention to allow reasonable time for debate. But I have to say this: One knows from experience in dealing with members of the Opposition how they frustrate, stall and block legislation- even legislation of this sort that is desired by almost all Australians except for a few who made millions and millions of dollars out ofthe scandals in the share market a year or so ago.

Mr Howard:

– On a point of order: The Attorney-General is taking advantage of the opportunity of speaking to the motion moved by my colleague to make derogatory, misleading and totally unrepresentative remarks about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


-Order! You have taken a point of order; do not make a speech about it. I ask the Attorney-General to keep to the motion before the Chair, which is whether the Standing Orders should be suspended.


-The point has to be made as part of that debate that the Government did not move the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. I am speaking in reply to the motion which has been moved by the Opposition, and I am pointing out to this House the frivolous and obstructionist attitude of the Opposition. I am questioning their credibility. In other words, the point that I am trying to make is that when one listens to the arguments put forward by the 2 speakers from the Liberal Party one also has to have regard to their motives. If one is to attach any weight to what they say, one listens to the arguments and looks to the position which those honourable members seek to protect. One looks also at the way in which honourable members opposite have behaved, ever since this Government came to office, to see their attitude to measures of this sort. They delay, frustrate and stall.

What I invite the House to do in this situation is to say that it does not accept for one minute that there is any need to postpone the commencement of this debate any longer, and the reason for that is that when one looks at the role of the Opposition parties- the Country Party and the Liberal Party- ever since they went into Opposition and the Labor Party came into office, one can draw the natural conclusion that their intention is to delay and frustrate all the time. Then when one looks at the concrete points of this Bill, and puts aside the motives that lie behind the attempt to suspend Standing Orders- to delay- one still draws the conclusion that honourable members opposite seek to advance the interests of their clients, the people whom they really serve -

Mr Donald Cameron:

– A point of order. Mr Speaker, he is going on again with what you told him not to go on with.


-I ask the Attorney-General to keep to the motion before the Chair in regard to the suspension of Standing Orders.


-Mr Speaker, the behaviour of Opposition spokesmen to measures of this sort ever since they have been in Opposition could hardly be more relevant to the question that is before this House. They claim that this Bill should not be proceeded with now. That is the question at issue. Yet they oppose everything. If the inference to be drawn is that they oppose measures because they protect people, vested interests, then this House is certainly entitled to take that into account when it considers why they choose now to move for the suspension of Standing Orders and not have this Bill come on for debate.

I shall just go over some of the outstanding points. This Bill was referred to in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in December 1972- he said that the Government would be introducing legislation of this sort- and it was repeated in his policy speech of March 1974. The social mischief which exists and which has to be put right has been considered by many of the State governments, which have set up corporate affairs commissions. They were aware of the situation. Are honourable members opposite saying to us that they have not put their minds to this question before? Are they saying that they have suddenly been asked to debate it in this House today, notwithstanding that the Rae Committee report called for the immediate creation of a securities and exchange commission months ago?


-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired. The time allowed for the debate has expired.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Lynch’s) be agreed to.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)

AYES: 54

NOES: 60

Majority……. 6



Question so resolved in the negative.

Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.

Motion (by Mr Lynch) put:

That the debate be now adjourned.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)

AYES: 53

NOES: 57

Majority….. 4



Question so resolved in the negative.


-The Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 seeks to control and regulate the Australian securities industry on a national basis. It is historic legislation with far-reaching consequences. The general objectives of this legislation are strongly endorsed by the Opposition Parties. Nevertheless, many of the concepts and the detailed provisions of the Bill require reconsideration and amendment. In its present form the legislation will impede rather than facilitate the economic and efficient functioning of the Australian capital market. This Bill is deficient in that it seeks to well together 2 legally and economically separate aspects of regulation. It proposes an embryo Companies Act and a cut and paste Securities Industry Act. It is neither one nor the other. It is a backdoor attempt to amend the companies law in the guise of an Act to create a national securities industry law.

The securities industry is undoubtedly national in its operation. This was clearly demonstrated by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. That it should be subject to supervision by a form of Securities and Exchange Commission is accepted by most people, including the Associated Australian Stock Exchanges. The Opposition supports the creation of such a Commission. However, the former Attorney-General indicated that a Commonwealth Companies Act is in the course of preparation. We have not, nor have those concerned in the States and in industry and commerce, seen the Bill. The Companies Act should be legislation setting out rules to govern the structure and operation of corporations. The securities industry law should relate to and regulate the operation of markets and the sale and exchange of corporate securities. The 2 concepts are definable, separate and fundamental.

One of the major functional and operational deficiencies in the legislation which now governs the Australian securities industry has been identified, by the Senate Committee, as a failure to recognise the needs of Australian capital markets and to regulate in a way which will enable their free, fair, open and efficient operation. This Bill would perpetuate the existing deficiencies. The Rae Committee was at some pains to point out that the industry concerned is not only national in character but fundamental to the development of a national Australian economy- an objective of Federation. The Committee also suggested that it was essential that the Commission it recommended should be able to act speedily and effectively to prevent abuses while avoiding the development of a bureaucratic approach to securities industry regulation. It found that existing laws have not achieved and, by their separate nature, cannot achieve these objectives. It is a matter of regret that the Bill before the House reproduces the deficiencies in the form of legislation so strongly criticised by that Committee.

This Bill achieves few of the reforms envisaged by those who support the need for the creation of an effective, expert and fast acting investigatory and regulatory body with power to act. It provides in essence for a cumbersome, expensive and inherently bureaucratic structure inappropriate to the character or the needs of the

Austraiian capital market. It has not avoided the mistakes of similar legislation such as that in the United States of America- in spite of some 40 years experience to draw on. To give but one example, the Commission proposed by this Bill must take at least 44 days from the recognition of a need to make a rule until that rule becomes effective. Bearing in mind the speed with which the ‘corporate crooks’ can and do operate, 44 days is time enough for these people to clean up and reach the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The Bill, in respect of the authority it provides to the Commission, falls effectively between 2 stools. It would prevent the Commission from acting quickly and decisively when that is required, and permits the Commission to act without any opportunity for review by an aggrieved party.

This Bill fails to achieve what had previously appeared to be, to parties on all sides, an agreed objective. It gives relatively novel and relatively unbridled power to an Attorney-General to change, by regulation, the whole economic and social structure of corporations. But it does little to provide for the objective of the fair and efficient operation of the capital markets and the protection of Australian investors. The Opposition believes that this Bill must be given further consideration, that it must be made to achieve those objectives which are surely in this House beyond dispute. In its present form it is not atypical of the previous legislative reforms attempted by the former Attorney-General. The House will recall the 109 amendments moved by that gentleman in his third attempt to introduce the Trade Practices Act.

There is a further matter of major concern to the Opposition Parties. This Bill of 284 clauses and 8 schedules is, without question, complex and far reaching. As I indicated during the procedural motion in the House late this afternoon, the passage of this Bill through the House at this time is an abuse of Parliament. The decision to bring the Bill on for debate today is simply a political manoeuvre on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Because no effective opportunity has been provided to the Opposition Parties to examine the Bill, to undertake consultations with the many industry groups who are the subject of its impact, and to examine the sul> missions which the Opposition Parties and the Government are now receiving, we are not in a position to move amendments during the Committee stage of the debate. It is therefore our intention to use the debate in Committee and at the second reading stage to outline our general attitude towards the regulation of the securities industry and to indicate our broad reservations of this far reaching legislation. I take this opportunity, however, to foreshadow our intention to put down a detailed view during the Senate’s consideration of the Bill. While we support the general objectives of this legislation it will not be accepted by the Opposition Parties in its present form.

As previously mentioned, the principal factor leading up to this Bill was undoubtedly the work of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, appointed on 19 March 1970 and which reported on 18 July 1974. The Committee’s report made it clear that legislation was required ‘on the grounds of fairness and commercial morality, and in the interests of economic efficiency.’ That view was fully substantiated by the evidence contained in the report. It is a matter of the utmost concern that the abuses, examples of which were clearly set out in the report, should have taken place. It demonstrates that no government can presume that a satisfactory standard of commercial conduct will take place in the absence of some form of government supervision to support the existing, but necessarily limited, operation of self-regulation. The report highlighted a totally unacceptable level of commercial acquisitiveness combined with an indefensible abrogation of ethical and moral responsibility. The Committee did not equivocate in stating its view that exploitation of the investor would continue in the absence of effective regulatory organisation. In this regard the Committee concluded as follows:

Government in Australia would be irresponsible if it were not to up-grade substantially regulatory procedures so as to guard against repetition of fraud, abuse and incompetence on the scale of recent years.

I believe that there is no disagreement between the Parties within this House, or within the Australian security industry, as to the need for effective Federal legislation in this field. Legislation designed to control the industry must be assiduous in 2 important respects. First, it must prevent the exploitation of the individual investor. In so doing it must enable speedy action to investigate, reveal and outlaw the everchanging forms of abuse and manipulation. Second, it must improve rather than impede the efficient functioning of Australia ‘s capital market.

Australia’s long-term economic growth depends significantly on increasing the amount and the efficiency of capital- in other words, on increasing the efficiency of investment. The important function of any stock market is to mobilise capital for investment. The more efficiently the mechanism mobilises and transforms savings, the larger the volume of real capital formation which will be achieved from those savings.

The former Attorney-General, in introducing the Bill, to all intents and purposes, however, ignored the economic implications of the legislation. Much of the criticism which the Opposition has in respect of the legislation arises from its likely impact on the efficiency of the Australian securities market and the efficacy of the protection offered to Australian investors.

There should be no conflict between regulation of the type contemplated by the legislation and competition. Events have, in fact, demonstrated that regulation is essential to preserve and enforce competition and to ensure that the market place operates in the public interest. But, the economic distortions caused by many of the practices adverted to in the Rae report must not be replaced by new distortions arising from inadequately considered legislation.

In considering the economic significance of Australian stock markets it must be recognised that the purchase of securities is not the predominant method of investment saving. Equally, the raising of funds through security issues by business enterprises is not the preferred way of financing capital formation. Studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have shown that major Western economies hold over half of their savings in the form of cash or very liquid assets such as savings bank deposits. Other significant forms of savings are in contractual form such as superannuation and life insurance schemes. Even in the United States of America, with an efficient service industry, only around 2 per cent of savings were invested in securities during the 1960s. In the United Kingdom investment in securities, during the same period, was actually negative.

However, during the last 10 years companies listed on Australian stock exchanges have raised an average annual amount of capital in excess of $600m. Australian exchanges have played a significant role, not only in corporate fund raising, but in semi-government loan raisings and Commonwealth bond subscriptions. But, according to Reserve Bank figures, public non-finance companies have, on average during the late 1950s and 1960s, financed about 50 per cent of their capital expenditure from internal fundsdepreciation and retained profits- compared with around 25 per cent from the issue of shares and debentures.

Excessive self-finance is clearly contrary to the national economic interest. The best allocation of investible funds is unlikely to be achieved when those funds are not subject to bidding on the open market. There are powerful economic arguments which sustain the need for an efficient and competitive market for investment funds. It is the view of the Opposition parties that a better functioning of Australia’s securities markets will promote an increase in real capital formation while at the same time allocating resources efficiently among competing demands for capital. Good and effective legislation would have the effect of increasing the role of the stock exchanges in the Australian capital market.

The major abuses- documented by the Rae Committee- of the privileged share placement, insider trading, market rigging, short-selling and manipulation of investment trust funds have caused a loss of public confidence and weakened the securities industry as a financial mechanism. If wider marketing of investment funds is to be encouraged, honesty, efficiency and public trust in the stock exchanges is, of course, of critical importance.

I turn now to the Bill itself. Part II of the Bill proposes the establishment of a Corporations and Exchange Commission. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange rejected the concept of ‘self regulation’ as sufficient in itself. The Committee said that self-regulation, whilst having an essential role, must be backed by national legislation and a national regulatory and supervisory body. However, it did not suggest the blending of corporations and securities industries laws into one legislative enactment.

The Committee rejected also the concept of a joint Commission as providing a potentially effective regulatory body. Apart from other reasons it pointed out its incapacity, so essential in the Committee’s view, for speedy action in ever changing circumstances and standards’. This is consistent with the opposition now advanced by the Opposition parties. A major concern about the legislation arises from the almost unlimited authority which it provides to exercise control both by rules and by regulation. In no less than 57 cases there are provisions in the Bill where substantive matters are left to be prescribed.

Clause 284 of the Bill authorises the Governor-General to make regulations governing a wide range of matters such as a dealer’s liabilities in relation to his assets; dealer’s charges; the qualifications to be held by directors and so on. Under clause 36 (2) and (3), the Attorney-General has a power to provide written directions to the Commission on matters of general policy and this, when combined with the paramountcy of regulations over rules, raises the question where power really lies under this Bill.

Mr Killen:

– It is almost a Henry VIII provision.


– Well it is very much like a Henry VIII provision. In fact, clause 59 (4) enables the Governor-General to make regulations covering a stock exchange which are to have effect ‘notwithstanding anything contained in the constituent documents of the registered stock exchange or in the rules of the Commission itself. Regulations may be made in relation to any matter relating to the constitution of a registered stock exchange or of its members or of other persons who are permitted to trade in securities or the stock market.

The Bill provides effectively that a stock exchange can be closed down by the Commission for 21 days, and by the GovernorGeneral indefinitely. Particular securities can also have dealings in those securities suspended. The Governor-General’s power is exercisable where ‘he considers it necessary or desirable to do so for the protection of persons buying or selling securities or in the interests of the public’. To reiterate, it seems quite unreasonable that the Governor-General- in effect, the AttorneyGeneral would be provided with a basic power of this type. The Government should confine itself to exercising its power over the industry through the Commission, members of which are to be accepted as those with expertise in the area, and not directly as also evidenced in clause 284.

The Commission is to be authorised to make rules in respect of any matter where the Governor-General may make regulations. But, as clause 59 (3) makes clear, there is no substantive restriction to the ambit of the Commission’s rule-making capacity. Clause 59 (3) states that the Commission may make rules: in relation to any matter relating to the constitution of the stock exchange or the activities or conduct of the stock exchange or of its members or of other persons who are permitted to trade in securities on the stock market. . . .’

Whilst recognising that a rule-making authority must be given power to ensure effective and speedy regulatory action by a Commission, there is no justification in our view for such powers to be unlimited in duration; not subject to appeal; and given also to the executive Government upon an equally unlimited basis as to duration and ambit.

Mr Hunt:

– What an authoritarian approach.


– It is essentially authoritarian and typical of this Government. They should be essentially emergency powers to ensure that obvious or reasonably suspected abuses and malpractices can be immediately prevented whilst the matter is further considered, debated and, if then desired, provided for by way of legislative amendment or statutory regulation. The Bill is seriously deficient in this regard. The Commission should also, after special study and hearings, be able to make recommendations for government action. The Commission’s power should be to close the gate before the horses get out. Whether they should be allowed out is then a matter for full consideration and, if necessary a matter for legislation.

The Bill draws heavily upon American experience in legislation of similar character. But, although the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States is provided with wide rule-making power, in practice almost all its powers, other than those relating to agency organisation procedure or practice, are subject to public hearings. The Australian Commission is to be empowered to obtain information, documents and evidence without any limitation. This is made clear by clauses 263 and 281. Notwithstanding the Commission’s virtually unlimited powers to make rules and to obtain information the Government has provided a quite unsatisfactory opportunity for appeals against its decisions. In this regard I quote clause 279:

Except as provided by this Act … a decision of the Commission shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called into question, or be subject to prohibition, mandamus, certiorari or injunction, in any court on any account whatever.

This Clause would make decisions of the Commission closed to judicial appeal except according to the original jurisdiction of the High Court which is inviolate, in the absence of a referendum, because of section 75 of the Constitution. In contrast, all final orders of the American Securities and Exchange Commission are subject to judicial review on petition of an aggrieved party in an appropriate United States Court of Appeal.

The exceptions provided by the Act are minimal. Sub-clauses (7) and (8) of clause 65 permit an appeal to the proposed Administrative Appeals Tribunal in respect of the suspension of a stock exchange by the Commission. Clause 8 1 provides a similar right in respect of a refusal by the Commission to grant a licence. But, no information about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has been foreshadowed or provided by the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) or by this Government. Apparently, that tribunal is to be subject of enactment by separate legislation. The question must therefore be asked why the Bill is being forced through this House when its companion legislation, both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Companies Bills, are yet to be introduced. There ought to be provision for appeal, say, along the lines of that allowed in the Trade Practices Act 1974 against the decision of the Trade Practices Commission or in the Income Tax Assessment Act against decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation.

