30th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The 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That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed, and that the Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional and familiar units to be restored to those areas where the greatest inconvenience and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 Peacock, Mr Donald Cameron and Mr Jull.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned residents of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government not to proceed with the introduction of self-government for the Australian Capital Territory until the residents of the Australian Capital Territory are consulted, by means of a referendum, on the issue.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Fry and Mr Haslem.
To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned 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 Australian 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:
And your petitioners as in duty bound do ever pray. by Mr Hayden and Mr Macphee.
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 Braithwaite.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that we wish to protest most vigorously about the lack of action in connection with the construction of a second wing of classrooms at Mossfiel Primary School, Werribee, Victoria.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to provide immediate funds to the State Government of Victoria for the construction of a second wing of classrooms at Mossfiel Primary School, Werribee, Victoria.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr J. F. Cairns.
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 announced decision by the Australian Government to reduce the 1975/76 Overseas Development Assistance vote by $21 million, and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency.
We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrChipp.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That the undersigned persons believe that-
The $300 limit on income tax deductibility in respect of personal residential land and water rates is unrealistic and is a Discriminimatory income tax penalty.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take steps to see that the aforesaid limitation is removed entirely or substantially increased.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That if existing income tax laws were amended so that the State Governments had the power to vary the total amount of personal income tax there would be various undesirable consequences, including
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that powers to vary income tax will not be given to State Governments and that a system of double taxation will not be imposed on incomes.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrHodgman.
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 Australian Medical Association and its affiliate, the Australian Association of Surgeons, intends entering into negotiations with the Hon. the Minister of State for Health, to alter the Health Insurance Act and regulations.
That such alterations as proposed are purely the wishes of a minority group seeking privileges in relation to the billing of patients, and particularly pensioners and less well off members of the Australian community, which are detrimental to the spirit of the Act and contrary to the whole intention of the legislation.
That the Association of Surgeons has demonstrated by its refusal to treat pensioner patients in designated community and other hospitals providing beds under section 34 of the said Act, that its agitation against medibank is purely the reaction of a selfish vested minority, and not in the best interests of the patients.
That the efforts by the Association of Surgeons to undermine medibank by seeking to negotiate changes is the thin edge of the wedge to dismantle the Health Insurance Act ‘ altogether, an action which will not be tolerated by the Australian community in general and the pensioners, less privileged and disadvantaged members of society in particular. .
Your Petitioners therefore ask that the Australian Parliament refuse to countenance any changes to the Health Insurance Act, and particularly those sought by influential minority interests who have demonstrated particularly by their actions in refusing to cooperate in the treatment of pensioner patients in hospital, that they do not have the interests and welfare of patients as their prime concern.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jacobi.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that milk substitutes be restored to the schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits for children up to the age of six years as soon as possible.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australian 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 prayThat 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.
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 Gvoernments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would-
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.
– I inform the House that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) left Australia on 7 March to attend the South Pacific Forum in New Zealand and the Fourth Session of the Third United Nations Conference of the Law of the Sea in New York, and to lead the Australian Delegation at the Thirty-second Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific which is being held in Bangkok. He is expected to return to Australia on 27 March. In his absence the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) will act as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– Pursuant to standing order 143,I ask the honourable member for Port Adelaide a question relating to his notice of motion for General Business Thursday No. 1.I ask the honourable gentleman whether the Electoral Bill of which he has given notice for the next General Business day would require the public disclosure of funds made available to political parties and candidates -
-Order! The question anticipates the debate. I have ruled that a question may be asked under standing order 143 but that it must not anticipate debate. Therefore, if the honourable gentleman asks the honourable member who has given notice of a motion a question which requires from that honourable gentleman an answer which will anticipate what he might say in a second reading debate, it is anticipating the debate and is out of order. The honourable gentleman may ask questions which relate to the day on which the legislation will be introduced or, for example, whether the legislation has been drafted or whether the honourable gentleman can see a copy of the legislation. Quite clearly the tenor of the question is inviting the honourable member to whom the question is directed to anticipate the debate and his second reading speech.
-Mr Speaker, may I ask the honourable gentleman whether the Bill as he is drafting it will cover the public disclosure of funds available to political parties and candidates from trust funds established overseas?
– I call the honourable member for Port Adelaide.
-The proposed section of the legislation will be identical with that introduced in the House during the term of the Labor Government. The audit sections are quite specific as to what they will cover, and of course that means that auditors set up by the Government must have full access at all times to accounts -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now anticipating the debate.
– Perhaps I could just give the House an incident that would be covered -
-No, the honourable gentleman is not entitled to give an instance.
– Of course, all donations and all funds, set up in any manner, from which a candidate or political party would receive a donation would be covered by the proposed legislation. I would seek from the other side leave to have incorporated in Hansard a statutory declaration that has been handed to me today showing how the Liberal Party collected £Stg96,000 in 195 1 in London.
– Order! The honourable gentleman is proceeding beyond the bounds of the Standing Orders. I ask the honourable gentleman to resume his seat.
-Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to statements by Mr Justice Kirby, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, that attempts to break down the secretiveness of government would run into intense opposition? What steps does the Prime Minister propose to take to ensure that adequate information is available to the public?
-This is an important matter. Some time ago a former administration had some views on the subject. If my recollection is correct, an interdepartmental committee was established to furnish a report which was designed to be a framework for legislation on freedom of access to information. The former Administration, when it started to become more secretive because of the activities it wished to conceal, then seemed to forget its original objectives. I have instructed my Department to prepare a submission which will go to the
Cabinet on this matter because I believe that information ought to be accessible to the public to the greatest possible extent. I have also written to all Ministers asking them to ensure not only that they make themselves available wherever possible to the media and to those people who have a legitimate right to and need for information but also that their departments are as open as possible in providing accurate information to the public.
-Mr Speaker, I do not suppose I am entitled to comment on the last answer. At least we believe in open opposition. My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Has the New South Wales Government made one or more submissions to the Medibank Review Committee? Will these and other submissions be published so to enable interested parties to comment? Is the New South Wales Government, in its submission, attempting to reimpose a means test on public hospital patients to help struggling surgeons?
-I understand that the New South Wales Government has made a submission to the Medibank Review Committee. I have not seen it; it is a matter for the Medibank Review Committee. I could not give a direct answer on whether the New South Wales Government has made one or more submissions. With respect to the latter part of the honourable member’s question, I have not yet given consideration to whether those reports ultimately will be made public. In due course the Medibank Review Committee will be reporting to the Government, through the Minister for Health, as a consequence of the many submissions that it has received.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Northern Territory and refer to a recent report that the Territory’s overall civil works program has been reduced by $158m, or by one-third, while Darwin’s capital works program has been slashed by $ 125m. Is the Minister aware of the source of these figures? Is this an accurate statement of the situation regarding the Northern Territory civil works program in view of the fact that 80 per cent of the Northern Territory’s construction contracts are dependent on the Commonwealth Government’s initiative compared with 20 percent in the States?
– I have seen such reports. They do not fairly present the situation. It is well known that the Government is reviewing all expenditure programs. It is true also that no part of Australia more than the Northern Territory has more to fear from inflation. There has been a deferral of certain civil works in the Northern Territory, but the statement that the Government is unaware of or unsympathetic to the private sector and unmindful of the fact that the private sector is dependent on public sector expenditure in the Territory is not a fair statement. Indeed it was not pointed out, for instance, that in Darwin within the last few weeks something like $18m has been provided in excess of the appropriation for the home loans scheme and the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. That is not only to help the private sector to keep going; it also takes into consideration the humane aspect of getting houses for the people of Darwin. I do not know the source of the figures. However, it ought to be kept in mind that the projects to be deferred are still subject to review. It is important also to emphasise that the actual cash flow effected in 1975-76 would represent only a small proportion of the actual value of the projects. Nor did the report point out that work already in progress outside Darwin, valued at something like $170m this year, should maintain a high cash flow over the balance of the present year.
-Is the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of grave concern among staff members of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in Hobart due to persistent rumours of impending staff dismissals? Does the Minister recall an agreement of October last year between the Minister for Labor and Immigration in the previous Government and the Federated Clerks Union that no such dismissals would take place, and that staff would not be retrenched or posted to other States? What negotiations on this matter has the present Government had with the Federated Clerks Union? Will the Government give a clear undertaking that it will not dismiss Authority personnel in Hobart?
– I am aware of the situation which the honourable member has described. As the honourable member will know, the Government has recently received a copy of the Northrop report in which Mr Northrop, after being appointed by the previous Administration, has reported on possible alternatives for the future structure of the waterfront industry in Australia. The particular problem of Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority members and members of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia employed by that organisation has caused concern both to previous governments and to this one. The undertaking which the honourable gentleman seeks is very difficult to give because the Clerks Union members employed by the ASIA are not technically members of the Public Service and therefore no guarantee can be given to them that they will be absorbed into another avenue of the Public Service, because they are not members of it. The problem is causing me considerable concern and I have it under active investigation at the present time.
– Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that Australian exporters are at present subsidising the Australian car industry at the rate of $300m each year and at the rate of $4,000 for every person employed in making cars and components? Will the Minister assure me that the size of this burden will be borne in mind when decisions are made on how to protect the car industry in the future? Is the Minister aware that the decision to revert to a 95 per cent component plan may increase the size of this burden?
Mr HOWARD The honourable gentleman’s question raises the issue of the Government’s intentions regarding the car industry in Australia. This matter will very shortly be the subject of detailed Cabinet consideration and it would be premature of me to speculate regarding that matter. However I can assure the honourable gentleman that all interests, including those to which he drew attention in his question, will be taken into account during the Cabinet considerations.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service matters. Were the reductions in staff ceilings in the Australian Public Service made without prior consultation with the Public Service Board? If so, was any advice sought from elsewhere, or were the decisions reached purely by a rule of thumb approach?
