House of Representatives
19 February 1976

30th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

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

Metric System

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

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

That there is no certainty that any significant benefits or indeed any 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 pray:

That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed, and that the Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional and familiar units to be restored to those areas where the greatest inconvenience and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

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

Petitions received.

Television and Radio Licence Fees: Medibank and Pharmaceutical Benefits

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 new Government during the recent election campaign, promised lower taxation and more money in people’s pockets.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray-

That the House of Representatives will take immediate steps to prevent the introduction of Television and Radio licence fees, the imposition of a tax levy for Medibank and the introduction of higher charges for drugs dispensed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Klugman and Mr Antony Whitlam. Petitions received.

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 respectfully showeth-

That the three service cadet forces have great value in the development of the youth of Australia.

That the disbanding of the cadet forces will disperse accumulated expertise and interest of those involved, and in some cases negate the efforts of many people over many years.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will reconsider its decision and that the Government will reinstate the cadet forces.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McVeigh and Mr Millar.

Petitions received.


To the Speaker of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of residents of Australia respectfully shows: That the plight of the World’s great whales is desperate; that we are convinced that they need conservation now, and that exploitation should cease; that we agree with Dr Sidney Holt of FAO, 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. 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, W.A.; 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 Baume.

Petition received.


-Order! The Clerk is reading the petitions. Petitions are from the people of Australia to this Parliament assembled. I ask all honourable members to listen to the Clerk reading the petitions.

Woodchip Industry

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

  1. That Australia is not well-endowed with natural forest areas only amounting to 4.5% of the total land area.
  2. That very little of this forested area, is reserved in national parks, most of the remainder being directly (as State forests etc.) or indirectly (as Crown lands, over which forestry exercises timber extraction rights) under forestry control.
  3. That most of this remainder is liable to be totally destroyed by woodchip projects, due to soil erosion, nutrient loss, fire damage to young saplings in artificial forest regeneration projects.
  4. That many forms of arboreal wildlife are thus threatened with extinction.
  5. That grossly inadequate consideration has been given to the process of recycling packaged paper.
  6. That it is not in the long-term interest of the Australian people that these forests are converted into material for short-term use of excessive packaging.
  7. That it is a severe abuse of democratic rights to subsidise forestry practice with public money without adequate consultation of public interest.

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

  1. Immediately cancel all current woodchip export licences.
  2. Immediately provide more funds into research for the recycling of used packaged material.
  3. Ensure that any future applications for woodchip leases be preceded by an environmental enquiry, to be conducted by a panel of environmentalists and publicspirited conservation bodies independent of the Australian Forestry Council or any State Foresty Commission.

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

Petition received.


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

The Red Kangaroo, largest marsupial in the world, has through shooting for commerce become extinct or rare in many areas where it was once prolific All scientific evidence points to this decimation of numbers, which is clear evidence that State Governments are unable to control commercial shooting within their boundaries.

The people of Australia do not wish to subsidize the kangaroo industry, through taxation, in paying for the central measures which it calls for. We find the industry repugnant, unnecessary, and benefits but a few people in this country, whereas live kangaroos in their natural habitat, through their value as tourist attractions are economically far more profitable to our economy and to us aesthetically.

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

  1. . Maintain the ban on the export of products made from kangaroos.
  2. Encourage State Governments to have any necessary culling of wild animals carried out by their own fauna officers.
  3. Establish large sanctuaries in the habitat of the Red and other species of kangaroo. (This would benefit all wildlife in these areas).
  4. Provide for scientific research into populations of kangaroos and other wildlife.

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

Petition received.

Mining in Mount Larcom Area, Queensland

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned (electors of the Division of Capricornia in the State of Queensland) respectfully showeth objection to Mining limestone and clay in the East End and Bracewell areas of Mount Larcom District.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the mining lease applications by Darra Explorations Pty Ltd will be rejected in the East End and Bracewell areas of Mount Larcom and allow this District to remain a productive and viable agricultural area.

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

Petition received.

East Timor

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that many Australians are concerned at the presence of Indonesian regular and irregular troops in East Timor, in defiance of United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and at the apparent equivocal policy of the Australain Government, of publicly supporting self-determination for East Timor but privately reassuring Indonesia of its “understanding” and continued economic and military aid.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government:

  1. . demand an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops;
  2. sponsor and supply urgently needed medical and humanitarian aid through the International Red Cross to Fretilin controlled areas; and
  3. withdraw all military aid to Indonesia.

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

Petition received.

Omega Station

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

  1. That Omega is the only navigation system, whose signals can be used by submarines to determine their position when submerged.
  2. That in particular the missiles-firing submarines of the U.S.A. can improve their destructive potential by using Omega signals.
  3. That therefore an Omega station built in Australia would be listed for nuclear attack by any power, believing itself threatened by the U.S.A.
  4. That such a station would therefore represent a further hindrance to the development of an independent and peaceful foreign policy for Australia and a new contribution to the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Australian Government will reject any proposal to build an Omega station on Australian soil.

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

Petition received.

Fraser Island

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 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 Moore.

Petition received.

Income Tax

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 existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would-

  1. be faced with complicated variations in his or her personal income taxes between States; and
  2. find that real after-tax wages for the same job would vary from State to State even when gross wages were advertised as being the same; and
  3. require citizens to maintain records of income earned in each State.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not reintroduced.

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

Petition received.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I ask the AttorneyGeneral when his Department was first informed by the Chief Electoral Officer or by the Department of Administrative Services of the complaint against the honourable member for Curtin.


-I am told by the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department that he received a letter from the Chief Electoral Officer on or about 12 December.

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– I ask the Prime Minister: What arrangements have been made with regard to fodder drops for starving stock in the flood affected areas of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales?

Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

-A few days ago I inspected the flood areas with the Minister for Health. I understand that last night the honourable member for Darling had some words to say about not being invited to join us on the visit to those flooded areas. I apologise to him for that. It was arranged very much at the last moment. I agree that he should have been asked to come along and I would have welcomed having him along if there had been more opportunity and more time to see that he was involved. Very many areas have been flooded; they are some of the worse floods in history. Although the rain has passed, as honourable gentlemen would know, as the waters move down the river systems other areas will come under threat. We saw many examples of stock that were surrounded by water and it was clear that fodder drops would be necessary. In 1974 an arrangement had been made by which the Air Force would drop fodder but farmers and pastoralists had to pay the full cost of the fodder. Under present economic circumstances in the industry, if that were to continue there would be no fodder drops. Therefore we have come to an agreement by which the Commonwealth will pay half the actual cost of the fodder and freight will also be paid. The Air Force will drop the fodder to stock that are surrounded by water and where it is required. These arrangements apply to both the Queensland Government and the New South Wales Government.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

-Is the Prime Minister willing to confirm the report published in the Canberra Times last Friday that a spokesman for him said on the previous day that he himself had been aware in the last week of the election campaign of the published allegations against the honourable member for Curtin?


-The Leader of the Opposition seems singularly incapable of understanding that because this matter is proceeding in the way it is before courts, with a prosecution, I believe it not appropriate for further comment or answers in this Parliament.

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-Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to the Morgan gallup poll published in today’s Bulletin which shows that the majority of the respondents favoured only a 3.2 per cent increase in the recent wage case? Does the result of this poll indicate that the Government’s submission to the Commission was consistent with the broad public attitude of the need for restraint of wage and salary claims at the present time?


– I thank the honourable member for La Trobe very much for that question. The matter has certainly been drawn to my attention. The Morgan gallup poll of course has a very good record for accuracy. That accuracy has been tested over a long period. The poll shows that some 49 per cent of the public were in favour of either a 3.2 per cent wage increase or in fact no increase. Only 41 per cent favoured the full flow-on of the price rises recorded in the September and December quarters of last year. The statistics, as reflected in that gallup poll, show that the Australian public, unlike the Opposition party in this House, recognises that there is a need for restraint in overall wage and salary demands. The Government believes that the public understands that without this form of restraint progress towards the reduction of inflation and unemployment will certainly be set back. What the Opposition must understand, in our view, is that the present Government has the support of the Australian public in its overall economic policy. We do not intend to adopt a permissive attitude on any matters of economic policy. The Prime Minister has referred on a number of occasions to the fact that, because of the Labor Party’s policy in office, there is no longer any room left for the soft option. The Government is convinced that in order to produce sustained economic recovery, without which there can be no hope of raising real incomes or reducing unemployment, inflation must be curbed. Neither consumer spending nor investment will increase, as is essential at the present time for economic recovery, until inflation and inflationary expectations can be effectively reduced.

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– I direct my question to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade. Did he issue a Press statement last Sunday on his return from Japan in which he said that Japanese spokesmen had undertaken not to reduce the quantity of coal and iron ore which they are to import from Australia in 1975-76? Is the factual situation that Japan in fact is importing coal and iron ore at a rate which is approximately 27 per cent down on the 1974-75 level, as the senior managing director of Nippon Steel is quoted as saying in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review? Is the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement that he intends to withdraw from negotiations about the price of Australia’s mineral exports an acknowledgment of his failure to secure Australia’s interests in his recent negotiations concerning the quantity of iron ore and coal exports to Japan in 1975-76?

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– It is true that a statement went out on Sunday night saying that the Japanese steel industry had given me an assurance- it was a repetition of an assurance that it had given the former Minister for Minerals and Energy- that it would not cut back on its contractual arrangements for coking coal. This assurance was previously given by the chairman of Nippon Steel, Mr Inayama to the honourable member for Cunningham. It was repeated to me during my visit to Tokyo. However, there are some areas which obviously will require discussion because some of those contractual arrangements had not been, fulfilled at the Australian end. But these occurrences are rare when considering what has been the regular performance of the Australian industry. We have performed well. I believe that there will be no disruption to the contractual arrangements. Spot sales are another matter altogether. I am optimistic that the Australian industry will be able to proceed with an assured market in Japan.

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Mr Kevin Cairns:

– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. It concerns the application to hold the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982. To assist that application and the travel obligations that would be part of a successful application, will the Minister undertake to have the new runway at Brisbane airport operational by the time of the Games? To put the question in another way, when economic conditions return to equilibrium and government expenditure patterns become more normal, will the Minister undertake to have the development at that airport, which has been promised for so many years, and the upgrading of the runway given absolutely the highest priority so far as he, the Government and his Department are concerned?

Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

– The honourable member for Lilley and the honourable member for Griffith have been taking a very keen interest in the future of the Brisbane airport. During the course of the election campaign they were very active in sending me telegrams seeking my agreement to a proposed course of action in respect of its development. Needless to say the people of Griffith and Lilley recognised the value of those endeavours and strongly voted both honourable members back into the Parliament. There have been proposals since about 1970 to upgrade the Brisbane airport. It was the subject of a study by the Commonwealth and the State. A report was made to us, I think before we temporarily lost office in 1972. Since that time the Bureau of Transport Economics, at the instance of my predecessor, Mr Jones, has made a study of the proposal. It is about to report to me, I understand, with a cost benefit analysis of the proposal in 1 972 and other options which may be exercised.

I am unable to give the honourable member for Lilley an assurance that I will be able to fund the upgrading of the airport by 1 982. I am not sure what our financial position will be. I will have to confer with the Treasurer. I can give the honourable member one assurance, and that is that I am totally satisfied that if Brisbane is lucky enough to hold and is deserving of the Commonwealth Games there is no way in the world that the facilities at the Brisbane airport will hinder Brisbane obtaining the Games. I am sure there will be facilities which will permit a great number of incoming aircraft to land without any embarrassment to the passengers who will be cleared quickly to enable them to enjoy themselves at the Games. That is about all I can say to the honourable member at this time.

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Mr Les McMahon:

– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. He would be aware that I have been making representations on behalf of the residents of Wyndham, Buckland and Garden Streets, South Sydney, who are disturbed at the action of the Government in reneging on commitments made by the previous Government in regard to low cost housing. Can the Minister inform me when I am likely to obtain a reply to my representation on behalf of the people who are disturbed at the possibility of being evicted from their homes? In view of the importance of the matter to residents and myself, will the Minister assure me that it will be dealt with as a matter of urgency?

Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I do not have personal knowledge that the honourable member has made representations, but I believe what he says. I cannot give him the direct answers that he wishes, but I certainly will take up the matter with my colleague in the other place and ensure that he gets a reply.

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-I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the recent human tragedy in Guatemala, can the Minister advise the House what assistance the Government proposes to give to alleviate the suffering of the victims?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

-The Government has followed with deep concern the situation in Guatemala and the tragedy that befell its people as a result of a great natural disaster. As will be known, the United Nations Disasters Relief Organisation has appealed for funds and is coordinating relief work in Guatemala. The Government will respond to that appeal with a cash donation of $A50,000 to assist in the work of relief and rehabilitation in Guatemala.

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Mr Donald Cameron:

-Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to the petty and childish criticism directed to the Family Law Act by certain State judges? Will he ensure that the law is administered as the Act requires. Will he assure the House that the Government has no intention of making even a minor alteration to the present Act prior at least to it being given a long period in practice. If slight changes are then necessary will he assure the House that changes will not be against the principles which have been firmly embodied in the Bill which was acclaimed by members of all parties in this chamber and in the Senate.


-I cannot, of course, give the assurance that the honourable member seeks. But the judiciary, as is its custom, has shown its independence in recent weeks. We saw something of that independence in the Senate on Tuesday last. Some State judges seem to be troubled by the section of the Family Law Act that requires them not to wear robes. The result has been that judges in South Australia and Queensland have continued to wear robes. Even in the Australian Capital Territory a judge has continued to wear robes. A judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria felt that the section- I think it is section 97- might be invalid so far as it was a direction to him. As a result of that, the matter has gone to the High Court and the validity of that provision will soon be contested.

May I also direct the attention of honourable members to a rather more serious matter, namely, the fact that the general validity of the Family Law Act is now in dispute. Because of a question that was raised in South Australia- I think in a case relating to custody with no associated divorce proceedings- section 40A of the Judiciary Act has operated to cause a question as to the validity of the Family Law Act to be before the High Court. That is a much more serious question. It was one that was raised in debate in the House.

Unfortunately the general validity of the Act was not allowed to be raised by the States if they had wished to do so prior to the Act coming into force. The result is, of course, that the Family Law Act is to that extent under question. If the High Court was to declare the Act wholly or largely invalid there would be serious consequences both from the point of view of the administration of the Act in its extent and from the point of view of the Family Law Court concept. The Government, in accordance with section 41 of that Act, did attempt to get the State governments to set up State Family Law Courts under section 41 by arrangement with the Commonwealth Government. No State other than Western Australia has agreed to enter into such an arrangement. As a result of that the Government is proceeding to appoint further Family Law Court judges to take up the work of the Family Law Court as it proceeds. I make that statement perhaps not in direct answer to the question but to indicate to honourable members that the Family Law Act and its administration are constantly under review but the Act is also under review in the High Court.

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-The honourable member for Robertson has caught my eye.


-Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was worried you would not be able to spot me. I ask the Minister representing the Minister who is responsible for tourism- I am not sure who it iswhether his Government intends to honour the commitment of the previous Government to take up 75 per cent of the shares of Old Sydney Town- I am wearing this jacket in honour of the redcoats- to ensure that re-creation of the birthplace of the nation survives.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I understand from my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is responsible for this matter, that it is still under consideration by the Government and a decision will be announced shortly.

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-I ask the Prime Minister: Has the Government taken a decision as to whether it will continue with the programs which were agreed to last year to relocate a number of public servants at various locations, including Geelong, and also to locate the National Biological Standards Laboratory at Geelong? I point out to the Prime Minister that a meeting on employment, which I understand is under the auspices of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, is to take place today in Geelong.


-These matters have to be examined, but the honourable gentleman will know that we did set our minds against the forced movement of public servants from one place to another and that was announced well before the election period. What happens concerning future plans will depend in large measure upon the availability of finance and a number of other matters. The Government is looking closely at the future of the motor industry, and in terms of employment in the honourable gentleman’s electorate a prosperous and forward-looking motor industry is going to do much more for full employment in Geelong than any other single factor. It is unfortunate that under the present motor car plan and the policies of the previous Administration unemployment in Geelong has been at, I think, 8 or 9 per centanyway, significantly above the national average and not insignificantly due to the situation in the motor industry.

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-Is the Minister for Transport able to give the House any information regarding the establishment of an Omega station in Australia? Has a decision been taken to build the station? If so, where?


– The honourable member for Mallee may have seen in the newspapers the other day the Prime Minister’s statement confirming that we will be proceeding with the building of a navigational Omega station. The siting of the station has not yet been decided. I know the honourable member is keen to see it at the site known as Boon in Victoria. Certainly this was one of the favoured sites in the 1970-1972 period, but I understand that there have been technical changes to the requirements and I am not sure whether that site is now favoured. No decision will be taken on the site until the Government has given its clear approval for construction of the base to proceed. I will keep the honourable gentleman informed about the site.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the National Capital Development Commission’s action in retrenching 21 members of its staff on 17 February and the Prime Minister’s subsequent statement, will he give the House a clear undertaking that there will be no retrenchments from the Commonwealth Public Service, or from statutory bodies, even though their staff targets may not be able to be achieved through normal wastage and retirements before 30 June?


– In the original statement that I put out accompanying the staff ceilings for the Public Service, for departments and for statutory authorities it was indicated that it was the Government’s intention that the ceilings should be reached by wastage, resignations and matters of that kind. The report and the recommendations concerning those ceilings had come to me on the recommendation of my own Department, the Public Service Board and the Treasury. In that statement I included a paragraph which indicated that I wished any areas of particular concern or of hardship to be brought to my notice before action was taken involving any particular difficulty, and retrenchment is obviously an area involving difficulty. As a result of discussions a decision has been taken by the Commission that the situation will be reviewed so far as it is concerned at 30 June and there will be no new engagements and no dismissals. We will see what the ceiling is at that time as a result of that continuing situation. 1 cannot give for all bodies the kind of overall assurance that the honourable member seeks because when the Government was looking for some economies from statutory authorities the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for example, instead of making some examples of economy asked for $7m or $8m more than its actual budget estimate and it was at that time about 200 people over its then staff ceiling. As a result of the decision that it has made the ABC is getting $lm or $2m less than the original estimate. There are some problems involved with that, as I understand it, for ABC personnel but I think its position is entirely different from that of the Capital Development Commission and the ABC commissioners have taken their own decisions in relation to their own situation.

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– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question. I believe that representatives of South Africa’s 3 principal cricket associations, the South African Cricket Board of Control for Coloureds, the South African Cricket Association for Whites and the South African Cricket Board for Blacks, resolved on 18 January that cricket in that country be played on a normal basis under the control of one united governing body. Normal cricket was defined in that resolution, as I understand it, as participation in competition between all players at club level regardless of race, creed or colour. The 3 national bodies further resolved that their provincial authorities commence dialogue with each other on the implementation of competition at all levels by the beginning of the cricket season in September 1976. The resolution implies, in my opinion, a significant new approach to cricket in South Africa.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I raise a point of order. Do not wave me down, Mr Speaker, I am taking a point of order. What is wrong with you?.


-The honourable member for Hindmarsh takes a point of order. I remind the honourable member that this is the first question asked by the honourable member for Phillip and I had therefore decided to permit him more latitude in asking the question than I would normally. What is the point of order?

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Well, this is my first point of order since you became the Speaker. I submit that it is quite out of order for the honourable member to be giving information, to be making a long-winded maiden speech at question time.


– I call the honourable member for Phillip.


-Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also understand that the South African cricket side is anxious to tour Australia. My question is: If competition at all levels is implemented will it lead to any softening in the Government’s policy concerning tours of Australia by South African cricket teams?


-I have to say that at this juncture it is too early to determine whether the matters referred to- -

Mr Young:

– A grey area.


-Every time I stand up you interject. I do not know what impels you to do so. I know that you had great difficulty persuading your colleagues to elect you to the front bench but you do not have to give tangible evidence day after day that you finally made it. More people have talked their way off that front bench -


-Order! The Minister will address the Chair, not the honourable member for Port Adelaide.


-As I said, it is too early at this juncture to determine whether the moves referred to by the honourable member would mean full participation in cricket in South Africa of blacks and whites. In-line with its general policy towards apartheid, the Australian Government firmly opposes racial discrimination in sport. The Government believes that the maintenance of sporting relations with South Africa should depend on that country’s willingness and ability to move away from racial discrimination in sport. As the Prime Minister has indicated, Australia will apply the test of selection on a proper multiracial basis to determine whether South African sporting teams will be permitted to compete in Australia. Each case will be judged on its merits and evidence will be sought of progress towards equal opportunities for all in the sport concerned.

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– My question to the Prime Minister relates to his comments about the sacking of staff of the National Capital Development Commission and his concern expressed in his communication to the various heads of departments that, if possible, people should not be sacked. The question refers to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, on which he made some comments. In view of the sacking of 150 ABC contract employees already, such as members of the Adelaide Chorus and the Sydney Showband what is his view of the proposed sacking of a further 220 staff from the ABC in order to save $600,000 and reach the target of cut-backs for the ABC of $8.4m, which represents a massive 20 per cent cut in its budget for the next 5 months?


-The Australian Broadcasting Commission employed about 200 people over its authorised ceiling at the time the Government made its decision. By its own independent actions it has put itself in this situation, which is quite different from that of the National Capital Development Commission. The use of the term ‘cut’ of $8.4m needs to be examined. In one sense it is a cut. The ABC asked for an additional $7. 1 m or thereabouts because it could not operate within its original estimate. In spite of that, it was over the staff ceiling. If one looks at the fairly generous provision which was made by the previous Administration, having in mind the circumstances of the last budget for the ABC, one realises that the ABC retains most of that provision in its own hands. The reduction is $1m or $2m

Mr Lynch:

– It was $ lm.


-The Treasurer advises me that it was a reduction of $lm over the figure in the Estimates in the Budget brought down last spring.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade. I ask the Minister whether following his recent visit to Japan there is a much greater understanding by the Japanese Government and Japanese businessmen of the Australian Government’s intentions concerning the development and export of steaming and coking coal to Japan. I also ask the Minister whether his visit to Japan has done much to improve Australia’s overall commercial relations with that nation after 3 years of Labor government.


– I think it is fair to say that there was a lot of confusion in the minds of Japanese businessmen and the Japanese Government as to the attitude of the Australian Government because of the contradictory policies of the previous Government and undue government interference in a lot of areas. This had created a doubt as to Australia being a reliable and predictable trading partner. I felt that my visit did consolidate relations between our 2 countries. In fact, the reports emanating from the various Press- the Japanese, other foreign and Australian Press- seemed to indicate that it was a very worthwhile visit. The prospects for coking coal and steaming coal seem to be very attractive from Australia’s point of view provided Japan can feel secure in making long term trading arrangements with us.

In the discussions I had with the Japanese steel industry I wanted an assurance that there would be a capacity to take the increase in production that would come from the development of new mines in Australia. I did not want to see a situation where large new mines were being developed only to jeopardise existing coal mining operations in Australia. Therefore, there needed to be an assured outlet and in order to have this assured outlet there needed to be expanded capacity in Japan, Japan being our principal market. The Japanese steel industry has informed me that it is planning for a capacity of 150 million tonnes by 1980. There was a downturn of some 10 per cent last year in steel production but the Japanese industry is calculating on a 5 per cent to 10 per cent increase this year. All the indicators are that the Japanese economy is strengthening and moving upwards. The Japanese industry feels quite optimistic that it will be nearing its maximum capacity by 1980 but to achieve this it has to have reliable sources of coking coal and iron ore. I believe that Australia has a great opportunity to supply these materials and that provided there is this good understanding and working relationship between the 2 countries and we are both getting fair and reasonable prices for our commodities the objectives of both countries will be achieved.

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– I call the honourable member for Banks. I apologise, and I ask the honourable member for Banks to resume his seat. I explain to the House that I ought to have called the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who rose also but I did not see him. Instead I called the honourable member for Banks. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has now generously asked me to proceed with the call to the honourable member for Banks.

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– Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for yielding. My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to serious allegations made on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s program AM this morning concerning activities of the American Central Intelligence Agency in Australia, particularly in the period prior to 1 1 November 1975? Does the Prime Minister intend to have an investigation made into these allegations and, if so, will he report the results of his investigations to this House?


– I would have thought that the allegations were absurd. One of the things that seems to concern the Australian Labor Party is the theory of conspiracy. Throughout the 1950s the then Leader of the

Labor Party was involved very much in beliefs of a conspiracy against him in his own Party. We know what that did to the Australian Labor Party. The present Leader of the Australian Labor Party seems to be just as obsessed with the theory of conspiracy as was one of his predecessors. I might add that it would be just as likely that the CIA is involved in the present obvious moves within the Australian Labor Party to bring Senator Wriedt into this place.

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-Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations consider changing the method of payment of unemployment relief? Will he investigate the suggestion that payments be made through the States to local councils and that such payments be made only on the basis that some established period of work be performed which is supervised by an appropriate officer of the local council?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

-The Government has received many suggestions along the lines of that put forward by the honourable member, that is, that those in receipt of unemployment benefit work out the value of their benefit at award rates on local projects or things of that nature. It seems a reasonable and constructive suggestion at first sight but it does have problems. One of them was adverted to by the honourable member who asked the question, namely the problem of supervision. It follows from the fact that, particularly in respect of single people the value of the unemployment benefit being considerably less than the value of a full award rate for the week, people would be working irregular hours and the problem of supervision therefore becomes considerable. I am informed that the cost of supervision can in some cases equal or even exceed the value of the work that is produced. A more substantial problem is involved in this proposition. It concerns an International Labour Organisation convention on forced labour. This convention has been ratified by Australia. Work being done in the way suggested by the honourable member could involve Australia in a contravention of the international convention which it has already ratified.

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– Can the Prime Minister give me details of his strategy in creating the super department by the amalgamation of the Departments of Environment, Housing and Urban and Regional Development and then pulling out its teeth by excluding it from the Economic Committee of Cabinet thus excluding this new department from having any say in Cabinet on economic aspects even though it is responsible for fixation investment in the cities of Australia which represent 85 per cent of the Australian people?


– The honourable gentleman should well understand that matters which affect the individual in his environment, whether it is the natural environment or the physical environment and matters which affect community development all round Australia have been brought within one department. That I believe is a sensible approach as many of these matters have an inter-relationship one to the other. The honourable gentleman ought also to have noted that the Minister is a significant Minister in the Cabinet and therefore the suggestions involved in the honourable gentleman’s question have no substance.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Transport been drawn to a report in the Launceston Examiner that the Australian National Railways Commission would not proceed with the upgrading of the Fingal Valley Railway line in the current financial year? Can the Minister confirm whether the report is correct and indicate what action the Government intends to follow with this project?


– I confess that I have not seen the report to which the honourable member referred. I am unaware of any proposal by the Australian National Railways Commission in respect of the upgrading of that line or deferment of the program of expenditure. I will make inquiries into the matter and let the honourable member have the information as soon as it comes to hand.

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– Has the Attorney-General completed and submitted to the Australian Electoral Officer, New South Wales, Form G (Return of Electoral Expenses) as required under section 152 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act for the 1975 election? Did he complete this form after the 1 974 election? If not, will he consider launching a prosecution and stand down from the Ministry in the meantime?


– The answer is yes, I have put in the form in relation to the current Parliament.

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– Can the Treasurer indicate at this stage what was the final figure for the first savings loan? Can he indicate what was the average subscription to that loan, and how is the second series loan going?


– I will be issuing a statement in the course of the next few days giving the final figure. As the honourable gentleman will be aware the figure which was released, I think at the end of the thirteenth day of the loan, necessarily did not include some moneys received through the banking system but not at that stage recorded by the registries. As I mentioned, that statement will be available in the course of the next 2 days. I can say in general terms that it is curious that members of the Opposition Party do not appear to be at all interested in matters economic in this Parliament, certainly in relation to the matters of bonds. But in response to the interest shown by the honourable gentleman I can report to the House that it is the Government’s firm view that the series 1 Australian Savings Bonds was in fact an outstanding success. It was completely according to program. The amount that had been raised when the last statement was made was $565.2m. At that stage the number of cash subscribers, as I recall the figure, was marginally above 76 000, an average subscription of some $7,364. When the final figures come out they will show an increase in the number of individual subscribers and a decrease in the average subscription. In fact that will show, quite contrary to what some commentators have reported in the Press, that the number of major subscriptions of between $50,000 and $100,000 from institutional sources were far from predominant.

The honourable gentleman will understand that it is a little early to make a judgment about series 2. 1 would not seek to be premature except again to say to the honourable gentleman that there has been a steady flow of subscriptions to series 2, though at more moderate level than that for series 1. This is perfectly consistent with the Government’s strategy and overall programming. I found it a little curious to read, as I recall it, in the Australian Financial Review this morning that that newspaper, having criticised the first series for the amount of money which had come in so quickly, is apparently now working on the basis that we are disappointed that the level of subscriptions is low for series No. 2. Both the first series and the second series are in fact according to Government strategy. Next week I would welcome it if honourable gentlemen on the other side took the opportunity to ask me one or two even passing questions on matters economic.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

- Mr Speaker, I table a paper concerning Miegunyah or Grimwade House as it was known. This is in response to a request yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) when he said that he would welcome my tabling any reports or papers connected with official residences. This paper shows that on 14 March 1975 the then Prime Minister approved the Department of Housing and Construction immediately proceeding to take action concerning the development of that property at a cost that was then estimated at $700,000.

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Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 36 of the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act 1963-1970 I present the annua! report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for the calendar year 1974 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s reports on those statements.

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Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962-1973 I present the annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1975 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s reports on those statements.

page 105


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 7 of the Tobacco Industry Act 1955-1965 I present the annual report of the Tobacco Industry Trust Account for the year ended 30 June 1 975.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs · Kooyong · LP

– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Development Assistance Agency Act 1974 I present the annual report of the Australian Development Assistance Agency for the year ended 30 June 1975.

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Mr ELLICOTT (WentworthAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable members I present the papers and summary of discussions of the second international trade law meeting held in Canberra on 22 and 23 March 1975

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Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-1973 I present the annual report of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies for the year ended 30 June 1975, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.

page 105


Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

– Pursuant to section 12 of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971-1973 I present the annual report on migrant education for the year ended 30 June 1975.

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Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 58 of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission Act 1975 I present the first annual report of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission for the year ended 30 June 1975.

page 105


Mr Eric Robinson:

– Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1972-1974 1 present the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended 30 June 1975.

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Minister for Repatriation · Bass · LP

For the information of honourable members I table the report of the Independent NonParliamentary Inquiry into the Repatriation System. I seek leave to make a short statement.


-Is leave granted?

Mr Scholes:

– Would the Minister move to take note of the paper?


– Yes, I said I would.

Mr Scholes:

– Leave is granted.


-Leave is granted.


-The report of the Independent Non-Parliamentary Enquiry into the Repatriation System was handed to me by the Chairman, the Honourable Mr Justice P. B.

Toose, C.B.E., on 28 January. The report briefly makes the following recommendations. The separate arrangements for compensation for veterans and their dependants through the repatriation system are fully justified. The existing legislation which is contained in 4 separate Acts should be consolidated into a greatly simplified single statute. The independent statutory authorities appointed to determine claims and appeals should be restructured. The method of assessing a veteran’s incapacity from servicerelated disabilities should be revised and a new scale of compensation payments introduced. Apart from these major changes, the report finds that in general the existing principles governing the provision of benefits are valid and should continue to apply with some modifications.

I would emphasise that the findings of the enquiry do not constitute Government policy. The report has only recently been received and the Government has not yet had time to consider it. It will be closely examined and the Government will give serious and detailed consideration to it. In keeping with the spirit of this undertaking and the Government’s policy of consultation with organisations representing veterans and their dependants, I shall be inviting some of these organisations to offer their comments on the report. I should be happy to have other comments from other individuals and groups. Because of the amount of work involved I shall be asking that any such comments be made as soon as possible but, in any event, in the next 3 months.

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) .adjourned.

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– I understand that the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr William McMahon) wishes to make a personal explanation. Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr William McMahon:

-Yes. My personal explanation relates to a report in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, a reputable journal which almost universally reports what is accurately stated to it. However, I want to say that I did not bluntly tell the Treasury yesterday that I did not understand the Government’s economic objectives or its strategy.

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Motion (by Mr Sinclair)- by leaveproposed:

That in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948-1973 the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) be appointed a trustee to serve on the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I want to say only one or two words on this motion. I support the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), very firmly in respect of the proposition he moved. However, I suggest that there are one or two tasks that the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust might consider during its deliberations over the next 3 years or over the years while this Parliament is sitting. There is a simple fact of life concerning the trust and the position of members of Parliament and it is that those who are out of sight are often out of mind. The people to whom the activities of the trust apply are no longer in this place. They have retired voluntarily or have been defeated. I hope that the trust will consider their position and compare it with that of former members of other parliaments in Australia. There is one inescapable fact that simple observation brings to light on looking at the members of this Parliament over a number of years and that is that there is a greater turnover of members of Parliament in this House than occurs in any other house of Parliament in Australia, certainly any other lower house of Parliament in Australia. I hope therefore that the trust considers some of the problems of rehabilitation that members of Parliament must undergo after retirement or defeat for reelection to this place.


-Order! The honourable gentleman is drifting wide of the motion which relates to the appointment of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports as a member of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust. I sympathise and understand what the honourable gentleman is saying but it is not relevant to the motion.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

-Perhaps I may be allowed to conclude with one sentence. In supporting the appointment of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports as a member of the trust I request that he use what endeavours he can to have the trust make a value study of its activities with respect to members in this place compared with the activities of similar trusts and bodies concerning members of Parliament in other parts of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


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

Conflicting statements by Government spokesmen on the future of Medibank and their failure to specify how the scheme will continue to operate.

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)


– When the Australian Labor Party first revealed its intentions to introduce a national health insurance scheme in the late 1960s the reaction from the Liberal-Country Party Government, the medical profession, as represented by the Australian Medical Association, and the so-called voluntary health insurance funds was intemperate and illadvised to say the least. Despite the valiant attempts to distort our intentions the Australian Labor Party’s free and open discussion of the concept together with the specific details given during the 1969 election campaign, gained a sympathetic response from the electorate. Despite the persistent protests from the medical business lobby the Leader of the Liberal Party at the time, John Gorton, felt the hot breath of the Labor Party on his neck. During the election campaign the Liberals offered their guarantee to cover medical expenses up to all but $5 of the medical bills. This was a counter to our plan to cover 85 per cent of medical expenses.

During the course of the last Liberal-Country Party Government we continued to elaborate our views on a national health insurance scheme, fortified by the findings of the Nimmo inquiry into health insurance which had been published in 1969. During that time of course nothing of real significance was done by the LiberalCountry Party Government to correct the deficiencies exposed by the Nimmo Committee. From reading between the lines of the Nimmo report it was quite clear that within the constraints of the terms of reference the Committee was exposing gross inadequacies in the so-called non-profit funds. By the time of the 1972 election, despite the cat calls from the Liberal Party and the Country Party, the AMA and the very profitable so-called non-profit medical and hospital benefit funds- the medical business lobby I referred to earlier- we had amended out financial assessments upwards and we won the support of the Australian community.

The primary intention of our program, now known as Medibank, is to provide complete insurance coverage against the costs of standard ward hospital treatment and an appropriate and predictable level of coverage against medical costs. For those who choose private hospital care private hospital insurance is available and in like fashion insurance cover can be purchased for the portion of the medical fees not covered by Medibank or the costs of ancillary and allied health services. The Labor Government never pretended that the Medibank program was anything more than a more efficient and more socially equitable way to pay for people’s medical and hospital treatment irrespective of the capacity of the individual to pay.

I will not recite the mechanical details of the obstruction offered by Liberal and Country Party members to our legislation but will recall some of their heartfelt objections, presumably based on sincerely felt matters of principle. I recall, for example, the obstruction of the legislation to authorise the collection of a levy on individual taxable incomes. This has meant that Medibank now is financed out of general taxation revenue and so is free in the same fashion as pensioners receive free medical treatment- free services supported by legislation implemented by past Liberal-Country Party governments,* not us. Having forced us to bring in the scheme in a fashion which is recognised as free when used in other cases, the present Government members then protested that it was not a free scheme. They wanted two bob each way. In similar fashion their objections to other pieces of associated legislation simply complicated the transition from the old health insurance scheme to the new Medibank, deprived members of the public of protection of their rights as contributors to private health funds and stopped implementation of reforms in the supervision of health insurance organisations, as had been recommended by the Nimmo Committee inquiry into health insurance which was set up, honourable members will recall, by the then LiberalCountry Party Government in the late 1 960s.

