House of Representatives
30 September 1975

29th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. G. G. D. Scholes) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.

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-I have to inform the House of the death on 27 September of Mr John Thomas Lang who was a member of the House for the division of Reid from 1946 to 1949. On behalf of the House I have forwarded a message of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places)


– I thank honourable members.

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The Clerk:

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

Increased Postal and Telephone Charges

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

That we wish to protest most vigorously at the proposed increases in postal and telephone charges.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

Diminish the size of the increase or, if possible, leave charges as they are.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hayden, Mr Berinson, Mr Bryant, Mr Ellicott, Mr Hyde, Mr Katter, Mr Kerin and Mr Staley.

Petitions received.

Increased Postal and Telephone Charges

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 increase postal and telephone charges will cause widespread inconvenience, confusion, expense and distress.

That there is no certainty that any significant benefits will follow the proposed increases.

Your petitioners therefor pray, that the Government take urgent steps to ensure that the proposed postal and telephone charge increases are reduced.

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

Petition received.

Increased Postal and Telephone Charges

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

That we wish to protest most vigorously at the proposed increases in postal and telephone charges.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

Diminish the size of the increase or, if possible, leave charges as they are.

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

Petition received.

Australian Government Insurance Corporation

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. 1) That Parliament should reject the Bill currently before it to establish an Australian Government Insurance Office.
  2. That while there is a need to establish in Australia a Natural Disaster Fund to provide compensation for property damage and other losses resulting from disasters such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones, such a Fund can be established, as in other countries, using the medium of the existing private enterprise insurance offices.
  3. That a plan for a Fund was submitted to the Treasury in October, 1974.
  4. That no sound reason for the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Corporation (other than the desire to provide non-commercial disaster insurance and Australian Government competition with private enterprise) has been given by the Government.
  5. That there is already intense competition between the existing 45 life assurance offices and between over 260 general insurance companies now operating in Australia, and that further competition from a Government Office would only be harmful at this time.
  6. That the Insurance industry is already coping with

    1. the effects of inflation,
    2. b ) increased taxation on life assurance offices,
    3. c) the effects of recent natural disasters,
    4. other legislative measures already in train or in prospect by the Government, e.g. the National Compensation Bill, a National Superannuation Plan and Improved Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation.
  7. That as taxpayers your petitioners are greatly concerned at the huge costs (far more than the $2m initial capital and loan funds which it is proposed will be allocated) of establishing an Australian Government Insurance Office.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.

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

Petition received.

Australian Government Insurance Corporation

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:

  1. Further shrink the flow of funds available for finance for private enterprise in Australia.
  2. Will eventually lead to nationalisation of much of private enterprise in Australia.
  3. Cause serious unemployment in the private insurance industry throughout Australia.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.

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

Petition received.

Australian Government Insurance Corporation

To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:

Lead to nationalisation of the Insurance Industry.

Provide no better insurance service to the public than that already provided by the existing 45 life offices and 260 general insurers.

Provide the opportunity for that office to obtain general and superannuation business by the application of Australian Government financial and verbal duress on State Government’s local and semi-government bodies, Australian or State instrumentalities or any other body, or their employees, which is funded by the Australian Government.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill1975.

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

Petition received.

Australian Government Insurance Corporation

To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:

  1. . Create hundreds of public service jobs and cause serious unemployment in the private insurance industry throughout Australia.
  2. Add to the Taxpayers burden.
  3. Trade unfairly.

Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.

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

Petition received.

Australian Government Insurance Corporation

To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:

  1. Increase Bureaucracy at the time when Government spending should be curtailed.
  2. Shrink the flow of funds to the private sector.
  3. Eliminate private insurance for Australians.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.

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

Petition received.

Telephone Concessions for Pensioners

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

That the decisions of the Australian Government-

  1. To depart from its 1972 election promise that basic pensions would be related to average weekly earnings and never be allowed to fall below 25 per cent thereof, and
  2. b ) To increase postage costs and the costs of installation and annual rental of telephones, will seriously add to the economic burdens now borne by those citizens who are wholly or mainly dependent on their pensions.

Your petitioners are impelled by these facts to call upon the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to review the abovementioned decisions (a) and (b), and to determine-

  1. That pensions be related to average earnings as promised by the Prime Minister in his 1972 policy speech, and
  2. That no charge be made for installation or rental on the telephones of those pensioners entitled to a P.M.S. card.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connor, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Anthony and Mr Sullivan.

Petitions received.

Metric System

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

That the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measures of this country is causing and will cause widespread inconvenience, confusion, expense and distress.

That there is no certainty that any significant benefits or indeed any benefits at all will follow the use of the new weights and measures.

That the traditional weights and measures are eminently satisfactory.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed, and that the Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional and familiar units to be restored in those areas where the greatest inconveniences and distress are occurring, that is to say, in meteorology, in road distances, in sport, in the building and allied trades, in the printing trade, and in retail trade.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Gorton, Mr Millar and Mr Oldmeadow.

Petitions received.


To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of residents of Australia respectfully shows:

That we believe the plight of the world’s great whales to be desperate; that we are convinced that they need conservation now, and that exploitation should cease; that we agree with Dr Sidney Holt of F.A.O., who says that a complete reassessment of all scientific data on whales is needed; and we further submit that substitutes to all whale products are available, and could, with Government encouragement, be made in Australia. We are convinced that the great whales, as a significant part of the world’s wildlife heritage, and being on the verge of extinction, now need our complete and wholehearted protection.

We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:

  1. 1) Support a 10 year moratorium on whaling at the 1975 meeting of the IWC.
  2. Support research and development of alternatives to whale products, and encourage production of these products in Australia.
  3. Provide increased funds for research into marine biology.
  4. Force the cessation of whaling operations at Cheynes Beach, Western Australia; at the same time providing funds to assist the personnel and facilities of the factory to be otherwise gainfully used (perhaps in whale research, to further our own and the world ‘s knowledge).
  5. Ban the import into this country of all whale products, and all goods containing whale products.
  6. Urge that Australia, as a member of the IWC, use all possible influence to encourage the end of whaling throughout the world, and refuse to service ships of all whaling nations at Australian ports.

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

Petitions received.

Fraser Island

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 the natural environment of Fraser Island is so outstanding that it should be identified as part of the World Natural Heritage, and whereas the Island should be conserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations.

Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in the House assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:

  1. that the Australian Government uses its constitutional powers to prohibit the export of any mineral sands from Fraser Island, and
  2. that the Australian Government uses its constitutional authority to assist the Queensland Government and any other properly constituted body to develop and conserve the recreational, educational and scientific potentials of the natural environment of Fraser Island for the long term benefit of the people of Australia.

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

Petition received.

Television: Pornographic Material

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

That we strongly oppose the easing of restrictions on the importation, production in Australia, sale or distribution of pornographic material whether in films, printed matter or any other format.

That any alterations to the Television Programme Standards of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which permits the exploitation of sex or violence is unacceptable to us.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing Television Programme Standards or to permit easier entry into Australia, or production in Australia, of pornographic material.

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

Petition received.

School Cadet Corps

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

That we wish to protest most vigorously at the proposed abolition of the Army School Cadet Corps.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

Ensure the continued existence of the Army School Cadet Corps.

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

Petition received.

Income Tax

To The Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the undersigned persons believe that-

The $300 limit on income tax deductibility in respect of personal residential land and water rates is unrealistic and is a discriminatory income tax penalty.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take steps to see that the aforesaid limitation is removed entirely or substantially increased.

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

Petition received.

Australian Capital Territory: Land Use

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The humble Petition of the undersigned residents of Torrens Street, Braddon, Canberra, respectfully showeth that we request the Minister for Capital Territory to take the necessary action in conformity with the City Area Leases Ordinance 1936-1974 as amended, to restore the residential amenity of Torrens Street.

We are concerned that the commercial enterprises in Lonsdale Street that are encroaching upon Torrens Street, are thereby eroding both, the standards of residential amenity and the natural beauty of the neighbourhood.

There are certain leases in Torrens Street being used for purposes, that we consider going beyond the purposes of the lease originally granted, and believe that they are contrary to the spirit of the City Area Leases Ordinance 1936-1974 as amended.

There are unplanned changes in landuse occurring on the following leases:

Block 10, Section 29, Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 3)

Block 5, Section 29, Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 13)

Block 3, Section 29, Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 1 7)

Block 1 , Section 2 1 , Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 45 )

Block 8, Section 2 1 , Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 3 1 )

Block 9, Section 21, Braddon. (Torrens Street No. 29)

These unplanned changes in landuse are:

  1. encroachment of commercial activities from Lonsdale Street onto residentially defined land in Torrens Street. This also involves either the removal offences from the rear boundary line adjoining the two leases, or the relocation of fences, closer to the dwelling, from the rear boundary line adjoining leases, between Torrens and Lonsdale Streets.
  2. access to commercial properties in Lonsdale Street via residentially defined land in Torrens Street, by the removal of fences from rear boundary lines adjoining leases between Torrens and Lonsdale Streets.
  3. use of residentially defined land, and adjoining nature strips, for all day parking of motor vehicles associated with commercial activities of Lonsdale Street and/or the City.
  4. use of residentially defined land for the purposes of storing building materials, machinery and equipment.
  5. use of residences for purposes other than residential.

As a result, the character of our neighbourhood is being changed without reference to us, as residents, some of whom, whohave resided here since the development of the neighbourhood. The encroachments in the street are making access to homes difficult.

Furthermore these surreptitious encroachments are also affecting residential property values, in a way which is making it economically impossible for ageing residents to continue to live in Torrens Street. The lessees of the above mentioned six properties, purchased those leases at prices, unrealistic for ‘residential only’ purposes. These purchase prices are used by the valuers, as a basis upon which to determine the unimproved land values, and hence the general rates, for the street.

We therefore humbly pray that you will undertake immediate action under the City Area Leases Ordinance 1936-1974 as amended, if you consider there to be a breach of the purpose clause, or any other clauses, under which the lease was originally granted, for the above mentioned six leases.

We also humbly pray that you will undertake action, forthwith, to have fences reinstated on the correct rear boundary line, as defined in the respective leases, for the above mentioned leases, where they have been removed or relocated.

We further humbly pray that you initiate further legislation which will: prevent ungazetted changes in land use empower you to take legal action against any person who breaches a lease purpose clause and which will impose more stringent penalties.

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

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 utilised inLight 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 whereasplutonium 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. byMrKerin.

Petition received.

Shire of South Gippsland

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. The Rural economy of the Shire of South Gippsland is severely disadvantaged by the current prices being paid for cattle;

    1. The Council of the Shire of South Gippsland is extremely concerned with the financial crisis which is rapidly overtaking its finances;
    2. Non-replacement of outdoor staff has been introduced since early 1974 because of the effective reduction in funds for road maintenance and construction caused by inflation;
    3. Continually increasing wages and salaries as a result of indexation cannot continue to be passed on to the ratepayer.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House take steps to-

  1. 1 ) grant to the Shire of South Gippsland an amount of $200,000 to enable it to provide the same standard of service it provided in 1972;
  2. increase this grant annually in line with the inflation rate.

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

Petition received.

Tertiary Education Scheme

To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of theundersigned citizens and foreign students respectfully showeth:

That the undersigned most strongly agree with the changes proposed to the tertiary education scheme in the submission to the Committee to review the scheme presented by the Australian Union of Students, and see the following specific changes as being immediately necessary:

  1. 1 ) An immediate increase in the maximum awayfromhome and independence rates from the present $32 per week to $49 per week, as indicated in the 1974 joint Department of Education and A.U.S. survey of student cost and expenditure.
  2. Indexation of the allowance according to moves in the Consumer Price Index weighted for particular student costs.
  3. Abolition of the present complex academic requirements preventing financially needy students from obtaining benefits on grounds of their academic standing and replacing them with one year’s automatic grace for students who fail or transfer.
  4. Abolition of the pernicious regulations which prevents students who are less than 2 1 and living away from home from receiving the away-from-home rate (except under three limited conditions).
  5. Increase in the allowance for dependent spouse from $5 to $17 per week.
  6. Efficient administration of the scheme.

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

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Werriwa · ALP

I inform the House that in the absence of the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, due to illness, the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Lionel Bowen) will represent him.

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– Will the Prime Minister identify the areas of corruption, selfinterest and sabotage that he spoke about on Sunday?


– I gathered from some reported utterances by the right honourable gentleman himself during the weekend that he might ask some such question. Accordingly, I bring to his notice, to the notice of honourable members in general and of members of the public the extraordinary cost to the community of the forms of compulsory insurance about which I was speaking covering the fields of workers compensation and third party insurance. It is calculated that in this financial year the moneys paid to lawyers for workers compensation matters in Australia will amount to $30m and that the amount paid to lawyers for compulsory third party insurance matters in Australia will be $40m. In addition it is calculated that the amount paid for the administration of and commissions for workers compensation will be $105m and that the amount paid for the administration of and commissions for third party insurance will be $ 15m. I make the point that those people who are compelled, as all employers and as all car owners are compelled, to take out insurance in Australia would save hundreds of millions of dollars under the Government’s national rehabilitation and compensation scheme.

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– Can the Prime Minister say which Australian Government programs would be affected by a reduction in grants made under section 96 of the Constitution?


-The programs which would be affected are those which the Australian Government has specified as the subjects for grants of money under section 96 of the Constitution to the States. The present Government has initiated grants through the States under section 96 for sewerage programs, area improvement programs, land councils, growth centres, urban public transport, education and health. I would make the point that none of this money is received by the States except after negotiations with them and with their consent. None of them have to take a cent under any of these programs, and some of the States have in fact delayed a very long time in taking some of that money.

Mr Armitage:

– This would be the case with the Karmel legislation?


-And all the education commissions. But I suppose the most glaring example of the failure of the States to take money which is available to them under section 96 has been under Medibank. But the most dilatory State, the State which will benefit most, has been New South Wales. I am happy to say that yesterday I was able to sign the Medibank agreement with New South Wales, and I imagine that today the Premier of New South Wales will put his mark on the agreement. A very great deal has been made in recent times, I gather largely by the Leader of the Opposition, about the amount of tied grants that the Australian Government- my Government- has been making to the States. The fact is, as will be realised by anyone looking at all the programs I have mentioned, that these are programs which were not in operation before this Government was elected. They were the subject of tied grants- grants which had to be tied because the States were not making available the necessary sums of money and for such purposes had no programs to make any money available for them. Quite obviously if one cuts out tied grants one cuts out all these new initiatives which have made the Australian States, and particularly Sydney and Melbourne which are the two worst governed parts of Australia, better places because of my Government’s initiative.

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– I address the following question to the Prime Minister: Has the Government received any further estimates as to the level of unemployment expected for the early part of 1976? Does he still expect that unemployment will exceed 400 000? Finally, what positive action will the Government take to relieve the hardships imposed by unemployment?


– I have not seen any estimates later than those that were given to the House in the last week it was sitting. The honourable gentleman, of course, used to make estimates that there would be 500 000 people out of work in Australia. He apparently is very frustrated that our estimates are only 80 per cent of that number. But he might have heard on some of the media today that the percentage of unemployment in the European Economic Community countries is greater than it is in Australia. The proportion in North America is at least twothirds greater than it is in Australia. The point that should be realised, even by honourable gentlemen opposite who seem to have a vested interest in isolating Australia and distorting Australian statistics, is that in every country of the world with which we can compare ourselves unemployment is at the highest rate that it has been for 40 years. It is certainly far too high in Australia; it is far too high in every comparable country.

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– I address my question to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer say whether the Government has considered alternatives to the present system of tax reimbursement to the States? What would be the effect on the revenue of a small State such as Western Australia of any change, and what administrative steps would be necessary?


– A succession of governments, non-Labor ones before this one, have had proposals put to them from time to time by various representatives of the States seeking a change in the system of financial reimbursement of the States. All governments have consistently rejected those proposals. They have followed a similar pattern. The pattern has been replicated in the proposed program for finance sharing between the States and the Australian Government under the Liberal Party proposition released last week. The fact is that this would be disastrous for the smaller States. There can be no other interpretation than a wish on the part of a future Liberal Party-National Country Party government to force the States, especially the smaller ones, to raise more tax revenue themselves. This would be consistent with the stated philosophy of the Leader of the Opposition, who believes that the strong people stand on their own feet squarely and fairly. They are responsible to no one but themselves and they ask no one else to be responsible to them. As part of this Rand-like philosophy it would be consistent for the Leader of the Opposition to support a situation where the more powerful and more prosperous StatesNew South Wales and Victoria- asserted more and more irresistible pressure against the smaller States forcing them to take up the surtax avenues to raise more revenue locally.

There are certain similarities between the Opposition’s proposals and the system currently operating in Canada. It is significant that the smaller and less prosperous provinces in Canada have to bear a far higher tax burden additional to the federal tax than do the prosperous provinces. For instance, in the province of British Columbia the provincial tax is 30.5 per cent and it rises to 42.5 per cent in Manitoba. We could well see disadvantage accrue to the less prosperous and less populous States like Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia as a result of the introduction of this sort of system. The result of this sort of scheme would be that people resident in those States would pay more taxes. Accordingly, it would be less attractive to the work force whether moving about within the country or coming from overseas. Furthermore, as a result of this scheme there would be a retardation in the rate of industrial development which those States could achieve.

The smaller States did exceptionally well this year under the reimbursement arrangements which we have administered. Admittedly it is not a thoroughly satisfactory arrangement but it is better than any alternative which has been put before us so far. For instance, if Queensland had been reimbursed on the same per capita basis as the Australian average it would have received $78m less than it did; Western Australia would have received $109m less than it did; and South Australia would have received $125m less than it did. The States, by and large, have done exceptionally well under this Government. Their level of expenditure is now twice the rate of expenditure as a proportion of gross domestic product, of the level of expenditure for the Australian Government. The last year that a LiberalCountry Party government was in office State and local governments’ level of expenditure was about 60 per cent of the level of expenditure of the Australian Government. The States have done immeasurably better under the present Government. They will continue to do so under the system of reimbursements, with its flaws, until something better is proposed. Certainly the alternative put forward by the Opposition would be to the State’s great disadvantage.

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-I ask a question of the Prime Minister supplemental to that asked of him by the Leader of the Opposition. Why did the Prime Minister use the word ‘corruption’ in his statement at the weekend? Does the word refer to the lawyers to whom he adverted in his previous reply practising in those several jurisdictions? If not, to whom does it relate?


– I do not remember using the word ‘corruption’ at all.

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-Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of the reports of statements made at the Women and Politics Conference by

Aboriginal women from Queensland? Can he say whether he intends to take any action to prevent the discriminatory practices under the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Act which those Aboriginal women criticised?

Mr Les Johnson:

-I remember complaints being made about discrimination against Aboriginal people in Queensland. In fact there is an incessant flow of such complaints and it is probably time that people realised that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act was passed by this Parliament on 19 June last and has a capacity to redress many of these problems. The honourable gentleman referred to the Women and Politics Conference. It is true that complaints were made there and in particular by a Marcia Lambton, an Aboriginal lady who claimed, among other things, when referring to the Queensland laws, that under those laws blacks could not choose to live where they wanted and could be moved anywhere at the discretion of a government official and Aboriginal estates were controlled by an appointed manager so that in reality blacks had no access to their money or to estates of deceased persons. She said that the Queensland laws could override the Conciliation and Arbitration Act so that blacks were not eligible for the minimum award wage and could not strike or organise without penalty. She went on to say that they have legislated for every aspect of a black person’s life and they were administered by one white man.

The fact of the matter is that the Act to which I have referred gives redress in these matters. It is now illegal to pay less than award wages, and it is up to the Queensland Government to ensure that its own departments abide by the law. If any person feels that the law is not being complied with he can take any or all of the actions available to the public. I suggest that any person who intends to set off in this direction should seek legal advice. It is competent, of course, for such a person to avail himself or herself of the Aboriginal Legal Service, which will be happy to give advice about such matters. I believe that the effectiveness of this Act should now be tested because there has been little improvement in the very serious discriminatory laws that have been operating against Aboriginal people in Queensland over the years.

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– Has the Prime Minister been made aware that certain trade unions in

Australia have during the last 12 months canvassed members for monetary donations which were to be made available to the communist Fretilin forces in Portuguese East Timor? Is the Prime Minister in a position to know whether money or materials have left Australia to aid the Fretilin forces?


– I do not know whether there have been contributions by any unions or whether contributions have been sought by any unions for Fretilin in Portuguese Timor. I would only like to add that I deplore the tag ‘communist’ being attached to Fretilin. A month ago it was attached to Fretilin by the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia, and following him-

Mr Anthony:

– Pro-communist.


-The right honourable gentleman now interposes the word ‘procommunist’.

Mr Anthony:

– I used the same word before, and I still do. Why do you not face up to it?


-The right honourable gentleman is asking me to face up to the question.

Mr Anthony:

– You said before that they were extreme -


– Order! The Leader of the National Country Party will remain silent. Other honourable members will also remain silent.


-Mr Speaker, the right honourable gentleman started this mischief by asking me a question without notice referring to Fretilin and using the term ‘communist’. Later during the same question time the Leader of the Opposition, to the palpable discomfiture of his foreign affairs spokesman, used the word ‘communist’ when referring to Fretilin himself. I responded to their questions in pretty moderate terms, in the circumstances. Now the honourable gentleman from Ballaarat uses the term again. I suppose there may be pro-communist elements in Fretilin. I do not believe, on the basis of the information available to me, that Fretilin is totally or predominantly communist. What I do want to bring home to honourable gentleman is that the use of terms like ‘communist’ about Fretilin, the insinuation that Fretilin is totally, predominantly or largely communist, just arouses the suspicions that there are in all the Moslem countries in our area. In these circumstances, it makes it very difficult to do what the Government is trying to do, that is, to bring home to the Portuguese Government a sense of its responsibility for its colony and, secondly, to bring together the contending forces, of which Fretilin is now the dominant one, in East Timor. The Government is committed to the idea that people in Timor, or anywhere else for that matter, should be given the opportunity for selfdetermination.

To intrude colourful terms which were rampant in this Parliament in the 1950s and into the 1960s does nothing to help the people of Timor out of their travail. Very considerable assistance has been given by the Australian taxpayers to the people of East Timor. It has been given through international agencies, which are well equipped to do it, and through Australian agencies affiliated with the recognised co-ordinating body, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. The Australian taxpayers have also made their own facilities- their official aircraft and communicationsavailable for Portuguese envoys and a Portuguese minister. In those circumstances the Australian Government is doing a very great deal to help the people of East Timor. I urge honourable gentlemen to enable the whole question to be discussed and, one would hope, solved in a rational, calm manner.

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– Is the Minister for Tourism and Recreation aware of criticism, directed against the processing of applications for grants for tourism and recreational projects, which was made in a television news session in northern Tasmania last week? In fairness to the applicants and to the local government and State government officers who are responsible for processing the applications in the first instance, will the Minister clarify the position and outline the procedures that are followed in all cases.

Minister for Tourism and Recreation · LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I am aware of the criticism that was levelled by the honourable member for Bass at the method of processing applications for grants from my Department. The procedure is simple and logical. I ask organisations to approach their local government authorities. I ask the local government authorities to submit to the State department their priorities for the projects in their local government areas. I request the State department then to submit to me its priorities of State projects. They are examined by my Department and submitted to me. I then recommend the projects which are to be granted assistance.

In the case of the George Town swimming pool, the first approach was made in 1973 by the George Town Swimming Pool Association. That was followed by representations from various senators and State members. The Swimming Pool Association followed up its application. The Tasmanian Government promised a grant of $50,000 under the Public Bodies Assistance Act, the local government authority promised $50,000 and I recommended a grant of $50,000. The cost of the pool was to be $200,000. The Swimming Pool Association was to have raised the remainder of the money required. A poll of the people of that local government area disclosed that they did not want a swimming pool and I was advised by the Swimming Pool Association that the $50,000 grant I had recommended was not required. If this is a measure of the sagacity, intelligence and honour of the ex-Army officer who represents the electorate of Bass I can only draw the conclusion that the Army profited by his departure and the Parliament lost by his arrival.

page 1391




– My question is directed to the Minister for Science. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has bestowed upon the Minister all the scientific qualifications, can he say whether he is qualified to be in dispute with his mentor over the pronunciation of the word for the unit of measurement- KILL-o-MEtre or kilOMetre? Has the Minister, in his capacity as Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs, drawn upon all the scientific and linguistic advice available to him? Will the Minister put at rest the debate that has been going on by informing us which is right, kil-OM-etre or KILL-o-MEtre?

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Like the Prime Minister earlier in question time I anticipated a question on this matter and I have come very well prepared to answer it. There can be only one right pronunciation; there cannot be 2 right pronunciations of a word like this. It is like saying that one can pronounce the word ‘ Whitlam’ with the T silent or something like that. There is only one correct pronunciation and as Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs I am the one who speaks for the Government on matters relating to scientific terms. I have said that it is KILLoMEtre and KILL-o-MEtre it is. The Prime Minister and I have been friends for a very long time.

Mr Whitlam:

– You would not need much of a chron-o-meter to work out for how much longer we will be.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– In spite of the occasional difference that we have had on a whole range of subjects we have a very healthy affection for each other. I have for him and I know he has for me. I am sure it will always remain that way. I often wonder why it is that I like him so much, but I do.

Mr Whitlam:

– I have the same worry.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-As I have said during this controversy, I think most people realise that the Prime Minister has a very highly developed sense of humour. I had this brought home to me yesterday, and I shall come to that later. The Prime Minister, in his very well prepared reply to me, which I should like to have incorporated in Hansard together with my letter to him made this comment:

All English words ending in ‘ meter ‘ or ‘ metre ‘ derive from the Greek word ‘ metron ‘ in which the penultimate syllable is short, the letter ‘e’ in English reproducing ‘epsilon’ not ‘eta’ -

Mr Whitlam:

-Ep-SIGH-lon, for God’s sake.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I am glad the Prime Minister can pronounce that word. I was testing him on that to see whether he would let that go. Anyone who would call a KILLoMEter a kil-OM-eter is likely to make the same mistake with that word. I notice that the Prime Minister knows how to pronounce one word anyway. I was struck by his reference to Greek because in cosier times he confided in me that he had learned or, if not learned, had been taught ancient Greek by no less an authority than Mr Enoch Powell. So I took the trouble of telephoning Mr Powell at the weekend because Mr Powell is a world authority not only on English pronunciation but on Greek pronunciation as well. Mr Powell was good enough to tell me quite a deal about the correct pronunciation of KILLoMEter. He promised that he would send me a cable, which I now table for the benefit of the Parliament. It is addressed ‘personal for the Honourable Clyde Cameron’ and states:

In response to your telephone inquiry, Mr Enoch Powell has asked us to cable the following message to you: Begins You ask whether Greek derivation requires the o in kilometre to be stressed. If so, it would also require the o in kilogram to be stressed. However, kilometre and other kilowords are not Greek words, but artificial formations. The Greek words would have been chiliometre etcetera. In any case classical Greek accentuation was tone, not stress. Correct stress is determined only by usage, not derivation. Ends.

I thought that the Prime Minister was serious, just for one fleeting moment, until yesterday at the function in connection with the commencement of work on the Australian High Court building when the Prime Minister pronounced ‘ DECAmetre ‘ as ‘ deCAMeter ‘.

Mr Whitlam:
Mr Clyde Cameron:

-That, of course, is wrong too. I think that it is quite a serious matter for a nation like ours to be set on the wrong course so early in the piece in our conversion to the metric system. Honourable members will remember that one of the Georges- I think it was George III- was responsible for turning the Roman four into ‘ IIII * instead of ‘TV’, because he insisted that he knew best, he could not be wrong, and so we had English clockmakers using that form of the Roman four. The Prime Minister, unlike George III- if it was George III; it was one of the Georges- has never claimed to be infallible.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– George III was the one who went mad.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– The Prime Minister has never claimed to be infallible. After listening to the Prime Minister pronounce the word ‘decametre’ as ‘deCAMeter’ yesterday, my honest opinion is that I can only take it for granted, to coin a rather ungrammatical phrase, that he has taken a lend of the Press and the media generally and of everybody else who thinks that he is serious.


– I am not sure that I should not call the Minister for Education next. I call the honourable member for Scullin.

page 1392




-I will oblige, Mr Speaker, by addressing my question to the Minister for Education. Will the Minister inform the House of the respective amounts of capital grants for technical education in Victoria from the Australian Government and the Victorian Government in this financial year? What is the effect on the technical education program in Victoria of the disparity in these grants?


– In this financial year Commonwealth capital grants to the building of technical colleges are worth $24m, and the States are matching that sum with $14m. The matching grants vary. In the case of Victoria, the Commonwealth contribution is 90 per cent- that is, $7,400,000 as against $700,000-whereas in South Australia the contribution by the Australian Government is about 20 per cent; that is, $1,300,000 to $4,560,000. There is no agreement with the States about the maintenance of effort.

The position is that the Technical and Further Education Commission in its report, which has not been adopted, did recommend that there should be an agreement with the States whereby the States maintained effort. There is no agreement to maintain effort. So the extraordinary position arises in which the smaller State of South Australia is putting in a contribution of $4.5m, or more than the contribution of $4m being put in by New South Wales, and nearly 7 times as much as the contribution being made by Victoria. The State of Victoria at present seems to be pursuing a policy whereby it leaves the bulk of the capital expenditure on technical education to the Federal Government. I would say that, at present, that is not contrary to any agreement, but it is clearly a weakness in the present form of Australian Government assistance to the States for technical education purposes whereby there is no agreement about the maintenance of a matching effort, the Commonwealth grants can become substitutionary rather than additional.

page 1392




– I ask the Minister for Defence: Has any decision being taken to disband the Air Training Corps and the Naval Reserve Cadets? If a decision has been taken, will the honourable gentleman say whether that decision was taken pursuant to advice given by the respective chiefs of staff?

Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs in matters relating to the Islands of the Pacific · ST GEORGE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The Military, Naval and Air Boards have considered the question and the advice to me was that there was no military value in terms of the defence area in maintaining the cadets. The question of naval cadets is being discussed with the Navy League of Australia. The Navy League handed over responsibility for them to the former Department of the Navy some years back. We are now considering with the Navy League the transfer of the assets back to the Navy League so that it can resume responsibility for the naval cadets. I reiterate that the advice to me of the competent military advisers to the Government was that the expenditure involved in the army cadets, navy cadets and air training cadets was such that its place among the priorities for the defence preparedness of Australia was low.

page 1392




-Can the Prime Minister say in what ways the Australian Government is able to provide financial assistance to local government?


– I am not sure that this question comes completely within the parameters of my portfolio. Nevertheless I shall answer in general terms. In the last Budget that our predecessors introduced, local government received from the Australian Government through the Australian Parliament $3.9m. This year local government bodies will be receiving $1 16m on the initiative of the Australian Government through the Australian Parliament. Quite clearly there has been an immense increase in the amount of money being granted by the Australian Government to local government bodies constituted under the laws of the States. I notice that there have been proposals by the Opposition which would seem to dismantle many of these grants or remove the equalisation aspects of them. For instance, the grants are mostly given to local government bodies on the recommendations of the Grants Commission, as reconstituted in June 1973. That Commission is under a former Supreme Court judge and he is assisted by several people of outstanding qualifications in economics, local government, engineering and soon.

I gather that the Opposition’s objective would be to dismantle and to proliferate such a body and to have a separate one in each State.

The objective of the Australian Government is to help local government bodies, however new, however old, and however remote they may be, to preserve the same quality of service for their ratepayers as is made available by the best situated local government bodies. This idea is behind so much of the Government’s objectives in public finance, that is, to give most assistance where it is most needed. That is behind our objective for local government. Local government has profited immensely from my Government’s policies. It is significant that last week the Australian Constitutional Convention had on its agenda items concerning local government, but because local government was put on the agenda the Liberal leaders, except those from the Parliaments of South Australia and Tasmania, boycotted the Convention. However, I am happy to say that the Convention proceeded and the representatives of local governments from all States had the great satisfaction of seeing that the Convention endorsed the agenda items dealing with local government.

page 1393




– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the interim report of the Royal Commission on Petroleum on the Australian Council of Trade Unions oil deal has been delivered to the Governor-General? When will it be available to the Parliament and to the public?


-The report was delivered to the Governor-General last week. It will be tabled in 6 minutes time.

page 1393




– Can the Treasurer say whether tax indexation is compatible with basing revenue reimbursements to the States on a fixed percentage of tax collections?


– Tax indexation seems to have a new-found virtue for the Opposition. After all, the Opposition’s economic spokesman released in January this year a Press statement in which he condemned tax indexation, but now the Opposition seems to be committed to it. It is one of those amazing turnabouts which are so common in the ranks of the Opposition. I do not believe that tax indexation is seriously compatible with the sorts of proposals that the Opposition is putting forward. It would provide little advantage for the average taxpayer in the community if he were advised by a Federal government that tax indexation was to apply to personal tax payments and at the same time the States were to apply their own forms of taxation as an additional charge. We could well see the situationone would expect it to happen anyway- where, whenever the central government decided to adjust tax rates down as part of economic management and to give benefits to the community, certain State governments at least would immediately step into the breach and increase their tax rates to derive additional benefits for themselves. But going even further than that, there would be no restraint on the level of taxationat least theoretically- which States could apply, and there would be a very uneven personal tax burden in the community as a result of the Opposition’s proposals. Indeed, we are about to move into the situation where there will be double taxation of Australian taxpayers. They will be slugged from 2 directions, and at least from one such direction, even with indexation, which has not been fully defined as a commitment by the Opposition, there would be at some future time uncertainty as to the level of taxation which the States would apply. But perhaps the absence of detail arises because the Opposition does not really know precisely what it intends to do. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 26th of this month reported Mr Lewis as having this to say about the Liberal tax scheme:

But until the plan was implemented it would be premature to talk of specifics.

He had just returned from a meeting with leaders of the Federal Opposition parties held principally to discuss this proposal. The newspaper report stated that Mr Lewis said that the scheme was still years away. He added:

Nobody knows what it will mean. Mr Fraser had got to get into government

The Queensland Treasurer, Sir Gordon Chalk, who is well aware of the way in which his State will be disadvantaged has bluntly said:

The Premier-

That is the Premier of Queensland- is entitled to express his views but he knows I have reservations about how Queensland would fare.

So too does the Liberal member for Lilley in this House, and so too do many other people, because they know that in the final result all proposals such as those being put forward by the Opposition will lead to serious disadvantages, unevenness and an erratic system for economic management in this country.

page 1394




– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration. When the Government introduced the Regional Employment Development scheme to relieve unemployment, did the rules provide for payment of wage increases and increased costs of materials during the progress of projects? Have many organisations and local government councils lodged claims for these increased costs and has payment been refused by the Government? Is this a repudiation by the Government which is causing severe financial problems for such bodies? Will the Minister take up this urgent problem with the Minister for Labor and Immigration in another place to see that the promises made by the Government are honoured?

Minister Assisting the Minister for Urban and Regional Development · PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Provision was made in the original rules of the Regional Employment Development scheme for adjustments to be made as a result of increased costs. I am aware that some applications have been made in this regard; I am not aware that applications have been rejected. If the honourable member says that some have been rejected, I will certainly raise the matter with the Minister for Labor and Immigration and provide him with a suitable answer at the earliest possible opportunity. I should say again, however, it is heartening that at least some members of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party are now seeing the virtue in the Regional Employment Development scheme. It is a pity that they did not always do so. It is a pity they do not try to convince some of their State colleagues to withdraw their objection and their challenge to the continuation of schemes such as the RED scheme which are the initiatives of this Government and which assist in reducing unemployment and at the same time provide a useful community service.

page 1394




- Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the House to present a further answer to a question which the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) asked me on 10 September.


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


– The honourable member asked me a question regarding delays in the payment of Medibank benefits. I now have the following information from the Minister for Social Security. He says that based on the assumption that the average number of line items per claim would follow the pattern which applied before 1 July 1975, that is, 2.8 line items per claim, and counting assignment of benefits claims as separate claims- a claim by a doctor under the assignment procedures can include any number of individual assignments by patients- it was expected that at full operating level Medibank would be required to handle about 110 000 claims a day, that is, about 550 000 claims a week. Full operating level is expected to be reached about December of this year. The fact is, however, that Medibank received 1 409 720 claims in the month of July. This high early volume was due to the lower average of line items per claim- it is almost 3 times the expected level- and does not suggest, as might be supposed, that a higher volume of medical services is being claimed for. As a consequence of the high early volume, the predicted 5 -day turn-around has not been achieved in all cases and some claims, particularly those incorrectly made out, have been delayed. The Health Insurance Commission has reacted quickly to the high volume and is now reducing the backlog of claims. Over the first 9 weeks of operation, the average time taken to make Medibank payments after lodgment of a claim has been 8 days.

page 1394



-Pursuant to statute I present the reports and financial statements of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia together with the Auditor-General’s report thereon for the year ended 30 June 1 975.

page 1394


Prime Minister · Werriwa · ALP

-For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Australian delegation to the third session of the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, between 17 March and 9 May 1975.

page 1395


Prime Minister · Werriwa · ALP

-Pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-1975 I present the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 1395



Treasurer · Oxley · ALP

-I present the following papers: Taxation- Taxation Statistics 1973-74, dated 1 September 1975, the supplement to the fifty-third report of the Commissioner of Taxation and fifty-fourth report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated 1 September 1975. 1 move:

That the papers be printed.