-The decisions were taken after a report had come to me including advice from the Public Service Board, my Department and the Treasury.
-Does the Prime Minister recall having warned in an address last Friday to the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures that the prospect was for a tough Budget this year? Was the Prime Minister implying that taxes would be increased during the coming year? What did he imply about the Budget?
-There is one aspect which I should like to clarify and which was raised, I think, in the honourable gentleman’s question. Traditionally when people have spoken of tough Budgets, that has heralded a situation in which people have been concerned that the major thrust of the Budget to be unveiled in the future months would be one in which taxes would be significantly increased. But the circumstances in which Australia finds itself at present as a result of the past 3 years of rather odd rule are somewhat different. There was a mad extravagance on the part of the previous Administration and in total a level of commitment from the Commonwealth Parliament which I doubt very much that Australia can continue to afford. There seemed to be a view among our predecessors that the dollars they spent did not have to be found by the taxpayers of Australia. Basically of course they do have to be found by the taxpayers of Australia. Our predecessors made holes in everyone’s pockets. The sort of toughness that I was referring to is the capacity of this Government to make decisions about priorities concerning its own expenditure so that expenditure can properly be related to the kinds of resources and the proportion of resources which the Government should command, leaving an adequate area for private enterprise which is the great employer in Australia, to expand, to invest, to prosper and above all, to provide the jobs that are needed for the people of Australia.
-Is the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that the building industry in New South Wales is almost coming to a halt? Is he also aware that in the 6 months to January 1976 there was a fall of 38.5 per cent in the intake of apprentices in the building industry and that in the next 6 months the fall could be greater? The fall comprises a fall of 48.4 per cent in bricklayers ‘ apprentices -
– Order! I am sorry to interrupt the honourable gentleman, but he is giving information. Question time is for the purpose of eliciting answers. I call the honourable member for Sydney and ask him to reframe his question by asking for information rather than giving it.
- Mr Speaker, I shall ask the question. Could the Minister explain what measures the Government will be taking to rectify the anomaly of the fall in the intake of building trades apprentices comprising a fall of 48.4 per cent in bricklayers apprentices, 39.4 per cent in carpenters and joiners apprentices, 39.7 per cent in plumbers and gas fitters apprentices and a fall of 30 per cent in respect of other apprentices?
– I am aware that the building industry, not only in New South Wales but elsewhere in Australia, has been put in a very serious situation by the irresponsible actions of certain unions which have brought some multi-million dollar projects to a halt, thus costing many thousands of Australians their jobs. So far as the apprenticeship situation is concerned there is unfortunately a reluctance on the part of some employers to employ the number of skilled tradesmennot only bricklayers and other people in the building industry, but skilled tradesmen in other areas as well- that this country will need in the future. The Government does provide substantial incentives to the extent of about $3 5 m a year under the national apprenticeship assistance scheme. At the moment I have under review the details of this scheme to try to ensure that money is spent in the most effective way. I am seeking views from the industry and the State authorities towards achieving a more effective result for this very considerable annual Commonwealth expenditure in the apprenticeship area.
– Is the Minister for the Capital Territory aware that as a result of a competition launched by the previous Government, it is intended to construct a memorial to Walter Burley Griffin on top of Mount Ainslie, the mountain opposite this House? Is the Minister aware that the cost of construction of such a memorial would be $ 100,000? Does the Minister feel that such expenditure is appropriate at this time?
– I am aware of the facts mentioned by the honourable member. It was the National Memorials Committee, not the Department of the Capital Territory, which decided that the Walter Burley Griffin Memorial on Mount Ainslie would go ahead. At that time the Chairman of the National Memorials Committee was the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition. I can certainly understand the concern of the honourable member but, because this is basically a recommendation of the
National Memorials Committee, I will seek the advice of the new Chairman of the National Memorials Committee as to what should be done about it.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question arising from a comment I noted by the Leader of the House on the television program, This Day Tonight, on the last day the House sat, 4 March. Will the Prime Minister confirm that some or all of his interviews with journalists are tape recorded? Are the journalists informed in advance that tape recordings are being made?
– If there is any tape recording of any interview that I am giving to anyone the tape recorder is in full sight. In other words, everyone would know of it.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. The Minister recently announced road grants of $64m to State governments. It is my understanding that these grants were to assist local government to maintain employment and to meet urgent road needs. Can the Minister advise me whether these conditions have been met and whether there are apparent inequalities in allocations to municipalities with similar difficulties?
-At the Premiers Conference the Premiers were informed that the Federal Government would make available $64m for road needs and that of this amount Victoria’s share would be $ 13.4m. There was to be a matching provision from the Victorian Government of $ 16.7m. The Federal Government requested that all the States make as much of this money as possible available to local government authorities because of the paucity of funds reaching local government authorities due to the stupidity of the previous Government and the way in which it treated local government authorities. An agreement was reached between the Victorian Minister for Transport and me as to the distribution of those funds, and the great bulk of those funds will go to local government authorities. I am unable to comment on the distribution of those funds shire by shire. I have had no information at this point from the Victorian Minister but I will try to ascertain the position. I have heard of different amounts being granted to a variety of shires and I understand that the honourable member’s concern is that there appears to be a lack of grants to one area in the north of Victoria. I will try to ascertain from the Victorian Minister what share of the funds will be made available to shires in that area. I am sure that he recognises, as I do, that it is important that the outlying shires in Victoria get their fair share.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer to the AttorneyGeneral’s statement in the House on Thursday, 4 March, that there did not appear to be any substance in my allegations of investigation by Commonwealth Police arising from my association with the Fretilin movement. I now suggest to the Attorney-General that he has misled the Parliament, either wittingly or unwittingly. In order to resolve this matter I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Will he call for all papers concerning the Commonwealth Police investigation of organisations concerned with the Portuguese East Timor Independence Movement? Will he particularly call for the diary of the Commonwealth Police officer who questioned Miss Joan Ansell, Secretary of the Australia East Timor Association on a number of occasions between 1 1 February and 24 February? Will he also call for the diary of the Commonwealth Police officer who interviewed me in my office on Friday, 20 February? Will he call for a report on allegations which have been made to me that the Indonesian Embassy made a gift of alcoholic beverages to the value of approximately $2,000 to the Commonwealth Police in Canberra over the Christmas period?
-I did not mislead the House.
– Not intentionally. It was second nature.
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw that remark.
– I apologise. I meant a second opinion.
-The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it. A second considered opinion.
-Order! I will not persist with this. The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw unconditionally.
– Whatever you say. I withdraw unconditionally.
– I name the honourable member for Oxley.
– I move:
The honourable gentlemen may wish to withdraw.
– I have named the honourable member for Oxley. I had hoped that I would not have to do so. If the honourable gentleman persists in refusing to obey the Chair I have no alternative. I will give the honourable member for Oxley another opportunity to unqualifiedly withdraw.
– I unqualifiedly withdraw.
Motion- by leave- withdrawn.
-I cannot recall all the matters to which the honourable member for Fraser referred in his question, but if he puts before me information which would justify the inquiries that he suggests I will be happy to consider the matter.
– I put a question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. What committees or associations have issued or are drafting standards relating to date stamping of food products and disclosure of contents on labels? Are these standards advisory or mandatory? If advisory only, will the Minister consider prescribing such standards pursuant to section 63 of the Trade Practices Act?
-The drafting and preparation of such standards are currently undertaken by the Food Standards Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council and also by the Standards Associations of Australia. The Food Standards Committee has already issued a number of standards relating to foodstuffs and is currently working on detailed standards relating to the date stamping of food packages. When these have been completed my Department will consider the possibility of making such standards, which when they come from the committees would only be advisory, mandatory. In the course of considering whether such standards should be mandatory, adequate time will be allowed for consultation with industry and with those in the community who are obliged to bear the cost of complying with the standards.
-Is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware that whilst additional funds have been made available to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to allow the continuation of the translator and interpreter courses for 1976, following a question asked in the House by me, it is believed that funding as of next year will be on a triennial basis and that funds will be distributed through the Commission on Advanced Education, which finances the Institute on a per capita basis without earmarking funds? In view of other pressures for finances within that Institution, there is no guarantee that the courses will be funded in 1977. Will the Minister assure the House and those people running the courses that funds will be specifically earmarked for the courses in 1 977 to allow the rational planning and extension of these vital courses?
-As the House would know, prior to the honourable gentleman asking his previous question on this matter I had contacted the Prime Minister in relation to the courses under discussion. In fact, as a result of that consultation the courses are being funded from my Department for the remainder of this financial year. The question of the future funding of the courses is one for the appropriate Minister, who is not at this stage myself. Of course any assurances would have to come as a result of Government consideration of the question.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. He will be aware that small business is grateful for the change in Government policy in lowering the effective exemption rate on the investment allowance. Is he also aware that because of the present economic situation many investments, when the allowance is deducted, will create a tax loss situation? Will he inform the House whether these tax losses can be carried forward to succeeding years so that incentives to invest now will not be curtailed?
– Since his election to this House the honourable gentleman has shown a very keen interest in the small business community. That is completely consistent with one of the major objectives of the present Government. This Government’s economic policy is to create an environment in which companies, large and small, can grow and be self-reliant and strong. In part, one of the purposes of the investment allowance is to provide a major stimulus to the small business community as well as to larger corporations. In response to the question asked by the honourable gentleman, I can inform him that where a taxpayer- for example, a small manufacturer- uses plant which he has purchased for purposes which will entitle him to the investment allowance and is in a tax loss situation, the losses can be carried forward. As the honourable gentleman would well understand, this will ensure that the incentive which the investment allowance is intended to create throughout the entire business community will not diminish on the basis mentioned.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I require under standing order 32 1 that the Treasurer table the document to which he was referring in his answer.