One of the main reasons offered by the then Opposition parties for rejecting the legislation at each and every stage, presumably because they had sincerely felt objections in principle, objections of some great moral significance, was that Medibank would lower the quality of medical care. How? At no time does Medibank intrude any more than did the former Liberal-Country Party Government health insurance scheme intrude. Are you condemning the whole concept of health insurance? You called your scheme voluntary. Do you forget that a mandatory condition for receiving the Commonwealth medical or hospital benefit was that one had to belong to a private health insurance fund? There was nothing voluntary about that. Everyone must pay for those benefits by taxation; they have no choice. If our scheme, Medibank, can lower the quality of medical care, so did your health insurance scheme. Then why did you ever promote it? Why did you ever implement it in the first place in the 1950s? What is the Government’s real view on this question?

Another objection was that Medibank would increase costs for the Government and for the taxpayers. In answer to that accusation let me simply quote the Liberal-Country Party spokesman at the time who claimed, in a speech outside the House- having forgotten what he was claiming in the House, namely, that the concept would be expensive- that the basic problem was due to Drs Scotton and Deeble. I will quote him. He said:

They are in fact social economists, and I believe that is the basis of their scheme and its weakness- that they looked at national health in purely economic terms and not in an approach towards the best in medical care.

We never claimed it was anything more than a method of health insurance. The spokesman continued:

This, I think, is the basis of their scheme ‘s faults.

Note the word ‘faults’. The spokesman continued:

It would appear to be directed simply to establishing the cheapest, most efficient and easiest way of solving national health problems.

That was not my claim, though we would make a claim like that. That was the claim of the spokesman for the Liberal Party at the time. Perhaps that explanation does not go down with the Government any more, as the shadow Minister of those days is not a member of the present ministry. So deeply felt are the principles of the Government parties that if they do not think those principles are electorally attractive they dump the person who was responsible, on their behalf, for enunciating them. Then the Liberal Party feels cleansed, done with the embarrassing principle. Does it help the Australian citizen to know, to understand, to believe what the Government says?

But let me come back to the objection. I presume the Government still believes that Medibank will result in increased costs for the

Australian community. Why else would it set up a 3-man inquiry into Medibank, then argue with one another about what the committee will inquire into, with the Minister for Health saying one thing and the Treasurer saying another? I think- I am not completely sure- that the final decision is to have the committee report on the value of imposing a levy to finance Medibank. But stop. Was not that one of the things the Labor Government wanted to do and the Liberals opposed with passion, saying that they would ‘go to the barricades’? They said that there was no way in the world that they would pass a Bill to finance the program. Have they changed their minds? Has the great principle on which they were prepared to go to the barricades become redundant? What are the Liberals’ principles? Are they anything more than cheap, short term opportunism? How many more promises, solemn avowals, are simply to be dismissed by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), with a smile, of course? I know he has offered the rationalisation that his broken election promises should be seen as evidence of his flexibility in the light of better information. Bully for him. But it raises a worry that he can so readily make so many promises on so little research and so little solid thinking. He has already changed direction on nearly everything on which he claimed he won the election. He certainly won the election. I presume he would insist he won on the program he presented. So one must conclude that he won on a dishonest program. You protest. He has changed from his own program, which was contradictory of much of what we were doing, yet every day he seems to be embracing more of the Labor Government’s policies and arguments.

Which is the true Malcolm Fraser- the December 1975 model, the February 1976 model or the 22 March 1975 model? When Mr Fraser was elected Leader of the Opposition he said that he would not force an early election and he would not block Medibank. There are interesting questions to the ordinary man and woman who must try to assess whether Medibank will be maintained by the Government and encouraged to develop or whether it will be permitted to wither. On their assessment depends the answer to the next question. Does one take out private health insurance? If so, at what level? If one opts for the Fraser model March 1975- remember the categorical promise not to block Medibank- one would not bother taking out extra health insurance. If one fears that the December 1975 approach might prevail- remember the promise to curb all the Labor Government’s extravagances and inefficiencies, of which Medibank was a part, in Liberal eyes, and this view has been reinforced by the move to set up a 3 -man inquiry very soon after the election, I suggest you toss a coin. If one accepts the slightly later view, after the LynchHunt differences over the committee’s proposed recommendations, recognising that the Treasury line won the day and that 2 of the 3 committee members are of the Treasury persuasion, still toss a coin. The committee will probably recommend a levy, but Government members when in Opposition were prepared to fight to the end, which they did- and succeeded- to stop us introducing a levy. The Prime Minister is a man of high principle. I am sorry, dear listeners, I cannot tell you which contradictory principle he will stand by. That is the $ 1 ,500m question.

What is the Government’s policy on the health care of the community? What is the Government’s policy on anything? You will not find out by reading the Prime Minister’s policy speech. If you read it quickly without pausing to weigh it carefully you will get a warm glow. That is what happened to the voters, and they voted the Liberal-Country Party into power. Already every major promise, as one perceives it when hearing the speech or reading it carelessly has been broken. If you read the speech carefully, as you should read the Governor-General’s Speech, which is, of course, the Prime Minister’s speech, you will find that both really say nothing in specific, unequivocal terms. It is like buying something on hire purchase from a supersalesman. When you read the fine print you discover you have been conned, and you are unfortunately stuck with a product and must continue to pay for it for the term of the contract- 3 long years, in this case.

Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

– The proposal which the Opposition has brought before the House for discussion of a matter of public importance could be deemed to be a time wasting exercise in political futility. The frustrations from which members of the Opposition are so manifestly suffering in their refusal to come to grips with political reality, with the issues which were put before the Australian electorate on 13 December and with the decisive answer which the electors gave lead them to create phantom issues like the subject matter today and to conduct a meaningless charade of tilting at political windmills. In the view of the Government, the electorate on 2 occasions gave decisive answers to the concept of a national health insurance scheme. The issue was well debated in this House, as it should have been. It was debated throughout the community.

The Liberal and National Country Parties accept this position. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and I have consistently said that Medibank will be retained. I quote from the Governor-General’s Speech. Needless to say, not too many members opposite heard it. Let me quote from it. They did not go to the other chamber to hear it, so let me quote it to them. This is what he said.

Mr Hayden:

– How many big words did you put in for him, Ralph?


– Funny boy. Listen. You have the hearing aid on, so listen. The Governor-General said:

Medibank will be retained and the Government will ensure it operates efficiently. The Medibank Review Committee has been established to examine the program in this respect.

I hope you heard it. The Government has established a committee to conduct an investigation into the operation of Medibank. The Prime Minister in a Press statement of 1 3 January said:

The Federal Government will conduct an investigation into the operation of Medibank. The investigation will be undertaken by a team to be chaired by Mr Austin Holmes the Director of the Priorities Review Staff of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Other members of the team will be Dr Sidney Sax who is being seconded specifically from his position as Chairman of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission for this purpose, and Mr Neil Hyden, an Assistant Secretary from the Treasury.

It is the Government’s policy to maintain Medibank.

The investigation team, which will be serviced by the Department of Health, will report in the first instance on opportunities for improved efficiency in the running of Medibank.

Medibank will involve expenditure approaching $ 1 ,500m this year which would make it one of the largest single cost items for the Government approaching closely the nation’s defence budget. The Department of Health estimate for 1976-77 is over $2,000m.

It is a new and expensive program and it is appropriate that its operation should be reviewed at this stage so that taxpayers can be assured they are getting good value for money from it.

The Government is becoming increasingly concerned, as are members of the public and the medical and allied professions, at repeated reports of abuse of Medibank.

It is important that these reports be examined as soon as possible.

The Government is not alone in suggesting the importance of an investigation of Medibank.

The Health Insurance Commission, which closely monitors the scheme, is concerned about certain aspects of its operation.

The investigation of Medibank will be in addition to the review of Government expenditure being undertaken by the Administrative Review Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sir Henry Bland, which the Prime Minister announced on December 21. That Committee’s area of enquiry did not extend to Medibank.

There will be a close involvement of the States in the investigation since they have a primary responsibility in the provision of health services.

I will read to the House and to members of the public who are listening to this debate the terms of reference of the Medibank review. They are:

  1. To examine the operations of the Health Insurance Program (Medibank) and to report to Cabinet through the Minister for Health on

    1. a ) policy options available for controlling the cost of the Program;
    2. opportunities for administrative savings in the operations of the Program.
  2. To indentify, in each case, the consequences of implementing the various options and the economies likely to result therefrom.
  3. To have regard to the Government’s desire to provide the most effective and efficient system of high quality health services delivery.

That report will come to the Government by the end of May. The Medibank Review Committee will report to me progressively during the course of its inquiry. The 3 eminent and distinguished people on the Committee have already taken considerable evidence. They have had discussions with State health officials, members of the Australian Medical Association and other interested people and groups.

To make clear that there is no confusion on my part I would like to read to the House the text of a Press statement in respect of the Medibank Review Committee that I released on 27 January. It states:

The Minister for Health, Mr Ralph Hunt, today announced that the Medibank Review Committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government to review the operations of the Australian Health Insurance Program (Medibank) was advertising nationally for submissions from all who might be able to assist the Committee in carrying out its review.

Mr Hunt went on to say that while the Committee would report in the first instance on opportunities for improved efficiency in the running of Medibank, it had been given wide-ranging terms of reference and he hoped that anyone who had suggestions for alterations or improvements to Medibank would notify the Committee.

Advertisements have been placed in the national Press asking for people, groups and associations to put views. I have received dozens and dozens of letters from people with views and ideas on this matter, most of which have gone across to the Committee for consideration.

The Medibank scheme as a national health insurance scheme has its good features in that it sets out to ensure that no one, regardless of social or financial status, is denied access to health care. The former scheme that was introduced by the Liberal and National Country Parties attempted to achieve this objective but, of course, it had its imperfections. Attempts have been made over the years to try to overcome these imperfections and to get a perfect scheme. But already there have been reports of abuse of Medibank by doctors, pathologists and radiologists and overuse by patients. We have no proof of this. I have not seen any proof that these reports are correct. However, any health scheme that will cost the Australian taxpayers somewhere between $l,400m and $l,500m, including administration costs in a full year, surely is in need of the closest scrutiny. Estimates indicate that in the next financial year the cost could be as high as $2,000m. If there is abuse, I do not think that any Government with any sense of responsibility could stand back and let people rip off funds at the expense of the community.

As I say, let us find out whether the scheme is being abused. Let us tighten up the system, if it needs to be tightened up to stop people bludging on the system. The scheme brings the States, the Commonwealth Government, the medical profession, the nursing profession and those responsible for health care into one great partnership. If any one of the members of this partnership fails to co-operate the scheme will fail in some areas, if not in total.

The Labor Government got Medibank off the ground in record time. It established Medibank centres, many of which I have already visited. I must say that I would regard the establishment of these centres if nothing else as one of the greatest electronic achievements in Australian history. It is incredible that they were established in such a short time. Although the Labor Government got the scheme under way not all the States, and certainly not all sections of the medical profession, were happy. I think that something must be done in respect of the unhappy areas in the scheme that we have inherited.

A big responsibility falls on the Minister for Health and the Government to obtain the full cooperation of the States, the medical profession and those responsible for health care and the delivery of health services to ensure that the people have the most effective, efficient and economic scheme available to them. Beyond that, I do not wish to pursue the arguments that have been made by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass). The Government has no intention whatsoever of pre-empting the recommendations of the Medibank Review Committee. Members of the Government will keep an open mind so that we can approach our task in an objective manner.

I want to lay at rest the doubts that the Opposition has endeavoured to create. Once again let me quote from the Governor-General’s Speech, the speech delivered in the other chamber that was not heard by any Opposition member. It reads:

Medibank will be retained and the Government will ensure it operates efficiently. The Medibank Review Committee has been established to examine the program in this respect.

So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I think you can write off the Opposition’s case as a very little bit of huff and puff. I dismiss the matter of public importance for the reasons I have outlined in my reply to the honourable member for Maribyrnong.


-In the view of the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) the matter of public importance may be huffing and puffing, but having listened to his speech I can assure him that his speech was a lot of guffing. After speaking for 1 5 minutes he had said nothing. The issue is a most important one. I think there are certain significant features about the conduct of this debate today. I am reliably informed that the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), the only man in the Government ranks who really understands the issue of health insurance and health services, has washed his hands of any association with debate on welfare and health because of the unfortunate experiences he has had at the rather ruthless hands of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The honourable member for Hotham is sick and tired of being asked to carry a brief that changes from day to day on the issue of Medibank and then having to accept the blame for the political stupidity of the Prime Minister who has briefed him. The honourable member for Hotham was always a welcome participant in debates on health insurance. He knew what he spoke about, he worked hard at developing his speech and he fought hard in the course of a debate but he always fought on the issues and addressed himelf to them. His absence is a weakness in the level of debate in this Parliament on this very important issue. Equally significant is the fact that no Liberal seems competent enough to participate in the debate. Only 2 National Country Party members are competent enough to participate in the debate. I would even modify that and say that I expect that only one is competent enough, and I reserve final judgment until I hear him.

There has been inference that Medibank represents excessive costs for the community. Let us lay this to rest, but only once again and I do not expect for the final occasion, because this tired old myth has been trotted out so many times. The facts are that the total cost of Medibank is no greater than the total cost of private health insurance if it was now operating with the pensioner and repatriation medical and hospital benefits which are associated with this general health service area. The significant fact is that under Medibank everyone in Australia is covered. Under the old scheme, the discredited scheme, the scheme that was so unsuitable for the Australian public, more than a million people at any given time were without any cover at all. To cover them with the sort of patched up arrangements that were floated from time to time by members of the former Liberal-National Country Party Opposition would have involved, on last year’s costing, not the current year’s costing, $500m to $600m additional cost. That is the sort of face-saving they are prepared to indulge in. Frankly, I do not think their face is worth anywhere near half that much.

Let us look at the total cost and bear in mind that the cost has to be met by the community. Whether it all comes from the public sector or all comes from the private sector or whether some comes from each of those 2 sectors, the community in the final result pays. There is some stupid commitment to some strange folklore in the Liberal Party that if the public does not pay through the public sector then it is being saved money. What nonsense. One of the most discreditable features of the old system of private health insurance was that not only did the public pay but it paid unfairly, quite inequitably. People did not pay according to their means. The wellheeled members of this Federal Parliament on high incomes, after tax concessions under the old tax scheme, paid less than the modest and the middle income earner outside. Because of the way in which there was further subsidisation through the tax scheme for net direct costs for health services, the middle class-and high income earners in this community were particularly well subsidised at the expense of the great mass of taxpayers. That has been changed largely because of the new tax scheme which the former Government introduced, which was equally significant in its own way as a social reform as was Medibank.

Let us look at the costing of Medibank. About $ 1,500m was the costing we estimated for this financial year when we drew together the appropriations, but we have had 7 months of experience with Medibank already and the total outlays have been about $603m. So in 7 months, that is in something like 60 per cent of the total period for which the appropriation has been made, only a little over 40 per cent of the total appropriation has been spent. I realise that as the year proceeds the rate of expenditure will tend to accelerate because the States of New South Wales and Queensland were somewhat tardy in entering the hospital side of Medibank. Nevertheless, even allowing for that as a significant qualification I predict quite confidently that by the end of this year at least $200m to $250m will be saved on the total outlay that was set aside for Medibank, which shows in fact that the total cost of Medibank is even cheaper than the total cost which the community would have incurred with an inferior, inadequate system of private health insurance with its attendant features of pensioner medical benefits and repatriation medical benefits.

Let us look at the rate of utilisation, which is another proposition put forward as some spurious justification for the highly questionable inquiry that has now been put up after such a short elapse of time of experience with Medibank. When we drew together the estimates for Medibank we made certain assumptions which were based on quite reasonable grounds about the rate of transfer of patients from the outpatient clinics of public hospitals to private medical practitioners, and of pensioners going to specialists. It was notorious in the past that under the old system a pensioner could go to a general practitioner for a consultation but could not be covered for a procedural service and could not go to a private specialist. That has all gone by the board. That discrimination has ended. They can have all these services now under Medibank.

We allowed for the rate of increase which obviously would take place there and also for unmet medical need. I ask honourable members to put to one side their political prejudices and select some reasonably objective medical practitioners with whom to discuss this topic. It is not an easy task , I confess, but there are some about. They will tell you that there is evidence, and significant evidence, especially in Queensland where there is a particularly low rate of cover for medical insurance, that people coming in for examination by surgeons and physicians have conditions which had been neglected in the past. That is a significant improvement in the quality of health care available to people in the community. But the point is that we built in certain assumptions which were far from conservative because we did not want to underestimate the total outlays for Medibank in the light of increased utilisation covered by this umbrella. Previously costs were largely met by the community as a private outlay. We are talking now about costs specifically and exclusively being met from the public sector. It is clear, on the basis of the figures I have just cited of the total appropriation as against the rate of expenditure to this point, that the utilisation rates have fallen considerably short of what we had expected.

If there is going to be an inquiry after such a short experience with Medibank- everyone realises that the members of the inquiry are really appointed as pall-bearers charged to arrange a respectable funeral for Medibank- there is a responsibility incumbent on the Government to produce the substantial evidence on which it justifies that inquiry so that the very broadly held suspicions in the community that the Government wants to bury Medibank can be completely rejected. It is one thing to say that Medibank will be retained, but it is another thing to specify in what form. The Medibank name will be retained but the form in which it will be retained will be completely beyond recognition.

The public is going to be considerably worse off as a result of proposals to introduce a levy at a time when there will be no reduction in taxes for them. So really a camouflage will be introduced to cover up the deceit of increased taxes on the community by designating it as a levy for Medibank. The very fine principles that the Government, when in Opposition, expressed in opposition to a levy should be recalled by it. Its final objective is to force the public back into the hands of private insurance. That is why it is talking about means tests and public hospitals. That is why its supporters are talking about a greater degree of the cost of a medical service being borne by individual patients- a reward for the faithful service of the private health insurance funds not only in financing to some degree the campaign funds of the Liberal Party but in supporting it in the electorate with the outrageous statements they have made from time to time.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I understand that the honourable member for Hotham wishes to make a personal explanation.


-I claim to have been misrepresented by my friend the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). During his address he made several complimentary remarks about me, for which I thank him, but I would ask him not to do it too often. He also said in the course of his remarks that he has heard a rumour that I had washed my hands of any interest in social welfare. That is totally untrue, I am pleased to inform him, and I hope he is as pleased to hear that news as I am to give it. There is only one reason why I am not speaking in this discussion and that is that I was not asked.


-In bringing forward for discussion this matter of public importance the Opposition cites 2 points but in the discussion it fails to substantiate either of them. The 2 points the Opposition has raised are, firstly, conflicting statements on the future of Medibank and, secondly, the failure to specify future operations. On the first point relating to conflicting statements, the statements by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt), who are the only 2 people to make statements that one can say are statements that one can listen to, are quite clear on this matter. The Minister for Health quoted both those statements to the House this morning. It is symptomatic of Labor’s living in the past and its bitterness at the fact that it lost the election that its supporters have not bothered to check the Governor-General’s Speech made last Tuesday. Perhaps because the word ‘GovernorGeneral’ appears at the top of that Speech they are not prepared even to read it. The statement by the Prime Minister and the GovernorGeneral’s Speech are quite clear- Medibank will continue but there will be a review. The review will be on the efficiency of the operations of Medibank in the sense of cost control. I think that is of interest to all Australians in view of the massive Budget deficit. Secondly, the review will be on the basis that we have to provide health care for Australians. I do not see any conflict in that at all.

If one wants to look at conflict and conflicting statements perhaps one should look at whether or not the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) is going to be a short term leader or a long term leader, because I do not think that one has been sorted out. If one wants to look at some more conflicting statements by Labor supporters one can look at what they said on inflation and unemployment when they came to office and compare it with what happened with inflation and unemployment. I think Labor should be a little careful when it suggests that there are conflicting statements because it has a fairly bad track record in this regard.

The honourable member for Maribymong (Dr Cass) said there was a need on our part to clarify the relationship between private health insurance and Medibank. I think the people of Australia deserve to have this matter clarified because by continuing to belong to health insurance funds in massive proportions they themselves were saying that they did not accept the statements of the previous Government that there was no longer a need to belong to private health insurance funds. If one looks at the percentage of people around Australia who are still taking out private insurance one will see that the amount of money involved is massive. I think if anybody is to make a clarification, Labor itself should clarify its attitude in view of the attitude that the people of Australia reveal by continuing to belong to these private organisations.

The fact that people continue to belong to private health insurance funds also shows up the false points in the argument put forward by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). The honourable member was saying that, added together, the cost of the private health insurance section and the Government section of health insurance would be more than the cost of Medibank. But the honourable member’s estimated cost of Medibank was based only on what the Government hoped it would cost without any belief or calculation or to the number of people who would continue to belong to the private health funds. I will just leave that point for a minute because Medibank definitely is costing more. On departmental estimates, because of increased utilisation of services and costs, it will cost $840m more than was originally anticipated by Labor. If one does the same sums, which the honourable member for Oxley does not care to hear because he is now leaving the House, and adds together the Government cost of Medibank and the continuing private health insurance costs, the total cost for health care to the Australian public is massive compared with what it was before the introduction of Medibank.

The honourable member for Oxley has said also that in the first 7 months of the operation of Medibank there has been only a 40 per cent outlay of the original estimated cost. The honourable member for Oxley was being far less than honest in giving the reasons why that had happened. Firstly, there was the late entry into the scheme by some States, some of which was deliberately engineered by himself as the Minister and his followers. When one considers the entry requirements into the scheme and the row that occurred in respect of the entry by New South Wales, which is the most important State in Australia so far as the scheme is concerned, and considers also the fact that no State in Australia was paid any of the money owing to it for the hospital side of Medibank before the December election, they will see that the Labor Government had given instructions that there was to be no payment to the States for the hospital side of Medibank until this new year. So it is pretty obvious why in the early months of its operation the cost of Medibank had been running at less than what had been stated in the Budget. The reason for this was the great overrun in the Budget deficit that Labor had created.

The Labor Party also suggests in this matter of public importance a failure on the part of the Government to specify how the Medibank scheme will continue to operate. How at any time has anyone in Australia had an opportunity to know how the scheme is operating? To be fair to Labor, it is a new scheme and therefore there is a certain settling down period, but when one looks at a whole range of points which were not settled by Labor one would clearly support the need for an early review. I think that if Labor had been returned to power and if its supporters were honest, in this discussion today they would say that a review would be necessary. In the time remaining to me in this discussion I have only to cite a whole series of points to make it very clear that Medibank as it is operating now is not a clear health care program for Australia. Opposition members know this. In spite of what the honourable member for Oxley says about there being no substantial evidence, there is plenty of substantial evidence. Let me quickly deal with a few of the points.

First of all we were told that repayments on claims would take about 5 working days. All of us as members of Parliament would have great stacks of letters from people saying that 3 months after a claim had been filed they still had not been paid. There is a point. Last week I learnt of a person who has written to the Health Insurance Commission on 2 occasions over the last 6 months but has not received a reply to either letter and still has not received a Medibank card.

Let me deal with the percentage figures on utilisation and over-utilisation that is becoming apparent in the Medibank scheme. There are abuses by both doctors and patients. Surely they are points that need investigation and review. Quite definitely, one thing which this Government has already done but which Labor failed to do for a specific and clear future operation of Medibank and the whole health care picture was to bring the essential points of health care in Australia back under the one department instead of having the hopelessly fragmented arrangement that Labor had. At least now- I congratulate the Government on this- Medibank, nursing homes and general health are all back with the Department of Health. If we are going to have a health scheme in this country and a total health care picture we have to have a uniform policy on hospitals, medical care, nursing homes and health insurance. Without this we are not going to get to first base. That is precisely why Labor was not able to get to first base with its fragmented scheme.

Let me deal with some of the anomalies in Labor’s scheme. Labor was saying that a person has the inalienable right to go to a doctor and pay nothing, yet Labor required that the cost of a prescription for medicine obtained as a result of a visit to a doctor was to be increased to $1.50. That by itself is a nice little anomaly. I will go a little further. Under Medibank, if a person goes to the outpatients’ clinic at a hospital he can get a prescription without cost. On the one hand it is claimed that the people of Australia should pay $1.50 or $2 per prescription but, on the other hand, if a person is lucky enough to live next to a public hospital which has an outpatients’ department he can go there and get a prescription at no cost; I will bet that that is leading to some nice over-utilisation at the present time at which this committee will want to look.

Let us have a look at a few other anomalies that this so called overall health scheme had set up. What is the position with the provision of prostheses, orthoses, limbs and parts of bodies under Medibank when in certain States if a person is in a hospital he will receive thempresumably the cost is then ticked up to the Commonwealth on the 50 per cent basis- yet there is no provision for them if he goes to a general practitioner or some form of outpatients department? That by itself is a nice little anomaly and conflict. Also one would want to review the extent of Federal and State duplication and the information that is being kept. The problem of discrimination is built into the Labor Government’s scheme in the case of a person who goes to the private section of a public hospital and a person who goes to the private section of a private hospital. That is a nice little anomaly and discrimination against the bulk of Australians.

Let me turn to one of the more deliberate forms of deceit of the previous Government. At the time when the Canadian Budget was being introduced the Canadians were saying that their scheme, on which ours was supposedly modelled, was proving too expensive and they were going to alter it. At that time we had the head of their health insurance commission out here saying how lovely the medical garden was back in Canada. I believe that it was a deliberate deceit by Labor when in government to cite the Canadian scheme to us as the be all and end all of health care when the Canadians were saying in their Budget that it was costing too much, that the provinces were being given notice and that a review would be undertaken.


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

page 115


Bill presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– I move:

This Bill marks an important step in the relationship between Australia and our greatest trading partner- Japan. The Government parties have long believed in the value to both Australia and Japan of developing our trading and cultural links. In 1957 the Liberal and Country Party Government took what was then a bold step in concluding an historic trade agreement with Japan. The mutual value of such a treaty was not then universally recognised. Some members of this House may recall, not altogether with pride, that at the time they spoke against ratification of the treaty.

The purpose of the Bill is to set up the AustraliaJapan Foundation as an independent statutory authority comprising a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 15 members. Clause (5) of the Bill sets out the function of the Foundation. It will include the promotion of the study by the people of Australia and Japan of the language, culture, social and political institutions and the economic and industrial organisations of the other country. Clause (6) of the Bill sets out the powers of the Foundation. These include the power to perform its functions in Japan as well as in Australia. Clause (20) provides that the staff of the Foundation will be persons appointed or employed under the Public Service Act.

It is the policy of the Government to strengthen, deepen and broaden the relationship which already exists between Australia and Japan. In November 1974 Australia and Japan signed a cultural agreement which was a first step towards the expansion of cultural exchanges and the promotion of mutual understanding between the 2 countries. In his telegram of congratulations on the election result the Japanese Prime Minister expressed the wish for an early conclusion of the treaty of friendship and cooperation between Australia and Japan. This is a desire which the Government well understands.

The Government has already taken decisions which will enable the negotiations delayed last year to proceed. The establishment by this Bill of the Australia-Japan Foundation will be a substantial step towards the end of greater understanding.

For the past 20 years the economic relationship between Australia and Japan has become increasingly important to both our countries. The time has come when this purely economic relationship must be broadened and deepened. This can best be done by the sort of personal contact and the research into each other’s countries and institutions that the Foundation will promote. The Government parties supported this proposal in opposition. It is a reflection of the importance which we attach to our relationship with Japan that in the third day of this Parliament we are legislating to establish the Foundation.

I would like to pay tribute to 2 distinguished Australians who have been associated with the genesis of the Australia-Japan Foundation- Sir John Crawford and the current Australian Ambassador to Japan, Mr Shann. Sir John was the chairman of a committee which reported last February on the need for this Foundation. Both Sir John Crawford and Mr Shann have sought to develop a structure which would foster a broader and more comprehensive understanding between Japan and Australia. This Foundation is the vehicle to bring about those aspirations. Proper understanding between Australia and Japan is of enormous importance to peace and security in the Asian-Pacific region. In the past the Government parties have acted to bring about a close and constructive understanding with Japan. The Australia-Japan Foundation will be a further significant means of confirming that objective. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr E. G. Whitlam) adjourned.

page 115


Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– I move:

The Customs Tariff Proposals I have just tabled relate to proposed alterations to the Customs Tariff 1966- 1974.

Proposals Nos 1 to 5 ( 1976) introduce into the Parliament, as required by law, tariff changes contained in Notices of Intention to propose Customs Tariff Alterations published in the Australian Government Gazette since the dissolution of the Parliament on 1 1 November 1975. Many of the changes have been in operation for a considerable time, some as far back as September 1974. It is hoped that a Customs Tariff Bill will be brought before this House during the current sitting so that honourable members may have the opportunity to debate the changes concerned.

The only new matter is in Proposal No. 6 ( 1976) which implements the Government’s decision to impose tariff quotas on knitted tops. Imports in excess of tariff quotas will be subject to an additional duty of $12 per kilogram. This change operates from tomorrow. A comprehensive summary of the changes and their dates of operation is now being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals to the House.

Port Adelaide

-! seek leave to make a short statement.


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


– Many of the Customs tariff proposals now placed before the House are, as the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) has indicated, machinery measures to extend changes made in the tariff in the time of the previous Government. I take issue with the Minister’s statement that Proposal No. 6 is the only new matter, for as I understand it Proposal No. 5 deals with refrigerators and white goods operating from 4 February- a decision announced by Press release on that date. On a later occasion I shall raise this question on tariff change by Gazette Notice.

As the Minister has said, Proposal No. 6 arises from the Government’s decision to impose quotas on knitted tops. We are thus faced with the opportunity to debate the global quotas which have been implemented in response to the Philippines’ threatened embargo on Australian exports. Here we have an example of government policy- an ad hoc decision- made without realising that a decision on the clothing industry in response to pressures by that industry has ramifications for all industry. The decision raises more problems than it solves. More than 60 per cent of Australia’s commodity trade surplus for 1974-75-that is, $300m out of a total of $5 80m- is accounted for by our other Asian trading partners such as China, Singapore and Thailand. What policy decisions have preceded this proposal? I hope the Minister at some time will give us an answer. I give notice that I am a believer in the Parliament becoming an open forum on tariff, in respect both of reports and of Government recommendations, for the sake of informing honourable members such as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), consumers of Australia and business houses. I give notice also to the Minister that if necessary I will debate each tariff proposal at the time it comes before the Parliament and not follow past practice of allowing the matter to lapse.

Mr Kelly:

– I thank the honourable member for Wakefield for his support.

Debate (on motion by Mr Young) adjourned.

page 116


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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Flinders · LP

– I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of capital grants to the States in 1975-76 totalling $430,333,000. This amount represents the grant component of the State Government’s Loan Council programs for 1975-76 and is equal to one-third of the total programs. The Bill also provides for the payment of capital grants in the first 6 months of 1976-77 up to an amount equal to one-half of the 1975-76 amount pending passage of legislation to authorise grants in that year. Payments authorised under this Bill may be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or from the Loan Fund, and appropriate borrowing authority is included. This is consistent with past practice.

This Bill is identical, except in respect of the year cited in its title, to a Bill introduced by the previous Government and passed by this House, but not by the Senate, prior to the dissolution of Parliament. I do not propose to reiterate the details of this Bill. For those honourable members who may be interested I refer them to pages 708 and 709 of Hansard for 28 August 1975 for the then Acting Treasurer’s second reading speech in relation to the Bill as previously introduced.

These grants represent a continuation of arrangements initiated by the Liberal-Country Party Government in June 1970 and which provide that portion of the State Government’s Loan Council programs is in the form of interestfree grants in lieu of what would otherwise be borrowings by the States. The grants were initiated to help the States finance capital works such as schools, police buildings and the like from which debt charges are not normally recovered. The States are, however, entirely free to apply these grants as they see fit and no terms or conditions are applied to them.

The effect of the grants is to relieve the States of debt charges which they would otherwise have to pay and the grants accordingly have a substantial beneficial effect on the States’ financial positions. I point out to honourable members that the capital grants for 1975-76, and the State Government Loan Council borrowing programs to which they are an adjunct, are now estimated to be worth more in terms of actual works and services than at the time they were settled at the Premier’s Conference-Loan Council meeting in June 1975. This is because cost increases have proved to be significantly less than estimated at that time.

I commend the bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.

page 117


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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Flinders · LP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the Commonwealth to undertake borrowings overseas for an amount not exceeding the equivalent of US$32.4m ($A25.7m) to be on-lent to Qantas Airways Limited to assist in financing the purchase of its twelfth Boeing 747 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment. The aircraft is estimated to cost approximately US$42.7m ($A33.9m) and is scheduled for delivery in July 1976.

Loans arranged in the name of the Commonwealth under the present legislation will, as on past occasions, be on-lent to the airline on the same terms and conditions as the funds are borrowed by the Commonwealth. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements, there will be no net charge on the resources of the Commonwealth.

Over the last 8 years the Commonwealth Government has raised twelve loans to assist Qantas in financing the purchase of 9 of its 1 1 aircraft in the Boeing 747 jet fleet. These loans, representing a combined commitment amounting to US$253.7m, were authorised by Parliament under the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1968 and under each of the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Acts of 1968, 1971-1973, No. 2 of 1971-1973, and 1974. The most recent borrowings were arranged under the authority of the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1974 and were applied to the financing of Qantas’ ninth, tenth and eleventh aircraft in its Boeing 747 fleet. The seventh and eighth aircraft were financed by Qantas from its own internal resources.

Overseas borrowings undertaken by the Commonwealth on behalf of Qantas involve specialised financing arrangements to accord with the particular financing requirements of the airline.

A common element in past financing arrangements for the purchase of additional aircraft by Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines has been the participation of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Eximbank). Eximbank specialises in providing credit facilities to assist the financing of exports of United States capital equipment. In keeping with past practices, a preliminary commitment has already been obtained from Eximbank to provide a credit facility amounting to US$16,185,200 ($A12.8m) which is equivalent to 40 per cent of the United States purchase cost of the aircraft.

The proposed credit, carrying an interest rate of 9.0 per cent per annum, will extend for a period slightly in excess of 10 years and will be repaid in 10 approximately equal semi-annual instalments extending over the last 5 years of that period. I should mention, however, that should Qantas decide to accept a credit for less than 10 years, an interest rate of 8.75 percent per annum will apply. Either way, the offer of a preliminary commitment by Eximbank to provide funds does not bind the Commonwealth to accept that offer. Should, for instance, a more favourable loan offer be available from an alternative source, the whole of the financing requirement may be obtained from that source.

If, as has been past practice, Eximbank finance is employed, the remaining 40 per cent of the total overseas financing requirement for Qantas, US$16.2m ($A12.8m), will be obtained by seeking competitive offers from leading overseas banks and underwriters. It is expected that the borrowings will be finalised by July 1976. The balance of the financing requirement, US$1 0.3m, will be provided by Qantas from its own resources.

I should mention by way of explanation that parliamentary approval for the borrowings has been sought in advance of actual requirements in order to ensure sufficient flexibility in arranging for the borrowings to be undertaken at a time when market conditions are favourable while still ensuring that the scheduling of the loan may take place as near as practicable to the delivery date of the aircraft. This ensures that, to the greatest extent possible, overall servicing costs on the borrowings are minimised.

The precise terms and conditions of any borrowing to be arranged for Qantas will, as usual, be subject to approval by the Loan Council. The amount to be borrowed is included in the Commonwealth’s loan programme for 1975-1976 which was approved by the Loan Council in June 1975.

I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.

page 118


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

Second Reading

Treasurer · Flinders · LP

-I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for the Commonwealth to undertake a borrowing or borrowings overseas for an amount up to the equivalent of US$9,302,400 ($A7.4m) to be on-lent to the Australian National Airlines Commission (TAA) to assist in financing the purchase of its seventh Boeing 727 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment. The aircraft is due for delivery in November 1976. The total cost of the aircraft, spares and related equipment is US$1 1.628m ($A9.3m) of which US$2.3m ($A1.8m or 20 per cent of the purchase cost) will be provided by TAA from its own resources. The amount to be borrowed is the equivalent of 80 per cent of the total cost of the aircraft, spares and related equipment and represents the amount of loan finance normally sought jointly from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIMBANK) and from other commercial sources overseas.