Honourable members will recall that it is the practice of the House to agree forthwith to the motion to print these papers so that they may be covered by parliamentary privilege. This course has the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser). When the motion to print is agreed to, the papers will be circulated immediately.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1395


Minister for Northern Australia · Dawson · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present an interim report of the Australian Chicken Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1 975.

page 1395


Minister for Northern Australia · Dawson · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present an interim report of the Australian Egg Board for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 1395


Minister for Northern Australia · Dawson · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present an interim report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 1395


Minister for Northern Australia · Dawson · ALP

– Pursuant to section 5 (S) of the Dairy Adjustment Act 1974 I present an agreement between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments entitled: Amending Agreement in relation to Dairy Adjustment Programs, Tasmania (1975).

page 1395


Minister for Manufacturing Industry · KingsfordSmithMinister for Manufacturing Industry · ALP

– Pursuant to section 38 (3) of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967-1973 I present the eighth annual report of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board for the year ended 30 June 1975. Due to the limited numbers available reference copies of this report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library.

page 1395


KingsfordSmithMinister for Manufacturing Industry · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Royal Commission on Petroleum on the circumstances of the transfer of allocated indigenous crude oil by Allied Petrochemicals Pty Ltd to ACTU-Solo Enterprises Pty Ltd. The report is dated September 1975.

Mr Sinclair:

- Mr Speaker, I ask whether the Leader of the House might move that the paper be noted.

Mr Daly:

– No.

Mr Sinclair:

– Oh, running away from it.

page 1395


Minister for Urban and Regional Development · Reid · ALP

– Pursuant to section 8 of the Urban and Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Act 1974 I present an agreement in relation to the provision of financial assistance to Western Australia for urban expansion and redevelopment (Moore River studies) 1974-75.

page 1395


Minister for Transport · Newcastle · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present financial statements relating to Commonwealth Railways operations for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 1396


Minister for the Media · Maribyrnong · ALP

– Pursuant to section 28 (3) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1975 I present the twenty-seventh annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30 June 1975 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.

page 1396


Minister for Tourism and Recreation · Lang · ALP

– Pursuant to section 76a of the National Health Act 1953-1975 I present a report on the operations of the registered medical and hospital benefits organisations for the year ended 30 June 1974.

page 1396


Minister for Tourism and Recreation · Lang · ALP

– For the information of honourable members I present the interim report on the operations in relation to the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 1396



-I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes. Mr Speaker, in response to a question from the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) accused me of lacking integrity and honour. It is true that in a television program in Launceston last Friday I was critical of the way in which grants were made in regard to leisure and recreation. The information and criticism that I gave during that television program was made after I had been in consultation with every municipal council in the Launceston area and many of the bodies that were seeking grants from the Minister’s Department. The thrust of the criticism was that these grants were not co-ordinated and that the basis on which the grants were being made was not known to the people who were receiving them. In passing I made reference to $50,000 in regard to a swimming pool.

The fact of the matter is that I have also written to Mr Batt, the Tasmanian Minister for Education, pointing out the same criticisms. I suggested to him that, because of the ill will that had been generated in Launceston by the lack of co-ordination in regard to the allocation of these grants the criticisms should be put to the urban council group and discussed there so that our region could give him reasonable information.


-Order! I think the honourable member is going well beyond the area covered by a personal explanation.


– What I am about to say makes the point. The Minister for Education, Mr Batt, has indicated to my office already that he agrees with this criticism and that he will accept the recommendation I have made. Therefore I find the remarks of the Minister for Tourism and Recreation ill founded, based on wrong information and slanderous.

page 1396


Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I now formally ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a copy of a letter sent to the Prime Minister on the correct pronunciation of kilometre and a copy of the Prime Minister’s reply. I also seek leave to have incorporated the cable I referred to earlier.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows)- 10 September 1975

The Hon. Moss Cass, MP, Minister for the Media, Parliament House, CANBERRA. A.C.T. 2600

My dear Colleague,

Some four or five weeks ago, the Chairman of the Metric Conversion Board, Mr J. D. Norgard, spoke with me about the mispronunciation by some Australians of the word ‘kilometre’. He cited a speech by the Prime Minister made at the time of the Darwin disaster as an example. He even took the trouble of bringing the Prime Minister’s mispronunciation of the word to the notice of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

I assumed that the Prime Minister’s mispronunciation was probably an example of his unusual sense of humour and allowed the matter to pass until I heard him repeat it at Question Time in the Parliament on 3 September 1975.

At the end of Question Time, I said to the Prime Minister, ‘As Minister for Science, I feel it my duty to explain to you that you are pronouncing the word “kilometre” wrongly when you pronounce it as “kilometre” ‘ (as in ‘thermometer’).

The Prime Minister didn’t appear convinced that an exshearer, even though I am now Minister for Science, would be able to correct his pronunciation of any word; and I was left with the clear impression that until he looks up the dictionary for himself he will probably go on pronouncing “ kilometre ‘ incorrectly

It would help all Australians, I am sure, if you would write to the ABC and to the commercial radio and television stations advising them of the correct pronunciation of ‘kilometre’.

It would be a tragedy if Australians, at this early stage of the metric system, are allowed to drift into the habit of the same kind of mispronunciation as that used by the Prime Minister. If this happens, I am sure we would become the laughing stock of people in other countries who use the correct pronunciation.

The word kilometre is correctly pronounced by everybody in all the countries with which we choose to compare ourselves, with one exception. Indeed, it is even the accepted pronunciation in some of the countries with which we do not choose to compare ourselves. The one exception is America, which has not gone metric People in Canada, West Germany, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa pronounce the word correctly. There are, of course some variations in Europe in the pronunciation of the final syllable- the French, for example, say kilometre.

It may help if it could be explained that just as we use the word millimetre to indicate a one-thousandth part of a metre, and centimetre to indicate a one-hundredth part of a metre, kilometre becomes the correct pronunciation for one thousand metres. Another example would be to refer to a kilogram which, if pronounced in the way the Prime Minister pronounced kilometre, would read ‘ki’logram’

Another way, perhaps, of assisting Australians to understand the correct pronunciation is to point out that the words kilometre, centimetre, millimetre, are used as units of distance. They are not instruments of measurement, such as a manometer, thermometer, micrometer, barometer.

I am worried about the possible effects of the Prime Minister’s pronunciation on schoolchildren who will become the metric generation; for this reason, I am sending a copy of this letter to our colleague, the Minister for Education.

In order to assist the Prime Minister with his pronunciation problems, I am forwarding a copy of this letter to him for his information.

Yours sincerely,

page 1397


page 1397

O.LH39771 MBB4/DA TOR 0457 28.9.75

page 1397

O.LH39771 1950 27.9.75 UNC IMPORT TO

page 1397


page 1397


In response to your telephone enquiry, Mr Enoch Powell has asked us to cable the following message to you:


You ask whether greek derivation requires the o in kilometre to be stressed. If so, it would also require the o in kilogram to be stressed. However, kilometre and other kilowords are not Greek words, but artificial formations. The Greek words would have been chiliometre etc. In any case classical Greek accentuation was tone, not stress. Correct stress is determined only by usage, not derivation.


The Hon. Clyde Cameron

Prime Minister, Canberra 23 September 1975

My dear Clyde,

I so much enjoyed your letter on the accentuation of kilometer that I was nearly moved to reply in iambic tetrameters or pentameters, die classic form of satiric verse. When, however, I read the text in the popular press. I realised that you had merely signed a letter prepared by your department and that your personal staff had released it in the normal way. Hence I am sending this prosaic instead of prosodic response; it is more a letter to a Minister for Science than a letter from a Minister for the Arts.

Whether the accent falls on the penultimate or antepenultimate syllable normally depends on whether the penultimate syllable is a long or short one; if it is a long syllable, it bears the accent while, if it is a short syllable, the accent falls on the antepenultimate syllable. All English words ending in ‘meter’ or ‘metre ‘ derive from the Greek word ‘metron’ in which the penultimate syllable is short, the letter ‘e’ in English reproducing ‘ epsilon ‘ not ‘ eta ‘ in the Greek.

Accordingly all such words in use before the Parisian urban guerillas introduced the metric system have been accented on the antepenultimate syllable, whether they are literary words dear to me, such as tetrameter or pentameter, or scientific words familiar to you, such as perimeter (first identified in English in 1592), diameter (1602), thermometer (1633), barometer (1665) and chronometer (1735).

Your advisers have, I suggest, been influenced in their preference for the accent on the penultimate by a desire to reproduce the French pronunciation of metric units of distance. One might as well accent the penultimate in all the words in the preceding paragraph on the ground that they have a corresponding French form. One does not accent any of the scores of other words subsequent to the French Revolution, such as altimeter (1847), just because the French have also used a corresponding word.

One of your abiding concerns has been consideration for our migrants. You of all people should know that our migrants from Italy, Greece, Spain and now Timor accent the antepenultimate in metric units of distance. This pronunciation should come readily to you, for I have myself heard you consistently attest your brute strength on the ergometer (1879), your staying power on the pedometer (1723) and your vigilant velocity on the speedometer ( 1904), invariably stressing the antepenultimate.

I shall send copies of this reply to the same ministers as you sent copies of your own letter. Your staff might see to its wider dissemination. Some member of a caucus committee in which you have influence might even ask a question permitting us to table correspondence on which we clearly set so much store.

Yours sincerely, E.G. WHITLAM

The Hon. Clyde R. Cameron, M.P., Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs, Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600.

page 1397



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


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– I claim to have been misrepresented by the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s morning program AM. I would not normally have bothered about making a personal explanation because I believe that I was unwittingly misrepresented by the AM program but because Senator Wheeldon, I understand, has made cheap and dishonest political capital out of this matter in the Senate I seek to put the record straight in this House. Last Wednesday evening I was telephoned from Sydney by Mr Geoff. Duncan of AM. I was informed that Senator Wheeldon had made a statement in Queensland to the effect that the Government was to re-introduce the National Compensation Bill in the form in which the Senate had already rejected it so as to make it a double dissolution issue. Mr Duncan also said that it had been reported that Senator Wheeldon stated that he would be prepared to consider any amendments which the Opposition proposed. I informed Mr Duncan that I was astonished by this news and really could not believe that the Government would reintroduce this Bill which had been to a Senate Select Committee, on which there had been three distinguished members of the Labor Party. Those members had scathingly criticised several aspects of the Bill including the sickness provisions and had doubts about its constitutionality.

Mr Duncan assured me that Senator Wheeldon had referred to the National Compensation Bill. It was on his assurance, and only on his assurance, that Senator Wheeldon had been referring to the National Compensation Bill, that I then made a series of comments on tape lasting, from memory, three or four minutes. In the event the transcript has been tabled in the Library and 2 sentences of mine appear together with an interview with Senator Wheeldon. At the time Mr Duncan spoke to me he had not been able, or had anybody been able, to speak to Senator Wheeldon. He was relying on a teletype from the ABC in Brisbane which stated that Senator Wheeldon had mentioned the National Compensation Bill. Apparently on the Thursday morning some of my reported comments as per the transcript in the Library were set against the spoken words of Senator Wheeldon to Paul Davey, another ABC interviewer, so my comments came over with no reference to the spoken comments of Senator Wheeldon.

So as to make the matter absolutely certain before and after Mr Duncan recorded my comments we had an informal discussion on the telephone about the extraordinary action of the Government in re-introducing the National

Compensation Bill. At no stage during our conversation did Mr Duncan refer to the Australian Government Insurance Corporation Bill. This can be confirmed by a journalist from the West Australian newspaper who rang me the next day and asked me to comment on the AGIC Bill. Of course I refused because that is not my area of responsibility. It is the area of responsibility of my colleague, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch). I have written to the editor of the AM program about this matter asking for a copy of the complete transcript and registering my deep and immediate concern with him. I have asked him to make any comments that he wishes to make to me.

I repeat that I would not have raised the matter today- although it is a misrepresentationbecause I really believe that the ABC made an honest mistake in the pressure of putting together my comments on compensation that I made to one journalist and Senator Wheeldon ‘s comments on an entirely different issue that he made to another journalist, but because mischief has been made I believe I should set the record straight.

page 1398



– I wish to inform the House of the following nominations of Senators and members to be members of the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Mr L. K. Johnson, Mr Keating and Mr Keogh have been nominated by the Prime Minister and Mr Garland, Mr Drury and Mr Ian Robinson have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition. Senators Button, Mcintosh and Melzer have been nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senators Carrick, Webster and Withers have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in that House.

page 1398


Assent to the following Bills reported:

Foreign Takeovers Bill 1975.

National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits Charges) Bill 1975.

Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1975.

page 1399



Minister for Housing and Construction · Phillip · ALP

– On behalf of the Joint Committee on Pecuniary Interests of members of Parliament I bring up the report of the Committee entitled ‘Declaration of Interests’ together with the minutes of proceedings and transcript of evidence.

Ordered that the report be printed.


– I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.


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


– It is an immensely satisfying duty for me to report back to the House on the deliberations of the Committee and in so doing, to be able to present a unanimous report. The Committee embarked on its task faced with many seemingly insurmountable problems to be solved. How does one define the types of pecuniary interests which might be thought to conflict with a Member’s public responsibilities? How does one create a workable system of declaration of interests without making unjustified inroads into the reasonable expectations of privacy? How does one institute such a system without creating a large administrative structure out of all proportion to the benefits which will flow from a register? The Committee has tackled these problems and many more in a manner which I believe does justice to the sincerity of the views expressed by members of Parliament and people from all walks of life who gave evidence to the Committee.

The unanimity of the Committee expressed in this report is, I believe, a reflection of the earnest desire of every one of its members to preserve and enhance the dignity of the institution of Parliament and those who serve in it. At no stage in its deliberations was the Committee under any illusion that a register could be devised which would be incapable of evasion. But this did not deter the Committee from its task. The usefulness of a register lies not in the ability to detect fraud or impropriety but as a means of assuring the public that decisions affecting it are made in the public interest.

I believe the recommendations made by the Committee will go a long way towards achieving this goal. The Committee devoted a lengthy chapter of the report- chapter III- to a discussion of the many arguments which had been advanced for and against the concept of a register. Many of the fears and reservations of some witnesses concerning such things as the invasion of privacy and administrative complexity have been accommodated in the central recommendation of the report. This is to the effect that a declaration of interests system should be instituted whereby members of Parliament are required to declare their interests in general terms. An example of this approach is the recommendation that members of Parliament be required to declare the names of companies in which they have a beneficial interest but need not disclose the actual value of any shareholdings. This form of declaration would not necessitate the continual alteration of the register to reflect changes in the size of a member’s shareholding in a particular company. But it would provide a starting point for any person who felt that a member was not acting in the public interest. Such a person could then search the share register of that company to ascertain the size of the shareholding of the particular member of Parliament.

There is a need for the establishment of a precise code of conduct for members of Parliament. Such a code would represent a very desirable supplement to the proposed register of interests. It was beyond the terms of reference of this Committee to draft such a code. We have expressed the opinion that such a code should be drafted.

It has long been regarded that section 44 (v) and section 45 (iii) of the Constitution provided adequate protection of the public interest in respect to possible conflict of interest. The judgment of the Chief Justice, Sir Garfield Barwick, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, illustrates that these provisions have very restricted application in contemporary circumstances.

It may be felt that the Committee has omitted an important factor by not requiring members of Parliament to declare the amount and source of contributions to campaign funds. This subject was not within the Committee’s terms of reference and this fact is noted in the report. Clause 1 (c) of the Committee’s terms of reference required it to consider what classes of persons other than members of Parliament ought to be required to register their pecuniary interests. The Committee received evidence on this aspect of its inquiry from several witnesses including representatives of the Public Service, ministerial staff and the media- 3 components of our society which can have a vital function in the public decision-making process. The Committee concluded that different forms of declaration of interests would be appropriate for each of these 3 groups and has made recommendations and suggested general guidelines accordingly.

When declaring open the first public hearing of the Committee in Sydney in January of this year I said:

The subject for investigation and report of this Committee is complex and to some extent, controversial.

The passage of time has shown that observation to have been more prophetic than I anticipated.

I place on record my appreciation of the way in which the Committee members undertook their task and especially for the help and understanding which was given during the Committee’s more difficult times. It is a tribute to the dedication of the members of this Committee that a unanimous conclusion was reached by members of 3 political parties in the 2 Houses of the Parliament on the contents of this report. In conclusion I also place on record my sincere appreciation for the dedication to duty by the staff which serviced this Committee.

page 1400


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


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

The impact of Government policies on employment in the building industry, home ownership and rental accommodation.

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


-The Government has done nothing since it has been in office to assist those whom it has always claimed to represent. The policies of the Government have actually worked against those in the community without the industrial muscle to defend themselves. Low income earners, people on fixed incomes and the under-privileged are all worse off now after 3 years of Labor administration than they have ever been since the days of the great depression. All that the Whitlam Government has achieved in its efforts to restructure our society has been to make the poor poorer and more numerous and the rich richer.

The building and construction industry has taken an enormous battering as a result of Labor’s policies, and unemployment together with company liquidations in the industry is now at an all time high. Average employment in the building industry and the manufacturing industries which support it is over one million Australians. Approximately one in five of the employed work force is related in this way to the building industry, and it follows that when there are 250 000 unemployed 50 000 are out of work because of depressed conditions in the building industry. We believe that these Australians are the backbone of our society. These are men and women who want to work. The statistics make no distinction between those who want to work and those who do not. This Government apparently believes that those who do not work should be paid as much as those who do work. It seems to me that Labor would turn us into a nation of paid malingerers.

The Government has consistently attacked the private sector in an attempt to achieve its aims to control every aspect of our lives, overlooking the fact that the private sector provides employment for 75 per cent of the employed work force. If Labor’s policies of high taxation and government extravagance are allowed to continue, private investment in this country will fall away even more, rapidly followed, I am sure, by worse inflation and increased unemployment. Unfortunately official statistical information on the building industry is available often only long after the event, but those statistics that are available show that the home building industry is still very sick. Commencements should be running at 14 500 a month simply to maintain Australia’s annual requirements of homes. By the end of the year there will be an accumulated shortfall of houses or building units of one form or another in Australia of at least eighty thousand.

Surveys conducted by the industry show that there will soon be even more drastic declines in the building industry, especially in the industrial and commercial sectors. There is virtually no large construction work in the pipeline at all, and the cutback in the public building sector will have an early effect upon usually large contractors. Surveys conducted by private architects indicate that further retrenchments in the profession are imminent. Two out of three persons currently employed in private architectural firms can expect to be out of work by Christmas. A recent survey of medium sized home builders shows that inquiries for housing received by one company in the Sydney area have dropped to three a month. Last year the same company was averaging over 100 inquiries a week.

Unfortunately the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Riordan) is distracted by the problems of the Labor and Immigration portfolio which he handles in this House. One of his early statements as Minister criticised the building industry for the present disastrous situation. I quote him. I think I quote him fairly. He said: ‘The building industry is on strike’. Surely this demonstrates how ill informed he is about the problems of builders. It seems to the Opposition that there are other Ministers who have little to do and very little to say in this place, and it was a serious blunder to saddle a new member of the Ministry with two highly sensitive and important portfolios and expect him to handle them.

The Minister has also broken his promise to the State governments that this year they would receive for welfare housing not less than they received last year. The President of the New South Wales Co-operative Building Society in his annual report said:

Regrettably the people who have been most affected by Government policies nave been the low income earners whom this movement was designed to serve.

The Opposition believes that it is the aged, the disabled, the new settlers, those on fixed incomes and young couples with families who have been betrayed by this Government. Few of them can look forward to decent housing while Labor remains in office.

My colleague the honourable member for Bass (Mr Newman) has told me of the grim plight of many families in the Launceston area. Waiting lists for government accommodation in Launceston are increasing at a monthly rate of 50 per cent. Building approvals are down by 35 per cent and at least one builder is going out of business each week. The social welfare agencies in Launceston, such as the Salvation Army and the City Mission, report that each week more and more destitute families are seeking relief. I think we should acknowledge that the Minister is to visit Launceston next month. We hope that he can convince his Cabinet colleagues of the gravity of the situation there.

The cost of building even a modest home is rising more than $5,000 a year. That is in every State of the Commonwealth. It is rising at least $5,000 a year. What family, except the very wealthy, can save $100 a week just to keep pace with the deposit gap. To make things worse for first home buyers, Labor has terminated the home savings grant scheme which the former Government introduced some years ago and which helped 400 000 Australians bridge the deposit gap and buy their first homes. It is no good the Government talking about tax deductibility of mortgage interest, which I have no doubt the Minister will do, and claiming that this makes up for taking away the home savings grant. You have to have a home before you can get any benefit from the tax deductibility. We want to see that those Australians who desire to own their own homes are encouraged to do so. When the Liberal and Country Parties were in government home ownership in Australia was easily achievable, and it is a fact that over 73 per cent of Australian families were living in thenown homes, or homes they were buying, when we were in government. This figure has now dropped after 3 years of Labor administration to 68 per cent, which is a drastic fall in numbers from such a high plateau. Those who are worst affected are low to middle income earners who are first home buyers.

According to the Government’s own survey conducted in September last year, 79 per cent of male householders buying their first home have an income of less than $8,000. According to that survey, the profile of the average Australian first home buyer is that he is likely to be in the 25-29 age group, he is likely to be earning less than $8,000 a year and he is likely to have one child. We say that this average Australian now has no hope of building a home, bridging the deposit gap or servicing the debt. The cut-back in what are called welfare housing grants to the States will further enlarge the ever-growing number of homeless Australian families.

Government policies have also wrecked private investment in rental accommodation. Last month commencements of residential buildings other than housing were 60 per cent less than for August last year. People are just not building apartments for rent any more- and who can blame them? Labor treats all developers as speculators and all who seek a profit- that dirty word- as fair game for the tax man. Admittedly, the surcharge tax on unearned income has been abandoned.

Mr McVeigh:

– It should never have been put on.


– It should never have been put on. It shows the way the Government thinks. Let us face it, if the Government remains in office it is likely that the tax will be re-introduced. That tax, the threat of a capital gains tax and the threat of rent controls give no encouragement to people to invest in rental accommodation. With inflation on projects such as these running in excess of 20 per cent, developers are forced into bridging finance or second mortgages at very high rates of interest. They would be better off investing their money at 9 per cent or 10 per cent without any risk or inconvenience. Obviously this is what is happening to private investment which might otherwise, and which used to, go into private rental accommodation. Australia under the Whitlam Government is rushing headlong into economic disaster and an accommodation shortage of the magnitude that we saw after World War II. The Government has cut back its spending in only 2 areas, housing and industries assistance, the very areas where reductions in expenditure will hurt Australian families most.

The State housing authorities are now unable to cope with the flood of applications for accommodation. When Labor was elected there were 93 000 people on housing commission waiting lists around Australia. Today there are 120 000, and the number is increasing daily. These people and those who cannot even get on the lists are the people who are now paying for the Whitlam dream of a restructured society. We believe that Australia is facing its worst accommodation crisis for 30 years and the social consequences will be remembered long after this Government is gone and forgotten. There has not been a single Government policy to show that the Government understands the position or even cares about it. In the Australian Capital Territory 2 years ago the Government applied rent control as a policy initiative, and today there are only 5000 private units available for rental purposes in the Australian Capital Territory. That is exactly the same number as were available in the Australian Capital Territory 4 years ago. Last year the Government distributed $ 1 50m through the banks as a boost, as it thought, to the home building industry. Statistics show that most of that money has been used to purchase existing houses or for re-mortgaging, and very little has found its way into the home building industry.

The Government is proposing to set up a parliamentary inquiry into the cost of housing, a committee to investigate interest rates and a department to inspect houses for potential buyers. It has produced a Green paper, a White paper and a whole host of things which I must say were not the ideas of the present Minister for Housing but of the previous Minister for Housing. None of them has come to fruition or produced anything. We believe that the Government has succeeded in damaging the building industry, perhaps beyond repair, and in destroying the opportunity for most young Australians to enjoy the security of owning their own homes.

In the moments that are left I would like to refer briefly to the report by the Priorities Review Staff on housing, which was tabled in the Parliament by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on the last day of sitting. The Parliament has not had any opportunity to debate the report and I do not think the community has had an opportunity to understand it. Some of the ideas that are being put forward and being considered by the Government are really a direct and savage attack upon home ownership. The Priorities Review Staff- the Whitlam think-tank- recommends, for example, the abolition of land tax, water rates and so on as tax deductions. It recommends the imposition of a building tax on dwellings larger than 150 square metres, or 12te squares, and any house which is larger than that and which has extensions will, if the scheme is adopted, attract that building tax. It recommends the introduction of a new tax based on the rental value of a person’s home. This amount is to be added to the home owner’s income although he never sees the money.

Mr Howard:

– You are joking.


– No, I am not joking. This is on public record, in the PRS Report on Housing tabled in this place. This means that if these recommendations are adopted a person with a home worth $25,000- who could buy a house for $25,000 these days- will have an amount of $ 1,875 added to his income for tax purposes.

Mr Street:

– Even though he does not get it?


– He never sees the money. He does not get it. It is imputed and it is added to his income. Because he has been thrifty, he has saved and he has bought a home he is to be penalised because he is not paying any rent. These are bushranger tactics. I raise the matter because the Minister was reported today as having denied it. A newspaper report said: ‘Tax on houses reports scotched’. He says that this will not happen. I say that his own thinking, as revealed in an interview on Federal Fife some weeks ago, indicates that he thinks that people should be satisfied to live in a small house and that anyone living in a house larger than 2Vi squares is affluent and should be slugged. In fairness to him, the Minister is probably trying hard, but I put the view that in Cabinet he is constantly being rolled. He told the States that they would receive the same money for welfare housing as before. I have already mentioned that. In fact he is on public record in 2 speeches as having guaranteed the States that their allocations for welfare housing would not be cut back. We have seen what has happened. They have been cut back. I make the point that although these proposals of the Priorities Review Staff are only recommendations they are being considered by the Government and they could well be implemented.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr JenkinsOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Housing and Construction · Phillip · ALP

– Again we see an example of desperate people clutching at straws, hunting around, seeking here, seeking there, seeking everywhere to try to find some stick with which to belt this Government. What do we find here? We find a complete misconstruction by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) of an item in the report of the Priorities Review Staff being built up as something being considered by the Government. I have never heard such a load of hogwash as I heard in the honourable member’s speech this afternoon. It was built on a misconstruction. In fact it was utterly false. The fact is that the Priorities Review Staff -

Mr McLeay:

-Read page 23.


– I know that the honourable member has some difficulty getting through 487 pages of the Priorities Review Staff report. It is a very strong report.

Mr McLeay:

– It has 487 pages.


-That is what I said; it has 487 pages. I congratulate the honourable member. At least he has read the numbers correctly. I would not have thought that the honourable member would have been so exhausted by the time he reached page 18 as to misunderstand the report. What the Priorities Review Staff said was this:

We suspect that the taxation of imputed rent might come high on the list of the politically infeasible and administratively complex.

I hope that I am pronouncing it correctly and that the honourable member understands what I mean. They went on to say:

If such a tax were introduced there would be some tendency to convert other debts into debts secured on dwellings.

They go on to produce a series of arguments against such a tax which are far more convincing than the feeble attempt by the honourable member for Boothby in the late hours of Sunday night to whip up a bit of controversy.

Mr McLeay:

-Read it all.


– I have read it all. The honourable member says that the Government is considering the imputed tax idea as proposed in the report. I say 2 things in reply to that: Imputed tax is not recommended by the PRS to start with, and the Government certainly is not considering such a tax. That is the fact of the matter and any suggestion that this Government is attempting to slug, as you put it, the affluent to discourage home ownership is sheer and utter nonsense. I am surprised that you would make such a statement without being more careful, as you usually are, to ensure that your facts are right.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The Minister should address his remarks to the Chair. He has been consistently addressing the honourable member for Boothby.


– I did not intend it, sir. I was really attempting to address you. If you gained the impression I was not, I regret it.


– I did not accept that I had made some of the comments you were alleging.


-The honourable gentleman also suggested that the cost of building houses is rising by $5,000 per annum and that the rate of inflation is over 20 per cent per annum. The fact of the matter is that the official index produced by the Bureau of Statistics, which I think is at least as accurate as the honourable gentleman’s assessment, shows that the rate of increase in the cost of building materials has fallen from 22 per cent to 15 per cent. It shows further that the rate of increase in wages in the building industry is also falling at present. So we can look forward to some reduction in the rate of increase in costs to the home builder. We would hope that that trend will continue. That is why this Government has been so keen to have established wage indexation which in the early stage honourable gentlemen opposite vigorously opposed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and a whole host of honourable members opposite ridiculed and criticised this Government’s concept of wage indexation. True it is that they are now, in an eleventh hour bid, trying to jump on the band wagon, but they were against wage indexation and I suspect that they are still against it. The only thing they would favour would be perhaps the guidelines; they certainly do not favour the concept of wage indexation as we understand it.

The honourable member for Boothby also stated that there has been a marked decrease in the proportion of home owners. He said that the proportion has fallen to 68 per cent.

Mr Wilson:

-He said that it has fallen to 68 per cent, that only 68 per cent of citizens now own their homes. But what are the facts? The facts are that the figure disclosed by the last census, which was taken in 197 1, was 68.78 per cent.

So the figure he accuses this Government of having achieved is the figure achieved in the Liberal years of neglect. That is the figure he cited against this Government. The proportion of homes owned in Australia was 68 per cent in 1971, not 1975.

The honourable gentleman talked about the problems of rental accommodation. Of all the gall. Of all the nerve. This is an area which was perhaps more neglected by the Liberals than any other. They were the ones who neglected the rights of tenants for a quarter of a century. For a generation they neglected rental accommodation. Now they come here to try to build an argument based on a false premise, based on misconstruction of what a report has to say. It is untrue to say that this Government has done nothing or has broken its promise to the States. In fact the States will receive exactly the same funds this year as they received last year.

Mr McLeay:

– That is simply not true. What about Queensland?


-It simply is true. Queensland got an advance in June against this year’s figure and it knew and understood it. It was told to its Minister personally and it was put in writing to him at the time the cheque was passed over. It is untrue to say that the amount has been reduced. What else is true? The other thing that is true is that in the Liberal Party’s years of neglect, the allocation for welfare housing in its last year pales into miserable inconsequences alongside what this Government has done. This Government is spending 2% times as much on welfare housing this year as the previous Government spent in its last year. We spent as much in 2 years as the previous Government spent in 6 years. These are the facts that honourable members opposite have to face up to. Another fact that honourable members opposite will not face up to, recognise or acknowledge is that whether there have been cut backs or not- we might argue about whether they are in real terms or actual terms- undeniably, more houses in the public sector will be completed this year than ever before. Even in New South Wales where the cries have been loud and long, more houses will be produced than would have been thought possible 3 years ago. The people in New South Wales are proud of it and boasting about it. They ought to be proud of it. They will produce more houses than they have ever done since federation and that they ever dreamt it was possible to produce.

Mr McLeay:

-You are sticking your neck out.


-They are the facts. If the honourable member checks the facts with his Liberal colleagues in New South Wales he will see that what I am saying is the absolute truth. I take care that when I make statements they are the absolute truth. I know that there are people around like the honourable member for Boothby who are not always so cautious as I am. He ought to be more cautious when he is making statements. He ought to check his facts a bit more carefully.

Unquestionably there has been a strain on the building industry and there has unquestionably been a depression in the building industry. It has gone through another one of its severe downturns. We are concerned to ensure that when governments take monetary action to correct inflationary pressures the building industry in some way can be insulated. In the past the practice which grew up under the Liberal-Country Party government was that the building industry was the first industry hit in such circumstances. The first industry directly affected by a restriction in monetary policy is inevitably the building industry. I recognise that. I regret very much that some of the Liberal Ministers for Housing, if they did recognise it, did virtually nothing about it.

Members of this Parliament will note that in recent weeks and months interest rates have started to edge down. Short term interest rates have reduced and I hope that they will reduce further. Of course I do not say that they will reduce markedly. They cannot reduce markedly until inflation is brought under control. But this Government has taken firm and deliberate action to curb the rate of inflation. I expect that the effects of that will show up on interest rates within the next 12 months or so. Already, there are indications that short term loan interest rates are declining. For example, the rate of interest on housing loans from permanent building societies has fallen quite markedly in New South Wales. The predominant rate for borrowers earlier in the year was 1 1 *V** per cent. It is now 1 0 16 per cent. Of course that is too high, but it is coming down. In Queensland the rate of interest has fallen by as much as *V** of one per cent and in Western Australia by a full one per cent.

It is not my wish to raise false hopes about the future. I do not expect that there will be a further substantial decline in housing interest rates in the immediate future. But I am confident about the longer term because I believe that the Government’s anti-inflationary policies will succeed in spite of the obstacles being raised in all sorts of quarters and from all sorts of people. In the meantime we have considerably eased the burden of interest rates for low and middle income earners by introducing the housing interest rates loan deduction scheme. The tax deductions available under the scheme effectively reduce the interest rates for many home buyers by as much as 3 per cent. Of course the other factor the Opposition overlooks conveniently is the new tax scales which will come into force from 1 January 1976. These tax scales will increase the ability of medium and low income families to undertake and to repay loans for housing commitments. They will also mean that a number of families who are now ineligible for loans from the traditional lending institutions will qualify for such a loan.

This attack on the Government’s housing policy has been a pretty miserable attempt to try to gain some political advantage out of a false concept. It is true that the figures published today indicate that there has been a reduction in the rate of approvals in Government financed housing. But it is equally true- and this is ignored by honourable gentlemen opposite- that there has been a continuation of the rate of increase in new undertakings in the private sector. So growth in the private housing sector is continuing to edge up. It is not moving at the sort of rate that I would like to see, but at least it is moving up and we are confident that that rate of growth should continue; hopefully, it will continue. Hopefully also, this will mean that the building industry will move from its shaky and sketchy recovery to a full-blooded recovery.

Some few weeks ago, the honourable gentleman opposite made a statement in which he promised grants of $1,800 to some people on a $1 for $3 basis. The honourable gentleman’s costing was a bit out. The fact of the matter is that this proposal would cost $400m a year. I emphasise that sum- $400m. Honourable gentlemen opposite on the one hand claim that this Government should reduce its rate of spending and so reduce the Budget deficit; on the other hand, on an ad hoc basis, they will make promises here, there and everywhere, in an attempt to catch a pocket of votes here or somewhere else. They are prepared to make the most outlandish promises and wild and reckless economic commitments of this type. The case that I have mentioned is not an isolated one. Every shadow Minister appears to have the impression that he is free- he is at large, as it were- to make a promise whenever he gets a bright idea, without worrying about the cost involved in that promise.

I say to honourable gentlemen opposite and to anybody else who is interested that if this

Government had accepted all of the items of expenditure which were recommended to it, the deficit would have been twice that which is now apparent. That situation would have meant a massive escalation in the rate of interest to be charged on the bond rate and a massive increase in the rate of interest to be charged in respect of housing finance. These are the facts. Whatever assistance it might have been to the building industry in the short term, the long-term effects of such action would have been disastrous. The industry which would have been the worst affected by the failure of the Government to curtail its spending is the housing industry.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.

Mr McLEAY (Boothby)-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misquoted?


– Yes. There is a string of matters with which I would like to deal but I realise that there is not time for that.


-Nor is there a standing order to permit it.


-Yes, the Standing Orders will not allow it. I will deal with 3 specific points. I deal first with the last claim made by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Riordan) that shadow Ministers are making all sorts of promises which would cost all sorts of amounts. I deny that absolutely not only for myself but also for all the other shadow Ministers.

Mr Riordan:

– That is not a personal explanation.


-Order! I remind the honourable member for Boothby that under the Standing Order by which he has been given leave to speak he may refer to a matter to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood.


-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The other two points do flow from what I have said and what the Minister has said in reply. He accused me- I cannot remember the exact words- in this way: He claimed that he exercised great caution when he costed any proposal or talked about an undertaking. He accused me of being inaccurate. In this context, we were talking about welfare housing and in particular the grant for the Queensland Government, which you might remember, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Minister claimed that he had never said words to the effect that there would be any cutback in welfare housing. I refer to a Press release put out by the Minister on 20 July 1975, in which the Minister said:

Advances by the Australian Government for the States’ welfare housing programs will not be less than in the previous financial year -

Mr Willis:

-I rise to a point of order. Is this a personal explanation?

Mr Willis:

– The honourable member is quoting what the Minister said.


-Yes. I was about to direct the attention of the honourable member for Boothby to what I stated to him previously. An honourable member may be heard in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood. I will allow the honourable member to continue but I think he would realise that I would have to pull him up if he continued to discuss the speech by the Minister.


– I am trying to draw attention to what the Minister said about me.


-The relevant standing order requires that some part of the honourable member’s speech must have been misquoted or misunderstood. I appreciate the feelings of the honourable member in the matter, but I must abide by the Standing Orders.