It is the Opposition’s firm view that the degree and form of discretion to be conferred on the Commission, combined with an almost complete absence of any appeal mechanism, is unacceptable. I want to make it perfectly clear that we hold no objection to the vesting of strong powers in the Commission. We on this side of the House would not agree with legislation which might prove to be ineffectual or open to avoidance as is this Bill which the Attorney-General has brought down. For example, it is open to doubt- and I shall invite the Attorney-General’s view on this during the Committee debate- that it could be held to apply, as drawn, to mineral exploration companies, so heavily involved in past abuses.

Many of its provisions are patchwork adaptations of already existing sections of Acts which have, according to the judgment of the Senate Committee, demonstrably failed. The fact is that no Government can stand aside from its responsibility to prescribe that course of conduct which it believes it is necessary to enforce in respect of the securities industry. Suffice it for me to say this at this stage of the debate. But so numerous are the defects and deficiencies of this Bill that time does not permit, at this stage, any effective opportunity to canvass those matters in detail.

Let me simply take one or two basic examples. Clause 40 provides for hearings by the Commission. With that we certainly totally agree. However, whilst giving the illusion of a right to an individual concerned in a hearing to have it conducted in public- and I refer to clause 40 (3)- the Bill continues in clause 40 (4) totally to negate that right and permit a Commission so disposed to adopt, without appeal, the concept of a star chamber approach. We do not support the re-introduction of the procedure of a Commission having the sole and unappealable right to conduct its hearings behind closed doors against the will of the person concerned in the inquiry.

Clause 59 would enable a government to direct the Commission in turn to direct the stock exchanges to take particular regulatory action. A rule so made is then not subject to disallowance by Parliament which it would be if made by way of normal regulation. This clause would allow the total negation of the normal democratic process. This appears to us to open the door to unreviewable despotism in relation to the whole role and structure of the Corporation in society and I personally regard that clause as unacceptable.

There is power, unappealable and of unlimited duration for the Government to suspend, for any reason of alleged public interest, all the stock exchanges of Australia. The Bill does nothing to ensure that disclosure by corporations and disclosures of malpractices and abuses identified by the Commission are the paramount protection of the Australian investor. It is surely preferable for abuses to be prevented through proper disclosure provisions rather than for actions to be initiated after those abuses have taken place.

The existing approach of penalties, even severe penalties, which are imposed in the extremely rare cases of someone being convicted of corporate or securities industry crime have not succeeded. This Bill does little more than stiffen some of these penalties. It does not ensure that the investor is protected by the fairest of all means, namely timely information.

Clause 267 provides the Commission with power to send its officers to meetings of the directors of companies. Such an approach is neither justified nor likely in our view to be in any shape, sense or form effective for the purpose for which presumably that clause is designed. Obviously company directors are entitled to privacy as is the Cabinet in its discussions. Equally obviously, if a ‘big brother’ type approach is to be applied to formal directors’ meetings the real discussion will take place at informal meetings of the board. The information which an effective Commission would require could be obtained by the exercise of a right to investigate company records, including the minutes of directors ‘ meetings.

Finally, I point out that the Government’s approach does nothing to obviate the burden of cost and the great inefficiencies of a multiplicity of law and regulatory activities covering this field. For years the stock exchanges, accounting, legal and other associated bodies have expressed their concern over the multiplicity of duplication of legislation regulating public companies in Australia. This complaint was endorsed by the Senate Committee yet this Bill will add to that multiplicity and duplication. Rather than simplify and reduce the costs on capital formation and corporate operation it will seriously increase the burden. Australia will then have 9 Acts or ordinances providing company law and 5 Acts providing securities industries law, together with numerous other pieces of legislation such as the Companies (Foreign Takeovers) Act which all affect corporate and capital activity. It is for this reason that I move the amendment which has been foreshadowed in my name on behalf of the Opposition Parties and with the leave of the Attorney-General, who is at the table, I seek leave to have the amendment incorporated in the Hansard record.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The amendment read as follows)-

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘While strongly supporting the creation of a national regulatory authority to supervise the functioning of the securities industry with a view to increasing efficiency and avoiding abuses in that industry, the House ( 1 ) deplores the failure of the Government to consider the views of the States, company organisations and the securities industry and the decision to force the Bill through the House contrary to previous assurances, and (2) is of the opinion that the BUI:

will not permit the speedy and effective prevention of malpractices within the securities industry;

will involve confusion, increased costs and the creation of a massive administrative bureaucracy;

will not lead to an improved functioning of Australia’s securities markets necessary to increase real capital formation and to allocate resources efficiently among competing demands for capital; and

relies too heavily on discretionary powers, rules and regulations and denies effective rights of appeal.’


-Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Garland:

– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.


-I rise to compliment Mr Justice Murphy, the AttorneyGeneral, and the Government for the introduction of this comprehensive Corporations and Securities Industry Bill. This Bill, as it stands, has the effect of bringing under one jurisdiction -


-Order! I suggest that the honourable member should use the term ‘Senator Murphy’ when he was the Attorney-General and not Mr Justice Murphy.


-The Bill as it stands has the effect of bringing under one jurisdiction control of stock markets and stock exchanges, dealers in securities, accounts and audit of accounts of registered companies, raising of moneys from the public involving scrutiny of prospectuses and trust deeds as regards the issue of shares, debentures and units in unit trust funds, and the disclosure of substantial shareholdings and takeovers of registered corporations. Surely there is not one member of this House who would question the need for this Bill. The need for this type of comprehensive legislation has been deeply considered and amply demonstrated, not only by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange but also by British governments of both Tory and Labour persuasions and by the Government of the United States as far back as 1930. They, like us, were faced with individuals who literally made themselves millionaires through insider trading and have now taken or are taking the appropriate steps to stop such noxious practices. If any honourable member desires to oppose this Bill on the grounds of States rights then I refer that member to the leading article in the ‘Financial Review’ in July last year which suggested that such an argument would be ‘the last refuge of scoundrels’. Indeed, the question of leaving regulatory machinery to the States appears to have been dealt a death blow since the Senate Select Committee demonstrated the possibility of setting up a brokers head office in one State with a branch office in another whereby the activities of the branch office would fall outside the jurisdiction of the State in which it operated and be unknown to the State authorities to which it was legally answerable.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) referred to an authoritarian structure in the Bill. Where authoritative control is in fact fragmented, thieves can have a picnic. They have had a harvest for 23 years. It is essential that the Corporations and Exchange Commission which this Bill seeks to set up shall have the powers to function in the manner intended, both as to efficiency and speed. The penalties provided in the Bill are considerable but there are still a large number of offences involving companies and officers of companies which are outside the ambit of the present Bill. Some of these, however, are currently found in the existing provisions of the State company and criminal law legislation. As the Bill now stands there will be considerable overlapping of functions. In particular, there will be some overlapping of the existing State criminal laws relating to offences by directors and officers of companies. For example, I refer to the South Australian Criminal Law Consolidation Act. Just briefly on this aspect, I note the speeches and utterances lately of Mr Valder and despite all his platitudes and despite what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, there is no doubt, in my view, that the whole conservative ilk believe in reform- provided it changes nothing.

The stock exchanges had drawn up and supposedly were working to their own rules and regulations which, if they had been adhered to, would at least have pre-empted some of the shocks that their members received from the Senate Committee report on the industry, but they failed to do so. Not only in one telling incident was the desire to police themselves apparently absent, but also they had neither the time nor the powers necessary to perform such a function. Where deficiencies were suspected explanations were called for but books unfortunately were not examined. Nor are the powers available to the stock exchange committees to examine the records of persons and companies who are not members. The Companies Act, under Part 6A, enables an officer to be appointed to a company to inspect its books, correspondence and documents where fraud or misdemeanour are suspected. This authority was instrumental in bringing to light the activities of the Korman group of companies. The Commission to be set up under this legislation will have those powers under clauses 63 (2), 263 and 100. Does anybody suggest that if they are authoritarian they are not justified? There is no other method by which the job required can be done. There is no other way, for instance, to ascertain that a client’s money is paid into a dealer’s trust account on the next day after receipt that the banks are open for business if on that date securities owing to that client are not deliverable. Even though the stock exchange Committees must now abdicate their roles as final arbiters in their industry, they should remain the immediate watch-dogs who bark on suspicion.

The Senate Select Committee has performed a service in outlining an almost hour by hour account on insider trading in the Poseidon affair. We ought to have a look at that shocking scandal. Mr Burrill, senior consulting geologist for Poseidon, informed the Senate Select Committee that on 24 September 1969 shortly after 9 a.m. he saw a change of coloration corning out of the P.H.2 drill-hole. This is what he said:

I am almost certain I could see nickel sulphides in it. I could see copper sulphides very clearly.

That same afternoon Mr Burrill’s associate, Jones, flew to Adelaide and saw Shierlaw. On 25 September Shierlaw bought approximately 29 000 Poseidon shares for companies in which he had a major interest, for Burrill’s similar interests and for Jones. In respose to a query from the Adelaide Stock Exchange on 25 September at I p.m. the Poseidon directors informed that exchange: ‘No assay results are available. The Board is unable to explain the sharp increases in the price of shares. ‘ After this cynical announcement and throughout the following day Shierlaw and the geologists continued to buy Poseidon shares. Both the gains and the losses involved by buyers and sellers on those 2 days were substantial. An inspection of the books of companies similiary situated after the event would be time consuming and expensive and an attempt to right any wrongs committed even more so.

The Commission to be set up under this Bill will be given the power to establish stock exchange rules. I commend to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Enderby) the functions of the New York Stock Exchange to establish a set of norms both as to price and volume fluctuations in each listed security and to suspend trading in any shares for 24 hours at any time that either of those norms are exceeded or until explanatory information is received and published. Let us have a look at how such a rule would have operated had it in fact been in operation at the time of the Poseidon incident. The closing price on 24 September 1969 for Poseidon shares was $1.12. On 25 September, under the influence of Shierlaw ‘s heavy purchasing, the closing price was $1.65, a rise of 47 per cent. On Friday, 26 September, and with Shierlaw a purchaser throughout the day, the shares rose to $1.94, 73 per cent above the previous Wednesday’s price. Had the New York rule which I am advocating been operative and had the trip-point to activate the rule been set at a generous 15 per cent there would have been no sales of Poseidon shares above $1.29 on 25 September. Assuming that an unsuspecting stock exchange had accepted the directors’ statement and relisted the shares on 26 September the trip-point would again have been activated at $1.48. The sins of Poseidon were essentially insider trading carried on by servants of the company and the public investor on the basis of knowledge that was almost exclusively theirs and was not available to sellers. The directors were being paid by the company, that is, by the shareholders, for their services as also were the geologists. In the year to 30 June 1969 Poseidon’s directors received $4,000 to apportion between themselves.

I wrote on 7 February to the State AttorneyGeneral following a declaration by the Adelaide Stock Exchange that Poseidon- just look at the load of conspiracy in Poseidon- accumulated about $1.4m. They were fined $2,000 by the

Adelaide Stock Echange and suspended for 6 months. Yet a girl from my area who took a record from a music shop spent a month in the Windanna remand home. Now, where is the sense of justice? I asked that question of the Attorney-General in South Australia. I quote from the letter that I sent to him. I wrote:

As you would have noted, the Adelaide Stock Exchange issued a Press statement on 14 December claiming that action had been taken but did not indicate the person charged. However, on 24 December this was revealed as being Shierlaw. I would appreciate if you could let me know whether you intend to take action against Shierlaw and his co-directors as a consequence of the fine and suspension imposed by the Stock Exchange against him.

Finally, if the evidentiary provisions of the law militate against a successful prosecution, I wonder whether it is proposed by the South Australian Government to amend the aw so that future public frauds can be brought to justice.

I await an answer to that request.

It is, however, not the punitive but the weakness of the deterrent effect of clause 125 (1) in this Bill which concerns me. The Bill provides for penalties of $10,000 or 2 years’ imprisonment for an individual convicted of insider trading. But the penalty for a company so convicted- and for the experienced, the use of a private company is the norm- is only $50,000. The Senate Select Committee report informs us that Messrs Burrill and Associates through insider trading made a profit of $ 1.4m. Even after paying capital gains tax and the penalty of $50,000, this company could at least visit its bank with an amused facial expression. To have the deterrent effect that is required, I would consider it necessary that the penalty for a company convicted of insider trading should be substantially increased at the upper limit.

I turn to what I consider to be a more grave section of the Bill. I want to be constructive about this aspect. I am dealing with clauses 198 and 210. Whilst the fortunes and misfortunes of the Poseidon affair were largely the separating of some gamblers from their gambling chips, the management of mutual funds and unit trusts is vital to many of the relatively small investors. It is precisely here that our legislation, in my view, ought to be watertight. By 1970 many people had learned from experience that, in a time of rising prices, interest rates and wages, their savings invested in fixed interest securities had deteriorated in value. They had every reason to conclude that further savings entrusted to the highly qualified Minsec directors would be safe. Have a look at the talent! There were a geologist and a mining engineer, a chartered accountant, an actuary and a company director for the boards of Minsec mutual funds. Equally dazzling, on paper, was the talent of the separate but attendant ‘fund management company’ called Equity Funds of Australia Ltd which was given the duty of advising the Fund’s board of directors on investments. This group tossed into the mix 2 gentlemen who were both graduates of the University of Sydney and the Harvard Business School. One must have that piece of sheepskin to hang up; it gives one a sense of credibility.

Not only did this group lose a quarter of its investors’ savings, in the case of one fund, but the remaining savings were frozen and in the case of one fund were unredeemable for 20 months after the Minsec collapse. For the government of that day, as well as for ourselves, both wanting to see a maximum of Australian interests in Australian hands, a greater disaster and disservice in the securities industry could hardly have been envisaged. Similar manipulation occurred within the mutual funds.

To the list of persons nominated in this Bill for whom it is mandatory to register with the Corporations and Exchange Commission- that is, dealers in shares, dealers’ representatives, investment advisers and investment representatives, as set out in Division 1 of Part V- I would like to see added ‘managers of publicly listed mutual funds and unit trusts, and all persons serving on the boards of publicly listed mutual funds and unit trusts’. It is to be hoped also that the mandatory registration of these company officers will end the frequently enacted case of the disappearing directors.

When trouble is suspected, when answers to questions are most required by authorities, shareholders and depositors, directors are frequently neither available nor even traceable. Difficulty was experienced in finding the head of the H. G. Palmer organisation and more recently the directors of Cambridge Credit were equally unavailable when required. Registration with the Commission and the threat of deregistration for defined unacceptable behaviour might control such actions. So serious in their consequences were the actions of the managers of the Minsec Mutual Funds and the Trendex Mutual Fund that I would like to see clause 2 18 of the Bill extended to read: 218 (2) (c) A complete list of all the investments of the Corporation showing the description and quantitites of such investment shall be posted to all members of the Company at their last registered address at no greater than 6 monthly intervals.

This the better trusts and funds already do.

Whilst the Minsec funds did not founder before Minsec itself, in the early stages of their formation the funds took grave risks making loans of up to $7.8m to Minsec in June 1970. Consequently I suggest there be added to the Bill a clause 213 (3) to clarify any possible confusion between the words ‘investing’ and ‘lending’, in these terms: 213 (3) An investment corporation shall not lend an amount of money in excess of 5 per cent of net tangible assets to any one corporation or business other than to a registered Australian bank.

I wish to deal briefly with 2 aspects before I conclude.

I have always had a concern that the structure of the courts in this country has never been efficient enough to hang a case on the perpetrators of corporate crimes. In all sincerity, I ask the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) to note this point: One ofthe main difficulties associated with corporate crime is not so much the reliability of the kind of evidence tendered by the prosecution but that the traditional jury by the very nature of its composition is generally unable to appreciate and evaluate the evidence placed before it. I vividly recall the Davco case in Adelaide. I am sure to this day that the jury had no knowledge at all of the manipulations of the directors in that case. This is so in commercial transactions especially those conducted by large corporations which are complex, and particularly those where a computerised record keeping machinery is used.

It seems to me therefore that, apart from improving the rules of evidence- and in this regard, a draft Bill recommended by the Law Reform Commission on Evidence Within (Business Records) of New South Wales is worth considering the jury panels should be constituted of persons familiar with mercantile practice. In considering such a proposal, several questions arise. They are: First, the size of the jury; secondly, special qualifications; thirdly, unanimity or majority verdict; fourthly, availability of transcript of evidence; and fifthly, exemptions from jury service. There are other matters. But I feel sure that aspects such as unanimity or majority verdict, availability of transcript of evidence and exemptions from jury service can contructively and sensibly be overcome.

As I understand it, the financial backing of a large slice of our industries stems not from the small coterie of wealthy members of our community but from the vast number of small investors. In my view, stock exchanges have been constructed to protect more the former than the latter. The latter category supply the finance, make the’ market and, above all, promote the confidence’ in ventures so important for the economic growth of this country. It is not from this section, in my view, that we find the short sellers, the manipulators, the spivs and the charlatans, for individually they do not have the finance; indeed, they are rather the victims of the system.