As with all Commonwealth borrowings undertaken on behalf of the public transport authorities, overseas borrowings by the Government on behalf of TAA require specialised financing arrangements to meet the airline’s particular needs. As part of the arrangements to meet those requirements a preliminary commitment for an offer of credit has already been obtained from EXIMBANK on terms which will enable the airline to comfortably service the loan over the earning life of the aircraft. The EXIMBANK offer is for a 10-year credit amounting to the equivalent of 40 per cent of the United States area cost of the aircraft (US$4,392,400 or $A3.481m approximately) at an interest rate of 9 per cent per annum with 10 semi-annual repayments to be made during the last 5 years of the loan. As with all EXIMBANK preliminary commitments, the Commonwealth is not bound to accept the offer if, for instance, a more favourable loan offer becomes available from an alternative source.

If, as has been the past practice, EXIMBANK finance is employed, the remainder of the overseas borrowing requirement- US$4.9 lm or 40 per cent of the total purchase cost- will be obtained by seeking offers from leading overseas banks and Underwriters. On current indications the loan will not be sought or negotiated until early in 1976-77. This will permit sufficient flexibility in arranging for the borrowings to be undertaken at a time when market conditions are favourable whilst still ensuring that the borrowing may coincide, as near as practicable, with the expected delivery of the aircraft. This ensures that, to the greatest extent possible, the overall servicing costs of the borrowing to TAA are minimised.

This is the twelfth occasion on which Parliament has been asked to approve overseas borrowings on behalf of TAA. The last occasion was the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Act 1974, which approved borrowings of an amount up to US$1 9m to assist TAA in financing the purchase of its fifth and sixth Boeing 272-200 aircraft. As on those occasions, this Bill provides the Commonwealth with authority to undertake the necessary borrowings and to on-lend the proceeds to the airline on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer. Those terms and conditions will, as in the past, be identical to those under which the Commonwealth borrows the funds and, as the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements, there will be no net charge on the resources of the Commonwealth. The precise terms and conditions of any borrowing to be arranged on behalf of TAA will, of course, be subject to approval by the Loan Council. Amounts to be borrowed will be included in the Commonwealth’s loan programme for 1976-77 to be submitted to the Loan Council at its next meeting which is expected to be in June this year. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.

page 119


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

Second Reading

Minister for Transport · Gippsland · LP

– I move:

This Bill is primarily designed to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1974 so as to increase the rates of charges by 15 per cent with effect from 1 December 1975. The increase is applied by the insertion of the new table in clause 4 of the Bill. The costs of operating and maintaining the airports and airway facilities provided by the Commonwealth Government are expected to total at least $195m in 1975-76, this being an increase of 1 Vh per cent or about $20m on the 1974-75 figure. The comparable revenues received from the users of these facilities at present rates are expected to rise from around $95m in 1974-75 to less than $108m in the current year, so that the increase in costs continues to outstrip the gain in revenues.

The 15 per cent increase in charges is estimated to bring in additional revenue of just under $4m in 1975-76. Together with the small growth in revenue arising from higher traffic, this will raise the rate of recovery of the costs of the air transport infrastructure from 54 per cent in 1974-75 to around 57 per cent this year. In other words, the users of air transport facilities will continue to be subsidised to the extent of more than 40 per cent of the annual costs of these facilities.

The Government is aware that the air transport industry, like all other industries in Australia, is faced with additional costs for wages and materials, and it would normally be reluctant to impose additional governmental charges in these circumstances. However, the Government must look at the matter from all sides, and clearly it is inappropriate for the public purse to be required to meet all of the increases in the costs which are being incurred by the Department of Transport in operating and maintaining its airports and airway facilities. Air navigation charges comprise only about 3 per cent of the total operating costs of commercial aircraft, and 1 5 per cent increase in these charges therefore means that the rise in aircraft operating costs is less than !6 per cent. In the light of these facts, therefore, the proposed increase in air navigation charges cannot be regarded as excessive or unjustified.

It will be recalled that the previous Government had proposed increased in air navigation charges ranging up to 300 per cent. Under the previous Government’s Budget proposals the aviation industry would have had to find another $25m and under this proposal it has to find about $3. 9m. The Government has been concerned to encourage general aviation in particular and not to price it out of the air. Over the past 3 years because of the previous Administration’s approach to cost recovery, combined with inflation, general aviation ran into serious financial difficulties. This proposal can be seen as a measure of our determination to encourage that important sector of aviation.

Maybe, therefore, the only disagreement that the Opposition will find with the present Bill is that the increase is not enough. However, the Government intends to examine carefully the whole question of cost recovery in respect of the air transport facilities, and it would be premature to introduce any greater increase in charges before this examination is undertaken. The other provisions in the Bill are of a minor nature, mainly concerned with the deletion of provisions covering flights to and from Papua New Guinea. The air navigation charges payable in respect of flights to that country are now determined in accordance with the provisions applicable to other international flights. I commend the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.

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Bill presented by Mr Ellicott and read a first time.

Second Reading

WentworthAttorneyGeneral · LP

– I move:

Immediately following the introduction of this Bill, I shall be introducing a Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1 904- 1 97 5. The subject matter of the 2 Bills is related and I propose to refer to both Bills in this speech. Honourable members will recall that similar though not identical Bills were passed by the House of Representatives in October last year. These Bills were introduced following the announcement of the decision to appoint Mr Justice A. E.

Woodward, O.B.E., as head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Government has previously announced its decision to proceed with this appointment and the passage of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Bill is necessary in order that the appointment may proceed.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Bill will ensure that the appointment of a judge as Director-General of Security does not affect his tenure of office as a judge, or the salary, allowances and other rights and privileges that he has by virtue of his judicial office. Service of a judge in this position is to count as judicial service for all purposes. This proposal is similar to other provisions in legislation establishing a statutory office where it is intended to appoint a person holding judicial office to that statutory office. A similar provision was contained in the Judiciary (Diplomatic Representation) Act 1942 which provided for the appointment of Sir Owen Dixon, then a justice of the High Court of Australia, to be Australian Minister to the United States. Section 13 of the Law Reform Commission Act 1973 similarly enables a judge to be appointed as a Commissioner and to retain his judicial status and the rights which attach to that status.

A judge appointed as Director-General is to receive such additional salary and annual allowance as are necessary to bring his salary and annual allowance to the level payable to the Chief Judge of the Australian Industrial Court. Mr Justice Woodward now receives such additional remuneration by virtue of his office as President of the Trade Practices Tribunal. Provision is made for the salary of the DirectorGeneral to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal in the situation where he is not a judge. The second Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, provides for an increase of one in the number of judges in the Australian Industrial Court so that the Court will consist of a Chief Judge and 10 other judges. This will allow the court to operate if necessary at its present strength during the period of Mr Justice Woodward’s appointment with ASIO which will be for a number of years.

Debate (on motion by Mr E. G. Whitlam) adjourned.

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

Second Reading

AttorneyGeneral · Wentworth · LP

-I move:

I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr E. G. Whitlam) adjourned.

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

Second Reading

Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

That the Bill be now read a second time.

In the present economic situation the Government has found it necessary to consider all available means of reducing Government expenditure. This Bill will amend the National Health Act to implement certain decisions taken after its review of expenditure in the public sector, and announced on 4 and 6 February. Firstly, the Bill provides for an increase from $1.50 to $2, with effect from 1 March, in the general patient contribution for pharmaceutical benefits. As in the past, eligible pensioners- that is those holding a pensioner health benefits card- will not be charged for their pharmaceutical benefits. Similarly, no charge will be made for repatriation prescriptions. Secondly, the Bill provides for the removal of the pharmaceutical benefits concession for beneficiaries under the subsidised health benefits plan.

The purpose of the plan was to provide assistance to eligible persons in meeting the fees charged for medical services, public ward hospital treatment and for certain drugs and medicines. Eligible persons comprise certain low income families, persons in receipt of social security, unemployment, sickness and special benefits, and migrants during their first 2 months in Australia. As honourable members will be aware, under Medibank all persons are entitled to receive medical benefits payable at the rate of at least 85 per cent of the scheduled fees and free standard bed treatment in public hospitals. The introduction of these Medibank arrangements in all States and Territories throughout Australia has rendered the medical and hospital assistance component of the subsidised health benefits plan redundant. Continuation of the plan, purely for pharmaceutical benefits purposes, can no longer be justified as it is estimated to cost $1.3m per year to administer, compared with $700,000 as the value of the benefits. The Bill will remove the concession and will also repeal the redundant provisions of the Act authorising the subsidised health benefits plan itself.

The increase in the patient contribution is one of the means by which the increasing expenditure of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme can be reduced. This increase, together with the removal of the concession for subsidised health benefits plan beneficiaries, will result in a saving of $5. 6m in this financial year, and $2 4m in a full year. Thirdly, the Bill provides for the termination from 1 April 1976 of Commonwealth hospital benefits, authorised by Part V of the National Health Act. The benefits which will cease to be payable are: $2 a day, payable under sub-section 46 ( 1 ) of the Act for patients who are contributors to registered hospital benefits organisations; 80 cents a day, payable under sub-section 53(1) of the Act, for uninsured patients in approved hospitals; $5 a day, payable under sub-section 54(1) of the Act, for pensioners who receive free treatment in public hospitals; and $2 a day, payable under section 55 A of the Act, where an approved hospital does not raise a charge for a patient.

The termination of these benefits is expected to save the Commonwealth Government $2. 5m during the remainder of this financial year and $ 12m in a full year. It is estimated that there will be a saving in the order of $5m to the States in a full year. Most of the savings will result from the termination of the payment of the $2 a day benefit under section 46 of the Act. This is because the other benefits have already been subsumed, under the Commonwealth-State Medibank hospital agreements, with respect to patients in hospitals covered by those agreements. Registered hospital benefits organisations will be requested to provide additional hospital insurance benefits to cover the increased cost of hospital treatment arising from the termination of these benefits. At this time it is estimated that the extra cost to contributors of these organisations will be small- in the region of 10 to 12 cents per week family contribution. With the introduction on 1 July 1975 of Medibank medical benefits authorised by the Health Insurance Act, the payment of Commonwealth medical benefits authorised by the National Health Act was ceased. Provision is also made in the Bill to validate the cessation of those payments. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Cass) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 1.2 to 2.15 p.m.

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Suspension of Standing Orders

Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP

– I move:

This motion is purely procedural, and no immediate introduction of sales tax legislation is contemplated. The alteration of sales tax rates usually involves the introduction of 9 Sales Tax Bills. Over a period of many years the House has found it convenient for the Bills to be taken together. Standing order 291 permits these Bills to be introduced without notice, but it is necessary to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the Bills to be presented and dealt with together. When passed, the motion will remain effective for this session. By moving the motion at this time,- we will avoid the speculation which could result if the motion were to be introduced later in the year. I commend the motion to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Debate resumed from 18 February, on motion by Mr Sainsbury:

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:

May it Please Your Excellency:

We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our Loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.


-When I concluded my remarks last night I was making some comments in relation to the question of cutting government expenditure. This area of the Governor-General’s Speech was very important. Undoubtedly we will all have to cope with the questions that arise from the Government looking carefully at costs and expenditure. We heard some comments this morning at question time in relation to the cost of running the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I believe that the controversy that has raged recently over the possibility of the reintroduction of viewers’ and listeners’ licences has started to bring the question of the cost of running the Australian Broadcasting Commission into some perspective. I think that all honourable members must be prepared to look at the cost of running this very large monolithic organisation. They must be prepared to look at how the curbing of its expenses can be justified and also at these expenses themselves, and ought to be prepared to examine fresh proposals that might bring additional revenue to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. From inquiries I have made, I make the suggestion- honourable members might be prepared to look at this at some time and perhaps even the Cabinet might be prepared to consider it- that the Australian Broadcasting Commission take advertisements to redeem some of the costs of running the Commission. At the moment, if we do not pay for the Australian Broadcasting Commission by way of licences we pay for it by way of taxation revenue; we pay one way or another. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation accepts advertisements. If honourable members had an opportunity to read the Canada Year Book they would appreciate that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation receives a substantial revenue from advertisements that are telecast by that Corporation. It has similar functions to our own Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Canadian Corporation’s total operating expenses for the year 1973 were $237.2m Canadian. It received a gross revenue of $49.4m from advertisements. I believe that in looking at an organisation like the Australian Broadcasting Commission, if it is possible for certain types of programs to have advertisements without interfering with the nature of the program, one could well find that this is a means of gaining for that organisation additional revenue that does not come from the public. I am asked by interjection what the Corporation’s ratings are. The Canadian Corporation’s ratings are reasonable compared with the ratings that we see for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As I understand it the Canadian Corporation has certain areas which are exempt from advertisements. I have obtained a statement from a summary of the report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which states:

There will be new patterns for scheduling of advertisements on TV, adding certain program categories to those already unavailable for advertisements, and ensuring that viewers will see major presentations in the arts and public affairs without commercial interruptions.

But quite clearly, when the Australian Broadcasting Commission operates in areas in which commercial broadcasting stations have to have advertisements, consideration ought to be given to asking it also to raise revenue itself on a truly competitive basis. I thank honourable members for listening to this suggestion amongst others. We have to consider all sorts of avenues of raising money when we are in the difficult times that we are in. As I said yesterday, the economic times that we have now require us to be prepared to accept a dose of castor oil.

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


-Somewhat in anger and shame today I speak in the Address-in-Reply debate- anger because of the way this former Opposition came to power and shame because of a number of the policies it has already carried out. I think it is true to say that when the present Government was an Opposition, it was the most desperate and corrupt Opposition in the history of this Parliament. The entire constitutional upheaval that this country witnessed, the personal bickering between families and friends, was simply the result of a greed for power that could not wait 1 8 months for a legitimate election. The present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the GovernorGeneral, for one reason or another, have done more to diminish the power, the standing and the prestige of the House of Representatives than anyone else in our nation before them. Their actions increased the powers of the Senate when upper Houses and second chambers are becoming an anachronism around the world. So when the Governor-General said in his Speech ‘my Government’, indeed it really was his governmenta government that he had helped to create, a government he first installed on the floor of the House of Representatives while it did not command a majority. That was obviously a first, considering the circumstances, for this country and, I believe, for most others.

Since the decision was taken to put the first Fraser Government into power, and now that it has been confirmed in power, the sad fact is that this has for all time confirmed the power of the Senate to obstruct the lower House, the House of Representatives, in the government of Australia and the administration of the government of Australia, because the Senate can now refuse a money Bill, something which it had never done, even taking into consideration the 1974 situation. The Liberal-National Country Party Opposition never really had what it took to actually refuse the Appropriation Bills a passage. What it did was use the vote of a man who died to make sure that no vote was taken upon them. On this basis we find that the House of Representatives is dissolved under the feet of a Party which commanded a majority twice within a 3 -year period- a completely indefensible situation and one which made us a laughing stock around the world. The problem with Australia is that it is a 2-party country with a one-party Press. We never got to the situation where there has been any real scrutiny of the forces of the Commonwealth in Australia as there is in Britain with newspapers like the Guardian and others. In the next few months if honourable members want to read the international Press which is in the Library they will see what the international Press had to say about the shenanigans in Australia and see how our image as a country has been impaired. It seems we have the worst of both worlds. We have a politically meddling vice-regal functionary assuming the reserve powers of a monarch, and a monarch, on her own admission, suggesting that she had no power to countermand the assumption of powers that he had taken upon himself. If that does not leave Australia back in the situation where America was in about 1770, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) said a couple of days ago, I do not know what it does. The disgraceful situation we have now in respect of the Governor-General of Australia is that every Government in the future will live in fear and trembling about the powers that the Governor-General has at his disposal, knowing that we have a monarch who has said that she is powerless to intervene and do anything about it.

Our objection to what happened before the last election was that the then Leader of the Opposition the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), knew that the GovernorGeneral of Australia would only accept a double dissolution but the then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, did not know. That is one condemnation of the role of the present Prime Minister and the Governor-General. I think it would be fair to describe forever the activities of those gentlemen as being part of what the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) termed a squalid establishment conspiracy. That is what it was. To add insult to injury we have seen the breaking of the traditional separation of powers between the judiciary and the Parliament. That separation was broken by the advice tendered by the Chief Justice to the Governor-General, even though the Governor-General had contrary advice from the Crown Law officer, Mr Maurice Byers, who is the Commonwealth SolicitorGeneral. That officer’s advice was contrary to the advice of the Chief Justice which happened to fit in with the advice of the present AttorneyGeneral, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott), who is a relative of the Chief Justice. If honourable members are looking for any evidence of conspiracy there certainly is a prima facie case staring them in the face.

In the Senate yesterday Senator James McClelland presented a case to show that on 29 October the Governor-General had rung him at his residence and had suggested that he had to find a way out for the then Leader of the Opposition. It happened that on 21 October at Government House I was sworn in as a Minister. While I was there in the anteroom, waiting upon the Governor-General and the then Prime Minister who were having discussions, the GovernorGeneral ‘s private secretary, Mr David Smith, said in conversation to me that they already had a plan to solve the constitutional crisis. He volunteered that to me. I said to him: ‘Can you enunciate upon it?’ He said: ‘No, Sir, I could not do that.’ He said also that this plan would cover all contingencies. I also happened to attend an Executive Council meeting on 6 November, the last Executive Council meeting the former Prime Minister attended in the company of the Governor-General. Primarily it was held to appoint Mr Clem Jones as Chairman of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission and that is the reason I was there. Whilst the business of that meeting is to remain private I can say that throughout the meeting and afterwards there was nothing but the most cordial and jovial of circumstances between the Governor-General and the then Prime Minister. That was on the Thursday before the sacking on the following Tuesday.

I want to state for the record that there was absolutely no way that the then Prime Minister could know that the Governor-General required only a double dissolution. It was very obvious that the then Leader of the Opposition knew because members of his Party were saying to me in the corridors of Parliament the week before: ‘What is he up to, what is he doing?’ They thought that Fraser had run out of steam and out of road.

Mr Donald Cameron:

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order.

Mr Martin:

– Do you not like the truth?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! If the House will come to order we might be able to hear the point of order being raised by the honourable member for Griffith.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– Standing orders 74 and 76 refer respectively to the names of the Queen, the Governor-General and the Governors being used disrespectfully in comments. Standing order 76 also relates to personal reflections. There also is a standing order which requires members of this chamber to refer to other members by the name of their electorate and not as Fraser, Whitlam, Keating, etc. I ask you to uphold the Standing Orders.


– In relation to standing order 74 it has been observed in this chamber that a reference can be made without it being made in a disrespectful way or in a manner which imputes improper motives. I have been listening very carefully to the honourable member for Blaxland. The honourable member has made certain suggestions but in my opinion up to this point of time he has not stated in a direct and deliberate manner that there was any improper motive applying to either His Excellency or the Chief Justice. I think the honourable member is aware of my comment yesterday in regard to the subject matter of this debate. The subject matter can be discussed but a reference to an improper motive or to an endeavour to influence is contrary to the Standing Orders. In that regard I think that up to this point the honourable member for Blaxland has been within the Standing Orders.


– I take the honourable gentleman’s point. The former Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Wannon obviously was hanging out until finally the Governor-General decided to dismiss the former Government because he was aware that the Governor-General was insisting on a double dissolution whereas the then Prime Minister obviously was not. Obviously that is a matter of record and I think it represents a condemnation of the activities of that period. No matter where we look we see evidence of the desperate and ruthless way in which the Liberal Party and National Country Party brought themselves to power. All they successfully did was to get a government into an election situation during a period when it was unpopular. They removed from the Government of the day the right to choose the date of an election, something which most governments have always enjoyed. In fact the date of the elections was of their choosing because the Governor-General was in their back pocket.

I said that I was ashamed of what this Government has done. The other thing that is responsible for that feeling flows not only from its string of broken promises on things like wage indexation, pension increases, child care and others that it said that it would honour but also in respect of resources and agriculture. I would like to deal first of all with resources. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, stumped his way around Australia suggesting that the former Government was continually on overseas junkets and wasting the taxpayers’ money. Within 6 weeks he was on a junket to Japan which produced absolutely nothing. The obvious question was why did he go there. What brought him to the conclusion that he should go to Japan? If he wanted to renegotiate iron ore, if he was concerned about iron ore, coal and other commodities, why did he not beckon the Japanese here to discuss matters with him? It always has been the traditional ploy that once a person is in Tokyo, particularly someone like the Deputy Prime Minister, he could be had for breakfast- and have him for breakfast they did. He came back to Australia and suggested that the Japanese intend to take as much coal as was mentioned in the Inayama agreement made between the former Minister for Minerals and Energy, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and the Japanese Government. The Deputy Prime Minister had said earlier last year that that agreement was worth nothing. When he got to Tokyo he found that it was worth very much and that it represented the maximum that could have been negotiated. He came back to Australia and said that the Japanese in fact had decided to take that much coal but did not say that there will be a loss in the profitability of the Australian coal industry, in fact a loss to the tune of $4 a ton.

I want to point out a couple of facts apparent from Press releases issued, one last year and one recently, in respect to the Inayama agreement. The first is from the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 July and it states:

Japanese steel producers will nearly double their purchase of Australian coking coal in the next S years, and have agreed to a 71 per cent price rise for the top grade coking coal.

The new 5 year agreement negotiated by the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, will lift the value of coal exports to Japan from $400m last year to $ 1 ,000m this year.

By 1980, Australia can expect to earn nearly $ 1,700m a year from its coking exports to Japan … He had been informed of the terms in a letter yesterday from Mr Yoshihiro Inayama, chairman of the board of Nippon Steel Corporation, representing the Japanese steel mills.

The report also stated:

Mr Connor said the arrangements represented earnings of more than $7,000m for Australia during the next S years.

For the information of the House, that is the largest trade deal ever negotiated by an Australian Government. In the Australian Financial Review of 18 February this year there appeared a heading stating: ‘Nippon Steel denies “no cutbacks” promise ‘. The report beneath that heading said:

Mr Saburo Tanabe senior managing director of Nippon Steel, denied the report that he had promised Deputy Prune Minister, Mr Anthony, ‘no cutbacks’ in iron ore and coal imports.

He said in Tokyo that there might be volume cutbacks in ore and coal imports during fiscal year 1976. compared with the volume imported during fiscal year 1 975.

Further on the report stated:

Mr Tanabe clarified that he honoured the Connor.Inayama letter concerning an additional 20 million tonnes coal purchase by Japanese mills by 1980 . . .

According to Mr Tanabe price negotiations on coal have not started substantially yet though shippers have visited Japan in turn.

The report also states:

American coal producers are nearing agreement to the reduction in both volumes and prices. The executive . . .

That is Mr Tanabe- expects that this will affect the negotiations with Australian coal sellers . . . Mr Tanabe said that he was impressed by the good natured personality and flexible attitude of Mr Anthony . . .

That is really saying that he is a soft touch- but did not see much changes in their basic policy from the one of the former Labor Government.

The reason he said that was to lull everyone in Australia into a false sense of security and into believing that the present Deputy Prime Minister shares the same capacity for negotiation and the same policy as the former Minister for Minerals and Energy, the honourable member for Cunningham. Obviously he does not. In fact he has returned to Australia after failing to secure in Japan any firm commitment on tonnages and prices over the next 12 months. Rumour has it that there will be a reduction in coal prices of $4 a ton and that tonnages will go down. So much for the capacity of Mr Anthony, the Deputy Prime Minister, for international negotiation. The Japanese, as is well known from functionaries and various officers throughout New South Wales and Canberra, hold the honourable gentleman in contempt. Last year he went to Japan while the then Minister for Minerals and Energy was there and in Tokyo openly attacked the Minister. One thing that the Japanese business people cannot tolerate is someone who is disrespectful to his own government, whether it is a government of the same political persuasion or not. The other thing about the honourable gentleman is that he has constantly criticised the Labor Government for what he called the gun at the head resources diplomacy. Yet he hot foots it to Japan to talk about beef, coal and iron ore at the one time. In other words, if he did not come back with some throw-aways for the Australian beef industry there would not be any cooperation in respect of the minerals. I do not disparage the result in respect of chilled meats. I think the amount is up to about 30 000 tons. It is a good thing. It is more a by-product of the gun at the head technique as far as he is concerned than the good will of the Japanese Government.

Let us look at other areas of the Government’s policy in respect of resources. Let us look at uranium. Members might have noticed in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday a letter from Sir Philip Baxter in which he deplored the fact that the present Australian Government is prepared to let private investment, including overseas private investment, back into the Northern Territory uranium business. He said:

The deposits whose descriptions send ripples through the stock exchanges do not belong to the mining companies but to the people of Australia. They are a very considerable asset.

At a present reserve of 300 000 tonnes- though much more will be discovered- and at prices likely in the next decade, they are worth about $ 18,000m and should not cost more than $6,000m to extract. The profit could be around $ 12,000m, a substantial part of which should belong to Australia.

Any proposal to hand over this son of business, if such is in fact contemplated, without restrictions or control, to private mining companies, which may not be Australian, must cause concern.

He also said:

What we need is a properly planned uranium policy with the Government in the chair.

In other words, he is backing Labor policy, which is to make sure that from now on no private exploration will be allowed in the Northern Territory and that we will deal with companies that are presently there on a profit sharing basis because title for the reserves is vested in the Commonwealth of Australia under the Atomic Energy Act. Yet this disgraceful Government is contemplating giving away profitability of about $ 12,000m before tax to tinpot companies which, in some cases, have a capital of no more than $750,000. The capital in some of the companies has come from overseas people to whom the companies would be subsequently selling uranium. It is a disgraceful policy. I do not believe it flows from the Leader of the Country Party. It flows from the stupid Ayn Rand policies of the Prime Minister- his complete and slavish dedication to free enterprise regardless of the national interest.

Let us look at other policies. In agriculture we see the same thread running through the Government’s policies- the re-introduction of the superphosphate bounty when the Industries

Assistance Commission’s full report is due in June this year. The Government has extended the subsidy until June 1977, 12 months beyond the date of presentation of the report. The bounty, as usual, is an across the board, indiscriminate subsidy which mostly favours the wealthy and which is given regardless of need. Seventy per cent of the subsidy goes to 20 per cent of the producers. I think the appropriation in the last full year was $58m. The present Prime Minister is on record as saying that he did not believe it would improve productivity by any great degree. So there is no basis for the subsidy. It is only a sop. It does not matter where else we look. In terms of meat, there is the Government’s short- sightedness in respect of levies. There is its failure to make a decision on the apple and pear industry for the coming season. No matter where one looks one finds not only incompetence but also a complete dereliction of the national interest. It is a sad thing that this Government has come to power the way it has and is pursuing the policies it is because I believe they are not in the national interest.


– I call the honourable member for St George. Before he commences- I see the honourable member for Melbourne is on his feet.

Mr Innes:

– It has been the procedure in this chamber -


-Is this a point of order?

Mr Innes:

– Yes.


-State it.

Mr Innes:

– My point of order is that the procedure in this chamber has been that people who make their maiden speech are heard in silence. A number of honourable members continually interject- one in particular, the honourable member for Swan.


-This is not a point of order, with respect to the honourable gentleman. I have had the advantage of his making the point to me. The point that he makes is a point of practice as distinct from a point of order. I understand the point. I was about to draw attention to the fact that the next speaker will be making his maiden speech. Maiden speeches are heard in silence. The honourable member for Melbourne has made the point to me that while a maiden speech is being made persons ought not to interject because of the practice of the House. I agree with him. I draw to the attention of all members who have not yet made their maiden speech that they ought not to interject because the courtesy which will be extended to them ought to be extended by them. They ought not to interject when other members are speaking.

St George

-Firstly, Mr Speaker, I add to the congratulations which you have received on the assumption of your high office. I am honoured to represent the electorate of St George. As is well known, St George is a classic swinging seat. The swinging seats are the cradle of democracy without which there can be no change of government. I can assure the previous speaker, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), that the issues in the last election were well and truly understood by the electors of St George and the electors of Australia. Those issues were dealt with decisively on 13 December. It would be better for the Parliament as a whole if the Opposition were to leave that matter alone and were to provide constructive opposition in this Parliament. The seat of St George is a microcosm of the Australian nation. There are a very large number of elderly people. Indeed, twice the New South Wales average number of pensioners lives in St George.

There are a large number of young home owners who were seriously affected in the last 3 years by the economic conditions. There are many entrepreneurs engaged in small business who likewise were in difficulties. There is probably the largest cross section of migrants and ethnic groups in Australia- British, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Yugoslav, Croatian, Lebanese and substantial Chinese and Philippines communities. The ethnic communities have provided a very significant contribution to Australia, particularly to the seat of St George, by involving themselves in a wide range of community interests and activities. There are a great many trade unionists in St George. A great many people in the electorate are traditional supporters of the Labor movement and its legitimate aims. There are within St George a great many charitable organisations, benevolent associations, the Red Cross and a large number of similar groups working for the welfare of the community.

St George is also an electorate that has some particular, unique and very difficult problems to which I hope the House in the future will give serious consideration to assisting to solve. One of these problems is the environmental difficulties arising from Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport. I hope that possible future problems arising out of other developments in the area may be reduced as much as possible. An excellent project involving the Federal Government, the New South Wales State Government and local governments has been undertaken to solve the pollution problems of the Cooks River. I think that this is an example of the way in which all tiers of government and local communities can co-operate for the further benefit of electorates and the Australian community.

Outside, perhaps, of some country communities, the community in St George would represent one of the most diverse communities in Australia. Whatever is likely to occur in St George is perhaps a litmus test or a barometer for the remainder of Australia. In 1972 it was clear that there was a mood of expectation across the nation that cut across class and suburb. As a result there was a change of government. There was a mood of disappointment, perhaps deep disappointment, in the middle and latter parts of last year and again there was a change of government. But I believe that neither the people in St George nor the people of Australia as a whole have lost the expectation that this country can attain its rightful position as the finest nation on earth.

If the Government continues with its programs -and I was particularly pleased to see what was proposed in the Governor-General’s Speech in this respect- it will be seen to be a government for all the people. Such a government- and this would be seen in St George and reflected throughout Australia- would be prepared as much as anything else to trust the people. I believe that at present the Australian people understand the very deep crisis into which this country has been plunged. They understand that it will be as much their own efforts as anybody else’s which will get us out of this mess. With proper political leadership and by people being told simply and bluntly of the difficulties, the problems and the need for sacrifice, I am firmly of the view that the people will respond to such a straightforward request made on the basis of responsible political leadership.

I would like to mention the large number of elderly people who live in the St George electorate. Many of these people reach the stage where they have to sell their homes and move into retirement villages or other similar establishments, of which there are many in St George. I ask the House and the responsible Ministers not to be deterred, in following policy, by perhaps apparent problems such as the cost of land in inner city areas. I ask them not to insist upon the allocation of resources for the building of retirement centres well away from the city or well away from the areas in which the prospective occupants have lived all of their lives. Ultimately it is not economic to adopt such an approach. Many people who live in Earlwood, which was the first and largest soldier settlement area after the First World War, and in surrounding areas will soon retire or reach the stage of not being able to cope with the expense of running their own homes. Many of them live in large homes which are becoming a burden to them. We all know the difficulties of rates and the like. Perhaps a practical solution would be- and again this could be achieved through Federalism with cooperation between the various governmentsto allow many of the imposts or charges upon these elderly persons to be direct charges against their estates rather than immediate outgoings which cause hardship.

Apart from the humanitarian aspects of such an approach I would like to point out the economic advantage. Earlwood and surrounding areas have the largest population of elderly home owners in Australia. If these people on selling their homes are able to move into a village or some other type of accommodation near this area they will have access to their doctors, to their local friends- and to their community activities and they will be able to use the community resources that are already there. Young families would be able to move into the homes that are vacated by these elderly people. There is a great influx of people into St George from the inner city areas of Sydney. Surely it is desirable for a working man and his family to be able to move outwards to the closest suburbs without having to go miles and miles outside the metropolitan area from whence they would have to commute at expense and difficulty, and when the schools, hospitals and pre-existing amenities in an area such as St George would not be used because there would be fewer children and fewer people in the area. In that case resources would be wasted. I would therefore ask the House and the responsible Ministers to keep these matters in mind.

I would like to raise one other matter. Although the Australian people accept the desperate and almost dangerous state of the economy I do not believe that they accept that as a justification for the desperate and almost dangerous state of the defences of this nation. I do not think that this matter was an election issue or that it is an overtly popular issue. But it is an issue which is not far below the surface with the vast majority of Australian people. I think the time is long overdue for legitimate efforts to be made by both sides of the House to try to reach a bipartisan approach to defence. It is something which most of the community would like to see; it is something which regrettably has not come about.

I would also like to see the community reassured in respect to defence, as I think they must have been by the Governor-General’s Speech and by the fact that the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) was the first Minister to make a ministerial statement, and by other activities of the Department of Defence. But the people must be even further reassured of the vital approach that this Government takes. I think it could be said, not with certainty- I certainly do not hope that this would happen but I do not think that many people would disagree with me- that there is the possibility at least that somewhere, some time, for some reason, some Australians will again be at war, and that some of those Australian will be casualties. It is nothing to the point that they know very little about politics; it is nothing to the point that young persons who went to Vietnam and died knew nothing about party politics one way or the other. It does not matter to them why they become involved in some tragedy. What does matter is that they do become involved. We certainly hope that every member of this House would never wish to be ranked amongst what regrettably is a large host of politicians through history who have by bungling or failure to face up to these matters been guilty of a form of very serious lack of responsibility to their nations and to the children of their constituents. I know that there are serious matters of economics involved. I know that there are continual conflicts of manpower problems, equipment procurement and difficulties of maintaining the state of the art, as it is called, within the forces to ensure that they continue at a high level.

One of the bitterest conflicts that ever occurred between President Roosevelt and General MacArthur took place in 1933 when MacArthur as Chief of Staff of the American Army went in asking for the world and Roosevelt offered nothing. A compromise was hammered out in which MacArthur was told to get together with the budget and work something out. When the Second World War commenced, America was about nineteenth on the list of countries in armed strength, and managed from this base to get through a very great crisis which it otherwise might not have overcome.

The Government is faced with extremely difficult tasks. The first one is to overcome one of the serious effects left by the Labor Administration, which is a still unfortunate decline in morale. I think this has been arrested, but the first thing is for every member of the Australian armed forces to know that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) and every member on the Government side of the House and I would hope every member on the other side believes that his service is honourable, is worthwhile, and is welcome by the Australian community. The second aspect- I mention matters that should not cost much, if any, money- is the question of carrying out training to maintain the state of the art. It is difficult when reading the defence Budget to divine how training time or time for exercises is set out. We have seen in the past few years that at very short notice exercises, promotion courses or other very important activities have been cancelled. It is important that a specific heading allow for at least one annual major, solid largescale exercise, a testing and hard exercise, which will be an inviolate part of the Budget. I believe that if that were put into operation it would enable us at very little cost to see the Forces keep up the state of the art while we are waiting for the time at which there will be expenditures on procurement or even in the future, if it is possible, increases in manpower.

The other matter that needs to be considered is the internal relationship of the various units, particularly the relationship of the regular forces and the reserve. There are various options, but it is becoming urgent that a decision be made. Many people would support the regular officers’ point of view that there should be, as is our policy, 3 task force contingents, which is really approximately one division or even a little more, and that the Australian Army Reserve should be used to flesh out those units. Others, and in particular members of the reserve, would support the suggestion of 3 task force contingents backed up by 2 Reserve divisions. That could not be achieved at present. These options are not inconsistent. There may be a way in which one can be put into operation followed by the other. It is of very great importance that the Reserve be given a direct, clear operational role. Amendments to the Defence Act are long overdue to ensure this purpose. Until we do this the forces will not be able really to get on with their job.

Again talking about the state of the art, I remind the House how clearly historical examples show us what can happen to the finely honed blade of the forces. All I am asking is that they be given a chance to do their job of work, because soldiers join up to work and to work hard. Between 1815, when the British Army had reached a reasonable stage of active service, and about 1850 when the Crimean War came about, the British Army degenerated into a farce because of inability through budgetary problems to continue actively to train.

I know that I have spoken about only one or two brief matters relating to the Army itself and I know that I have not spoken about any of the other Services. I appreciate the difficulties of continental defence, which was the previous Government’s policy and which in fair measure is part of the policy of this Government. I know we must make allowances for the other Services because it may well be said that they are our first line of defence. But if we are going to take continental defence seriously we have to accept the possibility that we may actually have to defend this continent at some time, and that may mean the use of ground forces here- I would certainly hope not. At present, with some exceptions, the Reserve is incapable of being committed as units. There are very good individuals in it and some exceptionally good units, but in general the proposition is true. The regular Army is of insufficient size to handle an immediate emergency or mobilisation. There was a clear commitment on a previous occasion by the Minister to ensuring that we have an adequate defence force in being, whatever proportion of national resources is required or whatever structure is required. I put to the House that we should be ensuring that as soon as possible decisions are made to define and arrange for the active training deployment of that force in being.