– I do not have any strong feelings except that it is nice to be quoted accurately occasionally. I was talking about the cutback in welfare housing. The Minister said that there would be no cutback. He did cut back welfare housing. Then, today, he said that he did not. I am saying that he did. There is the evidence of his own Press releases.

Darling Downs

-We have witnessed in this debate two different approaches. We heard on the one hand the disciplined and contained argument of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). It was an argument indicative of the concerned mind of a person who believes in the adequate housing of all Australians- the mums, the dads and the children from all areas. His approach was most refreshing and laudable. His approach was one representing a party which sees paraded before it economic, social and industrial policies of a Labor Party which have wrecked the home building industry, destroyed the concept of home ownership, and made rental accommodation virtually non-existent. His argument was refreshingly precise.

Opposed to his argument were the tortuous meanderings of the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Riordan) who, in his rather off-handed manner, dismissed the problem as being in effect mosquito-like. It is a problem which we on this side of the House seek to expose because of its magnitude. I was disappointed to note, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you had to reprimand the Minister for his rather cavalier approach. I have great respect for your feeling for the preservation of the dignity of the House and I applaud your instruction to him not to treat the matter in that way.


– I trust that the honourable member will always abide by my instructions in the same way as the Minister did.


– I was most upset to listen to the Minister’s feeble reply to the argument advanced from this side of the House. The Minister spoke about interest rates and referred to the ‘firm and deliberate action of the Government’. I would hate to see his soft and fleeting action if that is the best that he can do when interest rates have increased from 5 1/2 per cent to 1 1% per cent.

Mr King:

– All in 3 years.


– As the honourable member for Wimmera says, all in 3 years. We all know the Minister as a decent, honest Minister. He is a new Minister. In no sense of biting criticism whatsoever but rather as a spur to him to get on with the job of housing all Australians in a decent economic way, I say to the Minister: You should not salve your conscience by making such a ridiculous speech as you have made today. Your reply showed you have no knowledge whatsoever of the fact that many, many families in Australia have no housing whatsoever. I suggest to you that instead of appearing on television you should stay at home in your electorate and talk to the people who cannot get housing.


-Order! I invite the honourable member to address his remarks throught the Chair.


– The obvious fact is that the policies of the Australian Labor Government have caused the problems being faced by the housing industry in Australia today. The pendulum signalling self-destruction of the housing industry began to swing on that fateful day in December 1972. The opportunity to grasp the nettle has been lost by the Labor administration. The pendulum has swung and the industry has hit rock bottom. The Government stands condemned in the eyes of the Australian people for what it has done to destroy housing policies.

Let us examine the industry. There was no attempt, no stroke of the pen, in the recent Budget to lighten the financial burden of prospective home owners and home renters. The yoke is just as heavy as ever it has been. The cost of building the average home is now $2,000 a square. The cost will continue to grow as the result of increased wages, payroll tax, workers’ compensation, industrial disputes and higher transport charges flowing from the increase in petrol prices following the Budget initiatives. A survey carried out in the Sydney-Wollongong area- the industrial and population capital of Australia- by the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board showed that in 1975-76 a total of 24 707 projects with an estimated cost of $668m are scheduled, compared with 3 1 499 projects worth $909m undertaken in the previous year. This is a fair barometer of the slack in the building industry generally. The honourable member for Boothby has detailed how many building enterprises have gone broke. This survey showed a staggering decline of about 26.5 per cent in the value of work undertaken. The statistics quoted referred to the whole spectrum of building- new business premises, houses, home units and additions to existing buildings.

The average cost of a new home in the period referred to was $18,890 as against an average cost in the previous year of $15,763. That is an increase of $3, 100 in one year in the cost of an ordinary home. Newly marrieds embarking on their voyage through life have not a hope of buying a home when the cost escalates so much in 12 months. The costs have increased dramatically since 1967. Using 1967 as the base year, with the official house building materials index at 100, this index increased to 151.3 in 1974 and, compared with May last year, is now increasing at the rate of 18.6 per cent. New houses, therefore, are kept in the pipedream stage. People are queuing to buy second-hand houses and this does nothing whatever to improve the prospects of employment. There is a slump in the building industry to such an extent that the number of new houses commenced last year was 40 000 to 50 000 less than the previous year. Also there is being built a lower quality house which is smaller and more austere. These results are due solely to the policy objectives of the Australian Labor Party.

The building industry was once a great Australian industry employing, as the honourable member for Boothby said, normally 20 per cent of the Australian work force, but it has now been reduced to tatters and the Government stands condemned for that. However, it will recover under the sound fundamental policies of the free enterprise system which we will implement on our return to government. The problems at present are government caused- inflation, unemployment and hardship- and we will correct them. The problems of inflation, high interest rates, economic uncertainty and the lack of expertise and government policies have combined to almost freeze out of the home purchasing or building market the middle and low income earners. Their situation is critical although the Labor Party is supposed to look after them. It has reneged on its promise to them. We need to increase the availability of public housing funds and government supported loans to the people in the $100 to $150 a week income bracket. These people are entitled to own their own homes and we in the Opposition will encourage them to do so. What is more, we will make it possible for them to do so. We will help the families and citizens of tomorrow overcome the cost of building which increased by 18.3 per cent in the past 12 months and is running ahead of the 1 7.6 per cent rate of inflation. What chance have these persons when their pay has increased by 115 per cent since 1968 but the price of the average house and land has increased by 125 per cent?

The key figure is the interest rate he pays. This has soared from 5.75 per cent to 1 1 per cent since December 1972. The cost of money has cut his borrowing power dramatically. Now he has to have a deposit of roughly $14,000 before he can purchase a home valued at approximately $30,000 because of this interest factor on the money that can be advanced by such institutions as savings banks. A few years ago in 1968 the deposit he required was 13.9 per cent or $1,932 on the cost of the average house. Home ownership through the policies of the Minister has become a luxury. No longer is it a necessity. Positive help could be given by restoring the homes savings grants to people purchasing their first home. What is the use of tax deductibility if they have not a deposit to put down? Australia is confronted with an acute housing shortage. The Government either cannot or will not stir itself to alleviate the problem. Its policies are tragedies of bad intentions and in no better way can this be expressed -

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


-The subject we are discussing at the request of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) is ‘The impact of Government policies on employment in the building industry, home ownership and rental accommodation’. In a way this is a very timely subject for discussion because it is obvious that the policies of the Government will have a favourable impact on employment in the building industry, on home ownership and on rental accommodation. Not only are those policies designed to have a favourable impact on housing in Australia but also it is apparent that they are beginning to have a most beneficial effect. At this time the benefits are showing in statistics for approvals and commencements in the private building industry. Interest rates for housing loans are coming down, not to mention the large amount of money made available under the Commonwealth-State housing agreement at an interest rate of 4 per cent, a rate far lower than that provided in the agreement negotiated by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government in which the honourable member for Boothby served.

Also at this time the Government has removed the inequities between various consumers in the housing industry. It is continuing assistance to the home buyer through the provision of a taxation deduction for home mortgage interest and at this time the rate of increase in the wholesale building materials price index is starting to come down substantially. In rebuttal of the point made by the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), unemployment in the building industy in August was less than it was in July, the Government’s policies outlined in the Budget strategy by the Treasurer (Mr Hayden) are designed to promote confidence in the private sector by making a real effort to stabilise the rate of inflation and gradually- I emphasise the word ‘gradually’- to reduce the rate of inflation, but not so suddenly as to cause trauma to the private sector. The policy is designed to bring about a reduction in costs in the building industry and a reduction in interest rates. By the policy of restraint in government expenditure coupled with wage indexation we are confident that the Budget strategy will be effective not only in the economy generally but also in its benefits to the housing industry which, as I said, is already showing considerable improvement.

The seasonally adjusted figure for last January was 8 100 private housing approvals and it rose in August to 10 843. Perhaps a better parameter would be commencements. The June quarter figure for private commencements was 28 200, seasonally adjusted, and this compares with 25 400 for the December quarter last year. In my own State of South Australia public housing completions were up 1 8.7 per cent last year compared with the year before. In 1974-75 the number of houses under construction in the housing sector was up 45.3 per cent on the year before and houses built under contract for the South Australian Housing Trust increased by 30 per cent over the previous year. As the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Riordan) pointed out, the rates of interest for housing generally are coming down. Also we have brought in substantial restructuring of the tax schedule, which will enable many families to purchase houses.

I think it is worth having a look at the result of some of the policies espoused by our Opposition and its Liberal counterparts in the States. It is obvious that the Labor Government is concerned to promote a greater degree of equity and to give a fairer go to those people who cannot afford to buy a house or who, for one reason or another, are unwilling to purchase a house. We realise that something must be done to give the person who pays rent a better go. I would suggest that this has happened by means of the Budget proposal for a $540 tax rebate irrespective of whether expenses such as council rates are incurred. It was suggested in the report of the Priorities Review Staff that the tax concession for council rates should be abolished. In fact, that is now not necessary. Previously we had a situation of inequity where people who owned their own houses received tax concessions on council rates, although that concession was not available to people who paid rent. The situation now is that this flat tax rebate is available to people whether they pay rent or whether they own their own houses. That flat tax rebate covers tax deductions up to the amount of $1,350. It is interesting to note that this idea has been strenuously resisted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser). It is quite obvious that the Liberal and National Country parties seek to perpetuate the gross unjust inequalities which operate against people who pay rent. I suggest that this very important reform which the Labor Government has introduced in the Budget will do something to restore a more equitable situation and to give a better go to people who pay rent.

Honourable members should look at the records of the State housing commissions in those States which have Liberal governments. It is quite obvious that the Liberal governments in those States have a conscious policy of cruel discrimination against people who pay rent. In 1 973-74 the total number of rental homes owned by the Victorian Housing Commission actually declined. It built 894 houses and sold 1181 houses. What a great achievement that is! Obviously the same philosophy permeates the policy of the New South Wales Government. I remember the public brawl that took place before the 1973 New South Wales State election between the head of the New South Wales Housing Commission, Mr Bourke, and the then Premier, Mr Askin. Mr Bourke was pointing out the discrimination practised by the Housing Commission against people who pay rent when the Commission sells its rental homes. He was publicly rebuked by the then Liberal Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin. It is also worth noting that those States which are experiencing the greatest slack in the housing industry- in the public sector, anyway- are New South Wales and Queensland, States with conservative governments. The reason for that is quite obvious, and that is their great reluctance and extraordinary and inexplicable reluctance to do anything about controlling land prices. As an example of what should be done, I invite all honourable members to have a look at the highly successful policies of the Dunstan Government in South Australia in controlling land prices through its Land Commission.

I think it is also worth examining the attitudes of the Opposition spokesman on housing matters, the honourable member for Boothby, who obviously has a very clear bias against people who pay rent or who do not own their own homes. I suppose that the honourable member will remember- I remember it- when last year he and I attended a meeting at the Adelaide Town Hall of a group rejoicing in the name of the Home Buyer’s Association. The meeting was concerned with housing interest rates. I think that most people would have agreed at that time that resources were under very great strain in the housing industry. Undoubtedly the result of any further reduction in housing interest rates at that particular time would have been a further escalation in building costs. That obviously would have been of benefit to those people who already had their homes- after all, a house is an inflationproof asset- but it would have been of very great disadvantage to those people who were trying to purchase homes. I do not remember the exact words the honourable member used at that time, but I remember him interrupting me and saying: ‘These people are not interested in those people who have not got homes; they only want policies which will help them’.

I believe that we must look at the whole spectrum and not only at those people who have already got their own houses, which we must remember are inflation-proof assets. Their value probably goes up at a faster rate than the general rate of increase in prices. Any policy at that time, such as a reduction in interest rates, would have been very discriminatory against those people who pay rent, but that is obviously the sort of policy which is espoused by the spokesman for the Opposition. Now fortunately we can say that there is some restraint occurring in the increases in building costs and interest rates. The figures clearly show that the situation in the building industry and the dwelling construction industry is certainly improving, and they give every cause for optimism that it will continue to improve.


- (Mr Keith Johnson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr McLEAY (Boothby)-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun). He referred to a meeting which it is true we both attended some year or so ago. He said he could not remember exactly what I said but the words he used implied that I was against those people who rent accommodation. I object to that implication because in fact I support the policy to which we gave effect in introducing the homes savings grant scheme, which the present Government has terminated. That was the only legislation which helped people who did not have a home to get a home. I completely reject the misrepresentation of the honourable gentleman.

Dr GUN (Kingston)-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


– I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). One thing I do remember for sure is that there was no discussion at that time of the homes savings grant scheme; it was in a completely different context.


-Order! The time for the discussion has concluded.

page 1409


Attorney-General · CanberraAttorneyGeneral · ALP

– I move:

Customs TariffProposals No. 26 ( 1 975).

The Customs TariffProposals I have just tabled relate to proposed alterations to the Customs Tariff 1966-1974. The Proposals formally place before Parliament, as required by law, tariff changes introduced by Gazette notice during the last recess. These changes arise from the Government ‘s decisions on recommendations by the Industries Assistance Commission in its reports on:

Fabricated Asbestos, etc; and

Mattresses, Quilts, Eiderdowns and Cushions.

Also included in the Proposals is a change modifying the tariff quota arrangements applying to youths’ and boys’ knitted suits. This change is in accordance with the intention of the Industries Assistance Commission’s recommendation in its report on Apparel Section 2. A comprehensive summary setting out the changes and the duty rates is now being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.

Debate (on motion by Mr Eric Robinson) adjourned.

page 1410


Bill presented by Mr Les Johnson, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr Les Johnson:
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill is one of a series of 4 Bills the Government has undertaken to introduce, to assist in the implementation of its policy of assisting Aboriginal people to take their rightful place as citizens in the Australian community. The first 2 Acts in this series were: The Aboriginal Loans Commission Act 1974 which established the Aboriginal Enterprises Fund to provide loans to Aboriginals for business ventures which have some prospect of success and the Aboriginal Housing and Personal Loans Fund to provide loans to individuals for housing and other personal needs, and the Aboriginal Land Fund Act 1975, which established the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission to assist, by way of grant finance, Aboriginal corporations or land trusts to obtain land throughout Australia. This will enable Aboriginal communities to establish themselves on secure land bases. This group of 4 legislative measures is completed with the introduction of this Bill and the Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Bill which seeks to provide for Aboriginal reserves and certain other lands in the Northern Territory to be vested in Aboriginal Land Trusts.

Legislation such as that proposed in this Bill was recommended by Mr Justice Woodward in the first report of the Aboriginal Land Rights

Commission in 1973. He envisaged such legislation as providing, in particular, a method of incorporation which would safeguard Aboriginal tenure of land. In addition, the Australian Government has seen the need to provide a vehicle by which Aboriginal communities and organisations, whether they hold land or not, may more effectively achieve their aims and objectives within the general Australian community. Aboriginal organisations need to be able to incorporate to enable them to receive grants and other funds from the Australian Government or other sources; to acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property; to enter into contracts and operate economic enterprises; and generally to conduct their affairs in an orderly manner. Incorporation provides the necessary framework for legal recognition of such bodies and for their right to act in a collective manner, and imposes on them the obligation to acknowledge responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Currently, it is necessary for Aboriginal communities to incorporate under various State Acts or ordinances as limited liability companies, associations, co-operatives and so on. Experience throughout Australia has shown that, with the emergence of a clear wish on the part of communities to act corporately for the common benefit, these forms of incorporation cannot meet the needs of most Aboriginal groupsespecially those remote, tradition-oriented communities where the understanding of western European legal concepts is very limited. It is inappropriate to burden such communities with the complexities of general Australian law which covers matters of little relevance to them. They need a flexibility in such matters as establishment of the geographical base and membership of a corporation, the election of the governing executive for a community, the making of rules appropriate for that community and the control of that community’s funds and property. In relation to land ownership, the Australian Government also wishes to ensure that Aboriginal communities will be secure in their tenure of land for all time.

The Aboriginal Councils and Associations Bill deals with the establishment of 2 quite distinct forms of corporate entity:

Aboriginal councils, which will be geographically based bodies which may undertake a variety of functions on behalf of the Aboriginal people of the area, provided that these include the provision of at least one local government type service; and Aboriginal associations, which may be formed for any legal purposes including the conduct of a business enterprise.

The Bill seeks to establish a Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations to advise and assist Aboriginal corporations and to supervise their activities in much the same way as a Registrar of Companies supervises the affairs of companies. The Registrar will initially be accommodated within my Department, which will also provide support staff and other facilities during the early settling down period. Safeguards have been included in the Bill to ensure that an Aboriginal corporation may not, without the consent of the Minister, dispose of an estate or interest in land obtained with Government funds or by way of a grant from the Government. This will ensure that Aboriginal land cannot be dissipated, but will be retained in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations of Aboriginal Australians.

Aboriginal communities and groups will not, of course, be obliged to use this legislation and may continue to incorporate under existing State and Northern Territory legislation as they have done in the past. Those incorporated organisations already in existence may continue under their present arrangements if they wish or may re-incorporate under this legislation. The Government believes, however, that Aboriginal communities will become increasingly aware of the advantages of incorporating under this Australian Government legislation which is designed especially for their needs and offers a simple, flexible and nationally uniform means of incorporation. This Bill should thus encourage and enable Aboriginal groups to manage their own affairs and to relate to the broad pattern of Australian life more effectively and with greater understanding than has been possible under the complex laws which now govern their corporate existence.

This Bill is therefore an important one for the Aboriginal community. While it provides for simplified methods of incorporation it is itself a fairly complex document, and it will need to be studied very carefully by the Aboriginal community and its advisers. It is the Government’s intention, therefore, that, as with the Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Bill, further debate on this Bill will not occur until there has been adequate time for the Bill to be examined by all who will be affected by it. I will be taking whatever action is necessary in the next few months to ensure that the Bill is explained to and understood by the Aboriginal community, and that the community’s views on its provisions are taken account of in the later stages of debate. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Eric Robinson) adjourned.

page 1411


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 1 1 September. Second Schedule.

Department of Overseas Trade

Proposed expenditure, $58,871,000.


-This is a very important part of the Estimates, not for the amount of money that is expended- it is a mere $58,87 1,000-but for the importance which overseas trading has to Australia. It is too often forgotten that Australia is one of the world’s great trading nations. In any calculation of the volume of trade done, Australia would fit into the first dozen nations of the world, but more importantly, in terms of the per capita tradethat is, the volume of money involved compared to population- Australia figures very highly. It seems odd to say it but it is obviously a truism: Overseas trade involves both imports and exports. I do not want to speak about imports. I do not want to speak about them because I am perfectly satisfied that there are sufficient entrepreneurs in Australia to take care of the import section of our overseas trade without me being concerned about it. However, I do want to talk about exports.

The purpose of Australian exports must be to build Australian activity. At the present time we have very great difficulties. We have inflation running at a very high rate on any calculation. Inflation in Australia today would be running somewhere between 16 and 20 per cent per annum. If we take a mid-point and say that it is running at 18 per cent, this demonstrates the great difficulty in which Australian exports are placed. Those who are producing goods for export have the inflation pressures placed upon them but do not always receive increased prices for their goods on the overseas markets to compensate for the increased costs. Inflation in Australia today is weakening the position of Australian exporters.

When we think of inflation in terms of exporters we must think of the inflation being experienced by our trading partners and competitors. If their rate of inflation is greater than ours we will not be greatly disadvantaged. But if it is less we will be very considerably disadvantaged. That is what is happening in Australia today. We have a situation in which our inflation rate is higher than the inflation rate of a great majority of our trading partners, and that is what is putting the pressure on the great Australian export industries.

If the competitors of Australian exporters, especially exporters in the manufacturing area, have a lower inflation rate than our own, it will be difficult for our exporters to find markets. What we need to achieve at the present time and in the longer term is a greater level of export for Australia so that our economic response is not limited by a shortage on our balance of payments, on our current account or, for that matter, on our capital account. We must look at the balance of payments on the current account and take that into consideration with the capital inflow which contributes to our capital account. What we want is a better balance on our current account so that we can have a higher level of imports. A higher level of imports can be achieved by increasing the quantity of consumer goods coming into this country, which is not to be recommended, or by increasing the quantity of heavy capital equipment or by increasing the quantity of goods which can be fabricated in this country for re-export or which can be finished in this country and put on the Australian market as import replacements.

The ideal for us as a country is to have a deficit on our current account. With a deficit on our current account supplemented by a large capital inflow we can have imports paid for by that capital inflow with the increase on our capital account. In that way we can use the capacity of other countries to produce goods especially if they are able to produce goods at a cheaper rate than we can produce them. The ideal for us is to have a high level of imports giving a deficit on the current account and a large capital inflow so that the capital inflow can finance the imports. In that way Australia would grow. We would be able to increase our exports. We would be able to increase our efficiency as a domestic economy.

Fundamental to what I am saying is the value of the Australian dollar. There is a mixed attitude towards it. Quite obviously, devaluation of the Australian dollar would help rural industries. It would help the mineral industries with the exception of those which have fixed United States dollar contracts or for that matter any other fixed currency contracts if the value of that other currency is not changing at the same rate as the Australian value of our currency. Devaluation would also help the manufacturing exporters. But in doing so it would have a very serious impact upon our efforts to contain inflation in this country. It would be in fact quite disastrous to Australia for the Australian dollar to be devalued at the present time. Bearing in mind that our reserves stand at over $3, 000m, it could be argued that there is no way in which such a devaluation could be justified in terms of international monetary movements.

Conversely, revaluation of the Australian dollar would harm the 3 areas of rural exports, mineral exports and manufacturing exports. Money values of currency have been quite dynamic, especially in the case of the United States dollar, which is recovering so rapidly. It is interesting to make some comparisons between the United States dollar and other currencies for the 6-month periods September 1974-March 1975 and March 1975-September 1975. The United States dollar depreciated 15 per cent against the Deutsche mark in the first 6-month period. It appreciated 15 per cent in the second 6-month period. Against sterling the United States dollar depreciated 5 per cent between September 1974 and March 1975 and appreciated 17 per cent between March 1975 and this month. Against the Australian dollar it depreciated 4 per cent in the first 6-month period and appreciated 7 per cent in the last 6-month period. So it can be seen that changes in currency values have been quite dynamic.

The Australian dollar must come under a threat of devaluation because of the pressure of inflation in Australia. There is no doubt whatever that this threat will exist while inflation remains at its present level. But there is no reason why devaluation should take place at the present time. There is every reason why we should aim at maintaining the value of the Australian dollar. In terms of our overseas trading account, that is very important to us. It is important too that our overseas trade stands up so that we can achieve the development of Australia that we desire.

The rural industries are traditionally great overseas traders. These $6 billion industries contribute $4 billion to our overseas balance of account each year. We must keep them going. But these industries face a very real threat because of the rise in costs. The mineral industries are the great industries of promise; manufacturing industries are the great industries of potential. Our job is to make sure that we balance tariffs with a much larger level of exports. It is of enormous importance to us that we be able to maintain our position as a great trading nation, for without the maintenance of our great trading position we will find that the freedom of action that we want to take in economic management will be foreclosed from us.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

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

Monaro · Eden

-We are considering this year estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade in the light of an ever increasing Australian export situation. Exports for 1974-75 are up to $8,709m, a rise of 26 per cent on the previous year. The proceeds from the export of rural goods are up by 14 per cent. This is a factor that is quite often overlooked when the political attention tends to be concentrated on those industries that are going through a hard time. On the other hand, the exports of non-rural goods, particularly minerals, have risen by 40 per cent. We are witnessing the continuation of a very significant change in Australia’s export pattern. It is true, as the previous speaker, the right honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden), mentioned, that inflation has played a very important role in Australia’s competitive position overseas. We are not helped in understanding the solution of this problem by concentrating, as the Opposition has done, on the idea that inflation is a unique factor in the Australian scene. Let me quote one or two of the comments that were made by leaders at the recent International Monetary Fund conference. Dennis Healey, the United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

We meet again this year in the grip of a world recession, which has no precedent in scale or in duration since the 1930s.

Later in his speech he said:

Perhaps the main lesson to be learnt from the experience of the last 2 years is that the national economies of the modern world are closely interdependent.

The Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany said:

The year behind us is now the second year in a row in which the world economy has undergone dramatic changes. In this brief span of time the world has moved from the worst inflation to the worst recession in the postwar period.

The Minister of Finance for India said:

The world economy still continues to be under severe strain.

His comments developed along the same theme. The Chairman of the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund said:

The problems of recession, inflation and external adjustment and financing are world-wide in scope and it is necessary to view them in an international context in order to find effective solutions.

The Minister of Economy and Finance for France had this to say:

Today, we are compelled to admit, the economic and monetary disorder in the world has only worsened. Inflation is still with us, and yet the recession has grown in extent . . . Therefore, a new international economic order must be designed and implemented.

One could go on and quote many of the world’s economic leaders who have recognised that the world at large is suffering from serious phenomena in our economic experience. It is no consolation to them to hear the Opposition concentrating on these phenomena as though they were unique to Australia. It certainly does not do the people of Australia a service to concentrate political debate as though Australia and Australia alone is suffering from inflation, recession and unemployment. In fact to concentrate in this manner simply underlines the parochial nature and lack of realism of the Opposition’s approach to the economic problems that confront this country.

We also find this lack of realism developing in terms of the Opposition’s argument against the Australian Overseas Trading Corporation. The Corporation was initiated by this Government in order primarily to deal with centrally planned economies and to provide a world marketing base for small businessmen in Australia. In dealing with the setting up of this Corporation the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia (Mr Anthony) made no mention whatsoever to what is becoming a major development in world trade. I refer to barter trade. Recently the United States bartered wheat for oil with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I wonder how the wheat growers of Australia feel about that particular development. The Leader of the National Country Party claimed that the Australian Wheat Board was capable of carrying out this trade on its own. The Wheat Board cannot barter oil for wheat. It is in no position to carry out that side of the barter trade. A similar position applies with respect to the Australian Wool Corporation, the Australian Dairy Corporation and the Australian Meat Board. Barter trade, government to government, is becoming quite a central theme in world trade. For this reason the Australian Overseas Trading Corporation would have been in a strong position to make sure that our traditional trading partners and our traditional trading links were preserved.

The Corporation would have provided a base for small business operations, which constitutes 93 per cent of the manufacturing establishments in Australia- that is 93 per cent which have fewer than 100 employees- actually to trade on the world market in a sensible, constructive way. All the trading incentives in the world will be of no avail if the scale of the manufacturing operation prevents a particular firm from actually seeking out markets overseas. Working through the Corporation, particularly in relation to barter deals, small business would have a part of the cake. As things stand now small business is out on its own in the cold. The Opposition promised small business some form of export incentive. This was not successful in the past and certainly is not successful for a firm which cannot go overseas and develop its links. It holds no promise for those firms in the future.

We hear a great deal of critisism of this Government’s activities in relation to the beef market. It is interesting to remind the House that the Premier of Queensland at one stage threatened the Japanese. He said that their coal imports from Australia would be cut off if they did not import beef, in a sort of inverse barter deal. The Premier of Queensland apparently was not averse to this particular threat. We hear comments from the Opposition about the unreliability of Australia as a beef trading nation. If there is any substance at all to that comment it is due to the maverick statements made by people like the Premier of Queensland in relation to the coal and beef export from that State.

The record of this Government in regard to beef negotiations overseas stands unequalled. An answer by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Crean) to question No. 1288 covers 3 columns in Hansard and gives a detailed blow by blow account of the many negotiations which are undertaken by the Department of Overseas Trade to protect Australia’s beef markets in the European Economic Community, Japan and America in particular. On every occasion the Australian Government not only took the initiative to protect those markets but also took the initiative to create new international negotiating forums in which our beef markets may be protected. There can be no question that we have been badly served by the Japanese and EEC markets insofar as their commitment to international agreements is concerned. There can be no question that this Government has represented the interests of the beef producers and the nation very vigorously and very forcefully in every forum that was open to it. There can also be no question that the political motivation which has led to the reduction of our exports to the EEC and Japan has no market basis in fact.

It is quite dishonest for people to go around this country claiming that the price of Australian beef has in any way a realtionship to our capacity to sell to markets overseas. The decisions made were political. In fact, if we were to export beef that was too cheap to the EEC or to Japan that in itself would be a disincentive to importers. Their governments would insist that the price be raised in order that the beef could be sold within the domestic market situations that have been artificially created in those countries. For that reason I believe that comments about the export tax are quite without foundation.

Mr Kerin:

– Export levy.


– I am corrected quite rightly by the honourable member for Macarthur. It is an export levy. These prices would not in any way influence the amount of beef that we could sell to these 3 markets. It is a political matter on which the record of the Department of Overseas Trade is unmatched.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-On a remarkable number of occasions when I speak in this House I either follow the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) or he follows me. It is unique whenever we happen to agree with one another but, of course, today is not one of those days. I tried to listen to the honourable member on this all-important question of trade. I could not quite follow his logic. He appeared to me to be somewhat critical of barter trade. I remind the honourable member that barter trade is one of those things that goes on throughout the world. To my mind he used the wrong phrase. The phrase we should be using is reciprocal arrangements; in other words, ‘If you can support us, we will support you. ‘ This is not an uncommon arrangement.

I do not wish to spend the few minutes available to me answering all the points raised by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. I intend to deal with a couple of other matters. At the outset let me say that no country will survive very long unless its trade, both internally and externally, is of the order at which it can retain some form of balance. It is easy to cover the point of the successful balance overseas. That needs little explanation. There is either a favourable or unfavourable balance. Internal trade- trade between States and trade within a State- is a little more complicated. We all recognise that Australia basically is a raw material producing nation. Our major exports comprise such items as wool, meat, grain, coal and minerals. All are chiefly sold in the raw or crude state. As our population rises so too do our exports of goods rise, but it is just not automatic. Governments, both State and Federal, have an important role to play. Government decisions have a very big bearing on inducement, encouragement and incentive to produce. There are very few industries that expand or even continue under present conditions unless thay have some form of encouragement. This would include inducement to make a profit as well as taking preventive measures to avoid a loss. Industry must have capital invested. If the risk of loss is not minimal we cannot expect people to invest in industries. With interest rates running at near an all-time record high, to my mind there are two major non-encouraging issues. The first one is the risk of losing money invested and the second is the need for extra profit to cover the huge interest burden that is placed on most industries today. Added to these two issues, inflation helps capital investment because there is more money flowing, but it demands greater profits per item of goods produced. This in turn creates buyer resistance, resulting in a risk to the producer or the manufacturer.

Over the weekend the world was shocked by the realisation that fuel costs would rise substantially in the not-too-distant future. This extra burden will be shared by all people in Australia, whether they be producers, manufacturers or consumers. Sooner or later it will have an effect on all transport costs. These will all rise. This will place a very heavy burden on those producers whose goods must be transported before sale. I am referring not only to those people living in the rural parts of Australia but also to the producers of Australia’s large quantity of export goods. Take as an example the important commodity of petrol. The cost of petrol at the seaboard or refinery will start to rise, and even the cost of delivery of that fuel will increase. Take another example. In the centre of the electorate which I represent, Wimmera, I am informed that freight on fuel is about 4c a gallon. Not only will the price at the refinery rise but also the cost of delivery will increase. It is also interesting to note that there is a big differential in fuel prices at the present time. Super grade petrol can be bought in Melbourne- I refer to Melbourne as distinct from other capital cities- for 55c, 56c or 57c a gallon; but in the centre of my electorate, which is about only 200 miles from Melbourne, the base price at the bowser for super petrol runs at 72c or 73c- a variation from the metropolitan price by 15c, 16c or 17c. I wonder what the variation would be in some of the centres represented by my colleague, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett).

Mr Corbett:

– It is well over 85c there.


– The honourable member for Maranoa says that it is well over 85c. Compare that with 55c in a metropolitan area. These are some of the issues that I believe we should be looking at when discussing the all-important question of trade. The Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Crean) will be well aware that before his Government came to office the previous government had a scheme known as the petrol price equalisation scheme. Under this scheme no petrol could be sold, originally, at more than 4 pence a gallon over and above the price in the capital city, but what happened? One of the first things that the present Government did when it came to office was to remove this scheme.

Mr Millar:

– Of course it is a shame. If the Government is sincere in all the statements it makes about equalising the rights of the individual, helping the underprivileged and all those sorts of things, why does it not do something about the equalisation of fuel prices throughout Australia? It can be said that the variation in prices I have mentioned this afternoon is due to price cutting. Maybe this is so, but if price cutting is effective in one area it stands to reason that someone in another area must pay for it. No one will convince me that the oil companies throughout the world are prepared to cut the price in one area without passing it on in another. It is all very well for someone fortunate enough to be able to get petrol at a reduced price- good luck to those people who can- but somebody eventually must pay. Very often the retailer is the first one who gets his fingers burnt, but sooner or later there is a loss against the oil company and, as I said, eventually this must be passed on in some other areas.

There are few countries in the world which depend more on trade than does Australia. When the price of our major items of production falls then our balance of trade is very adversely affected. The Government assured us when it first came to office that it was going to find more markets to balance the weaknesses we run up against when prices fall. The Government said that is was going to find alternative markets, but I am sure that there are many people in Australia, particularly the primary producers, who do not agree that the Government has succeeded in honouring its promise of some 3 years ago. I know that the Minister for Overseas Trade has endeavoured to find markets. I am not sure where he has broken down. I have discussed this matter with him frequently, and I am quite sure that if he were to embark on a commodity agreement arrangement with a number of other countries he would succeed.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I am interested in what the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) had to say about the price of petrol in Victoria. I do not know where he gets his information that the price is 57c a gallon in Melbourne because I am paying 61c. But he should be very glad that his electorate is in Victoria because in New South Wales, where the Liberal Government brought in a petrol tax, people are currently paying 78c.

The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) was not critical of barter trade. He approves of it. I was interested to learn that the honourable member for Wimmera recognises and approves of barter trade also. I think it might be a good idea if he discussed it with his leader, because in speaking to the Australian Overseas Trading Corporation Bill the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia (Mr Anthony) did not seem to have any faith at all in the barter system.

I offer my congratulations to the Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Crean) for the understanding he has shown in his portfolio. He has been able to pursue matters that are of vital concern to Australian overseas trade interests and has been diligent in establishing and fostering working dialogues with his counterparts overseas. So much of our future security depends so heavily on the goodwill and understanding that the Minister and his departmental officers can foster with our trading partners.

The Minister has currently before Parliament a Bill to establish an Australian Overseas Trading Corporation. I think our economic growth and well-being depend heavily on the growth of our overseas trade. It has to be a two-way trade, in both exports and in imports. This financial year the total value of Australian trade- imports and exports- should exceed $ 1,600m. But the growing complexities of international trade, in the new climate of the wealthy oil countries, demand more and more government involvement. Whilst this may be a change from the way in which Australia has traded previously, change comes and it has to be accepted. All major world trading nations now have a degree of direct and indirect government involvement in their overseas trade. We must update our trading program and reappraise what appear to be gaps in our own overseas trading machinery.

It has never appeared to me to be wise to hold on to methods of operation that may have served well during one decade but have become outmoded in another era. No one- not even the Opposition- would dispute that in our trade we are playing in a new ball game at the moment. We need to be better equipped to move into trading areas which we have not entered before. Whilst recognising and valuing our 3 major markets- Japan, the United States of America and the European Economic Community- if we are to expand our markets we must move into trading with new partners as well. We will have to look to the centrally planned economies and the Middle East oil exporting countries to increase our trade. It is in these areas that government to government involvement in commercial transactions is becoming more prevalent.

In Australia we have no machinery for this type of involvement, and the Minister and the Government recognise this. Their answer is the Australian Overseas Trading Corporation. Such a Corporation would also assist those manufacturing firms which are too small to engage alone in overseas trade. The Corporation could act as a clearing house for a number of these small manufacturing establishments. It will have 3 tiers. There will be trade arrangements with the Middle East oil exporting countries and trade with the centrally planned economies, which has been neglected in this country for far too long. Great trade opportunities exist there for imaginative manufacturers and businessmen. Australian manufacturers have had little experience in trading with or even understanding the centrally planned economies. The Australian Overseas Trading Corporation can help to overcome many of the problems and much of the misunderstanding. It can provide a sellingpurchasing agency. The Middle East oil exporting countries seek comprehensive long term government to government arrangements on foodstuffs, capital equipment and technology. The Corporation could act as a co-ordinating instrument for trading at a level which would appear to be beyond the capacity of individual Australian firms.

Mr Duthie:

– The Opposition opposed it.


– I know that the Opposition opposed it. I cannot understand why honourable members opposite did so when they are always calling out about the need to increase trade. One would imagine that if they were interested in increasing trade they would be interested in increasing markets. The Opposition insists that Australia alone is experiencing inflation and unemployment, but every comparable country is in much the same position. This was stated at the recent International Monetary Fund conference, as my colleague the honourable member for Eden-Monaro mentioned earlier. In all the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries consumer demand is down. At home, business confidence is being kept at a low ebb by the continual irresponsible rumours from the Opposition about an early election. It is almost impossible for business interests to plan ahead if they feel that they are being threatened with a change of government. I would say that one of the reasons for the continuing rumours is that the trough of the current recession has already passed and that the so far weak recovery in output and demand will continue to strengthen over the rest of the financial year.