-The Treasurer will be required to table the document if he read from it and if it is not a confidential document. I did not see the Treasurer reading from it. I ask him whether he read from the document.
-The Treasurer says that he did not read from the document.
-I direct my question to the Attorney-General. I refer to recent legal proceedings in the Australian Capital Territory relating to the Senate election and the alleged breach of the Electoral Act whereby an amount of $500 in $50 notes is now in the possession of the police. Following the police investigations, can the Attorney advise the House as to the sources of those funds, including the bank accounts on which they were drawn, and also as to the ownership of the money?
-I have no knowledge as to the source of the funds nor as to the ownership of the moneys.
-My question to the Minister for Primary Industry refers to the precarious situation of the dairy industry. Is the Minister aware that an efficient dairy farmer in Victoria, milking 90 cows twice a day 7 days a week, is earning the miserable income of about $70 a week and at the same time has to meet increased costs because of Labor Government caused inflation? Is he also aware -
-The honourable gentleman has given sufficient information. I think the time has arrived for him to ask his question.
– Is the Minister also aware that the jobs of many factory workers and other people indirectly dependent on the dairy industry are in jeopardy? Is he able to say whether the
Government has been asked to help? If it has been asked, has any decision been reached?
– As a result of a downturn in world markets, particularly for skim milk powder and casein, the tragic circumstances to which the honourable gentleman referred are unfortunately now creating a disastrous predicament for many dairy farmers. Unfortunately, the previous Government did little about it. The circumstances of inflation which its economic policies engendered rather encouraged the plight in which dairy farmers now find themselves. Last Friday my colleague the Minister for Transport and I attended a meeting of more than 1000 dairy farmers at Leongatha. We were told of a scale of relative returns of dairy farmers which, using the year 1972 as a base of 100, saw an increase to 174 of average weekly earnings but a fall to 38 of returns of dairy farmers from 1 972 to the end of 1975. That period, as my colleague so rightly says, relates specifically to the 3 years in which the Labor Administration was in charge of the economy of this country.
Both State and Federal governments have a responsibility in this area. It is not a matter for any one State; rather it is a matter of all States of the Commonwealth having particular problems. Unfortunately dairy farmers have fallen into a period when expected market opportunities are not only bad, as they are at the moment, but seem to trend downwards in the 1976-77 period. As a result, certainly, we are examining quite seriously and urgently proposals that have only just been tendered to the Government by the Australian Dairy Industry Council. As a result of that I would expect that the Federal Government would come to some decision on what help it might give within the next few weeks.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question supplementary to that asked him by the honourable member for KingsfordSmith. Has the Attorney-General any knowledge of who has the custody of the money now? Does he know when the ownership and disposition of the money will be decided?
– My recollection-it is only a recollection- is that the funds were left with the Canberra Times. That is my recollection of the matter. So far as I am aware that is where the funds still are, but my statement is based on my understanding of the facts some weeks ago.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Has he seen reports of yet another hang gliding injury over the weekend, this time through a young man making his first gliding attempt by jumping on a 33 metre cliff at a Victorian beach? Does the Minister recall that the last annual report of the Department of Transport stated that an Air Navigation Order specifying conditions for the operation of hang gliders was being drafted? When will such an Air Navigation Order be promulgated so that this apparently simple but potentially dangerous sport can be supervised properly? Will the Minister consider requiring that those who wish to participate in this sport must undergo some appropriate training in basic disciplines such as aeronautics and meteorology?
– As I understand it, a regulation was drafted last year by the Department, which at that time was under the administration of the previous Government, to control hang gliding insofar as public safety was concerned rather than the intrepid efforts of hang gliders themselves. That is as far as I propose to take it. I would treat hang gliding like hanging-five on a surfboard, water skiing, skin diving, mountain climbing or any other sport one likes to name. The day that Parliament has to regulate to stop the enthusiasm of young men trying something out I think will be the sorriest day for this nation. I do not propose to do anything about it.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In view of the magistrate’s decision in the Garland-Branson affair, does the Attorney-General intend -
-Order! The honourable gentleman ought not to speak disparagingly of people who have been before the court and in respect of whom the court has disposed of the matter.
– I have not spoken disparagingly.
-The honourable member named 2 people and described the matter as an affair. That is to speak disparagingly. The honourable member may identify the persons for the purposes of the question but he should not add the description.
– I ask the Attorney-General-. In view of the magistrate’s decision in the Garland case, has he given consideration to adopting the same attitude at his counterpart in the New South Wales State Parliament and issuing an ex officio indictment because of the disquiet of Canberra citizens in connection with that decision?
-I am not aware of any disquiet on the part of Canberra citizens. I have read the magistrate’s decision. It is not my intention to file an ex officio indictment. I notice that the magistrate relied on a proposition of law which he applied to the facts of the case. The proposition was this:
A magistrate is dearly bound in the exercise of a sound discretion not to commit anyone unless a prima facie case is made out against him by witnesses entitled to a reasonable degree of credit In determining whether they will commit for trial justices should not balance the evidence and decide according as its preponderance which would be trying the case but should consider whether or not the evidence makes out a strong or probable or even a conflicting case of guilt, in any of which events they should commit. If, however, from the slender nature of the evidence, the unworthiness of the witness or the conclusive proof of evidence produced on the part of the accused they feel that the case is not sustained and that if they sent it for trial he must be acquitted they should discharge the accused.
The magistrate went on to say:
Now it is my view that the evidence against each of the defendants has established a prima facie case but it is my further opinion that a jury, properly directed, would not convict the defendants and I propose to discharge both defendants.
That is a practice which is followed in New South Wales and in Queensland. It has also been followed in the Australian Capital Territory. This magistrate considered the evidence. He gave it thought and care over a day and part of a day and in that period came to that view. The magistrate having done that, it is not my intention to take the matter any further, and I hope that this is the last time the matter will be mentioned in this House.
- Mr Speaker, I ask that the document from which the Attorney-General quoted be tabled.
-The Attorney-General will be required to table it if he has read from it and if it is not a confidential document.
-I think it might be subject to copyright. It is part of the transcript of the proceedings. I do not know whether the honourable member wishes it to be tabled. I suggest he just have a look at it.
-The honourable member has called for it to be tabled. The Attorney-General is willing to do so. The document will be tabled.
-I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has any request been made to him regarding crown privilege with respect to a matter currently being heard before a Queanbeyan magistrate?
– I am not aware of any such request but I will have some discussion with the Attorney-General about the matter and it may be that such a request could come forward. I should think that it would be somewhat doubtful whether the Commonwealth Government could claim crown privilege about matters of which it did not have a detailed and intimate knowledge because they occurred on 13 December 1974, a year before the present Government came to power. If the Leader of the Opposition, as he now is, sought to apply to himself the standards which he attributes to others he would have taken certain action because of that case pending in the Queanbeyan court. He sought to attribute certain attitudes to other people who may well have been involved in the matter but if he had acted as he indicated he thought others ought to have acted he would obviously not have offered himself for leadership of his party pending that particular case. Once the decisions were made that have been made he would clearly have stepped aside until the case had been concluded. This is just another example of the Leader of the Opposition being perfectly ready to apply standards to other people in other circumstances which he will never in a thousand years apply to himself.
-Has the Minister for Health reduced from 6 years to 18 months the age of eligibility for milk substitutes as a pharmaceutical benefit? Does this reduction affect thousands of children suffering from asthmatic and other respiratory complaints? Since the cost of milk substitutes is in the vicinity of $10 to $20 a week for each affected child, will the Minister acknowledge that hardship is often caused? If he does, will he agree to review this decision?
– The Government acted upon the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee in deleting certain items from the pharmaceutical benefit list. The milk substitute to which the honourable member referred was one of the items which was recommended for deletion. If the honourable member has any evidence that hardship is caused by this deletion I would be very pleased to refer it to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, but the Government acted on the advice of an expert body, in accordance with tradition.
-Pursuant to section 34 of the Services Trust Fund Act 1947-1973 I present the annual reports of the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund, the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund and the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund for the calendar year 1 974, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Fishing Industry Act 1956, 1 present the annual report on the operation of that Act during the year ended 30 June 1975.
– For the information of honourable members I present the resolutions of the Sixth Meeting of the Australian Fisheries Council held in Canberra on 3 October 1975.
– For the information of honourable members I present 2 reports prepared by the Bureau of Transport Economics entitled Mainline Upgrading: Evaluation of a Range of Options for the Melbourne-Sydney kail Link and Mainline Upgrading: Evaluation of a Range of Options for the Melbourne-Serviceton Rail Link. Due to the limited number of these reports available, reference copies have been placed in the Parliamentary Library.
Pursuant to section 43 of the Criminology Research Act 1971, I present the third annual report of the Criminology Research Council for the year ended 30 June 1975.
Mr ELLICOTT ( WentworthAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 33 of the Criminology Research Act 1971, I present the third annual report on the operations of the Australian Institute of Criminology for the year ended 30 June 1975, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission on Aerospace Industry, Hosiery, Financing Promotion of Rural Products (Interim Report: Export Inspection of Rural Products), Rural Reconstruction and Cellulose Acetate Flake.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report on the activities of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for the year ended 30 June 1 975.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1976. Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1976.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair)- by leave- agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the National Library Act 1960-1973, this House elects the honourable member for Wills to be a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia, and to continue as a member for a period of 3 years from this day.