Once again I return to the electorate of St George and say to the House that the No. 1 issue in St George is Australia, its people, its children and its future. If this Government, as I believe it will, governs for all Australians, despite the backbreaking efforts it will have to make in fighting on three or four fronts to provide real social progress and change within the capacity of the economy and within a framework of national security, it will earn the gratitude of all Australians. The Governor-General’s Speech is the first step towards achieving that objective for the Australian people and their sorely troubled but still magnificent nation.


– Order! While the honourable member for St George was speaking a number of honourable members from the Government side were in conflict with the Standing Orders when they passed between the honourable member speaking and the Chair. It is against the Standing Orders and it is a discourtesy to the member speaking. I do not wish to comment on the quality of the speech- that stands for itself in the judgment of all honourable members- but to pass between the honourable member and the Chair is a discourtesy to the honourable member speaking, is a breach of the Standing Orders and does not maintain the decorum of the House.


-Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity of congratulating you on your election as Speaker. You are well known for your good humour. I feel sure that you will bring that good humour to the office of the Chair, and I hope you will also bring with it tolerance. I also congratulate the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) on his maiden speech. Of course he will find it very difficult to live up to the record and the reputation of the former honourable member for St George and Minister for Defence, who was of course very highly regarded by all the defence chiefs and departmental heads.

Mr James:

– An outstanding Minister.


– Without a doubt, as the honourable member just said, he was an outstanding Minister. I refer to Mr Bill Morrison, who was the former member for St George. I realise that the honourable member will find it difficult to live up to Bill Morrison’s reputation. Nevertheless he has just made his maiden speech and I congratulate him on it.

A lot has been said over the months about the events prior to and on 1 1 November during a period when fundamental constitutional conventions which form the very framework of our democracy were broken. Of course this led up to the coup d’etat of 1 1 November. One matter that has not been mentioned in the House previously- I think it should be mentioned- is the opinion given on television by Sir Murray Tyrrell, who of course was Secretary to a number of Governors-General and who retired just prior to the present Governor-General taking office. Sir Murray Tyrrell appeared on television on 2 occasions. On both occasions he made it very clear that it was his view that it was the Senate that was in error in breaking the convention that it should not reject money Bills. He also made it very clear that he considered that it was the then Opposition, the present Government, which was in error. Finally, after the coup d’etat, he said on television words to this effect: ‘There is no doubt about it. Australia has been through a revolution during the last few days. It may have been a bloodless revolution but it was a revolution’.

Mr James:

– Strong words.


– As the honourable member for Hunter has just said, they were very strong words from a man who has served in a position which has enabled him to understand the Constitution of this country and what is required of the office of the Governor-General probably better than has anybody else in the country. His job was to work with and advise successive GovernorsGeneral. It was he who stated: ‘Yes, there is no doubt about it, Australia has been through a revolution in the last few days’. Like it or not, no matter how honourable members opposite try to gild the lily, the facts are that a government was removed- picked off- right in the middle of its term by methods which are not in accordance with the normal requirements of the Constitution of Australia and certainly the constitutional conventions which apply in Australia.

A matter with which I wish to deal arose this morning. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) refused to agree to a request this morning by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), for a full inquiry into statements made on the AM radio program this morning. I have here a transcript of that section of the AM broadcast of today, 19 February, which concerns me. It reads as follows:

You may remember that last week, the New York weekly newspaper, the Village Voice published a secret congressional report on the CIA, the so-called Pyke Papers. Now in its latest edition, the Village Voice has turned its attention to the CIA in Australia with allegations that the CIA was involved in the dismissal of the former Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam. With the details, here is Ray Martin in New York.

Mr Martin:

– That was not on AM, was it?


– This is a transcript of the AM program this morning. The transcript of what Ray Martin said reads:

The allegations, and that’s all they are, have surfaced in a lengthy column by Alexander Coburn, a staff reporter for the Village Voice. Coburn headlined today’s story ‘CIA triumph, incredible but true, the CIA came through’. According to Coburn, the US intelligence establishment has been keeping a signalled triumph from the attention of the American people- that triumph, again according to Coburn, was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government last November. The gist of today’s newspaper report is this, that former Prime Minister Whitlam had decided to release to Parliament, some secret details about the American base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs.

I wish to interpose here and say, as a matter of interest, that I was one of the members who went to Pine Gap and asked, as a member of this Parliament for the right to go in to find out what Pine Gap was all about but I was refused permission. I think they would find it very hard to find anything wrong so far as my personal attitude on the defence of this country is concerned.

Mr Martin:

– Which government was it that stopped you going into it?


– That was the Gorton Government. I return to the transcript of the broadcast:

The gist of today’s newspaper report is this, that former Prime Minister Whitlam had decided to release to Parliament, some secret details about the American base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs. What is more that the Labor Government was making threatening noises about maybe not renewing the lease on Pine Gap. At the same time, Mr Whitlam was due on November 1 1 -

Note the date, 1 1 November - to reply in Parliament to a question from Mr Anthony about the activities of Richard Lee Stalling, an American technician who had been charged in Australian papers with being a top agent of the CIA in Australia. So, on November 10, one day before the Whitlam reply-

Note the date, 10 November- the CIA informed Australian Intelligence in Canberra that ‘recent developments by Mr Whitlam would blow the cover of American spies in Australia and also endanger the gathering of intelligence, presumably the future of Pine Gap’. So again, according to the Village Voice, the Governor-General, who was allegedly favourably disposed to the CIA was approached, and then the newspaper says the following day came the dismissal.


-Order! I understood the honourable gentleman to say that the GovernorGeneral had a relationship with the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. Would the honourable member repeat the words he used?


– I will repeat them. The transcript of the broadcast reads:

So again, according to the Village Voice, the GovernorGeneral, who was allegedly favourably disposed to the CIA was approached-

Of course there are many people who think the CIA is a very worthy organisation. I am not one of them but there are some who do think that. The transcript of the broadcast goes on: . . . and then the newspaper says the following day came the dismissal. Again it must be repeated that these are only allegations and have no evidence to back them up- at least not in today’s report. Much of the Coburn report is based on stories in the Australian Press, but more especially on an article in the latest edition of the French Journal Le Monde Diplomatique, by Australian Journalist, Malcolm Salmon. But what is significant is that these very serious allegations have now surfaced in the American Press. The Village Voice is distributed nationally in the United States and has a circulation of about 165 000 per edition. It will almost certainly focus the congressional spotlight on the charges and perhaps bring a closer investigation of CIA activities in Australia.

I sincerely hope it does. The transcript continues:

Coburn concludes his report by commenting, ‘at the very least, the magnificent saga of Sir John Kerr should be widely publicised to give comfort to those who feel in these dark days, that the CIA simply cannot put a foot right’.

In other words, the allegation is that for once the CIA was successful. It was able to bring about the removal of a government in Australia by way of a coup d’etat. I think it is most important -


-Order! I will not permit in debate any reference to the Governor-General which casts a reflection upon him. The honourable gentleman is casting a reflection upon the Governor-General. I have heard speeches which have been close to casting reflections so I have decided that I will give a ruling in advance so that it can be adhered to by all honourable members. Standing order 74 states:

No Member may use the name of Her Majesty, her representative in the Commonwealth, or her representative in a State, disrespectfully in debate, nor for the purpose of influencing the House in its deliberations.

It is clear from May’s Parliamentary Practiceand the House has always followed this rule- that reflections cannot be cast in debate on the conduct of the Governor-General and certain other persons, unless the discussion is based upon a substantive motion, drawn in proper terms, which admits of a distinct vote of the House. Also such matters cannot be questioned by way of amendment, that is, because an amendment has been moved a reflection will still be out of order. Also, such matters cannot be raised upon any motion for the adjournment.

I will expand a little on the opinion which I take on this matter. Some past rulings have been very narrow. It has, for instance, been ruled that the Governor-General must not be either praised or blamed in this chamber and, indeed, that the name of the Governor-General must not be brought into debate at all. I feel such a view is too restrictive. I think honourable members should have reasonable freedom in their remarks. I believe that the forms of the House will be maintained if the Chair permits words of praise or criticism provided such remarks are free of any words which reflect personally on His Excellency or which impute improper motives to him. For instance, to say that in the member’s opinion the Governor-General was right or wrong and give reasons in a dispassionate way for so thinking would in my view be in order. To attribute motive to the Governor-General’s actions would not be in order. I ask honourable members to adhere to this rule. I draw the attention of the honourable member for Chifley to the fact that if he imputes motive for the action he will be out of order.

Mr Young:

– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I raise with you now the question of the very deliberative interpretation of the Standing Orders which you have given. Because the issue which you have raised has been so much a part of the debate on the Address-in-Reply which has taken place I now draw to your attention the fact that the interpretation of the Standing Orders has taken up some Vh minutes of the time of the honourable member for Chifley. I ask that you now extend the time of the honourable member for Chifley.


– I am in the hands of the House on that matter. If a motion for an extension of time is moved it will be dealt with by the House at that time.


- Mr Speaker, I think that a ruling of that type should not have taken up the time of an honourable member’s speech. Obviously it was prepared -


-Order! That is a reflection on the Chair. I suggest that the honourable member for Chifley makes his point in debate.


– I will make the point, Mr Speaker; do not worry about that. I make the point that the document which I have read out in the House makes allegations of such a serious nature- they may or may not be true- that I believe the Government cannot do other than immediately institute a full inquiry into the matter to ascertain whether the allegations are correct or incorrect. If they turn out to be correct the inquiry should make recommendations to this Parliament as to what should be done to rectify the situation. It is a very serious allegation which affects the whole framework of our relations with the United States of America and certainly imputes that the CIA is very active here in Australia and is even prepared to take action to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.

There is another matter with which I wish to deal. Yesterday each honourable member received a copy of the Round-up of Economic Statistics. The summary at the beginning says:

Aggregate demand remained weak in December.

That is correct. If one goes to any of the major stores one will be told that demand has reduced ever since 1 1 November and this month and in the month of January has remained very weak. As late as a week ago I was speaking to the manager of one of the major stores in Sydney. He said that consumer demand is still very weak. In other words, despite the suggestions by the Government that its action is enthusing business confidence and increasing business activity, the contrary is the case. People are very frightened today. They are putting more money into the banks for a rainy day. That is what is occurring. The summary also says:

The labour market appears to have firmed somewhat in January although the firming is largely confined to Melbourne.

A set of monetary measures designed, inter alia, to absorb excess liquidity was introduced on 22 January.

The Government has introduced a set of measures such as the Australian savings bonds which have had a dramatic impact upon the building societies. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) mentioned in the House the number of applications for savings bonds and the total amount received. But what he did not mention was on whom the cheques lodged with the bonds were drawn. The people in the banks will tell one that a great number of them are drawn on the building societies. This has meant a dramatic drain of funds out of the building societies and this in turn will force them to increase their interest rates. They will have to do that in defence. This will mean an increase in the general level of interest rates in the building industry right throughout the length and breadth of Australia.

Mr Les Johnson:

– It is inevitable.


-As the honourable member for Hughes says, it is inevitable. This is a very good example of what could be called a credit squeeze by stealth. It could not be labelled any other way. This is not an official credit squeeze. The Government is using a new instrument altogether which is having and will have a tremendous impact upon that key industry, the building industry, which is a barometer of the economic health of this country. It is unfortunate that all these extraordinary, restrictive measures are being taken by the new Government led by the Prime Minister who is an extreme conservative, an extreme right wing Prime Minister. In fact he is so right wing that he makes Sir Robert Menzies look like a young radical. The present Prime Minister’s attitude is definitely to introduce these various measures because he is in the hands of Treasury which undoubtedly believes that the Australian economy is overheated. This has been stated by officials of the Treasury. Treasury apparently does not realise the extent of unemployment in this country. The policy will mean that the economy gets ‘some short sharp knocks’. Those are the types of policies being introduced by this Government.

I was pleased to listen to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) yesterday. I do not always agree with him but I was glad that he had the courage to stand up in this Parliament and criticise. (Extension of time granted) I thank the House. I was saying that I was very pleased to see that the honourable member for Mackellar had the courage to criticise the economic policies of his own Government, pointing out how restrictive they are and the impact that they will have on economic recovery which, under the Hayden Budget, was starting to make itself felt. The honourable member pointed out, quite rightly in my belief, that the measures being undertaken by this Government and the impact of Treasury upon the policies of this Government would mean- I believe that I am quoting him corrrectly- not only the slowing up of economic revival but also that the economy could go backwards instead. According to the Press this morning he was joined by other members of the Liberal Party caucus. They call it a party meeting but it is still the same thing. It is a caucus. He was joined, I think, by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) and one other honourable member. I do not recollect who it was.

Dr Klugman:

– Lilley.


– That is right, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). He is a man of some knowledge of economic factors so he should know something about it. He would have far better qualifications than the Treasurer. I do not think that the Treasurer was a public relations consultant; I think that he was a management consultant. I think we have to be very careful indeed and we must make sure that this Parliament acts as a watchdog over the Government’s economic policies.

Finally I want to refer to the question of legal aid for the enforcement of maintenance orders. The Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) made a Press statement this week on the subject. I had raised the matter with him. The facts are that under the previous Act maintenance orders were not very effective. They were simple but ineffective. Under the new Act they are very effective but they are complicated and require a trained legal mind to handle them. Women in receipt of deserted wives pensions have come to my office and have told me that their husbands or former husbands have welshed on the maintenance payments. Accordingly they have gone to the Legal Aid Office for assistance. Up till 22 January the Legal Aid Office gave that assistance but on 22 January it was instructed from Canberra to cease giving that aid. Furthermore, these people found when they then went to the clerks of petty sessions that they too had been instructed from their head office not to give any assistance with either applications for maintenance orders or with enforcement orders.

When I spoke to the Attorney-General he endeavoured to imply that this decision to cut out legal aid in respect of enforcement orders was a decision of the former Attorney-General, Mr Enderby. I checked with Mr Enderby and he quite definitely said no. As a matter of fact, he made the very important and valid point that he was making arrangements to fund the States so that they could employ special officers in the

Family Courts to handle enforcement orders. That was a proposition which he was putting forward. So it is obvious that this Government has decided against funding the States for the employment of officers to handle enforcement orders. The present Attorney-General was not frank in his Press statement when he said:

The previous Government had concluded that the enforcement of maintenance orders could most economically and efficiently be effected by using existing State machinery.

That is true, but what he does not say is that the previous Government had decided to fund the States to make sure that officers were employed in the courts of petty sessions to handle enforcement orders. I call upon the Government to be frank about this matter. I ask the AttorneyGeneral immediately to bring into being arrangements which will ensure that the undertakings given by the previous Government to the States are abided by and not ignored, as they are being ignored at present.


-Mr Speaker, you may have noticed that I went across to the table and brought back a glass of water to my seat. The reason for doing that was that I had suffered a very serious shock. I had not only suffered a shock but also my reaction was one of complete disappointment and almost disbelief. We listened to the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) make a great -

Mr James:

– Good speech.


– I am glad that you appreciated it and I am doubly aware of the fact that the honourable member for Hunter would show an appreciation of that speech.


– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Kennedy and the honourable member for Hunter not continue their discussion of yesterday evening.


– I want the House and the nation to understand that what I am about to say would undoubtedly attract the support of the honourable member for Hunter because the quotation that the honourable member for Chifley read to this House was written by Mr Salmon, the editor of the Tribune and a member of the National Executive of the Communist Party of Australia. The entire quotation on the Central Intelligence Agency was from an article by a member of the National Executive of the Communist Party. Do honourable members wonder why I went for a drink of water? It seems that the criticism of the CIA is becoming more and more accelerated and is coming from the same source alt the time. Could it be, and this is being slightly suspicious, that there is a world wide movement to break down the efficient system by which the CIA is vigilant to protect the free world? Could that be the case? I notice that the honourable member for Chifley has left the chamber. I do not blame him one bit. He is probably sending telegrams to his electorate disowning the whole of the quotation.

I would like to concentrate for the next 17% minutes on certain matters affecting the most prolific part of this nation, northern Australia. I would like to talk of what is required to bring to that area, which is subject to the exploitation of its huge resources, the quality of life which its citizens should attract. When I talk in Canberra of northern Australia I refer to everything north of a line running through Brisbane, the famous Brisbane line. We have been through an agonising 3 years and no one attracted the spleen and venom of those who formerly sat on the Government side but will never again have the comfort of sitting on that side more than did the people in non-metropolitan areas. The reason for this was clear. The former Government was under some sort of misapprehension that people living in capital cities would be attracted by their odd, queer and weird politics. However, these people gave a very clear decision on that question last December, as we all know.

One of the products of the Whitlam era was the creation of conflict between people in metropolitan areas and those in non-metropolitan areas and it is forever to the shame of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) that he constantly did everything possible to create that conflict. One ounce of common sense would have clearly indicated that we are interdependent. The prosperity of one part of this great nation affects profoundly the prosperity of another. This was clearly illustrated when that agonising strike occurred in Mount Isa. It brought a great part of the wealth producing machinery of this nation to a sickening halt. We saw the provincial city of Townsville come to a standstill. We saw the prosperity of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, come to a standstill, and we saw only one provincial city producing a great part of the wealth of this nation.

It is apparent to everyone that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) already is making his mark. He has a huge and distasteful job to do; that is, to restore the economy of this nation. I am sure that every Australian is proud to serve under him because he is a man of the highest integrity, a man of huge capacity and a man who will make up his mind, set his sights and proceed. It was almost laughable to hear the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), for whom I must confess I have a great deal of respect because I think he is intense and reasonably sincere according to the standards of those who sit on that side of the House, speaking of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). Do not get me wrong or let me get over-enthusiastic about the honourable member but I was absolutely amazed not only at his naivety but also at how he thought he was convincing any Australian that the recent visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, my Leader, to Japan was abortive. It was so productive that I heard one person who is forever castigating my Leader say that the Deputy Prime Minister has set this nation forward 25 years. That is what he has done in one simple operation. He did not go over there to establish some sort of liaison with people who hold similar ideas to those of the pathetic group that remains on the Opposition side of the House whose objective usually was to go over there, snivel and crawl, and be subservient to some twopence-halfpenny nation because it waved a red flag and espoused the Left. The former Government never woke up to one thing. As one who was a prominent member of the Australian Labor Party for some years I am absolutely appalled and find it difficult to understand that it has no political sensitivity at all. They are constantly ranting about the Governor-General, and who will ever forget -

Mr Innes:

– You were a member of the Democratic Labour Party.


– Yes, that is correct. I know what you are in or should be in. I shopped around until I found the best Party in Australiaone of the best political organisations in the world- and joined it. I do not apologise to the likes of you for that. The Deputy Prime Minister went to Japan and returned and honestly reported the results of his visit. He did not come back and try to impress this nation with the fact that he had sold hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef. He came back and told us quite soberly and with absolute truth and integrity that at this stage it was difficult to say what would happen and how we would go with the selling of beef to Japan. He did not come back and unload what was left of the caviare and champagne and great queues of people who accompanied him. If honourable members look at the list of people who went with the Deputy Prime Minister they will find that they were a hard-working team, unlike when the previous Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister went overseas with their great crowds of friends, relatives and Lord knows what.

I draw attention to some of the detailed requirements of the northern part of Australia.

When one thinks in terms of northern Australiaagain I refer to everything north of the Queensland border, that is the border between Queensland and New South Wales, and running right across to the west- one must think in terms of people and their requirements. One must think of the conditions under which they live and the incentives which attract them to areas which are comparatively remote and in many ways climatically unattractive. If people go into areas such as these they do so for one specific purpose, to develop great wealth-producing industries. One cannot assess the requirements of people in these areas- and I am constantly appalled by any Minister in any government who would do soagainst those of people who live in the more privileged, intense areas of this nation. One cannot judge their requirements that way and any honest administrator would admit this.

One of the factors that most influence the life of not only the people in remote areas such as these but also the industries which they develop is water. Three schemes currently require government backing and government assistance. I make these comments with a full appreciation of the fact that the Government is not looking for ways to spend money but is looking for ways to save money. What I will say emphatically and forever is that governments should not save money at the expense of those industries which eventually will be the wealth producing industries of this nation. They should not economise at the expense of great wealth producing industries. They should not develop city areas at the expense of remote country areas. I refer to 3 specific schemes, all of which are in the northern part of Australia. One is the Burdekin scheme, another is the Urana Dam and the third is the Julius Dam.

In my hands I have a petition which I propose to put before the Prime Minister. I think I can proudly claim that this is the largest petition of its kind per head of population that has ever come to Canberra. There are 8550 signatures to that petition. It is not the normal sort of petition that is presented to the House; it will go directly to the Prime Minister. I know that this scheme is already understood by the Prime Minister, that he has discussed it and that he will do everything possible to assist in bringing it to fruition. It is not the building of an ordinary dam, it is a scheme which will eventually serve 3 distinct mining areas. In other words it is an investment and it will have advantages not only for the city of Mt Isa. I say that because I might be accused of being parochial and this I would resist with all my might. While on the subject of Mt Isa I point out that unless assistance is forthcoming in relation to this scheme we will find that the people there are disadvantaged. Every person who lives in a city such as Mt Isa is a VIP and is there for a specific purpose. They are not there to enjoy the cool breezes or on some tourist jaunt. Tourists merely pass through, although they are very important to the area. This scheme is to serve 3 distinct mineral developments and in the very near future the proposal will be placed in the hands of the Prime Minister.

Another matter that is of vital importance to life in northern Australia is that of housing. The previous Government through one or two of its Ministers, who I must say are not now with us, went around the country making great play of the fact that I had suggested that the possible provision of adobe housing in remote areas should be closely examined. What they did not know was that I had actually studied adobe housing in the mid-west of the United States. These days an adobe house is not just a mud hut with some poor broken down Indian living in it, or something of this nature; it has an aesthetic and climatic value, but above all it is economical because the materials are on the spot. I hope that there will be a detailed examination of the housing requirement for northern Australia.

I now refer to the industry that has emerged as, more or less, the life saver of Australia. We saw the wool industry go through its agony and wondered whether it would survive. A great journalist of this country prophesied that the wool industry had had it and it was no good sending good money after bad. I pay credit to 3 people who stood their ground and would not budge an inch in a long drawn out fight to get the subsidy which eventually led to the survival of the wool industry. They are my Leader, my Deputy Leader and Peter Nixon. We won the fight and within no time- it was the following year- that industry once more was worth $800m to $ 1,000m per annum to this nation. Today it is worth that and more. Then the beef cattle industry was staggering under international market conditions to a point where the producers were fighting not for development but for survival. Not just the producers were affected- most of the larger ones were well able to look after themselves. But the thousands of people in the towns who depend on this industry- the subcontractors, the railway men who get their bit of overtime- were affected. The point I am making is that out of this situation emerged the great giant of the mining industry. It is forever to the shame of members of the Opposition that when in government they brought that industry to its knees. The most devastating part of their record was that in their ivory towers they were so completely convinced that they were right in smashing and breaking up this industry that the former Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) was unapproachable and would not go into dialogue with the industry or any aspect of it.

While I am on the subject of mining I should like to pay tribute to the thousands of coal miners who work in the electorate of Kennedy. I do not do so with the object of making a great impression on the electors in my electorate. I think they know me well enough now and I know them. We had the terrible experience recently of 13 of those men being killed, deep in the heart of the Kennedy electorate. Every coal miner who goes underground knows that he takes with him a certain amount of risk. I am not here to cause any industrial strife, but if ever there were a group of workers who were entitled to every penny they earned it is the coal miners of this nation.

While I am talking about coal miners I want to talk about the small miner generally. I am proud that from this coalition, from the Liberal and National Country Parties, from the FraserAnthony Government, a firm undertaking has emerged that an advisory panel will be established to advise the small mining community. I certainly appeal to our Ministry to make a decision in that regard in the near future. Such a panel would not cost a huge amount of money. Almost since the inception of the mining industry there has never been a tribunal or any organised body to which the smaller miner could look for advice and assistance to get him over a difficult period. I repeat, we have given that undertaking and I am looking forward to the panel coming into action as quickly as possible.

I come back to the CIA. Tied up with the consideration of the activities of the CIA is the defence of this nation. Once more we get back to the northern part, the frontier part of this nation. Once more we must with disgust and shame consider the allegations. I repeat again: If anyone in this nation had any doubts whatsoever as to the allegiance of many men in the Opposition they must have been convinced when they heard the honourable member for Chifley- a man for whom I have the greatest respect- quote in detail from an article written by Mr Salmon, an executive member of the Communist Party and the editor of the Tribune. The honourable member told the House the details. He wanted to throw mud on my Leader and also on the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and somehow or other associate us with the CIA. If the CIA is acting for the defence and the protection of this nation and the free world I would stand four square with it, and make no apology, but not the honourable member for Chifley. He quoted the editor of the Tribune, a member of the executive of the Australian Communist Party.

Smith · Kingsford

- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I offer my congratulations to the new members who have already made their maiden addresses to the House in the course of this debate and to you, Sir, and to the Speaker on elevation to the high offices that you and he have now attained. This debate should be related to the matters that are either in the Governor-General’s Speech or perhaps should have been included in it. Accordingly, I address my remarks specifically firstly to the opening remarks which refer to the terrific devastation that has taken place because of flooding in various States of this nation. We express our sympathy to the people who have suffered this dreadful disaster. But let us have a look at the record of what we tried to do. This is not the first time that we have had disaster in Australia. When we attempted to bring into this Parliament legislation such as the Australian Government Insurance Corporation Bill which had as its main thrust, its main nub, that there would be cover for natural disasters, such as the Darwin cyclone, we were defeated by those who now occupy the Government benches. That is why we are now making a second attempt to introduce that legislation. The legislation would provide a real benefit for those people who are not covered by insurance or who have insurance that will not cover them for the damage they have sustained in a natural disaster.

Again, talking about legislation that was deemed to be necessary and was rejected, we have given notice that we will attempt to introduce again the Australian securities commission legislation- a Bill which was introduced following a very detailed investigation by a Senate committee known as the Rae Committee. That Committee established clearly that there was a great need to control trading in securities in this nation. A constituent of mine spoke to me recently of the disasters that he has now suffered again because of the failure to control trading corporations, such as Patrick Partners. We saw in the Australian Financial Review of recent days a letter from Mr Moulen who stated in an urgent and necessary plea:

Six months have passed since the news broke of the default of the Patrick Partners, and for this time I have been deprived of the income on a deposit of $1 1,500 with that firm, and at 72 years, not being able to work, this is a severe blow to my living standard.

The optimistic trustee Mr Jamison’s early decision, opting for a scheme of arrangement, and not for bankruptcy, has caused well over $500,000 to be spent on administration and legal expenses up to this time.

That is a clear indication again of the failure of the present Government to agree to legislation that would have done something to protect that man. I want to raise another point. A bankruptcy petition now, belatedly, has been lodged apparently by the Stock Exchange against only 1 1 of the partners. If one looks at the New South Wales registration of business firms one will find that there are 12 partners. Why was one excluded? He holds himself out to be a partner. He is still registered as a partner. Why is it that the Stock Exchange finds that it can found a petition against only the other eleven? Is it because that other partner is now a member of this House? This is rather serious.

The community of Australia wants to know that justice is done and it should always appear to be done. I know that the New South Wales Government has appointed an inspector to investigate the matter. What the ramifications will be we cannot guess. The sad part is that my constituent, whom I mentioned earlier, has lost his money. The issue he puts to me is: ‘There must be some Federal legislation to protect me’. I have to say: ‘No. It was not passed’. He asks: ‘What about the bankruptcy provisions? That is a Federal piece of legislation. ‘ I say: ‘Yes, it is. Perhaps you might have a chance to join in the petition and perhaps you might have a chance to join the missing partner to the action. ‘ But why should we put Australians to this sort of test? I put to the House this afternoon that we must realise that we are Australians and we are not divided. There has to be honesty throughout our every day dealings, particularly from the point of view of political integrity.

It does no good for any government irrespective of its political complexion to deny legislation on the basis that there is some alternative. If one looks at the legislation we are now proposing again to introduce- I have mentioned 2 piecesone will see that every piece of that legislation is designed to help fellow Australians because there is a great need to legislate in these areas. The facts speak for themselves. In the Rae report there is a severe indictment of the previous activities of Patrick Partners. Would one expect that firm’s form to be improved simply because the report has been tabled? Why was not the legislation in this field approved? Why do we still have this delay? Why are there aspersions that there was something wrong with the previous Government, with references to corruption, when no proof was ever evidenced in this Parliament?

I pass on to another matter that is not directly mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is something that I as a Minister had a great deal to do with, namely, the provision for the first time of child care facilities on a Federal basis in Australia. It was provided after a detailed report and investigation which established beyond doubt that there were at least 400 000 children under the age of 5 years in desperate need of child care in Australia. We immediately set about a program that would assist those children. We met opposition, again from the present Government, on the basis that there was no need to have the legislation in the way it was drawn; that the matter could best be left to the States to implement. We pointed out that some States had performed reasonably well and other States had done nothing at all. That was the reason we proposed the legislation. That was the reason why we wanted a children’s commission. That is why we wanted to encourage community orientated people to have their own programs of innovation. I want to stress this. We did not want to be bureaucratic. We want to leave it to the people themselves to have these innovations and these new flexible programs. Why is it that we met that opposition? It was only belatedly and on a second attempt that the child care Bill was passed. We now find- we will assume it is in the $360m cut to which there is some reference in the Speech of the Governor-General- that the statement issued by the Minister is to the effect that there will be a cut of $9m in the child care program in the financial year. That is a major cut indeed. Apparently further to that, the existing program will be slowed down by a further $ 1 .7m cut. Does it not mean that there will be a number of women and children denied the opportunities of child care in Australia? Children just cannot wait for care to be financially provided in accordance with what is deemed to be the necessity of a Budget ability. The Budget approved by this Parliament provided for $75m for child care. There is no justification for the proposed cut. There is no justification for the slower expenditure. I understand that the cut was made on the basis that there will be no new projects in any of the States. The States were provided with $1 lm for new projects on the basis that these projects would be flexible and innovative and would assist women and children. A cut has been made and the opportunity for child care denied. This should be clearly understood. Where are the priorities? Is this the Government of big business where women and children are expendable?

How does the Government expect to get a solid nation in Australia if it has poverty, discrimination, lack of opportunity and lack of child care facilities? Why would the Government make the cut on that basis? What Cabinet in its right mind could seriously suggest a program which was already committed and guaranteed should have a cut of this magnitude? What are the State governments of Victoria and New South Wales going to do? As they are of the same political complexion of the present Government perhaps they will be tame cat governments and run along on the basis that they will not make any criticism, that they will not put up any proposals. So we do not have an effective child care program,

I wish to mention the tax sharing arrangements about which a lot has been said on the basis that this will be a great thing for the States. I fail to see it on any mathematical, political or budgetary basis. I have before me the details of the payments deemed to be collected from each State per head on an income tax basis. They clearly show that the people of Victoria and New South Wales naturally pay more income tax than do the people of Queensland, Tasmania and the other States. In 1973-74 the income tax per head in Victoria was $426.70 whereas in Queensland it was only $357.40. So honourable members can see that there was a greater income coming from Victoria. There is no objection to that. The figures of expenditure of the States indicate that New South Wales received $520 per head- this is from the Commonwealth and includes Loan Council programs- and Queensland received $678 per head. So more money was going to the States that paid less. How is it that if there is to be a tax sharing arrangement whereby everybody will get the same 30 per cent, it is deemed that the little States will be able to survive? This arrangement is designed to suit New South Wales and Victoria because of their greater populations and their ability to pay more. It means just that. The analysis of this situation means just this: On the basis of the 1975-76 population estimates, for example, for every extra $ 1 per head given to New South Wales and Victoria from a given amount, the other 4 States will have to drop $1.77 per head. Again, if we look at the provision of the State Budgets, we find that there was federal support to the New South Wales Budget, despite what Sir Eric Willis says, of 38.8 per cent. But of course to Queensland it had to be 48. 1 per cent- fair enough- to Western Australia 49.8 per cent and to Tasmania 58.3 per cent. How will that proportion be maintained unless we continue the present scheme? What happened to the little States and their representatives here that they think they are going to get a better deal from the point of view of tax sharing?

Mr Deputy Speaker, I have already shown these statistics to the Minister and he has agreed that they be incorporated in Hansard. I seek leave to have the documents incorporated in Hansard.