This is showing up in a variety of areas. There has been an increase in the production of bricks, a slow pick-up in dwelling investment and in household durables. There has been an increase in the production of domestic refrigerators and domestic washing machines. In these areas of consumer durables there was a real consumer backlash last year. The fact that they are picking up shows that there is a pick-up in our general economy, and this is probably the reason why we are continually threatened with an election. There has been a substantial increase in the production of woven cotton cloth. This is a good indication that the textile industry, which has been pretty heavily hit, is also on the way up. Consumer spending has risen marginally over the past few months. There has been an extraordinary overflow of disposable income into savings. The Budget which was introduced recently sought to deal with inflation at a slow rate rather than hitting it heavily because this savings dam could quickly create excessive demand should consumer expectations suddenly rise.

In these days of economic difficulty in all comparable countries the Minister for Overseas Trade is to be congratulated for the successful negotiations he has had with many countries and, not the least, for the agreement with New Zealand that recent economic movements would not result in action which would retard the development of the very valuable New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. Agreement has been reached that where temporary limitations become necessary these should be introduced and administered in such a way as to preserve the co-operation in trading matters between these 2 countries. It is a further indication of the Minister’s work that the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia have agreed that a comprehensive study should be undertaken of ways of achieving more effectively the fundamental objective of making the best possible use of the resources of each country, to our mutual benefit This study should chart the path or further development of the trans-Tasman trade for the next four or five years, with benefits flowing back to our own manufacturers and business houses.

We have also attempted to strengthen our trade and economic relations with the independent African countries. To this end we have opened a Trade Commissioner post in Lagos, Nigeria, and have strengthened the Nairobi post. Increased trade with these countries may well be of great value in the future both for them and for Australia. We have to look afresh not only at where we are going to trade but also at what we are going to use for trading. We must consider manufactured items as well as primary products. The year 1974-75 has seen a marked easing in imports and a continued strong export performance. This is in contrast to 1973-74 when the reverse was the case. Exports on a recorded trade basis were valued at $8,709m in 1974-75, an increase of over 26 per cent over the previous year. That is hardly the picture of a country that has been brought to its knees.


-Australia’s role as one of the world’s great trading nations is a proper subject for concern in this debate on the estimates of the Department of Overseas Trade because that role is an important one in the development of what has recently been termed the new world economic order precipitated by the oil price increases of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in October 1973. It is history now how the oil crisis of that time led to an international monetary crisis which in its turn led to a reappraisal of the relationships between rich and poor nations, between developed and developing nations. In many cases, but not all cases, the rich and developed countries were coincidental and the poor and developing countries were coincidental. It also brought about a reappraisal of the relationships between producer and consuming nations of the raw materials which are the basis of industrial development and also of food and fibre.

What became abundantly clear in the aftermath of that oil crisis was that the disposition of the world’s resources- its raw materials, particularly the energy resources of the world- became a matter of vital importance to world economic stability and also to sound international relations. Australia’s role here as a great provider of raw materials and processed materials by way of minerals, food and fibre to the world, quite apart from its present major trading partners, therefore gave to Australia a new prominence. It can be said, I think in a very real sense, that Australia’s strongest defence apart from military defence in an unstable region rests in a strong diversified economy with a wide spread of international investments acting as a supplier of raw and processed materials to numerous consumer nations.

Australia perhaps has a unique position because it is both a producer nation and a developed nation, although for my part I do not necessarily adopt the description ‘developed nation’ as being truly appropriate to Australia. If we adopt that view of ourselves we accept that we are on a plateau of development. Of course Australia, with its great natural wealth, is not on a plateau of development but on a rising plane. Australia, both as a producer nation and as a developed nation in the sense in which I have referred to it, has a significant place in the framing of the emerging relationship between producer and consumer countries which will influence the future of the Western world.

Interdependence is the essence of this relationship. It is a relationship about which the United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, has spoken a great deal in recent times and on which he has made many speeches. I refer to just one of those delivered on 14 July of this year before the Institute of World Affairs at the University of Wisconsin. Amongst other points, Mr Kissinger made this one:

The pursuit of economic growth is complicated by the fact of inter-dependence; it can no longer be pursued by national efforts but requires co-ordinated, global actions.

When one considers Australia’s role as a great supplier of resources to the world I think it can be seen quickly what a vital position Australia has in any steps to bring about co-ordinated global actions. I speak in this debate to express some concern that Australia has not yet found its proper place in the new international relationships which are being developed. Australia as one of the world’s great trading nations, must have a sense of urgency in finding its place in this emerging international relationship of interdependence. Against that world background we can look particularly at Australia’s relationship with Japan. I think that trading relationship can be properly referred to as our most important relationship. Here we do require a real sense of interdependence between the economies of Japan and Australia because those 2 economies are firmly linked.

This was brought home to us in Australia at the recent Thirteenth Joint Meeting of the AustraliaJapan Business Co-operation Committee which was held in my home city of Perth from 3

September to 5 September. In the joint communique from the meeting it was pointed out that Australia and Japan are firmly linked in the relationship founded on 2-way trade which has risen from $265m in 1958-59 to $3,233m in 1973-74. It was predicted that in the next decade this relationship will lead to substantial joint economic development. Australia as a great producer of raw materials therefore must be careful in joining any association of producers. It must be careful to see that it is not led into a position where it might embark upon a policy of resource blackmail rather than resource co-operation in the spirit of international interdependence to which I have already referred. This concern was expressed in the joint communique of the AustraliaJapan Business Co-operation Committee. Delegates expressed the hope that the development of associations of producers of raw materials would not hamper the development of trade between Australia and Japan.

When one appreciates the great dependence of Japan upon the iron ore from Western Australianearly 50 per cent of Japan’s requirements- we can quickly understand the concern both of the Australia and the Japanese delegates that associations of producers of raw materials should not hamper the 2-way trade which links our 2 nations. This is not only the case in mineral resources but also in food and fibre because trade in agricultural products is an important part of Australia ‘s overseas trade. This matter was brought to a head recently with concern expressed by Japanese delegates to that joint meeting about the ability of Australia to meet the commitments it entered into for Japan to receive Australian coking coal from the decade commencing in the 1980s. Mr Saburo Tanabe, the Senior Managing Director of the Nippon Steel Corporation, expressed concern that Australia might not be able to fulfil its obligations. The significance of this, again in terms of interdependence, can be understood by realising that for the iron and steel production of the Japanese economy it must have both iron ore and coking coal. It cannot have one without the other. Therefore if we are to maintain our export earnings through the export of iron ore from Western Australia we must also be able to fulfil the requirement of the Japanese iron and steel industry for coking coal. I think in those short words in this Estimates debate I have shown the vital significance of the policy of interdependence for the welfare of Australia’s overseas trade.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) who has just sat down gave a good introduction to the comments I wish to make. At the weekend I was rather surprised to hear a radio broadcast, a transcript of which I have subsequently gained a copy.

The transcript reads:

The Federal Leader of the Opposition, Mr Fraser, said … a Liberal-National Country Party Government could do much more to reopen markets for Australian beef in Japan and the United States. At Casino in northern New South Wales -

I suppose he was there getting riding instructions rather than trying to get a few votes for the Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) -

Mr Fraser said the Prime Minister and the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, had caused Japan to believe Australia would be an unreliable trading partner for raw materials. The coalition, if elected to Government, would again demonstrate that Australia was determined to be a reliable trading partner. This would put Australia in a much stronger bargaining position to protect primary industry exports.

A similar situation applied to beef exports to the United States.

This statement is simply dishonest. Not only that, it is an insult to the audience that was being addressed. This is the same tactic the Leader of the Opposition used in my electorate in trying to cast aspersions on a coal deal that was gained with Japan and was the best coal deal we have ever gained with that country. There was no Press statement to this bit of garbage. This was the same old tactic of trying to tell the audience what they wanted to hear regardless of the facts. If we want to talk about unreliability and the sort of resources blackmail that speakers on the other side of the chamber go on with we have only to refer to statements by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture made in my electorate and on the south coast in the electorate of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) and also to a statement by the Premier of Queensland. They said at the beginning of this year that we should use our coal and uranium to blackmail Japan into taking our beef. If we are to talk about unreliability and statements by members of Parliament and we are to talk about the link between Japan and Australia to which the honourable member for Stirling quite rightly referred, some of these nonsense statements need to cease. It is a great reflection on the Department of Overseas Trade that these sorts of things should be said. It is offensive that these things should be said with respect to our major exports of raw materials.

Let me bring some of the facts before the Committee. I will deal first with the beef situation. On 25 May of this year in answer to a question from the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), the Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Crean) gave a very detailed answer outlining more than 36 arrangements, conferences and negotiations entered into by the Australian Government in an attempt to gain markets for Australian beef. I ask for leave to incorporate this document in Hansard.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)-Is leave granted?

Mr Katter:

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

World Beef Trade (Question No. 1288)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. What meetings with what other countries have taken place on the world beef trade situation.
  2. What progress has been achieved, and what are the major problem areas.
Mr Crean:

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

  1. Since several importing countries, including the E.E.C., Japan, Greece, Canada and the U.S.A., imposed restrictions on imports of beef in 1974 and early 1975, a series of representations have been made either to secure reopening of markets or an equitable Australian share in the volumes permitted to be imported.

It has not been possible to produce a complete and definitive listing of all the occasions on which Australian representatives have raised the matter of barriers to the export of Australian beef. However, a list of the main formal exchanges is provided below.


On 14 June, 1974 Australia made formal diplomatic representations to the Japanese Government regarding restrictions on imports. This followed a series of exchanges in Tokyo and Canberra on the Japanese measures, dating from February, 1974.

A high-level delegation comprising Australian officials and industry representatives visited Japan from 18-20 July to press for re-opening of the market.

Follow up exchanges took place during discussion on agriculture between Japanese and Australian officials in Canberra on 12-13 August, 1974.

The matter was again raised during the visits to Tokyo of the Minister for Northern Development, Dr Patterson (4 September) and the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Wriedt( 8 October).

The Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, discussed the continued Japanese ban on imports with Prime Minister Tanaka, during the latter’s visit to Canberra ( 1-2 November, 1974).

At Australia’s initiative consultations concerning the Japanese restrictions were held in Geneva “under the auspices of the GAT on 17-18 February, 1975.

The Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors made joint representations in Tokyo on 1 1 April, 1975.

A delegation of senior Australian officials pursued the matter during trade discussions in Tokyo on 14-15 April, 1975.

Australian Ministers pursued the question of restrictions during the Australian- Japan Ministerial Committee meeting in Canberra on 2-3 May, 1975.

page 1420


Following a series of representations, the Australian Government presented a formal diplomatic note to the E.E.C. Commission and member States in May, 1974, concerning the import restrictions imposed on beef.

A high level delegation comprising Australian officials and industry representatives held discussions on 27-28 June in Brussels and 1-2 July, 1974 in London.

Further diplomatic representations were made in Brussels and in the capitals of E.E.C. member States on 19 July, 1974.

The matter was raised by both Ministers and senior officials during the visit to Australia of the E.E.C. Commissioner, Sir Christopher Soames, on 6 September, 1974.

As a result of action initiated by Australia on 1 6 August 1974, GATT consultations with the E.E.C. took place in Geneva on 25 October 1974, 25 November 1974 and 18 April 1975. Australia was joined in this initiative by Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Rumania, Uruguay and Yugoslavia.

Australia joined other major countries exporting beef to the E.E.C., including Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Poland, Rumania, Uruguay and Yugoslavia, in drafting a joint resolution which was presented to the E.E.C. Commission and to the Council of Agricultural Ministers on 17 September 1974. This was followed up with further representations in April 1 975.

The Prime Minister made representations personally in Brussels and in other capitals in December 1974 concerning the E.E.C. ‘s embargo on beef imports.


On 29 January 1975 the Australian Government presented a diplomatic note to the Greek Government emphasising its concern at the ban imposed against imports of frozen beef.

page 1420



During 1974, Australia had a series of consultations with United States authorities to seek to avoid the imposition of restraints on beef imports. The consultations included regular quarterly consultations in March, June, September and December 1974, which were attended by other interested governments.

In addition, bilateral consultations were held during the visit to Canberra of Assistant Secretary Richard Bell of the United States Department of Agriculture on 25-26 June 1974.

The Minister for Overseas Trade made representations concerning United States meat restraints in Washington on 15- 17 January 1975.

The Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, Mr D- H. McKay, discussed the question of access into the United States meat market with senior United States Administration officials on 18 March 1975.


Australia made formal diplomatic representations to the Canadian Government on 8 August 1974 concerning restrictions imposed on beef imports.

A delegation comprising senior Australian Government officials and industry representatives held bilateral discussions in Ottawa on 10-14October 1974.

Meetings with other Meat Exporting Countries

In making representations to have import markets reopened, Australia has worked in close co-operation with other meat exporting countries. These exchanges have included:

New Zealand

Meetings to co-ordinate approaches were held in Wellington in February, in Canberra in July and again in Wellington in October 1974.


Discussions were held in Mexico on 5-6 September 1974.


Discussions were held in Buenos Aires on 9-11 September 1974.


Discussions were held in Montevideo on 11-12 September 1974.

Eastern European Countries

Co-operation has been maintained with Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Rumania through our representatives in Geneva and elsewhere.

In addition to the bilateral exchanges listed above, Australia has actively participated in a number of multilateral meetings on the problems of access into world meat markets generally.

An OECD Agriculture Committee Working Party on Meat (July and December 1974)

The OECD Joint Working Party on the Trade and Agriculture Committees (July, September and October 1974)

The OECD Executive Committee (April 1 975 )

The Fourth Session of the FAO Inter-Governmental Group on Meat (October 1 974)

The OECD Trade Committee (November 1974)

The OECD Agriculture Committee (January 1 975 ).

Consultative Group on Meat

Australia took the initiative in convening a meeting of the major meat trading countries which was held in Washington on 15-16 October 1974. (Discussions with the Japanese delegation were also held at that time on bilateral beef issues.)

In a further initiative, Australia sought the creation of a permanent Consultative Group on Meat within the GATT. Depite strong opposition from certain countries, the GATT Contracting Parties agreed to the establishment of such a Group in February 1975. The initial meeting was held in Geneva on 13-14 March 1975. Although the Group has been established under the GATT, the membership is open to any interested country.

  1. In the case of the United States, it seems unlikely that the current restraints on imports will be lifted for some time to come. However, the Australian share of total U.S. imports during 1975 is more than we have ever previously received whilst restraints have been in force. In the case of Canada, although the import market has been restricted by a global quota, imports from Australia to date have been roughly in line with recent historical performance.

On 24 April 1975, the EEC relaxed slightly its virtually total import ban and will permit imports of up to 50 000 tonnes between 1 June and 30 September on certain strict conditions. These conditions require the export of one tonne of beef for every tonne imported. Importers will furthermore be required to pay a levy in accordance with new procedures.

This marginal relaxation is doubtless a response to constant representations by exporting countries. The Australian Government has however already expressed its belief that the new scheme will have no appreciable effect as far as Australia is concerned in restoring its market.

The Japanese Government has announced that its market will be re-opened during June, on a date to be determined. As yet the Japanese Government is unable to specify the amount of the first quota allocation. Further imports will be admitted during the remainder of the 1975-76 Japanese fiscal year. The Japanese Government has assured the Australian Government that it sees a continuing need over the next decade for sizeable imports of beef.


– I thank the honourable member for Kennedy. That answer sets out the facts. They are in Hansard. I would like to know how the Leader of the Opposition could possibly say, with efforts of this type going on and on the basis of the figures that I will later give, that we are regarded by Japan or the United States of America as an unreliable supplier of beef or any of the other major raw materials? As a result of all these negotiations which are continuing the United States has now taken the biggest amount of beef imports under the voluntary arrangements. Recently the Minister announced that a further 10 600 tonnes would go to that market to meet a shortfall in supplies from other suppliers.

Looking to Japan, we have placed some 37 000 tonnes of beef there this year. The way this is developing, we may place 50 000 tonnes in the full year. We all know that the position with respect to Europe is impossible. I would think that all members in this Committee would know what the situation is in respect to Europe. We have placed some small quantities of beef in Greece. But I think all honourable members should know with respect to exports of beef to Japan that there are problems in that country. In the Melbourne Age last week, on 25 September, there was a statement with respect to the activities of the Livestock Protection Committee in that country. I think it is perfectly true to say that if the price of our beef was half of what it is it would not mean that we would sell any more beef.

Let us have a look at some of the other statements that have been made with respect to raw materials. Let me mention iron ore. I must say that I am very glad that the honourable member for Stirling does recognise the linkage. He is one Liberal who at least states the truth on these matters. As we all know, when it comes to the crunch, the National Country Party has its way. Australia has iron ore reserves of 35 000 million tons. We have no problems with respect to reserves. In 1972 our exports of iron ore totalled 54 million tons. Last year it was 83.5 million tons.

The estimate of iron ore exports this year is 80 million tons.

All that this Government has introduced into a situation with respect to negotiations from private firms to private persons buying in Japan is prior consultation. As a result of this action, the value of our iron ore exports this year will be some $750m with a slightly reduced tonnage due to the downturn in world economic conditions, which is exactly at the base of the problems of our beef exports. In that situation we will get an additional $2 50m this year. This is a result of government involvement. We cannot say that there is any crisis with respect to future supplies because at present the Japanese are seriously investigating deposits, for example, at Marandoo and Deepdale. I could name quite a few others. The Japanese are looking at this matter quite seriously. There is no problem with supply at all. There is no problem as to total reserves. The Japanese themselves have been quite open in saying that they can rely on Australia as a supplier of raw materials. They have said this particularly with respect to coal.

Despite the nonsense that my endorsed opponent for the seat of Macarthur and the Leader of the Opposition said in my electorate, this year Australia expects that some 27 million tonnes to 29 million tonnes of coal will be exported. By 1980 these exports will have risen to between 44 million tonnes and 49 million tonnes. More than that, as a result of the negotiations entered into by the Department of Overseas Trade, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Ministers concerned, we have reached agreements with the Japanese which will mean that there will be no reduction in the imports resulting from world fluctuations. In other words, the Japanese will simply cancel spot contracts if they find themselves in the position in which they found themselves in the past year. At the last negotiations, the Japanese steel mills representatives stated their appreciation of the assurance of continuity of supplies. They look upon Australia as a principal and reliable source of raw materials. They have said that publicly. It is in Japanese newspapers and their business journals for everyone to see.

What this Government has done is to gain for Australia a 71 per cent increase in price. But somehow or another the Opposition wants to twist these benefits that we have gained into something to be sneered at. I do not know how Opposition members can expect at all times to have every argument both ways. The value of coal exports 18 months ago was approximately $400m. It will be probably in excess of $ 1,000m this year. It will be $l,700m by 1980 and will total $7,000m over the next 5 years. At all times the Japanese have stated quite clearly that they regard Australia as Japan’s prime source of supply. They are quite happy to enter into negotiations with the Minister concerned. For years they have been doing exactly the same with their importers as we are now doing with our exporters. We are simply getting them together instead of allowing cut-throat competition to continue.

The price of the best Queensland coking coal at 1 December 1972 was $1 1.26 a ton. The price for the same high grade coking coal at 1 July 1975 was $37 a ton. Somehow the Opposition must make up its mind whether this is good, bad or indifferent. Should we continue to countenance statements by various members opposite that we can continue to indulge in resources blackmail with respect to our raw materials? There is no truth in the statement put out by the Leader of the Opposition at the weekend. As I said, it is offensive to the Department of Overseas Trade. It was an insult to the audience that he was addressing.


-In the estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade $58,871,000 has been allowed for 1975-76 as against an expenditure of $29,020,304 in 1974-75. It is interesting to see the figures in connection with the Commissioner Trade Service which has been slightly increased to $10,487,000, but the big increase is in respect of the Export Development Grants Board for which the sum appropriated is $27.5m. I wish to speak about the loss of our market in Great Britain as a result of that country’s joining the European Economic Community. This has had a very serious effect on the sale of our primary products in that area and has been a severe blow to our export income. We must look to other markets to take up this loss with respect to our primary products previously sold to Great Britain. Meat has been the biggest single commodity on which we have lost out. The downturn in the Japanese buying of beef has been the main reason for the calamitous situation in the cattle and beef industry in this country.

We must use every device at all levels to increase our beef trade with other countries. Surely the oil producing countries, the Arab countries- Saudi Arabia and other such countriesmust be surveyed for possible achievements in the export of our meat. We must use every sales effort to promote the sale of our great primary products in that area. We must also make every effort to sell our primary products to the Eastern bloc countries. Our political persuasion may be different from that of those countries but, if they can pay for our primary products, let us sell to them. I have in mind Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and, of course, Russia.

Over the years we have carried out trade with these countries in a minor way. It is felt that if we make every effort to sell our products to countries in that region we will be successful. We have recently sold to the U.S.S.R. a parcel of 40 000 tons of beef. It was at 22c a kilo only. Nevertheless, it helped us to get rid of some of the surplus beef that we have in this country. I am very sad to say that only 35 000 tons was shipped. This was as a result of the failure of the wharfies to play ball and the ship having to leave 5000 tons short. That was a disaster.

The Australian Wheat Board has been very successful indeed. It is to be congratulated on the sales results that it is producing. In February this year the Board sold $120m worth of wheat to China, the wheat to be shipped between April this year and March 1976. The deal was made in Melbourne and Canberra with the China National Cereals, Oil and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation and payment is to be made with interest within 12 months of shipment. This is a market on which Australia has always sold wheat, and whilst the present Government makes great play of the claim that more wheat has been sold to China while it has been in office, that claim is a fallacy because when the Liberal and Country Parties were in government huge sales of wheat were made to China, particularly in our last year of office, 1972. China will always buy our wheat when the price and quality are right and when we have stocks to sell. Russia has purchased 1 million tons of wheat, 750 000 tons initially and a further 250 000 tons the other day. I do not think our opposition to the Overseas Trading Corporation Bill would have any effect at all on our trade with China and Russia. We have always done business with these countries on a satisfactory basis and through private enterprise.

I want to talk a little about the coal industry which is vital to my electorate and which had made a great contribution to the economic development of this country. It has become one of our great exports with big markets in Japan for our coking coal for steel mills. Recently the Government placed an export tax on coal and this has created a serious situation. It placed an export tax of $6 a ton on coking coal and $2 a ton on steaming coal. The mining companies and mining interests in the Hunter Valley have advised me that this tax could have a serious effect on the export of our coal, that it could price us out of some markets. Japanese buyers as recently as last week indicated that this was so. This tax has stopped further development of our industry. It has placed a clamp on further investment for the time being, for the further development of mines that are being developed now and on the development of new mines in the future. The $2 a ton export tax on steaming coal is in many instances more than the profit that mining companies are making out of this class of coal and it is causing great concern in the industry and in my electorate of Paterson where there is tremendous mining development from the City of Maitland over the Great Dividing Range out as far as Gunnedah.

In the few minutes left to me I would like to speak about the Australian export of manufactured goods. The Australian Manufacturers Export Council has suggested that the Government reconsider as a matter of urgency the reintroduction of a growth export incentive in addition to the existing market development grants scheme. Recently in Sydney discussions focused on the New Zealand devaluation and its likely impact on Australian exporters. The Council is of the opinion that the New Zealand devaluation will seriously affect the export of Australian manufactures not only to New Zealand but also to third world countries. New Zealand companies are in the enviable position of not only receiving an effective price advantage over international competitors through the devaluation but also obtaining from their government generous assistance through recently extended export incentives. New Zealand is Australia’s most important overseas market for manufactured products and Australia plays a significant part in supplying New Zealand with manufactured products. It is imperative that our Government urgently reconsider the reintroduction of a growth export incentive as an addition to the existing market development grants scheme. Although figures for Australian manufactured exports remain high they reflect only an historical situation. The good flow of overseas orders in the pipeline 6 months ago is dwindling to a relative trickle and we can expect a serious drop in future overseas earnings in the vital manufacturing sector. The Government has been warned continuously of the deleterious effects on employment of a downturn in manufactured exports and this is now in evidence. We must give additional help to exporters through restored incentives.


-In joining this debate on the estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade I want to talk a little about a number of aspects. It has been taken for granted for a long time in Australia that the more trade we have the better off Australia will be. However, I think it is important for us to recognise the important consequences that flow from our trade performance- our export performance- in relation to the performance of our internal economy. For instance, if the receipts from exports are excessively high in one year this can have serious implications in that it can increase substantially local demand and be a spur to inflation, as occurred during 1972 and 1973. It was a substantial cause of the inflationary problems that we have now. Inflation can also be exacerbated by the inflow of foreign capital and in large measure the inflow of foreign capital is substantially affected by our export returns. In other words, most overseas investment occurs in industries which are related to overseas markets and therefore if we allow unrestricted inflow of capital to take advantage of our good performance in those areas it can have serious effects on the inflationary situation in the domestic economy.

As well as that we have to take account of the external situation of our local manufacturing industry and we cannot be led into the position of restricting imports to the extent where local manufacturing industry becomes inefficient or insufficiently competitive. So in these circumstances governments have a difficult task trying to develop and maintain sound policies in relation to our local industry in the light of changing patterns of trade and the more rapidly changing exchange rates. For this reason we cannot afford to go overboard too much in responding to the ups and downs of our overseas trade performance because we have to keep an eye on the implications that our actions in that field have on our local manufacturing industry which relies substantially on the local market and plays a most important role in providing jobs for Australian workers. While it would be easy for some people to suggest that we ought to devalue the currency in order to assist some of our ailing primary exporting industries, this would have very serious implications to our local manufacturing industry.

So we cannot find any magic solution to the problems which some of our export industries get into from time to time, and I do not think that we should resort to the sort of hysterical responses that the leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) all too often indulges in. Most recently we have his notable prediction reported in

Monday’s West Australian that the beef industry could turn more quickly than most people suppose. He said that he retained complete confidence in the beef industry’s long term future. We have only to go back a little while to evaluate his ability to make predictions about the beef industry. It was only in August 1973 that the Country Party in a submission to a parliamentary committee said:

The Country Party believes that government policy inasmuch as it relates to the beef industry should be directed to:

The encouragement of production.

It went on to say:

If, as appears likely, a world beef shortage is developing, then Australia must respond in the most effective manner possible to meet this situation.

In August 1973 the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia- I think he was Leader of the Australian Country Party in those days but he is now Leader of the National Country Party of Australia- said:

As incomes rise demand for meat will rise. In fact, I think demand will rise so fast that well be flat out trying to keep up with it. The thing that will most help us to meet the demand will be encouragement of higher production- and if people will restrain themselves from doing silly things about meat prices, production will rise quickly.

So there are just a few of the predictions of the right honourable gentleman about the beef industry. Since the time of those predictions beef prices have more than halved and our overseas exports of beef have slumped severely. So I do not think we can resort at these times to heroic and hysterical responses to the ups and downs which occur in some of our export markets. We have to live with the fact that many of our export industries do suffer from fluctuations. What we must try to do is to expand and strengthen the base of our export activities and provide procedures which will ensure a constant and upward growing development in our export activities.

In that regard I think the Government has an excellent record in instituting new procedures and new incentives in relation to the development of export industries. This year will be the first full year, in budgetary terms anyway, of the operation of the new export market development grants which, as most honourable members would know, replace the previous market development allowance and export incentive grants. This new scheme has very many benefits over the old arrangements which were linked substantially to rebates of income tax and rebates of payroll tax. Unfortunately that has had the consequence of excluding many small exporting firms from benefiting from the schemes and has also had the effect of excluding statutory marketing authorities and cooperatives from benefiting from those schemes because their income tax or payroll tax payments were either nil or negligible. So any rebates on the basis of those taxes were of very little consequence to those exporting bodies at all.

This year $27.5m will be spent on the scheme. It permits grants to be given to all exporters, with particular encouragement to small and medium sized firms, to exporters opening up new markets, and to firms new to exporting. This change in emphasis will enable the benefits to be spread with maximum possible effect amongst all Australian exporters. I think that this change which has occurred in the last year is an important one. As well as that the Government has expanded the operations of the old Export Payments Insurance Corporation and reconstituted that Corporation as the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation. This new Corporation will have amongst its functions the role of an export bank, as well as continuing the range of insurance and guaranteed facilities previously available to exporters under the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. This new Corporation came into effect early this year. The new arrangements will overcome some of the serious deficiencies and the Budget commitment to the new Corporation has been substantially increased.

There have been a number of other initiatives introduced by this Government in order to strengthen the base of our export industries. I think one of the most lamentable facts is that the Opposition has seen fit to oppose and reject the Australian Overseas Trading Corporation. In the light of the statements made by the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) who was urging upon the Government the need to expand our undertakings and expand our efforts in relation to some of the centrally planned economies in Eastern Europe, I think he ought to realise that it is only on a government to government basis that we can expand our activities in those economies. It is not enough for him to say that the Government should do more if he and his colleagues on that side of the chamber are prepared to oppose and reject the sorts of administrative arrangements that the Government wants to introduce in order to allow it to do just what he urges.

Proposed expediture agreed to.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Proposed expenditure, $85,336,000.

Department of the Special Minister of State

Proposed expenditure, $92,903,000.


-In speaking to the estimates of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of the Special Minister of State, I wish to confine my remarks to the Industries Assistance Commission. At the time of the framing of the Budget, the Government had before it 4 reports from the Industries Assistance Commission- the interim report on the superphosphate bounty of 31 July 1975, the report on assistance to new land farms in Western Australia, the report on tuberculosis and brucellosis dated 10 April 1975, and the report on rural income fluctuations dated 30 June 1975. All of these reports were ignored when the Budget was prepared. No wonder farmer organisations in Australia are seriously questioning the sincerity of this Government when matters are referred for report to the Industries Assistance Commission. No wonder farmer organisations are seriously questioning whether they should participate, at great cost, in further Industries Assistance Commission inquiries.

The Industries Assistance Commission is a tool of government designed to allow investigation into problems and the formulation of informed recommendations for government consideration. It is clearly still up to the Government to reject, accept or amend the recommendations of the Commission. My criticism of the Government is the way in which this valuable tool, the Industries Assistance Commission, is being used by the Labor Government. Firstly, it is being used as a ‘too-hard basket’. The beef industry is a classic example of the use of the Industries Assistance Commission as a ‘too-hard basket’. The legislation setting up the Industries Assistance Commission specifically permits short term action to be taken by the Government in needy cases without any requirement to refer the matter to the Commission. The beef industry is in serious trouble, as many speakers from both the Liberal and National Country parties have so adequately pointed out in recent debates. Prices for beef are down, and many people depending on beef for a major proportion of their farm income are in acute financial strife.

The Government did provide finance at exorbitant rates of interest and it has provided some matching finance to certain State governments. But this aid is inadequate, and it is not meeting the problems of the industry. One would have expected any competent government to give aid to the beef industry by means of the Budget. What did the Labor Government do? It referred the matter to the Industries Assistance Commission for report, when urgent short term alleviation of the problems of beef producers was required. There are many short term measures which could have been taken, such as additional carry-on finance at reasonable rates of interest, acceleration of the tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication programs, special grants to needy producers, and the suspension of the beef export and other levies.

The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in response to the Budget Speech proposed the lifting of these levies and the payment of welfare payments to beef producers in critical financial situations. The cost would have been about $34m. There is a significant difference between the attitude of the joint Opposition parties on aid to the beef industry and the callous attitude of this Government. As far as beef is concerned, this Government has used the Industries Assistance Commission as a ‘too-hard basket’. It is a convenient means of escaping the need to make a decision at a time when decisions are desperately needed.

I can refer also to the Government using the Industries Assistance Commission as a ‘too-hard basket’ in the case of rural income fluctuations. In the 1974 election publication This LandLabor’s Rural Program the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) said:

The Labor Government has under close examination a range of issues aimed at bringing greater stability to farm income from year to year and allowing farmers to plan ahead with greater security. These measures include prosperity bonds, crop insurance, tax averaging and a farm income stabilisation scheme.

That election statement clearly implies that the Labor Party had examined these matters and was ready to implement them very soon. That statement was made on 1 May 1974. It was not until 29 October 1974 that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) announced that the matter of income fluctuations of rural producers had been referred to the Industries Assistance Commissionthat is 6 months after the glowing and promising words of the Minister for Agriculture. Obviously the election statement was false, or the Government wanted to use the Industries Assistance Commission as a ‘too-hard basket’. Now the report has been received and still no action has been taken on it.

I ask honourable members to contrast this with the positive policies on taxation and income fluctuations put forward by the Liberal and National Country Parties at the election in 1974. Those policies received outright support by the Industries Assistance Commission report. The joint Opposition parties, in contrast to the empty statements of Senator Wriedt earlier referred to, promised an income reserve fund to spread the effect of seasonal income variations on the taxation of primary producers and also promised changes to the taxation averaging provisions. Both of these policy planks have been endorsed in the report of the Industries Assistance Commission. Despite the report, no action has been taken on it and the words of Senator Wriedt at the 1974 election now have a very hollow and insincere ring about them.

A greater matter of concern- this is even more important in the long term than the buck passing and too hard basket approach of the Government in referring matters to the Commission- is the lack of consideration of the IAC reports by the Government. I mentioned earlier that some 4 reports affecting agriculture had not been acted on. These are the tuberculosis and brucellosis reports, the interim report on the superphosphate bounty, the report on new land farm in Western Australia and the report on rural income fluctuations. The report on assistance to new land farms is particularly important. Immediate action is required on it. It proposes additional sources of finance and restructuring of current and developmental debts. It recommends the extension of the rural reconstruction scheme as a means of allowing those wishing to withdraw from their farms the opportunity to do so. It suggests that negotiations should take place between the State and Federal governments on this matter. To my knowledge, no action or discussions have been initiated. It goes to prove the need for additional rural credit facilities which have been part of the policies of the Opposition parties for some time. The 1974 election policy of the joint Opposition parties promised a rural bank to cover areas of deficiency in the rural credit field. Again, there is a contrast between the realistic policies of the joint Opposition parties and the glowing promises in the rural credit field put out by the Labor Party in the 1 972 electionpromises not yet honoured and probably never to be honoured by this Government.

The new land farms situation in Western Australia is critical. I call for immediate action on the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission in its new land inquiry. The superphosphate subsidy report of the Industries Assistance Commission recommended by a two to one majority that the subsidy be reinstated. The Prime Minister has already indicated that the recommendations are to be assessed upon the basis of prejudice. To describe as rather pathetic the efforts of 2 IAC Commissioners who backed the return of the superphosphate bounty clearly demonstrates the view of the Government towards the Industries Assistance Commisssion. The Prime Minister’s prejudice is clearly showing through and will probably sway the Caucus decision. The President of the Australian Farmers Federation, Mr Noel Hogan, rightly criticised the Prime Minister for his biased attitude. The Government’s policy on the superphosphate subsidy shows the substantial difference between the policies of the Government and the joint Opposition parties. We have consistently supported the retention of the superphosphate bounty. We see it as essential to give the necessary incentive and encouragement for continued agricultural production, to boost and or retain overseas earnings and to offset partially the crippling effects of inflation in the primary industries.

Farmer organisations are seriously asking whether they should continue to appear before Industries Assistance Commission hearings. Each submission and appearance is costlysomewhere between $3,000 and $30,000. Additionally, witnesses incur considerable personal costs. I can point to examples of farmers travelling 200 miles to appear before new land hearings. Some 70 witnesses in the electorate of Canning who appeared before the new land hearings have expressed their disappointment at the lack of decision on the recommendations of the inquiry. Many are disillusioned. Who can blame them? The United Farmers and Graziers Association of South Australia and the Farmers Union of Western Australia have both questioned the worth of appearances before the IAC if they are to be totally ignored by the Government. Interaction between the Government and the IAC is important for both rural and secondary industries. The Commission is clearly a tool of the Government. It should be a tool giving considered, informed and logical advice and recommendations to the Government. Any proper government would require sound reasons to reject a recommendation of the IAC. This Government and Mr Whitlam have indicated that they know best, that advice is not necessary and that the recommendations of the IAC should be ignored when they run counter to a Government prejudice. In particular, there is no reason to use the IAC as a too hard basket or as an excuse to delay taking action where urgent action is required.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


-In supporting the estimates for the Department of the

Special Minister of State which total $92,903,000 I would like to remind the Committee of the broad range of responsibilities of the Department. The funds to be provided for in the estimates cover not only the administrative and salary costs of the Department but items such as the Remuneration Tribunal, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian War Memorial, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Australian Archives, the Grants Commission, Parliamentary delegations abroad, facilities provided to the Leader of the Opposition and parliamentary parties, deputy leaders of the Opposition and Whips- for which, incidentally, $988,300 is provided in the estimates for staff, postage, telephone charges and incidental expenses- the National Library, the Prices Justification Tribunal and the Industries Assistance Commission.