– I move:
1 ) That a Joint Committee be appointed to inquire into, report on and make recommendations for
One of the major concerns of this Government is to enhance the quality of Australian democracy. Democracy is essentially a process for taking decisions. In a modern representative democracy it is a process that demands popular control over the people’s representatives. The quality of the democratic process is enhanced to the degree that decisions are based on proper examination of the issues, to the extent that those affected by governmental decisions can be consulted and have a chance to be heard before decisions are taken. Only in this way can the governmental process actively foster the consent of the governed. There are 3 areas in particular in which we have an opportunity to strengthen the democratic process in Australia. The capacity of the Australian people to participate effectively in the decisions of” government has been weakened by certain trends. In the first place, the growing centralisation of power in the Federal Government has reduced the effectiveness of participation at State and local levels. The reforms of the Federal system we propose will start effective power flowing back to local and State governments. Secondly, the effect of inflation, when combined with progressive income tax scales, has relieved governments of the pressure to place clearly before the people decisions to increase the personal tax burden. This is a duty that used to be regarded as fundamental to responsible democratic government. The introduction of tax indexation will put an end to that particular infringement on the people’s right to be consulted.
There is a third area in which the quality of Australian democracy needs strengthening- the functioning of this Parliament itself. The Parliament ought to be the place above all where policy can be fully debated and where legislation can be subjected to close and effective scrutiny. The Government believes that one of the most practical ways in which to achieve that objective is to strengthen the committee system of this Parliament. In September 1974 a Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Committee System was established to look at a balanced system of committees and to report on how such a system of committees might be integrated into the procedures of the Parliament. The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) presented an interim report of the Committee to this House on 15 October last year. I do not propose to comment in detail at this stage on that report. I do, however, want to mention a number of matters which the Government hopes the reconstituted committee will take into account in its further deliberations.
The Government believes that there is much to be gained from improved financial scrutiny of departments of the Executive. Honourable members will be aware of the Government’s concern to minimise waste and to maximise efficiency in government expenditure. We have already appointed the Administrative Review Committee to examine these things. The Government also places high priority on achieving an appropriate balance of resources between government, on the one hand, and individuals and private enterprise, on the other. In achieving the objectives of efficiency and balance many critical decisions are of course taken by government departments in forming their estimates of expenditure. The Government believes that at the present time this process of formation of the estimates is not subject to adequate scrutiny by this
House. People are elected to this House, to this Parliament, to ensure, amongst other things, that their tax monies are well used. If it is to fufil that trust, the Parliament must have adequate instruments of supervision and control at its disposal. This Government recognises that the ultimate power of Parliament over the Executive is its control over and scrutiny of the Government’s expenditure of money. This is fundamental to the functioning of our democratic parliamentary institutions.
I hope that the Joint Committee will not believe that the Government is pre-empting its work if I say that the Government very much hopes that an Estimates Committee of the House of Representatives will be established before the end of the autumn sittings. The broad purpose of this committee would be to consider how, if at all, the policies implied in the figures of expenditure and in the Estimates may be carried out more economically. The Government will also introduce resolutions to establish a number of other committees, pending final decisions on the future of the committee structure, decisions which I hope will be based on the report of the committee. The Government expects, of course, that all committees of the Parliament, including the Committee the subject of the present motion, should bear in mind the Government’s attitude on the restraint of public expenditure and the need to work within the staff ceilings and appropriations for the parliamentary departments. The attention of honourable members is drawn to clause 13 in this respect.
The proposed Committee will have a similar composition as regards Government and Opposition and House of Representatives and Senate to that in the last Parliament. It is proposed that the chairman should be elected from the members nominated by the Prime Minister or by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). The motion reconstitutes the Committee with powers and functions similar to those possessed by the Committee in the 29th Parliament. It gives the new Committee power to consider and to make use of the minutes of evidence and records of the previous Committee. The Committee has been asked to present its final report by 26 May with a view to allowing honourable members and honourable senators to consider it before debate in the Budget sittings. I am sure that all honourable members will look to the report of the Committee for valuable and constructive recommendations on the functioning of this Parliament.
The development of a practicable and workable committee system is of great importance for this Parliament if it is to discharge its functions as they ought to be discharged. Views on the appropriate structure for our committee systems differ. One view looks to specialist committees- at the extreme a committee for each department- to perform the Parliament’s function of review. For a number of reasons my personal view is that a structure of specialist committees does not fit well with our parliamentary system, though I am aware that there have been particular exceptions, and there are particular exceptions, in practice. If members of Parliament are to exercise a broad judgment and control of the business of government a broad knowledge and insight into the nation’s affairs often is more valuable than a highly specialised but limited knowledge.
My personal belief is that if this House could establish two general purpose committees, such as I have indicated on earlier occasions, its work could be greatly expedited. Such general purpose committees could lighten the workload on the whole House and enable more time to be devoted to debate on important issues. It might be envisaged that on those committees there would be a core membership with a right for other members to attend when matters of interest to them are being dealt with. There would need to be a steering committee to determine which matters should go to the full House and which to the general purposes committees. Contentious matters or matters of a political nature obviously should go to the full House. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary Committees is dealing with important matters which affect the fundamental working of this institution of Australian democracy. I believe that we have much to learn from the practice of other parliamentary systems, especially the British experience. I know that all members of the Committee will work to prepare a report which will be of lasting value to Australia’s national parliamentary institutions. I would like to add, Mr Speaker, that I believe that if this report is as good as I would hope, as good as this Parliament has a right to expect, it will initiate, or enable to be initiated, some fundamental changes in the workings of this Parliament which will be of lasting and permanent value to Australian democracy and make this institution function much better over the next 76 years than it has over the last 76 years.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
That a Joint Committee be appointed to consider and report on:
I know it is a little extraordinary for me to raise this matter at this stage but I think it is a matter of great regret to all honourable members in this chamber that the Deputy Principal Parliamentary Attendant in this House died yesterday. Mr Bill McKay was well known to all of us. I am sure that all honourable members would wish to extend to Mrs McKay and his family our deepest sympathy.
The motion I have moved is identical with the resolution regarding the constitution of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which was passed during the previous Administration. The motion will reconstitute a committee to engage in the same range of activities that this committee has engaged in traditionally. I commend the motion to the House.
-Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, before moving the adjournment of this debate I would like to associate myself with the remarks of the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair) and also to express to your Attendant our sympathy at the loss of his wife last week. I move:
That the debate now be adjourned.
– I appreciate the action of the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) in drawing the attention of the House to the death of Mr Bill McKay, Deputy Principal Attendant in the House. I am sure he will be remembered by all honourable members, even the new members, because he was a rather rugged looking man, if I may use the term. Bill had been here for the entire period that I have been here and was very well known to every honourable member of the House. I am informed that he was in the House during the second last sitting week. I learned only today of his death. It came as a shock to me and I am sure that all honourable members now learning of this for the first time will share my sadness. I appreciate the action of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) in associating the Opposition with the expression of sympathy. I also appreciate the reference by the honourable member for Corio to the attendant attending on me whose wife died last week. I have sent a message of condolence already and will be very glad to send the message of condolence from the honourable member for Corio because that attendant served the honourable member while he was Speaker of the House. The question is:
That the debate be adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That a Standing Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on:
Honourable members will recall that we have for some years now had a committee of this House set up to consider and report on road safety matters. The Select Committee on Road Safety was established by the House on 27 April 1 972 on my motion. The Select Committee was reconstituted on 12 April 1973 and 12 March 1974 while a Standing Committee on Road Safety was established on 18 July 1974. The establishment and work of this Committee has received the support of honourable members from both sides of the House. The terms of reference which I propose are, as far as the scope of the work of the Committee is concerned, identical with the earlier terms of reference. There are a number of detailed changes in the machinery provisions included in the terms of reference but these are designed to fit in with a standard approach which we are adopting with regard to all such standing committees.
A review of the activities of the Committees on Road safety since their appointment shows the importance of involving representatives of the Commonwealth Parliament directly in what is undoubtedly a national problem. The existence of the Committee has provided both a forum for the presentation of information relevant to the road accident problem and an independent line of inquiry into all its aspects. Honourable members will be aware that the Committees have produced two reports. The first, in 1973, Road Safety, a National Authority, The Constitutional Position, Statistical Needs, highlighted the national nature of many aspects of road safety. It recommended the creation of a national authority on road safety and standards as a statutory authority. As part of its drive to achieve savings in administrative costs the Government decided to reverse the previous Government’s decision to establish a Road Safety and Standards Authority as a separate entity.
However, this does not in any way indicate a lessening of our commitment to road safety. I should make it quite clear to honourable members that the establishment of the Authority was only in its very early stages when our decision was taken. Virtually the whole of the staff of the Authority was made up of officers formerly with the Department of Transport and still in fact located in the Department’s Melbourne office. These officers will simply be returned to the departmental strength. I must also stress that the budgetary savings which we will achieve this financial year do not mean that we have cut back on efforts to improve road safety. Certainly we are not outlaying funds during this financial year on facilities originally proposed to be established for the Authority at Albury-Wodonga. This is simply because we are re-examining how best to provide the required facilities.
The second Committee report in 1974 dealt with Roads and their Environment. During the life of the last Parliament the Committee had been engaged in an active investigation of the vehicle factor in road safety but had not reported on this matter.
Over the past 5 years we have seen a remarkable downturn in deaths and injuries amongst vehicle occupants. In 1974 13 per cent fewer drivers and passengers were killed than in 1970; this of course has resulted in large measure from the compulsory use of seat belts following the example set late in 1970 by the Victorian State Government. In each of the years since then the number of persons killed has been less than during that record year. Nevertheless, the annual toll of deaths exceeds 3500, with another 90 000 persons being injured.
The Government fully recognises the gravity of this situation despite improvements which have been made in recent years through changes to vehicle design and the road environment. As a nation we cannot afford to let up in our efforts to contain this major social problem. My Government’s policy in this area is clear and has been stated on a number of occasions. I would in conclusion mention three vital areas. First, there will be continued support for research. My department is currently sponsoring more than thirty projects being conducted by universities and other research organisations. We intend to seek greater publicity for results of research so as to increase community awareness of factors contributing to road accidents and preventive measures which should be taken.