I conclude on this point: It is part of the misery of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, as well as part of its great utility to us as legislators, that it was compiled during the dying throes of this spectacular boom. During that boiling, scum came to the surface and gamblers were attracted into the industry as rarely ever before. If it were not for the actions of this Government and that Senate Select Committee, my view is that these people may never have been nailed on the board. But investment in the broad sense, both public and private, remains the lifeblood of the prosperity of all countries. It differentiates between the developed and the underdeveloped. It is the determinant of the standard of living of all our people. No country with a mixed economy can afford lack of confidence in its investment machinery. I intimate to the Attorney-General that there are some 5 or 6 clauses on which, at the Committee stage of the Bill, I look forward to making some constructive contributions. I commend the Attorney-General as I commend the Government on the introduction of this legislation. I commend the Bill to the House.


-Earlier in the evening the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) was at some pains to try to convince the House that the Opposition had had ample time to consider this matter. He went so far as to exaggerate in saying the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had referred to the need for such legislation as far back as December 1972. That of course was not the issue and it still is not the issue.

This Bill was first made available to the public and to the Opposition in December 1974- not very long ago. At the time the then AttorneyGeneral invited many people to make representations to the Government and to examine the matter. After all, many people have expert knowledge in the field and it is only right that they should be able to comment on these extremely complex provisions. Those representations and the detailed analysis have become known to the Opposition to any extent only in the last few days. Not only that, but this AttorneyGeneral’s reaction to those suggestions was still not known until, at 5 o’clock this afternoon, we received a copy of a few amendments that he apparently proposes to move tonight. And he has the audacity to stand there and to make the misleading statement that there has been plenty of knowledge that this law was necessary, that we knew what should be put to the Parliament and we had adequate time to examine the proposed legislation. I give the lie to those assertions. The Attorney-General may smile if he wishes as he sits at the table. He knows the truth of what I am saying. I put it to him that he grossly misrepresented the Opposition’s position to this House this afternoon and this evening. What is more, I have no doubt that when his time to speak comes he will misrepresent the situation all over again.

The Government proposes to move some amendments. This Bill is complex. I challenge anyone on the Government side to deny that it is complex. Of course the effect of those amendments cannot be judged this evening. This Bill is to be disposed of- if we believe the threat of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly)- by 10 p.m., which is in an hour’s time. There simply is not time to go into all the provisions. The Opposition and, I suppose, almost everybody -

Mr Howard:

– Is that so?


-That is what I am told is the position. He interjected to that effect.

Mr Howard:

-Until 10 p.m. for a Bill of this size?


-Yes. The Opposition has asserted through the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), and will have to go on asserting no matter how much it is misrepresented by Government supporters, that it believes there is a need for legislation in this area. As far as I know everybody asserts that. That is really not in question. What is in question is what is in this proposed legislation and whether the provisions in it are proper and fair and will they achieve the objectives that we would all like to achieve. I say deliberately that I believe this is a bad Bill. It is a new low point of what a statute should be. It sets out to provide a structure of government by regulation which we have not seen before. The advisers may smile if they wish, but that is the truth of the matter. We have not seen those regulations. In many aspects what the Bill intends is not really clear. I refer to the small amount of time we have had to look at the details. Hundreds of suggestions for amendments have been made- literally hundreds. For those reasons I say it is a bad Bill.

Government supporters, if they wish, may say that we are against the idea of such legislation, but if so they say it knowing that they are deliberately misrepresenting us. The fact is that the Commission to be set up by this legislation would have enormous powers and in many areas no appeal or review of decisions is to be possible. Indeed, the Commission, because it will be sponsoring the regulations, will be the writer of” the new laws, the prosecutor and the jury. The Bill also refers to the National Companies Act. Where is that? We do not know what its provisions are. We do not know whether we can say that is a good thing that the National Companies Act should be involved. In other places the Bill refers to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to be set up by Act. Where is that Bill? It is not here. We do not know whether that will be a satisfactory system of appeal.

I refer to clause 284. The regulatory power there is very much wider than is usual. The Commission will be capable of making very strong demands without giving a reason and without appeal. If anything will damage business confidence this is it. The Government is going through the fashion at the moment of saying that we must build up business confidence. I can tell the Government this: In my experience in business activity, business confidence is very largely based on knowing what is going to happen in the future- on certainty. That is really what it is all about.

Many questions arise from this Bill. For those present I shall wave it around to show how thick it is. It has nearly 300 clauses. I shall mention just briefly some of the provisions. The Bill provides the power for prospectuses to be reviewed, to be investigated before issue. It provides no time limit on that investigation. What is a company to do, when the investment and finance climate can change so quickly, if it is held up for an unreasonable time? Then, apparently, when the prospectus has been issued, it can be recalled. There is no time limit on this provision. How is one to recall the prospectus if shares in the meantime have been issued? They cannot be taken back again. It may be argued that that is not intended. If it is not intended, for God’s sake state that clearly in the Bill. At the moment it is very uncertain. There is a good deal of legal opinion in the financial world at the moment to support that assertion. If a prospectus is to be recalled on what date is it to be effective? One could choose several dates. Why is it not spelled out in the Bill?

What is to happen to the inter-company market, the so-called unofficial money market, operating in Australia? It would appear- again there is legal opinion on this-that it will be necessary to have a prospectus. The official money market transactions are to be exempt. Are the unofficial inter-company short term loans to be exempt. That is not stated. Perhaps that is of no interest to the Government and its backbench supporters but it is of interest to an important part of the financial world which is engaged directly in the productive capacity of Australiathe people who actually earn money and make things rather than those who spend money and buy things. If that assumption is correct the Bill could well mean the end of that system. If that is the intention, let the Government say so.

I turn now to the strange provision about attendance by a representative of the Commission at meetings of the stock exchange committee. I do not know anyone who would want to object greatly to that provision though it does strike me as being rather an odd situation if the committee were engaged in some sort of decision making about legal action against the Commission. But more importantly the Bill provides for attendance of a Commission representative at company directors’ meetings. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, that will result in real decisions being made elsewhere and being ratified at formal meetings. I am interested in that aspect which arises in clause 267. One wonders whether it is envisaged that attendance at directors’ meetings will be regular or irregular, whether the Commission will take a judicious view of things and what its attitude will be. I can well imagine that if the Government chooses to appoint zealots to the office of Chairman or as members of the Commission they could deliberately harass and damage confidence and interfere with the decision making process to an extent far outside the purpose of what generally would be accepted as an objective of this Bill.

Let us have that spelled out. What exactly is the power of the representatives and what is their purpose in being at the meetings? At this stage this must surely be noted as a pretty wild provision. I must emphasise in passing that the present Labor Government has never really understood what business confidence is about. I believe- this is very important- that it is the Government’s belief that it can do anything to business in any measure and it will not disrupt the productive capacity of this country though that is our real wealth and we all live on it. It can do anything to damage that by legislation and other acts and it will still go on in the same way.

Mr Street:

– It is having second thoughts now.


– I agree. The fact is that after 2 years of government what Government supporters are discovering is that business confidence and production can be badly damaged by acts like this. Unclear proposed laws do a lot towards damaging that confidence. These are measures which need examination- they have not yet been given it- by this House and by the Government. They need justification, and without that justification we, as members of this House, are entitled to object. That is not obstructionism. It is our duty to examine proposed legislation and if we do not agree with it to say so and why. The Government has provided a matter of a few hours for debate on this most complex piece of legislation. It tries to say we have had plenty of time. No doubt it will move the gag. I will be interested to see whether the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin), who is seeking to interject, is prepared to vote with the Opposition if the gag is moved. We say we are entitled to time to debate this legislation. Hundreds of questions have been raised by others. I have raised a few tonight. I look forward to answers, but I am not confident of getting them.

Mr Enderby:

– You are not even a good actor.


– I think what we will hear from the Attorney-General who interjects, though I cannot hear him, will be a 100 per cent party political reply. This was what we got when he spoke for 10 minutes earlier this evening. He does not understand the provisions of this Bill and actually he does not want to understand them. He does not want to put time into understanding them. He wants to take a party political approach. What he said earlier most likely will be what he will say at Press conferences and later this evening unless I can jolly him out of it. He will say that the opponents of this Bill have made millions from the Stock Exchange. Apart from the fact that that is the highly hysterical statement he made earlier this evening I want to tell him one small point that may have escaped his attention: Most people involved in Stock Exchange activities in the last few years have not gained millions of profits but have made substantial losses. There are reasons for that situation that we can understand if we understand how a free market operates. This Bill, and any Bill like it, will not take away that excessive optimism and pessimism which come from time to time and create fluctuations in a free market.

I put to the Attorney-General the question: Are we to have a free market? That really is the question to answer. What he has shown so farlet us hope he improves- is a poverty of knowledge about how finance, and the Stock Exchange in particular, work in this country. Because of his lack of interest he has shown that he does not have a real commitment to the public interest but only to his Party’s interest. The Bill goes much further than almost anybody anticipated. I believe it true to say that that is fairly common criticism that one can make of pieces of legislation proposed by this Government. The Government often has gone too far. Its legislation often has been shown to have many flaws. I instance the trade practices legislation which required more than 100 amendments. The Government’s legislation goes too far and is over-simplified. Much of its legislation has come to grief for that reason. The Government oversimplifies because it does not recognise how complex life really is. It is always looking for the glib solution. It always wants its legislation put into effect by next Tuesday morning at 9 o ‘clock.

This Bill contains whole pages of a rehash of State companies Acts. Questions of powers are involved, whether the ‘Financial Review’ or the previous speaker, the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi), like it or not. I question the value of having pages of rehash in this Bill because we have been promised a national companies Act. I do not argue whether it is good or bad to have a national companies Act- I am personally rather attracted to the notion- but if we are to have such an Act why do we require such provisions in this Bill? We have not been told and their inclusion does not seem to advance the situation any further. I do not suggest the provisions are any harsher; they have just been picked up. It seems to me, therefore, that the legislation is in a rather funny form. It is incomplete for a national companies Act yet provisions up to a point are included in this Bill. This is an aspect that also needs close examination because if this Bill is passed that is the situation that will obtain.

The honourable member for Hawker and I and no doubt other speakers on this subject have given much attention to talking about the offences and crimes of various rogues involved in Stock Exchange activities and on the periphery. Nobody defends those persons. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange was established by a former government. Its Chairman was Senator Rae who, of course, is a Liberal. We do not defend the rogues for one moment. If they are guilty of misdemeanours or crimes they should be gaoled. I am glad that the honourable member for Macarthur, by his smile, agrees with me. However, there has been considerable concentration on this aspect. I think that the danger is that people will feel that all that is involved in this legislation is related to crimes and offences, but that is not so. What is involved is having a Stock Exchange- a finance system- which allows us to get the great benefits from it without allowing people to be able to manoeuvre themselves into positions of getting great sums for very little work. Let us not get too carried away with our consideration of offences and crimes because one thing must be perfectly obvious to everyone and that is that the stock market is not in the same position today as it was in 1970. We are really dealing with a different situation. My plea in these few remarks is: Let us not in legislation in this Parliament ruin the financial system and the availability of capital and the facility of being able to get that capital quickly into trade and securities for the sake of trying to meet a situation which has never occurred to that extent before and probably will not happen for some time. Let us have a system that prevents excesses if such is possible and let us have a Bill that we can examine clause by clause. Let those few of us here who are interested in this matter have confidence in what we are passing because, party political warfare aside, this must be our common objective.

The honourable member for Hawker made a jibe- I suppose it is fair enough- about reform and said that the Opposition is in favour of reform so long as it changes nothing. However one can turn that comment around and say that his attitude is that reform is necessary to change everything. He believes that change itself is improvement. According to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), his Ministers and supporters, change equals reform. That, of course, is absurd. The honourable member for Hawker took one small example out of the operations of the New York Stock Exchange but I point out that the United States Stock Exchange system is very different from that proposed by this Bill. The Government’s policies in so many directions, and I believe in this direction, have been shown to be impractical, ill-considered and wasteful. The Government often has been forced to cease them or modify them because reality does have a way of asserting itself.

This Bill gives tremendous powers, which it should not do, to enforce law by regulation. We do not know what that is to be. There has been reference to two other Bills- the National Companies Bill and the Administration Appeal Tribunal Bill- which we have not even seen. This Bill shows, as we have seen, that in so many fields the Government has learned nothing and, worse, it does not want to know.


-We are all overwhelmingly indebted to the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange- the Rae Committee- for creating a situation in which the Opposition can no more oppose regulation of the securities industry than it can oppose motherhood. That, in itself, is a considerable achievement. Unfortunately, where honourable gentlemen opposite dare not oppose openly, they delay instead. There is a remarkable overlap between the effect of the amendment moved by theDeputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch)that effect would be to delay the implementation of effective regulation of the securities industryand the pleas that are corning forward from the industry itself. This morning I was disturbed to read in a feature article contributed to the Melbourne ‘Age’ by the Chairman of the Melbourne Stock Exchange the following words:

Those who have practical experience of the matters which the Bill seeks to control- particularly bodies other than the stock exchanges- should have been given ample opportunity to submit their views and suggestions, at least to ensure . . . that the legislation will be workable -

I come to the key words- and not just an emotional overreaction to the abuses -

I ask honourable members to note the words abuses’- which resulted from the great rnining boom of 1 969-70.

Was ever a situation more understated than in that employment of the word ‘abuses’ to describe deceitful practices, unscrupulous deceptions and frauds which robbed not hundreds, not thousands, perhaps not tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands of Australians of their life savings? Nothing could demonstrate more clearly how little the Australian stock exchanges learned from the experiences of those years than the words which are now used euphemistically in connection with the Poseidon boom. This legislation that we have before us tonight is long overdue. As the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) pointed out, it is legislation, the need for which was recognised in the United States 40 years ago. We can say with complete assurance that if honourable gentlemen opposite had earlier acted on the pieties about the need for this legislation which they now profess in debate while at the same time seeking to delay it, a small group of Australians would be a good deal poorer than they are today and a great many more Australians would be a good deal richer.

Tonight the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) referred to the restoration of business confidence, and I have no doubt that when he talked about business confidence he had in mind, at least in part, the deplorable condition in which the stock exchange has found itself until the last two or three months. I say to the honourable member for Curtin that many thousands of Australian investors will not come back into the stock market in any circumstances until legislation of the kind we are debating tonight is in effect. They have had their fingers burnt once and they will not have that experience again. The honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Sullivan), who is keeping up a mumbled flow of interjections in the background, made a rather clearer and more audible comment at an earlier stage in the debate. The honourable member for Hawker had contrasted with the light flick on the wrist style of punishment meted out to some of the criminals of the Poseidon era the fact that a young lady in his electorate who had stolen a record from a shop was sent to gaol for a month. The honourable member for Riverina interjected and said: ‘She meant it’. He implied that the people from the Poseidon era did not mean it.

I think that it was an extraordinarily revealing interjection because it showed how to the mind of a member of the Country Party the measure of guilt involved in an offence varies inversely with the size of the take. A person who takes a record worth $5 is a major criminal, especially if he or she is caught, but in the eyes of the members of the Country Party, but a person who gets away with $ lm or $2m by an unscrupulous stock market swindle has committed no offence. The larger the loot, the less the larceny. That is what the honourable member for Riverina meant by his interjection. That embodies the attitude of honourable members opposite to the stock market and to this legislation, and it explains why the present last ditch attempt at delay is being made. They hope that if the Bill can be stalled long enough it will go away. They want their friends and associates to have again the open slather of which they took such great advantage in the first years of this decade.

The inspiration of this legislation is in part the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange- commonly known as the Rae Committee. The honourable member for Curtin tried to appropriate to his Party, when it was in Government, the initiative which led to the establishment of that Committee. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, would know that just as the legislation that is before the House tonight is the work of the former Attorney-General, the former Senator Murphy, so the initiative for establishing the Rae Committee came from former Senator Murphy in his days as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He perceived the need, he took the initiative and he drafted the legislation. Would anybody in this chamber tonight or anybody in Australia seriously suggest that any action would have been taken if it had not been for the disclosures made by the Rae Committee as a result of years of meticulous investigation of the matters surrounding the Poseidon boom? I find that the memory of the Rae Committee grows cold; people are forgetting what it was all about and the details that it gave. Lest people think that I am partisan in this matter, I shall refer to the description of the Rae Committee report and its contents which was put forward at the time of its release by an independent commentator, Mr Creighton Burns of the Melbourne ‘Age’. He wrote:

That report, in case you have forgotten, catalogued conspiracy, fraud, deception, insider trading, share price rigging and sustained malpractice by some stock brokers and investment companies, during the last mineral boom. It demonstrated that committee members -

I ask honourable members to note that; not the stock brokers themselves alone, but members of the committees of the exchanges - had been deeply involved in improper practices including the manipulation of share prices, and that the stock exchanges had done virtually nothing to discipline their members or to prevent a recurrence of the abuses.