The nature of this debate, despite being known as the Budget Estimates debate, does not provide the kind of forum that is required to allow for an analytical examination of the individual estimates of the various divisions listed. I want to limit my remarks to the impact of the now expanded role of the Grants Commission on local government in Australia, remembering that everything that this Government has attempted to do for local government has been bitterly opposed by members of the Opposition and their State colleagues. Even the expanded role of the Grants Commission was opposed by the Opposition. It opposed local government representatives on the Loan Council. It opposed the holding of a referendum for an amendment to be made to the Constitution to enable local government to receive direct financial assistance from the Federal Government. It even opposed local government being dealt with by the .Constitutional Convention which was held last week. We are told that the Convention was boycotted by the Liberal and National Country Party Opposition and Liberal and National Country Party Premiers because local government was on the agenda. Yet, the Opposition has the effrontery to indicate to the Australian people that it is concerned for local government. It has brought out a proposed new scheme of tax reimbursement or tax collection which would make special provision for local government.

The basis of the Opposition’s charges of centralism is well worth looking at. The Chairman of the Grants Commission, in a paper delivered to the Town Clerks’ Society of New South Wales on 22 July 1974, on the subject of federalism said:

The question of centralism is, of course, open to as much criticism in a State as in the total Australian framework. The dissatisfaction which residents of Perth express about centralised controls from Canberra find a precise parallel in Townsville or Cairns about the administration of Queensland affairs in Brisbane; residents of Broken Hill, Wentworth and the Far North Coast of New South Wales manifest similar resentment about the matters which have to be sent to Sydney for decision. And it is not uncommon to hear, in country areas of this State, the complaint that New South Wales stands for Newcastle-Sydney- Wollongong the areas where the political, administrative, commercial and industrial power of the State is centralised.

I would very much reinforce that view in respect of the Newcastle area. The people of the Newcastle area are convinced that the greatest bureaucracy in this nation exists in the State bureaucracy centred in Sydney. The great thing that the Grants Commission has done through its operations in respect of local government is that it has provided the framework for the development of regionalism within Australia. I think that anyone who looks at the number of local government units in Australia- almost 900 unitswould concede that regionalism has to be the answer; that regionalism is the only answer by which we can attain a more efficient development and operation of local government units, that it is the only way in which we can get a more efficient use of ratepayers’ dollars as well as taxpayers ‘dollars.

Firstly, regionalism can operate as an inducement to local governing areas to forget their parochial prejudices. Our colleagues opposite might take note of that in respect of their State parochialism. At the same time local goverment can engage in some common projects which may eventually lead to amalgamation of existing smaller areas into viable economic units of adequate size and population. Secondly, it can redress some of the inconveniences which stem from the rigidity of State boundaries which are really boundaries of chance when we look back to the time of Federation. Thirdly, it can be an aid to decentralisation by the establishment of facilities in areas to which industrial and commercial activities might be attracted. Fourthly, it can redress some of the inequalities which exist under present local government administrations, often as an accidental consequence of factors which are only of historical significance. So the activities of the Grants Commission in respect of regionalism in particular are to be applauded. The Grants Commission has provided that mechanism for local government units to look beyond the narrow horizons of a council’s area, to look at their problems on a broader approach, to look at their fund raising capacities on a broader approach. Whilst the suggestion has been made by some that the States’ grants commissions ought to be undertaking that task, and naturally one would expect that coming from a State government, there are only 3 State grants commissions operative anyway. I can well recall that when the New South Wales Grants Commission was instituted not so many years ago the amount of funds which it made available to local government units in New South Wales was identical to the amount that the local government units would have been paid by the State government in the form of rates on the properties which it occupied in the various local government areas.

The Grants Commission remains still the body best qualified in Australia to undertake an assessment of the relative needs of local governing bodies. It does this now. The second report of the Grants Commission which was submitted a matter of weeks ago points out that the Commission assesses needs on a national basis. So we can get a collection of information and the establishment of standards. We can get an establishment of responsibilities right across the breadth of Australia and an analysis of the efficiency of the various local government units. The Grants Commission has been the greatest financial break-through that local government has had since its birth. Local government has always been a captive of State government.

A few days ago the Liberal and National Country Parties announced their proposition, as I mentioned earlier, in respect of the handing back of taxing powers to the States. In my view this would be the most retrograde step that has ever been put forward since 1901. The Aus.tralian people ought to be told simply and very clearly that such a proposition would mean one thing which can be described in 2 words, namely, double tax. It would be no more or no less than a levying or reintroduction of double taxation. As much as our opponents might try to disguise and conceal the purpose behind their proposition, they cannot avoid the fact that they are really talking about a system of double tax. If Federal tax is to be reduced as part of a national economic policy, understandably State governments of the opposite political colour would increase their take of tax and would again use the same old argument that the Federal government could have reduced its tax more. But what would be the impact on local government? That is the very important area with which I am concerned. Under the policies that have been put forward the proposition is extremely vague, and it would have to be vague because the Opposition cannot be specific; it does not know what it wants and it knows that really it is impossible to be specific in respect of the local government area of this scheme. It is quite ridiculous to suggest that a per capita return to local government units of income tax would be a feasible proposition. The problems faced by local government are not related to population. By coincidence they could be, on occasions, but generally they are problems related to the size of boundaries and to the disabilities within areas. The problems relate also to the area of the local government unit, the spread or sparsity of population and to the income content of ratepayers. All of these things have nothing to do with a per capita arrangement.

For a government to give a per capita return to local government units would involve not only the difficulties I have mentioned a few moments ago but also the keeping of an address book showing when a person moved from one local government area to another. The rate of movement in federal electorates during a period of 12 months is 15 per cent. I do not know how to relate that to local government areas, but the rate of movement would be considerably higher than 15 per cent. As I say, a person would need to keep an address book and submit his movements throughout the year. This would then be related to some form of per capita tax. In short, the concept of per capita tax and the concept of federalState or double tax, as I outlined, would be absolutely disastrous for local government.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

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


-The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) is continuing the campaign that was commenced by the Government today to endeavour to pick holes and to denigrate the federalism policy put forward by the Opposition last week. It would really help the honourable member a great deal if he were to read the document. Almost everything he said indicates that he has not read it or if he has read it he has not understood it. One could take up every assertion that he made and contradict it. I make this political point to begin with: It is clear by the answers given by Ministers at question time this morning to questions from their own supporters that the Government is worried that our federalism policy will have a good effect for the Opposition and that means for the country.

The Government’s aim at creating regionalism has failed. Its policy towards local government assistance has failed, and local government knows it. Its confrontation with die

States has led it increasingly into difficulties as it has attempted to undermine the States. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) started off in 1972-73 by telling us that the States were outmoded and so on. We do not hear much of that sort of talk these days. He has found and met his match on too many occasions. This socialist Government believes in centralism. It believes that more and more decisions should be made in Canberra because, firstly, those decisions are wiser if they are made in Canberra and, secondly, somehow the administration is more efficient if decided in Canberra. One has only to state these 2 principles on which centralism rests to see how fallacious they are. We have brought forward a policy the basic principle of which is that there should be more decision-making at local level. I believe strongly that that will become the trend not only in this country but also in other countries in the future as governments seek more and more to get better results for the money they are spending and to get more value for the dollar.

The honourable member talked about taxes. The way he put the matter was absurd. The result depends entirely on the level of tax levied by the Government of the day and the governments of the States. His Goverment has set rates of tax which have far exceeded the collection of tax by any other government. We are not proposing an increase. On the contrary we are committed to a reduction in income tax. The Government is hoping that somehow it will revive its position by saying it has introduced a tax system which will result in a reduction of tax. One has only to look at the Budget figures- the Government estimates it will collect more than $2,000m extra in personal income tax this year- to see how hollow is that claim. The other point the honourable member made, I think- at any rate it was made often at question time today- was that this policy would somehow disadvantage the smaller States. This claim is completely fallacious. The principles put forward in our document include the restoration of the true function of the Grants Commission, or the introduction of equalisation machinery. This country has achieved greater uniformity in expenditure, in standards and in services than has any other federation in the world. The system has been very successful, I believe, for making that equalisation. Of course it will continue and the less populous States will be assisted. I invite the honourable member and perhaps others if they want to be honest to read our document more carefully.

The debate on the estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet includes the estimates for the Public Service. As the Opposition spokesman on Public Service matters, I want to make one or two observations. The Opposition on more than one occasion has expressed concern about the appointments of permanent heads of Government departments. We have expressed concern about other appointments. One need perhaps mention only Mr Grassby. His appointment and his benefits I understand are being exposed more and more in the current meetings of the Senate Estimates Committees. We have made critical comments on these appointments. I believe the people of Australia also do not agree with many of the appointments that have been made to Ministers’ staffs. I refer particularly to those people who are relatives of Ministers. The Prime Minister is now insisting on knowing who will be appointed. In the circumstances, the Prime Minister, bearing in mind the responsibilities to the country which he has, ought to have done that much earlier.

As I understand it, about 8 permanent heads have been appointed in the last year, three of whom were former private secretaries to the Prime Minister. They were widely known in the country and around this building as being extremely party political. He has tried to argue that these people were appointed on merit, one in particular because he had a lot of university degrees. In other words, he says, they were the best people in the Public Service and indeed in the country who could have been appointed to these particular positions. That is his logical conclusion after saying that they were selected on merit. Of course university degrees may be of great assistance. Some of us have them, but I think it would be a rash person who would claim that that is the basic criterion for qualification to these posts. Looking at their records one cannot be convinced that the appointments were logically based on their records. I emphasise that these appointments were made to permanent positions. They were not made for three or four years or at the Governor-General’s pleasure. They were permanent appointments at the most senior level of responsibility and salary. We could refer to other persons. Their cases have been well publicised. It is not necessary to detail them now.

I have raised this matter previously. The Opposition makes clear its belief that it is necessary to restore integrity, dignity and independence to the Public Service- an instrument for providing efficient and impartial administration of government. The Opposition in government, will be committed to that principle. I have been involved in such a selection and I know what is entailed, as do many of my colleagues, former Ministers, who are now on the Opposition Executive.

I refer to another matter, that of staffing under the Public Service Act. It is our belief that most staffing should be made under the Public Service Act- I refer particularly to the recent staff appointments by the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission- so as to maintain the salaries and conditions set by similar standards and consistent principles. Whom have we in support of that view now but the Prime Minister himself, who wrote to the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration the other day in exactly these terms. He said that he as Prime Minister saw that in the case of the 2 Commissions to which I have referred something else would be the principle involved. That was quite wrong, and we saw that immediately the operations of the 2 Commissions began.

I conclude by saying that the Opposition understands and believes the Public Service to be a valued group in the Australian community. We appreciate that many public servants work long hours and are dedicated men and women. I pay tribute to their contribution to the nation. We believe that their remuneration and benefits should neither lead nor lag- that is the principle of the Opposition- but that they should reflect community standards.

La Trobe

-In rising to speak on the Appropriation Bill as it concerns the expenditure for the Department of the Special Minister of State I should like to concentrate on the Grants Commission, which is now concerned with 3 levels of government- national, State and local- although we must constantly remind the Opposition of the national responsibility. As each level has developed, new ways of providing finance to carry out their responsibilities have been necessary. The Opposition’s recently announced policy on federalism has focused attention on this topic once again. I thank the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) for his exposition and repetition tonight. Basically this is a policy to return a fixed percentage of revenue, and income tax rights to the States and to return to a colonial system of government which was old hat 75 years ago. The Opposition wants to return us to nothing more than what was described by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) as double tax.

Ideas for extra revenue from struggling local government are not new. They were however more honest. Since the incorporation of local government bodies over 100 years ago they have largely relied on raising their own revenuelevies on services and rates on property. This source of funds has proved to be inequitable, inefficient and insufficient and they have had to have their revenue supplemented by the States. The expanding duties of local government have exhausted the bases which State laws have prescribed for revenue raising despite State machinery to ease the load. Western Australia has developed a local government assistance fund committee and there are two State level grants commissions operating in New South Wales and Queensland. It seems that the Opposition wants more of these little grants commissions in each State but ignores the fact that the funds available for each State commission are extremely limited. They come from a total single fund. The Opposition’s system would lead to duplication and waste and to no advance at all in the welfare of local government.

Local government has been forced to look to the national government for assistance and to break the stranglehold on it by the State governments. It is looking to a system which would allow local government authorities to retain their autonomy and yet gain more funds. Despite having the strongest grip on fund raising in Australia, the Liberal-Country Party Government for the 23 years it was in office neglected the plight of local government. The extension by this Government of the Grants Commission is the first concerted effort to assist local government. This new federalism of the Australian Labor Government goes a long way to restore the balance between finances and functions. Effective performance is not domination but consultation, not centralism but co-ordination. The extended Grants Commission does this quite well and is adequately supported by other government programs such as the area improvement program.

The Opposition has concocted its new approach of granting a fixed percentage of national government revenue to the States and through the States to local government, I believe, belatedly and belligerently. It claims that the reason for its ill conceived policy is to prevent the concentration of power in a few hands. We heard this again tonight from the honourable member for Curtin. He is confused. The Opposition is confused. The honourable member for Curtin confuses socialism with centralism. He confuses co-operation with concentration. I point out that more action by a national government need not mean more power. National involvement in planning and financing is not incompatible with co-operative planning. The Grants Commission, the area improvement programs and so on prove this to be so. Rather it is essential to successful co-operative planning under our Australian system. The Opposition wants to ignore the national perspective, the national responsibility, and establish those several State bodies which do not reflect gross inequalities between councils that would arise from this multitude, this plethora, of States grants commissions. The Opposition’s policies do not achieve this either.

The Opposition does not give details in its policy but leaves it open to more confusion and speculation, but the Opposition does rely on flat per capita grants. That the Opposition has not denied. This surely is a refusal to recognise that many areas of Australia are unequal and need unequal treatment and unequal amounts of funds to overcome these inequalities. Developing areas such as in the western suburbs of Sydney or the eastern and western suburbs of Melbourne need adequate topping up finances so that they can maintain adequate services. Local government bodies in these areas would be forced otherwise to increase levies, charges and rates, particularly on low and middle wage earning ratepayers.

For example, in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne the Australian Government with the full co-operation of local government, has established the outer eastern region which takes in 9 different local government authorities. Four of these form a particular region. They are the local authorities for Healesville, Upper Yarra, Sherbrooke and Lilydale, which are denied income from the normal rate revenue and levies because they have large unratable areas- water conservation areas, reserves, parks and forest areas on which rates are not payable. If you look carefully at the $ 1 .832m that was allocated to the outer eastern region you will notice that for the areas that are limited in gaining their own revenues there is a 40 per cent increase over last year. When you take into account Croydon, Knox, Nunawading, Ringwood and Waverley that do have access to a growing population and to an increased growing revenue, the increase over last year is 8 per cent. Surely there is no better example to demonstrate that the Australian level Grants Commission is fully equipped and practically able to provide these grants which take into account the unequal circmstances and the unequal revenue sources of local government.

The Opposition would like to introduce 6 unnecessary States grants commission which would be not only wasteful but also more expensive. I mentioned double tax. There would also be double cost under the Opposition’s system. Because of the way that the laws are framed in the States they do not take account of the necessity to equalise funding within regions or within local government authorities. They must be therefore less effective. Members of the Opposition fall into their own trap of rhetoric. They decry concentration of power, yet their proposals under this revamped, lately thought about new federalism will concentrate power in each State capital, and by concentrating power in each State capital effectively strangle the autonomy of local government. They will bring about an imbalance, an inconsistency and a lack of uniformity. Their proposals will reshackle and limit local government and regional development. The Opposition, in reality and totality, wishes to dominate local government.

If you look forward it is not difficult to predict accurately the results if ever the Opposition is in a position to implement its plans. I would anticipate that rates would rise dramatically. Already in Sydney they are around $400 to $500 for the average householder block. In Melbourne it is not uncommon to find them around $150 to $250. But ratepayers can expect under the Opposition’s scheme, should it ever come into operation, to pay an increase. They can expect to face much higher rates in the future. Otherwise local government will be forced to increase loans to gain more revenue and will face the consequential increased debt burden of having to pay off the increased rates of interest. It should be remembered that the Opposition opposed the Government’s scheme for the Government to be able to borrow on behalf of local government. Members of the Opposition cannot have it both ways. Are they going to force local government now to pay higher interest charges and yet deny local government access to lower interest rates through loans by this Government?

It would be the developing local governments which would suffer most. We would see no end to, but rather an intensification of the scramble in Canberra by States which want to increase their percentage allocation of funds. They would be constantly begging the federal government for increased funds, fighting the federal government, but now fighting with all other State governments as well. We would lose any coordinated voice. There would be a loss of national character; we would be no longer Australian. We would all revert to colonial type.

But most importantly, the Federal Government would lose the control over economic management in Australia. We would have 6 different centres of economic control, particularly if Government expenditure and taxation receipts were to drop. The State governments might want to increase it. We could have no control over the economy of this country. I support the philosophy of the Grants Commission in this Appropriation Bill.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

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


-We have just heard a treatise about local government from the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb) who has just resumed his seat. Local government is in a serious position at the moment largely because of the policies of this Government. Some 3000 businesses have gone out of operation this year and no twittering on the other side of the chamber will prevent those facts from being known to the Australian people. While we have that sort of policy operating it is no wonder that people are not able to pay their rates. The Government’s unsympathetic attitude towards rural industry has prevented many local government bodies in rural areas from being able to collect the rates they should have been able to collect. The Government has given no sympathy at all to these industries, particularly the cattle industry that has suffered such a great deal. Government supporters have talked and talked and talked. Like some honourable members here, they cannot stop talking. They would talk under wet cement, but they say nothing while they are talking. They just keep their mouths opening and shutting and their utterances are just a lot of nonsense.

Mr Duthie:

– You are talking a lot of nonsense. Why do you not speak the truth?


-Mr Chairman, if this honourable member keeps interjecting it will be hard for me to make a speech. I do not mind what he is saying, but it is time he took control of himself.

Dr Jenkins

-Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting.


– With regard to this Government’s policy on local government, what about the Regional Employment Development scheme? It was introduced with a great flurry of trumpets. Where is it now? It has been cut right off. Even the moneys that were approved by this Government have been cut off. That is the sort of stop-go policy that characterises this Government in every field. I have certainly got under the skin of some of my colleagues on the other side of the chamber. That is proof that there is something in what I am saying. It would not hurt them so much if there were not.

The estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet show an increase of some $657,713 to a total of $5,565,800. That figure does not include the figure for overtime of some $1 17,000. I just want to say in the short time I have that in view of the performance of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Cabinet, that appropriation would be one of the most unproductive expenditures in a government renowned for inefficient use of taxpayers’ funds. Let us have a look at the performance of the Prime Minister and, if time permits, of some members of his Cabinet. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have led Australia from a period of progress and stability over a long period of years to a position of stagnation and instability of a degree never previously experienced in Australia. That is what the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have led this country into- from a position of low inflation and low unemployment when they took office to a position of crippling inflation and a frightening and growing level of unemployment. No interjections can take away the truth of what I am saying.

The Prime Minister’s treatment of former Speaker Cope was one of the most disgusting exhibitions of a Prime Minister using his authority as Leader of a party to force a colleague, who was only doing his duty in an impartial manner, into a position where he had no option but to resign. That is part of the performance of this Prime Minister. It was not the standard of conduct one should be able to expect from an Australian Prime Minister. Even some of his own Ministers and the Deputy Speaker at that time would have no part of” it. It was no credit to the other members of the Cabinet that they did not have the courage to let the Prime Minister vote on his own.

Let the Prime Minister account for the recklessly extravagant luxury of overseas travel he has had. He seems to have an obsession to travel around the world looking at the ruins of other countries while the economic stability and progress and development of his own country falls away. These regular tours have left Australia neglected at the top Government level. The Prime Minister has no concern about the problems of his own country; he must go around and strut on the stage. We do not mind occasional trips overseas, but this Prime Minister has set a standard for luxurious travel and consistency of travel never before equalled in Australia

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have failed Australia. Indeed, the Prime Minister spent more time changing his Ministers as they failed in their portfolios than he has in getting on with the business of the government of this country. The highlight of his dilemma must surely be that after moving the portfolio of Treasurer from Crean to Cairns and to Hayden he moved it back to Crean again as Acting Treasurer while the Treasurer (Mr Hayden) was away. This shows that he is running around in circles with his Cabinet while Australia suffers as a result. It is typical of the way this Prime Minister handles the matters of this country. He cannot find anyone to do the job the way he wants it done because the way he wants it done is not in the best interests of Australia anyway. It is an indictment of his Cabinet colleagues that he has had to have 3 Treasurers in such a short time.

During the constant shifting and shuffling of Treasurers, so unsuccessful and so detrimental to Australia, we went through the degrading, underhand dealing with some unknown foreign money lenders, the complete details of which the Prime Minister has so far been able to keep from the Australian public. The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) was given permission to raise money wherever he could find it and without regard to the source of the funds. The then Treasurer wanted to be in on it too, whatever deal was going on. But unfortunately for him he was a little careless with some of his signatures and thereby provided the Prime Minister with the opportunity that he wanted again to get rid of another of his colleagues, to get rid of the then Deputy Prime Minister of this country. That is the sort of unhappy group we have in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet who are running Australia. Those are the sort of people that we have.

We could recall too the Gair affair. This Prime Minister, who talks about convention, himself set the low standards of convention when he involved himself in intrigue with the then Senator Gair to try to get him out of the Senate so that the Prune Minister could get power there. The Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet should not talk about breaching convention. What did the Prime Minister care for convention then? The man who thwarted this plan of the Prime Minister was the Premier of Queensland whom the Prime Minister denigrated with language unbecoming- if one looks at it in any reasonable way- to a Prime Minister of this country. If the Prime Minister cannot control himself in those circumstances, as he has proved time and time again, he cannot control himself in the interests of the development and progress of Australia.

Mr Cohen:

– It was true though.


-The Prime Minister and the members of the Cabinet cannot even agree on the pronunciation -

Mr Cohen:

– What did he call him?


-The honourable member for Robertson will cease interjecting while standing in the aisle. He will resume his seat.

Mr Duthie:

– He is being provocative.


– It is hurting, Mr Chairman. It is not provocative. The Prime Minister -

Mr Duthie:

– You are being too provocative in saying those things.


-The honourable member is going off his head. The Prime Minister and members of bis Cabinet cannot even agree on the pronunciation of a simple word. They have wasted the time of the national Parliament on those trivial sorts of matters, and that is a disgrace to this national Parliament. Surely these are not the things that should be debated in this Parliament while we have unemployment levels creeping on and on towards half a million, which they could reach if the Government does not take some steps to control unemployment in Australia. It would be laughable indeed if it were not making a farce of the national Parliament.

Mr Cohen:

– What would you do about it?


-We will be showing you what we will be doing in the not too distant future. Let us hope that the Australian taxpayer will get a bit better value from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in the future than he has in the past. I think that is only wishful thinking. The whole history of the performance of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet has been one of bringing the Australian community and the Australian economy to a constantly lower level. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet are consistently changing their policy. We cannot have development, progress or stability unless we have a Prime Minister and a Cabinet capable of developing and promoting a policy which will enable people to look forward to the future with some confidence, knowing just what this Government’s, or any government’s, policy is going to be. To be successful, people have to plan ahead, but this Government seems to be hell bent on trying to prevent anyone from making a profit out of any sort of industry. We all know that 75 per cent of the work force of this country is engaged in private enterprise which has suffered more severely under this Government than under any other government in Australia. The Government is beginning to realise the situation now, but it is too late. It does not have the capacity or the policies to rectify the very sorry position to which the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have brought this country.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

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


– Whenever I meet the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) outside this chamber I find him to be a gentle person for whom I cannot help but feel a lot of affection. Yet when he comes into this chamber he is suddenly transformed. No longer is he such a gentle person; he is a horrifying serpent. He strikes in the most illogical manner at all sorts of extraordinary conceptions which he seems to conjure up in his mind. Tonight when discussing the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department he spoke about matters which I did not think were relevant. For example, he mentioned the Regional Employment Development scheme. I suggest that he asks his friends associated with the Liberal governments of Victoria and New South Wales who have challenged the Australian Assistance Plan and the RED scheme to withdraw that challenge. It is not logical to challenge a scheme and then to squeal like heU the moment it is taken away. Where is the logic in that?

The honourable member also said that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has been overseas. He has been overseas and he has put this country on the map. This country has never been as well received overseas as it is today. We can thank the Prime Minister for that. No longer are we seen to be hanging on to the coat tails of Uncle Sam. No longer are we see to be a tiny adjunct of the United States of America. Today Australia ‘s associations with other countries, including the Third World nations, are of very great importance. If the honourable member is a true Aus.tralian if he believes that Australia should have an importance in world affairs and if he believes that Australia should learn to live in Asia he will support the Prime Minister’s overseas trips and those of previous Prime Ministers. We did not hear him holler when he was on this side of the chamber. We hear him holler only when he goes over to the Opposition side.

Tonight I want to speak about child care. I think that one of the great initiatives of this Government has been in children’s services. In 1972-73 when the Australian Labor Party came into office $486,750 was spent on children’s services. In 1973-74 approximately $9m was spent.

In 1974-75 $45,200,000 was spent, of which $ 12.7m was spent in New South Wales. For 1975-76 there is an allocation of $74m. In other words the figure has risen from less than $500,000 under the previous Government to $74m this financial year under this Government. We can be very proud of this achievement. I am concerned that this whole program is imperilled by the legal challenge to the High Court by the New South Wales and Victorian governments. They are challenging the Australian Assistance Plan and the RED scheme. If that challenge succeeds the whole children’s program of this Government is in peril because it operates in precisely the same manner as the other schemes. Evidently the State governments did not even think about these things when they made the challenge. Now they are protesting devoutly that they want the RED scheme. I have noticed that members of the Liberal and National Country Parties are involved in the Australian Assistance Plan. It is to be hoped that they will prevail upon their colleagues in the State parliaments to withdraw the challenge in the High Court. That would be in the interests of Australia. They should not be petty about it. They should show that they are statesmen after aU.

In my own area we have done fairly well. The reason for that is that there are more children in my electorate- particularly in the Mount Druitt area- than there are anywhere else in Australia It has been said that I represent the most fertile area of this country. The result is that we have had the need, and having the need we set out to do something about it for ourselves. We formed an ad hoc committee on child care and preschool services 2Vi years ago. We set to and planned priorities for the area and to gain the knowhow and techniques for handling these types of projects. As a result we have had 28 projects funded already costing over $3m. But as I said, there is a need because of the very large number of children. According to the last census figures quoted by the New South Wales Health Commission, the average age of all people in the Mount Druitt area is 1 1 14. That is a most extraordinary figure. There is a need for children’s services and that need has been met. I take the opportunity of thanking the members of that ad hoc child care committee who served with me for the magnificent job they have done. The idea that if you help yourself you receive help has applied in this respect.

I want particularly to deal with a pilot day care project which has been initiated and funded by this Government and which is run by the Blacktown Municipal Council. I think that this project will be the pattern of future child care projects in Australia. The capital cost per pupil of providing big buildings for child care is very high. It ranges from $3,000 to $4,000 for each child. I have seen family day care schemes operating in the United Kingdom. As a matter of fact my own grandchild is looked after in family day care in the United Kingdom. It is a very effective method. It involves licensing women who are chosen for their suitability for looking after children. In addition their homes are inspected and they go through a short course. The result is that a cheaper service can be provided than by having magnificent buildings.

There are 3 pilot projects operating in the metropolitan area of Sydney now. One is at North Sydney, another is at Waverley and the other one which is about to start is at Blacktown. They are very important projects. I thank the local council for having accepted the responsibility for the project. I believe that it shows the future of child care for Australia. It is one of the most important aspects which should be watched very carefully by all officials and organisations interested in this very important childhood service. Once again I compliment the Government on its magnificent record in providing children’s services. As I said, when this Government came to office, less than $500,000 was being spent on children’s services. That expenditure rose to $9m in our first year of office. In our second year of office, the expenditure was $45 m. It is $74m in our third year of office. In other words, expenditure has risen from $500,000 to $74m. Expenditure in our third year of office is nearly 1 50 times as much as was spent in the last year of office of the previous Government. The increase in expenditure is a record of which we can be proud. It is an initiative of which we can be proud and which is of very great importance to the future of the young people of this country.


-The specific area to which I wish to refer in this estimates debate is the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), his Cabinet and the attached Department perhaps are the very core of government administration. In this area, government policies, attitudes and alternatives are considered and assessed. In fact, one could almost say that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is the repository of the pipelines of state which lead to the departments. It is the very centre of Government activity. This is the area to which legislation comes for checking. It is the area too from which the directives proceed to the various Ministers and departments of state. Collected within the Cabinet are the various heads of the great departments of state.

These members of the Cabinet and, indeed, the Prime Minister himself are members of this Parliament. The Parliament comprises, as I understand it, the Queen, the House of Representatives and the Senate. They possess a legislative authority, an authority that they may delegate to carry out their actions, provided that there are some pre-existing circumstances. However every power, every executive, judicial or legislative act, and the basis for such power and such actions are to be derived from the Constitution. It is not just a law. It is a basic and fundamental law. It has been called an organic fundamental law, established in the past by a process of evolution of law and the nature of our history and the circumstance of our country.

The Constitution establishes the boundaries of power for the Parliament. The British have not based their Constitution in a written form. “We differ in that we do. We have a written Constitution, which is this fundamental organic law. Our Constitution provides that the Parliament shall have power for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth. Above the members of Parliament and the Cabinet is the Executive which cannot- and this is where it differs from the position of a monarch of old times- take action by decree. I would like to examine some of the actions of our present Government and to compare them with their basis of power and their role as fitting within the context of a constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary democracy that we have.

Has the Cabinet, has the Prime Minister, the power to decree? Certainly not. That is not the type or the style of government to which we are accustomed, and there is no legal basis for it. But I feel that in many areas this Government has acted by decree. It says that it has a mandate. It decrees. It carries on under those circumstances until the Parliament says yes or no, or says that it agrees with the Government’s decree. I think that these are most serious circumstances for the operation of a democracy. This transgression of the traditional democratic process has taken place in many areas.

The Government decrees the Australian Assistance Plan. I am not going to deal with the value of each of the Government’s programs, many of which are good and well intentioned. I do contest the Government’s modus operandi. I do contest the way in which the Government has brought these programs into being and the way that the Government has put them by decree, almost as a monarch would, on the people of Australia. What are the decrees? Let us have a look at some of them. Let us look first at the Health Insurance Commission. I can tell you, Mr Chairman, that finding the exact circumstances as to the way these programs were implemented has taken hours of work. It has meant chasing back through Government Gazettes. There are no Acts, no legislative bases, for many of these programs. It has meant chasing Press reports. Here is the chronology of events with respect to the Health Insurance Commission. On 27 June 1973 an Interim Executive of the Australian Health Insurance Commission was appointed by the then Minister for Social Security. The chairman was Dr Scotton. That Commission which was a commission but had an Interim Executive carried through and operated for over 12 months until 7 August 1974 when, at the Joint Sitting, it became legal. For a full 12 months we had public servants and a department operating without any legal basis. To me, that is government by decree. Let us look at the Social Welfare Commission.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

-Order! I appreciate the point that the honourable member is making on the operation of Cabinet but I think he should restrict the examples to illustrate the point that he is making rather than to give detailed information on them.


-With respect, Mr Chairman, I would like to use these examples briefly, as you have directed, but it is essential to the argument that they be used.


– Yes.


-On 18 February 1973 the proposed establishment of the Social Welfare Commission was announced by the then Minister for Social Security. The chronology of this body runs through to 22 November 1973 when the relevant legislation passed the second and third reading stages without amendment. In the process, the Australian Assistance Plan was established. Another example is the Australia Police. On 20 February 1975 the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Enderby) tabled the Carmody report in the House of Representatives. On 5 April 1975, the Adelaide Advertiser reported:

The Australia Police came into force by Executive Decree of the Governor-General in the Executive Council meeting, when the Governor-General approved administrative changes to re-form the Department of Customs and Excise into two Branches- the Australia Police and the Bureau of Customs.

He re-formed the Department. He did not establish a police force. We move to 22 May 1975 when the Attorney-General announced that he had referred the matter of the most appropriate legislative means of safeguarding individuals’ rights and liberties in relation to the Australia Police to the Australian Law Reform Commission. There was not even a legal basis for the Australia Police.

We have spoken tonight of the Regional Employment Development scheme. I am not questioning the worth of the RED scheme. That is not an issue under debate in this context. I mention also the Purchasing Commission. What has happened to the Purchasing Commission? Is it still going on?

Mr Daly:

– Yes.


– My word it is, and there is no legal basis for it.

Mr Daly:

– I am in charge of it.


-That makes it worse. What about the Australian Legal Aid Office? I mention also the national parks and wildlife legislation which has been passed on the basis of some sort of foreign affairs power. To me, that may be on a legal basis. What is the story when we look at a democracy? Recently the Attorney-General speaking at the Constitutional Convention said that the Government is forced to break the law. From the Attorney-General at the Constitutional Convention comes the statement that the Government is forced to break the law. One newspaper reported:

Without going into details of the digressions, Mr Enderby admitted that it ‘ was not honest, the way we have to go about effecting social change’.

It is not honest, the Attorney-General said. I invite members of the Committee to turn to Jefferson or to any of the greats of democracy as we know it. Jefferson said that the whole of government consists of being honest. Where is the honesty in government by decree? Government is not a matter of decree; democracy is not a matter of decree. If the Government wants its program the people of Australia will agree provided the legal process is observed and the democratic process is carried out. As Burke said, the moment you abate anything from the full rights of men each to govern himself and suffer any artificial positive limitation upon those rights, from that moment the whole organisation of government becomes a consideration of convenience. This Government is a consideration of convenience and it operates as such.


– I want to address my remarks to the Prime Minister’s Department. Every department, of course, depends upon its ministerial head and I want to suggest to the House that perhaps we are not paying enough respect to our great leader, the duce, the fuhrer or whatever one likes to call him. This is especially so when we have somebody who is such a great scholar and who is able to refute Ministers in this House by the very force of his presence. It does not seem to me that the country is paying enough respect to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). He has to go round apparently in a small Mercedes, though I am told that he has ordered a grand Mercedes. If so, I am sure that the whole country will feel that the money is well spent.

Mr Chairman, as you do not live in Sydney you would not know this, but the Prime Minister when in Sydney is compelled to occupy comparatively humble quarters in Kirribilli House while being overshadowed by Admiralty House next door, the residence of the GovernorGeneral. I do not for one moment suggest that the Governor-General should be evicted but could not some arrangement be made so that the Prime Minister could occupy something which is consonant with the dignity of his office? Surely this could be done. Surely the country owes something to the Prime Minister and should be grateful for what he has done for the country, and we should not begrudge him proper quarters.

He has had to leave his loved house in his electoratea great hardship to him- and I would suggest that under the estimates for this Department we should arrange for the erection of a proper monument in front of the house where he lived in his electorate, his own loved house, so that it could be preserved for posterity. It is a matter for the National Trust to look at, but at least the Department should be capable of erecting in front of the Prime Minister’s house in his electorate a proper monument to his occupancy. I go into the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Sydney and I am overwhelmed to see before me in glorious technicolour the portrait of the Prime Minister looking down on us. This is a good thing. Surely we could all forget any kind of outmoded tradition or anything like that which binds us to the past. Here we have the present Prime Minister looking down on us and it fills us with awe and reverence to see it. It should be possible to arrange at the expense of the Department for flowers to be placed daily at the foot of this august portrait. I suggest perhaps that stinkwort would be proper to commemorate him and I am prompted to suggest it by his memorable weekend phrase about the stink which envelopes the Australian Labor Party. I suggest we should do something of this character. After all, is it enough to have the Prime Minister’s portrait simply on the entrance to our rooms? Would it not be better to remind us all of the duty we owe to him by having the portrait of the Prime Minister, smaller perhaps but in colour, were exhibited in the rooms of all members.

Mr James:

– Of course it would.


-Of course it would. That would be only his due, having in mind the tremendous eminence which he shows and the tremendous reverence and love which we on this side of the House together with all Australians bear towards the Prime Minister, and the gratitude we have for the wonderful way in which he has improved the economy of this country during his term of office. Not only should the portraits be there, but I think it should be obligatory upon people when they enter a room containing such a portrait to make a small gesture of respect to it. I know that among most honourable members there would be no difficulty about seeing that this was done but I know that there are some disaffected members on the Government side who might not always be as respectful as they should be towards their mighty leader. In those circumstances perhaps we could have closed circuit television so that we could ensure that when anybody entered one of these rooms he made the proper and respectful gesture of obeisance to the portrait of the Prime Minister. After all, this is socialism at work.

We could all learn to love Big Brother. This is 1984, 9 years in advance, but the Prime Minister has brought Australia so far ahead that perhaps we have got to 1 984 a little earlier under his wonderful leadership. Something should be done to enshrine and immortalise further the thoughts of the Prime Minister. I think it would be fitting if in the space over Mr Speaker’s chair we were to have some of the Prime Minister’s immortal words placed before us- phrases like: ‘You are a disgrace to your profession’, or his memorable phrase from the weekend regarding the kickbacks which trade union officials were receiving from solicitors. Surely these are the kinds of things which in our reverence and homage to the Prime Minister we should be considering. We should be thinking of ways and means by which we on behalf of the country could express our love and admiration for the Prime Minister and everything he has done for us.