Secondly, we will support work for road safety through the Australian Transport Advisory
Council and its associated committees. Through this we will continue to confer with the States with a view to improving vehicle safety standards and strengthening the vehicle certification systems, promulgating a uniform system of traffic rules and regulations throughout Australia and encouraging better driver standards.
Finally, and again in co-operation with the States, we will be engaged in a progressive road improvement program. The road improvement program is recognised by all in the road safety field as being as much an essential factor in road safety improvement as are improvements in vehicle safety and design and in driver training and behaviour. It is important that the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia should be directly involved in the consideration of issues affecting the safety of our road system. I commend to honourable members the proposal to reestablish the Standing Committee on Road Safety.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
That a Standing Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on:
Deputy Chairman are not present at a meeting of the committee the members present shall elect another member to perform the duties of the Chairman at that meeting.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation was first appointed in May 1973 as the result of a recommendation by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation. Since its inception the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation has inquired into many issues of importance for environmental protection and has produced several valuable reports, including those on the environmental impact of freeways, the Blackbutt Reserve, the operation of the Softwood Forestry Agreements Act 1967-72, and development pressures on Jervis Bay. In recommending the continuance of this Committee I remind honourable members of the urgency which is being felt by the general public about environmental problems.
We can no longer afford to neglect such problems. The long term consequences of our actions must be recognised and present environmental problems solved if we are to have any control over the future quality of the human environment. In the past the existence of standing committees has enabled the House of Representatives to be involved in initial and formative consideration of a wide range of major environmental problems. Information gained by honourable members in carrying out the duties associated with such committees has given them a broader insight into major issues confronting Australia today.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
1 ) That a Select Committee be appointed:
Honourable members will remember that this House appointed a Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties during the life of the Twenty-ninth Parliament. That Committee had received a great volume of submissions and had held hearings in all the States before Parliament was dissolved. As I understand it, the Committee had almost completed its investigations. It is for the purpose of completing this inquiry that I am moving the resolution before the House now. The terms of reference given in this resolution are the same as those given to the previous Committee. The new Committee is to have access to the papers of its predecessor. A significant addition is the stipulation of 25 August 1976 as the reporting date for the Committee. I am sure honourable members will be as anxious as I am to learn of the Committee’s findings.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
That a Standing Committee be appointed to inquire into, take evidence and report on:
This motion seeks to re-establish a standing committee with terms of reference very similar to those of the original Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs set up in 1973 by the previous administration. It is generally agreed by members of this Parliament and the general public that Aboriginal affairs, dealing with the lives of people requiring special attention within our community, should so far as humanly possible be outside the bounds of political bickering. The present Government, when in opposition, willingly participated in the work of the previous Committee and the passage of this motion will ensure the continuance of a bi-partisan approach to Aboriginal affairs. It will also enhance the expression of public support in the referendum of 1967 when the Federal Government, under the leadership of the late Harold Holt, was entrusted with the paramount responsibility to legislate for Aborigines throughout the country.
Since the appointment of the first Standing Committee in May 1973, 3 reports have been prepared and submitted on different aspects of Aboriginal life. The first of these- in 1974- was on the Present Conditions of the Yirrkala People in Northern Territory. This was concerned largely with the effects of bauxite mining on the Aboriginal people in the area but also dealt with health and education- other matters of direct and personal concern to the community. The second report, published last year, examined the health situation of Aboriginal communities in the Perth, Collie and Gnowangerup areas of Western Australia. The report also covered matters which closely related to health, such as nutritional deficiencies and alcoholism as well as housing and education.
The third and last report was on the effectiveness of special work projects sponsored by the Government through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. These projects aim to increase the participation of Aborigines in the work force, to provide on-the-job training for unskilled workers, and, importantly, to provide employment opportunities for Aborigines in areas where jobs are scarce. Many of these projects are supervised by local councils and have the double benefit of improving facilities through public works while providing jobs. All these reports have been most valuable to my Department. But I believe their greatest value has been in drawing to the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament actions which can be taken for the Aboriginal people in the closest consultation with them. The fact that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs is a broadly-based body, cutting through Party affiliations, lends weight to its findings and to its recommendations.
Aboriginal affairs is a subject on which most people, if not all people in Australia, have some opinion. It is a matter of importance to members of this Parliament. The present Government has acknowledged its responsibility to give new and refreshed meaning to the lives of the Aboriginal people of this country as well as a new sense of involvement in their future. The Committee proposed in this motion will assist in these objectives. Aboriginal Affairs is above all a sensitive issue. It is vital that Parliament be kept fully informed of what is happening in this field. This motion calling for the re-establishment of the Committee indicates the importance which this Government attaches to it.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
1 ) That a Joint Committee be appointed to-
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
– I move:
That the committee also consider and report on matters coming within the terms of section 5 of the Parliament Act 1 974 as may be referred to it-
That the committee consist of:
The Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House was established under the previous Parliament and began operating in the latter half of 1975. It has the essential function of acting for Parliament as the client during the planning, design and construction of the new Parliament House. This resolution re-establishes the Joint Standing Committee and will allow planning to proceed. It is most important that this Committee be reconstituted by the Parliament so that the impetus which has been generated towards getting the permanent Parliament House built is not lost. I believe there is a general acceptance by most members of the urgent need to relieve the accommodation problems in the present House.
From the Government’s point of view, the new Parliament House project is a long term one and will not involve high expenditure in the immediate future. Under the current program construction funds will not be needed until 1978-79 at the earliest for the commencement of site works. However, what will proceed with the reestablishment of the Joint Standing Committee is the important preliminary planning and design work which in a project of this size, requires a significant lead time. The only significant change to the resolution which established the previous Joint Standing Committee is the addition of paragraph 14 to allow the new Committee to use the evidence of the previous Committee.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19 February on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise to support the Bill to establish the Australia-Japan Foundation. The Bill itself has a unique history. It is the first legislation of the Fraser Government. It was the first legislative casualty of the coup d’etat. It was on the notice paper of 1 1 November in my name. I was to make the second reading speech that afternoon. The speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on 19 February was, at least in the specific references to the Foundation- in the choicest parts, in the purple passages- cast in the precise terms of my scheduled speech- my undelivered oration- of 11 November. Naturally I endorse the Bill, and I applaud the speech, at least those parts to which I have referred. On this occasion, bipartisanship is complete.
As I was about to say before I was interrupted 18 weeks ago, the purpose of the legislation is to set up the Australia-Japan Foundation as an independent statutory authority comprising a minimum of 5 and a maximum of IS members. It seeks to develop a structure which will foster a broader and more comprehensive understanding between Japan and Australia. The Foundation is a valuable contribution to an objective which my Government set for itself steadfastly, consistently and successfully- the strengthening of the relations between Australia and Japan, and the deepening of understanding between our two peoples. Japan is of course our principal trading partner, but the Foundation recognises that the relationship is, or should be, many-sided. There has tended to be a great imbalance in the nature of the relationship between Australia and Japan. The commercial connection has tended to be overwhelming, almost to the exclusion of cultural and social links.
The Bill arises from the events of 1 November 1974. On that day, Prime Minister Tanaka and I signed the Australia- Japan Cultural Agreement. Also on that day at a parliamentary luncheon in honour of Prime Minister Tanaka, I stressed the need for our two countries to establish a genuine and deep understanding of each other’s attitudes and cultures. I said:
For all the growth in co-operation of the past generation, for all the growing closeness in our relations in that time it must be said that all too often we look at each other with a stare of mutual incomprehension and mutual ignorance. It is therefore very important that we should create a framework within which well motivated and competent Australians and Japanese who wish to build understanding and goodwill between our two countries can operate more effectively. With this in mind we are proposing to establish a foundation as a vehicle to promote and foster a continuing program to build and widen mutual contacts at all levels- business, academic, cultural, scientific, trade unions. We all recognise our great community of interest, equally we have to recognise that there are great barriers- language, tradition, culture, distancein the way of making that community even closer and warmer. Let us begin to break those barriers down.
In a letter of 12 December 1974, 1 invited a committee comprising Mr Kenneth Myer, DSC, Professor E. S. Crawcour of the Australian National University, Mr Munro of my Department and Mr J. R. Rowland of the Department of Foreign Affairs, under the chairmanship of Sir John Crawford, to prepare a basic outline report on the arrangements needed to advance a wider spectrum of relations between the peoples of Australia and Japan through the establishment of a foundation or similar institution. In my letter I stated:
Extending beyond the range of the Cultural Agreement Mr Tanaka and I agreed that it was essential that Australia and Japan should increase the opportunities for the people of each country to come to know each other better and to understand more deeply the importance of each country to the other. We agreed accordingly that there should be further consultations on the arrangements needed in each country, and between them, to advance a wider spectrum of relations between the two peoples . . . Basically, I would like to see a concept developed which would give Australia a base in Japan for the range of contacts we wish to develop, with Japan, of course, having the option to base a counterpart operation in Australia. I envisage that such a concept would look to the eventual establishment of a joint Australia- Japan committee of management or foundation to advise policy for both governments.
On 2 March last year Sir John Crawford sent me the unanimous report of the Committee which I had asked to assemble. On 13 August last I stated in a Press statement announcing our decision to legislate during the next session of Parliament for the establishment of an AustraliaJapan Foundation that:
The Foundation will promote mutual visits by selected persons and also research and comparative studies in depth of a diverse range of topics embracing but not limited to the social institutions of the two countries, the social and natural sciences, industrial and creative arts and the humanities. Criteria for assistance by the Foundation will be based on the contribution proposals will make to knowledge of one country in the other, to filling key gaps in mutual understanding and to extending the scope for fruitful co-operation between Australians and Japanese in each country. Those receiving assistance will be competent persons who are already making a contribution to their own sphere of activity.