That was what Mr Creighton Burns wrote in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 21 August 1974, at the time of the release of the Rae Committee report and some years after the collapse of the Poseidon boom. He wrote that the stock exchanges had done virtually nothing to discipline their members or, more significantly, to prevent a recurrence of the abuses. It is worth reminding honourable members of some- only a few- of the case histories which are set out in such detail in the Rae report. For instance, I mention again briefly, because it is so pre-eminently the great example thrown up by the Poseidon boom, the matter of Poseidon itself and the great beneficiary of Poseidon, Mr Norman Shierlaw. The Committee’s concluding remarks in relating to Poseidon and to Mr Shierlaw are as follows:

During the period leading up to the announcement of the discovery of nickel and copper sulphides the consulting geologists and one of the directors used their official and fiduciary positions to buy Poseidon shares for private profit.

Mr Shierlaw went further in facilitating what we believe was a persistent abuse of confidential knowledge by executing a substantial part of the geologists’ buying orders through his own stockbroking firm.

Reports and statements by the directors and geologists were evasive, distorted, exaggerated and simply untrue in important respects.

He (Mr Shierlaw) abused his responsibilities both as a member of the stock exchange and as a director.

There was another gentleman involved in the Poseidon affair. I refer to Mr Hynam. Mr Hynam was not simply a run-of-the-mill stockbroker; he was the Chairman of the Perth Stock Exchange. The Rae report said of Mr Hynam:

The chairman of the Perth Stock Exchange (Mr G. I. Hynam) resisted requests to carry out investigation into Poseidon and took no steps to refer the complaints to the Registrar of Companies. He was nevertheless prepared to ‘ support the actions of the Poseidon directors and geologists throughout this period.

In Mr Hynam ‘s case, we have expressed our concern that his immense personal and family gains from investments in Poseidon, and his close association with that company’s geologists and with Mr Shierlaw, may have led him to subordinate his official obligations.

Mr Hynam ‘s general assertion about the efficiency of the stock exchange ‘s ‘police force ‘ were, in our view, unjustified.

That is a masterly understatement. It is one of the many masterly understatements that characterise the Rae report. Where are these people now? Mr Hynam may have been among the stockbrokers the Perth Stock Exchange announced last October it had fined severely. We do not know what ‘severely’ means because the Perth Stock Exchange has never told us the extent of the fines. As of last October the exchange had not taken the Australian people into its confidence. As the honourable member for Hawker has pointed out already, we do know the penalty imposed by the Adelaide Stock Exchange on Mr Shierlaw. He was suspended for 3 months and fined $2,100. Compare the gain; contrast the penalties.

But Mr Shierlaw and Mr Hynam, while perhaps the best known beneficiaries of the Poseidon boom, were by no means the only beneficiaries. The report literally crawls with them. The House will recall that Patrick Partners made a great deal of money by selling shares in a firm called Barrier Exploration which was owned by an associated company called, curiously enough, Patrick Corporation, and operated at the time as Mining Traders. A Major Douglas of the Melbournebased Australian Investment Counsellors Pty Ltd was recruited to start a run on the stock. I will quote a revealing exchange on this matter which took plate during the proceedings of the Rae Committee. Senator Rae asked Major Douglas:

I just wondered whether there was any coincidence in the fact that at the same time as you were apparently receiving encouraging information from Patricks, Patricks were also dealing in a gigantic way on the market in these shares.

The transcript of the Committee’s proceedings goes on:

Major Douglas: I would be very sorry to hear that.

Senator Rae: Why is that?

Major Douglas: Because I hope that I have never been party to anything of that type in my life.

Senator Rae: In that respect do you think it is possible, if you accept from me as a fact that they were dealing in a really massive way in the market, that you were being set up to assist?

Major Douglas: I would hope to heaven that I was not.

Even at this distance in time, how thin and unconvincing those words fall on our ears? Where are these gentlemen? Where are the principals of Patrick Partners? They may or may not have been among the stockbrokers who were fined some $67,000 by the Sydney Stock Exchange. Again the exchange has not seen fit to take the Australian people, the victims, into its confidence. But, of course, we do know one thing about Patrick Partners; we know that if the Liberal Party has its way, one of the members of that firm will be joining us in this House. He has been nominated as the opponent for the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) who is to speak later in this debate. If he were to be elected, we would have the advantage of the inside knowledge of one of the great insider traders of our time.

Mr Garland:

– Are you speaking of the man or the firm?


– It would be possible to go on for some time -

Mr Garland:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know whether you were listening to the honourable member for Casey but he made a serious allegation against a person. We heard the Prime Minister this week pointing out -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Garland:

– I ask you to call him to order, Mr Deputy Speaker.


-There is no point of order involved. I call the honourable member for Casey.

Mr Street:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I heard the honourable member for Casey make a reflection on an honourable member, and that was what the honourable member for Curtin was referring to.


-The honourable member for Corangamite supposes too much. He says that I made a reflection on an honourable member. I was speaking of a body corporate- Patrick Partners. It would be possible to go on in this vein for some time and review one by one the very many examples of skulduggery that are set out in the Rae report.

Mr McMahon:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was listening to the debate in my room. I heard the honourable member for Casey, who has just resumed his seat, make scurrilous statements about a man who is not in this House. The Government has claimed that it does not .believe in mentioning names and accusing people of what are true police offences -


-Order! The right honourable gentleman -

Mr McMahon:

- Sir, will you listen to what I have to say?


-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There is no point of order involved. I call the honourable member for Casey.

Mr Garland:

– I rise on a point of order. Is it right for you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to protect the honourable member in this way when a valid point of order has been raised with you?


-Order! I ask the honourable member for Curtin to apologise and withdraw that reflection on the Chair. If he does not do so promptly I will name him. As he has not done so I name the honourable member for Curtin.

Mr Street:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your indulgence to ask the honourable member for Curtin whether he will reconsider any reflection that he may have made on the Chair.


-The honourable member for Curtin was invited to withdraw, and he failed to do so. Does the honourable member for Curtin wish to withdraw?

Mr Garland:

– If you put it that way, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will withdraw.


– We are all familiar with the tactics that are used by the Opposition to rob honourable members on this side of the House of their time to speak.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.


-Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. The honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) referred to an interjection concerning a female who had apparently been apprehended, charged and convicted of stealing. I said: She meant it. ‘ I made that statement believing in the due processes of law. The honourable member then went on to imply that I had made some other statement -


-The honourable member may make a personal explanation but he is not permitted to engage further in debate.


– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Casey then implied that I had made an allegation concerning people mixed up in the Poseidon affair, as he put it. I made no such inference. I have been misrepresented because after the honourable member for Casey stated what I had said he went on to state what he thought were my thoughts. I was misrepresented. I made no such inference. I made no such statement.

Mr MATHEWS (Casey)-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I was misrepresented by the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) when he took a point of order. The reference in the last few words I was able to speak before I was interrupted was to the firm of Patrick Partners and not to any individual.


-I am reminded of the gentleman who was appearing in a play and who started to go on to the stage 3 times, each time before his cue. I support the amendment which was moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). The major reason I do so is that I feel that in presenting this legislation, particularly at this time, the Government is presenting legislation to which it has not given full consideration and which has come in at a time when the Government is confused on many issues. It was for that reason that this afternoon the Deputy Leader of the Opposition moved that the Standing Orders be suspended in order to delay the presentation of this Bill.

Whenever the Opposition makes points about legislation and warns of certain dangers the Government charges the Opposition with supporting matters- in this instance the stock exchange- which are not ethical and are against the interests of the bulk of the Australian people. I believe that this is a cover up by the Government to hide the reality of the legislation which it is presenting. Speakers from the Government side in this debate have displayed negative thinking. They have cited certain instances. Perhaps everyone would agree that the instances they have cited were not in the best interests of the investors. But in any business, organisation or group one can take out certain instances that are detrimental and so condemn the whole system.

Anybody studying this Bill would appreciate that it is a complex Bill. The explanatory memorandum prepared by the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) covers 9 1 pages. The BDI itself covers nearly 235 pages and contains 284 clauses. When one reads the legislation and studies the explanatory memorandum one is forced more and more to the conclusion that this BDI should be withdrawn, redrafted and presented at a later stage in a far more suitable form. In his second reading speech the Attorney-General said:

The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the securities industry in Australia to operate on a sound basis with an effective system of controls administered nationally by a commission to be called the Corporations and Exchange Commission. More specifically the Bill aims to maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the capital market in the interests of economic development, efficiency and stability. This is in accordance with the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. 1 am sure it is also in accord with the wishes of all honourable members.

Some of the thoughts expressed there by the Attorney-General might be acceptable to honourable members on this side of the House, but certainly the BDI is not acceptable.

I am wondering why in his second reading speech the Minister faDed to mention the Interstate Corporate Affairs Agreement to which New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia are parties. The Agreement ensures uniform law and administration covering 85 per cent of all incorporated companies and provides an acceptable alternative to centralised control through the monolithic commission envisaged by this Government. I believe that the appropriate step to have taken would have been to have at least some discussion with the States in regard to the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission which they have set up.

A news release was sent out on 14 February relating to meetings of the ministerial council of the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission. One of the aims of that meeting was to finalise arrangements for Western Australia to become a party to the Interstate Corporate Affairs Agreement and therefore a member of the Commission, which was set up last year. The Commission surely would have some experience and knowledge. This, together with many other things, could have been discussed and considered by the Federal Government. Reference was made to assistance from eminent persons particularly in the United States of America. I think there is a danger in this. I hope to speak about that at a later stage, but there is one interesting factor I shall mention. Whenever the previous Liberal-Country Party Government turned to the United States or received any assistance from the United States it was always accused of being influenced by that country and of adopting its ideas, and was asked why it did not have any ideas of its own.

I turn now to the comments made by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. Its report covered particular and specific securities. That should be noted when we are considering the report. Let me come back again to the Minister’s second reading speech. Later on in the speech he said:

During the recess, my Department has received a number of representations and submissions. These are now being given close consideration. When amendments appear to be desirable I shall move them in due course. Our aim is to get the best possible legislation- legislation which will provide protection for the interests of investors and restore confidence in the capital markets in this country.

Do those remarks of the Attorney-General not further justify the motion moved this afternoon by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the suspension of Standing Orders to delay this legislation? It does not appear to me to be logical. Surely if we are to discuss something in a legal sense is should be discussed logically. If we are to discuss this legislation surely we should at least have all the amendments and all the information that is possible before the House. Quite frankly I feel that there was complete and absolute justification on the part of the Opposition when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition moved a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders this afternoon.

I think that the stock exchange management itself has set up a committee to investigate some of the problems and difficulties confronting exchange and investment. I trunk that committee could make a valuable contribution. I understand that it is making suggestions to the Attorney-General. I am not quite sure whether some of the amendments that have been presented to us this afternoon have come as a result of those discussions or as a result of information presented by the Stock Exchange management. I would sincerely hope that at least due consideration would be given to the suggestions and to the recommendations made by the stock exchange. Surely if legislation is to be brought into this House and agreed to by this House at least consideration should be given to those people who have a great deal of experience in this sphere.

Sometimes it is said that companies do not give full and detailed information. I believe there are circumstances when a company is justified in not revealing at a particular time all the information that is at its disposal. If a company did, the danger exists- I think this should be given considerationthat the information could be valuable to its competitors. The company could be placed at a disadvantage. One of the major factors, I believe, in this matter is the power that is given to the Commission. I dunk this reveals the difference between the philosophy of members of the Opposition and the philosophy of members ofthe Government. “Mr . O’Keefe- Members of the Government are hot interested.

Mr -LUCOCK- It is a socialistic philosophy. As my friend, the honourable member for Paterson, mentions, there does not seem to be a great deal of interest from honourable members opposite. Clause 279 ofthe Bill states:

Except as provided by this Act and subject to the jurisdiction of the High Court under paragraph 75 ( v) of the Constitution, a decision of the Commission shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or called in question, or be subject to prohibition, mandamus, certiorari or injunction, in any court on any account whatever.

I think when one reads that clause the danger of this legislation becomes paramount. Complete power is. given to the Commission. There is no check on the Commission. I think there should be the right of appeal. We spoke earlier about the right of appeal in relation to criminal offences. Even the Australian public has the right of appeal against the policies of this Government. In 1974 the Australian people were not wise enough to use that right of appeal in the right direction. We hope that very soon they will be able at least to exercise that right in the right direction once again.

Under the provisions of this Bill there is no right of appeal against the Commission. I think this is dangerous. It is further evidence of the philosophy of the Government as against the philosophy of the Opposition. I believe that the view of those who are closely related to this industry should be given full consideration. Quite frankly I feel that one detrimental feature of reports relating to the stock exchange has been an inference which, intended or otherwise, has been that the stock exchanges are comprised of rogues and thieves. The stock exchanges have been prepared to accept criticism and, where possible, have taken steps to correct the situation. In my opinion not sufficient credit has been given to the stock exchange when it has been right. I do not think anyone would deny that the stock exchanges have played a very important part in the development and progress of this country. I think in general that the stock exchanges have a fairly high ethical standard. There has been a far higher degree of control than might be surmised if one looked at only one side of the report.

Earlier I referred to the comment that assistance had been given from people overseas. I said then that I am afraid there is the danger of our society being over-regulated because there has been a degree of over-acting in this situation in which we have found ourselves, one might say, in recent years. No one would deny the need for a fair and workable piece of legislation, the need for which is acknowledged by all. It -is acknowledged by members of the Opposition. If the legislation were fair and reasonable it would’ be accepted by all. The members of the Government have said that the only reason the Opposition is opposing this Bill is because we are trying to give further support to what it calls our big business friends. But all that camouflage does not hide the fact that it is not a good piece of legislation. It is a dangerous piece of legislation because of what it leaves out as well as what it puts in. It expresses again the continuing philosophy of this Government, which is a philosophy of control and regulation in every possible aspect. It is for this reason that my Party, together with members of the Liberal Party, are completely and absolutely opposed to this legislation in its present form.


-Many of the members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate have so far wasted considerable time saying that they do not have enough time to discuss the Bill. It would have been more informative if they had spent their time in fact discussing the Bill. The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) referred to a clause which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Enderby) has foreshadowed he will seek to amend. There were some phrases in the honourable member’s speech that led me to believe that the Austraiian Country Party might be opposed to the Bill as a whole. There seems to be confusion on the part of the Opposition as to whether it is merely opposed to the principle of the Bill, some clauses of the Bill or the Bill as a whole. I hope that the attitude of members of the Opposition will become clearer.

My colleague, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), made some mention of the name of the employers of my Liberal opponent in the seat of Macarthur. I would like to say that I make no comment on the firm or the gentleman concerned other than to say that when allegations were made about this firm I do not believed he worked for it. So, to attack him on those grounds would be unfair. One of the more substantive points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and other honourable members this evening has been the socalled enormous powers of this Commission. This will be an independent body, clear of government influence. It will be a rule-making body. The Governor-General has the power to make regulations and the Governor-General has the paramount power. The Governor-General, via the Attorney-General, can make regulations with respect to the rules that the Commission brings down. I expect that the Attorney-General could explain these matters a lot clearer than I can.

The people will have a chance to put their case in respect to any rules. But the whole situation of the rules will still be subject to parliamentary disallowance in the normal fashion. Some people seem to be investing the powers of this Commission, the rule-making role and the GovernorGeneral’s capacity to make regulations with motives that simply do not exist. As I understand it the Parliament is paramount. Opposition speakers have said also that there is no review or appeal procedure. Again, as I understand it, the Commission is required to give a public hearing of any alleged breach of the rules and regulations as set down. The Commission has to abide by rules of natural justice. The Commission has to give a written statement of the reasons why it is taking any action and, even then, there is the appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In other words, as I see it, the situation under this Bill is very generous indeed and in its safeguards it is in fact bending over backwards.

Another honourable member made a statement in relation to the Commission’s power to withdraw prospectuses. Again, as I understand the position at present a prospectus can be issued for 6 months duration and there is nothing to stop securities being sold in terms of that prospectus during the 6 months, even though evidence might come to the fore that the prospectus is false or misleading. So that is why the Commission has the powers vested in it to cut off the prospectuses immediately. As I said, I would hope that the Attorney-General will explain these procedures in a clearer fashion than I am able to do. But I do not accept that this body has enormous powers that go beyond the powers of other parliamentary bodies or commissions and I do not accept that there are no review or appeal procedures. In the ultimate I think there will be a further appeal to the Superior Court when it is established.