As a classical scholar the Prime Minister will remember his Tacitus. He will remember the crime of Crimen Maiestatis, sometimes called Maiestas. of disrespect to authority which the Roman emperors punished so properly and fearfully whenever it was exhibited. Disrespect to the

Prime Minister’s authority? It seems almost incredible that anybody should show it, but if anybody did then let the vengeance come on them as it did in Roman times. Finally I would suggest that the procedures of this House be adapted to suit the august presence of the Prime Minister. Perhaps in the morning he should come in after Mr Speaker and when we have bowed to Mr Speaker and he has bowed to us the Prime Minister could take his place at the table and with an appropriate gesture the House as one man could rise and say: ‘Hail Whitlam’.


– It would be inappropriate to let the discussion on these estimates go by without acknowledging the contribution which has been made to the affairs of this nation by the women’s section of the Prime Minister’s Department. It would be inappropriate to let these Estimates go by without acknowledging the work of the special adviser of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on women’s affairs, Elizabeth Reid. Nobody who had the opportunity to attend the recent Women in Politics conference in Canberra and who at the same time followed the coverage of that conference in the Australian media would doubt that women’s aspirations face formidable opposition in this country. Nobody who followed the media coverage of that conference would doubt that there are powerful forces prepared and eager to misrepresent those aspirations and needs in every way and at every opportunity.

I doubt whether any recent event in the affairs of this country has been exposed to quite the pattern of systematic distortion as that conference attracted in the week it was meeting in Canberra. I doubt whether many figures in public life who are not elected representatives have attracted quite the amount of abuse and misrepresentation which has been the lot of Elizabeth Reid ever since she was first appointed to the staff of the Prime Minister- an abuse which some of us noted culminating yesterday in the remarks of the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen. Mr Bjelke-Petersen accused Elizabeth Reid, in company with Mrs Whitlam, of wanting to control Australians’ lives through the promotion of pornography and by promoting prostitution, easy divorce and abortion. There we have the authentic voice of the man who so often provides leadership for honourable members opposite. There we have the authentic attitude of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party to the aspirations and the needs of women in this country. It is well known that what Premier BjelkePetersen says today will be said tomorrow by other members of the National Country Party and subsequently by members of the Liberal Party, because it is Mr Bjelke-Petersen upon whom we can rely to say those things openly and publicly which members of the Liberal and National Country Parties think but will never voice.

The work of the women’s section of the Prime Minister’s Department, which has been fostered and systematised by Elizabeth Reid, has come an enormous distance over the last 3 years. It now seems scarcely believable that as late as 1973 it was still necessary for this Government to introduce equal pay for women in the Australian Public Service. It seems scarcely believable that as late as 1973 it was necessary for this Government to introduce maternity leave for women in the Australian Public Service. It seems scarcely believable that fundamental, basic arrangements in the working hours of the Public Service, such as flexitime, should have had to be introduced so late in order to give women equal employment opportunities in the Public Service. Just those 3 changes- the introduction of equal pay, the introduction of flexitime and the introduction of maternity leave- have created a profound change not only in the opportunities that are open to women but also to the aspirations which they can realistically entertain for themselves.

This is not all that the Government has done for women. I refer to the work of the Australian Assistance Plan and the work of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission in making sure that women are able to establish for themselves the community faculties which are required to meet their special needs- the women’s health centres which are springing up in the various States of Australia under the Hospitals and Health Services Commission program, the halfway houses which have been established in a couple of State capitals under the same auspices and the drop-in social centres which are growing up under the Australian Assistance Plan. Facilities which had never previously appeared on the horizon for women in this country are now realities being used by women day in and day out. These facilities are being duplicated across the land because of the success which the pilot projects have so clearly achieved.

Nor is this all. There is the work the Government has done to combat discrimination in employment. The work of inquiry, investigation and research which lead up to the establishment of the committees against discrimination in employment represent yet another major step forward in opening up a true equality of opportunity for all the women of this country. Another important single step forward has yet to pay off for the women of our community. I refer, of course, to the establishment of the Royal Commission on Human Relations, which was set up with both supporters and opponents drawn from each side of this House. It is that Royal Commission which is inquiring into the basic social relationships which define and confine, in many cases, the openings which are available to women.

The important task ahead of the women’s section of the Prime Minister’s Department is to work in harmony with the Schools Commission on the Schools Commission’s recommendations that in the triennium immediately ahead special attention should be given to the education of women. The Schools Commission has recognised that the present arrangements for education in this country confine the vision that women have of the career opportunities which are open to them. It is very necessary that women should be made fully conscious of the wide variety of options which are open to them in a country like Australia. It should be made clear to her that a woman has the option of making motherhood a career in itself, that she has the option of combining motherhood with a career outside the home and that she has the option of making a total commitment to the work force. But that is not the sort of consciousness which she is likely to get at the present time from an overwhelming majority of schools in this country where the material in the textbooks which are used, the social attitudes of the teachers to whom instruction is entrusted and the guidance offered by vocational guidance staff all combine to impose on women a most narrow and confining definition of their role and potential for self development.

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


– I want to direct attention to the Department of the Special Minister of State and in particular to the Industries Assistance Commission. Earlier tonight my colleague the honourable member for Canning (Mr Bungey) pointed out how the Government has used the Industries Assistance Commission as a ‘too-hard basket’ in the area of rural problems. The performance there is a pretty dismal one. The whole thrust of setting up the Industries Assistance Commission, as compared with its predecessor, the Tariff Board, was to extend to rural and tertiary industry the principle of public investigation and report in the granting of assistance to industry. That presumably is the justification for the continuing expansion of the staff, already pretty large, of the Industries Assistance

Commission as indicated in the Budget documents. But as my colleague pointed out, issues such as the superphosphate bounty are referred to the Commission only under pressure and then, having been referred, no action is taken.

In contrast, at least until 9 months ago, the Government was prone to accept all too readily the recommendations of the IAC in respect to the manufacturing sector where the IAC and thence the Government, lacking a policy or competence of its own, pursued a line which may reasonably be described as doctrinaire, impracticable and out of touch with the realities of manufacturing.

Mr McLeay:

– Very damaging to industry.


-Indeed, it has been very damaging to much of Australian manufacturing industry, as my colleague points out. It has tended to set up a virtual communications barrier between the Industries Assistance Commission and industry. It is an unhappy situation. The line to which I referred can be identified from the recommendations of the Commission in a succession of major and minor reports, particularly those in relation to electronics, domestic appliances, motor cars, also foundation garments, mushrooms and other reports. That thrust can be summed up in this way: As quickly as possible the nominal rate of protection for as many industries as possible should be brought to a more or less uniform level, namely, 25 per cent or thereabouts. It is not possible to discuss this fully in the circumstances of tonight. I would contend that this is not a valid or in practice a feasible basis for policy and, as suggested earlier, if carried through would put in jeopardy a large part of Australian manufacturing industry. Indeed, it would put in jeopardy about half of Australian manufacturing industry, if the estimates for 1969 of the degree of protection afforded Australian industries, as shown in table 3.4.1 of the Commission’s 1973-74 annual report, are still applicable. I suspect that they are, given the wide application of import restrictions and some tariff increases we have had, as against the 25 per cent tariff cut which was made earlier.

I think that it could be said that both aspects of the policy- first, the apparent emphasis on uniformity; and second the sort of tariff level that the IAC keeps coming up with, namely, the 15 to 25 per cent level- are open to. question. In respect of that latter point the actual level of protection, one assumption that the IAC is prone to make is that if you grasp the nettle and significantly cut down the level of protection afforded to an industry it will rapidly become more ‘efficient’ in some sense, and accept a lower level of profit and the general level of activity and employment in the industry will continue on at about much the same level as before.

Mr McLeay:

-ls that likely?


– My colleague, the honourable member for Boothby, asks, ‘Is that likely?’ I would say that it is just not borne out by experience. Manufacturing companies under this sort of pressure simply change to importing. Employment opportunities in Australia and diversity in the industrial structure are lost with very problematical advantage to Australians as consumers. I want to refer at this stage, as the time is limited, to a topical example of this on which I have received representations, namely, the Australian cosmetics industry. This is not exactly what could be called a basic industry. Still -

Mr McLeay:

– It does employ Australians, does it not?


-Indeed, it adds diversity to the Australian industrial structure and it is employing approximately 4800 people ranging all the way from highly qualified chemists to operatives, in particular, female labour. Most of the goods in question are at present dutiable at 34 per cent general rate of tariff. It was 45 per cent before the 25 per cent tariff cut. But the LAC has recommended a cut to 15 per cent tariff rate, with a further review due in about 2 years, with the clear implication that all tariff assistance will then be eliminated. The report goes on to make the statement:

The Commission does not expect any significant changes to result from implementation of its recommendations.

That, to me, is the worrying statement, whatever may be your attitude to the basic character or otherwise of the cosmetics industry. As I think a look at the circumstances of this industry will show, that is about the most unrealistic forecast that could possibly be made. In this instance, the signals for the elimination of the industry are so prominent and clear that the recommendation handed down can only be described as foolish. The cosmetics and toilet preparations industry is largely in the hands of overseas companies. At least that is the case in regard to the manufacturing of the final finished products. The products are marketed under world-wide brand names. These are the products that the consumer wants to buy. If they were not made in Australia, the demand for them is such that they would simply have to be imported. They would not be made here if the tariff did not make it more profitable for the overseas companies to manufacture them here rather than import them. The recommendation of the IAC, if adopted, would reverse that situation.

The IAC commented on the relatively high level of profitability of the industry. But then we come to the sort of assumption to which I have referred, that is, that if the tariff is halved and later removed altogether the overseas owned manufacturers would simply take a cut in profit and go on manufacturing in Australia. That is the unrealistic position. The IAC, in arriving at this conclusion, commented on the fact that many of the local manufacturers did not appear at the inquiry. This was taken as some sort of indication that the industry believed that, whatever the Commission’s recommendation, it generally would have little effect on the operations of the local industry. But that is a complete misreading of the situation. The largest manufacturer, Avon Cosmetics Australia Pty Ltd, whose representatives did appear, pointed out -

Mr Kelly:

– Why did they not appear?


– I will come to that in a moment. The representatives of the manufacturers who did appear pointed out that if the tariff were cut out there would be a winding down of the operations of this industry in Australia. I suspect that the answer to my good colleague, the honourable member for Wakefield, is that there was a certain degree of disinterest on the part of the other manufacturers because they would not be too detrimentally affected by the outcome of the inquiry, whatever the decision. They would simply turn to equally or more-profitable importing. So it would not be them but their employees and the Australian proprietors and employees in the supplying industries- the suppliers of chemicals, metal containers, packaging, labelling and so on- who would be affected. There are some 4800 such employees in the industry. All this detriment is proposed in the interests of a problematical gain for the Australian consumer.

I conclude my remarks by stating that not only should the Government take a pretty close look at that report in the light of what I have suggested but also that the Government and the Industries Assistance Commission, at the Government’s direction, should rethink carefully its whole approach in the area of the development of manufacturing industry in Australia. The Government is perhaps more seized now than it was with the need for gradualism, adequate adjustment mechanisms and so on. But it is the fundamental approach that needs to be evaluated and justified. Hopefully, the forthcoming report of the Jackson Committee will provide the necessary guidance.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

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

KingsfordSmithMinister for Manufacturing Industry · ALP

– We have had a wide-ranging debate in the last 2 hours but possibly the most significant remarks have been made by the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards). He has dealt with the specific matter of the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission which, while it may be deemed to be more appropriately discussed under the heading of manufacturing industry, nevertheless can fairly be raised as being the responsibility of the Special Minister of State. Let us look at some of the matters that were raised in relation to the IAC reports. A great number of them have been received. The honourable member for Canning (Mr Bungey) mentioned mainly the rural industry and seemed to assume that the IAC would be able to solve its problems. In particular he mentioned the beef industry. I would like him to address his remarks to the Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) who, when opposing the Overseas Trading Corporation legislation, spoke as though we were encouraging what he deemed to be our commie mates, by which I think he meant Russia, China or any other country to which we are anxious to sell our rural products at the present time. Legislation which would have assisted these sales was vigorously opposed by the National Country Party. Members of the National Country Party ought to be consistent about the situation because it is quite clear that the markets that were available, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the European Economic Community, no longer exist.

Members of the Country Party should realise that the populace of the world, although they might be communist controlled, have to be fed. These people will be in dire straits unless a system can be developed whereby primary industry produce can be sold through the Overseas Trading Corporation. It is not much good saying that another few dollars by way of phosphate subsidy will be of great assistance when farmers cannot sell the beasts that they produce. As was said in the report of the dissenting commissioner, any restoration of the superphosphate subsidy would be merely a token gesture; it would not assist the industry whatsoever.

Some passing reference was made to the new land farms in Western Australia. But is it not significant that those subdivisions were not appropriate and should never have been made? The Western Australian State government which made the decision to allocate the subdivisions is responsible for the dire trouble in which the people on the subdivisions now find themselves. Honourable members know that the subdivisions are not of an economic standard at the present time because of the fertility of the land. Obviously the State government, which is responsible for these areas, will have to find ways and means of providing some consolidation of these areas. So the IAC does consider some of the problems when it is dealing with these matters.

I would now like to deal with some of the matters which were raised by the honourable member for Berowra. It is true that at times the Government does not accept the reports made by the IAC. The Government does so for the very good reason that in its view, on balance- particularly on the mathematical balance that the honourable member for Berowra correctly stated- no longer can one run an industry with a tariff of 15 per cent, 25 per cent or 35 per cent. One has to consider what the result of such tariffs will be. For example, a 45 per cent tariff in the car industry meant nothing to the importers because they could readily jump that tariff. But in fairness to the Government I must say that it did not just blindly adopt the IAC report. The Government welcomed the findings. It analysed the evidence and was able to put together its own policy.

There has been much criticism of the Government ‘s policy in regard to the car industry, particularly from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who at one stage seemed to indicate that he would assist the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd in Geelong but who I understand earlier had applauded the car plan. The Government assumes that the car plan is in the interests of the nation and therefore is above the political struggle that goes on here. The 85 per cent local content plan, if adopted, would mean that the components industry in Australia would get more business than it does at the moment and it would therefore become viable. By the same token, it is pretty clear that the Australian consumer could not afford the cost of a car wholly produced in Australia. So decisions have to be made on the balance of what can be done for the Australian industry as against what might be deemed the ideal of being able to do everything in Australia. It would not be possible to achieve this ideal. The production runs for automobiles, particularly in a country with a population of 13 000 000, would be too small to allow this to happen.

Let us look at the IAC reports in terms of the value they are able to give to a government. The honourable member for Berowra was worried in the sense that he considered that the Government did not properly consider the recommendations of the IAC. Quite frankly the Government has not accepted the recommendations to which he referred because in many cases they would impose hardships if implemented. This was particularly the case in respect of the textile industry where it was necessary to give temporary assistance because we discovered that every manufacturer and every importer continued to import more than ever. The level of importation reached such a point that the market was saturated with double the imports and demand was depressed. Therefore temporary assistance had to be given. The IAC recommended what it deemed to be a reasonable situation in normal times. Nevertheless the Temporary Assistance Authority is a yardstick or a gauge which a government can use to bring some order into an industry such as the textile industry.

I think that the problems of cosmetics need not be raised here. They are yet to be considered by the appropriate committee which will make a recommendation. Of course it is very clear that if we just adopt some of the recommendations made by commissioners, many of whom I think were appointed by our predecessors, and I notice that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who takes a keen interest in these matters and the honourable member for Berowra appear to be not in complete accord -

Mr Kelly:

-That is right.


-It is as I said. But I think it would be for the Government to consider where are the primary responsibilities in this field. It would have to decide whether they are with the work force of 4800 people or whether they are with the importers who merely want to make an additional profit. I will say now that they are with the work force of 4800. Let me make it clear that if we believe that we can run industry in this country on the basis that we can always get something made cheaper elsewhere we will have nothing in this country. One of the big problems with which we are faced is that some reports recommend that it would be all right to displace the work force. I know that this is upsetting to the honourable member for Wakefield who has a bountiful rural property. If the reports recommend that the displaced work force find jobs elsewhere, maybe those people can, but the changes have to be implemented a little more gradually than has happened in the past. What we have to do and what we do as a Government is to have a look at the work force that is involved. We look at what are the alternative job opportunities. We make certain that there will be no unemployment as the result of a tariff reduction. We guarantee that the people who are asked to change their jobs have an equal opportunity for advancement as would have happened in their previous jobs.

By the same token one does not give much weight to the manufacturer who comes along and asks for protection purely on the basis that he needs it to keep his work force going so that he can make profits and has no intention of giving them any real incentive or enjoyment in respect of job opportunities. This situation applies to the car maufacturers as well as the textile manufacturers. So it is not easy to talk about manufacturing industry. It is like dealing with politics, which is the art of the possible, not the impossible. That is the real test as to what can be done because if there has to be structural change it has to be carried out on a basis that is acceptable. Like the honourable member for Berowra, I welcome and await with some interest the Jackson Committee report on industry. But let us make it clear that the best results from industry can come from within industry, not from without.


-Mr Deputy Chairman -

Motion (by Mr Nicholls) agreed to.

That the question be now put. Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Attorney-General’s Department

Proposed expenditure, $58,790,000.

Department of Police and Customs

Proposed expenditure, $98,785,000.


-In the brief time available to me to speak on the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department I would like to take the opportunity to express to the Committee my concern, and I think the concern of a great number of members of the Opposition, about the quality of the legal advice which has been tendered to the present Government by the 2 persons who have occupied the office of Attorney-General since this Government took office in December 1972. It will be well known to members of the Committee that the AttorneyGeneral is the principal law officer of the Crown. He is the government’s principal legal adviser on all the activities of the government. In the last analysis the Attorney-General in any government is the person who should, notwithstanding his partisan political support of the government of which he is a member, be the person who is prepared to blow the whistle on the legal aspects of any proposals which the government to which he belongs may have in mind. T was educated to believe that a good lawyer was one who kept his client out of court by giving him the right advice in the first place and by advising him to settle a case when he could not win it, and above all one who kept his client in a situation where he was not involved in constant litigation. Let us examine that proposition against the performance of the two persons who have occupied the position of Attorney-General since this Government came to office. When we conduct that analysis I think we find that the two occupants have fallen very far short of the proposition that a good lawyer is a person who keeps his client out of court.

Mr Adermann:

– The Prime Minister would agree with you.


– I am sure the Prime Minister would agree. The facts indicate that the two persons who have occupied the position of Attorney-General since this Government came to office have not kept their client out of court. In fact this headline appeared in an article in the Financial Review of recent date: ‘Whitlam packs the High Court- with business’. Of the many records which this Government has established since December 1972 one record which perhaps has escaped the notice of the House and the Australian people is the amount of litigation in which the Commonwealth Government has been involved.

The Government has set many recordsrecord inflation, record strikes, record post-war collapses of small businesses and record economic uncertainty. Another record is the record litigation involving the Federal Government. I think this reflects directly and without qualification upon the quality of the legal advice which has been offered to the Government by the 2 persons who have occupied the position of AttorneyGeneral. At present 17 cases involving the Federal Government are before the High Court. The House will be aware, and in particular my colleague the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby), who is sitting opposite, of the extent to which the High Court, as the only arbiter in Australia of the constitutional limits of the power of the Commonwealth Government, literally is bogged down in adjudicating on matters involving the constitutional power of Acts passed by this present Government.

One could be forgiven for believing that when this Government came to office it set out upon a course of action which involved a complete disregard of any consideration by its own legal adviser as to whether or not a particular Act of the Parliament was valid. Whilst I would never deny the proposition that it is the place of the High Court in the final analysis to determine whether or not a law of this Parliament is valid I put it to the Committee that any AttorneyGeneral of this country has an obligation to advise the Government that he serves whether or not Acts passed by this Parliament are within constitutional power. I think when one examines the fate of the Acts which have been passed by this Parliament since this Government came to power one finds that the quality of the advice tendered to the Government on so many occasions has not been perhaps what it should have been. I can quote one or two examples. One is reminded, of course, of the fate of the petroleum and minerals authority legislation which was rejected by the High Court as being outside the operation of section 57 of the Constitution being legislation which ought not to have been considered at the Joint Sitting of this Parliament convened last year. One thinks of the legal advice that was tendered by the occupant of the office at the time of the notorious loans affair. Members of the Committee will recall the remarks made in respect of that advice by my colleague the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) when he categorised the advice given on that occasion as advice that no honest men could possibly have given.

When one goes through so many examples one finds time and time again that the quality of the legal advice which has been given to the Government has been sadly-lacking. I think it is a matter of real concern that the High Court of Australia should have so much of its time consumed with determining the constitutional validity of Acts of this Parliament. I think there is an obligation on the principal law officer of the Crown to give advice to the Government of the country from time to time as to whether or not Acts of Parliament are valid. I think it is a dismal commentary on the quality of the advice that has been given to this Government that the High Court is so occupied with constitutional cases. The High Court is not exclusively concerned with determining constitutional cases. It is also a general appellate court and as far as the Opposition is concerned long may it remain a general appellate court throughout this country.

Mr Enderby:

– You want the Privy Council to doit.


-The Attorney-General interjects and says that we want the Privy Council to determine constitutional matters. I remind the Attorney-General that it was Attorney-General Bowen of a Liberal-Country Party Government who introduced legislation in 1968 to determine for all time appeals from the High Court of Australia to the Privy Council in constitutional cases.

Mr Enderby:

– How did you vote?


-We voted in favour of that legislation and we will vote in favour of legislation to abolish appeals to the Privy Council if the procedure to abolish those appeals is the correct one. Once again one is reminded of the extraordinary legal advice which is given to the Government in respect of appeals to the Privy Council. Instead of giving what I think most Australians would regard as mature advice- the advice consonant with Australia’s independent status in 1975- successive Attorneys-General of this country have advised the Federal Government that it should invoke the terms of a 1931 statute of the Imperial Parliament which represents perhaps the most prestigious of all the legal links between Australia and the United Kingdom, links which my honourable friend’s predecessor was so ready to refer to in contemptuous terms. They would invoke such a statute to abolish appeals to the Privy Council.

When one examines the history of legal advice tendered by the Attorneys-General under the Whitlam Labor Government since 1972 one finds that time and time again that advice has been found wanting, that this Government has been bogged down in a series of constitutional cases before the High Court and that this client, the Federal Government, has been involved in too much litigation. The quality of the advice must be found wanting when one examines the many matters that have come before the High Court. I think the two Attorneys-General of the Whitlam Labor Government have failed the test of any good lawyer- being able to keep bis client out of court.


-We are speaking to the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I would like to speak on the new initiatives which have been made in so many areas. In contradistinction from the previous speaker I think it is an illustration of the value or the quality of our Attorneys-General that we have moved into so many new and important areas in the short time that we have been the Government. Possibly no other ministry has undertaken a more imaginative program for the benefit of the people of Australia. Let me mention just a few examples. Members are aware that under the Family Law Act there is to be established the Family Court of Australia, the Family Law Council and the Institute of Family Studies! In this allocation there is $4.9m for this purpose. Then there is the Australian Law Reform Commission which has as its central objective the systematic development and reform of the law. We note that there is an increased allocation from $200,000 to $500,000 for this Commission. In the field of the protection of human rights, the Parliament will recall that very important law, the Racial Discrimination Act, which established a Commissioner for Community Relations and also a Community Relations Council. A sum of $300,000 has been provided this year for that purpose.

However I want to concentrate my attention on the Government’s proposal to extend the availability of legal aid. This Government is committed to the provision of legal aid to provide advice and assistance to persons in need, particularly disadvantaged people, on an equitable basis throughout Australia. As honourable members are aware, there are 30 Australian legal aid offices in existence- the central office, 8 branches and 21 regional offices. In this appropriation it is proposed to establish another 28 regional legal aid offices. The estimated cost of this work is $16.7m for the 1975-76 year. This includes payments to private legal practitioners of $7m, grants to the States to supplement existing legal aid schemes of $lm and legal aid to Aborigines of $3m.

There is no question about the tremendous need which exists for legal aid offices. I am sure that honourable members must have shared my experience on numerous occasions when pensioners, migrants, disadvantaged people of one type or another, have urgently required legal advice and sometimes legal representation. I am certain that if it had not been for the necessary restraint which characterises this Appropriation Bill the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) would have been opening more than 28 legal aid offices in the coming year. Yet if the Opposition were to get its way it would eliminate Australian legal aid offices. This was clearly stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser). As honourable members are aware, the Victorian Government at the present time is challenging the validity of these offices in the High Court of Australia. I believe it can be truly said that the conservative forces in this country do not want to see legal assistance given to the needy in our community.

It is possible that some of the opposition to this expenditure on legal aid has been engendered because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the service it is proposed to provide. One of the false assumptions attached to legal aid offices is that they are centralised takeovers of the functions of the legal profession. Let me assure honourable members that nothing could be farther from the truth. On the contrary, if anything, this extension of the regional offices will strengthen the philosophical basis of the legal profession, because their establishment is based on the fundamental principle that every person in Australia should have ready and equal access to the law and the legal processes. It also takes into account the equally fundamental principle that everyone is entitled to legal representation if and when that representation is needed.

Should anyone doubt the need for legal aid, let him put himself in the place of a person who has never before been called into a courtroom as a defendant, a witness or as a member of a jury. This is no criticism of the Australian system of justice, or of the British system of justice on which it is based, but the very nature of our courtrooms to one unfamiliar with them immediately puts a defendant or a witness at a marked disadvantage with the magistrate, the judge, the police, Crown prosecutors or the counsel for the defence. When that person is not legally represented- this is something to which everyone is entitled- one can only hazard a guess at the trepidation with which he faces a court. We have learned recently from figures published by some sections of the legal profession that a person who is represented by counsel in court has a much better chance of acquittal than a person who is not so represented.

Considering what I have said about the fears of people without any legal training appearing in court and how this applies to native born Aus.tralians whose first language is English, how much more frightening must this experience be for our wide and growing migrant population? In one of the municipalities in my electorate, Springvale, 60 per cent of the people were either born outside Australia or their parents were born outside Australia. It is true that many courts provide interpreters, but even the services of an interpreter without the added essential of legal representation does not give the migrant appearing in court adequate means to defend himself. Of course this applies not only to court procedures; it applies equally to signing legal documents such as tenancy or hire purchase agreements. Without someone to advise them people have no idea what they are letting themselves in for when they sign a document. Some months ago in this Parliament I drew honourable members’ attention to a housing sales racket in Doveton, a suburb in my electorate. This racket was within the law, even if just within it, but the people who were victims were largely migrants. Had they had someone to whom they could turn for legal advice this racket could not have prospered.

I am delighted that one of the new regional legal aid offices will be opened in my electorate and that it will be operating by the end of this year. I understand that staff appointments have already been made. Accommodation is available for occupation, it is hoped, in the very near future. The Springvale regional legal aid office is ideally situated. With the existing legal aid offices in Victoria established in Melbourne and on the western side of Melbourne it was essential that the next office to open should be on the eastern or the south-eastern side. The Springvale office will provide a much needed service not only to the people of the Holt electorate but also to areas as far afield as Gippsland, the Mornington Peninsula, Western Port and the eastern suburbs. For several years there has been an excellent volunary service in Springvale- the Springvale Legal Service. The establishment of an ALAO in Springvale should not be seen as being in competition with this voluntary service. It is intended that the legal aid offices will work in close co-operation with voluntary organisations. One will complement the other. There is every reason to expect a very close relationship between the staff of the Springvale ALAO and the existing Springvale Legal Service. One could imagine that at night the office of the ALAO will be used by the voluntary service. I have said that legal aid offices strengthen the legal profession because they will provide the means for the scales of justice to balance more evenly. This is a new approach to legal aid. The Australian Legal Aid Office is taking law to the people. It is a shopfront approach.


-In speaking briefly to these estimates I would express my appreciation to the Ministers for Customs- there have been in fact no fewer than three of themfor their courtesy in facilitating my ready access to the departmental head, the Department and the operational organisation of the Department of Customs since I have assumed the responsibility of shadow minister for customs and excise. Might I too express in real sincerity my appreciation to and respect for Mr Alan Carmody, who heads that Department, and to the sub-collectors and other officers who have been so courteous and so helpful. I have visited a number of centres of Customs operations and have had the opportunity of inspecting, watching and discussing those operations with many officers. From this informed situation I pay very high tribute indeed to the diligence, ability and very high calibre of the men and women- there are a number of women- who are engaged in every avenue of Customs.

True it is that weary travellers and hard working customs officers at the end of a long work shift may sometimes exchange cross words. We seem to hear about those instances. But this is a rare exception for I found nothing but courtesy wherever I went. Having observed these things, I felt I should acknowledge them here in this place and at this time. True it is also that no matter how diligent are our officers there will always be some instances of evasion, even drug trafficking, which will escape detection. Nor, despite the utmost diligence, will we ever completely remove every last risk of entry of exotic disease even if we increase our detection forces one hundredfold. This would have to be admitted. But these possibilities do not exist because of any laxity or unconcern among the officers and to make such a suggestion would be wrong and unfair.

Among the estimates for the Department of Police and Customs I notice there is provision for $1,672,000 to extend the Department’s computing operations. Although I have been sceptical of computers in modern society I have no hesitation in saying that computerisation has been a tremendous advantage to the Department- in efficiency, in multiplying the work output, in detection, in detecting undesirable and notorious visitors immediately they arrive, in providing warning of possible drug carriers, in providing rapid information on exports and imports and in many other ways. I would thoroughly endorse this expenditure. It is to the advantage and protection of every one of us.

I think a statement of the Minister some months ago was most unfortunate and unfair to his Department. He said that since the fall of South Vietnam Australia was becoming the dumping ground or transit centre for a huge drug traffic. The Minister may at that time have been doing a pre-Budget lobby for funds for his Department and that aim might be laudable enough, but his statement cast a serious aspersion on the ability, efficiency and diligence of his Customs officers. It most certainly was not warranted. I know that it was not happily received by his officers who are very concerned and using every effort, with a good deal of success, to detect any entry of drugs. Whatever his motive, that statement, I believe, would have been much better left unsaid.

I am glad to see that customs, health and quarantine officers probably by the end of this year will have much better and more adequate facilities at Brisbane airport. Up to now the facilities have left much to be desired. Indeed the officers work under almost impossible conditions. The new temporary international terminal is a necessary provision and long overdue. I am glad that it is reaching completion. In general the estimates for the Department of Police and Customs will receive no opposition from me.

Turning to the Attorney-General’s Department and in particular film and literary censorship, again I thank the Minister and the censors and the censorship boards for the co-operation and courtesies they have given to me. Any comments I make are no reflection on the members of those boards. They do not make the films, they do not import them; they are charged with their classification in accordance with the policies of the government of the day. This they do faithfully and well. But surely few, if any, of us can be at all happy with the figures recently released covering films examined by the Film Censorship Board for the year ending 30 June 1975. The figures show that 970 films were examined by the censors, of which 174 were classified for general exhibition and another four were so classified after cuts; 202 were classified not recommended for children; 248 were classified for mature audiences; 180 were classified ‘R’; 18 were classified ‘R’ with cuts; 23 were rejected outright and 121 were classified to be shown in special conditions such as at film festivals.

So only 174 films out of 970 were suitable for general exhibition without cuts. I suggest that it is a sickening state of society when films and literature have to rely on pornography, perversion and filth to attract an audience. I hope that we will find some way of giving incentives, encouragement, support and perhaps even financial help to producers who will produce films with a good, appealing story, of some excellence of production and narration and which can stand on those attributes and do not have to rely on erotic scenes and equally erotic advertising to be financially successful.

The point I want to make most strongly is that the Government and the Minister must give loyalty and support to their censors. When a film is rightly rejected some weird journalists- I mention those from one newspaper, the National Review, probably themselves frustrated failures, with weird perverted tastes- abuse the censors and Mr Prowse with unsavoury and unwarranted slander. I hope the Minister and the people of Australia will not allow vicious attacks like that to continue. Censors do the jobs they are appointed to do. I will stand by Mr Prowse and his Censorship Board rather then those weirdos who scurrilously attack them and seem to want to wallow in a lot of muck. Witness the exhortation of writers in the National Review about a film depicting a man’s love life with his favourite pig and their criticisms of Mr Prowse for deeming it not to be edifying. I ask the Minister and the Government to stand by their censors and the decisions of their censors despite this sort of scurrilous attack upon them and the job they do. I should like to say a good deal more about the spate of pornography which is reaching even to our children and is starting even to invade our television and enter our living rooms. But I shall leave that to another appropriate occasion.

I want to say something quickly about the Department of Police and Customs and about the structure of the Australia Police which will radically alter the existing forces. I hope it will not be long before we see a Bill dealing with the structure of the Australia Police. Due to the many representations we have received on this matter I ask the Minister to ensure when such a Bill is introduced- I hope it will be soon because the amalgamation the Australia Police Force has no legislative backing- that we will have ample time to study it, that he might consider laying the Bill on the table for a reasonable period so that we can adequately consider it, so that the States and the police forces of the States can adequately consider it and indeed so that the Australian citizens can have a look at it. The proposal is for a new and substantial change. I hope that the Government will take that course and not seek to rush the Bill through this Parliament with any unseemly haste. I think the Minister will concedeI think he has conceded- that this is a pretty reasonable and proper request and a course which might set at rest a lot of concern and alarm abroad concerning the new Australia Police integration and structure.

CanberraAttorneyGeneral · ALP

– I would not have risen to speak at this stage but my good friend the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) who just sat down talked about the Australia Police and it seemed an appropriate time to reply not only to his remarks on that subject and also briefly on the pornography matter that he mentioned but also, before they depart too much from our memories, to the remarks of the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) who launched a very vitriolic personal attack upon my predecessor, and by association on me, although I think most of it was directed against my predecessor.

I shall deal briefly with what my good friend said about the Australia Police. I am not the responsible Minister in that area now, as he knows, although it was my pleasure, my good fortune, to take the first steps that led to the creation of the Australia Police on I think- I call on my memory- 27 March of this year. I remind the honourable member that the Australia Police is an amalgamation of the Northern Territory Police Force, the Commonwealth Police Force, the Australian Capital Territory Police Force and certain officers in the old Department of Customs and Excise who did police work, particularly work associated with narcotics. I remind the honourable member- I do not detect any appearance of dissent in the expression on his face- that there were a lot of deficiencies in the fragmentation of the old system. The Government embarked upon the program of rationalising this system and bringing into being a single force that would combine the advantages of career opportunities for individual officers, mobility on request but not by compulsion for individual officers, all the advantages of upgrading status and the provision of a police college that could not be given with the old fragmented system. The advantages were enormous.

My good friend was kind enough to pay tribute to Mr Carmody, who was the permanent head of the old Department of Customs and Excise and now of the Department of Police and Customs, for his efforts generally. The honourable member will recall that Mr Carmody visited many parts of the world with systems comparable to our own. He went to the United Kingdom, to parts of western Europe, to the United States of America and to Canada. He came back and he prepared what is now known as the Carmody report which has been presented to this Parliament. He came down strongly in favour of a modification of the Canadian system. Canada has a federal system, not the same as ours- different in some ways, similar in others. He was impressed with that particular model based upon the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, not because they ride horses but because of the particular structure and the elan that they have managed to take to themselves combining efficiency, law enforcement, apprehension of offenders and also, of great importance to the Government, the protection of civil liberties. The Government in large measure, but not in complete measure, adopted the main thrust of his report. There were departures from it but the main thrust of it was adopted. I assure the honourable member that the Bill is at an advanced stage. I hope that it will be presented to the Parliament in the near future. I had discussions about it with the Minister for Police and Customs (Senator Cavanagh) as recently as this afternoon. With all the advantages that come from that restructuring, one looks for the disadvantages. One has to recognise that the average citizen is a little apprehensive of a policeman.

I am glad to see that the honourable member for Bennelong has returned to the chamber because I want to say something about his speech.

If one takes three or four small police forces and makes them into a bigger police force it is understandable that many citizens will be a little concerned about their dealings with the police. I understand that fully. Most of my public life before I became a politician was involved in the civil liberties movement, and that in turn involved policemen and their relations with citizens. When I became Attorney-General I saw the great opportunity to build into this new structure some safeguards for the citizen in his or her relationships with the police. Such safeguards do not exist today in any Australian police force whether it be the police force of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania or Western Australia. The honourable member will remember that the first reference to the Australian Law Reform Commission, which is presided over by Mr Justice Kirby, was the need to protect civil liberties. I do not know whether he has had the opportunity to see the first Kirby report on the subject of complaints against the police where a citizen wants to have justifiable and effective complaints against the police properly aired. The report has been tabled here for some time. I hope that the honourable member has had the opportunity to read it. It is one of the most enlightened, progressive documents that has ever been prepared and presented to the Australian public in Australia ‘s history.

Two or three weeks ago I was in Geneva at the United Nations Convention on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders. The report was widely read there and was commended by everyone who had the opportunity to read it. We took 50 copies of it with us. I hope that in the near future the Bill will be ready, incorporating the recommendations of the Kirby report. There is another aspect of it which deals with powers of arrest, powers of bail, police interrogation, which is another aspect dear to my heart as AttorneyGeneral and for which in the past the law has not been adequate. I hope that it will be substantially improved in the second report of the Law Reform Commission of Australia which we expect to have in two or three weeks time. It may be going to the printer now, or it is rapidly reaching that stage.