The present Bill stems therefore from initiatives which were taken in November 1974 and from the report of the Crawford Committee. I join in the tribute that the Prime Minister paid to Sir John Crawford in this regard. As in so many matters, he has shown himself to be one of the great Australians of our generation in administration, in academic life and in international affairs. I also share in the Prime Minister’s admiration for the work of our ambassador Mr Mick Shann in
Tokyo. With very long experience in the Department of Foreign Affairs and a most acute mind and engaging personality, he has devoted himself admirably to this task- a task which I had in mind when I appointed him to that post. I also think it appropriate to mention the former Japanese ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Kenzo Yoshida who throughout his period in Canberra- he was ambassador throughout the term of my Government- proved a good friend to Australia as he is a most distinguished servant of his own country.
Perhaps I might be forgiven for saying that I found it extraordinary, remarkable and unpalatable to note some statements made outside the House by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) implying that my Government neglected or downgraded relations with Japan. These are quite fallacious and gratuitous statements. The truth is that my Government placed our relations with Japan at the very forefront of our foreign policy. No government has been more active in promoting the mutual interests of the 2 countries, though certainly we never assumed that spokesmen for Japanese business interests were automatically the spokesmen for the Government and people of Japan. We worked to place and did place relations between Australia and Japan on a more assured and more mature basis than ever before.
Accordingly, I welcome the commitment in the Governor-General’s Speech, repeated in the Prime Minister’s second reading speech on this Bill, to the early completion of the treaty of friendship and co-operation which my Government was in the process of concluding with Japan. The delay in signing to which both speeches referred was the result of events before and after 1 1 November. One of the very earliest decisions I made after taking office in December 1972 was to reverse the attitude of previous Liberal-Country Party governments which had consistently rebuffed the Japanese wish to conclude with Australia, as Japan has concluded with so many other countries, a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation. That attitude had been reiterated as late as October 1972 at the first meeting of the Australia- Japan Ministerial Committee when the Australian delegation was led by the then and present Deputy Prime Minister.
Negotiations between Australian and Japanese officials had been carried on since October 1973 when Prime Minister Tanaka and I agreed in principle in Tokyo to the NipponAustralia Relations Agreement. The term
NARA was suggested by Prime Minister Tanaka himself, partly as an acronym and partly because of the historical significance of the city of Nara in the Japanese islands- the first permanent capital which was ever established by a government of Japan and a city which is the prime archeological as well as one of the prime historical sites in that country. The problems associated with those negotiations had largely come down to questions of definition of terms. My understanding is that there are now no matters of substance which cannot be swiftly resolved. A few days before the coup d’etat I had given instructions for the negotiations to be concluded forthwith. I can see no reason why the 2 Prime Ministers should not sign the treaty during the Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Japan later this year. Like this Foundation, that treaty will receive our full support. I take particular satisfaction in both. It is more important to be the father than the midwife.
The Opposition supports the Bill and, even more, its aims- the continuing and enduring strengthening of relations between Australia and Japan and their peoples.
– I take great pleasure on this occasion in being able to speak on a subject which for obvious reasons has achieved a considerable degree of unanimity on both sides of this chamber. Whether one wishes to be the father or the midwife, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) so eloquently pointed out, no doubt depends to some extent on the legality of the union. The honourable gentleman also said that in his view the position adopted by the present Government in relation to the activities of his Government with regard to Japan was less than straightforward. May I point out that while we may all agree on the obvious need to maintain a close and growing relationship with Japan, the philosophical approach adopted by various Ministers in his Government, in particular the former Minister for Minerals and Energy, leaves one to conclude beyond doubt that there could be no Japanese businessman today who had any dealings with Australia, in particular with the Australian Government, during the last 3 years who did not return to his land confused, on occasions berated, and with no doubt in his mind that the close relations which should have developed between our 2 nations had suffered fundamentally during those 3 years.
The Australia-Japan Foundation is another guidestone on the road to better relations between our 2 countries. Nevertheless the substance of our relationship is and will remain economic. This is easily illustrated by a few basic statistics. Japan is Australia’s largest export market and our third largest source of imports after the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In 1974-75, Australian exports to Japan reached $2,40 lm or 28 per cent of our total exports while imports from Japan had a value of $1,420 or 18 per cent of total imports. Thus in terms of the value of 2-way trade, Japan is Australia’s most important trading partner. Conversely, Australia is Japan’s second biggest trading partner in terms of total 2-way trade. Japan’s imports from Australia in 1974, represented 6.5 per cent of its total imports while 3.5 per cent of Japan’s exports were sent to Australia. We remain a major supplier to Japan of a wide range of industrial raw materials and agricultural products. We are currently Japan’s main source of iron ore, coking coal, alumina, bauxite, wool, sugar and meat.
Nevertheless the depth of the relationship must also develop on the human level. It is worth putting on record that in the last 30 years, since the conclusion of the Second World War, Australia’s attitude to Japan has improved markedly. From a state of complete and utter distrust when no Japanese representative of that Government could visit Australia without some fear and trepidation, we have developed to the point where it remains in the national interests of both countries that our officials and our peoples be encouraged to come closer together so that we can not only overcome the sad legacy of the past but also together, and only together, build in South East Asia and in the Pacific a region of peace and security for us all.’ I believe we have much to learn and the Japanese have much to teach us apart from their capacity to unite, to work together, to overcome their own common problems and by so doing improve the common good.
In the commercial field, for example, it is worth taking account of the famous Keidanren which is a federation of economic organisations. We do not have an equivalent in Australian but it is worth noting that this organisation, which is the Japanese Industrial Structure Council, is made up of some 20 committees which cover all facets and sections of the Japanese economic community. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which is equivalent more or less to the Australian Department of Overseas Trade with commerce and industry thrown in for good measure, never enters into international negotiations without the full support and cooperation of the Keidanren and the relevant Japanese industrial committee. Unfortunately for far too long Australian industry has tended to divide itself between companies, to allow our markets to be dissected and the prices which should be paid for our commodities to suffer from the fact that we are divided in our approach to the purchaser. This is a matter of considerable importance because for obvious reasons advantages can be gained by both sides to a negotiation if the Australian coal industry, for example, is able within its own organisation to come to an agreed price and with the support of the Australian Government then go into a negotiating role. There have been examples in the past of representatives of Japanese companies wishing to import Australian commodities going to every producer in an industry on the wise principle of dividing and ruling with the obvious result that Australia has often lost from those negotiations. I believe the Government’s policy today makes it quite clear that in future, along with Australian industry, we will work to ensure that we get a fair price for our commodities, while at the same time guaranteeing the Japanese and the other major importers of our commodities that they will have adequate access to Australia ‘s resources.
The Leader of the Opposition made a few references to areas in which there have been some difficulties with Japan in recent years. Of course one of the most notable of these is the question of Japanese beef imports. The Japanese Government imposed a ban on beef imports in January 1974 and that seriously affected Australia’s rural industry. The ban was not finally relaxed until June 1975 after Australia had used considerable diplomatic pressure on the Japanese to have the situation rectified.
– It is still not entirely relaxed.
-It is still not entirely relaxed. I thank the honourable member for that information. Australian tariff and quota policy is a matter which will probably always be a difficulty especially in dealings with an importer of raw materials who wishes to export to Australia the finished product. This field is both complex and difficult but it is an area which must be mentioned in this context.
Another subject which must be considered is our prices policy of exports to Japan. In 1974, in the wake of massive increases in the price of oil, the Department of Minerals and Energy tried directly to intervene in the process of negotiating prices for various Australian raw materials. Unfortunately it went too far and caused much confusion both in Australian and Japan. Another area of potential political contention is the question of foreign investment. By 1974 Australia accounted for only one per cent of Japan’s nonferrous metals investment abroad, compared with over a third in 1970 and nearly the same amount in 1971. Japan has expressed on many occasions its desire to become involved in various projects in Australia. It is prepared to do this on the basis of majority Australian ownership. All it asks is a degree of participation as it believes, not without reason, that through participation it is in a better position to guarantee its sources of raw material. There is no doubt that the possibility of Japan equity in some of these projects, notably coal mines in Queensland and iron ore projects in Western Australia, must be to Australia’s long term benefit, for today, as in the past, Australia suffers from real limitations in relation to our capacity to produce enough domestic capital to meet the enormous needs which we have in developing our significant resources. Unlike the previous government, we do not espouse a policy of leaving our resources in the ground. We believe they are there for the good of Australia, for all Australians and certainly for those who come after us. For example there is considerable doubt as to how long the world’s needs for uranium will exist. Many people presume that it will not be after the year 2000. Therefore there is a case for the development of Australia’s uranium resources as soon as possible because there is nothing so pointless as having a resource in the ground of little value.
The future of Australian and Japanese relations are fundamental to Australia’s economic development. A recent study by the Japanese Economic Research Centre forecast an annual growth rate of some 7 per cent. Many economists believe that is somewhat optimistic. Whether we accept a base of five or six per cent, the fact remains that this represents a significant expansion of the Japanese economy and hence, for countries like Australia, enormous opportunities for our exports. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) on his return from Japan pointed out several areas in which Australian exporters could expect considerable expansion in their trade with Japan. I should enumerate some of them. The first is natural gas from Australia’s North West Shelf. Enormous resources of finance will be required before that gets off the ground, but it can and must be done. The second is uranium, for which Japan will be a major market by 1985. I mention also coal and iron ore. Japan has been planning a 50 per cent increase in its steel production by 1980. Joint research and development of hydrogenation projects involving the conversion of coal to other forms of energy will also cost an enormous amount for research and technology progress. But together Japan and Australia can work to achieve these most important goals. Finally I mention our long term products, wool and wheat, which will always require the maintenance of a substantial export market.