I would agree that this is a most comprehensive piece of legislation and I do share some of the reservations of honourable members opposite in trying to grasp the overall content of this Bill or to get an overall grasp of the Rae report. Bearing in mind that there are some 284 clauses in the Bill and a report about 2 feet high, a 20. minute speech allows quite inadequate time to deal with the subject under discussion. I expect that the Opposition will want more discussion of this Bill in the Senate, so perhaps we could suggest that people like Senator Rae and Senator Durack could inform the Opposition there more fully on matters, particularly in respect of the Rae report. I have tried to read the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange but I find it hard to take in at one sitting. So I share these misgivings. However, the report itself does indicate the breadth and depth of consideration given to the securities industry by members of this Parliament and previous parliaments. No one can seriously say that the matter has not been seriously discussed. It was about 4 years in gestation and it seems to me that there has been very adequate discussion on many aspects of the securities industry. So long as this Bill follows on pretty clearly from the findings of the Rae Committee, as I believe it does, it would seem to me that- there is ample room for discussion in dealing with it.

I would like to address my comments to those people who perhaps are listening in and those people who will read the speeches because I share what is probably common community prejudices about the Stock Exchange. Many people seem to think that the Stock Exchanges are magic. Many people think that the stock exchanges are dominated by fear and greed, that there are only two kinds of operators in the exchanges- mugs and speculators. This is why I think it is essential that this sort of legislation is put forward to give the public confidence. We have heard a lot about business confidence. We hear a lot about private enterprise. I believe this Bill is a chance to put free enterprise into practice, to allow a free market to operate- a free market, albiet a regulated one. If we are to talk about business confidence, if we are to talk about free markets, I think the private sector must be able to believe in its own propaganda.

Part of the reason for this Bill is the need to reassure the public that their rights are being protected. An editorial which appeared in the 2 January 1975 edition of the ‘Australian Financial Review’, under the heading of ‘Public’s Right to Know about Stock Exchanges ‘, stated:

The Australian stockbroking industry learns nothing, behaves with breathtaking arrogance and deserves much of what it is now receiving at the hands of the investing public.

Last year saw the publication of the Rae Committee report, which outlined some of the abuses by stockbrokers during the course of the mining boom.

In their typical closed shop, old boy fashion, the various exchanges dealt with those who had been discovered breaking the rules.

In every case the treatment handed out was pitifully small considering the magnitude of the breaches in professional ethics.

In most cases the stock exchanges pursued their secretive ways of declining even to name those who had been penalised for breaking the rules.

Mr Lusher:

– Whom are you quoting?


– That is from the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 2 January 1975. I do not believe that the ‘Australian Financial Review’ is unsympathetic with the business community or the stock exchanges. In fact, I think all commentators have said in the Press, in academic circles and elsewhere that there is an overwhelming need for this sort of legislation. If there are to be racecourses of the kind involving stock exchanges, there need to be a few stewards around. In fact the racecourse analogy is not too bad a one to use. One writer has written that few solutions to the problems of the securities markets have been proposed, and left to manipulation and the laws of the market place the stock markets in Australia have described a series of boom and bust’ cycles. In the absence of proper regulation, such cycles may reasonably be expected to repeat themselves. Unfortunately, each cycle is costly in terms of efficient capital allocation, industrial development, and above all, investor confidence. There is an almost palpable tendency among Australians to view the stock market as a place to gamble freely, not merely spare funds, but as much as can be obtained from any source. It is true that stock market investors all over the world speculate at one time or another or in one stock or another. However, it is important to understand that attitudes now, and in 1969 in Sydney, are similar to those held in New York in 1929. The stock market is equated with the race track by most small traders, commonly referred to as ‘punters’ by the newspapers, and a quick killing is a predominant goal of even the well-educated. As was said by my friend the honourable member for Casey, the New York situation in 1929 was acted on some 40 years ago and this legislation does not go as far as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States of America.

As I said, I think there is a need for national legislation. People buying shares in Brisbane on the Perth Exchange need to know exactly what the situation is. Apart from some of the prejudices that I think the public shares and the prejudices I probably have, I find that I am tempted to sort out some names in the Rae report where misconduct has been shown. But I think it is always dangerous to take some particular cases and to generalise. I think that if we look at the Rae report in a balanced fashion it is fair enough to say that many people in stock exchanges have, and always have, acted admirably. I think it is also fair enough to say that the Rae Committee report became investigatory and rogues were flushed out by it. It is a pity that the report is not more widely disseminated. I have found that even the chapter headings provide gems. All sorts of images are conjured up by them. Although it is a pity that we get the idea that all people in the industry are rogues, I think some of the romantic tides to the chapters reveal a fair amount of a serious nature behind the report. For example, in Chapter 2 we have: ‘Mr Biggs’ Punt’- I do not think that is Ronald Biggs; Share Placements made with Inside Information’; ‘Issuing New Shares to Directors’ Associates’; ‘The Misleading “Letter to Shareholders” ‘; ‘Firing The Boom’; and ‘Fuelling the Boom: Realising Profits’. Some of the headings to Chapter 4 of the report state: ‘Share-trading Practices Leading to the Collapse’; ‘Employees’ Trading in Shares’; ‘The Principals’ Last Gamble’; and ‘Failure to Fulfil the Prospectus’ Objectives ‘. Other headings included: ‘ Use ofthe Financial Press’ and ‘Brokers as Privileged Speculators’. One can go on and on.

As a layman I must confess also that I do not understand the way the stock exchange works. But I think I can express my own thoughts on the necessity of the legislation before the House. I think the legislation before House is going to weld in very acceptably and successfully with the national companies legislation yet to be brought down. I think there is a fair sort of relationship between the Rae Committee report and the Fitzgerald report with respect to taxation abuses that occurred, again during the mining boom, and the way certain mining companies were set up purely and simply to exploit provisions within the law. What worries me when members of the Opposition put forward objections to this legislation is that it would seem to me that they are exactly the same sort of objections that were put forward when Senator Murphy first raised the whole problem of the abuses that were alleged to be going on in the security exchanges and the need for an investigation into them.

What the Rae report did when it ultimately came down was to prove beyond doubt that attention was needed and had to be given if investors were to have any confidence in our securities market. The Rae report points out that there is simply too much ammunition for the securities industry to resist its findings. I believe that since the report came out in the last year or so there have been 260 amendments to the listing requirements for companies. I believe that there have been some 120 alterations to the rules of the stock exchanges. But even given this there seems that there needs to be overall national legislation. One honourable member tonight commented that much of this is a rehash of State legislation. I think that is all well and good. At the same time it is essential that we do have one national securities Act just as we have one truly national Companies Act.

A while ago I referred to free enterprise and market economics. Although I might not be quite competent to speak on the stock exchange I think I do understand a little about markets. If we are talking about a fully competitive capital market the first thing that we have to realise is that at least 80 per cent of capital in Australia is gained by companies from depreciation and retained earnings and that in fact only some 20 per cent is raised in other ways. To take a quote from the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 20 July 1974 the writer of the article, Kenneth Davidson, says:

Fortunately about 80 per cent of the funds for investment in Australia are generated from depreciation allowances and retained earnings. However, the remaining 20 per cent must be raised on Australian capital markets as the basis for funding new companies and to provide for the growth of companies beyond that made possible by the generation of internal cash flows.

As the report shows, in the two years ofthe boom following Poseidon, more than $300m in risk capital was raised for around 200 companies floated at the time. Nearly all these ventures have proved failures or at best marginal propositions, and only a fraction of the money raised actually went into exploration and development activity.

So what this quote is saying is simply that the function of the stock exchanges as raisers of capital is probably diminishing and probably needs to be re-evaluated.

When we are talking about a fully competitive market in respect of shares there are certain things which are needed for the market to act in a free manner. We need to have an infinite number of buyers; we need to have an infinite number of sellers and we need to have a situation where the buyer and the seller have perfect knowledge particularly in respect of price and quality. Where there is exclusive market knowledge there will be an opportunity for cartels or monopolies or, in the language of the stock exchange, ‘rings’. If we are looking at the competitive situation within a market and if we take the spectrum from competition to monopoly it can be established that the point of a market being less than perfect occurs when there are only 3 buyers or 3 sellers in the market. If there are not 3 sellers or if there is exclusive knowledge then the price can be influenced. If there are only 3 bidders the price paid will be a function of the bidding process and I suppose we can say the bidding process in a stock market is a Dutch auction. The variations up or down will depend on the competitive pressure from the buyer’s side but again this competitive pressure will depend on knowledge. Bidding will be dangerous if three or less independent bidders operate in the market and by independent I mean knowledge is shared but there is no knowledge of the other’s intention. A ring can be formed if a number of buyers act as one in a market.

What I have tried to set out is the basis of a market if free enterprise or free market economics is to be adhered to. There is no time to equate this to the real world of the stock market but it should be evident that there have been many examples where less than perfect knowledge has prevailed due to a multiplicity of abuses of the Exchange-for example, insider trading, share rigging and abuses by even members of the exchanges themselves. As I said, the Rae Committee was 4 years in gestation. It had ample opportunity to examine all these things at the closest vantage point. Evidence taken in camera is still not available to members of the House but I think some of the evidence in camera is surely contained in the summary. I should like simply to quote from the major summary which in chapter 15 under the heading ‘The Failings of the Existing Regulations ‘ says:

We discovered numerous instances of improper practices in the making of new issues, and in the distribution of previously issued shares. There has been considerable evidence of insider trading, manipulation and other abuse in the stock-markets. We have seen much evidence of behaviour among share-brokers, other intermediaries and advisers in the securities industry and among some financial journalists which has fallen short of the minimum standards of propriety, competence and financial responsibility.

In addition to our concern with abuses within the securities market, we are alarmed by evidence of improper, reckless and incompetent behaviour on the part of some of those in control of public companies and investment funds. The investor has too often been exploited by controllers of listed public companies and by managers of investment funds.

In summing up part of this chapter the report reads:

Government in Australia would be irresponsible if it were not to upgrade substantially regulatory procedures so as to guard against repetition of fraud, abuse and incompetence on the scale of recent years.

In Australia at present there is no body or group of bodies which has, individually or collectively, the responsibility, the jurisdiction, the power and the expertise to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of regulation of the securities market and related public company activities. Rather, regulation depends upon the action of a number of bodies, the principal ones being the stock exchanges and the State and Territorial Companies Offices.

The report in the summary then went on to review the Stock Exchanges and the State companies offices. It went on with a long chapter in respect of the failings of the stock exchanges. The summary reads:

There has, for a long time, been an assumption on the part of some governments, company registrars or commissioners, law reformers and others that general responsibility for regulation of the securities market rests with the stock exchanges and more particularly with their committees, and that, having regard to their performance and expertise, it is best left to them. That assumption is not warranted. First of all, it overlooks the fact that the stock exchanges have limited jurisdiction and power.

I turn now to another chapter heading in the summary called ‘Regulation of Stock Exchange Members’. It reads:

Dealing with the first of these, we have found that the performance by the exchanges of their regulatory responsibilities with respect to their members has been seriously wanting.

Another chapter heading in the summary reads Regulation of the Market ‘. It says:

The performance by the stock exchanges of the second function mentioned above- that of regulating the market itself- has also been defective.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– It is a pretty accurate comment, both in political life and in society in general, that we are all too prone to act in haste and repent at our leisure. This will undoubtedly be the consequence of this Bill if it is enacted without proper consideration and agreement to make crucially important amendments in this Parliament. In its present form the Bill will hurt us all, and Labor has been taught enough lessons now to prove this point. The latest example of Government idiocy and vanity prevailing over common sense is the report by the National Population Inquiry under the chairmanship of Professor Borrie based on the assumption of zero population growth- an assumption drooled and enthused over by the perpetually bewildered Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Uren. The report says that based on this assumption redistribution of population becomes difficult and indeed unnecessary and that a population growth rate of 1.5 per cent during the next 20 years would not present unsuperable problems. The present national average growth rate is only 0.8 per cent per annum.

It is difficult to find anywhere areas of real success during the Labor Party presence on the treasury bench in the economic and financial sphere- the place where as you, Mr Deputy Speaker, know growth, strength and the vitality of a nation must be based. As witness, the economic debacle of 2 Budgets, some mini-Budgets and several random and uncoordinated economic policy decisions leading to deficits in expenditure over receipts and borrowings of a size never known before. These must soon damage the whole structure of industry, commerce, banking and finance and social welfare activities in this country. This financial year alone we will have a money shortfall in our accounts amounting to over $2,500m, and history throughout the world and the ages teaches us that the consequences are dangerous- in the end, inevitably disastrous. We will be smothered in dollar bills which will rapidly and continuously lose their value. In short, value will continuously be driven out of the dollar.

Mr Enderby:

– I take a point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The right honourable gentleman has been speaking for several minutes. I suggest that he might get back to the Bill. He has not mentioned it yet.


-No, I have not, but I am entitled to make some preliminary remarks as a background against which I can present my attitude to this Bill.


-They must be preliminaries that are relevant to the Bill.


-That is true, too. But one is entitled to say something to explain what one means. One of the faults of this House is that people never know what too many people are speaking about. Then there is the credit squeeze that Labor did not know about and could not understand, followed by a credit splurge which will worsen our present misfortunes. In deference to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not describe any other of the errors which have taken place other than to mention one matter relevant to conventions. I believe that the abuse of parliamentary conventions and the Standing Orders particularly by the Prime Minister, when it suits him, who preaches in the tongue of the clothe and uses the tactics of a loquacious, rude, unthinking and personally offensive demagogue -


-I would suggest that the right honourable member may debate the Bill. The matters he has debated so far have no relevance whatsoever to the Bill. What he is how debating is something that could be debated on another occasion, possibly the adjournment motion.


-I do not . believe that honourable members get enough opportunities to do so, and I have to say that to you in positive and clear language. But if you wish to deprive me of the opportunity of presenting -


-Order! The right honourable gentleman is as aware, or is more aware most likely of the Standing Orders of this House as is anyone else. I would also point out that the Standing Orders do provide -


– All so right, Sir. I have had ‘ enough. I have listened to you. I will now do what you ask. Regrettably, let me turn now to the Bill before the House, the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975. The AttorneyGeneral in one of the shoddiest, scimpiest and poorly informed second reading speeches that I have ever read said that the objective of the Bill is to provide for the securities industry in Australia to operate on a sound basis with an effective system of controls administered nationally by a Corporations and Exchange Commission. He said more specifically that the Bill aims to maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the capital market in the interests of development, efficiency and stability. Somewhere towards the end ofthe speech he perfunctorily mentioned the need to ensure that the investor has access to information which is both relevant and up to date.

I believe we need in Australia an effective securities commission- not a companies and securities commission, but a commission independent in status, with adequate but no more than adequate functions and powers. I publicly advocated such a policy during the time I was the Treasurer. I believe these goals should be achieved by a step by step approach and, so far as Part V, Divisions III and IV, are concerned after hearings, reports and recommendations by a permanent second Eggleston type committee divorced from the Commission itself.

I now turn to the Part II ofthe Bill. The Corporations and Exchange Commission is given extremely wide powers and functions including powers of an apparently judicial kind under proposed sub-clause (2) (c) of clause 20 to: ….. take such action (including the making of rules under section 283) as is necessary to enforce or give effect to the provision of this Act.

And under proposed sections 40, 41 and 43 it is given power to hold what seem to be judicial hearings and proceedings for any of the purposes of the Act, including to summon witnesses, to force them to answer questions, and adjudicate on matters involving contempt. This raises the most crucially important question and constitutional issue of the separation of powers between legislatures Executive and judiciary.

Rightly the judicial power of the Commonwealth must be exercised under section 7 1 of the Commonwealth Constitution by the High Court of Australia and not by an administrative tribunal. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Taxation Boards of Review are examples of administrative tribunals without judicial power, particularly power to fine. In my opinion a new Bill should be drafted to fit in with the constitutional trichotomy. As well there must be both an administrative and judicial appeal and this would be provided in the new legislation.

I have said that I agree with the principles behind Part V, Divisions III and IV, ofthe Bill. But the Bill in its entirety is conceptually faulty because company and exchanges legislation should be separate. In my opinion the detailed attempt to control the exchanges will make it impossible for them to operate under normal market conditions. The Bill cannot be satisfactorily amended. Nor can I say that I approve in detail with each of the clauses of the Bill for these reasons. We in the House have not had the opportunity to debate the provisions of clauses 105 to 126 or any other clauses. Even today, the Attorney-General presented advance notice of 19 Committee stage amendments to the Bill. We have not been able to test the effectiveness or restrictive and damaging effect of the workings of the Bill in the market place.

We have not had the opportunity fully to discuss the reactions with market interests which will be smothered by bureaucrats and bureaucratic actions. In particular I agree with the basic concepts behind Part V, Divisions III and IV, that is disclosure of personal interests of dealers and others hi certain types of written communication to clients; dealings by holders of a dealer license as a principal; the priority to be given by a dealer to clients’ orders; dealers who carry on business of specified kinds not to be directors of listed corporations; dealers not to act as underwriters in certain cases; provision relating to employees of dealers or investment advisors; manipulation of markets; wash sales and matched orders; fraudulently inducing persons to deal in securities; dissemination of information about illegal transactions; and dealings in securities by insiders. I emphasise that I do not know how the Bill would work out in practice, even in the cases where I accept and endorse the principles. There is no one in this House with a detailed working knowledge and operational experience in the securities market; and we should be able to educate ourselves as to the dangers before this Bill is passed into law.