The honourable member mentioned the subject of pornography. I will not reply to him in detail at this stage but I will raise the matter later. It is not that I think the subject unimportant but that I prefer to come back to it. I now turn to the remarks of the honourable member for Bennelong who launched a vitriolic and unfair personal attack on my predecessor and on me as well. Honourable members opposite may laugh, but when one lawyer rises in this place and says that because you are in court you are not protecting the interests of your client- he was referring particularly to my predecessor who is now a High Court judge- it is an unfair below the belt attack. Let us reflect on the nature of politics. The honourable member comes to this place as a young solicitor from the western suburbs of Sydney. Let me not go down to the level to which he descended but let me tell him something about politics. The honourable member criticised my predecessor for getting his clients to court. May I remind him that my predecessor was probably the greatest law reformer that Australia has ever had. Let me remind honourable members opposite of the Trade Practices Act. How long did they flounder trying to prepare a Trade Practices Act? Was it 15 years or 20 years? Let me remind them of the Family Court of Australia and the Family Law Bill. How long did they leave that state of the law untouched? May I remind them of the Human Rights Bill by which my predecessor valiantly tried to upgrade human rights in Australia, only to have the Bill defeated by the Opposition and ultimately killed by the prorogation. Let me remind honourable members opposite of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill which is the most progressive, adventuresome and desirable social reform in that area of the law that this Parliament has ever attempted to bring about. All these initiatives of my predecessor were opposed vigorously, they are still opposed by the Opposition and they are bogged down in the Senate because the Opposition parties have a majority in the Senate. One could go on.

Who introduced the Ombudsman Bill into this Parliament? It was my predecessor. Who introduced the Administrative Appeals Tribunal legislation which has gone through? It was my predecessor. And the honourable member has the gall to launch a personal attack upon him.

Honourable members opposite were in office for 23 years and they did not put through 0.00001 per cent of what he put through in the Vi years that he occupied this office. Yet they come in here and launch an attack of that sort. Let me say this also, Mr Chairman -

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

-I would be happy to have the Minister address the Chair.


– I cannot help but be a little provoked by the sort of attack that was launched here a while ago on one of the great Australian lawyers, one of the great Attorneys-General, who is now a member of the High Court and whose record speaks for itself. Honourable members opposite should search through Hansard for the 23 years in which they were in government and find the measures of law reform that come close, even touch, the perimeter of what my predecessor was able to bring about, notwithstanding that everything was opposed. In some cases the measures had to go through this chamber twice and the Senate twice, face a double dissolution and go to a joint sitting. Then they were challenged in the High Court. And the honourable member blames the Government for ending up in the High Court. Let me answer the honourable gentleman this way: I speak personally as the honourable member for Canberra. He says that we end up in court too often. One of the measures of my predecessor sought to introduce a law to allow Senate representation for the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) sits over there. I am not sure whether he was ever prepared to vote on the issue. It is clouded with uncertainty over the years. But I do not want to provoke him at this stage. But the fact remains that the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the people of the Northern Territory do not have representation in the Senate where most of their laws are discussed and disallowed by the Opposition. When my predecessor, Senator Murphy, as he then was, Mr Justice Murphy as he now is, introduced that law- and no one could argue against the justice of it- who opposed it? The Liberal Party and the National Country Party people opposed it. Who challenged it in the High Court? Who took it in to the High Court? We did not take it into the High Court. The Liberal and Country Party people in the States took it into the High Court.

Mr Ellicott:

– What is wrong with challenging the legislation?


-Do not blame me.

Mr Ellicott:

– What is wrong with it?


– Let me give the honourable gentleman a better example.


– Order! The Committee will come to order. I have made a request for the Committee to come to order. If it does not do so I will take action against the honourable members who interject.


-They do not enjoy hearing it, Mr Chairman. Let me give a better example to the Committee. There is a principle that no one can argue against, surely. For want of a better phrase, it is called ‘one man one vote’. Let us have a look at it. The proposition was a simple one. It was to reduce the permissible differences between electorates from 20 per cent to 10 per cent above or below the quota of electors set for each State. I invite honourable members to reflect on that proposition

Mr Lusher:

– What has that to do with your portfolio?


-We are talking about the High Court, my good friend. The intention of that proposition was to move more towards the principle of one man one vote. That initiative come from my Government and in large measure was inspired by the efforts of my predecessor. The Opposition parties opposed it. They opposed it in this chamber. The legislation was introduced into this chamber. It went to the Senate. We waited 3 months. It was re-introduced into the House of Representatives. It went again to the Senate. A wait of a further 3 months followed. The double dissolution took place. I need not remind honourable members which Party won the election following the double dissolution. My Party did. The legislation was introduced again into the House of Representatives. It was transmitted again to the Senate. The Opposition parties opposed it all the time. The purpose of that legislation was to ensure that the vote of one Australian had approximately the same value as the vote of any other Australian. Eventually, at the Joint Sitting, where democracy appeared to triumph, the legislation was enacted; it became a law.

Let us take the matter a little further. That 10 per cent variation above or below the quota had to be given effect to. Honourable members talk big, but let them consider their actions. When it came to giving effect to the 10 per cent rule and not the 20 per cent rule, the Government of which my predecessor was a member, largely with him pushing the legislation, introduced the necessary Bills into the House of Representatives. They were opposed by the Opposition. They went to the Senate and were opposed there also. The validity of that legislation is now challenged by the Opposition before the High Court. Honourable members opposite have the gall and the nerve to say that a lot of litigation has arisen from the actions of this Government when in fact the source of that litigation is the Opposition parties.

Let me remind honourable members that the federal system is essentially a legal system. Australia has perhaps the most rigid legalistic Constitution in the Western world. It is a matter for legal challenge. My good friend who sits opposite, the honourable member for Wentworth, has asked what is wrong with challenge in the High Court. I agree with him, but I do challenge his motives.

Mr Ellicott:

– My motives?


– Or the motives of the Party to which the honourable member belongs. I do so because with respect to every example that I have given as to reforms which have been attempted, that action has been opposed. The Opposition parties will use every institution in Australia, be it the Senate, the High Court or the Press, to defeat any measure of reform. It should not surprise us. Although my friend, the honourable member for Bennelong, came recently to this Parliament, it was ever so. When we look back in history we will always see that there are no legal challenges of any consequence as a result of what is done by Liberal-Country Party governments. Those Parties do not govern; they preside. They do not want to do anything. They are content to let the realities of power in the community benefit their wealthy friends. The Opposition parties do not want to change anything. Why should they make a law which takes something from someone and gives it to someone else? Why would the Opposition parties want to enact a law which anyone would dare challenge in the High Court? The Opposition parties are content to sit and not to make laws while the rich get richer and the strong become stronger. This is to the benefit of the people whom the Opposition parties represent. That is basically what honourable members opposite stand for.

This is the simple explanation why after 23 years of government by those who are now in Opposition we find no evidence of any challenges to their legislation in the High Court. The former Government did not make any laws. Whether the Labor Government involved is the Fisher Government which was in office before World War I, the Scullin Government, the Curtin Government, the Chifley Government or the Whitlam Government, inevitably we will find High Court challenges to the legislative actions of those Labor governments. The Opposition parties used the High Court for this purpose. They use every device of which they can think to try to strike down any social reform measure.

The argument that the Opposition parties use is that the matter involved is one for the States, it is not to be found in the written words of the Constitution, or it was not in the contemplation of the founding fathers who, with the exception of Sir Isaac Isaacs who died in 1948, died many years ago. The Opposition parties draw on every legal fiction and device of which they can think to frustrate change and to perpetuate the status quo. They seek to preserve the system which to them is the best of all possible worlds and which they do not want to change. It is any wonder that we do not find any High Court challenges to actions by the previous Government? It is in the nature of things that there will be High Court challenges to what this Government does. We do not run away from these challenges. We welcome them. We welcome the opportunity to present a case to the High Court.

Let me give another example to the Committee. What is the position if one wants to change the Australian Constitution? I turn to my good friend, the honourable member for Wentworth, who probably has had as much experience as anyone, to say that the Constitution reflects the best interests of Australia in 1975. 1 dare him to say that. He is silent Yet, if we put up a referendum proposal to change an aspect of the Constitution in any way, it is predictable and certain that his Party, the Liberal Party, and also the National Country Party, will oppose that referendum proposal on every pretext or another and you will frighten Australians into saying no. Honourable members opposite do not deny in their own hearts that there is need for change. They will not say it publicly. If we look at the other provision for change, the powers of reference, we find that the Opposition parties even opposed the mutual exchange of powers by which the States could give the Australian Government something in return for the Australian Government giving something to them. The Opposition parties were so hypocritical that they even collectively opposed that proposal. That leaves really one instrument of constitutional change in this country. That is the. High Court of Australia. Opposition members are not interested in change, so they are not interested in the referral of powers, referendums or even in the High Court which, I repeat, is the only instrument of change left. I tell the Committee that the High Court has been the only engine of change.

I will not continue for much longer. One has to take strong issue with the level of the contribution made by the honourable member for Bennelong. He rose to speak, floundered around for a little while, saying, ‘What on earth will I say?’ He did not single out the Australian Legal Aid Office. He did not single out some specific issue of which he disapproved. He simply said: ‘I will somehow try to build an argument around the Attorney-General who was and, it follows as a matter of course, the Attorney-General who is’myself. None of the initiatives of which the honourable member complains which led to High Court challenge sprang from my mind. They all sprang from my predecessor’s mind. I applaud him for them because he was one and is one of the greatest law reformers that this country has ever had. I invite honourable members opposite to think of those who held the position of Attorney-General in their governments. Think of the former Attorneys-General. Think of those who were Attorney-General in their governments. Think of one action to their credit. Think of one law reform change which any former Liberal-Country Party Attorney-General ever brought about. I invite honourable members opposite to reflect on that. Mr Chairman, the simple fact is that my predecessor, whom the honourable member for Bennelong had the nerve, the gall and the bad taste, if I can put it that way, to speak of at that level, is one of the most productive legal minds that this country has ever seen.

Mr HOWARD (Bennelong)-I wish to make a personal explanation.

The CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins:

-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


-Yes. In the course of the speech which he has just concluded, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Enderby) amongst other things accused me of making a vitriolic, personal, below the belt, bad taste attack upon himself and upon his predecessor, the then Senator Murphy, now Mr Justice Murphy of the High Court of Australia. I remind the Committee and the AttorneyGeneral that, in the course of my remarks, I criticised the quality of the advice given by the present Attorney-General and by his predecessor, in their respective categories as AttorneyGeneral, and as principal law officer and principal legal adviser of the Government. If the stage is ever reached in this Parliament when one cannot criticise the quality of advice given without being accused of attacking people below the belt, I will think that the freedom of parliamentary speech has lost all meaning.

Northern Territory

-I wish to take the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) to task on some of the things that he has said. I point out to the Committee and to the public in general that he was the most unsuccessful Minister who ever held responsibility for administration of the Australian Capital Territory. He had to be shifted because, if he had continued in that portfolio, he would have lost the seat. The Minister was also responsible for the Northern Territory portfolio. He made so many gaffs and he was such a complete and utter idiot when it came to administering the Northern Territory that the Government had to shift him from that portfolio also.

Mr James:

– I rise to point of order, Mr Chairman. I suggest that the honourable member for the Northern Territory is supersensitive himself when offensive remarks are used of him in the Parliament. Yet, he has referred to the AttorneyGeneral as an idiot. I ask for the immediate withdrawal of that statement.


– Order! If in fact the honourable member for the Northern Territory referred -


-Mr Chairman, might I say -


– Order! If the honourable member used that term in referring to the AttorneyGeneral, he should withdraw that remark.


– What term was that? Any term!

Mr James:

– You said ‘ idiot ‘.


– The Chairman does not know what term I used.

Mr James:

– He used the word ‘idiot ‘.


– The Committee will come to order. By way of a point of order it was said that the honourable member for the Northern Territory had used the word ‘idiot’ when referring to the Attorney-General. If he did so he shall withdraw that remark.


– Well, Mr Chairman, he did make a complete and utter failure -


– The honourable member for the Northern Territory has been asked to withdraw the remark. I warn the honourable member for the Northern Territory.


-I am trying to tell you this Minister is -


– Order! I have warned the honourable member for the Northern Territory. He will withdraw the remark or I will name him and report the matter to the House.


- Mr Chairman -


– Does the honourable member for the Northern Territory withdraw the remark?


– If you insist that I withdraw the remark ‘idiot’ I will not say it in this House.


– The honourable member will withdraw the remark.


– I am withdrawing the remark and I may say -


– Order! It being 10.30 p.m. and in accordance of the order of the House of 1 1 July 1 974, 1 shall report progress.

Progress reported.

page 1452


Death of Mr J. T. Lang-Social Security -Political Parties


-Order! It being after 10.30 p.m. I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.


-In the absence of a debate earlier today on the motion of condolence on the death of Mr J. T. Lang I take this opportunity to pay an extemporaneous tribute to his memory. I inform the House at the outset that I knew him very well. I had the pleasure of his company for about the last 12 years of his life and for six of those years I saw him for about 2 hours a week. At that time I worked in the city of Sydney and I saw him on Mondays and Thursdays each week. In the last 6 years, since I have been in this Parliament, I saw him on a regular basis. I owe him a debt of gratitude for the very great source of encouragement he was to me personally. At all times he assisted and encouraged me to further a career in politics. I was attracted to Mr Lang from the time I was first interested in politics because of the strength of his convictions. One thing I could say about Mr Lang was that he lived in a world of black and white. There were no greys in his life.

He was a very positive character. He gave me a greater sense of history- a different perspective of Australia. He was as old at the time of federation as I was when I entered this Parliament. He lived and understood federal and State politics throughout all that period of his life and he was able to give personality sketches of people like Deakin or Watson, or Bruce or Hughes or Fisher, and was able to describe them and the settings in which he found them He lived for as long as the Labor Party is old. He started his association with the Labor movement with people like the Leigh House socialists and the McNamaras of McNamara’s Bookshop in Sydney. He married one of McNamara’s daughters and Henry Lawson married the other. These people were the ideological spice of the political Labor movement of the 1890s and he was part of it from its inception until his death. There was no one else in Australian political life in 1975 who lived in and experienced that period. He could distinguish all the subtleties and felt all the pulses of the Labor movement.

In 1971 I had the privilege to move successfully for his readmission to the Labor Party at the Australian Labor Party Congress in Sydney and I was ably supported by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) on that occasion and many other honourable members in this House. I was thinking today at his funeral in Sydney how improper it would have been for us in the Labor Party to mourn his passing had we not forgiven him and invited him back into the Labor Party. We would have been there mourning his passing and yet would not have been able to say that we thought him fit to be one of us again. His readmission to the Labor Party was a source of great joy to him and he felt that a lot of the past hatreds and bigotry had been forgotten and forgiven. The prodigal son had returned. It was a source of great comfort to him and I think all members of the Labor Party in New South Wales are to be congratulated for what they did on that occasion.

He never deviated from Labor philosophy. His early life was characterised by great poverty and he spent his life fighting against privilege and for the working class. It can be said of him that he was a man of the people because never in his most intimate conversations did he drop the compassion that he held for the working class. He was famous for some quotations which illustrated his view of the working peoplecelebrated comments like: ‘Not a penny to the British bondholders while there is an empty belly in Balmain’. It was that style of oratory which typified his concern for people. He would say: ‘My fight is a fight against poverty’, and it was a fight against poverty and he kept fighting until he died. It is interesting to note the report which was tabled in Parliament a couple of weeks ago and which illustrated that some parts of Australia in 1975 are still suffering from great poverty.

His great strength was his stamina and his tenacity. He was always confidently defiant, and in conversation when he wanted to make a point he would look at you with a stern face with his eyes transfixed so as to burn his view into you. He was ever confident in his own philosophy and never deviated from it. The tirades of hate and abuse he suffered never destroyed his personality. I do not think that any politician in Australia suffered the hate that Lang suffered, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. If you read the Sydney Morning Herald of that era you would be astonished at the type of journalism in that paper particularly in the 1930s. There were enormous one-page cartoons depicting God in the clouds in Heaven and the devil in Hell. There would be a signpost saying: ‘With Bavin to prosperity and with Lang to communism and Hell’. This was the class of journalism of those days.

He never attacked anyone who had not attacked him. A lot of people said he made personal attacks but the personal attacks upon him were quite vitriolic and I think mostly he would have responded when he was attacked. However, the media hated him and he hated them. He taxed newspapers. He imposed a tax of a half penny on each newspaper in the 1930s. He put a tax on mortgage holders when there was poverty during the depths of the depression in New South Wales. He was not afraid to tackle the establishment. Somebody said to him later in his life: ‘You have outlived your enemies’, and he said: ‘The things against which I fought are still with us’. And so they are. Today there are the same charges of creeping socialism. There is the hollow opportunism of the present Opposition trying to use the Senate as an instrument with which to strike down a Government, in the same way as Lang’s opponents of those days used Governor Game through the British Colonial Office to strike down his elected government. He accepted it because he said he did not want to see the Commonwealth army fighting the New South Wales police in Macquarie Street trying to protect him and his government. He know that that was what it would lead to and he had to give in. Finally he was driven from office.

But his view of life never changed. He once said to me: ‘The articulate of the working class have a God-given duty to care for their own people, to serve them. If God has given you the capacity to handle and grapple with politics and to be articulate’ he said ‘you have a duty to serve your own class’. I believe that and it was his belief. He served them until the time he died. I enjoyed many hours of his company and his good nature. He had an extremely good nature and his kindliness was very obvious in everything he did. He was a man of great humour. He would often tell stories and recall situations. He had a typically Australian sense of humour. His humour was very entertaining and delightful. He was a delightful character.

I also enjoyed his culture. During conversation he would use quotations from Demosthenes or Aristotle, or the Gospel of St Paul. They would just drip from his tongue He had an enormously developed sense of history. He was a very cultured and well read man. Anyone who wrote him off as a roughneck orator is very much mistaken; but an orator he was. He held people spellbound. Probably no man in this country has ever excited passions in the way that he did. I mourn his passing. I had a very great affection for him. On his death I treasure the very generous and very gracious friendship he gave me. He was a very great Australian and this nation is very much the poorer for his passing. I would like to take this opportunity to extend, on my own behalf and I think on behalf of the members of this House, the very greatest sympathy to his friends and his relatives and those who supported him.


-This evening I want to speak on a matter concerning social security, but before I do so I should like to make 2 comments. The first is in relation to remarks made in this House about Senator Murphy, who is now Mr Justice Murphy, and the second is in relation to the comments of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) when he spoke about opportunism on the part of the Opposition. I would hope that the same sorts of remarks could be said in regard to Mr Justice Murphy as were said about the legislation he introduced, the thought behind it, and this statement that he made:

The Senate is entitled and expected to exercise resolutely but with discretion its power to refuse its concurrence to any financial measure, including a Tax Bill. There are no limitations on the Senate in the use of its constitutional powers, except the limitations imposed by discretion and reason.

Mr Lusher:

– Who said that?


– In answer to the interjection of the honourable member for Hume, that was said by the then Senator Murphy, who is now Mr Justice Murphy. I thought it rather ironical that at one particular stage a Minister, Mr Bowen, said that the Government would appeal to the High Court of Australia. Of course, I think that a decision and an opinion of one of our Justices should be given fairly solid consideration. Quite frankly, I think that the thought and consideration behind that statement show completely the hypocrisy of the comments that have been made in relation to certain actions and comments being made by members of the Opposition who are accused of political expediency and a lot of other things. If the safety and security of this country, both in the economic and defence field, are at stake and at risk, then my personal opinion- I believe it is the opinion of many people to whom I have spoken in recent weeks throughout Queensland and New South Wales- is that any action that we might take to ensure the safety and security of this country should be taken.

As I said, I want to speak tonight particularly about a matter relating to social security. I did not speak to the responsible Minister in this place because the Minister for Social Security (Senator Wheeldon) is in another place, and I felt that he could take the information from Hansard. I shall discuss the matter with him at a later date. The House may recall that I have on a number of occasions raised the matter of people in rural industry receiving social security benefits, even though those people may have a property, because if their income is nil they certainly cannot eat the grass on their properties. I believe that a case which has been presented to me illustrates what we have been putting forward from this side of the House on a number of occasions and substantiates the requests which we have made to the Minister in this regard. The gentleman in this case writes:

If I may make the following comments: In the letter from the Chairman, Social Security Appeals Tribunal, of September 11, the statement that I am “not available for fulltime outside employment” is surely an incredible one, when the record shows that I have registered for fulltime employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service and inquired at that office at regular intervals for the past twentyone weeks. The statement “you are not considered to be unemployed within the meaning of the Social Services Act” cannot be substantiated. The Act does not differentiate between a person who was self-employed and one who worked for an employer. The essential requirements to qualify for unemployment relief are uncomplicated and can be stated very briefly. A person must be: (i) unemployed, (ii) capable of undertaking and willing to undertake suitable work, (iii) have taken reasonable steps to obtain such work.

The Chairman, in her letter, might very well have said: “ We are sorry. We based our finding on the provisions of the Social Services Act. We did not read the Departmental instructions on its own interpretation of the Act with special reference to self-employed graziers. The Department has now drawn our attention to these instructions which I am afraid must be observed even though they merely represent an opinion and are of very doubtful validity.”

I have also been given to understand that the Department has its own definitions concerning income, an example being that a loss on business cannot be subtracted from an income from investment in order to arrive at a net income. But a search by staff for confirmation of this in print was unsuccessful. In the initial rejection of my claim, income from assets had been suggested as a ground for precluding entitlement.

I hope the foregoing comments will help to illustrate that the Department seems to be finding it difficult and is unwilling to look beyond a point at which it is used to looking.

The gentleman concerned has provided a statement of his taxable income which shows a net loss of $500.40. My argument is that the case presented by this gentleman, I believe, should be given consideration and he should be granted social security payments. I now refer to a letter from the Social Security Appeals Tribunal dated 23 July. The letter is addressed to the person concerned, and it reads:

The Tribunal sought, and has received, a report from the Department of Social Security on your case. After studying this, we are seeking clarification of certain aspects and will bring the information you were kind enough to furnish us, to the notice of the Department.

We will be in touch with you . . .

On 6 August 1975 the Tribunal wrote:

We are writing to you concerning your appeal against a decision by the Department of Social Security.

When your appeal was received we asked the Department to provide a report on the matter, which it was kind enough to do. We then studied your case and recommended to the Director-General of that Department that your appeal be upheld.

As soon as a decision on our recommendation is received from the Director-General, we will advise you of the result of your appeal.

Then in its letter of 1 1 September, to which I referred previously, the Tribunal said:

We are writing to you concerning the outcome of your appeal …

The Director-General’s decision on the matter has now been received, the outcome being that you are not considered to be unemployed within the meaning of the Social Services Act. By this he means that you are fully selfemployed on your farm and so are not available for fulltime outside employment. Unemployment benefit is not payable in such a case.

Quite frankly, I believe that the comment of the gentleman who made representations to me in this case and the comment made by the Appeals Tribunal make it clear that this gentleman should receive the social security benefit. I believe also that it justifies what we on this side of the House have said on many occasions, and that is that if a person is unemployed, even though he has a property, and if he is available for employment, should receive the social security benefit during that period of time when he is not able to find employment. I believe that this illustrates the point that this compensation- it is a compensationshould be granted. When we hear of and see the number of people who are receiving this benefit in other circumstances I believe it makes a complete farce, firstly, of the comment made by the people on the Appeals Tribunal and, secondly of the decision of the Department in regard to this matter. As I said, I will have a discussion with the Minister. I state in fairness to him that I have not discussed this matter with him personally- But I did feel that it was something that should be raised in the House because I believe that this is a case which illustrates the point we have been making from this side of the House over a long period of time.


– I believe that it is about time that this nation and this Parliament started talking seriously about what really is happening down here in Canberra. For the past 5 or 6 months since the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser) assumed that role and for the past 5 or 6 weeks since the Budget was introduced, there has been a neverending speculation about whether there would be another election for the House of Representatives. No matter what the Leader of the Opposition says, and no matter what he claims he has or has not said, the facts are that his actions originating at his first Press interview have continued to add to the speculation that when the Appropriation Bills are introduced into the Senate he will attempt to have the Senate block those Bills and hopefully force an election.

The debate so far both between the Government and the Opposition and in the media has centered on the constitutionality of such an action and the various alternatives open to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Let me make it clear that I do not wish to canvass all those issues. I do not have a clue what the Prime Minister will do nor, I believe, do many of his colleagues. For obvious tactical reasons he is not going to indicate which of the alternatives he will choose. But for the benefit of the debate I would like to put those alternatives into the record. First of all, he may decide to go to the Governor-General and ask him to pass the Supply Bills. Secondly, he may decide to re-present the Bills to the House of Representatives and resubmit them to the Senate. This, I imagine, could be done over and over again while the country waited to be paid. Thirdly, he may choose to have a half Senate election. Fourthly, he may have a half Senate and full House of Representatives election. Finally, he could call a double dissolution. There may be other possibilities but basically they seem to be the major alternatives.

That is not really what I want to talk about. What has surprised me is that so far the debate has not got past the question of propriety- the constitutionality and the electoral impact of the rejection of the Budget or Supply. What needs to be discussed is the impact such an action will have on the whole parliamentary process and the people of Australia. At the risk of being tedious, let me go back to 1972. The Australian Labor Party had spent 23 years in Opposition. It is an awfully long time. Some men come into the Parliament, served here for years and retired never having known what it was like to have been in government. Some came here as relatively young men, served on the Executive for years and were too old to become Ministers when we got back into government. But I do not want to elicit sympathy. It is not sympathy I am concerned about; it is an understanding of the sort of frustration that can build up within a political party at never having the opportunity to put its policies into practice.

Whatever happened in the Parliament was nothing to what happened amongst the thousands of Party members and supporters. With the politicising of the youth of Australia during the 1960s and the emergence of a greater degree of militancy the frustration of those on the Left of politics was reaching a crescendo in the period building up to the 1972 elections. Memories are very short but I hope they are not so short that we cannot remember the Vietnam moratorium marches, the anti-apartheid demonstrations, the anti-conscription rallies and the Aboriginal rights demonstrations. I wonder how many people were conscious of the atmosphere bubbling just below the surface. Had it not been for the efforts of individual members of the parliamentary Labor Party and their supporters, these demonstrations could easily have burst into violence. Despite the accusations against people like Dr Jim Cairns that he was advocating violence, the reverse was true. The presence of Labor politicians like Bill Hayden, the present Treasurer, and Senator George Georges in Brisbane during the Springbok demonstrations was what averted violence.

For my own part, I can recall attending meetings with anti-apartheid demonstrators at which I was ridiculed and abused for suggesting that the violence of their displays was likely to be counter-productive and that what they were doing was playing into the hands of the then Government which was relishing every bit of the violence because it recognised the electoral backlash it would create against the Australian Labor Party. What we urged, and I believe we succeeded, was for them to channel their energies into getting a Labor Government elected. We put the view that the system- the parliamentary system- had to be given a chance. We argued that all those things they hated could be corrected through the democratic process. The thrust of violence and the threat of violence receded as these groups worked diligently for a Labor victory. They were successful. Within days of being elected we were able to put into effect policies that ended conscription, removed the last vestiges of involvement in Vietnam, cut many of the ties with South Africa and commenced to improve the lot of Aborigines. There were, of course, other issues but these were the major ones.

The system did work- or so we thought. Little did we realise that the great law and order politicians on our right, like their Chilean compatriots, believed that the system is meant to work only when they are in power. They immediately started to plan how they could frustrate the will of the people and in April 1974 threatened to block Supply if the Prime Minister did not call an election. A trumped up phoney crisis about the appointment of Senator Gair to be ambassador to Ireland was used as the pretext to threaten to refuse the Government the funds to carry on. Seventy-three years of federalism had seen the convention that the Senate passed both Budget and Supply Bills. Overnight, the rules were changed. Overnight, unstable government had been introduced into Australia.

The Australian people rejected this naked grab for power and an Australian Labor Party Government was re-elected with a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives and increased numbers in the Senate. A handful of votes in New South Wales and Queensland stopped the Government from having a majority in the Senate. One would have thought that, having broken the long standing convention by attempting to block Supply, such an exercise would not be contemplated again. But within weeks of their second successive defeat, the then Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden), was once again talking about rejecting the Budget. His bumbling incompetence led to his inevitable downfall and his replacement by the Parliament’s No. 1 backstabbar In his initial Press conference, the new leader seemed to give the appearance that the days of the blatant opportunism of his predecessor were over. I forget the exact quote, but he said, in effect, that he believed that a government elected for a term of 3 years should serve its full term. But then, of course, he added the proviso, unless there was some reprehensible action. We have seen every action of the Labor Government being regarded as reprehensible.

Since that interview there has hardly been a week passed without speculation about the Liberal-National Country parties trying to block the Budget or Supply and once again force an election in the House of Representatives. The Leader of the Opposition even had the gall to suggest that the continued speculation about an election was good for business. Whether or not they will be successful will be determined by what happens over the next few months. What I want the House and the nation to consider is the long term implications should they be successful. Let us assume for the purposes of the exercise that they were successful. What they will have done is not simply wrecked the whole parliamentary system by creating a situation in which any Senate- Labor or Liberal controlled- can force the House of Representatives to an election every six months but also they will have effectively disfranchised approximately half the voters of Australia. They will have permenantly disfranchised 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the people who traditionally vote for the Australian Labor Party. What they are saying, in effect, is that the only political party that has the right to govern is the Liberal-National Country parties.

If twice they can truncate a Labor Goverment’s term of office after having their own term of office interrupted only by their own decision to go to the people, then we must recognise that any future Labor government will not be allowed to serve its full term of office. As soon as the Liberal-National Country parties believe that the popularity of a Labor government has dropped, as inevitably it must at some stage during its term then if those parties control the Senate, as they have done for much of the time since Federation, they will move to disallow the passage of the Budget or Supply once again. So we face the fact that if defeated at an election in the near future the Australian Labor Party will go into Opposition with the prospect of working for the next 3, 6, or 9 years to win office only to find itself tossed out as soon as the Opposition believes it can win. The prospect of working hard for years to gain office for 6, 12 or 1 8 months does not particularly appeal to me, nor will it appeal to the thousands of Labor Party members and their supporters. When they ask us after the next election what they should do, what should we say to them? Work within the system? When the unions ask us what they should do, what shall we say to them? Work within the system or -


– Order! It being 1 1 o’clock the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 1457


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Department of Repatriation and Compensation: Publications (Question No. 1589)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. What is the name of each publication prepared by the Department of Repatriation and Compensation for distribution to the public.
  2. How often is the publication printed.
  3. Which offices of the Department are responsible for the preparation of each publication.
  4. What is the purpose of each publication.
  5. 5 ) What is the cost of each edition of the publication.
  6. How many copies of each edition of the publication are produced.
  7. How many people receive the publication.
  8. Is it distributed free of charge.
  9. If so, to whom and how is it distributed to them.
  10. If not, what is the selling cost of the publication and what are the retail outlets.
  11. When was the publication first produced.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:

  1. to (11) I refer the right honourable member to the information provided by the Minister for the Media in reply to Question No. 1581 (House of Representatives /fan wa of 4 December 1974, page 4590).

Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Picton: Repatriation Ward (Question No. 1910)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is the Minister responsible for the repatriation ward at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Picton.
  2. If so, how many repatriation patients are cared for in the ward.
  3. How is the hospital run on an administrative basis.
  4. Does the same hospital board control both sections of the hospital.
  5. If so, does the Department have representation on the board.
  6. Does the Department employ a doctor to care for patients in the repatriation ward.
  7. If so, is the doctor in a subordinate position to the matron of the hospital.
  8. Does the Australian Government pay the salaries of staff employed in the repatriation ward.
  9. Does the Australian Government pay part cost of the general running of the hospital including administration, nursing and maintenance.
  10. 10) Have the doctor, the matron and other nursing staff recently resigned from the hospital.
  11. 1 1 ) If so, what reasons were given for resignation.
  12. How many resignations of nursing and senior staff have there been from the repatriation ward (a) in the last 12 months and (b) in the previous 12 months.
  13. What reasons have been given for their resignations by the people concerned.
  14. Has the Department received any complaints about the administration of the hospital.
  15. Is it possible for the Minister to receive any such complaints.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation is responsible for the provision of treatment for patients in the Repatriation ward at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Picton; however the control and operation of all wards at Picton, including the Repatriation ward, is the responsibility of the Board of Directors of Queen Victoria Memorial Hospitals. The Board and its officers consult with the Department in regard to the conduct of the Repatriation ward.
  2. There are 40 beds in the Repatriation ward and the daily average number of beds occupied for the year ended 15 December 1974 was 37.
  3. The hospital functions under the provisions of the New South Wales Public Hospitals Act. It is a corporate body administered by an appointed Board of Directors. For the purpose of Commonwealth Benefits one ten-bed ward of the institution is registered as a public hospital. Both the Repatriation ward and the remaining wards are classified as a nursing home.
  4. Yes.
  5. No.
  6. The Medical Superintendent, who is an employee of the Board, is the only full-time medical officer at the hospital. Although the Department of Repatriation and Compensation does not provide a Departmental doctor on a full-time basis at Picton, liaison medical officers from the Department visit Picton at regular intervals, particularly to determine needs in regard to rehabilitation and aids to daily living.
  7. As the Department of Repatriation and Compensation does not employ a doctor at the hospital, the question does not arise.
  8. and (9) The Department does not directly pay staff employed in the Repatriation ward of the hospital. The Department pays an agreed bed day cost in respect of each patient in the Repatriation ward, part of which is direct salaries of employees who are rostered to the ward. Included in this bed day cost is a proportional amount of administration, nursing and maintenance. ( 10), ( 1 1), ( 12) and ( 13) Staffing of the hospital is a matter for determination by the Board of Directors of the hospital and is not the prerogative of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation. However, I understand the Medical Superintendent and some nursing staff have resigned recently.
  9. 14) No, with the exception of earlier inquiries instituted by Mr Kerin in regard to a patient who left .the hospital because the management was unable to continue to provide him with additional accommodation for use as an art studio. An officer of the Department’s N.S.W. Branch regularly visits the hospital at Picton to inspect the Repatriation ward and has received no complaints from either the patients or staff.
  10. Yes. All representations to the Minister on matters within his responsibility are investigated and replied to.

Publication ‘Secrecy- Political Censorship in Australia’ (Question No. 2315)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. With reference to the Prime Minister’s answer to my question No. 1779 (Hansard, 5 December 1974, page 4763), has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the book of Mr J. J. Spigelman entitled ‘Secrecy- Political Censorship in Australia’ and, in particular, ‘An Inside Dopester’s Index of 100 Examples of Secrecy’, on pages 177-80.
  2. Has the Minister’s attention also been drawn to indexed item 15- Department of Repatriation internal manual.
  3. In respect of that item, has it been made publicly available since 1972; if so, when, and in what manner, and by whom was the disclosure made.
  4. If the item has not been made publicly available, what is the reason for the continuing secrecy.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. and (2). Yes.
  2. and (4). Various manuals issued to Repatriation staff throughout Australia lay down broad procedures and policies for the sake of consistency and uniformity in administering Repatriation legislation at State level.

These have not been made public as they are intended for internal administrative use only. They need to be read against a background of knowledge of an extremely complex Repatriation system which has been built up patchworkstyle over a period of 50 years. The manuals could cause misunderstanding, confusion, and unhappiness, particularly if they were read by themselves by people without an intimate knowledge of the professional technical or administrative aspects of the system.

However, virtually all the information in them is constantly made available day by day, but with appropriate explanation, on request to any ex-service organisation, veterans or any other persons who may require it.

Publication ‘Secrecy- Political Censorship in Australia’ (Question No. 2454)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

  1. With reference to the Prime Minister’s answer to my question No. 1779 (Hansard, 5 December 1974, page 4763), has his attention been drawn to the book of Mr J. J. Spigelman entitled ‘Secrecy- Political Censorship in Australia’ and, in particular, ‘An Inside Dopester’s Index of 100 Examples of Secrecy’, on 177-80.
  2. Has his attention also been drawn to indexed item 28- Consumer Tests of Automotive Products.
  3. ) In respect of that item, has it been made publicly available since 1972; if so, when, and in what manner, and by whom was the disclosure made.
  4. If the item has not been made publicly available, what is the reason for the continuing secrecy.
Mr Morrison:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. and (4) I refer the honourable member to my predecessors answer to question No. 266 on 12 February 1975 (Hansard, page 196).

Dental Advisory Council of Australia (Question No. 2535)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What progress has been made with the establishment of a Dental Advisory Council of Australia.
  2. What will be its functions and membership.
Dr Everingham:

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

  1. The establishment of an Advisory Dental Council of Australia was considered by the Australian Health Ministers at their Conferences in August 1974 and May 1975. They have agreed in principle to the establishment of such a Council.
  2. The Council will examine, investigate and advise on the development of uniformity between the States and Territories in the recognition of dental qualifications. The membership of the Council has not yet been determined.