The Deputy Prime Minister also envisaged a new phase in Australia’s trading relationship with Japan which we hope will be enshrined in a revised Japan-Australia trade agreement to be concluded in due course. The diplomatic symbol of this new relationship is the treaty of friendship and co-operation which was initiated by the previous Government, but it found to its cost that it was easier to talk in glib terms about such a treaty without examining in detail its full ramifications. The negotiations which have taken place between Australia and Japan for over 2 years are symptomatic of the fact that a treaty of substance between 2 major trading nations is not an easy thing to achieve. It is not just a question of sewing words together and hoping that they are sufficiently clear that future generations will not try to read into them what was not meant to be there in the first place. Our agreement must be one in which both parties are aware of the dotting of every ‘i’ and the crossing of every ‘t’.
Because of the linguistic difficulties between Japan and Australia it is even more important that our agreement be fully understood by all parties before it is signed. For that reason I applaud the fact that neither Government has been prepared to force Australia into an agreement of such enormous importance until we are fully convinced that Australia and Japan will both benefit in their own way from the conclusion of such a treaty. It may well be that Australia- Japan relations are about to enter upon the new phase, referred to by the Deputy Prime Minister. However, it is quite probable that there will be changes in the overall framework of the relationship between the 2 countries. Although we share common interests- we are both rich, industrialised, democratic and relatively, in the case of Australia, underdeveloped- we will have our disagreements. We will not necessarily see events in our part of the world from the same viewpoint. The relationship which Japan will build between the Soviet Union on the one hand and China on the other could cause tensions. Australia must watch the position with great caution and make sure that our point of view is always made quite clear to the Japanese, because in the long term it will be upon Japan’s economic shoulders that the ultimate development especially of South East Asia and the Pacific must depend.
There are many nations in South East Asia today which suffered greatly from the Japanese during the Second World War and from what they see as her economic colonialism today. Japan does not hold in South East Asia a reputation as good as that of Australia. Therefore this is another facet to our relationship. We must encourage Japan to change its commercial attitudes so that its position in South East Asia will be enhanced. Through the acceptance of Japan’s position in our part of the world Australia’s interests will also be met. These are matters of considerable subtlety. They are very difficult problems to solve and they will require a considerable diplomatic effort on the part of Australia.
I believe that the Foundation about which we are debating will remain as a living testimony of the work of men like our Australian Ambassador, Mr Mick Shann, the previous Japanese Ambassador to Australia, Mr Yoshida and the many other Japanese and Australians who are convinced that the overall development of our 2 countries will require that we pass from an entirely economic relationship to one of more human depth. Through this Foundation we must build a structure not dissimilar to the famous Churchill Fellowships which have helped so many Australians to travel and improve their understanding of other people, their problems and achievements.
The Japanese are an island people. Island people are said to have some strange characteristics. For example, the British were said to believe that God must be an Anglo-Saxon. We know that God is neither an Anglo-Saxon nor Japanese. The similarities in the history and attitude adopted by both the British and Japanese deserve very serious examination. Many of us are the descendants of an island people and we now inhabit the largest island in the world. We need to show Australia to the Japanese as a nation which appreciates their problems and achievements but which expects in return to receive from the Japanese a similar effort to bring our 2 nations closer together. The bonds are significant in economic terms but they have a long way to go before they build up a substantive human element.
Australians have done much in recent years. We had an inter-departmental committee on Japan, the Australian-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, the Pacific Basin Economic Council, the Australian- Japan Ministerial Committee, the Cultural Agreement and now the Australian-Japan Foundation. Australia has done its fair share to bring our 2 nations together.
Let us make sure that in this Parliament the bipartisan spirit for the development of the relations between our 2 countries will grow even stronger in the years ahead.
– I listened with great interest to the remarks of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) who has just resumed his seat. Anyone who was not informed might infer that the former Labor Government never existed or that it did not inherit a chaotic situation in relation to the minerals export industry to Japan. I repeat that the Labor Government found sheer unadulterated chaos. In the mining industry and particularly in coal and iron ore it found internal divisiveness in each of the States. Equally it found divisiveness and competition between the States. The Labor Government organised and introduced a fundamental principle, that there should be the maximum Australian ownership and control of Australian resources. One thing which the honourable member has conveniently overlooked is that the Japanese have a better appreciation today than ever before of Australia as a result of the activities of the recent Labor Government.
The Japanese respect 2 things above all others: One is strength and the other is integrity. They know that Australia has both, and particularly under a Labor administration. To the letter we approached them on this basis- of willing sellers dealing with willing buyers, of mutual complementarity on both sides with each dependent on and vitally interested in the other. The Japanese responded. I have the credit for negotiating the biggest single commercial transaction with them. That was for the arrangement I entered into with the Nippon Steel Corporation and its Chairman of Directors, Mr Inayama That has been glossed over. When the Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony) went to Japan he was told that that was what the Japanese adhered to, and there were very good reasons for it. For the first time a government in Australia knew, understood and exercised a benign but effective supervision over the minerals export industry. I repeat that it was a benign supervision but it was an effective one. For the first time an Australian administration was fully informed as to all the vagaries, all the complexities and the inner costs of mineral production in Australia. That information is available to this day, the propaganda of the current Government notwithstanding.
I want to refer the House to an editorial of the Sydney Morning Herald of 6 February last when it was clearly indicated to the Minister for Overseas Trade, who was then in the process of going to Japan to do a little trading of coal in particular and meat, that he might well take a leaf out of the book of the Labor Administration which had done well. The Labor Government found when it came into office that the average export price of hard coking coal to Japan was about $ 1 1 per ton. When it left office the price was over $38. More than that, in the arrangement which I entered into with Mr Inayama, we laid the basis for a soft coking coal trade. We also established the various categories and qualities of Australian coal. Each section of the industry knew precisely where it stood. Each section of the industry knew what its obligations were. More than that, the Japanese knew that a Labor administration and a Labor Minister would provide and back up the necessary supervision to ensure that the contracts were entered into. Today what do we find? We find what one might term a knee-jerk laissezfaire reaction on the part of this Government to anything that the Labor Administration introduced. It seeks to minimise for its own stupid, petty, foolish reasons the achievements of a Labor Administration instead of building on them and carrying them on. Our trade and our relations with Japan are too important to be transcended by the vagaries and the vicissitudes and the venom of Liberal-Country Party politics as displayed in this House.
When I go to Japan and read the English language Press there I hang my head in shame as an Australian to see the standard of literacy of the Japanese, their economic competence, their breadth of economic analysis, the sheer patriotism of those people, their efficiency, their ability to lift themselves up literally by their economic bootstraps- because in natural resources they have very little. I found there a very deep goodwill, a very great reservoir of goodwill for Australia, and it dated back to the days before World War I. Many of the people who were in Australia then in connection with the JapaneseAustralian wool trade had the happiest recollections of Australia. It is a fund of goodwill that is there to this day.
There is a new Japan. The young people in Japan today know nothing, and even the middleaged people know practically nothing, of World War II. They have the same social problems, and their new generations have much the same outlook, as the generations in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere. Those people have a real respect for Australia. They have a respect for this country because they know that just as British integrity- the word of an Englishman- was the binding word of many a deal in Asia in the days before World War II, it is the word of an Australian today that counts. There should be no low posture on our part, nor was there under a Labor government; there was a tolerance and a basis of equality on both sides. Between us, Australia and Japan, we are capable of literally ruling and if necessary dominating the economies of the eastern Pacific Ocean and the whole of the Indian Ocean areas because we are the only two advanced countries in this region. What Japan has in technology, in sheer competence, m engineering, in every branch of science we can back up with the necessary raw materials and in turn we can profit by the adoption of a considerable amount of Japan’s technology.
There are points on which I would disagree with the previous speaker, the honourable member for Bradfield. One of them in particular is this: Just as the Japanese want to do business in Japan in Japanese ways so should we also in Australia want to do business in Australian ways. I have never accepted the principle that there ought to be a 10 per cent interest in any mining undertaking. After all, whilst they are our trading partners, they are quite competent to look after themselves, and more, and an interest of even 10 per cent denotes a corresponding entitlement to representation on boards of directors. Frankly, I have no greater desire to have Japanese directors on our company boards than they would have for counterpart Australian representation on their boards. This is fundamental.
I have noted- and disagreed with- the tendency for certain trading elements in Japan these days to put as a basic proposition that we should sell to them at predetermined cost plus a reasonable mark-up. We are not entitled to just a reasonable mark-up, but we are entitled to a proper mark-up and we are entitled to the world parity, and that is precisely what we have got and that is precisely what we ought to continue to get. In terms of the approach of the present coalition Government to Japan, let me revert to the celebrated Premier of Queensland and his truculence no cattle sales, no meat sales, no coal. Crazy! All right, there is a refinement at that approach, and it did not work in the case of Mr Anthony’s visit. I regret that he was not able to do better in that field, but I do object in the strongest possible terms to the trading off of coal against beef. They are separate commodities. They have a separate pricing structure. There should be separate viewpoints.
With regard to the future between the 2 countries, Australia and Japan, the arrangement that I had with Mr Inayama and Nippon Steel was this: I quite deliberately, over the term of 3 years when I held the responsibility, assured them that their basic policy of not putting all their trading eggs in the one basket was fundamentally wrong. Australia, for instance, provides approximately 45 per cent of Japan’s coking coal requirements and a similar proportion of its iron ore requirements, but 25 per cent comes from the east coast of the United States. When I went to Japan last July I found that the Japanese were being screwed by the United States coal producers and let down in terms of contract fulfilment. In that Japanese fiscal year the United States was able to meet only 35 per cent of its total contractual obligations. It was also restricted in what it could produce and its production was being seriously limited in respect of open cut mining, by the objections of United States conservationists. The United States was selling at spot sale prices- therefore at the highest possible prices- to Europe. If you want to get down to the stark economic fundamentals of relationships between Australia and Japan, consider the Pacific Ocean as virtually a closed lake. Within it we have a distinct competitive trading advantage. The haul for iron ore, for example, from Western Australia to Japan is very much shorter than the haul from Brazil. From time to time I read articles by idiots- I use that word advisedly- within the Australian Press speaking in terms of the competitive advantage of friable Brazil. Brazilian iron ore happens to be friable. Apart from its competitive disadvantage in respect of freight it also in the sizing process as a blast furnace feed produces an excess of iron ore dust which in turn has to be aggregated at considerable cost by a sintering process. Honourable members can see the fundamental difference between the products of the 2 countries. I pointed these facts out clearly to the Japanese but at the same time I said: ‘We know the exact position; do not try to tell us anything different. At the same time we do not intend to screw you. We want a fair thing.’