Let me turn to some of the proposals about which doubts remain and about which I have personal reservations. I express these doubts and reservations because ofthe authoritarian tendencies in so much of the legislation introduced by the Government and the vanity and omniscient streak in the characters of so many Ministers. The stock exchanges are important, probably vital elements, of a free enterprise economy. They assist, greatly assist, in the mobility and marketing of securities, in the mobilisation of finance for business activities and are the medium for purchase and sale of assets and shares and consequently in the allocation of our economic resources. They advise their clients as to both sale and purchase of securities and other investments. They have been the backbone of investment banking in this country. They perform many other tasks on behalf of the public.

As I have said, the ostensible objective of this legislation is to facilitate and improve the performance of the capital market not to obstruct or restrict it. The Terrigal Conference of the Labor Party accepted in a practical way that in a mixed economy the institutions of a free enterprise economy should be strengthened. The exchanges were not excluded. I repeat that the free, effective and proper functioning of the exchanges will be obstructed, not assisted, by the passage of this Bill. The exchanges will be immersed in red tape, hindered in their day to day operations and smothered by the bureaucrats- the very opposite of the proclaimed intention.

Under clause 36 (2) ofthe Bill the AttorneyGeneral may give directions to the Commission on matters of general policy in connection with the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers. But nothing in this provision entitles the Attorney-General to give a direction to the Commission in relation to the performance of its functions, or the exercise of its powers in a particular case. This power is not necessary because clause 284 confers on the Governor-General power to make regulations in general terms prescribing all matters that are required or permitted to be prescribed or necessary or convenient to the carrying out or giving effect to the Bill. With knowledge of the unlawful, intemperate and arbitrary acts of the former Attorney-General it would not be wise to confer powers on the incumbent uninformed and inexperienced AttorneyGeneral when there are more effective methods of achieving the same goals through regulations that may be disallowed by either House.

On parity of thinking and with knowledge of the Prime Ministers’ two intrusions into the day to day operation of the Prices Justification Tribunal, I much prefer such changes through Parliament as, for example, by affirmative regulation rather than by secret letters and midnight telephone calls. I turn to clause 61 which provides that the Governor-General may prohibit all trading of securities or all securities included in a class of securities.

Debate interrupted.

page 693


The Prime Minister- Movement for the Survival of Business and Industry -Aerial Agriculture Industry -Petitions


-Order! It being half past 10 o’clock p.m. and in accordance with the order of the House of 1 1 July 1974 I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.


-Last week in this House during question time we witnessed what I regard as perhaps one of the most vicious, unscrupulous and unprincipled performances that we have seen in an Australian Parliament. Mr Speaker, you have rightly and frequently ruled that you have no control over the way in which Ministers answer questions, the length of time they take or even whether they answer them and you have rightly ruled that in making personal explanations there can be no debate or counter charge. Nor is it possible for the Opposition to receive leave to make statements or to table statutory declarations when the Government determines that leave will not be granted. Knowing this, knowing that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) had no opportunity to defend himself under the Standing Orders, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), boots and all, kicked out in a savage attack because he could not and would not answer a question which exposed the depths of confusion and disgrace to which this Government has fallen.

He ignored the question and from his lofty perch he lashed out at a man who has discomfitted and exposed him, first making sure that the Leader of the Opposition could not answer back. If he did try to answer, the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron), as is his wont, would run back and forth to the table raising points of order. The Prime Minister knew full well that the media representatives, who seem to attend in any numbers only at question time, would almost unanimously hail this as a splendid victory. Those lofty immortal phrases he uses such as ‘Ga ga’, ‘boo’, ‘moo’, and I think even ‘hoo-ha’ show his remarkable articulate ability, do they not? So sensitive is he that he objects to the word ‘stuffed’. But just look at Hansard and see the endearing terms he used in this House against the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes). I shall not sully my tongue repeating them. They were never withdrawn. Yet in the greatest whine that we have ever heard in this nation he cried: ‘Give us a go’. What tremendous justification he of all men nas to ask for fair play.

There is hardly a convention- ask any State one likes- which this Government has not broken. Yet the Prime Minister attacked the Premier of New South Wales for not holding sacred what the Prime Minister regards as a convention. The engineer of the grubbiest political trick in history- the Gair incident- the man who himself created the present Senate vacancy and the problem, on a Sunday night telecast to Australia knowing full well that Mr Lewis would not have the facilities to reply nationally on television. Yet the Prime Minister has the temerity to accuse Mr Lewis of questionable tactics. Our Prime Minister appeals for a fair go- a fair go for himself- but he does not consider that he should give everybody else a fair go, or even our nation.

Let the Prime Minister’s own leadership be examined because, after all, he criticises the leadership of others. Take the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation raids, the midnight intrusions into the homes in Sydney with Commonwealth police everywhere. The Prime Minister led by diving under the first table he could find when the pressure was on. There is the Morossi affair, on which I do not want to make any comment. The Prime Minister ridiculed the Leader of the Opposition as having no control over his organisation. He himself says that he cannot interfere with the actions of his Ministers in staff appointments. When the members of his Cabinet disgracefully attacked the United States and the President of the United States the Prime Minister said that he alone in future would make statements on foreign affairs. But his Ministers gave him the great raspberry and in effect they said they would say what they like when they like. So again he dived under the first table he could find. That is splendid leadership.

Then on his great white horse he went to Queensland to demonstrate his superiority and righteousness over the Premier of Queensland. What a remarkable display of leadership this was. When he went to Queensland the Australian Labor Party had 36 members in the Queensland Parliament. When he left it had 1 1 and some of those were successful by a mere whisker. Was it not Mr Egerton who described the Prime Minister as pig-headed? Poor old Percy Tucker was the scapegoat. In the recent Hobart tragedy when the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) rightly and quickly arranged a full inquiry, the Prime Minister from the midst of some ancient ruins on the other side of the world needed no visit, no inquiry, no information, no commission, to attack what he called irresponsible sea captains and air pilots. The great god, Zeus, has long disappeared from his pedestal in the ruins of the temple, but in great modesty and self-effacement- so the Press reportsour Prime Minister, reluctantly I am sure, sought out the empty pedestal and stood majestically where Zeus stood on that pedestal and the whole world rejoiced.

He has continually said that all of our problems come from overseas. With the greatest consistency he has travelled to all corners of the world to make the closest possible examination of everyone else’s problems. ‘There will be no unemployment here’, he said. The Minister for Labor and Immigration tried quietly to warn him. His record is that of leader of the nation at a time of the most savage uncontrolled unemployment in our history. He said that he had control over inflation- and we are eclipsing all records. I wish he would include New Zealand in his itinerary because there is no unemployment there and after all that is the most comparable nation of all to Australia. He pooh-poohed all Opposition advice yet he is so busy producing budgets and reversing announcements he is stuck in reverse gear. When one is in reverse one cannot see which way one is going. He said to reduce taxes was economic vandalism. Now he boasts of his perspicacity in reducing taxation. ‘What nonsense’ he said, ‘to defer government expenditure ‘. Yet with a stroke of real genius he now announces that he has discovered the necessity for deferrals in government expenditure. Mind you, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) and each other Minister one by one tell us that the cuts are not to be in their departments and that they will spend much much more.

He said: ‘A capital gains tax is the answer.’ Well, perhaps not. Well, perhaps a tax on unearned income. The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) objected so the Prime Minister thought ‘perhaps later.’ He said, ‘Take off the superphosphate bounty and be damned.’ Well, perhaps the Industries Assistance Commission had better have a look at that some time. We will get rid of the means test.’ Well, perhaps that had better be deferred to some time in the future. ‘Whack up company tax. ‘ Well, it was not a bad thought at the time. ‘Mr Crean is a fine Treasurer; he will be retained.’ Dr Cairns insists so Frank had better go to Trade after all. ‘We will have a wonderfully responsible selfgoverning Assembly in the Northern Territory. But the Country Party is in control there. We had better wait a while until we get a member in the Assembly. ‘ He said ‘I shall tell the United Nations how we will fill the food needs of the hungry world. Who needs the beef industry anyhow? My unions will advise me as to whether Chile should get any wheat.’

Those are some of the statements of the Prime Minister. He has made it so clear that primary producers have never had it so good. The wicked Country Party wanted to put up petrol a cent or so. It is quite irrelevant that this Government has slapped on excise of much more than few cents and has taken away the subsidy so that those fellows west of Mount Isa have to pay more than $ 1 a gallon for petrol. The wicked Country Party; a redistribution will take care of it. What a villain is the Premier of Queensland who is desperately worried about the beef industry and wants to help it. ‘We will help the beef industry’ says the Prime Minister. ‘We will lend the producers $20m.’ But they have taken up only $2m. It could not be because they cannot afford to borrow any more. It could not possibly be that they object to the generous rate of 11V4 per cent interest. Australia knows he is the greatest. He. has told us and that proves it. Why fear elections? He has only to get on to television for 5 minutes in a campaign and the electors will forget all that has happened and will realise that we have turned the corner. He said ‘turned the corner’, not ‘been backed in to a corner’.

What splendid justification this Prime Minister has to criticise other leaders. He does not lead his Party, his Caucus, his Government or the nation. If he showed some capacity to lead instead of being a Don Quixote tilting at windmills, he would not have to juggle Senate vacancies and engineer double dissolutions. Australia will judge him on his own shabby failure, not on the stinking red herrings he is trying to drag across the path. Let him see the handwriting that Belshazzar saw on the wall: ‘You are weighed in the balances and found wanting. Your kingdom is taken from you and given to others. ‘ I hope Caucus and the Deputy Prime Minister can say boo’ or ‘moo’ and that the Prime Minister will not go ‘ga ga’ with hysteria because those old words or scripture are as applicable to him today as they were to Belshazzar in his day.


– I think it is a reflection on the present state of the Opposition that the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann), the new shadow Minister from the Australian Country Party, has to come to the defence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). (Honourable members interjecting)-


-Order! I insist that order be maintained. The previous speaker spoke in comparative silence. If interjections continue I will take appropriate action.


-The matter I bring to the attention of the House this evening concerns the activities of a group calling itself the Movement for Survival of Business and Industry. This group has been active in my electorate during the past couple of weeks. Certain of its activities deserve to be roundly condemned. Last Friday, 21 February, the group organised a public meeting in the Dandenong Town Hall. I believe that in excess of 1 000 invitations were sent out. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was the chief drawcard In fairness to the group it must be said that as the local member I was invited to attend and was told that if I wished to speak I would be able to do so. But this I was unable to do.

I have a number of objections concerning both the organisation of this meeting and the movement itself. The invitation that was sent out was completely irresponsible. I hold it in my hand and, as honourable members can see, the envelope contains 2 words: ‘Dandenong Destroyed’. In print, which is only just visible, are the letters SOB. In the vernacular these letters usually stand for a rather colourful American phrase, but in this instance presumably they stand for ‘Survival of Business’. The invitation reads:

We wish to announce that Dandenong could be destroyed as a result of current economic policies. We believe there is still time for people to secure the future of Dandenong and their own wellbeing. We invite you to attend a public meeting . . .

I think it is significant to note that although thousands of invitations were sent out- I presume principally to business people- about 50 people only attended the meeting. It speaks volumes for the good sense and the responsible attitude of business leaders and people generally in the Dandenong area that despite the invitations and advertising prior to the meeting they chose not to attend that meeting.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– How much was it to get in?


-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will remain silent.


– I presume the charge would be the same as for any meeting at which the honourable member for Griffith spoke- it would have to be nothing. In a pamphlet published by the SOB group is the statement: We wish to make it clear that the movement is non-political’. Yet in that same pamphlet under the heading ‘Objectives’ the 2 major objectives are listed as follows:

To effect changes in the Australian Government’s economic and industrial policies and their detrimental effect on business and industry.

To act as a deterrent to the Australian Government’s future decisions having a like result.

In bold red print the pamphlet states:

No system has ever been so savagely, viciously and blindly attacked as the free enterprise system today!

It is interesting to take note of the reactionary people sitting on the Opposition benches because it is impossible to reconcile the objectives which I have just read and the nature of the invitation with the claim that the movement is nonpolitical. My reason for bringing this matter before the House is not that I dispute the right of any group, whether it is from the extreme right, the centre or the radical left to hold a public meeting. This, of course, is the right of any concerned group in a democratic society. What I object to is the irresponsibility of a group of businessmen who aim to put fear into the community with such outrageous statements as ‘Dandenong destroyed’. These are the very people who are bewailing the present lack of business confidence. There is no way in which the actions of this group can be regarded as a constructive or a positive attempt to improve the present economic conditions; rather, they must be seen for what they are, destructive negative actions aimed at destroying the Labor Government. I trust that the dismal failure of last Friday’s meeting will cause the leaders of this group to reexamine their methods and to look for constructive ways in which they can assist the whole community, and not be concerned just with themselves. It is regrettable that the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who is the shadow Minister on industrial matters, did not take the trouble to check the unemployment figures in the Dandenong area.

Mr Armitage:

– He reckons he is the next leader.


-Yes, and he looks it. He knows or should know that the figure is not 10 per cent as he stated at the meeting. The true figure obtained from the Commonwealth Employment Service office- if he had bothered to ring the office or had contacted the Minister, or if he had bothered to speak to people in the local community, or even if he had read my regular monthly column in the local newspaper where it is there for everybody to read and is never hiddenhe would have learned that it is just above the national average. As honourable members are aware, the seasonally adjusted rate at the present time is 4 per cent. Therefore the exaggeration was about 100-fold.

Mr Armitage:

– He is less active than Snedden.

Mr OLDMEADOW That is true. It is true that many industries and businesses in the Dandenong area are suffering serious difficulties. This I do not dispute. It is true also that many of the leaders of these businesses and factories, and the leaders of unions involved as well, have made representations to me as their local member. Whenever this has occurred I have made personal representations to the appropriate Minister and or his Department. This I will continue to do, of course. There are other business leaders with serious problems who have not contacted me and I issue an invitation to them to do so in order that I, as their local member, can try to assist them. It can only do injury to the country’s economy when groups such as SOB act in an irresponsible, destructive and divisive way as they have done in my electorate in the last couple of weeks.


– I want to bring to the notice of the House tonight the plight of an industry with which we people living in the country areas are vitally concerned. It is the aviation industry which operates in the distribution of superphosphate on our agricultural lands. This matter was brought to my attention at the end of last week by a firm in my electorate, Pays Air Services Pty Ltd, which operates at Scone. For some 26 years it has employed a number of pilots. They now have been notified by the principal of the firm that their employment will be terminated on and from 14 March. This profession is in a very critical state. In New South Wales 41 pilots have been dismissed so far by employers whose businesses have almost ceased to exist as a result of the collapse of the beef industry, the Federal Government’s decision regarding the superphosphate subsidy, a general lack of confidence and the uncertain future for the man on the land. I suppose that if we could count the number of pilots throughout Australia who will lose their jobs in this industry for the reasons that I have given we would find that it would run into many hundreds.

This profession requires immense training, experience and skill not only for the pilots but also for the allied personnel involved in the industry. Apart from the pilots, the people involved in the industry are the carriers who cart ther superphosphate from the railheads to the various properties and the mechanical loader operators who load the superphosphate into the planes. Many thousands of people who are involved in this industry throughout Australia will be thrown out of work. The industry cannot stand the loss that no doubt it will suffer as a result of the present financial and economic circumstances over which the pilots and their employers have no control. Most of these pilots would have to rely on social service assistance while they seek alternative employment or retrain for some other profession. The financial loss to the pilots will be considerable, not to mention the costs that will be involved in regaining personnel to replace those who have been forced into other fields when the industry recovers from its present disastrous position.

These pilots are very skilful The spreading of superphosphate in mountainous country is a very skilful operation. The pilots in this industry have tremendous experience, and that is essential. Apparently the present Government has stated that it would cost too much to retrain the pilots displaced in other areas ofthe air industry. There is no doubt that the talents of these experienced pilots would be wasted if they were retrained to be truck drivers, clerks, storemen, etc., as has been suggested. Surely this Government will not allow these skilled pilots, their families and other members of their specialised industry to add to the existing unemployment figures. Surely it will make an effort to salvage this industry before it disintegrates and is beyond assistance and recovery. I commend the position of this important industry to the Government for investigation, with a view to assistance being given to preserve the great expertise and knowhow which has been developed over many years and which is in danger of being lost. It will be a national loss if this takes place. Once again I ask the Government and the Ministers concerned to look at this question because if the industry folds it will be very difficult to re-establish it, and this will mean a great loss to the primary industries and to the export income of Australia.