Government Reports: Publication (Question No. 2605)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. What reports, excluding annual reports, have been produced by his Department, by authorities for which he is responsible, and by ad hoc commissions, committees, task forces, etc., within his portfolio, since 5 December 1 972?
  2. Which of these reports have not been published, and when does he expect them to be published?
Mr Charles Jones:

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

I refer the honourable member to the Prime Minister’s reply to question No. 2586 which appeared in Hansard, 5 June 1975, page 3545.

Prosthetic Industry: Artificial Limb Capacity (Question No. 2617)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. Did the Government instruct the private sector of the prosthetic industry not to expand their artificial limb capacity as the limb factory of the Department would be expanded to meet Australian requirements.
  2. If so, has this instruction now been revoked; if so, why.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. No.
  2. See(l).

Regional Employment and Development Scheme (Question No. 2661)

Mr Garland:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:

When will the Minister answer my question No. 1 980 that was placed on the Notice Paper on 18 February 1975 and was unanswered by 23 May 1 975.

Mr Riordan:

– The Minister for Labor and Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The answer to the honourable member’s question was given on 27 August 1 975, Hansard page 665.

Department of the Capital Territory: Financial Assistance (Question No. 2699)

Mr Lamb:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

  1. What financial assistance by way of (a) grants, repayable or non-repayable, (b) loans at varying rates of interest, (c) subsidies and (d) matching grants are available through the Department to non-government bodies or individuals.
  2. How is this assistance advertised or made available to interested persons or bodies.
  3. Will the information be collated, together with similar information from other Departments, and issued in booklet form along the lines of the booklet issued by the Department of Urban and Regional Development as a guide to financial assistance from the Australian Government to local government.
Mr Bryant:
Minister for the Capital Territory · WILLS, VICTORIA · ALP

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

  1. and (2) Financial assistance is available through the Department of the Capital Territory for the following programs:

Social Welfare

A.C.T. organisations providing welfare or like services to the community are provided with financial grants by the Department. These grants may be for the purpose of assisting with operational needs, to meet salaries of key personnel or to assist with construction or purchase of premises. The latter form of grants (to assist with construction or purchase of premises) is provided on a matching basis.

The availability of such assistance is not advertised but appears to be well known to A.C.T. organisations. Details of assistance given are published each year in the Welfare Branch Annual Report.


Grants are available to community organisations active in the community /recreation field. The grants are made on the basis that the organisation either (a) renders a service of social value which the Department does not give or (b) renders a service of social value at appreciably less cost than the Department would be faced with. No grants are made to individuals under this scheme. Any interested person or organisation approaching the Department is advised of all avenues open in order to receive financial assistance and advice is given on how this approach should be made.

Cultural Activities

Grants are made for the purpose of assisting and encouraging specific cultural activities in the A.C.T. The Minister approves these grants acting on the advice of the Committee on Cultural Development (A.C.T.). This Committee was established in 1949 and one of its chief functions has been to recommend the disbursement of funds amongst applicant organisations; it encourages applications from groups which aim to (i) develop the standard of cultural activity in the A.C.T. (ii) present their work to the public and (iii) increase community interest in and participation in cultural activities. Each year the A.C.T. Committee on Cultural Development advertises through the media that applications are being invited for grants to assist in local cultural activities.


Financial assistance is available to individuals and some organisations for rental rebate subsidies, Commissioner for Housing Loans and first mortgage loan on sale of government houses. Details of the rental rebate scheme are recorded in a booklet titled “Guide for Tenants” which is handed to all new tenants of government houses and flats. Details of the Commissioner for Housing Loans Scheme and the Sale of Government Houses have been advertised occassionally in local newspapers. Details of both schemes can, however be obtained by applying in writing or by personal enquiry to the Housing Operations Branch of the Department.

  1. My colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has agree to cover this matter in his response to a similar Question (No. 2691) asked of him by the honourable member on 4 June 1975.

Assistance to Local Government (Question No. 2823)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

Will he provide a list of all moneys that have been paid by the Government to each local municipality in Australia in addition to those moneys allocated by the Grants Commission, and will he indicate the scheme under which each amount to each Council has been allocated; if not, why not.

Mr Whitlam:

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

Information along the lines sought by the right honourable member is being collected by my Department. This work, however, is still at a preliminary stage and the results will not be available in any ordered form for some time. The right honourable member will appreciate that such a record, incorporating as it would numerous and important new initiatives taken by my Government, would be a formidable document. In the circumstances I am not prepared to authorise the considerable extra expenditure that would be incurred in compiling it on a priority basis.

I point out to the right honourable member that Chapter V of 1975-76 Budget Paper No. 7 -Payments To or For the States and Local Government Authorities 1975-76- outlines some 25 Australian Government programs involving payments to or for local government authorities, in addition to those made on the recommendation of the Grants Commission, and provides details of such payments by State and by program. Further information regarding these and other programs is available also in the booklet ‘Australian Government Assistance to Local Projects’, referred to by my colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development in pan 3 of his answer on 21 August 1975 (Hansard, page 468).

Western Metropolitan Adelaide Region for Social Development (Question No. 2849) Mr Snedden asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that a project has been approved by the Minister for Social Security under the Australian Assistance Plan whereby more than $20,000 has been granted to the Western Metropolitan Adelaide Region for Social Development to expand volunteer, home English-teaching for migrants.
  2. If so, did the Minister for Social Security seek the Minister’s advice prior to approving this project; if so, when, and what was the Minister’s response; if not, why not.
  3. Does this project conform with the activities of the Department of Education in this area.
  4. What sum did the Department of Education expend on these activities in 1 974-75.
Mr Beazley:

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

  1. 1 ) I am informed that a grant of $20,907 was approved under the Australian Assistance Plan for payment through the Western Metropolitan Adelaide Region for Social Development to the Adelaide Migrant Action Committee. The grant was to provide for the expansion of a voluntary home English teaching program for migrants and related research and publicity. The greater part of it was to meet the cost of salaries of a research worker and two contact liaison officers.
  2. The Department of Social Security discussed the application with my Department on 22 April 1975 (in accordance with a procedure which requires prior consultation with respect to any project for funding under the Australian Assistance Plan which may have an education content). It was explained that, prior to the migrant education function being transferred to my Department, the Migrant Action Committee had sought funds for the salary of a full-time coordinator for its home-tutoring program from the Minister for Immigration and subsequently the Minister for Labor and Immigration and that the request has not been approved as such an appointment would normally be made to the State Department of Education as part of the co-ordinated home tutor scheme rather than to an organisation operating independently of it. The Committee had been further informed that as it was involved also in providing a community service generally, financial assistance might be available from the Department of Social Security. In these circumstances my Department saw no reason why a request by the Committee for a grant under the Australian Assistance Plan should not be considered.
  3. In principle, yes. The Department of Education assists the Committee in its home tutoring scheme by way of providing text books, home tutor kits and instruction of its tutors at the Migrant Education Centre, Adelaide.
  4. Expenditure by the Department of Education on the home tutor scheme in 1 974-75 was $4,284 for printing, $650 to voluntary organisations for administrative costs and some $35,000 reimbursed to the State Departments of Education for co-ordination and instructors ‘ salaries.

Australian Assistance Plan: Citizens Information Centres (Question No. 2851)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for the Media, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact that an amount of more than $18,000 has been allocated in Queensland under the Australian Assistance Plan for citizens information centres at Blackwater, Emerald and Biloela.
  2. If so, did the Minister for Social Security seek his advice prior to the approval of these projects; if so, when; if not, why not.
  3. ) Do these projects conform with his own Department ‘s activities in this area.
Dr Cass:

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

  1. 1 ) The Australian Government Weekly Digest Vol. 1 No. 4 page 1 13 reported that the then Minister for Social Security, Mr Bill Hayden, had announced a pilot program of grants to Community Information Centres. Further details can be supplied by the Minister for Social Security.
  2. No.
  3. The Department of the Media has no activities planned in Blackwater, Emerald and Biloela.

Indo-China (Question No. 2961)

Mr Garland:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Does the Government have any information as to the accuracy of reports that the new Cambodian Government, which it recognised so quickly, is committing atrocities and barbaric acts.
  2. Can the Minister say whether large numbers of poorer persons are being forced out of cities and towns, specifically 2 million persons from Phnom Penh.
  3. Has the Government made any inquiries or taken any action; if so, what are the details.
  4. Does the Government still regard the Government it has recognised in Saigon as being separate from the Government in Hanoi.
  5. Will the Government support applications by each of these Governments for a separate Mission and representation to the United Nations.
  6. Does the Government have any evidence that the Saigon Government is acting independently of the Hanoi Government.
Mr Whitlam:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) As Australia is not yet in diplomatic relations with GRUNK and is not represented in Phnom Penh, the Government is not able to confirm the accuracy of such reports It has noted, however, that in a recent interview with Newsweek magazine, Ieng Sary, one of the Cambodian Deputy Premiers, confirmed that people had been moved out of Phnom Penh after 17 April, but that about 100 000 have since returned, others are free to do so, and schools, hospitals and factories have gradually resumed their activities.
  2. The Government is not in a position to make direct representations to the GRUNK on these matters. The Government’s position on this question, however, is well known, and if the reports of reprisals in Cambodia should be correct, these acts would be deplored by the Government.
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes.
  5. There have been many examples of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam acting independently of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Our own discussions on matters affecting our bilateral relations with South Vietnam are with the PRG Special Representative. The PRG and DRV have applied separately to join a number of international organisations, including recently the United Nations.

Grain Infestation Eradication Program (Question No. 2979)

Mr Lloyd:

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

  1. 1 ) Will the Government provide any financial assistance for a grain infestation eradication program.
  2. If not, is this a reversal of the attitude of the Government, if so, why has the attitude been changed.
  3. Will the Government introduce legislation so that a grower levy can be implemented to finance a scheme.
Dr Patterson:

– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. The Australian Government is already making a substantial contribution towards measures related to insect eradication through its grain export inspection service which is vital to the continued successful operation of Australia’s export grain trade. The estimated cost in the current financial year of export inspection of grain and flour is about $820,000.
  2. In the second half of 1973 the Government advised interested parties that it was not prepared to provide additional moneys, over and above its contribution through the grain export inspection service, in the absence of any assurance by industry leaders that the industry would support unanimously and without reservation compulsory on-farm inspection as a feature of the program. Such an assurance has not been forthcoming. Current severe budgetary problems would seem to rule out the possibility of any additional moneys being made available by the Australian Government even if industry leaders were now prepared to accept on behalf of the industry compulsory on-farm inspection as a feature of the program.
  3. At the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council I indicated that I would, without commitment, be willing to consider any reasonable proposals submitted to me by the AWF and the States concerning the possibility of the Australian Government bringing down legislation in respect of any levy to be imposed on an Australia wide basis under a scheme agreed to by the parties.

Consumer Price Index (Question No. 3032)

Mr Garland:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Is it a fact that the Government is seriously considering changing the Consumer Price Index to remove the influence of indirect taxation and thereby reducing the net income of all workers bound to the wage indexation principle; if so, upon what justification.

Mr Hayden:

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

No. The Government is not considering changing the consumer price index to remove the influence of indirect taxation. What I said in my Budget Speech was that increases in prices resulting from indirect tax measures should be discounted thai is, uut taken into account- for the purposes of wage indexation. I gave the justification for that in the following words: ‘It would be self-defeating if the system of wage indexation were to attempt to insulate the community from tax measures designed to redistribute resources for the benefit of the community in the form of improved public facilities in fields such as education, health, welfare, personal benefits, urban improvement and so on. These improvements must be seen as a real improvement in people’s living standards and are a non-money form of addition to their incomes’.

Department of Repatriation and Compensation: Private Consultant (Question No. 3035)

Mr Kelly:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. Has the Department, at any stage, hired a private consultant, Mr Eric Walsh.
  2. If so, what were his duties.
  3. What were the fees paid to him.
  4. Has the Government met any of the costs incurred by Mr Walsh in the performance of his duties; if so, what are the details.
  5. For what period was he hired.
  6. Has he presented any written reports; if so, will they be tabled; if not, why not.
  7. Has he given any oral advice to the Department or the Minister; if so, what was its substance.
  8. Did Mr Walsh advise the Department or the Minister at any stage that the Australian Government Insurance Corporation legislation would not be opposed by the Opposition.
  9. 9) Did Mr Walsh accompany the Minister to Tasmania at the time the Minister appeared on Monday Conference.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) Mr Eric Walsh was engaged by the Department of Repatriation and Compensation to carry out public relations work on matters relating to the establishment of the Australian Government Insurance Corporation. At the time Mr Walsh was engaged, the Department of Repatriation and Compensation had an establishment for one Public Relations Officer but it was unfilled at that time and Mr Walsh provided the services which would have been available to the Department if the position had been filled. The engagement of outside consultants in such circumstances is a common practice not only of this but also the previous Government.
  2. To advise on public relations aspects of the presentation to the public of the plan by the Australian Government for an Australian Government Insurance Corporation.
  3. Mr Walsh was paid $100 a day plus, naturally, any travelling expenses ana air fares for interstate travel.
  4. Yes, see answer to (3) above.
  5. The period of Mr Walsh’s engagement was from 19-4-75 to 23-5-75 on an as required basis. In fact Mr Walsh was engaged for a period of 17 days.
  6. Mr Walsh did not present any reports.
  7. Yes-see answer to (2) above.
  8. No, this was not the purpose for which Mr Walsh was engaged, see the answer to ( 1 ) above.
  9. Yes.

Australian Government Employees: 35 hour Week (Question No. 3041)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Matters Relating to the Public Service, upon notice:

Has the Prime Minister now abandoned his promise prior to the 1972 election to reduce the working hours of all Commonwealth employees by 1 Vi hours, to 35 hours.

Mr Riordan:

– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Matters Relating to the Public Service has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:

I refer the right honourable member to the Prime Minister’s answer on 5 December 1974 (Hansard, page 4773).

Government’s Publications and Inquiries Centres: Staff (Question No. 2852) Mr Snedden asked the Minister for the Media, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the names of the persons working at each of the Government’s Publications and Inquiries Centres.
  2. What type of previous experience is required for employment in these Centres.
  3. What training are personnel given to handle both sales and inquiry functions prior to being employed in the Centres.
  4. Where is the training given.
  5. 5 ) By whom is it given.
  6. How are complex inquiries received at the Centres subsequently referred to the Departments concerned, when they cannot be finalised on the spot.
  7. What is the central reference unit in Canberra which has been set up to assist and co-ordinate the local centres.
  8. Who is employed in the central reference unit.
  9. What is the past experience required of each member of the unit.
  10. 10) What training does each member of the unit receive prior to being employed in it.
  11. What is the total annual cost of establishing and maintaining the existing Publications and Inquiries Centres including the cost of telex or telephone usage in order to finalise inquiries.
Dr Cass:

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

  1. I ) The staff of the Australian Government Publications and Inquiry Centres are:

Adelaide- Mr J. Hoban (Manager); Miss L. Rawley; Mr R. Woolman; Miss C Blair; Ms J. McInerney Ms J. Dunning.

Albury-Wodonga-Mr F. Griffin (Manager); Mr T. Percy.

Brisbane-Mr D. Hill (Manager); Mr K. Neale; Mr N. Tracey; Ms H. Bilney

Canberra- Mr J. Connors (Manager); Ms N. Waters; Ms M. Hellyer; Ms I. Shannon.

Hobart- Mr D. Kelly (Manager); Ms E. Johnston.

Melbourne-Mr W. Mehegan (Manager); Mr R. Sutton; Mr A. White; Mr T. Fiteni Mr P. Reid; Ms M. Brodzik Ms N. Furlan

Sydney- Mr H. Kilganon (Manager); Ms E. Mangan Mr B. Wright; Ms B. Ferrier; Ms M. Musico; Mr N. Smith.

Penh- Mr A. Peebles (Manager); Ms K. Gregson Mr L. Savey Ms S. Beranec

Mobile-Mr P. West (Manager); Mr K. O ‘Connor.

  1. Some experience in the handling of government publications or in public inquiry or library work is considered desirable. In addition, a general interest in government and in dealing with the public is an advantage.
  2. Some training of new staff is provided in Canberra by officers of the Central Reference Unit in inquiry matters and by staff of the Retail Outlets Support Group in sales matters. Additional on-the-job training is provided by the Manager of the Publications and Inquiry Centre where the office is to be located. Depending on staff resources, it is also sometimes possible to provide on-the-job training in another Centre.
  3. See (3).
  4. See (3).
  5. Inquiries which cannot be answered from within the resources of a Centre or by a phone call to the responsible Department are redirected to the appropriate Section of that Department. Where inquiries are complex the responsible Department is more capable of providing an answer rapidly to the inquirer. Complex mail inquiries are redirected to the responsible section of the appropriate Department and the inquirer notified of the action taken.
  6. The Central Reference Unit exists to supply the Centres with source and reference material and answer inquiries referred to it from the Centres that cannot be handled locally.
  7. The staff of the Central Reference Unit consists of: Mr A. Barry (Officer-in-charge); Mr A. Reeves; Ms J. Muddle; Mr N. Watts; Ms J. Kusio Ms L. White; Mr F. McLean; Ms R. Smith.
  8. Experience required of each member of the Unit varies with the position held. In general, knowledge of the public service and government programs is required, together with knowledge of government publications. Experience in answering inquiries about government and with information systems is also preferred.
  9. 10) Reliance is placed on training received prior to joining the Unit.
  10. 1) An appropriation of $1,630,000 has been approved for the Publications and Inquiry Centres for the 1975-76 financial year. Of this amount, $950,000 has been provided for the purchase of stock at normal trade discount terms from the Australian Government Publishing Service, and it is anticipated that receipts from sales totalling in excess of $1,000,000 will be repaid to consolidated revenue during the financial year.

The appropriation covers salaries and all operational expenses, including the cost of telex and telephones. As the answering of inquiries is involved with the sales function, it is not possible at this stage to isolate details of the cost of finalising inquiries.

Development Assistance Recipients (Question No. 2726)

Mr Peacock:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What was the total of Australia’s development assistance to (a) Papua New Guinea, (b) Africa, (c) Asia, (d) the Pacific and (e) other in each of the last 3 financial years?
  2. What was the rate of increase in development assistance in (a) 1972-73, (b) 1973-74 and (c) 1974-75 in each case in Part (1)?
Mr Whitlam:

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

Australian Government to the Papua New Guinea Government.-

If the abovementioned items of non-recurring expenditure are excluded, the relevant totals for Papua New Guinea would be:

Department of the Capital Territory: Financial Assistance (Question No. 2784)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

  1. With reference to Question No. 2699 of the member for La Trobe, what has been the cost to the Government of the programs detailed in part ( 1 ) of the question during each of the years 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, and during 1974-75 to date.
  2. What organisations have received such grants during the years mentioned.
Mr Bryant:

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

  1. 1) and (2) With reference to Question 2699 of the Member for La Trobe, the cost to the Government for financial assistance by the Department of the Capital Territory and the organisations who have received such grants is detailed below:

Government Reports: Cost (Question No. 2808)

Mr Ruddock:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. With reference to question No. 2605 of the Member for Macarthur, what has been the total cost to the Government of examination of issues and preparation of reports by his Department, by authorities for which he is responsible, and by ad hoc commissions, committees, task forces, etc., within his portfolio, since 5 December 1972?
  2. What is the cost apportioned to each report referred to in part ( 1 ) of question No. 2605?
Mr Charles Jones:

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

I refer the honourable member to the Prime Minister’s reply to question No. 2789 which appeared in Hansard, 5 June 1975, page 3546.

Smoking Habits of Australians (Question No. 2821)

Mr Garland:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that elderly people are tending to give up smoking and that young people seem to be starting earlier.
  2. Can he say what percentage of men over 60 years of age are now ex-smokers.
  3. Can he also say what percentage of women in a younger age group are smoking compared with those of an older age group.
Dr Everingham:

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

  1. and (2) The latest figures on the smoking habits of Australians are contained in the results of the National Survey (financed by my Department) of a random sample of 6000 Australians taken during June and July 1974. That survey showed the following percentage of persons surveyed as being ex-smokers. Figures for men over 60 years of age who are ex-smokers are included.

A comparison between two earlier surveys carried out on behalf of my Department in August 1972 and January 1974 showed a slight tendency towards children starting smoking at an earlier age. The comparison is given below:

  1. The June/July 1974 survey showed the percentage of women in younger age groups who smoke compared with those of older age groups was:

Forestry Research (Question No. 2830)

Mr Snedden:

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

Will the Minister provide a list of all bodies in Australia concerned with forestry research indicating where they are located, their funds, the size of the research support staff, the research programs being undertaken and the way in which each organisation determines which research programs will be undertaken.

Dr Patterson:

– The Minister for Agriculture has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:

During 1974 forty organisations within Australia were known to be engaged in research of interest to forestry and the forest industries. These organisations, their location, and the number of professional staff they employ are listed in Appendix A.

The only significant change which has occurred in 1975, has been the transfer from the Australian Department of Agriculture to CSIRO on 1 July, of the forestry research functions of the Forestry and Timber Bureau. The Division of Forest Research was created on that date.

Expenditure by individual organisations on forestry research is not readily available. It is estimated that the total expenditure on forestry and forest products research is $7.05m by the Australian Government, $2.42m by State Governments, $ 1 . 78m by universities and $0.30m by the forest industry.

Nineteen of the forty individual groups are either directly associated with forestry or the forest products industry and can be expected to maintain continuing research programs related to forestry. The remaining twenty one groups, whilst currently engaged upon research projects of interest and value to forestry, are not committed to continuing activity in this field. Most of the research carried out by the latter group is of similar interest and value to other industries such as agriculture.

Research programs undertaken by the Universities and CSIRO, are determined by the Professor or Chief of Division responsible to the University Board and CSIRO Executive respectively. Research programs of State Forest Services or companies are determined by the Forest Service or company concerned.

Research into problems common to several States is generally decided following planning and coordination among all organisations concerned with forestry and forest products.

Requirements for long term forestry research as distinct from forest product research, are reviewed at approximately rive yearly intervals at the Forestry Research Conference convened by the Standing Committee of the Australian Forestry Council. State Forest Services, private companies, Universities, trade organisations and CSIRO are represented at the conference.

Achievement of detailed coordination of research projects in the areas determined at the Forestry Research Conference, rests with the Research Working Groups established by the Standing Committee. These groups also provide effective means of disseminating results of applied and local research. The titles of the Research Working Groups are listed in appendix B.

Requirements for forest products research are reviewed approximately biennially at the Forest Products Research Conference, sponsored by CSIRO. In addition the research requirements of industry are made known to the research organisations through the Forest Products Research Advisory Panel (FPRAP), established by CSIRO and which includes industry leaders and members of the Standing Committee.

The Joint Committee on Forest Industries which reports to the Australian Forestry Council also considers broad aspects of forestry and forest industry research.

The principal areas of research activity and the organisations involved are shown in appendix C.

Appendix A

Appendix B

page 1467


Appendix C

page 1467


CSIRO Division of Forest Research State and Territory Forest Services

Australian National University- Department of Forestry University of Melbourne- School of Forestry

Silviculture: taxonomy, genetics, physiology and nutrition of forest trees seed breeding, nursery practice, planting and regeneration silvicultural techniques for native and exotic forests


Entomology- ecology and control of various insects

Pathology- impact and control of various pathogenic diseases

Fire- studies of fire behaviour in different fuel types, the development and evaluation of techniques and equipment for fire detection and suppression, investigations into the ecological effects of fires

Hydrology- effect on water yield and water quality of forest land use and management treatments e.g. burning, logging, clearing, conversion of native forests to pine plantations

Management: methods of forest inventory, compilation of volume tables variations in thinning practices and stand yield economics, cost benefit analyses, recreation forestry


Wood Chemistry- preservation, wood chemicals, types of damage

Timber Conversion- sawmilling techniques and economics, seasoning and engineering, harvesting techniques and economics

Wood Structure- wood structure and timber physics, wood quality assessment and improvements, utilisation CSIRO Division of Building Research:

Engineering Science- fracture mechanics, structural reliability load sharing effects in structures, metal connectors, long duration tests on trusses

Forest Conversion Engineering- timber conversion, marketing, seasoning veneer and plywood studies

Forest Conversion Science- surface properties of wood, adhesive research, wood surface behaviour

Physics- operations research, economics of industrial processes, instrumentation for acquisition and analysis of data

Preservation- field tests of preservatives, preservation of timber and plywood, methods of treatment, preservatives and fire retardants, timber microbiology

Timber Structures- mechanical properties, light timber frame construction, composite construction timber joints and mechanical fastenings

Wood Rheology- rheology of wood and wood based materials failure and sustained load tests, physics of fracture in wood CSIRO Division of Chemical Technology

Wood and Forest Science- wood anatomy and identification, cell structure and paper quality, extractives and wood properties, wood quality assessment

Paper Science- chemistry and biophysics of wood, chemistry of pulping, pulp stock preparation, physics of paper and paper making processes, fibreboard investigations

Fire- meteorological study of high intensity fires determinations of the physical and chemical properties of bush-fire smoke

CSIRO Division of Entomology:

Taxonomic and ecological studies of forest pests, aimed at control measures CSIRO Division of Environmental Mechanics:

Studies of the microclimate and tree physiology of selected species

CSIRO Division of Horticultural Research:

Studies of selected forest species with the view of domestication

CSIRO Division of Land Resources Management:

Studies of forest ecology as a basis for management, in the context of conflicting land use requirements CSIRO Division of Land Use Research:

Studies of the total land use situation and methods of vegetation survey

Studies of the structure of communities and on effects of common disturbances such as fire, grazing, introduction of exotic species and thinning

CSIRO Division of Plant Industry:

Studies in the plant sciences and related fields on problems fundamental to biological production e.g. effects of fire, dry matter production and water availability, taxonomy and ecology of forest communities

CSIRO Division of Soils:

Studies of the soil factors limiting growth and the basic soil and plant processes involved in achieving maximum productivity of forest trees without detrimental effects on the environment

CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research:

Studies of the dynamics of faunal populations and behaviour patterns including the effects of forest practices Australian National University- Department of Botany:

Studies into eucalypt taxonomy and ecology, genetic variations in eucalypts, weeding, propagation and physiology of selected tree species

Australian National University- Research School of Biological Sciences:

Studies into the evolutionary taxonomy and biology of eucalypts

University of Melbourne- School of Botany:

Studies of the ecological, nutritional and genetic characteristics of selected tree species

University of Melbourne- School of Geography:

Studies of the botanical/genetic features and geographic variations of the blue gum group of eucalypts

La Trobe University- Department of Botany:

Studies of the ecology and genetic variations of malleetype eucalypts

Monash University- Department of Geography:

Studies of forest climates in Victoria

Adelaide University- Waite Agricultural Research Institute:

Studies in plant pathology and entomology of specific diseases and pests as a consulting service to S.A. Woods and Forests Department

University of New England- Department of Agricultural Economics and Business Management:

Studies in forest economics and land use

University of New England- Department of Botany:

Studies in forest nutrition, pathology, ecology, taxonomy and reproduction

University of Tasmania- Department of Chemistry:

Studies into Sirex wasp attractants

University of Tasmania- Department of Botany:

Studies into the botany and ecology of native trees, particularly eucalypts

Department of Agriculture N.S.W.- Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences:

Studies of the natural oils of eucalypts and other native trees, selection and breeding of high yielding varieties

Department of Agriculture N.S.W.- National Herbarium:

Studies into the taxonomy of native trees, particularly eucalypts

APM Forests Pty Ltd

South Australian Perpetual Forests Ltd

Softwood Holdings Ltd

Silviculture- nursery practices, establishment techniques, spacing, thinning and fertiliser trials

Management- growth prediction models, forest mensuration techniques, application of management techniques

Utilisation- development of harvesting methods, use of forest residues, production of laminated umber sections

Westralian Plywoods Hearn Industries Ltd:

Studies of surface activation chemistry, amino and phenolic resin characteristics and use of natural tannis in adhesive

Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd

Studies into pulp and paper manufacture, wood chemistry, physical properties of pulp and paper.

Attorney-General’s Department: Advertising (Question No. 2871)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the advertising budget of his Department for 1975-76.
  2. What types of advertising are entailed in expenditure of this amount.
  3. What were the corresponding figures for each of the last 5 years.
Mr Enderby:

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

  1. $363,900.
  2. and (3) The categories of advertising and expenditure for 1975-76 and the preceding five years are set out in the following schedule.

Department of the Capital Territory: Advertising (Question No. 2873)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

  1. What is the advertising budget of his Department for 1975-76.
  2. What types of advertising are entailed in expenditure of this amount.
  3. What were the corresponding figures for each of the last 5 years.
Mr Bryant:

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

  1. 1 ) Expenditure on advertising for the Department of the Capital Territory in 1 975-76 is estimated at $ 1 50,000.
  2. The types of advertising entailed in the expenditure of this amount are:

    1. advising Canberra residents of services available, road closures, recreational activities, new ordinances, lease sales, publications available, etc.,
    2. b) advertising vacant positions; and
    3. promotional campaigns in respect of a Consumer Education Program and popularising the Canberra bus services.
  3. Expenditure on advertising in each of the last 5 years is:

1970- 71 -$20,601

1971- 72-$20,944

1972- 73-$27,719

1973- 74-$58,628

1974- 75- $57,731

Authorised Civil Marriage Celebrants (Question No. 2881)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the names, addresses and dates of appointment of authorized civil marriage celebrants.
  2. How many marriages has each one celebrated between the date of appointment and 30 June 1975.
Mr Enderby:

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

Australian Legal Aid Office (Question No. 2509)

Mr Hunt:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory which made it necessary for special legislation to be enacted to enable lawyers at the Australian Legal Aid Office in Canberra to act in their full capacity.
  2. In the absence of any similar legislation in relation to the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, by what authority do lawyers in that service act for Aborigines.
Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. 1 ) My attention has been drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in the case of Re Bannister, ex parte Hartstein
  2. Several of the Aboriginal legal aid services have taken advice from Senior Counsel who nave advised that the services are not affected by the decision. The case of Re Bannister ex parte Hartstein is before the High Court on appeal and I do not feel I should make any further comment

Department of Repatriation and Compensation:

Medical Officer (Question No. 2510)

Mr McVeigh:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Who is the Departmental Medical Officer, Queensland Branch.
  2. Where and when was he born.
  3. Where was he educated.
  4. What degrees in medicine does he hold.
  5. 5 ) In what branches of medicine does he specialise.
  6. What positions did he hold before his appointment to his present position.
  7. What other positions does he hold in the Department.
  8. What staff are directly or indirectly under his control.
  9. What funds are allocated to his Branch.
  10. Who is responsible for the audit of these funds.
  11. What salary does this medical officer receive.
  12. 12) What fringe benefits does he receive.
  13. Does he have an expense account.
  14. 14) If so, will the Minister supply a copy of the account for the last 3 years.
  15. Is there also a Chief Departmental Medical Officer, Queensland Branch.
  16. If so, will the Minister supply details of his name, qualifications, authority and salary.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. to (8) There are 78 medical officers attached to the Queensland Branch of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation, all of whom could be designated Departmental medical officers. All possess qualifications which are essential in their employment as medical officers in the Australian Public Service as outlined in the Australian Government Gazette No. PI of 31 January 1975. It would be impractical to extract details concerning each of these medical officers.

    1. and ( 10) Funds allocated to any Branch of the Department form part of the annual appropriation from Consolidated Revenue and, as such, are subject to audit by the Australian Auditor-General.
    2. Salaries paid to medical officers attached to the Queensland Branch of the Department are as follows:
  1. 12) The only benefits to which these officers are entitled are those prescribed under the Public Service Act and Regulations and Public Service Arbitrator’s Determinations.
  2. and (14) None of the officers listed in (1 1) is provided with an expense account.
  3. Yes; the Director ( Medical Services).
  4. 16) Dr Bryan Edmund Todd, M.B.B.S. He is responsible for the overall control of the Medical Services in the Queensland Branch, within the framework of departmental policies. The position attracts a salary of $22,6 16 per annum.

Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (Question No. 2521)

Mr Calder:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to reports of the criticism of a solicitor employed by the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service by Mr Justice Muirhead in the Northern Territory Supreme Court during his judgment in the appeal of George Perth of Bamyili, Northern Territory.
  2. If so, does this case illustrate the general capacity of members of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.
  3. Will he have discussions with the Attorney-General to enable the functions of the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service to be taken over by the Australian Legal Aid Office to ensure that Aborigines receive legal aid of no less standard than anyone else.
Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. Yes. Mr George Putty was charged before the Magistrate’s Court in Katherine on two counts of aggravated assault. After consultation with a solicitor on the staff of the Northern Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service he pleaded guilty. Mr Putty was convicted and sentenced to 18 months on each count to be served cumulatively. An appeal was lodged and resulted in a re-trial, following which the penalty was reduced in respect of one conviction.
  2. The professional members of the Northern Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service are fully qualified and experienced; the solicitor concerned in this case holds two degrees in law, has had 8 years experience in Magistrates Court work in Australia and has been a First Class Magistrate in Fiji.
  3. I am in consultation with the Attorney-General on the future relationship between the Australian Legal Aid Office and the Aboriginal legal services throughout Australia, but this should not be taken as implied criticism of the standard of legal representation available to Aboriginals through the Aboriginal legal services.

Electoral Offices: Closures (Question No. 2543)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:

Which polling booths in each House of Representatives electoral division are to be closed before the next election.

Mr Daly:

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

The information requested by the honourable member is presented in the attached Schedule, showing names of polling places abolished since the May 1974 elections.

page 1473


Schedule showing names of polling places abolished since May 1974 elections

Department of Aboriginal Affairs: Reports (Question No. 2612)

Mr Kerin:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What reports, excluding annual reports, have been produced by his Department, by authorities for which he is responsible, and by ad hoc commissions, committees, task forces, etc, within his portfolio, since S December 1975.
  2. Which of these reports have not been published, and when does he expect them to be published.
Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. and (2) I refer the honourable member to the Prime Minister’s reply to Question No. 2586, Hansard 5 June 1975 at page 3545.

Department of Repatriation and Compensation: Artificial Limbs (Question No. 2616)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many artificial limbs have been supplied through the Department in each financial year since 1 July 1971.
  2. What alterations have been made to the criteria for the supply of free limbs since this Government took office.
  3. Why has the waiting time increased for people requiring artificial limbs.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) Total artificial limbs supplied through the Department (1.7.71 to 30.6.75):

1971-72 …. 1823

1972-73 * 1973-74 1974-75


1804 2746 3553


This includes limbs produced by Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres and by commercial firms on behalf of and at the expense of the Department.

  1. As from September 1973 artificial limbs have been made available free of charge to all in the community who need them. Prior to this only eligible Repatriation beneficiaries were entitles to free limbs through the facilities of the Department of Repatriation and Compensation. There has been no other change in the criteria since this Government came to office.
  2. As was anticipated, the additional workload involved in the Government’s free limbs policy caused an increase in waiting time, one of the main factors being the need to train additional artisans. Increased waiting time peaked about April 1974, six months after introduction of the free limb policy, but has subsequently improved.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs (Question No. 885)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, 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.
  3. What is the total expenditure per annum in maintaining this research and development program.
  4. Who decides the nature of the programs or projects included in this research and development work.
Mr Les Johnson:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Six officers are employed in the Research Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra. This Branch carries out research into programs sponsored by the Department and recommends on the sponsoring of research into various aspects of Aboriginal affairs by external researchers. Developments leading from these programs are carried out by various sections of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs or other instrumentalities. Five Research Officers are employed in Department of Aboriginal Affairs offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies is a research organisation under the statutory control of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Information on the Institute is available from its reports tabled annually in the Parliament. The Institute employs SO staff in Canberra and in various parts of

Australia; of these, 18 are engaged on research and 32 on administrative and field support.

  1. The cost of departmental and departmentallysponsored research programs in 1974-75 was $372,8 17. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies’ total budget for 1974-75 was$1.6m.
  2. Departmental research programs are approved by the Secretary of Aboriginal Affairs. Responsibility for the research programs of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies rests with the Council of the Institute.

Aboriginals: Grants (Question No. 960)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What grants from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account to Aboriginal groups and organisations in Western Australia have been paid or approved since 30 June 1 972.
  2. To whom were the grants made, and for what purposes.
Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. and (2) Grants to Western Australian Aboriginal Groups from Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account:

Department of Repatriation and Compensation (Question No. 1560)

Mr Snedden:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, upon notice:

  1. What programs does the Department of Repatriation and Compensation or statutory authorities under the Minister’s 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 surrouding 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. 1 1 ) 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. 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. 14) Is the Minister 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. 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 the Department of Repatriation and Compensation or authorities under the Minister’s control.
  18. What attempts are made to ensure that the same individual organisations or persons do not receive several grants under different programs which the Minister or other Ministers are responsible for and which when added together, may be unwarranted.
Mr Stewart:

– The Minister for Repatriation and Compensation has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) to ( 18) There are no such programs administered by the Department of Repatriation and Compensation or statutory authorities under the Minister’s control.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.