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

The following table shows the Australian Government's contribution towards the States' 1975-76 revenue budgets: {: .speaker-ZE4} ##### Mr LIONEL BOWEN: -I should like to refer to one other matter. Defence, it is said, is important. It is very important. It has to be important, not through the aspect of guns and weaponry but through advocacy. We talk about Diego Garcia and what should be done to build up a base there. Let me make it clear that when the previous Government spoke to the Russians it was on this basis. Russia said: If there is going to be a naval base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, of course we will have to establish a base to protect our shipping lines; but if there is no base there, we will give an undertaking that we will not build a base either. Why would it not be appropriate for this Government or any Australian government to get the 2 parties, such as Russia and the United States, with us because we are one of the littoral countries on that ocean, to agree that it will be a zone of peace. Every other nation on that ocean so agrees. But we have this nonsense, suggesting that we will have an attack on the west coast of Australia. So we will fall into this argument. The Americans are fine people; their governments are not always of the same quality. As was said here today, the Americans are very honest in their searching into their governments. They destroy those who tell lies. They expose those who are guilty of corruption. That is very solid democracy. Nevertheless, often, much of the exposure is belated. Many mistakes were made in the process. We can well find something similar happening here with regard to Diego Garcia as happened for example in Vietnam, where we lost *so many* young men. We do not want to say that we will just run along with whatever somebody else tells us. Let us be the leading light, the negotiating partner, from the point of view of peace. Government supporters talk about trade. A previous speaker made a very vicious attack on what he deemed to be the Red nations. We do not accept their political philosophy, but let us remember that in the 2 great world wars they were our allies, and those to whom we now give a lot of praise- and deservedly so- were our enemies. If honourable members opposite look at the cemeteries of the world they will see where our dead are buried and who killed them. It is about time Australians realised what it is all about when they talk about defence. It is a question of intelligent understanding of an issue. It cannot be fought out any longer by bullets, because they destroy somebody's flesh and blood. It can be fought out on intelligent understanding of what the people in the country want. It was intelligently done with China. Would it have been done had we not done it? No. This aggressive policy is going to be adopted now because it is deemed to be the right thing to do. In the few minutes left I cannot afford to overlook what happened to us on 11 November. It was a disaster to democracy. This House is no longer the superior House in financial matters. It is the slum of the Senate; the broken down outer House. Our financial structure has been removed and, in my legal opinion, not fairly removed. If it was fairly removed, what a great need there is for somebody, whoever it may be, in a speech deemed to be the Governor-General's Speech, to refer to the fact that we cannot possibly continue to operate under these rules, because it means this: Whenever a Senate, whatever its political complexion, rejects Supply, we, the House of the people, must face an election. The Senate does not. We have gone through the sham of a double dissolution because by chance, not by request or by advice, there was a double dissolution on 2 1 Bills that were objected to by the people who now occupy the present Government benches. We do not approve of a Chief Justice giving advice as to what he thinks is the situation. That is left to the 7 judges of the High Court. We do not approve of it. It clearly shows that what happened to us on 11 November was the result of previous consultation. It is clearly known that the Chief Justice, as far back as the middle of October, was expressing views as to what he thinks should have happened. This is not fair, honourable or reasonable from the point of view of the then Attorney-General, the former honourable member for Canberra **(Mr Enderby),** who is no longer with us. Let me make it clean He was never asked for any legal opinion on reserve power on supply. He gave it because it was there. He was never asked for it. All he was asked for were the arrangements for alternative methods of supply. When he explained them he was assured that that was accepted as satisfactory. Section 57 of the Constitution, the double dissolution section, provides for a conflict between the Houses to be decided by the people. Why could not such a situation arise again in the case of a supply Bill, whoever has this so-called reserve power? On the occasion in question we would have been faced with fighting a double dissolution as a result of the actions of a Senate that had denied supply, and we would have won handsomely because by that time there would have been massive unemployment in Australia, every function of government virtually would have been brought to a standstill and the people would have solved the problem by clearly indicating to the Senate that that was not the way to carry out its functions. The Senate did not do its duty. The appropriate thing was for a message to be sent to the Senate to either accept or reject the Bill and if it was rejected twice there would be a double dissolution. There is an urgent need for an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to clearly indicate that this sort of thing cannot happen again. There is no legal precedent for it. The reserve power was with us. If we had allowed the community we represent, the 40 per cent odd, to break the rules there would have been anarchy in this country. We accept the verdict of the people but we do not accept the reasons for our dismissal. We were made, undeservedly, to look guilty men. We were made to look inferior. Somebody else was installed as Prime Minister on a guarantee that he could give supply when he could not give any guarantee as to what a Senate could do. Nobody in this House can guarantee what a Senate can do. We were wrongly dismissed and there has been violence done to the Constitution. Let us make sure that there is an amendment and that the people understand it so that if a Senate again rejects supply there will be a double dissolution immediately. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** The honourable member's time has expired. I call the honourable member for Casey, and I remind the House that this is a maiden speech. {: #subdebate-49-0-s9 .speaker-KEO} ##### Mr FALCONER:
Casey **-Mr Deputy Speaker,** as I rise to speak for the first time in the House may I add my congratulations on your election as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees to those honourable members who have preceded me. I also ask you to convey my congratulations to **Mr Snedden** on his election as Speaker. You may recall that I was a member of **Mr Snedden** 's staff in a previous government and it is a matter of some pride and pleasure to me that I am a member of a House of which he is the Speaker. As most honourable members know, I represent one of those outer suburban electorates which is very diverse in composition. It is made up of many growing outer metropolitan suburbs. It is one of those areas which have changed with changes in government in recent years, as have a number of other electorates in recent years. In fact the 2 previous members for my electorate each held their seats for a period of approximately 3 years. I trust that on this occasion that record will be broken. I believe that it will be broken following the application of the Government's program which was outlined in the Governor-General's Speech. I was particularly pleased to note in the Governor-General's Speech one statement of general principle- of philosophy- which I believe is fundamental to the main thrust of any government's program, particularly this Government's program. The long term objective is 'to encourage the development of an Australia in which people have maximum freedom and independence to achieve their own goals in life, in ways which they decide '. I believe that those words are most important. Nowhere are they more important than in the ability of people to choose the sort of occupation they want to follow and to have some meaningful role in the company or business environment in which they find themselves. It is an essential part of freedom and independence for a person to have the ability, whatever level of industry or commerce he might find himself in, to choose meaningful employment, and having chosen that form of employment, he must then thave the capacity to influence his work environment and gain satisfaction from what he is doing. Several aspects of the Goverment's program contribute towards that objective. I refer principally, of course, to the desire to get away from the trend for the transference of resources from the private sector to the government sector of the economy. The redirection of resources away from the government sector towards individuals and towards the private sector is vital to freedom of choice in this country. It is only with a strong, vital and competitive private sector that people can have a real choice of the occupation they want to follow. Indeed, it is only where you have that strong, vital and competitive private sector that people can decide to chance their arm in their own business venture if they so wish. I want to concentrate on the problems of those who choose to work in large organisations because this is an area in which I believe I have some expertise and about which I wish to make a contribution in this Parliament. Those who work for a wage or a salary in a large organisation need to be able to participate meaningfully in what they are doing. We live in a world dominated by many large organisations, many large impersonal bureaucracies. When I refer to impersonal bureaucracies I do not mean just government departments; I mean many large companies as well. Too often the trade unions which are there to represent the interests of employees are themselves large and impersonal bodies which are unable to look at the interests and the needs of individual members within their ranks. The concepts of worker participation and job enrichment have become very important in modern day industrial relations. I am concerned with the ability of a person to play a meaningful role rather than be a mindless tool in the industrial machine. Therefore I want to see us look at the experiments that have been going on in many organisations which have tried to promote aspects of worker participation, worker control and job enrichment. I refer to some of the experiments that have been conducted in this country and overseas in worker participation by way of shareholding by a number of employees or by way of the creation of autonomous work groups, such as in the Volvo and Philips establishments. These experiments have been designed to introduce people to a wider range of responsibilities and a wider range of areas of decision-making within their work environment and not make them subject to a simple repetitious and mindless process. If we are to achieve this result in our industries and our commercial establishments we need to develop much more flexible attitudes to employer and employee relationships. I refer to attitudes on the part of managements as well as on the part of unions. Managements too frequently take the attitude that they make the decisions and other people cannot or should not contribute. But many of the most successful organisations in our modern economies are showing that they can be more profitable and more successful than their competitors if they give a greater degree of responsibility to people working at the levels where decisions have to be made in a plant or in an office. These are the developments that we have to promote. But as well as changed attitudes on the part of many managements we need to see changed attitudes in the part of many union managements because it is in many of the trade unions that we find some of the most restrictive trade practices, if I can put it in those words. Union demarcation disputes do tend to militate against productivity improvement. They do tend to limit the extent to which people in the work environment can participate in a broad range of tasks, in a broad range of decisions, instead of concentrating on the one thing. I believe that what we need in our entire industrial set up, in our industrial relations system, is a less rigid attitude to the development of work patterns and employer-employee relations. The industrial relations system in our country has been a good one. It has led us to have a much more successful record in industrial relations and in solving industrial disputes than almost any other country. In recent years there has been a major upsurge in the number of industrial disputes and in the number of working days lost as a result of industrial disputes in this country. The reasons have been canvassed in some other speeches and, I am sure, will be canvassed in further speeches. I make the point that there is often in the industrial relations system too legalistic an attitude towards the solution of industrial relations problems. There is too often on the part of parties to a dispute a tendency to go for the legal solution in terms of a rigid application of an industrial award or an item of industrial legislation where perhaps what was needed was the ability on the part of those parties to the dispute to sit down and talk out the problem or even, in some cases, someone to take the initiative and bash 2 heads together to try to reach a solution. Therefore I believe that we need a better system of consultation between unions, employers and government authorities concerned with industrial relations matters. In that respect I am particularly pleased to note the policy of the present Government to reestablish the National Labour Advisory Council as a statutory body, to give it a more meaningful role in industrial consultation and a more meaningful role in bringing parties together. I realise that that body is not intended to solve disputes once they arise. It is intended to bring together the employer bodies, the unions and representatives of government in a tripartite organisation that can talk out the ground rules by which industrial disputes can be solved. I was privileged, **Mr Speaker,** while on your staff, to sit in on one session of the National Labour Advisory Council as it then existed. I saw some of the work it attempted. It was concerned with a number of matters dealing with the recognition of overseas professional qualifications, Technical and Further Education and the development of related facilities, safety legislation and some matters dealing with the long term development of our conciliation and arbitration system. It is proposed that that body be re-established on a more meaningful basis and be given the opportunity to peruse every item of proposed industrial legislation and to be able to comment on it. I believe that by bringing the 3 parties togetheremployers, employees and government representatives- we will achieve a much better understanding of what our industrial relations system is about, what it is attempting to solve, and will reduce the possibility of friction in future. In talking about the National Labour Advisory Council, I mention very briefly the matter of technical and further education. I believe that this is one matter which requires a great deal of attention in this country. I noted in the Governor-General's Speech reference to reports by 4 education commissions. It stated that the Commission on Advanced Education and the Technical and Further Education Commission would be among those required to report by the end of March, giving recommendations for the triennium 1977-79. 1 wish to deal with the area of technical and further education and with adult education generally because they are matters of increasing concern to a society 'which is seeing rapid change. For the past 3 years I have been employed in management consultancy, from which employment I have happily resigned in more recent months. That gave me a valuable perspective of what has been happening in the employment market. It is trite to say that we live in times of severe unemployment. I know from my experience in servicing the needs of client companies that, despite record unemployment, in many cases there are shortages of trained staff in certain areas. Many times one would advertise a vacancy on behalf of a client and receive forty or fifty applications. On interviewing the applicants and examining their appplications one could not find a person who measured up to the training, the experience and the personal qualities specified by the client. Accordingly, many companies preferred not to make an appointment in what they regarded as a quite vital position rather than to appoint someone whom they believed was inadequate. So we have this imbalance in the labour market- on the one hand record unemployment, on the other hand many companies complaining regularly that they could not get people of the training, experience and qualifications that they desired. In recent weeks I have been touring a number of major factories in my electorate, particularly the southern part of it which tends to be industrialised, and I have had that comment from almost every one of the chief executives of those factories. Part of the solution to the problem lies in a new attitude to further education. Technical education can enable people to keep up with technological change. It can enable people to be trained in new disciplines if their old occupations are displaced by technological change or by changes in the economy. The Kangan report with which you, **Mr Speaker,** will be familiar spoke of education as a lifelong affair and pointed to the fallacious attitude to education in many people's minds. Many people think it is something for the early stage of one's life; then one moves into employment and forgets education. That is an attitude which we can no longer afford. I believe that one of the major problems which we will have to tackle in respect of technical education is the matter of mature age entry to many trades. I realise that in times of excessive unemployment to suggest mature age entry to many trades will be regarded as premature. I realise that many young people want to get an apprenticeship, but they cannot find one at this stage. What I am speaking of is perhaps something for a later stage, but at least we ought to develop attitudes towards it. In some trades, such as the bricklaying or furniture trades, there can be mature age entry. In the vast majority of trades- I refer particularly to the metal trades- it is not impossible for a person with some work experience who develops an interest in that area of work to enter at a later age. If he has not made the decision by the end of his school life or during the middle of his school life it is too late for him. I believe it is a tragedy. As I said earlier- in another respect- it is a restrictive trade practice of the worst kind. I believe that the flexibility of our economy would be greatly improved if there were a greater opportunity for people to enter a trade or profession later in life if they discover from experience that something else suits them better. I commend to the Government that it take steps in this direction. Another area which I believe needs attention in the area of later age education is the role being played by many of our tertiary training institutions. I have been disturbed by the number of technical institutes that are trying to become universities. I believe that in the efforts that many of them are making to expand their range of courses and their range of faculties into the humanities and social sciences they are spreading their resources too thinly. They are finding difficulty recruiting appropriate staff to manage and to teach those courses. I believe that there is a danger that we will end up with too many second rate universities in this country rather than a number of first rate universities and a number of first rate technical training institutions. I hope that in the consideration that is being given to the future funding and organisation of tertiary education we will see the need for excellent technical training institutions. I hope that we will try to discourage the belief amongst many educators that in order to have a tertiary institution of some standing and status in the community they must try to cover the whole range of disciplines that are normally covered by universities. These are some of the matters on which I wish to concentrate in my period in my first Parliament. As I have said, I anticipate that there will be a second Parliament for me to participate in because I believe that the policies of this Government which have been so ably outlined in the Governor-General's Speech will work and will gain general community approval. **Sir, I** am happy to be a member of this House and I thank you for the opportunity of speaking. {: #subdebate-49-0-s10 .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN:
Robertson **-Mr Speaker,** firstly I congratulate the honourable member for Casey **(Mr Falconer)** on his maiden speech and you, **Sir, on** your election as Speaker. However, I am a little bemused as to why you have restored the practice of wearing a wig because I recall that you had one of the finest heads of hair in Parliament. Frankly I think that you would look a lot better without that grey rug around you; but that is your choice. As I look around the House at the new faces commencing their parliamentary careers I am reminded of my own initiation into this place some *6'A* years ago. I remember that at that time there was a sense of excitement and adventure, some considerable awe and respect and some contempt for certain members of the House whom I will not name so as not to embarrass the honourable member for Griffith **(Mr Donald Cameron).** I was one of the 59 members of the Australian Labor Party who were elected to the Twenty-seventh Parliament of Australia despite the party bias in the electoral system that had caused us narrowly to fail to win that Parliament. For the eighth consecutive time in 1954 and 1961 we had well won the majority of the 2-party preferred vote but again because of the electoral system we failed to win office. {: .speaker-KET} ##### Mr King: -- Could you tell us what happened in 1963? {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -In 1963 we lost. There is no question about that. We lost on a number of occasions. I am merely suggesting, if the honourable member would listen, that on 3 occasions we won the majority of the 2-party preferred vote and we still failed to win office. Despite some feeling of injustice I still had faith in the system. I was not cynical like many people in this Parliament and outside the parliamentary process who just have no faith whatsoever in Parliament and the democratic system. Many people on the extremes of politics from the radical left and the radical right regard this place as a farce and a waste of time. They believe that Parliament is a talk shop where people get up, talk a lot, and do little to solve the problems of society. I did not believe that then. My belief in the parliamentary process never wavered during the 4Vi years up to May 1974. I fought against those who despised Parliament, those who wanted to take the battle out into the streets. The first time my faith wavered was in April 1974. After 18 months in office and 23 years out of office, the refusal of Supply threatened the life of the first Labor Government for a very long period of time. But my confidence was restored by the vote of the people. It was further restored, with all due respect to you, **Mr Speaker,** by your removal from office as Leader of the Liberal Party and the statements that were made by the present Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** who was the incumbent Leader of the Opposition. I believed him when he said that he had a faith that a government once elected to office should serve its full term. I thought we would have no more of that nonsense. My faith in the parliamentary process and the democratic system was finally shattered by the events prior to and leading up to 1 1 November. I do not wish to canvass all of the events of those last few weeks. They are now part of history. But as we get further away from these events and the dust settles we will realise what a disgraceful page it is in Australian history. On that occasion a government twice elected by the people with a majority in the House of Representatives was dismissed. It was dismissed by a non-elected official. A Governor-General entered into politics on one side. There was a conspiracy with the Chief Justice to remove the elected government. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! A reference of that kind is against Standing Orders. {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -- In deference to your wishes I shall withdraw it. The Governor-General refused to receive his Ministers. He refused to take the advice of his Ministers. He refused to take any of the alternatives to sacking the Government, the elected government of this country. Any doubts we may have had were pushed aside by the revelations of **Senator James** McClelland last night about the conversation he had with the Governor-General prior to 1 1 November. Amongst the alternatives which the Governor-General did not take was to ask the Senate to make a decision. For some weeks we had had a situation where the Senate had not accepted or rejected the Budget. It had simply refused to make a decision of any type. The Governor-General refused to grant a half Senate election. He refused to see the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a message from the House of Representatives informing him that the caretaker Prime Minister he had appointed did not have the confidence of the House. These are disgraceful things for those who believe in the parliamentary process and the democratic system. The least that the Governor-General could have done, having decided to call a double dissolution, was to have left the elected Prime Minister and the Government in office. I do not accept for one moment that the GovernorGeneral had the right to do even that, but that was the least that he could have done. I received a letter today from a person in my electorate whom I respect very much and have grown to know over many years. This man, who is a chemist from the Long Jetty area, asked me why we do not get on with the job; why do we not forget it all; why do we not get on with the job of governing the country. I will write and say to this person for whom I have immense respect that he is wrong, totally wrong. I will tell him that the issues are far greater than he imagines and that I still believe that democracy can be brought back to this country. I will tell him that I am concerned about the legacy that has been left by the actions of the present Government and the GovernorGeneral. If we accept the interpretation of the Constitution by the Governor-General that the Constitution grants him absolute power we will have a situation in which he can, if he wishes, dismiss any government at any time that he likes. The Constitution grants equal power to the Senate. We now have 2 Houses competing against one another. The Senate can throw the present Government or any other government out of office at any time it likes. No government without a majority in the Senate can hope to see out 3 years in office. No government without permanent power in all 6 States can guarantee control of the Senate. An aircraft accident could occur in which four or five senators from one political party were killed. If the party to which they belonged did not have the numbers in the State Parliament that Parliament could appoint four or five senators who represented another political party. The present Government has a very handsome majority but if five or six of its senators were replaced by Labor senators it would no longer have a majority in the Senate. If five or six senators from Tasmania or South Australia were involved in an aircraft accident the Government could be out of office. Do not think that it will not happen. Honestly, does anyone seriously suggest for one minute that if a senator from a Labor State dies a Liberal will be appointed in his place or vice versa? We have now wrecked that convention. Part of the legacy is that 43 per cent of the Australian people now have no respect for the Constitution or the parliamentary system. I would argue that the time has come when the Australian Labor Party should start looking at framing a new Constitution. I believe there are too many holes, too many flaws and too many inadequacies in the present Constitution for it to stay for very much .longer. When I say 'very much longer' I mean that it may survive for 10 years or it may survive for 20 years. I believe that because of what happened to it over the past few months and all the other inadequacies that have built up over many years the time has come when the Australian Labor Party, when returned to government, should put up a new Constitution with many changes and also without the inadequacies I outlined a few moments ago. The problem is that only the Liberals are allowed to govern. We have had that shown to us very clearly. The only government that the Liberals will accept is a government of their own colour. If a Labor government is elected, then anything goes- any breaches of the rules, any breaches of convention, even a *coup d'etat,* to get rid of a Labor government. I am afraid that I for one have totally lost faith in the parliamentary process. {: .speaker-KVQ} ##### Mr Sullivan: -- It is the people of Australia who decided. {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -- I know the barn door has been left open again. In the short space of 18 months the honourable member for Riverina has earned the reputation of being the biggest dill in the place. The holiday has not helped him much. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The honourable gentleman will address the Chair, but not in those words, please. {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: **-Mr Speaker,** I would be quite happy if you would deal with him, but if you do not, I am afraid I will have to. The Liberals are not satisfied with the gerrymandering of electorates for State parliaments, the malapportionment of Federal Parliament or 23 years of continuous government. Still the Constitution is prostituted to get Labor out of office. When I look at the smug faces of new honourable members opposite at least I know I will be here to see most of the smiles wiped off, because I do not think we have ever seen a greater collection of oncers in the history of the Australian Parliament. It has been said that the people have decided. It is strange that the same people who now are claiming an endorsement of the GovernorGeneral's action and a mandate for their programs did not accept that the Australian Labor Party had a mandate in 1972 and 1974. They reserved the right to select what they thought the Australian people had endorsed, and in their view that was virtually nothing. I believe that the Australian people fell for the line pushed by the Liberals and the Australian media that Australia alone could have been isolated from the world economic crisis. I was amused a few days after the election when I saw what was said by one of the tycoons of the business world, **Mr Rod** Carnegie, a man who is held in great respect, and I think by the general manager of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. **Mr Carnegie** said: **'Mr Fraser** will solve the economic problems of this country if the world economy improves. If it does not, he will not solve them.' I have a lot of respect for **Mr Carnegie,** but I thought it was strange that he waited until the day after the elections to make those predictions. I think what he said is probably pretty right. If the world economy improves then the Government will be able to solve the economic problems of this country. If the world economy does not improve, it will not. I want to deal in the latter part of the time available to me with the Australian media because I do not think I have ever been so disgusted as I was by the role that they played in getting Labor out of office. We know that they are, normally speaking, subservient to the conservative forces, but this time they absolutely excelled themselves. This time they outdid themselves in their obsequiousness and their sycophancy to the conservative forces. Without exception, they carried out the most vicious, lying, distorted campaign in Australian history. I quote- not accurately, because I do not have the book with me- the words of Donald Home in the book he has just released titled *Death of a Lucky Country.* He said something to this effect: 'For the first time in my life I was ashamed of being a journalist'. The campaign was so vicious that it brought about the first journalists' strike in history, when they struck on the question of the content of the newspapers, not on wages or industrial matters. I did a very brief content analysis of the headlines of the major newspapers in New South Wales. I shall quote a few of them. They are part of the build-up to the election from 1 1 November. Forget the muck and the filth that was raised before then. We will go through a few of the headlines. In the *Daily Telegraph* of 16 November this headline appeared: >Hayden stole official file. November 22: >Letter bomb to Kerr. November28: >More jobs, tax cuts and housing aid. That was promised by **Mr Fraser.** The headline on 1 December read: >Welfare bludgergets $700 a week. December 3: >Whitlam- shock new charge on loans. December 4: >Secret survey shocks leaders: Labor faces loss of 37 seats. December 6: >Fraser 's plan 200,000 cut in jobless. December 12: >Home repair loans. Day after day the headlines were either attacking the Labor Government or praising the Liberals. There was absolutely no balance. The headlines in the *Daily Mirror* were even more scurrilous. The *Daily Mirror,* of course, is fortunate to have the services of that brilliant journalist, **Mr Trevor** Kavanagh. Its headlines on 19 November read: Joh Murder Bid Who was the guilty party there? Obviously the Labor Party. The implication of all the headlines about the bombs was that it was the Labor Party who had planted bombs to get rid of BjelkePetersen. We will get rid of him, but not that way. Let me read the headlines. November 27: >Hawke's betrayal. December 2: >New poll: Libs by 25 seats. The next day: >Gough guilty: New poll blow. December 5: >Labor hope shattered. December 8: >Libs grip tightens: Sydney poll latest. December 10: >Biggest majority in history December 1 1: >My fears for Tammy '-Fraser tells of violence. December 12: >Budget bombshell: $4,525m in red. Let us look at the headlines of the *Sun.* November 16: >Fraser blasts at Labor bungling. November 17: >Cost of living up 5 per cent. November 19: >Bjelke office bomb. November 20: >More bombs: Police fear. November 21: >Grim Christmas for school leavers; 70,000 on dole. November 25: >Government car for Gough 's boy. November 27: >Amazing poll: Libs home: Hoax bomb to Fraser. November 28: >Fraser soars. December 1: - >Gough 's smear: No more dirt. December 3: >False says Gough: Loans blow-up. December 4: >Labor gloom December 5: 5 1 seats win. December 9: >Loans kickbacks says Joh. And so on and so on, day in and day out, headlines aimed at only one thing- destroying any chance the Labor Party had of gaining office. The newspapers were giving a totally biased view of what was happening in the election campaign. There was a total failure by the Press at any stage to examine Liberal Party policy, to examine what **Mr Fraser** was putting forward. We are now receiving the legacy of that failure to question. Never in our history have we seen an election campaign in which a man was allowed to get away with so much. We are now seeing the reversals of promises made to those sections of the community that the Liberals had to win over. In almost every area what was said during the election campaign is being reversed now, reinterpreted now or has an escape clause now. To the trade unionists the Liberals did a complete about face on wage indexation. To the 5 million wage earners in Australia they told a he which enabled them to gain the support of millions of wage earners which they would not have gained had the truth been told. The first present the pensioners got after the Christmas break was the knowledge that funeral benefits had been abolished. Look at the building industry. In my area, where I had a substantial swing against me, most of it caused by the lack of activity in the building industry, people are now looking, quite staggered, at the fact that while there is still some activity in the home building sector there is no activity whatsoever in the public sector. Their feeling is that by the middle of the year there will be a serious slackening off in home building and certainly a considerable drop in the public sector. The Liberals made promises to the sick, but what did it do with pharmaceutical benefits? I invite honourable members to do a little bit of content analysis of *Hansard* of last year and recall the screams that went up when the Labor Government increased the charge for a prescription from $1 to $1.50. That charge has been increased by another 50c. Unfortunately time does not permit me in this debate to speak at length on the fraud that has been perpetrated on the Australian people by the policy of federalism under which the new Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** proposes to provide more money for the States and local governments. That is a subject with which I will have to deal at greater length in the future, but I regard it as one of the great frauds that is being perpetrated at the moment. An effort is being made to convince people that more money will be available to local government authorities and to State governments when in fact the net result of the withdrawal of Australian Government assistance from so many areas must be a situation in which there is no more money being spent in local government areas. {: #subdebate-49-0-s11 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -I am about to call the honourable member for Macarthur. I remind the House that this is a maiden speech. I am sure that the House will accord the honourable member the normal courtesies. I call the honourable member for Macarthur. {: #subdebate-49-0-s12 .speaker-LE4} ##### Mr BAUME:
Macarthur -Thank you, **Mr Speaker.** I would like to add my congratulations to the many and deserved that you have already had heaped upon you. I would also like, if I may as a former journalist, to congratulate the writers of the headlines that formed the only coherent part of the speech just made by the honourable member for Robertson **(Mr Cohen ). Macarthur does not need a travel brochure or a tourist guide to commend the electorate to the people. Its attributes are self evident. It is, however, a microcosm of the problems facing Australia right now- problems arising from 3 years of policies which did not do much good to Macarthur and did not do much good to the rest of Australia. In Macarthur there are many pensionerspensioners suffering from the results of massive inflation. There are many young home owners and people trying to be young home owners suffering from the effects of massive interest rates. There are many textile factoriessome of them even still open- suffering the results of tariff policies. There are many farmers suffering from 3 years of deliberate anti-rural campaigning, anti-rural policies. There is a pulp and paper mill which has not worked full time for a year because of deliberate, determined tariff policies. They are the reasons I am overjoyed to see in the Governor-General's Speech positive measures to do something about the problems besetting Macarthur, the problems besetting all of Australia.** I am the third member for Macarthur. I succeed a man whom I respected and I am certain this House respected immensely. If I can match the amount of hard work that he did on behalf of his constituents then I will be very pleased but of course I have the advantage that I will be voting for measures that do the people of Australia the world of good rather than the world of harm. It is a tragedy I believe- and I believe the former member for Macarthur sums up that tragedythat there were men of talent, energy and integrity on the Government benches before the people gave a very determined view on what they thought of their performance. I am afraid those members of ability and integrity appear to have been decimated in numbers leaving behind, I believe, a Party sadly lacking in those talents. It is regrettable to see, I believe, and bad for the democratic institution that there is a tendency for the talent of the Party opposite to be represented continually in swinging seats so that when the judgment of the people goes against not necessarily the policy of those men in swinging seats but against the policies of the tired war horses who remain we see, I am afraid, a decimation of talent. It strikes me that this adds a special responsibility to this side of the House. The vocal, intelligent, opinion forming middle ground of this nation no longer has effective representation on the other side of this chamber. I believe there is a special requirement on this side of the House to represent those views in this House, to stress to those people that this is the home of liberalismliberalism with a small L- not the home of authoritarian do-goodery, not the house of determined pressure on the society, where they will do what is good for them whether they like it or not, not the forced enema approach to welfare. I believe this side of the House represents a liberal view which the middle ground of Australia, having already turned to in desperation at the last election, will in fact see as its intellectual home. I want to put to the House that we now have a positive initiative to revive the private sector of the economy, on which I might say most of this middle ground tends to depend and which had been decimated during the term of the previous Government. The oppression of the private sector, under the guise of dictatorial dogooderyunder this subservience imposed upon a society, the subservience of the handout- is, I believe, clearly evident from the official statistics. I have caused the Parliamentary Library to dig out figures for me so that I cannot be accused of distorting any figures. These are the official national income figures. I have asked the Parliamentary Library to prepare for me a very interesting table to establish quite clearly what has happened to the productive sector of this nation in the last 3 years. To make it fair I went back 5 years. These figures are appalling. The moral of these figures I hope to draw to the attention of honourable members after I finish outlining them. Net profit- now, there is a filthy phraseafter tax is the thing on which the wheels of industry turn. The profit motive provides wages and provides- this is a really offensive wordtaxes. Net profit in the last 5 years of Australian trading enterprises has fallen by 50 per cent. That percentage is in real terms. It is deflated for inflation. It is seeing what really happened. Net profit is down 50 per cent. One may say: 'All right, this is because all the managers in Australia have suddenly and magically become inefficient, that suddenly the only source of wisdom is in Canberra'. Of course I recognise the Labor Party's view when it came to Canberramany of its supporters apparently holding the same view as the honourable member for Mackellar **(Mr Wentworth)** that the Treasury is the source of all naughtiness- that it should seek opinion elsewhere. The previous Government having been accused of relying on the advice of the ivory towers of the Treasury, the Labor Government went to a much more practical arena and sought the advice of the academics. This may well help explain the 50 per cent fall in net profit. No one on the other side of the House knows what the word 'risk' means. No one understands what the consequences of destroying net profit are in a free society. I submit that a 50 per cent fall in net profit in 5 years is a destruction of a system- a deliberate and determined destruction of a system without ever admitting to the electorate that the Government was destroying that system. At the same time those of us who are concerned about revenue can be assured that the Taxation Office was not suffering any similar fate. In real terms personal income tax, for example, went up 39 per cent over that period. One of the many former Treasurers in the Labor Administration described that sweetly as a transfer of resources from the private to the public sector. While that 39 per cent increase in personal tax was going on, luckily the wages and supplements of the workers of Australia were going up too, but at nothing like that rate. The rise in wages and supplements over that period was 24 per cent. That is not a very great rise when one considers that the tax went up so much more and the population increased as well. The significant thing, of course, is that while profits were going down, wages and taxes were going up in real terms. In other words, the capacity of industry to finance itself was being decimated. Its retained profits were collapsing. The consequences of that were very simple. Of course it meant that dividends had to suffer, and they went down in real terms by about 24 per cent over that period. Remember that all this was happening after the greatest boom in investment in major new and profitable resources- the most major and significant boom in Australia's history. It was despite that boom and despite that massive investment that we saw this collapse of profitability in Australia; this transfer of resources; this discouragement of people to get off their behinds and work; this active, determined instruction to people not to work, not to risk their money but to sit down and wait for the handout. The depressing thing- I hope that the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** becomes aware of this point- was that because companies were suffering such massive profit falls and because taxes were rising so fast, companies were obliged to borrow more and more, to go into hock more and more. The figures for interest paid by corporations in the last 5 years show a 33 per cent increase in real terms. Those are the national income figures. One cannot say that is just because interest rates have gone up although I admit that honourable gentlemen opposite assisted that rise to some notable degree. The fact is that companies are now more in debt than ever in Australia's history. As a result they are more open, more susceptible, to swings in monetary policy than ever before in Australia's history. It was unnerving to see the actions coming out of the Treasury and from the Treasurers over the last 3 years, to see a total lack of awareness of the consequences of massive changes in monetary policy on corporations. They were much more defenceless, much more open to attack. Recognise this: In these figures there are now included the major profit centres in Australia which, as honourable gentlemen opposite are so keen to point out to us regularly, are the major multi-nationals. When one considers what Australian corporations have been earning over the last 5 years and what has happened to the profits of this generally less profitable group- particularly when we have so many people in this House who bash the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd- one realises that it is a sadder and more disastrous situation particularly when it is applied to small businesses. I believe that the plight of the small business is under-stated in those figures. The small busines is the most defenceless business in Australia. It is the one that suffered most from the policies which are now so fortunately being reversed almost in their entirety, according to the GovernorGeneral's Speech. I want to draw attention to- the tax rise. I have always taken the view that the role of government is to protect the weak from the strong. That is its major role. The role of the police is not to be oppressive; the role of the police is to protect the good citizen from the bad. The role of government is to protect the weak from the strong. The good old-fashioned 1930s myth being perpetuated by the real conservatives in this House who sit opposite says that big business is the strong and people have to be protected from big business. I put to honourable members that these figures most clearly demonstrate that the strongest, the most oppressive, the biggest, the fattest section of Australian society is big government. It is rising faster than any other sector of society. It has been more oppressive in the last 3 years than any other sector of" society. If this country is being controlled, dominated and run by big business what a lousy job it is doing if its profits have managed to fall by 50 per cent in the last 5 years. I suggest that the centres of power from which the people of this nation must be protected are two- the major one big government, the second one big monopolistic unions. I do not want to engage in union bashing. As a former executive member of a union I have a great deal of respect for the true, proper role of unions in this nation. What I am concerned about is the extent to which various union leaders, for political purposes, are using those structures without, I believe, the proper support of their membership. I am overjoyed to see in the Governor-General's Speech that measures are being taken to restore democracy to the union movement. I conclude by suggesting that some of the comments made by honourable members opposite in this Address-in-Reply debate on the question of indexation appear to me to miss entirely the very clear, positive points made by the honourable member for Oxley **(Mr Hayden)** in his Budget Speech last August. It could well have been that on this, as on so many matters, he differed almost entirely from the rest of his colleagues. Once again, I imagine, this would show his perspicacity. The points he made were very simply these: If you do not exclude increases in government charges from indexation, you effectively deprive the Government of the opportunity of increasing taxes of this nature except against those areas of society where indexation does not apply. This applied particularly to pensioners until this Government promised to introduce such a scheme. It is interesting that this very clear exposition, which I recommend to honourable members opposite, pointed this out so clearly yet we have heard not one word of it from the other side. At that stage the honourable member for Oxley promised that his Government would intervene in subsequent Arbitration Commission hearings to press most strongly the point that rises in government charges had to be excluded from the cost of living for indexation purposes. It may well be that honourable members opposite believe that indirect taxes should never be used and that other methods- direct taxes or a good old tithe- should be reintroduced. I want to stress, with a feeling for fair play, that they should approach this matter objectively, listen to what the honourable member for Oxley says in support of the Government, and endorse it. **Mr Speaker,** I would like to thank you for your courtesy in calling me and the House for its courtesy in listening to me in silence. {: #subdebate-49-0-s13 .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr HURFORD:
Adelaide **-Mr Speaker,** may I follow the usual traditional courtesies and first of all congratulate you on your election to your high office. Secondly, may I congratulate the honourable member for Macarthur **(Mr Baume)** on achieving his maiden speech. I might say that he tested somewhat the normal courtesy of no interjections by the nature of his speech, but I shall pass over that in the hope that he will gain knowledge during the very short time he is expected to be in this House. I should like to thank the honourable member for the kind words he said about his predecessor, my former colleague **Mr John** Kerin, whom we are looking forward very much to having back shortly in this House. As this is my first speech from the front bench, I take the opportunity of thanking my colleagues for electing me to this position and the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam)** for giving me the position of shadow Treasurer. I certainly plan to be busy during this session. Although I feel as strongly as any other objective and perceptive person in this country about the constitutional issue which resulted in my Party's losing government, nevertheless I feel that, for obvious reasons, I should address myself mainly to that part of the GovernorGeneral's Speech relating to our economy. Before moving to that, however, I want to say one thing in passing. In today's adverse world economic conditions, with the enormous problems of inflation and unemployment faced by all countries comparable with our own, any government which is merely in office and not in power, any government which can have its supply of money terminated by a hostile Senate majority, in the face of all conventions previously applying, at any time suitable to that hostile Senate majority any such government will be defeated, as was the case with the Australian Labor Party Government. It happened to us. It will happen to any other government which is placed in that position. An outrage has been inflicted on our system. Instability will result, if not in the short term, because of the large majority for the Liberal and National Country Parties in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, then in the long term. Chickens have a habit of coming home to roost. Let us contemplate a very possible- perhaps not probable but possible- scenario. An Ansett jet crash between Canberra and Melbourne results in 10 vacancies in the Senate for South Australia and Tasmania. Ten Liberal and National Country Party senators chance it with Ansett and have to be replaced. After what was done by Premier Lewis in New South Wales and by Premier Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland in replacing Labor **Senator Murphy** and the late Labor **Senator Milliner** with senators *from* other parties, who in our community believes that Labor State Parliaments in South Australia and Tasmania should substitute Liberals for those 10 senators? Who then would expect a Labor Senate majority, when the political climate is propitiousand it is bound to be favourable to us at some time during the term of this Government, if it is not already favourable- not to refuse Supply to this Government? That is the dangerous instability which has been caused by this outrageous but successful grab for power which we have just witnessed in this country. Australia, in common with all other countries of the Western world, continues to suffer from the twin problems of unemployment of men and women and under-employment of resources on the one hand and an intolerable rate of inflation on the other hand. I am ready to concede that there are no simple solutions to these problems. If there were simple solutions and we knew them in this country we would become the Mecca for all statesmen of the Western world. I trust that for whatever period I am allowed to hold this position of Parliamentary Labor Party spokesman on Treasury matters I will not be caught giving the impression that there are simple solutions. At the same time 1 want it to be known that I should not be numbered among the conspiracy theorists. These were alluded to by the honourable member for Macarthur **(Mr Baume)** who has just resumed his seat. There are those on both sides of this House who believe that in the Treasury all evil resides. That is not my view. I am a great admirer of the wisdom and competence of Australian Treasury officers. However, officers in that department would be the first to concede that they are not always correct, nor in the complex world in which they work would they put forward all their views with tremendous certainty on some occasions. In addition, it is a grave error to think that what emanates from the Treasurer at any one time is not vastly different from the advice which is being preferred to him from the Treasury. I hope I am not being charitable when I say that I suspect that much of what is emanating from the Government at present is not the advice of the Treasury. I just cannot believe that the Otto Niemeyer 1930s stuff of 'no soft options' and all the other cliches which go with that one is part of Treasury thinking. I mention this before tackling specific policies in detail for one purpose. We must encourage more open government in this complex area. There is far too little work in the field of applied economics carried out in this country. I congratulate all those who have made their sacrifices to establish the Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research at the Melbourne University. Incidentally, I deprecate what was said by the honourable member for Macarthur in relation to advice from the universities. I also congratulate the *National Times* and the Econometer Group at the Flinders University of South Australia for the work they are doing. I applaud those economists who leave the ivory towers and curb the desire to be mere social commentators and get down to the hard work of committing themselves to specific policy advice in the hard hard world in which I am obliged to operate. There is no activity which affects more greatly the standard of living and the material happiness of one's fellow man than the area in which these people work. I ask the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** to do all he can to encourage the dialogue between the Governmentin this case the Treasury- on the one hand and the economic academic world, with business, with trade unions, with financial journalists and wherever there is informed thought and informed advice on the other hand. I shall be doing all I can to encourage this development. On so many occasions it is only the Government which has the tools of trade, the hard facts, the input for meaningful discussion. The Government should be sharing this knowledge to a greater extent and reacting to the alternative advice not in the petty way my question on the credit squeeze was answered by the Treasurer yesterday, impetuously, giving no information and offering no reasoning. The Government should be answering the alternative critical advice being offered to the community in a rational way which adds to the body of knowledge. I hope that that is the way my view of present policy and future prospects will be met rather than by petty talk about the past and the accepted problems of the Australian Labor Government, shared as those problems were by all other comparable governments in the western world at this time. My view prior to the present Government taking over was that economic recovery would get under way in the first and second quarters of 1976 and develop quite strongly as 1976 progressed. This recovery would be led by housing, stimulated by the ample liquidity which was available during 1975 and by consumer spending which was expected to respond to the effective short term tax cuts in the Australian Labor Party Government's recent budget, and to the large indexation wage rise which every informed commentator expected and which resulted from this recent national wage case in February. The recovery would be stimulated also by the improvement in consumer confidence consequent upon the resolution of the constitutional crisis, the impact of easy money and lower interest rates and the flow on of high levels of activity in housing to consumer expenditure on associated items. We expected this up turn in the first and second quarters of 1976. The cessation of stock reduction in 1976 also was expected to assist immeasurably in this upturn. We all know that stocks have been running down for some time now. Partially, but only partially, offsetting these expansionary factors would be the continued weakness in private business investment, not expected to turn up until well into 1976-77, more moderate growth in public sector demand than hitherto and the increasing turn to imports arising from the deflationary exchange rate policy being followed. On inflation, I expected a modest increase in the rate of price and wage inflation in 1976, with male award wages and earnings increasing by about 20 per cent and the consumer price index increasing by perhaps 15 per cent. These wage and price figures were expected to result from the continuation of wage indexation, the effects of the indirect taxes and charges in the recent Budget and a continued effort by companies to restore profits by increasing prices and more rapidly increasing prices for food, especially meat. **Mr Deputy Speaker,** this outlook has now appreciably changed as a result of the measures of the new Government although severe uncertainties, I must admit, still remain about this Government's policy. It is now a serious question, in my view, whether we will get a sustained recovery at all during 1976. With the Government's spending cuts, both implemented and foreshadowed, and Government demand not being an expansionary force in the next 12 months to 18 months, I predict that there will be very adverse results. In spite of the investment allowance, private business investment is not likely to turn up until well into 1976-77 at the earliest. The sharp reduction in the rate of growth of the money supply currently in train will reduce the supply of credit throughout the economy and particularly in the housing sector so that the recovery in housing is likely to be cut short. With the exchange rate being held and production costs in Australia being out of line with import costs at the present exchange rate, a continuing shift into imports seems likely during 1976. With these deflationary factors, whether we get a significant recovery at all depends, I realise, on consumer spending. I learn that surveys show that the Fraser Government coming to power was associated with an upswing in consumer sentiment and expectation, and the introduction of the Labor Budget tax scales and the 6.4 per cent increase in the national wage, which I mentioned earlier, should support consumer incomes. The question is whether the Fraser cuts, the tightening of monetary policy and the official talk of belt tightening, tough times, 'calamitious effects' of wages rises and so on will cut off the recovery in consumer spending. We just do not know the answer to this question at the present time. But if the upswing in consumption does not eventuate a general economic upswing will not eventuate either. A wrongful Scrooge attitude is abroad, and it is personified by the Prime Minister's policies and the Treasurer's statements. The other question hanging over the recovery concerns inflation. While the new Government has done nothing to improve the inflation outlook, it has significantly increased the chances of major increases in wages in 1976, and there is no doubt that a sharp increase in wage-cost inflation would deepen the recession, both in itself and because of the reaction of the authorities.. The Labor Party Opposition yesterday raised for discussion as a matter of public importance the grave damage done by the wilfully stupid action of this Government in endangering wage indexation. In addition to this, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that the whole deficit reducing operation is an economic nonsense. With the economy in the trough of the deepest recession since the 1930s, it is staggering that further strong deflationary measures should be implemented. With unemployment already at 5 per cent, the returns in terms of reduced inflation from further deflationary measures must surely be minimal if not negative and further deflation risks the creation of a slump and an unemployment problem from which the economy could take years to recover. One cannot help commenting on the subtle but crucial change which has taken place in the Liberals' economic strategy in the past 3 months. The pre-election document was primarily a strategy for recovery, the emphasis being on income tax cuts, the problems of companies, the Mathews recommendations and so on. Now, as expected, and under the influence of the advisers, whoever they are, the policy is all centred on the need for restraint, for cutting back, for belt tightening, and so on. For example, I have not seen one statement from the Government since the election on the problems of the corporate sector unless it was that its quarterly taxation payments adjustments have been deferred and, if I may say so, that is a very minimal allowance. It is a pretty rapid change over the 3 months in the attitude that was sold by the Liberals and their National Country Party colleagues prior to the election and the attitude that has been adopted since the election. Frankly, it is just another addition to the list of deceits that we have seen take place since 13 December. The crazy indexation decision having been covered in debate yesterday, I now turn to the other principal economic announcements since 13 December. Firstly, there was the sharp increase in the proportion of the deposits which the trading banks are required to hold in liquid assets and government securities. That increase was from 18 per cent to 23 per cent. The LGS ratio last December was, seasonally adjusted, 27 per cent which is well above the 23 per cent requirement. In effect the increase to 23 per cent reduced overnight the free liquidity of the trading banks from 9 per cent of deposits to 4 per cent so the proportion of deposits locked away- 1 am now talking about liquid government securities and statutory reserve deposits- is now 30.6 per cent by comparison with 21 per cent at this time last year. The next policy was the increase in the differential between public and private sector interest rates, by the reduction in some private sector rates and the increase in rates of long term securities to 10.2 per cent and on short term securities through the Australian savings bonds. Series 1 of the ASB as we know apparently raised in the region of $560m and the February loan raised $194m so that $750m was withdrawn from the non-bank private sector in about 3 weeks. The third policy, I remind the House, was the decision not to devalue the Australian dollar which, while undoubtedly the correct decision on anti-inflationary grounds, in this context is still a strong deflationary measure. Costs of production in Australia are out of line with overseas costs at the present exchange rate so that the importcompeting sector will continue to lose ground to imported goods. A further devaluation scare with an outflow of capital and a further tightening of domestic liquidity must be expected at any time perhaps in response to the Arbitration Commission's 6.4 per cent judgment. In my judgment the results of these 3 policy announcements combined with the measures to reduce the Budget deficit and some further reduction in foreign exchange reserves will be to tighten appreciably monetary conditions. On the best advice I now expect a growth in the money supply at an annual rate in the region of 8 per cent to 10 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in the first half of 1976. This is a sharp reduction from the rate of 16.6 per cent in the second half of 1975 and 23.9 percent in the first half of 1975. A tightening of credit conditions within the economy is, of course, the result of all of these policies. The free liquidity of the trading banks, seasonally adjusted, is likely to be the lowest on record in the first half of 1976 and liquidity is likely to be very tight in May and June this year. Consequently I expect private sector interest rates to rise in the months ahead and credit to become much more difficult to obtain from all institutions. This may affect particularly the corporate sector whose true profits are still very low and who are heavily reliant on borrowing. Perhaps it is too early to say whether the monetary measures taken will amount to a credit squeeze but if the Government deficit is less than expected, if the foreign reserves fall appreciably in the next few months, if series II of the ASB proves to be successful or if this Government implements further deflationary measures in the wake of the 6.4 per cent decision we will have a credit squeeze which will send the economy into a further nose dive. There can be little doubt that the monetary measures already taken will at least substantially reduce the rate of recovery of the economy. My time has almost expired and I have not dealt with the Government's expenditure cuts but they will keep. Nor have I had time to deal with the sad effect on the building industry which will also keep. In less than 10 weeks the Liberal and National Country Party Government has in my view done serious damage to an admittedly already sick economy. {: #subdebate-49-0-s14 .speaker-KB8} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles: -I draw the attention of the House to the fact that the honourable member for Barton is about to make his maiden speech. I trust that the House will extend its usual courtesy by remaining quiet and showing attentiveness to the honourable member. I call the honourable member for Barton. {: #subdebate-49-0-s15 .speaker-JRU} ##### Mr BRADFIELD:
Barton **-Mr Deputy Speaker,** thank you very much for those courtesies. Like other members who have spoken before me today and yesterday, I would like you to convey my congratulations to **Mr Speaker** on his election to such a high office and also my congratulations to the Chairman of Committees, the honourable member for Lyne **(Mr Lucock).** Of course, I want to thank the House for its courtesy in allowing me to speak now. It would be wrong of me, in making my first speech, not to pay tribute to the former member for Barton. Although we are opposed politically, let me say that the former member for Barton, **Mr Reynolds,** served the people of Barton well. He has been devoted to them and also has contributed well to this Parliament, particularly in the field of education. I realise that he came here under completely different circumstances from those under which I came here only the day before yesterday. He came here when the economy was healthy and when everything was rosy. On having a glance at his maiden speech I noticed that it was unnecessary for him to talk on matters of the economy. We did not have any of those problems then. We did not have the problems that are outlined in the Governor-General's Speech. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the people of the electorate of Barton. They were the ones who put me here. I promised to serve them well and faithfully. I sincerely hope that they will see fit to allow me to serve in this Parliament for longer than a 3-year term. On checking I ascertained that the electorate of Barton, which is in the southern subsurbs of Sydney, is a relatively old electorate. It came into being in 1922, although at the time of its original incorporation it embodied much of the area that is now included in the Federal seat of St George, and I noticed that the honourable member for St George **(Mr Neil)** also made his maiden speech today. He made it as the representative of territory that was originally part of the electorate of Barton. It is very interesting to look back through the early records concerning the electorate of Barton. Although in 1922 the electorate of Barton covered twice the area that it covers today, it had only 45 000 voters. Today, with a seat half the size, there are 65 000 voters. That is significant. It indicates the growth that has taken place in the area. The electorate of Barton is an area that is now completely developed. It is almost entirely residential and it is the home of many fine families. Like the electorate of St George, it is an area whose inhabitants, although certainly not old, tend to have an average age of a little above the Australian average. Therefore one thing that is important in the electorate of Barton is education, particularly high school and university education. Because of the slightly higher average age, it is also an important area for pensioners and senior citizens. As the representative of Barton I am very much aware of the needs of the senior people in our area. I know that we have clearly stated in our policies, in the Governor-General's Speech, that we propose automatic increases in pensions. I hope that this will give the pensioners a far better deal than they have had over the last few years. I recall of course the promises of the Opposition that it would maintain pensions at a certain percentage of average weekly earnings. But due to the inflation caused by its reckless policies the average weekly wage went up at such a rate that it was absolutely impossible to raise pensions to their promised levels. I return to Barton. One of the unique attractions in the area is that my seat is bordered on the eastern side by Botany Bay. I think honourable members realise the importance of this, of Botany Bay being the birthplace of our nation. It is a truly beautiful area and we must strive, even with the development that is planned there, to make sure that Botany Bay remains a truly beautiful area and something that we as a nation can look upon and say with pride: 'That is the birthplace of our nation'. I know that members of the Opposition will not mind me mentioning that the seat is also famous because it was held by the Australian Labor Party's leader, the late **Dr Evatt,** from 1940 to 1958. Certainly that has helped to add fame to the seat. He was a prominent figure and 18 years is a long time to hold a seat. It is obvious from the address presented by the Governor-General that the first duties of this Parliament will revolve around arresting inflation, reducing unemployment and generally creating a healthy economy. I must confess that it was rather pleasant to hear the honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford)** at least talk about the economy. Few people in the Opposition have done so. They tend to side-step the issue and talk about some supposed constitutional crisis that is now in the past. I feel that the success of the policies that we have laid down in the Governor-General's Speech will restore a healthy economy. The main problem is inflation. It is strange that we had such a rapid rise in inflation when the present Opposition was in Government. The Party that claims to be the friend of the poor is the Party that through inflation has widened the gap and disadvantaged the poor so much. This Government will not tolerate inflation. I am pleased to see that in the GovernorGeneral's Speech we pledge to bring inflation under control. I know that in doing this already some minor cost cutting has been carried out by the Government, but in the long run these cost cuttings, these economies that I know hurt a few people, are to the benefit of all of Australia. Although those measures hurt a few people Australians have to think a Little about our selfishness. No longer can we pursue our selfish idealsall our wants, our needs and desires. Sometimes we have to say no. When a polite no is said, it is to the benefit of Australia as a whole. One of the more immediate jobs is to reduce unemployment. When we act to restore the economy, inflation and unemployment go hand in hand. I think that unemployment is one of the problems that we can rectify quickly. Inflation will take a little longer. Many honourable members present today have many people unemployed in their electorates. The electorate of Barton is no exception; we have many people who are unemployed. Since becoming a member of the Parliament, good people have come into my electorate office daily with stories of hardships. It is not their fault. It is the fault of the policies of the former Government. We have to help these people. We must help them. But rather than giving them handouts, we must help them by formulating policies which will give them jobs, because jobs are far better than handouts. Let us look at what unemployment does to people. I ask honourable members to consider the tremendous psychological effects that it has on individuals and on their families. Some honourable members would have noticed that coupled with increasing unemployment there is a tremendously increasing divorce rate. This is one of the many psychological effects of unemployment. It breaks up marriages. It is something that we certainly must do without. Also, unemployment takes the taxpayers' money. We have to pay out the money of all the good working Australian people to provide benefits for the unemployed. It costs the Australian taxpayer money to do this. It also is costing the Australian taxpayers money in that the Government is not receiving taxes from the wages all of those people who could be working. So unemployment is a pretty disastrous thing. Unemployment also means that around Australia we have factories and machinery with idle capacity. We could be producing more goods for our nation and more goods for our export market. I do not think that there is need for me to elaborate on the seriousness of this current situation. It is due to poor monetary planning. It is due to waste caused by spendthrift policies. It is due to irresponsibility in tariff policies and it is due to a lack of confidence throughout the business sector, the private sector in Australia. Honourable members know the result of this story. The level of unemployment has grown from 100 000 to 350 000 people. I think that another important thing to recognise is the changing pattern of unemployment. We have rapid developments in education in Australia for our young people. I certainly support rapid developments in education and the right of every Australian to be educated to a high standard. However, we have a problem. The production of educated people at the moment appears to be out of step with the job availability. If I were allowed one luxury, as was suggested by another honourable member in his maiden speech, it would be that somewhere in the future a study should be made of the future needs of industry and the future requirements of government to assess job availability perhaps over a 10-year period. At least, our university courses should be tapered so that when the students and the doctors and the degreed people whom our universities produce have completed their courses they can be rewarded with a job. We should not have the situation that we have today, and which exists in other advanced countries in the world, of people with Arts degrees not being able to get work at $130 to $140 a week. Yet there are other jobs, manual jobs, available- they have been available in many cases all the way through the last few years- for unskilled workers, with wages in excess of $200 available a week and no one to take them. This is a sorry state. What a reward for someone doing 3, 4 or 5 years university study. He gets his degree and is rewarded by not being able to get a job. I refer back to the economy. The honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford)** mentioned the investment allowance in his speech. The investment allowance that has been instituted by our Government is something that will quickly help to get our economy moving. The investment allowance is designed to entice businesses to buy machinery; in other words, to involve themselves in what is called capital expenditure. This move will help improve the unemployment situation because the companies that 3 to 4 years ago were manufacturing machinery are the companies that have had to put off staff. That is the field where a big percentage of our unemployment is. So in answer to the honourable member for Adelaide, I am confident that our Government can get the economy going quickly. The new 40 per cent investment allowance will certainly go a long way towards that. I should like to elaborate on that point, but time will not permit. I should like to talk briefly about overseas investment. If, as the honourable member for Macarthur **(Mr Baume)** said, 'profit' is a filthy word, 'overseas investment' are filthy words too. Overseas investment was destroyed by the previous Government. I am not one to stand here and want Australians not to own their country. I am not one to advocate that, but in Australia we do not have the internal financial ability to develop and own all of our country. When an overseas company- I am not referring to nationally essential industry- wants to invest money in Australia, it is not buying part of Australia. Australia is still ours, but the company is renting part of it. Whatever the company buys is still subject to all the laws of our land. They are subject to the laws of local government, State governments and Federal governments. They provide employment; they pay taxes, including sales tax on the goods produced. When an overseas company comes here it is like someone offering us a partnership and we get 70 per cent of the profits. I am afraid my time has expired. I thank the House for listening to me. I appreciate being here and would like to thank the people of Barton for electing me to this position. {: #subdebate-49-0-s16 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I seek leave to table some further documents concerning official residences in amplification of one document tabled by the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** this morning in response to a suggestion by myself yesterday. {: .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- Are these the letters to which you referred in the letter to the Prime Minister? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP {: .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- In that case I can say that one of the letters is marked confidential. The others are for correspondence. Have you received the approval of those people who have written to you prior to the letters being published? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The Leader of the Opposition is stating the nature of his request. I will then call upon the Leader of the House to state whether leave will be granted. But until the nature of the request is made clear I think the Leader of the Opposition should be able to state what it is he wishes to table. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -The first letter is dated 24 July. {: .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- Leave has not yet been given. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The Leader of the Opposition is giving a description of what it is he wishes to table. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser: -- I seek leave to say something about this before the Leader of the Opposition continues. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I call upon the Prime Minister. {: #subdebate-49-0-s17 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER:
Prime Minister · Wannon · LP -- I will make 2 points, **Mr Speaker.** I tabled a document this morning, at the invitation of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam)** yesterday. It was a departmental note concerning a subject matter that was under discussion. The Leader of the Opposition is now proposing to seek leave to table letters. Two people who are not politicians are involved in the correspondence. {: .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr Hurford: -- How do you know which letters? They have not been tabled. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -I wrote to the Prime Minister so he knows which letters I mean. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER: -Yes, and we are talking about the same letters. I believe it would have been a courtesy if the 2 people concerned had been asked beforehand whether the letters over their signatures could be published. I would not want to give leave to have them published unless that courtesy had been shown and their approval had in fact been sought. I would put that to the Leader of the Opposition. The other point about this, of course, is that there is nothing to stop the Leader of the Opposition having these letters made public one way or another. I do not think there would be any consequences for him if he just issued them as a Press statement but the question will arise as to whether they are letters that somebody who is not in the Government should properly have. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -On the same matter, **Mr Speaker;** I have not identified the letters. The Leader of the House **(Mr Sinclair)** said that one is marked confidential. That is so. Only one of them is marked confidential and if there is an objection to tabling it I will not seek to do so. The others are not marked confidential. The suggestion that I made yesterday to the Prime Minister was that I would welcome the Prime Minister's tabling any reports and all papers in connection with these matters, that is, official residences. There happens to be half a dozen letters which I still have. While it is quite true as the honourable gentleman said that I can issue them as a Press statement I did make the suggestion yesterday that they should be tabled. He responded to that today and I sought to do the same thing in respect of these letters. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The Leader of the Opposition, as I understand it, requests leave of the House to table certain documents. There has been correspondence between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister so both the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister know what they are talking about, but I must confess that I do not know what they are talking about. For that reason, before I can proceed with the matter I would like the Leader of the Opposition to describe what it is he wishes to table. I think that to take account of the point made by the Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition should not state the name of the person who wrote the letter, but should identify the letter as a letter relating to this matter. Afterwards there can be a discussion as to whether leave will be granted. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER: **-Mr Speaker,** one of the difficulties with the course that you suggestI understand the reasons for it- is that to describe the documents properly would involve naming the people involved in the correspondence, the signatories in 2 cases. My strongly held view is that the correspondence of people who are not politicians, or are private citizens, ought not be tabled in this Parliament without their permission when it involves a matter of negotiation with the Government. They normally would have written thinking that the letters were going to be private. The natural courtesy would have been to have had the matter put to them. I only got a letter from the Leader of the Opposition some time this afternoon. I first understood that he had written to me about half an hour ago. There would have been time - {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It would be a couple of hours. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER: -- Well, I think that there has been a quicker response, if I may say with respect, than that in which the honourable gentleman was often involved in relation to correspondence. I still believe it is normal common courtesy to ask the people involved whether they are happy to have the correspondence over their signature published. That cannot happen if the letters are described beforehand in this place. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The point is taken. It is open to the Prime Minister to refuse leave but I gathered from the Prime Minister that he would not be seeking to take such a course because it might appear that he did not want the papers to be tabled. The Prime Minister is concerned for the courtesies and propriety of whether there should be recourse to the writers of the letters for their permission and authority. For the purposes of clarifying the situation to the House, I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether a request has been made to the writers of the letters for their permission or authority. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP **-No, Mr Speaker.** {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser: -- Leave is refused until that does take place. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- May I designate the letters? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Accepting the word of the Prime Minister that it may cause difficulties to identify them, from what I have heard I would suggest to the honourable gentleman that he pursue the course of asking the writer of the letter for authority before he renews a request to table it. I must say that if the honourable gentleman insists on naming the writer of the letter I would not be able to stop him uttering the words, but I think that in terms of courtesy, something which the House would want to follow at all times, the Leader of the Opposition may want to follow that course. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser: -- If he has approval I will give leave. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Not that I encourage interjections at all times, but by way of helpful interjection the Prime Minister indicates that if the concurrence of the writer is given the Prime Minister would give leave to have the correspondence tabled. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP **- Mr Speaker,** nowadays I am not in communication with the other writer of the letters, and I never propose to be again. I believe I am entitled to specify the letters which I seek leave to table. You will remember that this arose out of a reply that the Prime Minister gave yesterday asserting that a third residence was being prepared for me as Prime Minister in Melbourne. The letters show quite clearly that that is not an accurate statement of the situation. {: .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr Sinclair: -- I take a point of order, **Mr Speaker.** Leave has been refused. While I can understand the attitude that you have adopted towards the statement being made by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister refused leave as the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that approval has not been given for the publication of the correspondence. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I cannot allow this matter to go any further. The Leader of the Opposition has indicated that he seeks leave of the House to table certain documents. There has been sufficient description of them between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister as well as, I assume, the Leader of the House. I ask: Is leave granted to table the documents? {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser: -- Not without the approval of the writers of the letter. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Leave is refused. Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m. {: #subdebate-49-0-s18 .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr Les Johnson:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If **Mr Speaker** had been here I would have said to him that both he and I have been through triumphs and disasters since we were first elected to this Parliament on 10 December 1955. That being the case, it gives me much pleasure to congratulate him on his election to the Speakership. Likewise, congratulations are due to you, **Mr Deputy Speaker.** The honourable member who preceded me in this debate, the honourable member for Barton **(Mr Bradfield)** was good enough to pay a tribute to Len Reynolds who was the member for Barton for many years and who was regarded as being one of the most dedicated, sincere, accomplished and achieving members of Parliament that the Parliament has ever seen. I thank the present honourable member for Barton for the tribute that he paid to Len Reynolds who voluntarily retired at the last election. The election of 13 December- preceded as it was by connivance, conspiracy and obstruction against the elected government- has thrown up the remarkable results which can now be seen in this chamber. I refer to the assemblage of members in terms of political parties. It is a disturbing spectacle for any democrat to observe that the Liberal Party with 3 248 000 votes or 42 per cent of the total votes can gain 68 seats in this House while the Australian Labor Party with 64 868 more votes than the Liberal Party, with a total of 3 313 000 votes or 42.8 per cent of the total, can gain only 36 seats in this House. Let me put the essence of that again: With 42 per cent of the votes the Liberal Party gained 68 seats; with 42.8 per cent of the votes the Labor Party gained only 36 seats. Even more privileged than the Liberal Party is the National Country Party. That Party succeeded in attracting only 853 000 votes which is 1 1 per cent of the total. Yet, with 1 1 per cent of the total votes it gained 23 seats in this House. These dramatic accounts of electoral inequalities reflect the urgent need for Australian electoral reform. The effect of the present system is that for every seat won the Labor Party had to gain 92 000 votes; the Liberal Party had to gain 47 000 votes; and the National Country Party had to gain 37 000 votes. Many honourable members opposite are here by virtue of a gerrymander which has been made possible by the continuous obstruction by the Liberal Party and National Country Party of efforts made by the previous Labor Government to bring electoral reform to this country, to get rid of the 20 per cent differential above and below the quota which has thrown up this remarkable situation. To show the absurdity of the present situation, if one takes the total votes of the Labor Party and divides them by the votes per seat gained by the National Country Party, the Labor Party would have gained 89 seats. If the same method applied to the Liberal Party figures, the Labor Party would have gained 68 seats. So there we have the situation. All the talk in the world about democracy will not make the Parliament or the country democratic. Only the government of the day can do it in an electoral sense. The process is through a fair and equitable electoral distribution system. To make things worse, those who sit opposite now acknowledge the lack of principle by which the Senate is for the first time conceded the right to determine monetary affairs, including Supply Bills, so a government can be thrown out by the vote of a senator. I ask honourable gentlemen to reflect on the great disparity in the electoral value of any senator. A senator from New South Wales must gain a quota of 232 588 votes to be elected. A senator from Tasmania needs to gain only 20 2 1 1 votes to be elected- one tenth. A senator from the Northern Territory needs only 9476 votes to be declared elected. So we have this inequality. Remember that there are 10 senators from each State. That is the process of diluting the vote. Now the very fundamental and cardinal principle of one man one vote and equal vote equal value has been watered down because senators have been given the right to determine whether a government can stay in office. Many matters concerning the undemocratic assault on the elected Labor Government shocked millions of Australians and shook the faith of the world in the Australian parliamentary process. The Prime Minister has acquiesced in that assault. The Governor-General has been deeply involved. All of us regret the circumstances which have damaged the prestige of his office. There is nationwide unrest and disquiet about his involvement and that of the Chief Justice in the affairs of 1 1 November. These events cannot escape significance and cannot be denied attention. The sacking of the Whitlam Labor Government was the first occasion that a Prime Minister was sacked by the Crown in 200 years. I am not talking just about Australia but also all those countries which previously had been called the Commonwealth countries. This is the first time in 200 years, since King George III sacked Lord North. So it is no good trying to gag parliamentary and public debate on these dubious if not reprehensible events. If confidence is to be restored in the institution of Parliament and the traditional democratic processes, all the facts should be revealed. We should make it possible for people who know the facts to come clean. I am not talking just about the side issues, about the present Prime Minister, the then Leader of the Opposition, skulking in the adjoining room when the Prime Minister was being sacked. I am not talking about the car of the Leader of the Opposition being surreptiously spirited away behind the tea-tree so that the Prime Minister, who was arriving at Government House, could not know the Leader of the Opposition was there, because if the Prime Minister had known the Governor-General might have been sacked. I am talking about serious matters. Many matters, in my view, are of such importance that they concern the privileges and traditions of the Parliament, so they should be referred to the Privileges Committee. On 4 January 1642 Charles I raided the Parliament of the people, the House of Commons, to render Pym and Hampden and three of their colleagues into custody. Now we have a Black Rod to remind us of that event- this figure which insulates the Parliament from the Crown. On 1 1 November an entire government that was given a mandate twice in 2 years was sacked without reference to the Queen of Australia. The Speaker, entrusted as he is with the responsibility of safeguarding the rights and traditions of the House, in my view could do well to consider instituting a process involving the Privileges Committee and of putting all these matters under examination. I would like some matters examined. For example, I would like to know how the leading attorney for the United States Westinghouse Corporation, William Jentes of Kirkland and Ellis, Chicago, was able to predict and publish in *Nucleonics Week* of 6 November 1975 that there would be an election in Australia on 13 December- right to the day. Of course that was in connection with the incessant competition for energy resources in the United States and he was able to indicate that uranium would be available at bargain basement prices after the election which he predicted 5 weeks prior to it occurring. Has there been an international conspiracy designed to determine major political issues in this country? We have been disturbed to hear from the honourable member for Chifley **(Mr Armitage)** this afternoon a contention that the Central Intelligence Agency might have been involved in a conspiracy surrounding the events of 1 1 November. The Privileges Committee, in my view, should be asked to establish whether the Governor-General fulfilled the constitutional requirement of section 62 of the Constitution which says that there shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the Government of the Commonwealth. As a member of the Executive Council I know that I was not consulted except that a short time before the event occurred, in company with **Senator Cavanagh,** who with me and the GovernorGeneral at that time comprised the Executive Council, there was speculation by the GovernorGeneral as to what might occur. The general tenor of his attitude at that time was that it was fair to put all those senators under pressure. He even nominated some of those who might have crumbled if that pressure had been allowed to continue, and he thought it reasonable that it should continue. I think the Privileges Committee could do many things. Did the Governor-General defy or fail to seek or take the advice of the then Prime Minister, the then Attorney-General or the Crown Solicitor as it was his duty to do in terms of the Constitution and in terms of all the traditions? Or did he substitute this obligation improperly with the advice of the then Leader of the Opposition, the then shadow AttorneyGeneral and the Chief Justice? It was the Chief Justice alone, not the Chief Justice with his colleagues who comprise the High Court; and the Chief Justice is a former Liberal Minister who is related to a present Minister. I believe the Privileges Committee should probe the claims that the present Prime Minister and others conspired to timetable the passing of Supply to coincide with the sacking of the Labor Government. There is another very important matter which the Privileges Committee should probe. I believe it should seek to dignify the parliamentary institution by demanding to know why its corporate voice was not heard because of the disinclination of the Governor-General to receive the Speaker of this House on 1 1 November with the message that he was charged by a majority of ten in this House to convey to the Governor-General. After all, the Speaker had an important message to the effect that the House had noted that the Supply crisis was over, that the House had no confidence in the caretaker Prime Minister, **Mr Malcolm** Fraser, and that the House in fact reaffirmed its confidence in **Mr Whitlam** as Prime Minister. Another question for the Privileges Committee to probe is why the Governor-General refused to receive the Speaker. Would he have been responsive to the views of the House if he had received the Speaker or would his refusal to meet the Speaker in itself be an indication of his indifference to the views of the elected members of this Parliament? I put these matters not in a way which is designed to disparage the Governor-General because I have participated loyally in these processes since 1955 following my first election. But I believe all of us have an obligation to make certain that the actions of the Governor-General are established, to the extent that it is possible, as being beyond reproach. The responsibility with which the Speaker has been entrusted to safeguard and uphold the rights, dignity and traditions of this Parliament can be adequately fulfilled only if the Speaker, in my view, takes the course available to him and has these matters incorporated into comprehensive terms of reference for the attention of the Privileges Committee which would comprise members from both sides of the Parliament. After all, to impugn this high office brings concern to all Australians and all members. I believe with a sense of duty that there would be many who would join with me in calling on the Speaker to take the course that I have advocated in order that the Governor-General can be exonerated from the very serious charges that are being levelled from one end of the country to another and across the international scene as well. I ask those who sit opposite whether on the one hand they believe that this position is important enough to take the course of action that I have advocated or whether, one the other hand, they believe there is something to hide which could justify their own negative attitude about these matters. What were the election issues? The election certainly was not just about the question of dole bludgers although many Australians could reasonably be expected to believe that was the case as a result of the indoctrinating processes that took place through the media in this country. It was certainly not fought on the size of the deficit which is likely to remain about the same under this Government which has set about trimming about $360m out of a Budget of some $2 1 billion. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr Armitage: -It is about $4,000m. {: .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr Les Johnson:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -I think the honourable member for Chifley would be pretty close to the mark if he is referring to the deficit. The election was certainly not fought on the alleged improprieties concerned with the loans affair because Khemlani has been discredited with all his insinuation and innuendo. The examination and the sleuthing by the present Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** have failed to establish any wrong-doing on the part of those who were involved in this matter as members of the previous administration. Yet I believe in effect the election was about the loans affair; it was about Labor's bid to gain public equity of a substantial degree in Australia's resources; it was about the world's biggest supply of natural gas worth thousands of millions of dollars lying off the North- West Shelf of Australia of which people were demanding delivery. It was about the untold millions of dollars worth of uranium- probably the world's largest deposit- which was being demanded at bargain basement prices by the United States of America. When it is all said and done we have seen coups in other countries. Chile is mere fish and chips compared with the great resources of Australia. So the poor old Australian was mesmerised into thinking that the election was about dole bludgers. He was mesmerised into thinking that it was about Budget deficits which are now being diverted not to welfare but to pad the pockets of wealthy graziers and mining corporations. Disillusioned as the people of Australia must be now, the facts are that all the time this election was about the intention of a Labor Government to gain control over the equity in Australia's natural resources. So I believe it was ordered that Labor had to go, and gone it has. Now we see the harvest being reaped. We see millions of dollars being headed off in the wrong direction. We see an assault on the pensioners and an assault on health which has received a cut of $7m this year. In addition, drugs are to be removed from the free list. Subsidised health benefits which are provided at half-price are to be taken away from recipients of unemployment and sickness benefits. A total of 250 Commonwealth projects which were being dealt with by the Department of Housing and Construction, as it was known at the time, are to be grounded. The Australian Housing Corporation has been abolished, involving the abdication by the Commonwealth of its responsibility for housing. So we see the election issues have been distorted in the way they have been conveyed to the Australian people. I believe that the facts should be brought to light by way of instituting a thorough investigation through the process of the House of Representatives Standing Committee of Privileges. Only in this way can we cause the Governor-General again to be regarded as being of good repute in Australia. {: #subdebate-49-0-s19 .speaker-K5A} ##### Mr O'KEEFE:
Paterson -- I congratulate the honourable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr Sainsbury)** on moving the motion that the Address-in-Reply be agreed to and the honourable member for Dawson **(Mr Braithwaite)** on seconding it. Both made splendid speeches and it is evident that they have a splendid contribution to make in the debates that will take place during their term of office. I was amazed to hear the speech of the honourable member for Hughes **(Mr Les Johnson)** in regard to electoral matters. He did not mention the fact that many members of the Australian Labor Party- not too many of them occupy seats in this Parliament todayrepresent 3 square miles of country. I compare that with the electorate of Maranoa which spans 200 000 square miles, and the electorate of Kennedy with an area of 250 000 square miles. People living in the great country areas of this nation are entitled to parliamentary representation just as much as the people living in a city electorate of 3 square miles. The honourable member should look at the Commonwealth Electoral Act. He will find that population is not the only factor that decides the electoral boundaries. Community of interests, means of communication and population are the criteria on which electoral boundaries are drawn, not population alone. If this nation is to develop country people must have parliamentary representation. The Address by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at the opening of the Thirtieth Australian Parliament made it quite clear that the policy of the Liberal-National Country Party Government is to bring inflation under control so that jobs will again be available for all who want to work. Control of inflation is, and must be, the Government's first consideration. Unless inflation is brought under control there will be no adequate employment opportunities and no soundly based return to prosperity. The rate of inflation achieved by the previous Government set an all-time record for Australia. When the former Government took over in 1973 the inflation rate was 5 per cent and when they lost the election on 13 December last the inflation rate was 17 per cent. It is all right for members of the Opposition to say that inflation was world-wide, but nowhere in the world was there achieved such a high rate of inflation as that achieved by the former Labor Government in Australia. {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr Cohen: -- What a load of codswallop ! {: .speaker-K5A} ##### Mr O'KEEFE: -- We all must work to bring the inflation rate down and put the economy of this nation on a sound basis. The honourable gentleman might go and get his horse. The Government's 40 per cent investment allowance will be a stimulant to business and to the private sector. However, I ask that Cabinet further consider the proposition that the first $1,000 worth of items of a capital nature purchased under this investment allowance provision should attract some consideration. There is no doubt that the 40 per cent investment allowance will mean a great pick-up in our secondary industries in Australia. The investment allowance will benefit lorry manufacturers in our transport industry and the manufacturers of all types of industrial machinery. However, there are many small businessmen who would want to purchase for their businesses items of a capital nature worth $1,000 or a little more. If we are to help small businesses we should work towards ensuring that purchases involving an amount of $1,000 attract the investment allowance. There are many thousands of small businesses which would benefit from this allowance and they in turn would help the various manufacturing industries. We should ensure that these people are not deprived of assistance under the 40 per cent investment allowance provision. I feel sure that in view of the objections that have come forward from small businesses through representations made by members of Parliament urgent consideration will be given to reversing the investment allowance policy. I ask the members of Cabinet to have a look at this suggestion because I believe it will stimulate the economy as well as encouraging bigger purchases of a capital nature. The former Labor Government's policy in the mining and the petroleum fields has been disastrous for Australia. When we lost power in 1972 there were 19 oil drilling rigs off our coast. When Labor lost office in December there were about 2 oil drilling rigs. Labor's policy in this field pushed expertise and valuable capital overseas. The mining and petroleum industries are risk industries. If overseas interests are prepared to invest overseas capital in the mining and petroleum industries and are prepared to take the risks then we should not refuse to accept it because we do not want to lose their capital nor their expertise. The mining and petroleum companies exploring for products in Australia did not know from day to day what the Government's policy would be. As I have mentioned, oil drilling rigs have been removed from the Australian fields and mining companies with their expertise have left Australia during the 3 years of Labor administration. Exploration in these fields by mining and petroleum companies reached a very low ebb indeed. Australia is a very fortunate country in that as a result of the efforts of former Liberal Party Governments, we produce 70 per cent of our petroleum needs today. But during the next 10 years unless we discover other petroleum deposits in Australia this percentage will be considerably smaller and we will have to import more petroleum products from the Middle East, from Iraq and Iran with a subsequent loss of valuable exchange at great cost to the nation. So it is important that we get on with the job of petroleum exploration in this country. The present Government's specific objectives in this area include the use of foreign capital, especially capital accompanied by technology and expertise as an integral component of Australia's economic development, and maximum Australian ownership and control of natural resources with 50 per cent Australian equity participation in new projects and ventures. There is to be prohibition on foreign investment in specific sectors of the economy and supervision of foreign companies, according to the Government's guidelines. There will be an assessment of foreign investment, including takeovers, by a foreign investment review board. The objectives include the prevention of tax avoidance by foreign companies in Australia. These are policies which will assure the people of Australia control and ownership of our natural resources and at the same time provide for capital and expertise from overseas which are so necessary in the development of our mineral and petroleum resources. As I have mentioned already, under the previous Government overseas companies interested in these fields did not know from day to day what the policy would be. As a consequence we lost overseas capital and expertise. They are starting to come back now to assist the Australian Government in the development of our resources- our valuable mineral and petroleum deposits. Already companies in the search for petroleum in Australia have speeded up their drilling program and allocated more funds for this specific purpose. WoodsideBurmah Oil NL, for instance, is spending more funds in its quest for oil in this country and, with other exploration companies, will spend considerably more capital in the next few years. Already the Minister for National Resources, the Deputy Prime Minister of this country, **Mr Anthony,** has pushed forward the development of North- West Shelf natural gas by a few more notches, but much more negotiation will be needed before the $ 1,000m scheme takes definite shape. **Mr Anthony** said recently in his speech to the Japan-Australia Society in Tokyo that the Australian Government would allow the export of reasonable quantities of liquefied natural gas on a commercial basis. So there is confidence in this mineral and petroleum exploration field- something that was lacking in the last 3 years and it will restore these great industries to their rightful place in the Australian way of life I want to talk now about local government. The previous Government, through its Grants Commission, made available to local governments throughout Australia grants for assistance to certain local projects. That was commendable and I know that local governments appreciated it. But our Government's policy of providing a share of the general taxation revenue will be of far greater value because it will enable the shire or town clerks- the local government clerks- to include this taxation revenue in their estimates. Whilst the grants system of the previous Government was valuable, the grants would arrive willy-nilly throughout the year and local government clerks did not know when they were going to receive them. So the grants were not included in the estimates and were of little value to the ratepayers. I do not have to tell those assembled here the great problems of local government today. These are evidenced by the high rates that the ratepayers are asked to pay. So a share of the general taxation pool of our country will be of great benefit to local government throughout Australia. This system must be far more satisfactory than the previous one of intermittent grants. It should enable a reduction in rates throughout this very important section of government. The former Government's disastrous wholesale tariff reductions in the textile industry has had a very serious effect on the greatest decentralised industry in Australia. One of the big firms in this industry, Courtaulds Hilton Ltd, situated at Raymond Terrace, in the electorate of the honourable member for Lyne **(Mr Lucock)** who occupies the chair, has a workforce which lives mainly in my electorate of Paterson. This wonderful industry had a workforce of some 1600 people several years ago. This has been reduced to less than 600 and now, owing primarily to the disastrous tariff policy enunciated by the former Government, the company has decided to close its works early next month and has given notice to its 600 employees. I am delighted to say that the honourable member for Lyne and I made representations today to our Ministers, who will be meeting executives of this company in Canberra next week. Let us hope that the final closure of this company can be averted. Only this week I asked a question in this House concerning the problem being experienced by Courtaulds and asked the Government to take cognisance of this fact. I am not really enamoured with the AlburyWodonga and Bathurst-Orange set-ups. I feel that we should be giving more attention to companies like Courtaulds and making every effort to prevent them from closing. They have been established over the years. They made a great contribution to the industrial and employment situation of Australia. I feel that, rather than opening up new centres, we should be maintaining those that have proved their ability and capacity to manufacture first class articles with Australian labour. The floods in northern New South Wales have caused considerable havoc. In my electorate of Paterson on the black soil Liverpool Plains tremendous flooding has taken place with a great loss of sorghum crops and fencing. Down the Hunter River, which is in the bottom portion of the Paterson electorate, there has been severe flooding. Several weeks ago at a place called Woodville I met farmers who had lost their entire crops of watermelons, rock melons, pumpkins, potatoes, maize and lucerne. Representations have been made to the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser),** the Treasury **(Mr Lynch)** and the Minister for Social Security **(Senator Guilfoyle)** to see what assistance can be given to those farmers who have lost their entire crops and who are in dire financial straits. I know that this applies to other parts of Australia but these are small farmers who rely entirely on the production of vegetable crops for the metropolitan market. Assistance is vital to these people and I hope that it will be forthcoming. It appears that in this wonderful country, because of the cyclones which occur frequently about our coasts and which are the reason for our inland floods, we will have to look at some scheme for assisting people on farms and in country towns adjacent to the rivers, who are experiencing considerable problems. I refer to places such as Mungindi, Moree, Narrabri, Wee Waa, Gunnedah and so on. The present Government will give assistance to the great rural industries of Australia. The last Government absolutely crucified the rural industries of our nation. It thought that because people owned land in country areas they were millionaires and made great profits, but it did not take into account droughts, poor prices for products and other factors. Our great cattle industry has been on its knees. One of the reasons for that was the fact that the previous Government revalued the dollar three times and did not allow the export tax on cattle to be lifted. This will now be lifted and it will help cattle producers in this country. It is good to know that the great cattle industry is picking up. The Deputy Prime Minister, The Leader of my Party, who has just returned from Japan had discussions with the Japanese about improving our exports of beef. This will be of great value economically not only to the farmers who produce beef but also to this country. So primary producers can look to the future with confidence in the knowledge that they have a government in Canberra that recognises the great importance of our wheat, wool, meat, sugar and other allied primary industries which mean so much to the economy of Australia. We had extreme difficulty impressing upon the former Labor Government the importance of these great rural industries to this country and the importance of our great mining industry and petroleum projects. We must make every effort to expand our overseas markets and ascertain the possibility of future entry into new markets. We know that there have been problems with Great Britain entering the European Economic Community. This has had a serious effect on our great cattle and meat industries. We are exporting 80 000 tonnes or 90 000 tonnes less a year. We must not neglect this market altogether. We must watch it because I believe that the time will come when we may be able to enter it. We have to establish new markets in Iraq, Iran and the Middle East where the people are starting to eat meat. This Government, through its Cabinet Ministers, will see that overseas markets are fully investigated and that everything possible is done to market these valuable Australian products. During his speech the honourable member for Chifley **(Mr Armitage)** said that confidence had not been restored in the business community. It is quite evident that he walks about with his eyes and ears closed, because there is confidence in the business community in Australia. As I travel throughout the length and breadth of Australia I see confidence developing in the business community already. That development of confidence will bring employment and prosperity to the nation. Saturday, 13 December, was indeed a most fortunate day for Australia and the people had their say and they put a sane government into power in Canberra. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-49-0-s20 .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr MORRIS:
Shortland **-Mr Deputy Speaker,** may I add my congratulations to those tendered to you by the previous speakers. Would you please convey to the Speaker my congratulations on his appointment to high office? I am confident that you will exercise your powers with the generosity, breadth and latitude to which I have been accustomed in the past. {: .speaker-0I4} ##### Mr MacKellar: -- And latitude? {: .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr MORRIS: -- And latitude, yes. He is capable of it. From the day the Australian Government came to office in 1972 until the shameful events of last Remembrance Day, the Liberal and National Country Parties carried on a deliberate and effective campaign of undermining public confidence and creating fear, division and hatred in the community. That campaign was supported in earnest by the media barons in this country, the same people whom the present Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** telephoned for advice and endorsement of his Party's decision to block the 1975-76 Budget. It climaxed in the decision of the GovernorGeneral to sack Prime Minister Whitlam and his Government on Remembrance Day 1975, a decision that I believe was unconstitutional and founded on a grand conspiracy, which included interests outside this nation whose concern is not for the political system under which we live but for the exploitation of our resources and the use of Australia as a base in the event of international conflict. This conservative Government was founded on a conspiracy, and already its actions in respect of electoral matters indicate that it is involved in corruption. It is obvious from the Prime Minister's actions that this Government is trying to conceal its actions in respect of a member of this House and a former Liberal senator. Does anyone believe that the Prime Minister did not see the *Canberra Times* of 6 December 1975, that a matter as serious as the one involving a member of this House was not brought to his notice before that member was selected and sworn as a Minister of the Crown? Does anybody believe that? Of course no one believes it. But the Prime Minister refused even this morning to answer the simplest questions on the subject. Or is it his intention that the Chief Electoral Officer, **Mr Ley,** is to be made the scapegoat in this affair? The media barons who sponsored this Government into office want the Australian people to forget the events of Remembrance Day 1975. They want to sweep this whole sordid affair under the carpet and have it forgotten. They have castigated the Labor Opposition for bringing it to public notice. It will not be forgotten and we as an Opposition would be answerable to the 43 per cent of Australian voters who supported us if we said: 'Okay, let us forget all about it. You violated the Constitution. You participated in a conspiracy against our system of parliamentary democracy. You contrived an election 18 months ahead of time and you won.' The Australian people and the Opposition will not rest until the facts are known and brought into public view and the guilty men exposed. The Labor Party was defeated at the election on 13 December 1975 and it accepts the verdict of the people'. {: .speaker-0I4} ##### Mr MacKellar: -- You have not yet. {: .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr MORRIS: -We accept the verdict. It is said that the decision of the people on 13 December resolved the constitutional issue relating to the respective powers of the 2 Houses- the people 's House, or the House of Representatives, and the upper House, or the Senate. The fact is that it did not. People did not vote in the main on the constitutional issue. The media barons saw to that. They voted on economic issues arising out of the unprecedented international recession and inflation that has spread across the Western world. The people were led to believe that the decision to sack the Whitlam Government was based on an impartial and proper interpretation of the Constitution and therefore the constitutional powers of the Houses were not an issue at the election. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was not informed of the action proposed to be taken by the Governor-General. She could not have taken similar action in the United Kingdom and I am sure that she would not have endorsed such action being taken in Australia had she known of it. I understand that she was furious when she learned of the events of 1 1 November 1975. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** I think it might be wise if the honourable member for Shortland were to take that particular sentence out of the speech he has made. {: .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr MORRIS: -- Could I re-phrase it and say that reports available indicate that Her Majesty was furious when she learned of the events of 1 1 November 1975? I understand that was published in the Press and is public knowledge, and I do not feel that it is an affront, with all due respect, to Her Majesty. It certainly is not intended as such. {: #subdebate-49-0-s21 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- In the circumstances this is an extremely difficult situation. I would venture to say that possibly no-one could make a definite comment about how Her Majesty felt or what her reaction was. If the honourable member for Shortland says, and I accept his comment, that it was in the newspapers I can see nothing to prevent his use of the statement now. {: .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr MORRIS: -Thank you, **Sir. What** the Government and media barons and the establishment interests of this nation have to realise is that Remembrance Day 1975 did not solve anything. It was not the end of the debate on the powers of the Houses of this Parliament. It was the beginning of a new struggle to restore the House of Representatives, the people's House, to its rightful position, to the position it was intended to occupy and had always occupied in our bi-cameral system of democracy as the House of the Government. Those honourable members opposite who endorse the events of 1 1 November 1975 and endorse the actions of the Governor-General in refusing to meet **Mr Speaker** Scholes when a vote of no confidence had been carried in the appointee Prime Minister that day until the House had been dissolved, betray the rights of this House. Let there be no mistakeRemembrance Day 1975 was the beginning, not the end, and the day will occur again when an Opposition majority will be in control of the Senate and this country again will be plunged into uncertainty and instability because a few people at the present time for short-term advantage purport to endorse that decision on Remembrance Day. Our Constitution is in many aspects unclear and unsuited to present day conditions. Our media barons are again suggesting in their editorials that having got rid of the Australian Labor Government and having got rid of Whitlam maybe there should be a referendum to curtail the powers of the Senate and so the Governor-General. Does anyone believe that this corrupt Government which came to office at a premature election founded on a grand conspiracy will do anything to update the constitution? Again, of course not. Still I challenge the Prime Minister to declare Government policy on the subject and to state that this Government will in its current term of office conduct a referendum as suggested by its masters, the media barons. Let me turn now to the Governor-General's Speech. In part it states: >The Government believes that excessive government intervention in the life of the nation is a major factor in economic instability. > >My Government's immediate objective is to bring inflation under control so that there can again be jobs for all who want to work. I agree, as I am sure do all my colleagues, with such a high-sounding statement. However, it needs to be remembered by the Australian people that every step taken by the Whitlam Government to bring under control the rapidly increasing inflation it inherited from the McMahon Government was bitterly opposed by the conservatives, the Liberal and the Country Parties, which are now in office. A few moments ago we heard the honourable member for Paterson **(Mr O'Keefe)** making a plea that everybody should get behind the Government now and try to control inflation. It is a pity honourable members opposite did not do that between 1972 and 1975. We see now evidence of excessive Government intervention in the economy and the community. The new Australian Savings Bond introduced by this Government is about to cause an increase in home loan interest rates and a further impost on those young Australians struggling to buy their own homes. The economic policy being followed by this Government is a shambles. Even its closest supporters, the private bankers, repudiate it. Building societies, shaky financial institutions at best and possibly best termed financial societies because of their policy of borrowing short and lending long, have suffered a severe run on their deposits as a result of this conservative Government's policies. Irrespective of the claims of the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch),** this country is headed into a credit squeeze and the impact of that squeeze will fall most heavily on those people who were deluded into supporting this Government at the polls. The Government says that it has embarked on a cost saving program. But its cuts are in reality an exercise in political window dressing to cover its excesses in distributing largesse to the sectional interests that it represents. It says that it wants to bring inflation under control so that there can be jobs for all who want to work. At the same time, it sets about sacking thousands of Government employees. What it is really doing is reverting to the old Menzies stratagem of deliberately creating vast numbers of unemployed so that workers can be disciplined and forced to accept a reduction in real wages. That stratagem may have been popular with the conservatives a generation ago, but it will not work in today's world. Employees about to be sacked must indeed be wondering: How does one create jobs by sacking those who already have jobs? Likewise, those persons who are unemployed must be wondering: How are job vacancies created by hounding and vilifying those persons at present unemployed? I leave aside that handful of people who may have improperly received unemployment or sickness benefits. As far as I am concerned, any person or corporation receiving a Government benefit or concession to which that person or corporation is not properly entitled is guilty of fraud and ought to be dealt with accordingly. We have seen in this nation an unprecedented campaign against unemployed young people. The facts of the situation have been distorted and exaggerated out of all proportion. All young people have been slandered and attacked as bludgers, cheats and loafers because of the dishonesty of a few. They have been denigrated and abused because of their mode of dress, hair styles or footwear. Commonwealth Employment Service officers have now become dress policemen who will determine what length of hair is to be worn, what style of suit, shirt or dress, and what kind of shoes are to be worn to Commonwealth Employment Service offices on monthly visits by the unemployed. This is a Government of whose purpose the Governor-General in his Speech said: >It is to encourage the development of an Australia in which people have maximum freedom and independence to achieve their own goals in life, in ways which they decide. I emphasise the words: 'in ways they decide'. In one word, this is claptrap. If this Government were genuine in its effort to ensure that only those persons or corporations who have a proper entitlement receive Government benefits or concessions, it would immediately commence a blitz on tax cheats or, more properly, tax bludgers, to use the same term as has been used against our own young people, against young Australians. I mean those corporations and individuals who do not fully and in all respects comply with taxation law. The Second Commissioner of Taxation in evidence before the Joint Committee of Public Accounts some months ago pointed out that the appointment of each additional tax investigator meant a net addition to revenue of $100,000. If the desire were to decrease the deficit, surely we could appoint 10 more tax investigators rather than sack 250 employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Surely that is a constructive approach to reducing the deficit? At the same time, the Government could act to protect small investors and pensioners from predatory company directors and stockbrokers who now have representation in this place. In its plan to cut costs this corrupt, conservative Government has declared war on those least able to increase their incomes- namely, pensioners. It is robbing Australian pensioners both in rural areas and in urban areas of $2 9m by its decision to defer until 1 June 1976 the consumer price index increase for pensioners which should have been payable from 1 May 1976. It has robbed pensioners of their inadequate $40 funeral benefit. That is a miserable act. The reintroduction of television and radio licence fees at $70 for colour television and $50 for black and white television is another attack on those least able to increase their incomes. In effect, it is a flat rate of tax irrespective of capacity to pay and, again, that ties in with the philosophy of the Liberal and National Country Parties. Those actions of the Government are in line with its philosophy of conservatism. Massive cuts have also been announced in the Budget of the Australian Broadcasting Commission under the guise of reducing the deficit. Hundreds of ABC employees now face dismissal not for reasons related to economy but because this Government is exacting retribution from the ABC for its accuracy and independence in news coverage over the past few years. Honourable members will well recall the savage attacks made by the Liberal and National Country Party Coalition spokesman over the past 3 years on the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the quality of its news coverage. Australians have one source of factual, independent information on current events and that is the ABC. We have heard constant calls from some members opposite, especially from the Country Party, for the muzzling of the ABC. By strangling the ABC the Government seeks to achieve the political intervention in the management of the ABC that it sought when in Opposition. But for the fearless independent broadcasting of the Australian Broadcasting Commission we would have complete political censorship in this country as exists in communist countries so frequently referred to by the Country Party. Already we have almost complete political censorship of the commercial media of this nation. Government speakers opposite have in the past referred to the political censorship of communist countries. If the present Government succeeds in its plans to financially strangle the ABC and intimidate it into submission then Australia also will have complete political censorship. The only difference between political censorship in communist countries and the present censorship of the commercial media is that in the communist countries there is one political censor while in Australia we have four. The evidence is there. Never before in Australian history- that is, until the last election campaign- has there been a strike by working journalists against the censorship activities and distortion of copy by media proprietors. This Government is quite clearly embarked upon a policy to introduce by the back door political censorship of the ABC and so bring about a complete level of political censorship in this country. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr** Lucock)Before I call the honourable member for Denison I remind the House that this is the honourable member's maiden speech. {: #subdebate-49-0-s22 .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr HODGMAN:
Denison **-Mr Deputy Speaker,** in rising to support the motion so ably moved by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr Sainsbury)** and seconded by the honourable member for Dawson **(Mr Braithwaite)** might I say at the outset that I wish to associate my thoughts with that motion, not just in word but in spirit. I warmly congratulate all other speakers, particularly those who are making maiden speeches in this debate. I congratulate you, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** on your election and I ask you to convey to the Speaker the congratulations of all people in Tasmania. I think it is fair to say that whilst his election to office- the highest office that the Parliament can offer to any of its members- has been received with great enthusiasm right across the country, nowhere has it been received with more unbounded joy than in the state of Tasmania to which he paid so much attention and has displayed such loyalty over such a long period of time. It is a great honour for me to be in this chamber after serving for 8 years in the Tasmanian Parliament. If perchance, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I refer to you on occasions as **Mr Deputy President** or to the Speaker as **Mr President,** you will realise that it is a slip of the tongue and that I do not believe I am across King's Hall in another place. I feel that at this point I must refer to the work carried out in the electorate of Denison, which I am now so proud to represent, by my precedessor **Mr John** Coates. He set a standard for dedication and service in the electorate of Denison which is unequalled and which will present itself as a very formidable task to be equalled by myself and my successors. I believe that the people of Denison were fortunate to be served by such a dedicated and conscientious member. As I said at the declaration of the poll, my only regret in being a member of this House is that my election was at his expense. I am to be followed in this debate by the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant)** who is a formidable campaigner in any debate but that will not prevent me from making one or two observations on the conduct in this House this week of Her Majesty's Opposition. I believe that some comment ought to be made about the antics and the pantomime that we have seen from honourable members opposite. I do not believe that my precedessor, the former honourable member for Denison, would have been proud to be associated with what we have seen. The petty action of boycotting the GovernorGeneral on Tuesday afternoon- a calculated personal insult; a conspiracy, to use the word that honourable members opposite have been using against my colleagues and I and that I now use back at them, against a man who they know cannot publicly defend himself- was a performance which made me feel, as I walked from the chamber and saw members of the Opposition refusing to move from their seats, that they were like a bunch of petulant school girls with their noses out of joint because their midnight feast had been confiscated. But the matter did not finish there. We came back to this chamber and then the House was adjourned. There was then a little gathering over in the Senate rose garden. And what did we find? We found that the honourable members opposite who had boycotted the GovernorGeneral's deputy in the morning and the Governor-General in the afternoon could not resist the temptation to tippy-toe across the way to the lawns and join in the munching of lamingtons and cream puffs- and they did it with the best of them. Of course, they did not know that His Excellency was going to be there. The Press report had said that he would not be present. To their surprise, and I suggest to their shame, he was there and he saw them and we saw them stalking around the outskirts of the gathering. They took part in the teddy bears ' picnic but they were not prepared to participate in the solemn opening of the Parliament and were not prepared to listen to the Governor-General's Speech, thereby flouting Her Majesty's representative both personally and in his office and shaming this Parliament. If I might say so their antics were such that last Tuesday ought to become a national political day of remembrance and I suggest that we ought to call it lamingtons and sour grapes day because that is the sort of performance that Her Majesty's Opposition was prepared to put to Her Majesty's representative in this Parliament. Having made those comments I want to say very briefly- I do not claim to be a great constitutional lawyer- that 14 years in practice has persuaded me that the real lawyers in Australia are completely right when they say that the Governor-General's decision was correct. We have had enough of the claptrap and nonsense that he acted unconstitutionally. I believe that **Sir John** Kerr acted with courage and force to defend the Constitution and that he gave something more precious than anything else to the people of Australia. He gave the people of Australia the opportunity to speak- and how they spoke on 13 December last. Honourable members opposite apparently still have not got the message that they lost the election. The people of Australia vindicated the actions of the Governor-General. I suggest that the Opposition would do far better if it were to stop picking on a man who cannot defend himself. In that respect I cannot permit this debate to pass without making a comment which I shall make in brevity, that is, that the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** said outside of this chamber- on television- words about His Excellency the Governor-General that he could not have said in this chamber because he would have been in breach of standing order 74 in doing so. He said those words about a man whom he had appointed, he said those words knowing that they were defamatory and he said that about a man who could not defend himself. I say no more than this: I believe that it was a sad day in the history of this country when a man of the stature of the Leader of the Opposition said the words that he said on television the other night with reference to the Governor-General. I believe that the one gift above all else that the Government is going to give to the people of Australia is the return of our federal system. I come from the State which was, in the words of **Sir Edward** Braddon back in 1901, 'the most loyal and steadfast in supporting the cause of Federation'. I do not ask for the passage to be incorporated in Hansard, but honourable members will find it in Volume 1 of Hansard on page 301. Despite its size Tasmania in fact was, if I might say so, the most driving force in the birth of Federation. On 13 December the people of Tasmania did not just throw out neck and crop a socialistic government; they threw out neck and crop a centralist government. If there is one thing Tasmanians cannot stand it is being told what to do and where to go by people in Canberra. We believe that Tasmanian decisions should be made by Tasmanians. We believe that Western Australian decisions should be made by Western Australians. It is the greatest thing going to see a federalism policy; not something that was dreamed up in the dark and hidden away but something which was made available to the public of Australia to look at for months and months before the election. I refer to a pledge and commitment from this Government that we will make the federal system work. To all those doubting Thomases, those knockers and those people who say that it will not work I say. 'Let us give it a try'. It certainly cannot be any worse than the system of government we had in Australia from 1972 to 1 975. People in Tasmania feel so strongly that if the federal system were to break down I say quite clearly and categorically that we would never accept centralist government again. We would prefer to go it alone. Laugh if you may, **Mr Deputy Speaker.** Honourable members will take note of these words. I know that Tasmania is fully behind the initiative and the drive to bring back to this country the most precious thing that we have. Why do I say that it is precious? I say that it is precious because federalism is the one thing which will defend Australia against the socialist republican takeover. I shall quote the words of a great constitutionalist from South Australia, not a lawyer but a doctor. He was a gold medallist in medicine from London University. I refer to **Sir John** Cockburn. The words he spoke back in 1891 could well have been spoken as a prediction of the sort of thing that would happen and did in fact happen in Australia, despite the fact that the critics believed that it could never happen, during the 3 years of Whitlam Government. He said: >We know that the tendency is always to the centre, that the central authority constitutes a vortex which draws power to itself. Therefore all the buttresses and all the ties should be the other way, to enable the States to withstand the destruction of their powers by such absorption . . . Government at a central and distant point can never be government by the people, and may be just as crushing a tyranny under republican or commonwealth forms as under the most absolute monarchy. There is talk about regions, about State parliaments doing themselves the service of voting themselves out of existence, all this poppycock that wisdom resides only in Canberra, that anybody outside Canberra does not know what he is talking about. We have had Canberra dictation and the States being made prisoners under section 96 of the Constitution. Dollars have flowed into Tasmania but with a little note attached saying that the money must be spent on this, that or the other. Two science libraries were funded by the Commonwealth at great cost at 2 schools 14 miles from each other. There was only one science teacher for the 2 schools. I could give examples from around the whole of Tasmania and tell the House time and time again of thousands of dollars wasted by the most negligent and economically incompetent government that this country has ever seen and which the people of Australia swept from power with great decision and force on 1 3 December last year. We have had enough of it. We have had enough of Tasmanian taxes being taken to Canberra and being squandered by centralist, socialist administrations which do not know, do not care and do not understand. The honourable member for Blaxland **(Mr Keating)** is trying to interject. I am sorry. I should not have drawn him. I shall come back to him later, with respect. Some people in New South Wales, because that State was established a few years before Tasmania, think that we do not count. But if there had not been a Tasmania there would never have been a Victoria. We have a few friends. I do not need to tell the Speaker this because he has been to Tasmania frequently and more often than some honourable members opposite. We would be pleased to see members of the Opposition in Tasmania, including the honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford),** who has been to Tasmania and who I know would speak highly of it. The most critical question facing Tasmania and I believe the question upon which the Labor Government fell upon the rocks of ruin in our State was its failure to honour a simple, basic election pledge given in 1972 and repeated in 1 974, namely, to equalise freight rates between Tasmania and the mainland States. This is a matter of extreme importance to Tasmania because Bass Strait is our national highway. I am not ashamed to say that many people in Tasmania who had previously voted Liberal voted Labor in 1 972 on the basis of the solemn pledge given by the Leader of the Opposition, **Mr Whitlam,** that freight rates would be equalised. Regrettably that promise was abused, was broken and instead of freight equalisation we had a situation in which impost after impost was forced on the Tasmanian people. Let me give just 2 examples: It costs $130 to freight a tractor from Sydney to Melbourne by road and it costs $ 1 5 1.50 to send it by rail; but to send that tractor by sea from Melbourne to Tasmania costs $260. To send a pantechnicon of 68 cubic metres loaded with furniture by road from Sydney to Melbourne costs $1,500 to $1,800; but to send that pantechnicon from Melbourne to northern Tasmania costs $2,924. The Government which promised to equalise freight rates breached its promise almost monthly. The freight increases which were imposed in the 3 -year period when we were promised equalisation of freight rates amounted in the aggregate to more than 50 per cent and effectively cut Tasmania off from her sister States on the mainland. . Listen to what the Labor Government did: It came to power in 1972. On 1 July 1974 it put in a little nibble- a 214 per cent freight increase. 'Well', said Tasmanians, 'that is not too bad'. What happened on 12 September? There was a 25 per cent increase in freight rates. Then, on 1 January 1975, as a happy new year's day message from **Mr Whitlam,** there was another *2lA* per cent increase on northbound freight. He showed a little variation by increasing the southbound freight by 114 per cent. Then, on 1 July 1975 there was another little nibble- a 2Vi per cent increase in the northbound freight rate and a 114 per cent increase in the southbound freight rate. When we got these 2 little nibbles, we realised that it was a little like fishing; we knew that something big was coming. **Mr Whitlam** 's 1975 election present- he did not know that it was going to be an election present then- was a 40 per cent increase in Tasmanian freight rates. So much for the promise which was made and on which the Labor Government crumbled. I say fairly- I say this with the absolute confidence that the words I am about to utter are true- that our Government will crumble in Tasmania unless the commitment given by the Government is honoured. That brings me to the point which gives me the most pleasure I believe I have ever had in my life. When I was a member of the Legislative Council in Tasmania I had the misfortune to criticise from a distance the then Minister for Transport, **Mr Peter** Nixon. We never met each other. We read about each other in the newspapers and what we read usually was not very complimentary. I have now met the man. I have seen him do more in 8 weeks than the other crowd did in 3 years. I have no doubt at all that the commitment given by the Government will be honoured and that the people of Tasmania will once more be placed on a basis of justice, parity and equality with their colleagues on the mainland. **Mr Speaker,** my time has almost expired. I do not want to go into details. The ravages of the Whitlam Government in Tasmania have left a scar across our State from which it will take many years to recover. When the McMahon Government went out of office, unemployment in Tasmania was running at 3 per cent of the work force. What is the position now? The present unemployment rate is 6.8 per cent of the work force, with nearly 12 000 Tasmanians out of work. They are out of work because of economic mismanagement and bungling by a government which did not care, a government which did not come near us, except at election time, and which thought that it could come over to Tasmania and sell us a good story. The previous Government got away with that by the skin of its teeth in 1974. But, my word, we had our revenge in 1975. We have not seen much of Labor Party members since then. **Mr Speaker,** that brings me to my final point. Being a member of a newly elected government, I honestly did not want to make a maiden speech in which I made an attack on the previous government. But I see in the pantomime and antics of honourable members opposite this week, on what we will call lamingtons and sour grapes day, something a little more serious. I see it, with respect, as representing arrogance. Honourable members opposite still have not accepted the verdict of the people. They still cannot believe that it has happened to them. The greatest arrogance I have seen for a long time is the arrogance of the people in the Labor Party who think that they will do what another party , did some years ago- I do not refer to that- namely, switch a senator into the House of Representatives and make him the leader. Of course, they think of doing this without daring to consider the wishes of the people of Franklin. We have already a member for Franklin who will be with us for a very long time. I want to say here and now that the people who talk blandly about switching **Senator Wriedt** into Franklin ought to remember 2 things: Firstly, that **Senator Wriedt** stood for Franklin for the State House once and the electors of Franklin said: 'Sorry **Mr Wriedt,** we don't want you'; and secondly that the honourable member for Franklin **(Mr Goodluck)** won that seat by producing a swing of 15.2 per cent against the Australian Labor Party. That sort of thing does not happen very often in Australian politics. The honourable member for Franklin has worked hard for the people of Franklin. He is loyal to them and I have no doubt that they will be loyal to him. No matter what people like to write in the newspapers in Canberra, I have not the slightest doubt that the honourable member for Franklin, **Mr Goodluck,** is going to be with us for a very long time. I stand by him in saying that the Labor Party can thump and decide that it is going to switch senators into leaders- presumably **Senator Wriedt** is open for the permanent job of the Leader of the Opposition. I do no know, but it must be something good for him to give up a 6-year term for a 3-year term. There must be something in it for him. The short point I make is that Tasmania did not turn Liberal overnight for no reason. It turned Liberal because of work that was done over a period of months and years to which you, **Mr Speaker,** contributed so magnificently. We now have a commitment to live up to our promises to the people of Tasmania. We have to equalise the freights, get the people back to work and stop the situation whereby Tasmanians have to leave their State to get a job. We are losing our children, we are losing our friends. They cannot get a job in our State. I believe that the economic policies of the new Government are good and sound, that the wheels of private enterprise will start turning again and that Tasmania will at least reach the equality it deserves as an equal partner in the Federation. I conclude by quoting the words of **Sir Edward** Braddon on 23 May 1 90 1 . 1 hope his remarks apply in 1 976. He said: >I should like to say a few words now with regard to the undesirable and improper disregard of Tasmania's claims to recognition when the Federal Government was formed. That has not applied here. We did get a Minister this time; we did not in 1 90 1. He continues: >Tasmania, if I may be allowed to recount her share in the history of this movement, was from first to last steadfast and loyal to the cause. At imminent risk, as was pointed out at the time, to her finances, she gave in her adhesion to the union at the very outset without a selfish thought of any kind. {: #subdebate-49-0-s23 .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr BRYANT:
Wills -- I am at one with the honourable member for Denison **(Mr Hodgman)** inasmuch as I did not want to stand up - {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: -- I can understand that. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr BRYANT: -- I did not want to stand up and take on the honourable member while he was making his maiden speech. But we have heard such an eloquent enunciation of Stone Age politics that I do not think we can let it pass. What else can we expect? The honourable member is a product, or perhaps a by-product, of the Tasmanian Legislative Council; no greater an institution of troglodytism has this country ever seen. The honourable member stands here during his maiden speech and, appropriately enough and consistent with most of his political philosophies he quoted Cockburn and Braddon and the people at the end of the last century. But what did he have to say about the events of this week? He quoted Cockburn, I think, who then had something to say about absolute monarchy, and that if you did not do such and such you were threatened with absolute monarchy. What would Cockburn, Deakin, Parkes, Kingston, Braddon and the rest of them have thought of the interpretation of the Constitution that was foisted on us on 1 1 November? What would they have said? What has the honourable member thought about it? Let us consider for a moment what it means. The honourable member referred this week in various derogatory ways to the actions we took. I am one of those who went over to the rose gardens, not expecting much- and not being disappointed. I went to the gardens because they are a part of this Parliament and neither the Governor-General, the Crown nor anyone else will prevent me from using the Parliament in the way in which it was made to be used and as a part of the institution to which I belong. I wrote to the Governor-General and told him exactly why I was going to ignore his summons when Black Rod came to the door of the House of Representatives last Tuesday. I shall not take the time now to read the letter to the House. Honourable members have all received copies. But I shall explain exactly what it is all about. The Constitution is quite precise. Section 62 of the Constitution states- and I guess this is exactly what Cockburn, Parkes, Deakin and Braddon and the rest of them meant by it back at the end of the last century: >There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth. The Governor-General of this country, in any reasonable, democratic, commensense historical interpretation of the Constitution, has no right to make decisions on his own. He is subject to the decisions and the advice of his Ministers, the members of the Federal Executive Council. I was a member of the Federal Executive Council. I was one of the Governor-General's advisers for the 3 years of the Labor Government. On this occasion he had ample opportunities to consult and to be advised by the members of the Executive Council. He did not do so. His duty was clear and precise. There is no way in which he could validly take the advice of anyone else. So on 1 1 November when he made his decision he ignored his clear and bounden duty- a duty imposed upon him by the Constitution, and the only duty and the only option that anybody can accept that he had- to accept the advice of and consult the members of the Executive Council. Why did he not do so? He is the President of the body. He had only to call us together and he could have discussed the various options. I have not time tonight to discuss them here, but we will have plenty of time in the next 12 months or 3 years to do so. Let us consider what is meant by his interpretation, confirmed by the troglodyte from Denison, of the Constitution. If the GovernorGeneral has the power- according to the interpretation brought forward here tonight and which it is said has been confirmed by the people of Australia- to dismiss his Ministers at will we have in this country a head of state answerable to no one, not to Her Majesty the Queen, because she wrote to **Mr Speaker** Scholes and said that it was not appropriate for her to intervene; not answerable to the Ministers, because he can dismiss them at will, and he did; and not answerable to this Parliament because he can dissolve the Parliament, and he did. If one reads the sections of the Constitution where the GovernorGeneral is referred to- there are some ten or fifteen sections, I think- one will find that he has an absolute unchallengeable authority to govern without any advice and answerable to no-one. This Parliament cannot appropriate any money except upon receipt of a message from the Governor-General. If that section is interpreted as other sections were interpreted on 11 November what does it mean? What happens if this Government goes along to the GovernorGeneral and says that it wants a message to appropriate $60m for the superphosphate bounty? If the Governor-General says: 'I do not approve of it', there is nothing the Government can do about it. When we pass legislation in this House and take it to him it is not law until he gives his assent. If he says: 'I will not agree', there is nothing we can do about it. I have heard of no more dangerous interpretation or a promulgation of no more terrible political philosophy in my time in this Parliament than that which flows from the interpretation that was imposed upon us on 1 1 November. Everybody in Australia has to be aware of that. I make no reference at all to the personal qualities of the present holder of the office of Governor-General. I have found him always a decent and courteous man. I want to say that as a member of a Government that dealt with him during its term of office he was always dealt with courteously and with the greatest possible discretion. The Cabinet never made any announcement of a decision to which he had to put his signature until he had done so. We were very precise about that. This is not a question of a contest between the present incumbent of the office of Governor-General and the former Labor Government; it is a question whether this Parliament will govern Australia or whether some nonanswerable appointed person will. That is what the issue was last Tuesday. Everyone of us, conditioned as we are here by the system and brought up to do the done thing, made our decision conscious of the fact that we would be traduced and denigrated from one end of Australia to the other, and that the leader writers of the newspapers, conscious of their moral and intellectual superiority to everybody else in this continent, would denounce us, but in fact our duty flowed from our membership of this Parliament. I said in my letter to the Governor-General: >You represent, at the Opening of Parliament, an interpretation of the Constitution which threatens Australian democracy. > >As a member of the House of Representatives, I am part of a long and continuing tradition of resistence to arbitrary and capricious authority. > >As Her Majesty has seen fit to say in her letter to **Mr Speaker** Scholes, that she has no responsibility for your actions, and as you have asserted your power to remove and appoint Ministers at will, there has been created in Australia a position where an appointed person governs, answerable to no-one, not to the Ministers whom he appoints and removes at will, not to the Parliament which he dissolves at will, nor to the Queen who asserts 'that it would not be proper for her to intervene ', to comply with your summons to attend in the Senate on Tuesday, ratifies your actions and places Australian democracy in further peril by inviting future incumbents of your Office to invoke the precedent you have established. > >I represent a constituency which has always supported its Members in their stands against arbitrary authority, for these reasons therefore I feel it will be my duty to ignore your summons. I did that conscious of a duty to the institution of which I am a member, to the people I represent and to the continuing history of the Australian Parliament. I did it also conscious of the fact that it would look like discourtesy and would be played up as such. But our duties often run counter to our personal conscious feelings and I have no doubt that we will continue with something of that order. That brings me to some of the other issues that were raised. I do not have time to debate them. Whether Tasmania was treated so badly is a matter for further debate. Whether the centralised policies, so called, of the Labor Government were as dangerous to democracy and the system as is said by honourable members opposite will be debated at great length. I dispute it and it is nonsense. I want to say a word or two about the general tenor of the Government's policies. Saturday, 13 December, was the day of the return of the Philistines. We had inflicted upon Australia a government of economic and social vandals. Its economic and social policies are an anachronism. The honourable member for Canberra **(Mr Haslem)** may well laugh. His constituents are the principal, the first and abiding victims of the nonsense that is going on. One of the great achievements of the people opposite when they were in Opposition was continually to assert that the Australian economy was being ruined by our economic and social policies. I predict that the course of their future behaviour will be to say, as a cover up of their own incompetence, that they took over an inadequate, a ruined economy. That is nonsense. They inherited from us, or took over from us or usurped the authority to run one of the world 's most resilient and powerful economies. Australia's production capacity is one of the world's largest. I think it is about twelfth or fourteenth in comparison with some and ninth or tenth in comparison with others. The people's savings in the Australian banks are higher than ever before, both absolutely and in ratio to population. Our natural resources are almost unique, and they have been outlined here today. Our overseas reserves continuously remain stable no matter what the rest of the world does. Our export and import rate maintains a steady solid base for Australian industrial expansion. For instance, in January 1976 we imported $700m worth of goods but exported $763m worth. We have one of the world's greatest potentials for producing a country of economic self-reliance. We on this side of the House, like everybody else, regret that unemployment is at the level that it is but given the current economic philosophies and the system that we inherited there was little that we could do about it. I believe that the people opposite are setting out upon a path which will make it worse. When considered against the rest of the world some of the things that have been said about the economy and the Government's policies are nonsense. The assumption that the Labor Government was doing things that were totally reprehensiblewas that the word- and was out of context with the rest of the decent organised governments is rubbish. In today's world unemployment is endemic. Germany, Britain and France have about the same rate of unemployment as Australia has. Unemployment in the United States of America runs at 5 per cent; in Canada at 7.2 per cent; and Ireland at 12.4 per cent. Then, of course, there are the theoretical aberrations which honourable members opposite call economic policy, such as the influence and nature of the deficit. The honourable member for Mackellar **(Mr Wentworth)** pointed out, of course, that the deficit is not of the kind about which members of the Government talk. Honourable members opposite have referred to our extravagance as a government and to the expansion of Government expenditure when we were in office. If honourable members consider the rate of government expenditure in relation to gross domestic products they will find that in our Government 's last Budget it was 32.2 per cent; in the United Kingdom it was 55 per cent; in France it was 41.9 per cent; in the U.S. A. it was 33 per cent; and in Germany it was 3 1 .7 per cent. I ask honourable members to consider the growth rate. Australia 's growth rate last year was 1.75 per cent; in the U.S.A. it was -0.3 per cent; in Japan it was 1.25 per cent; in the U.K. it was -2.25 per cent; and in Germany it was -3.75 per cent. Relative to the rest of the world we were performing very well. We have now embarked upon a course which cannot produce anything but unsatisfactory results. We are going to divert our effort and our resources from public expenditure to private expenditure. How? The latest return from the Department of Manufacturing Industry shows that Australian industry is running at about 80 per cent capacity. There is very little one cannot buy in the shops. Most people such as ourselves during the last two or three years have been able to buy the things they needed out of the financial resources at their disposal. I represent one of the great industrial areas of Australia and I represent the sort of people who feel the cold winds of economic disaster first, and it is my firm belief that in fact we are turning from the consumer society. There is no way we can make the people who have a total of $ 15,000m in the savings banks rush out to use that money for consumer spending. I have no doubt that there are areas in which the average person would spend a little more money- if given a little more money, a little more time or if more facilities were at their disposal. But the fact is that Government expenditure is the only way to soak up all those surplus resources about which many honourable members have spoken this afternoon. There is no way in which private consumer spending in a selective buying society will take up all the productive capacity of Australian factories. If a factory is running at 80 per cent capacity, what will induce the owner to invest in new equipment? New equipment will be purchased only if people buy more goods. I cannot see that people will buy more goods. I put it to the House conscientiously, honestly and earnestly that this will not happen. {: .speaker-KIK} ##### Mr Lusher: -- You could not possibly mean honestly. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr BRYANT: -- I put it both honestly and earnestly. In fact, honourable members opposite are looking for the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow if they think that private enterprise will take up the 20 per cent of unused industrial capacity and the 4 per cent or 5 per cent of unused human resources. It will be the public sector that will absorb this unused capacity. As I said earlier, I represent an area of great industrial capacity. I represent the areas of Brunswick and Coburg in Melbourne- a total of 11 square miles. It is not very large but I represent 120 000 people. The roads and streets all need doing up. The schools need rebuilding. General social facilities and amenities in the area are meagre. There are many areas of social need. This situation occurs in many areas in Australia. There is a contradiction between the policies of the Government and the social and economic needs of Australia. I implore the Government to take another look at it policies and change its course. There is no future in its present course except the destruction of some of the aspirations of people who need the things that we were setting out to give them. Part of the jargon now is 'the extravagances of the Labor Government'. Occasionally some of them are cited although I cannot pinpoint any as I stand here this evening. Occasionally people such as the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** talk about *Blue Poles.* He is the sort of man who probably would sell the Parthenon. As I said, it is the day of the return of the Philistines. An enormous number of projects has been launched across every area of social policy. Honourable members opposite cannot say that they ought not to have been launched or point to where money was wasted. Public enterprise is an enormous undertaking. Its expenditure cannot be policed down to the last cent. I believe this Government has embarked upon a course which will bring Australia to a halt. The Government will not achieve anything by its appeal to private enterprise. It will destroy the reasonable aspirations of people in the social area and in the general public area. The Governor-General's Speech outlining government policy is an anachronism. The honourable member for Denison is well placed sitting among you, back in the 1 890s, and as a refugee from the Tasmanian Legislative Council. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -I call the honourable member for Swan. I remind the House that this is a maiden speech and he will be heard with the normal courtesy. {: #subdebate-49-0-s24 .speaker-KNA} ##### Mr MARTYR:
Swan **-Mr Speaker,** it may surprise you to know that in addition to supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I, unlike some people opposite, intend actually to speak to it. I offer you congratulations. I trunk I do so on behalf of everybody in Western Australia. You are the first Western Australian born Speaker of this House. You may not even be aware of that fact but the Library will verify it. The important thing is that Western Australians must stick together. I am not asking for any favours. Indeed, earlier in the day you had occasion to remonstrate with me very mildly for interjecting before I had made my first speech. I promise you it will never happen again. You and I tramped around Victoria Park, a leading shopping area in my electorate. This was before any of us knew the lofty and eminent office to which you would be appointed. I think it will be difficult for me to be on the same terms with you again. However, I hope to comport myself with suitable humility in this House. My colleague who sits beside me, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr Cotter),** and I, unlike yourself, **Mr Speaker,** were not born in Western Australia. We went there to seek our fortune. I think we may have found at least some of it The electorate which I represent, as you well know, is located alongside a beautiful river. Unfortunately, I suppose, the electorate contains a large amount of undeveloped land which is not very pretty but which I hope to be able to encourage local authority, with suitable assistance, to develop. The electorate has a large factory area and, unfortunately, some unemployment at the moment. In spite of what the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant)** said, most of it is due almost entirely to the policies of the previous Government. **Mr Speaker,** the people of Swan when I spoke to them during the long election campaign were much more concerned about the long term effects of faulty economic policies than they were about the immediate effects of unemployment. They could see that the situation that had been created was not just to do with world affairs but was almost deliberately created by economic stupidity, by going against all the known economic canons. That is perhaps somewhat abstruse for the people of Swan to put into economic terms but their instinct at least told them that the problems that we have will not be solved quickly. The electorate of Swan is what some people might describe as a working people 's electorate and the people of Swan have reposed their confidence in me because they know that the policies of this Government are the only policies which in the long term can rectify the situation. They know that it will not be sorted out quickly. That was the answer that I had from the people of Swan as I moved around the electorate. They decisively rejected the hand-out policies of the previous Government. It is easy for those on the Opposition benches to talk of the wonderful social changes that they claim they brought to this country, but the truth is that we have all been so heavily taxed- that includes the electors of Swan- for things that we really did not want and in fact did not need. I can say to you, **Mr Speaker,** in all sincerity that the people of Swan want the opportunities of employment and they want the opportunities to make their own security, but they do not want governments to make their security for them. The women of Swan particularly were severe on the policies of the previous Government. They could not see, for instance, why so much money had to be wasted on what some of them described to me as a circus- that dreadful event known as International Women's Year. I am not criticising any women, any women's organisations, the Women's Electoral Lobby or anybody else. I am reporting to you faithfully only what the people of Swan, particularly the women, had to say about this matter. They have not stopped talking about it yet. I think it is fair to say that I thank the voters of Swan for the confidence that they have reposed in me. I owe them a great deal. I owe a great deal also to loyal helpers. I do not think it would be inappropriate for me to mention to the House some of the people who have previously held this seat. I do not think there would be very many in this House now- there may be a few- who would remember the Honourable William Leonard Grayden. He came into this place in 1949 and resigned the seat in 1954. 1 do not think he would object to my conveying his regards to anyone who may still remember him. He was succeeded by **Mr Richard** Cleaver who held this seat from 1954 until 1969- quite a long period. That is a precedent that I hope to repeat and I have some confidence, now that the people of Swan have made a definite decision on such basically philosophical grounds, that they will stick with it. Even though the seat at the moment appears to be marginal-with respect to some of my colleagues it is not the most marginal seat in Australia but it is one of the marginal seats- I have every confidence. At this stage I think I can mention my immediate predecessor, **Mr Adrian** Bennett. I have every confidence that if I apply myself as diligently as he did and pay the same attention to the electors of Swan as he did- I pay him this tribute even though he is from the other side- I will probably be here for a long time. In any case that is my expectation even though it may not be the expectation of the honourable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr Young)** who I see seems to be amused by what I am saying. There will be a time when I might be able to give him some curry too. The next matter about which I wish to speak is something that I think you, **Mr Speaker,-** will understand. I am something of an old war-horse politically. I wish I were as youthful and as good looking as some of my colleagues who come into this Parliament with me. But as most honourable members know, I have been around for a fair time. In fact I think some of my journalistic friends most charitably describe me as having had a chequered career. I am an old war-horse and I tend always to move to the rumble of the guns. If the Minister for Defence **(Mr Killen)** were here this evening he would say that the guns I am moving to are pretty muted popguns. But as things are I think it is incumbent on me, having sat here now for a couple of days listening to the vilest attacks I have ever heard on constitutional government, on the person of the Governor-General and on everything that we regard as important in this country, to say that I have not yet heard anything solid apart from the remarks of the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** who in answer to a question rebutted the attacks. I have no doubt that my colleagues are storing up much which will give the lie direct to some of the things that have been said in this place. With few exceptions- I think the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant)** is one- Opposition members have mounted a calculated and deliberate attack on constitutional authority. I sincerely hope that members and senators who have mounted attacks in this place and the other place are not in league or in concert with the people who organised that disgraceful demonstration a few days ago outside this House against the person of the Governor-General. I sincerely hope that no Opposition member would ever be involved with such a disgraceful charade. I saw the demonstration and heard some of the remarks that were uttered against the person of the Governor-General. I submit to you, **Mr Speaker,** that it was one of the most shameful things I have ever seen. Honourable members who have been here for a lot longer than I have probably seen a lot worse. Some of the publicity I have seen in the West about demonstrations that have been conducted outside this place has given me considerable fright. If I recollect correctly the only evidence so far adduced that there was a conspiracy was offered by the honourable member for Chifley **(Mr Armitage).** What sort of evidence was this? The honourable member alluded to a publication which I think he called *Village Voice.* I am certain that this must be a most distinguished publication. I am certain it must be a real authority. But I have never heard of it. I have made diligent inquiries of other people in this House and not one of them has ever heard of this publication calling itself *Village Voice.* What is the meaning of this transparently dishonest fabrication which has been going on in both Houses of Parliament? To me it is the simple application of the technique known as the big lie. It is completely in the Soviet style. What the Opposition hopes to do, of course, is to divert attention from its many failures. It hopes that the constant repetition of these untruthful allegations in both Houses of this Parliament will create a story which then will be taken up by favourable academics, journalists and broadcasters and that the allegations will be repeated everywhere until this dreadful story, this dreadful fabrication of the last couple of days, almost becomes the official version. I think that members on this side of the House are well aware of this technique. We know what the Opposition is trying to do. We believe that the truth of the events of last year is already well known to the Australian public. I think the proof of that is in the election result. It has been well said before that you can fool some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. This was the verdict of the Australian people. Honourable members opposite cannot put over a story like the one they have been telling. I do not believe that they will get away with it. I believe that before we have finished with them they will regret that they ever started this tack. It is faintly amusing to me, with my particular memories, to hear the death bed attachment of the Opposition to constitutional forms of Government. Have we not heard talk over recent years from certain people on the other side of the chamber of going into the streets? This has been common talk. I heard it for years myself in parliamentary broadcasts. I know where some of the corpses are buried on the other side. I recollect that in 1955 the interference of the then Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party in the affairs of the Victorian branch of the Labor Party was responsible for tearing up the rule book and the constitution of the Australian Labor Party. When it did that perhaps it did not know that it would finish with the decimation that we see tonight on the Opposition benches. The destruction begun then is almost complete. It proceeded apace for years with just a short aberration in the extent of that destruction of only 3 years. I suggest to honourable members opposite that until they get rid of the endemic disease of procommunism of one kind or another which has been with them since 1955 they will never be trusted for any long terms of office by the Australian people. It is now my pleasure to support the GovernorGeneral's Speech, the fundamental point of which, as far as I am concerned, is that government governs best when it governs least. I could hot have been more delighted to see such a fundamental point in the Governor-General's Speech. It seems to me that for many years, even perhaps on this side of the House, government tends to interfere too much in the supply and demand cycle. I think this interference has been often alluded to by the honourable member for Mackellar **(Mr Wentworth)** and, from memory, the honourable member for Wakefield **(Mr Kelly).** I suppose that previous Liberal-National Country Party governments have not been immune from this failing from time to time. It seems to have been a trend in the 20th century to move away from the virtues of self-help, selfreliance and dependence on your own abilities. There seems to have been a greater and greater tendency for governments to interfere not only in people's personal lives but also in the whole of the economic structure. My own view is that this tendency is fundamentally bad. It leads to a situation which the people of the electorate of Swan understand and which they quite happily rejected. You sometimes need a difficult situation to bring you back to the fundamental principle of standing on your own 2 feet; that nobody can do it for you. I believe that the success of a number of members in this House is an example of how people prepared to take their courage in both hands, not to rely on handouts, but to rely on their own abilities and come forward can succeed. I think this is the fundamental implication of the Governor-General's Speech. It implies that we are all going to stand on our own 2 feet and we are all going to do a lot more for ourselves and, I hope, by doing that, a lot more for each other. I have had my difficulties from time to time and philosophical arguments, even with people on this side of the House, and I am glad to see that we are now following the doctrine of helping ourselves, believing that we govern best when we govern least. It is particularly important to me as a Western Australian to note the following passage from the Governor-General's Speech which I think is worth quoting: >Historic reforms will be made to reverse the concentration of power in the Federal Government and increase the autonomy and responsibilities of Local and State Governments. I know that we have excellent representatives from Western Australia, who, in the past, have made this House aware of the particular difficulties that we have in the State of Western Australia, which is so far away from the seat of Federal Government. Sometimes people on this side of the continent do not understand the feeling that Western Australians have for wanting to run their own affairs. I think all honourable members must be aware that from time to time a feeling for what is known as secession breaks out in Western Australia. Do not misunderstand it and do not denigrate it too much. It is the desire of people who live a long way from the seat of government and who feel sometimes that federation has failed. It is their desire to want to run their own affairs. Please do understand it. Remember that Perth is the most isolated capital in the world. Remember, for instance, the size of the electorate of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr Cotter).** It is approximately onethird of the area of this country. He has tremendous difficulties which no doubt he will acquaint the House with when his turn comes to speak. The problems we have in Western Australia are problems that I think honourable members in this place must never forget. Sometimes we get the feeling that you do forget us. It is now important for me, I suppose, to draw attention to something else in the GovernorGeneral's Speech and that is the prime objective of the Government's national resources policy which to us is so important that I think it is worth quoting. It reads: ... to return resource development to its proper role in the nation's economy and to restore overseas users' confidence in the Australian mining industry's long term reliability. In the last couple of years we have had a situation largely induced by people on the other side of the House. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-49-0-s25 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES:
Corio -This debate on the Address-in-Reply is an important debate. It is one in which we should all be discussing and should be able to discuss the policies which the Government has put forward as read by the Governor-General. Unfortunately the whole issue is clouded by events. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! Is the honourable member taking a point of order? {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -No. I am speaking in the debate. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I apologise. You were not on the list of speakers for the Opposition side. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr Armitage: -- I raise a point of order, **Mr Speaker.** You should not have any list up there. You should not have in the Speaker's Chair a list of the speakers. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! Does the honourable member for Chifley have a point of order? {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr Armitage: -- Yes. My point of order is that you said the honourable member for Corio is not on the list. It is news to me that the Speaker has a particular list from which he calls the speakers. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I look to the co-operation of all honourable members, especially from the Whips, and I must say that I have had the utmost co-operation from the Opposition Whip. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -- I was saying that it is unfortunate that the Address-in-Reply debate and the events which led up to the Address being delivered and the whole question of the standing of this House have been placed in some jeopardy, or at least some cloud has come across its activities. The historic position of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament and the House of Commons in the British Parliament has been that it has been the protector of the people against the excesses of the Crown. It derives its power from its exclusive right to approve the appropriation of expenditure, a right which was won from the Crown by the blood of members of the British Parliament, by a near revolution, and by the actual execution of one monarch. Without the right to censure the claims of the Crown- and in this context in the modern sense the claims of the Crown are the claims of the executive of government- the House of Representatives or the House of Commons has little real authority. Without that right the House of Representatives and the House of Commons have little real authority over the executive of the day and its members do not have the power to implement those things which they are sent here to implement by the people whom they represent. I believe that very serious weaknesses were shown to exist in our Constitution on 1 1 November. Whether or not the actions which took place were proper, the facts as they were revealed then and subsequently indicate quite clearly that the powers of this House and this House's ability to protect itself against the other arms of government are almost non-existent and certainly are unenforceable. Irrespective of whether a Governor-General acts properly or improperly the power resides in him to dissolve this House without his being required to take note of the wishes of the House and no provision is made for this House, even if it is illegally dissolved, to protect itself. Once this House is dissolved it no longer exists. That weakness became very evident on 11 November. If the House chose to appeal to the High Court for an interpretation of the Constitution or for redress under the Constitution it could not do so because it already would have been dissolved and therefore it would have no person who was able to take such action. So the position of the House is weak in that sense. The position of the House is weak also in that apparently it no longer has any control over whether or not those persons who are chosen to be commissioned to form governments need to have a majority. So that members may give serious consideration to the position which now exists, I should like to put to the House a hypothetical case which I hope no one would suggest reflects on any present occupant of any position. The Governor-General is the possessor of absolute power in certain respects with regard to the Constitution. This is spelt out clearly in the letter written by Her Majesty. The position now exists whereby a Governor-General, if he disagreed with the actions of a Prime Minister, whether they were economic or of another nature could dismiss that Prime Minister. The sorts of conflict which would be most likely to arise would be ones of foreign policy and of whether or not Australia should become involved in some conflict or some action outside her own shores. The Governor-General could dismiss that Prime Minister and appoint another Prime Minister in order to accept advice from that Prime Minister to involve the nations armed forces in a conflict; or in order to take some fiscal action, such as devaluation or revaluation of the currency, which the Governor-General felt was proper at the time and which the Prime Minister or the Government of the day did not think was proper. This could be done, and there is nothing the House could do to obtain redress. Only when the time came to obtain Supply, which could be 5 or 6 months away, could the House take any action. You realise, **Sir, as** I do, that if one is committed to any armed conflict where one's own forces are involved or if it is an economic measure such as a devaluation or a revaluation, it is too late to take action once one is committed and the act is done. That is now open to take place. {: .speaker-9W4} ##### Mr Hyde: -- Nonsense. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -The honourable member may suggest that it is nonsense. There were people who said in 1972 that it was nonsense to keep raising the Watergate situation and that Nixon had received the overwhelming support of the American people. If the Democrats and the Congress had not pressed on at that time, Spiro Agnew probably would have been running in the primaries for the Presidency of the United States now. Most people now would not remember who he was. Victory at an election does not necessarily make any action right. It is a temporary thing which can be reversed very quickly. I make these points because history is full of such incidents. Once a power becomes available there will always be someone who will seek to use that power. I make this point finally on this subject: It is not my intention to suggest, and I do not suggest, that what I have said applies to any person occupying any office at the present time, but the power now exists quite clearly and at some time it will be used. When it is used it will be used to the detriment of this country and to the destruction of this Parliament. This House totally lacks any vehicle by which it can protect itself. That is a weakness which does not exist in the Parliament from which this Parliament is derived. It is a weakness which must be remedied if this Parliament is to exercise real authority in this nation. The Address-in-Reply debate provides an opportunity to raise a number of other matters possibly of more immediate consequence but certainly of less consequence historically. Whatever is done this year in any Parliament will be forgotten quickly. In fact governments usually survive because people forget what they did last year or the year before. I am concerned about a number of aspects of present Government policy. There are always two or more schools of economic thought, two or more schools of thought on what is best for anyone or anything that is ailing. I hope that the right course is being taken. I seriously doubt it. I do not believe that superficial cuts in expenditure, some of which money had not been appropriated, even though they may be made to create a psychological atmosphere, achieve a great deal. I am not certain that there is any real economic evidence to show that cutting or supposedly cutting a deficit by borrowing money at a fairly high rate of interest in order to reduce the amount of money which a government borrows from the Reserve Bank at a low rate of interest gives stimulus to an economy. Certainly there is no under-supply of goods in our community at the moment. Recently we had the spectacle of the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** making statements that it was necessary to soak up excess liquidity while on the same day the Minister in charge of industry made a statement that it was necessary to increase consumer demand. There would seem to me to be some conflict in those statements. The major criticisms I have of the Government are that, in creating a psychological atmosphere, it has set out to reduce a deficit but in fact it has taken very severe action against those people in our community who are least able to defend themselves. The removal from pensioners of the $40 funeral benefit may well represent an insignificant amount. I think it saves $700,000 a year. It possibly represents only about 7 per cent of the cost today of a reasonable funeral, but that is not a reason for taking away $40 from a pensioner, it is a reason for increasing the amount paid in subsidy. I inform those honourable members who are new to the House that to give pensioners $150 towards the cost of burial of their partners- and I am talking about the pensionerpensioner section of the benefit- would cost less than $2m in a full year. That is not a great deal of money in the context of a $20,000m Budget. To take away that $40 from a pensioner is to cause hardship. It is a callous act; it cannot be described in any other way, and it has no effect whatever on a $4,000m deficit. It is a pencil stroke by someone who does not think that $40 is important. The on-and-off charge of $10 for hearing aids for pensioners was in a similar category but fortunately that proposal has been dropped. The increase of 50c in the charge for pharmaceutical benefits is a punishment for those persons who have ailments or problems which require them to obtain prescriptions regularly. It is not a punishment for the person who is casually ill. It is an insignificant amount for that person, but it is an amount of substance for any person who has to obtain prescriptions regularly. There are people in our community who will in fact have their taxation increased indirectly by up to $2 a week because of this charge and they are people who must have regular prescriptions. They are the people whom the Government is hitting, and again I think that that is a callous action. I should like to give one other example of the Government taking the easy way out. I regret to say that the Government of the Party I support took a similar action in relation to air travel, but the example to which I refer is trivial beyond all imagination. Members who have served in this Parliament for 30 years were entitled to the use of cars in the capital cities. If one looks at the Parliamentary Handbook one finds that there are fewer than a dozen members who served that long. **Mr Norman** Makin, one of the former members who received a letter relating to this matter, came into this Parliament in 1919. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1921 to 1931. He was our Ambassador to Washington and served as a Minister in the 1940s. He is now, I think, in his nineties. He had never been told that he was entitled to these facilities but he got a letter cancelling them. I am not sure what the Treasury put down as the saving in this case but I would imagine this facility cost only 1 8c- the cost of the letter. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- Fred Daly made it possible in the last weeks of the Parliament. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -The fact is that it was a trifling thing which would have cost the Government almost nothing. Ex-Senator Foil is about 90 years of age. He also was entitled to this facility. The only other persons I know of who would have been involved were **Sir John** McEwen who has full use of car facilities, anyway, because he is an ex-Prime Minister - {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- Fred Daly, too, but he is retired. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -And Fred Daly, and if I may say so the honourable member for Fremantle ( **Mr Beazley** ) who is still a member of this Parliament and has in excess of 30 years service. There are not many who serve 30 years in this Parliament, and I suggest that the little recognition given to them is well earned. I hope that no member would so underrate himself as to suggest that to survive in this place for 30 years does not entitle him to some form of recognition. After all, a Minister is entitled to a life gold pass and the use of those facilities after 3 years. A private member has to serve ten times as long to get those facilities, or seven times as long to get a life gold pass. The point I am making is that such cuts as these are not real savings in government expenditure. They are a facade which has been created in an attempt to convince the public that the Government is serious. The real intent of the Government is embodied in a statement made by the present Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm** Fraser) last year when he said that it was time that attempts to equalise people's opportunities in this society ended. Ten years of trying to bring about an egalitarian society had to end. That is the philosophy put forward by the Prime Minister and that is what is in fact taking place under the guise of economic policy. The major cuts are being made in areas of assistance to people who are least able to assist themselves. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- Fred Daly. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES: -I find that a rather inane interjection. Fred Daly's case I have said, is a very minor proposition. I am talking about major cuts. Under the guise of taking something off a member of Parliament, something which most likely has cost the Treasury less than $1,000 a year, millions of dollars are being taken off people who are in need. {: .speaker-KB8} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-49-0-s26 .speaker-9W4} ##### Mr HYDE:
Moore -The Liberal Party and the National Country Party have been elected to government with a record majority. I think it is reasonable that we ask ourselves why and what we are elected to do. Members of the Opposition have behaved like petulant school children. They have done everything possible to go over the past, to debate the issues that the public, rejected. I remind the Opposition that it was not the Governor-General, it was not members of the Liberal Party or members of the Country Party who decimated the previous Government's numbers; it was the public, the ultimate masters of us all. We should listen to the public. We should look at why we* are in this place and what the tasks in front of us are. Clearly the Government was elected to provide honest and competent government again and above all to restore the economy to health. Yet every honourable member opposite has devoted his time to being an amateur constitutional lawyer. I have never heard so much bogus rot repeated and repeated, and to what end? What honourable members opposite could be doing is devoting their energies to the difficult problems that face this country and the government of it and to the restoration of our economy. There will always be differences of opinion, as was remarked by the honourable member for Corio **(Mr Scholes),** as to the best economic course to follow. Those differences of opinion should be debated because, above all, those economic problems are the major problems of this country right now. First there is the difficulty of the identification of the problem. That is what we should be debating. Then there is the problem of the will to tackle it. I suggest that the previous Government came quite a long way towards identification of the problem, but it lacked the will to tackle it. The overwhelming weight of advice is that economic action ought to involve the reining in of Government expenditure, a gentle tightening of the money supply, wage restraint, encouragement of investment and of profit again. In this manner we will control inflation gradually over a long time but certainly and steadily and hence we will again approach full employment. There has been talk of a consumer led recovery but loose talk and it has not been defended. If honourable members opposite believe it, they should defend it. That is what this Parliament is all about. They should do that instead of talking nonsense about non-issues. I do not believe that we can spend ourselves rich but if that is a serious contention, defend it. I wish to say something about the Labor view of the economic situation before it went out of office, because by so doing I should pre-empt a lot of unnecessary argument. I quote first **Senator James** McClelland who was speaking about an increase in average weekly earnings. In the Senate on 3 September 1975, he said: >Yes. I think it was nearer to 28 per cent. Of course that was a disastrous figure. I suggest that the starting point of all serious economic thought would be that the disastrous level of percentage increase in salaries and wages last year had to be cut back at all costs and by whatever methods were available. He said further in the same speech: >As we freely concede, the economy has paid a price for this expansion in the deficit. He continued: >We freely concede that investment in the private sector is not likely to take off in any real sense until businessmen can see some signs of an abatement in the level of inflation. He also said in that speech: . . . at the present stage of our economic difficulties uncontrolled increases in wages are probably the most important ingredients in continuing inflation. Let me quote next from the Budget Speech delivered by the former Treasurer. He said: >On the economic front, inflation is this nation's most menacing enemy. He continued: >Our present level of unemployment is too high. If we fail to control inflation unemployment will get worse. Later, he said: >In the context of an economy beginning to pick up, a deficit of the order initially projected would have been a prescription for accelerating inflation. Its acceptance would have been tantamount to abandoning concern with inflation, discarding our wages policies, condemning the corporate sector to an attack upon its profitability and threatening the future jobs of thousands of Australians- all at a time when the first signs of improvement in most of those respects are beginning to appear. He said further: >We are no longer operating in that simple Keynesian world in which some reduction in employment could, apparently, always be purchased at the cost of some more inflation. Today it is inflation itself which is the central policy problem. More inflation simply leads to more unemployment. {: .speaker-LLN} ##### Dr Edwards: -Who said that? {: .speaker-9W4} ##### Mr HYDE: -- The former Labor Treasurer. {: .speaker-KET} ##### Mr King: -- Which one? {: .speaker-9W4} ##### Mr HYDE: -- The last one-the honourable member for Oxley **(Mr Hayden).** He said also in his Budget Speech: >It is not possible to provide more and more government services or transfer payments from the Budget without ultimately having to pay for them through cutting back aftertax earnings via increased taxes. It is not possible to get quarts out of pint pots. He continued: >If Budget outlays this year were again to grow faster than total spending, a further decline in the private sector share of GDP would ensue. That would mean an accelerated decline in investment and productivity as well as a further contraction in job opportunities. Those were the opinions of the Labor Party. I have read several extracts but I assure this Parliament that I have not destoyed the context. Members opposite can check on that point for themselves. All honourable members will remember the words: 'One man's pay rise is another man's job'. The budgeted deficit was $2,798m. However we are approaching a deficit of $4,700m an error, no less, of $ 1 ,902m. Are Opposition members seriously suggesting that Budget cuts to bring expenditure back towards their own budgeted figure are inappropriate? I have made my remarks because I hope to prevent a lot of unnecessary argument on areas where the Labor Party has committed itself to the same line as the Government is adopting. The malaise that the nation faces is fundamental. I think we can look overseas and learn something. In Great Britain we have seen the value of the pound falling, disastrously low industrial output, disastrous inflation, unemployment, falling standards of living and an inability to compete, all because of the economic burden of 55 per cent government sector spending- the free feed philosophy and the belief that you can have it for nothing. We are heading down that same road and we would be wise not to follow it. There are no free feeds. People, shires, State governments, sporting clubs, industries- you name it- have been encouraged to hold out their hands and ask big brother government for some assistance every time the going is a little difficult. No nation ever became great by doing nothing. No government produces; it merely transfers resources. It makes one person rich at another person's expense. If it saps the will of every member of the community to do something for himself and for the team, the nation must inevitably go down hill. Governments possess that most delicious of all privileges- the spending of other people's money. If they abuse that privilege and in so doing sap the will of the people of our nation, we will surely collapse. We will surely be a poor nation. If, on the other hand, we are to be a great nation it will be because of the effort of individual Australians. It is the Government's responsibility to lead that effort. {: #subdebate-49-0-s27 .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- In his absence I should like to record my congratulatory comments to the newly elected Speaker, the right honourable member for Bruce, **Mr Snedden,** and also to the returned Chairman of Committees, **Mr Lucock.** Both these gentlemen will bring experience to the tasks that have been allotted to them by the Parliament and will distinguish themselves in the carrying out of their duties. I also congratulate those new members of the Parliament who have today delivered their maiden speeches. I have been in this chamber for almost a decade and I do not think there has been a day in those 10 years on which all honourable members have been so impressed by so many new members and by the quality of their contributions. Debate interrupted. {: .page-start } page 179 {:#debate-50} ### ADJOURNMENT {: #debate-50-s0 .speaker-KB8} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles: -Order! It now being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the ord,:r of the House of 18 February 1976, 1 propose the question: >That the House do now adjourn. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 February 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.