– I refer to a campaign of fear surrounding the question of pensions and the means test which is being deliberately engendered by certain anti-Labor elements within the community. Deliberate attempts are being made to try to make people believe that this Whitlam Labor Government will not fulfil the undertakings that it gave. I refer particularly to the undertaking given by this Government that the means test would be abolished over the term of a Parliament. The Government, in its 1973 Budget, carried out the first leg of that transaction by abolishing the means test for people aged 75 years and over. It has announced quite clearly on a number of occasions that it will abolish the means test as from 1 April this year for people 70 years of age and over. Yet there has been a studied and very deliberate campaign to try to confuse the public, particularly those people who are 70 years of age and over, by statements that the Government would not abide by that pledge. We were sitting here in this chamber when the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) made the position quite clear. Yet in the Press in the following days there were deliberate attempts to imply that the Minister had not been definite on the subject.

Of course the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in answer to a question in this House only last week made it very clear that without doubt the means test will be abolished as from 1 April for persons who are 70 years of age and over. Tonight I rise because of these misleading statements. There have been deliberate attempts by anti-Labor elements within the community to imply that the means test will not be abolished. It is quite a firm policy. It was made quite clear in the special mini-budget which was introduced after the last Budget. It was made very clear by the Minister for Social Security on a number of occasions in answer to questions, when speaking and also in answer to correspondence. It was made very clear by the Prime Minister in answer to questions in this Parliament only last week.

One must also touch on the question of pensions. This Government was elected on a policy propounded by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Labor Party that all pensions would be adjusted over a period of one Parliament, which is 3 years, until they reached 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. The last adjustment was an extraordinary adjustment in itself. It was something which had never been seen in the whole history of this Parliament. There was an increase of $5 a week for all pensioners. That brought the pension up to 24.8 per cent of average weekly earnings. There has never been any suggestion from this Government that it would not honour its pledge to continue to adjust the pension until such time as it reaches 25 per cent of average weekly earnings.

Yet the radio, the Melbourne ‘Herald’, the Queensland Press and various other newspapers throughout this country have been carrying stories along the line that this Government will not abide by and honour that pledge. The result is that every member in this House- particularly honourable members on the Government sidehas received continual questions and correspondence asking why it is that we will not honour our pledge. Nothing is further from the truth. It is the intention of the Government to honour its pledge. The best evidence that these deliberate attempts at misrepresentation have been occurring is the fact that the Minister for Social Security made a personal explanation in this Parliament at 4 p.m. last Wednesday because of the various stories which had been appearing in various segments of the Press and radio, and after the Minister had made that statement the news bulletins on various radio stations- not all radio stations- the Melbourne ‘Herald’ and also the Brisbane Press continued to carry the story, despite the denial and the firm undertaking given by the Minister for Social Security that there would be an autumn increase in the pension to bring it up to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings.


-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 698


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Department of Urban and Regional Development- Interdepartmental Committees (Question No. 380)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. With reference to his answer to question No. 1473 (Hansard, 13 December 1973, page 4849), in which he indicated that his Department maintains a record of inter de- ‘partmental committees in which it participates, does the list include (a) standing and (b) ad hoc committees.
  2. Has he sighted the list and does he intend to sight it on a regular basis.
Mr Uren:
Minister for Urban and Regional Development · REID, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) Yes.

Television Reception: Safety Beach, Dromana (Question No. 715)

Mr Lynch:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:

  1. Has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board completed plans to improve television reception in the Safety Beach area of Dromana.
  2. If so, when will the plans be implemented.
  3. If not, when does the Postmaster-General expect the plans to be completed.
Mr Morrison:

– The Minister for the Media has provided the following answer to the honourable members ‘s question:

  1. 1 ) There have been no field studies carried out in the area yet; however, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is aware that a television reception problem exists in the area.
  2. Above paragraph refers.
  3. Every effort is being made by the Board to effect improvements wherever these are technically and economically feasible. The rate at which plans can be developed and implemented must be related to the financial and manpower resources available.

Department of Urban and Regional Development: Research Fellowships (Question No. 768)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many fellowships have been offered to academics to undertake research in the Department.
  2. ) To whom have they been offered.
  3. What are the qualifications of each person.
  4. What is the name and location of the university, collegeor institute of which each is a member.
  5. What travel and other allowances are being made available to the fellows.
Mr Uren:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question, is as follows:

  1. One Urban Affairs Fellowship was awarded in 1973-74. (2, 3 and 4) The recipient was Dr Margaret Bowman, B.A., Ph.D., Lecturer in Politics, Monash University, Melbourne.
  2. An allowance, depending on family circumstances, is payable towards additional expenses incurred in being based in Canberra. Other allowances and expenses deemed necessary for the conduct of the research, and not available from other sources, are also payable.

South Africa: Australian Trade Commission Offices (Question No. 832)

Mr Peacock:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have the Australian Council of Churches and a Commissioner of the Roman Catholic Church issued an appeal to the Government for the closure of Australia’s trade commission offices in South Africa?
  2. If so, when did he or his predecessor receive the request, and what action will be taken on it?
Mr Crean:
Minister for Overseas Trade · MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · ALP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. Representations made by the Joint Secretariat on Action for World Development , an organisation sponsored by the Australian Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, were received in the office of the Minister for Overseas Trade on 2 August 1 974. In a statement in the House of Representatives on 1 August, in answer to a reply by Mr Clayton, Dr Cairns said that the question of representation in South Africa would be examined by relevant Departments.

The results of the examination were incorporated in a press statement on South Africa by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 20 September. The statement pointed out that the Government had decided to discontinue all Governmental promotion of trade and investment in South Africa. Consequently, there will be no more officially sponsored trade missions, trade displays, exhibitions or fairs there.

The Government has also decided that Australia will support any decision of the United Nations to impose economic sanctions against South Africa, provided that they are also observed by South Africa’s other major trading partners. To date no other developed country has imposed such sanctions and the Government would not see any useful purpose in curtailing trade unilaterally.

The Government also has decided that Australian Trade Commissioners will be retained in South Africa, but their activities will be limited to providing only basic marketing information and assistance to Australian companies.

Department of Urban and Regional Development: Research and Development Staff (Question No. 877)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many officers or employees of his Department or of authorities under his control are employed on research and development work.
  2. Where are they employed.
  3. What is the nature of the work being undertaken
  4. What is the total expenditure per annum in maintaining this research and development program.
  5. Who decides the nature of the programs or projects included in this research and development work.
Mr Uren:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question, is as follows:

  1. None.
  2. ),(3)(4) and (5) See (1) above.

Community’ Publication (Question No. 895)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. How many people will receive copies of the publication ‘Community ‘.
  2. Will it be distributed free of charge.
  3. Will he include in his answer a list of the persons to whom the publication will be sent.
Mr Uren:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Approximately twelve thousand copies are being distributed.
  2. Yes.
  3. The list includes individuals, parliamentarians, libraries, resident groups, developers, academic institutions, and others who requested the publication.

Crude Oil (Question No. 917)

Mr Anthony:

asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the estimated production of crude oil from Australian oil fields during the period 1974-75 to 1984-85.
  2. What are the estimated consumption requirements of Australia for crude oil over this period.
  3. On the basis of present world market values, what would be the annual value of Australian petroleum product imports by 1984-85 on the basis of projected Australian domestic crude oil production in that year and projected domestic consumption of petroleum products in that year.
Mr Connor:
Minister for Minerals and Energy · CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Currently Australia’s total liquid hydrocarbon reserves are probably of the order of 4000 million barrels which would provide about 15 years supply at current rates of production. At present we meet about 70 per cent of our consumption requirements from our indigenous reserves of crude oil. However, during the period referred to by the right honourable member, the use of natural gas and ‘ associated liquids from the North West Shelf and Central Australia as well as the use of low sulphur coal will result in substantial reductions in heavy crude imports. In addition, the conversion of coal to oil and gas will be developed. As stated by Mr R. Kruizenga, Chairman of Esso Australia Ltd., even without further major discoveries, it is feasible for

Australia to be reasonably self-sufficient in energy supplies by coupling existing resources to new technology.

Fitzgerald: Community Centre (Question No. 1025)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. Has a decision been made on assistance for equipping the Community Centre at Fitzgerald submitted by the Ravensthorpe Community Committee to the Southern Region Social Development Board under the Australian Assistance Plan, and subsequently referred by the Social Welfare Commission to his Department.
  2. ) If so, what is the decision.
  3. If not, when will a decision be made.
Mr Uren:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

At present my Department has no program of assistance under which the request by the Ravensthorpe Community Committee for equipping the Community Centre at Fitzgerald can be considered.

Sewerage: Grants to States (Question No. 1411)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

When may I expect an answer to my question No. 195, relating to grants pursuant to the Sewerage Agreements Act 1973, which I placed on the Notice Paper on 16 July 1974 and which question was additionally first placed on the Notice Paper as question No. 5 10 on 2 1 March 1 974 prior to the dissolution of the 28th Parliament.

Mr Uren:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I refer the honourable member to pages 3390-3392 of Hansard for 12 November 1974.

Glebe Estate: Rates and Taxes (Question No. 1415)

Mr McLeay:

– Asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

What arrangements have been made with the local authorities for the payment of rates and taxes on the property at Glebe purchased recently by the Australian Government.

Mr Uren:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

As I am sure the honourable member is aware, the Australian Government is not legally obliged to pay rates and taxes to local authorities. However, in the case ofthe Glebe Estate it is intended that payments equivalent to the normal municipal rates and water sewerage and drainage charges will be paid to the Leichhardt Municipal Council and the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board. My Department will deal with claims by local authorities for all such rates and service charges in accordance with established procedures set out in Treasury Directions.

Glebe: Letting of Houses (Question No. 1521)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) With reference to the lands at Glebe recently acquired by the Australian Government from church authorities, has his attention been drawn to the serious allegations current in regard to the letting policy pursued by bis Department.
  2. Has his attention been drawn to the Glebe newspaper which alleges that local residents are objecting on the grounds that, while they have to pay $30 per week for their homes, his Department is letting homes to persons from outside the area at $7 per week.
  3. What letting arrangements have been made to persons other than existing tenants since the Government assumed control of this property.
Mr Uren:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The responsibility for the Glebe lands recently acquired from the Church of England is one which I share jointly with my colleague the Minister for Housing and Construction. The administration of the estate is therefore not one for my Department alone, it lies with a Project Board comprising the Secretary of my Department, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Construction and the Chairman of the Cities Commission. Neither I nor the Project Board is aware of any serious allegations in regard to the letting policy being pursued at Glebe.
  2. My attention has not been drawn to the newspaper to which the honourable member refers. This paper is not one which is noted for its veracity and the officers concerned with the Glebe project are not in the habit of paying serious heed to what it says.
  3. The letting arrangements which are applied to houses which become vacant in the Glebe estate are as follows:

    1. Applications for tenancy are considered by a Tenancy Committee strictly in the order in which they are received. The Tenancy Committee comprises the Project Manager, an officer of the Department of Social Security and an officer of the Department of Housing and Construction with experience in tenancy matters.
    2. Selection of tenants is made having regard to the following criteria:
    3. urgency of housing need
    1. availability of houses of suitable size for the applicants needs
    2. degree of past identification with Glebe, or special need for accommodation in Glebe area.

The rental of houses for new tenancies is fixed at the estimated market rent as determined by an experienced local agent. Rental rebates are granted to people on low incomes in conformity with the scale used by the New South Wales Housing Commission. Existing tenants have been advised of this fact and have been invited to apply for rental rebates if they feel that their circumstances warrant it. The tenant with an assessed family income of $37.50 per week would, on this scale, pay a rental of $7.00 per week. The tenant with an income of $ 109 per week would pay a rent of $30 per week. In no case, of course, would a tenant pay more than the estimated market rental for the house he occupies.

Department of Overseas Trade: Grants (Question No. 1544)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. What programs does his Department or statutory authorities under his control administer which enable individual groups or people in the community to apply for grants from the Australian Government for a specific purpose.
  2. What is the name of each program.
  3. What is the purpose of each program.
  4. What are the conditions surrounding eligibility for a grant under each program.
  5. When did each program commence.
  6. What is the legal authority for the existence of each program.
  7. How is the community informed of the existence of each program, and its entitlement to apply for a grant.
  8. How many applications for grants under each program have been received in each of the last 3 years or for the period of operation of the program if it has been in operation less than 3 years.
  9. Who decides which applications for grants should be accepted.
  10. What percentage of applications for grants under each program have been successful in each of the last 3 years or in each of the years in which the program has been operating if it has been in operation for less than 3 years.
  11. What proportion of total funds allocated under each program in each of the last 3 years, or in each year the program has been operating where it has been in operation for less than 3 years, have been allocated to individuals as against groups.
  12. 12) Are any attempts made to assess the extent to which the widest cross-section of the community is aware of the existence of the program, and the means by which applications can be submitted, if so, what attempts.
  13. What checks are made once applications are received for each program to determine if the attempts to widen access to the funds have been successful.
  14. Is he confident that the widest cross-section of the community is aware of the existence of the programs, and is aware of the application process.
  15. What procedures exist to assess the use to which the grants are being put, and to attempt some accountability for the money granted.
  16. What is the total amount that has been paid out under each program in each of the last 3 years or in each year of the operation of the program if it has been operating for less than 3 years.
  17. What is the total amount of money paid out for all such programs administered by his Department or Authorities under his control.
  18. What attempts are made to ensure that the same individual organisations or persons do not receive several grants under different programs which he or other Ministers are responsible for and which, when added together, may be unwarranted.
Mr Crean:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) A fund of $250,000 has been established to assist Australian companies to meet the cost of pre-investment feasibility studies in developing countries.

    1. Following the revaluations of the Australian dollar in December 1972 and September 1973 assistance was provided for exporters of manufactured goods seriously affected by those decisions.
  2. (a) Overseas Investment Feasibility Fund.

    1. Revaluation Assistance for Secondary Industry.
  3. (a) To encourage Australian companies to undertake investment feasibility studies in developing countries.

    1. To provide adjustment assistance to exporters who have developed overseas markets, but suffered serious hardship as a result of the revaluation of the Australian dollar on 23 December 1972 and 9 September 1973. Its aim is to provide aid to those smaller and medium sized exporters who cannot afford to incur the costs necessary to maintain competitiveness.
  4. (a) Conditions of Eligibility

    1. The proposed investment must be in Australia’s national interest and in accordance with the social and economic development plans and investment policies of the host countries.
    2. Only financially sound firms having significant Australian ownership are eligible for the grant.
    3. The proposal must be submitted to Department of Overseas Trade before the overseas portion of study is commenced.
    4. Where the company decides not to proceed with an investment following completion of the study, taxable cash grants may be paid in the form of a reimbursement of 60 per cent of eligible expenditure (up to $25,000) incurred overseas in the study.
    5. No more than 2 grants will be payable to any one company per year and a limitation of one grant per country in any 12 month period also applies.
    1. Criteria for eligibility are: export prices must have been reduced as a result of the revaluation competition which led to price reduction should not have come from an associated or subsidiary company exports should make up 10 per cent or more of sales in 1971-72 assistance to be calculated on the basis of total export income from all markets with assistance diminishing as exports increase in the period following the revaluation; assistance is cut-off when the post-revaluation export income exceeds 1 15 per cent of that achieved in the same period in the preceding year firms failing to take out forward exchange cover where it was available do not qualify hardship to be demonstrated by:
    2. effects of revaluation upon production and employment levels

    3. difficulties in maintaining export market
    4. effects upon profitability of operations the amount of assistance is limited to 90 per cent of price reductions actually made between 23. 12.72 and 30.6.73 50 per cent of price reductions between 1.7.73 and 31.12.73 $100,000 maximum for the above 12 month period following the December 1972 revaluation 50 per cent of price reductions actually made between 10 September, 1973 and 30 June 1974 with an upper limit of $50,000 over this period following the September 1973 revaluation no assistance for sales after 31 December 1973 in respect of the December 1972 revaluation and no assistance for sales after 30 June 1974 in respect of the September 1973 revaluation.
  5. (a) 10 May 1974

    1. The scheme began 1 July 1973 for claims in respect of exports following the 23 December 1972 revaluation.
  6. (a) Cabinet Decision,

    1. Cabinet Decision.
  7. (a) Press statements by the Prime Minister on 22 January 1974 and the Minister for Overseas Trade on 10 May 1974. Businessmen are also acquainted with details of the Fund’s operation when discussing possible investments overseas with officers of the Department in Canberra or State Offices.

    1. b ) The coram unity was informed of the scheme by press releases on 10 April 1973 and 27 September 1973. Notification and invitation for applications at the close of each claim period were also advertised in all the major national daily newspapers.
  8. (a) To date 22 proposals have been received for a study to be considered eligible under the Scheme but no firm has yet applied for a grant.

    1. 28 applications were made by companies and individuals.
  9. (a) Initially the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon the recommendation of an Inter-departmental Committee, decides on the eligibility of proposals submitted. When claims for a grant are submitted they will be met by the Department of Overseas Trade provided the corresponding proposals have been previously approved as eligible by the Minister.

    1. Grants are approved by the Minister for Overseas Trade upon the recommendation of an Inter-departmental Committee.
  10. (a) Not applicable (see (8) above).

    1. 7 per cent of applicants under the short duration of the scheme have been successful.
  11. (a) Not applicable (see (8) above).

    1. No distinction was made between groups and individuals in the scheme, i.e., an individual could apply as well as a company or group of companies.
  12. (a) This question is not directly applicable as the scheme is available only to Australian firms looking at overseas investment prospects.

    1. See (7) above.
  13. (a) Departmental examination.

    1. Departmental examination.
  14. (a) Yes.

    1. Yes.
  15. (a) Receipts of eligible expenditure and a statutory declaration are required.

    1. The criteria laid down require demonstration of substantial hardship in order to qualify for the grant. The grant entitlement is related to continuing export sales during the period under consideration.
  16. (a) Nil.

    1. No payments were made in 1973-74. To date $35,470 has been made in 1974-75.
  17. (a) Nil.

    1. $35,470.
  18. (a) The purpose and qualifying criteria ofthe Fund do not overlap with other Government grant programs.

    1. This scheme specifically relates to the revaluation of the Australian dollar. Its purpose and qualifying criteria do not overlap with other Government grant programs.

Department of Urban and Regional Development: Ministerial Press Releases (Question No. 1647)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How are copies of Ministerial press releases circulated.
  2. To whom are they circulated.
  3. 3 ) How many copies are circulated in total.
  4. What is the total annual cost, including salary and administration charges, in producing and distributing Ministerial press releases.
  5. How many public servants in his Department are involved with the distribution of press releases.
Mr Uren:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Copies of press releases issued by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development are distributed by hand in the press boxes at Parliament House and by mail to people on the Ministerial mailing list. Occasionally, press releases are sent by telex to regional media where the content particularly concerns their area. Copies are also published in the Australian Government Digest.
  2. There is a list of people, constantly changing, who receive copies of the Minister’s statements. All on the list at present have indicated that they wish to receive all the press releases. Additions to the list are made only on request, after checking that this is the form in which the person wishes to receive information.
  3. The regular mailing list consists of 90 people, plus some 60 to the press boxes. Occasionally, a press release on a matter of particular interest to certain groups, such as local councils, may be more widely circulated.
  4. The costs of this service are not separated out from other costs in printing, salary, or administration charges.
  5. This occupies varying time for a number of different officers- mainly information officers and clerical staff who are primarily engaged in other work.

Australian Assistance Plan (Question No. 1694)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. What is the composition of the committee of evaluators set up by the Social Welfare Commission to evaluate the Australian Assistance Plan.
  2. Does the Government intend to establish a series of State advisory committees on the Australian Assistance Plan.
  3. 3 ) If so, what will be their function and composition.
Mr Hayden:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The Social Welfare Commission has appointed 6 independent evaluators of the Australian Assistance Plan who will be producing separate reports evaluating the AAP in the 6 States. They do not form a ‘committee of evaluators’. They may also produce a joint consolidated report which may make recommendations for the future development of the program and point to common issues that have arisen.

The six evaluators are:

Dr Adam Graycar

School of Social Sciences,

Flinders University of South Australia.

Professor Lakki Jayasuriya Department of Social Work, University of Western Australia.

Mr Les Halliwell, Department of Social Work, University of Queensland.

Mr Adam Jamrozik,

Department of Social Work,

Tasmanian College of Advanced Education.

Mr Len Tierney Department of Social Studies, University of Melbourne.

Mr Robert Myers, Department of Social Work, University of Sydney.

The evaluators each have a number of research assistants to work with them on the project.

  1. The Government does not presently propose to establish State Advisory committees on the AAP in each of the States. One State Advisory committee has been set up in Western Australia but it is proposed to use a variety of different means to consult with relevant groups and State Government agencies in each of the other States during the experimental phase of the Plan.
  2. The terms of reference of the Western Australian Advisory Committee are:

    1. to advise the Social Welfare Commission on the impact of the Australian Assistance Plan on existing government and voluntary bodies within the State, as seen from the perspective of the organisations represented;
    2. to promote liaison and co-ordination between the groups represented on the Committee so that they might make more effective and co-ordinated representations to the Social Welfare Commission concerning the impact of the Australian Assistance Plan in the State.

The members of the Advisory committee are:

Mr R. D. Mahar (Chairman), Australian Department of Social Security, Western Australia

Mr F. Robinson, Department of Community Welfare

Mr G. Strickland, Local Government Association of Western Australia

Mr L. Staton, Western Australian Council of Social Service

Mr P. Troy, Trades and Labor Council

Mrs Giles, Women’s Electoral Lobby

Mrs G. Vaughan, M.L.C., Honorary Consultant to the A.A.P.

Wheat: Sales to China (Question No. 1798)

Mr Garland:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have the contracts or details of contracts or arrangements between the Australian Wheat Board and China concerning wheat sold, or to be sold, since 1 January 1973 been made public.
  2. If information has been released, what was it, and, if voluminous, where can it be obtained.
  3. In announcing some time ago the wheat that would be sold to China over a number of years, was the supply of wheat to be given priority over sales to other countries.
  4. Was the price fixed or is it negotiable in future.
  5. What is the list of the main contractual relationship embodied in his announcement that 4:7 million tons would be sold to China.
Mr Crean:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) On 11 October 1973 the then Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, issued a public statement concerning the negotiation of a Long-Term Wheat Agreement between the Australian Wheat Board and the China National Cereals Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation. In addition to announcing that the Agreement is for a period of three years commencing 1 January 1974 and provides for the sale of up to 4.7 million tonnes, Dr Cairns drew particular attention to the fact that the LongTerm Agreement had been negotiated specifically in accordance with the Trade Agreement between Australia and China which had been signed in July 1973.

As foreshadowed by the Minister, the Australian Wheat Board issued a statement containing further details. The Board, in line with established commercial practice, has made public certain details of a non-confidential nature concerning individual sales contracts it has subsequently entered into with the China National Cereals Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation. Copies of the statements by Dr Cairns and by the Australian Wheat Board have been provided to the honourable member.

  1. No. The base quantities specified in the Agreement were negotiated with due regard to the need for maintaining supplies to other traditional wheat markets.
  2. The Long Term Agreement does not include any provisions for fixed prices, as such. It incorporates a provision providing for the negotiation of prices on a mutually acceptable basis, having regard to world wheat prices.
  3. The Agreement specifies the base quantities which are to be sold by the Australian Wheat Board and bought by the China National Cereals Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation during each year of the Agreement- 1 . 1 million tonnes in 1974 and 1.3 to 1.8 million tonnes each year in 1975 and 1976- a total of up to 4.7 million tonnes during these three years. Sales amounting to 2.6 million tonnes have been made to China since the Agreement was signed.

Commonwealth Superannuation Fund (Question No. 1837)

Mr Corbett:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the present balance in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund.
  2. Could the Superannuation Fund be so structured to allow for earlier retirement.
  3. Are there any plans for the earlier retirement of Australian Public Servants; if so, at what age.
  4. Is the Postmaster-General’s Department required to make a contribution to the Superannuation Fund on account of what is termed superannuation liability; if so, what is the amount of the contribution.
  5. Are any other Departments required to make a similar contribution; if so, which Departments and what contribution do they make.
Dr J F Cairns:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) The balance in the Superannuation Fund as at 30 June 1974 was $739,294,744.
  2. Under the existing superannuation scheme, a contributor who has attained the age of 60, or a contributor, the age for whose retirement is fixed by law at an earlier age than 65 and who retires on attaining that age, is entitled as from the date of his retirement to receive a pension.

Under the new superannuation scheme for Austraiian Government employees approved by the Government for introduction on 1 July 1 975, a contributor may receive a pension based on his actual contributory service and reduced in accordance with the number of years by which his age at retirement falls short of age 60, provided the conditions of service applying to him permit voluntary early retirement before age 60 or he is retired involuntarily before age 60.

  1. The retiring ages for officers of the Public Service are prescribed in section 85 of the Public Service Act, the lowest age at present being age 60. The Public Service Board has indicated that it favours amendment of the Public Service Act to permit voluntary retirement at age 55 and is initiating consultation with departments as an initial step in examining the question of the desirability of having additional compulsory early retirement provisions. There has been no decision by the Government to introduce legislation to amend section 85 of the Public Service Act.
  2. The Postmaster-General’s Department does not make employer contributions to the Superannuation Fund. Under section 96F(1) of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1973, however, the Post Office is required to meet, by payments to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the employer superannuation liability in respect of its employees, who are contributors under the Superannuation Act 1922-1974. During the financial year 1973-74, the amount paid by the Post Office in discharging this liability was $ 103,820,000.
  3. The Royal Australian Mint, which is part of the Treasury, and the Australian Government Publishing Service which is part of the Department of the Media, are business undertakings and in 1973-74 paid amounts of $1 1 6,475 and $281,000 respectively to Consolidated Revenue to meet their employer superannuation liabilities. No other Department as such is required to make similar contributions, but most Australian Government bodies that are ‘approved authorities’ under the Superannuation Act are required to meet their employer superannuation liability by payments to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Treasurer: Personal Staff (Question No. 1853)

Mr Connolly:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many persons are on his personal staff.
  2. 2 ) What are their names, designations and salaries.
  3. Which of them are (a) permanent or (b) temporary public servants.
  4. From which departments have the permanent public servants been seconded.
  5. How many advisers and consultants have been or are employed by him, and what are their names and salaries.
Dr J F Cairns:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I refer the honourable member to the reply given by the Special Minister of State in answer to House of Representatives Question No. 1862 on 5 December 1974 (Hansard, page 4847).

Minister for Science: Personal Staff (Question No. 1873)

Mr Connolly:

asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many persons are on his personal staff.
  2. What are their names, designations and salaries.
  3. Which of them are (a) permanent or (b) temporary public servants.
  4. From which departments have the permanent public servants been seconded.
  5. How many advisers and consultants have been or are employed by him, and what are their names and salaries.
Mr Morrison:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1) to (5) I refer the honourable member to the information provided by the Special Minister of State in reply to Question No. 1862, House of Representatives, Hansard, Thursday 5 December 1974 page 4841. However, since that question was answered the following staff changes have occurred in my office.

    1. Mr W. F. Dominguez, Administrative Officer, Class IV $ 1 2,2 1 8-$ 1 2,72 1 , has replaced Mr T. J. Healy as my Departmental Liaison Officer.
    2. Ms S. L. Wurfel has been seconded from the Department of Overseas Trade as a Steno-secretary Grade 1 $6,382-56,741 ,

Trading Banks: Liquidity (Question No. 1892)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is he able to say whether certain major trading banks are informing their customers that they cannot provide financial accommodation because of the refusal of the Government to increase liquidity. <
  2. Have major banks been investing their liquid funds in short term Government notes over recent months.
  3. Did any banks use any of the statutory reserve deposit releases in this way.
  4. ) Ha ve banks a large pan of their funds tied up in speculative land and building ventures.

    1. Are certain banks using public relations practices to hide the results of their own speculative activities.
Dr J F Cairns:

ns- The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1) I am not aware of such action by the major trading banks and enquiries I have made have not produced any evidence to support it. Bank liquidity has risen strongly since September partly reflecting steps taken by the authorities over recent months to add to the liquid assets of banks. Banks have been assured by the Reserve Bank that banking policy will be administered so that bank liquidity will be adequate to support current policy which is aimed at providing appreciably more finance by way of new lending towards meeting the basic immediate needs of the economy for finance. However, lending policy does not provide that bank finance should be readily available to meet all demands arising from inflation. The major trading banks have responded to the improved liquidity position by greatly increasing their rates of new lending: in the four weeks to 5 December 1974 the weekly rate of new overdraft approvals was more than one-third higher than in November and more than Vh times the rate in the three months to 8 October.
  2. Banks normally hold the bulk of their liquid assets to Treasury Notes and other short-term Government securities.
  3. The bulk of releases of funds from banks’ Statutory Reserve Deposit Accounts with the Reserve Bank since June 1974 was used to offset partly a very heavy drain on resources. Since that drain abated, funds released’ have added to the level of liquidity. The releases generally reflect initially in increases in banks’ holdings of Treasury Notes and other short-term Government securities. Such an increase in liquidity of banks enhances their ability to undertake increased lending. (See answer to Part ( 1 )).
  4. Advances to property developers are only a minor proportion of total bank advances outstanding. Not all property developers are engaged in speculative ventures.
  5. 5 ) See answer to ( 4) above.

Parramatta: Immigration Office (Question No. 1917)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. Did he receive advice from the former Minister for Immigration that it was proposed to establish in the City of Parramatta an office of the Department of Immigration to assist particularly in the fields of local migrant welfare, information, education and the issue of passports
  2. If so, has he been advised by the Minister for Labor and Immigration that the Department of Labor and Immigration no longer intends to open in Parramatta an office specialising in migrant affairs.
  3. If so, what proposals does his Department now have to provide a specialised service for migrants in the Western Suburbs in the special field of migrant welfare.
Mr Hayden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) I did not receive formal notice but was aware that an office was to be opened at Parramatta.
  2. Yes.
  3. At the present time, despite the absence of an office of the former Department of Immigration a welfare team comprising social workers and bi-lingual welfare officers speaking the languages of the major migrant groups operates in the Parramatta area as the need arises.

An additional service is provided through the provision of interpreters employed through the Telephone Interpreter Service.

The service will be further extended when the staff involved transfer to the Department of Social Security.

Ravensthorpe: Television Reception (Question No. 1928)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:

With reference to the answer to Question No. 947 (Hansard, 27 November, 1974, page 42 16), how is the number of people in the Ravensthorpe area calculated as 225.

Mr Morrison:

– The Minister for the Media has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The Australian Broadcasting Control Board advises me that the figure of 225 population of Ravensthorpe was obtained from the latest figures provided by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. It is acknowledged that the Ravensthorpe Shire population includes an additional population of about 900, but it must be pointed out that these people are dispersed throughout a total Shire area of some 5000 square miles.

In examining the possibilities for the provision of television to Ravensthorpe, the Board is, of course, obliged to take into account only the population of the Ravensthorpe town, since the very high costs which would be involved in providing a service throughout the Shire would make any such project quite impracticable from the economic point of view.

Interdepartmental Committee on International Conferences (Question No. 1975)

Mr Garland:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is there an inter-departmental committee which assists or otherwise concerns itself with international conventions held in Australia.
  2. ) If so, who are the members of it.
Mr Whitlam:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes. (Hansard, 12 June 1970 at page 3675).
  2. The Department of the Special Minister of State (Chairman); Department of the Treasury; Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ministerial Staff: Publication of Reports (Question No. 2161)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

Further to Question No. 1663 and the report by Ms Elizabeth Reid following her overseas visit, why do private staff who travel overseas on public money, on official business, not make public reports.

Mr Whitlam:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

I see no reason to distinguish between reports prepared by private staff in the course of their employment as a result of work overseas and work within Australia. Private staff are answerable to their Ministers and it is each Minister’s responsibility to determine the use to which reports or advice from his private staff are put.

There is no requirement for reports made by the private staff of Opposition leaders to be published. The Leader of the Opposition has not seen fit to publish such reports by his private staff. When he does so will be the time for him to raise this matter again.

Drought Bonds Scheme (Question No. 1925)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What is the breakdown of administrative costs incurred in respect of the Drought Bonds Scheme since its inception.

Dr J F Cairns:

– The answer to the honourable member ‘s question is as follows:

Population Statistics (Question No. 1724)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:

What has been the population increase or decrease in (a) each State and Territory and (b) Australia in total in each of the last 5 years.

Mr Lionel Bowen:

– The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following information on the increase of population for each State and Territory of Australia during the year 1969-70 to 1973-74. The figures from 1 97 1 -72 are based on estimates of the population of each State and Territory, which are subject to revision when the population of each State is ascertained at the next census.

Pensioners: Personal Details Available to Government Departments (Question No. 1319)

Mr Giles:

asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

Does bis Department send lists of pensioners 'names, addresses and other details to other Departments.
Mr Hayden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Pensioners' names, addresses and other details are made available to Australian Government Departments in accordance with the following schedule:

Committee of Enquiry on Aged Persons Housing (Question No. 1696)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What progress has been made by the committee of enquiry into aged persons housing.
  2. When is it expected that the committee will report to the Government.
Mr Hayden:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) The Committee of Enquiry on Aged Persons Housing nas now completed the taking of evidence and is finalising the writing of the report. The fact that no previous national enquiry had been undertaken meant that the task of hearing and processing the evidence submitted by a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals was much more complex and lengthy than had been anticipated.
  2. The final report of the Committee will be submitted to the Social Welfare Commission and it is expected that a report and recommendations will be presented to the Government before the end of May.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 February 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.