In respect of coal there are even greater advantages both in the haul and in our ability to meet contractual commitments, and above all - this is one thing that is of vital importance to Japan- there is a very low sulphur content in Australian coking coal. The market that Mr Anthony claimed he had established for steaming coal had already been established by a Labor Administration. It is a future market; not a present one. At the present time the Japanese have yet to decide finally on the 2 areas where they will locate their coal-fired steaming plants for the generation of electricity, and even when they do this they will be looking for a very different coal type from that which comes from the open cut areas.
The Japanese also have a particular interest in the Walloon coal from the Darling Downs area. If anyone takes the trouble to look at the map of mining leases that have been granted by a feckless government in Queensland they will find that there are representatives in that area, either by name or by subsidiary, of practically every one of the major oil companies which now call themselves major energy companies. At present the Japanese are seeking- I do not blame them for trying- to import that coal which happens to have about a 7½ per cent hydrogen content. It is the nearest thing we have in Australia to a suitable coal type for the purposes of liquefaction by hydrogenation. The Japanese want it for an entirely different purpose. Their existing power generating plants were designed for the burning of fuel oil. It is very difficult to install a coal-fired fire box in a plant of that type but it is very easy to feed in a gas and the Japanese want to take that coal, gasify it and then feed the gas in as a fuel in substitution for the crude oil. I do not blame them for trying but my attitude is, and I put the challenge strongly to this Government, that if we are to have a future for coal hydrogenation in Australia and to supplement, in the final crunch, our liquid fuel reserves, that Walloon coal in the Darling Downs- it runs in an area north-east from Toowoomba for a distance of about 300 miles, not in seams but in what are termed pods by the coal people- needs to be kept for that purpose. I warn the Government that it will betray Australia’s best interests if it allows any of that coal to be exported. I was not prepared to do so. After all, Mr Anthony is a new boy at school and I do not mind giving him a few lessons without being patronising.
Mr Anthony needs to learn also that it does not follow that hard coking coal will be the final blast furnace feed for the Japanese steel mills because at present there are very advanced experiments in the development of formed coke which the Japanese will definitely turn to for that purpose. Hence their great interest in the coal loading amplification that is now taking place in Newcastle harbour. After all, they will be able to get that coal for about US$12 per tonne less and I do not blame them for using it. These are the factors that have to be considered. If the present Government wants to go on and big-note itself or pretend that it is, it can do so. But there are hard realities that need to be fully examined and that will not be done by merely playing politics and above all by the mere reversal of prejudices which seems to be the best of which this Government is capable.
It must also be understood that the Japanese people work by consensus and there is no immediate acceptance of any proposition. It will be discussed fully and exhaustively at all levels but when a decision is made it is worth getting because they will adhere to it. As I see the future in a world that is breaking up, that is entering another trade war and is forming into different and rival economic blocs, we, together with Japan, have a tremendous advantage in the economic bloc of the Indian and east Pacific Oceans. Naturally I support the measure. When the debate commenced I expected that it would have been conducted in a different fashion but in view of the comment of the previous speaker I felt that he should be replied to and cut down to size.
-I will be delighted to return to the contents of this Bill because I think the contents alone are sufficient to occupy the full time of the House. Matters of trade have been of great importance in the relationship between Australia and Japan. At this stage if I could offer some advice to the Deputy Prime Minister ( Mr Anthony) it would be that he go nowhere seeking lessons on how he should conduct himself. Having been in Japan at the same time as the Deputy Prime Minister I found that the response of Government officials, Ministers and businessmen to his commonsense approach to the difficulties of trade between the 2 countries was overwhelming. The basis of past relationships has been related solely to trade and economics. I note that the 2 previous speakers spent the majority of their time on the areas of trade and economic relationships; and rightly so in the present day context.
The areas where we have the greatest interest with Japan have been mentioned- our great primary products and our mining industry. We have a complementary nature that the 2 countries share by sheer circumstance. This complementary nature will work eventually, and has worked, to the benefit of both. However, the measure before us highlights the shortcomings of the relationships between Australia and Japan and rightly should this be termed the AustraliaJapan Foundation. The key points of the Bill touch the shortcomings that have occurred over the number of years in which we have traded together. The problems of culture and language and the difference in history have not been properly assessed or considered by our 2 nations. There have been some attempts but in no way has there been a concerted effort to look at the difficulties arising from the differences of background, religious understanding, religious belief, cultural practice and, of course, the overriding and extreme difficulty of language and the written word.
The practice within the Department of Foreign Affairs has previously been that career diplomats, having learned Japanese and having spent some time in that country, will often move elsewhere in the world and that is their last contact with that country in their career. To me that is a tragic waste of expertise. I understand that this is now being remedied and that career diplomats will be posted to Japan perhaps for a period of 6 years, moved away and later transferred into an area where they may have an association with Japan and the Japanese people. The skills and understanding acquired by a stint of service within Japan are hard-acquired attributes that should not be wasted as they have been wasted previously.
We need to understand the Japanese legal system and what is meant by a contract in Japanese terms. We have heard much talk of contracts, of honouring our word and the written law, but the Japanese concept of a contract and its legal terms is not of our understanding, and the application of legal minds to a correct and true relationship of contracts is of vital importance to our trade. Too often Australian businessmen have found, when signing a contract, that their concept of what is entailed in that contract is binding on them. Under our legal system, this is so. To a Japanese businessman that may not be so. The Japanese businessman tends to look on a contract as a guideline. It is binding. He trusts the person with whom he deals. It is a binding provision but one in which there is room to move. I mention to the House the difficulties at present faced by the sugar industry where variations in contracts are being sought. If they are varied, in our terms they are broken. Perhaps, by goodwill and understanding, contracts can be varied in such a way that at a later date we recoup any advantage that may be given away at this stage. Negotiation cannot be on a hard and fast basis; it must be, I think, on a basis of understanding the complementary and different legal systems.
Trade requirements and specifications, how ordering takes place, the demands of particular industries, the understanding of consumer demand, the understanding of the requirements of a housewife or family in relation to goods from
Australia, are of key importance and the Foundation seeks to establish contacts in those areasforeign affairs, language, culture, history, contracts in the legal system, trade requirements and understanding between business. I am sure that the presence in Australia of Mr Okawara, the new Japanese Ambassador to Australia, will lend greatly to understanding between the two nations. He is, I understand, an outstanding diplomat. He was formerly posted to Washington. He is considered by Japanese diplomats as one of their most outstanding men. The purposes of the Foundation were referred to in the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) when he introduced the Bill. He said that the Foundation seeks to develop a structure which would foster a broader and more comprehensive understanding between Japan and Australia. He said:
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 AsianPacific 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.
In that speech the Prime Minister linked the Foundation and the setting up of the Foundation with the work done by Sir John Crawford and the Crawford committee which was appointed by the previous Prime Minister to examine this matter. The Crawford committee drew out very salient and relevant points in what it felt should be the scope and sphere of operation of the. Foundation. In part it drew attention to the extent and depth of economic relations between Australia and Japan, and to the difficulties that were posed in moving understanding to other areas. The committee felt that there was need to move to other areas and not to confine our interests necessarily to self-interest on either side. The committee suggested that there be appointed in Australia a council of 15 members serving in a personal capacity, drawn from the key elements in Australia, to give a wide basis to the council. The committee also suggested that the council be representative of the community. The committee felt that it was possible perhaps to give the council that would operate the Foundation as much stature as possible in Japanese as well as Australian eyes. The committee felt also that financial support of the Foundation should be encouraged from non-government sources. The committee further felt that it would be most desirable to define at an early stage that there be no conflict or difficulty because of other treaties. The area of interest of this Foundation relates to cultural agreements or trade agreements. The committee felt that there should not be conflict or crossing of purposes.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) referred to the vast number of foundations, committees or councils of this type relating to Australia and Japan. I think the core of this matter is that none of them should be duplicated but that this Foundation should seek to go more widely and more deeply than anything that has previously been undertaken. The proposal that it be something like the Churchill Fellowship is something that I commend. Honourable members will obviously be aware of the fine reputation of the Churchill Fellowship. People from all walks of life benefit from the Churchill Fellowships. Recipients of a Fellowship of necessity make reports on their return and bring back information which is provided to the community at large and not retained for a personal interest or for personal satisfaction. I think the committee suggested that the Foundation act as an advisory body to the Government on matters of cultural importance. It could allow, I would suggest, a way of exchange between government employees, such as parliamentary staff. It could also allow for an exchange between sports coaches, trade union officials, farmers and journalists. There is hardly any area of human activity in which this Foundation could not be active in seeking understanding and goodwill. I refer to areas such as the arts, education, science, economics, law or politics. Some of these areas I have already mentioned. There could be every kind of social and intellectual interchange conducted on the basis of promoting mutual respect and the mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas between Australia and Japan.
To some extent, that is a summary of what was proposed by the Crawford committee. The Bill, as we see it, completely incorporates those provisions and the advice given to the Government by the Crawford committee. The suggestions made by the committee have been incorporated, without exception, in the Bill. I refer the House to clause 5(2), which states:
If the Minister so requests, the Foundation shall furnish him with advice concerning any specified matter falling within the scope of the functions of the Foundation.
Clause 5(1) gives as one of the functions of the Foundation:
Line after line we find incorporated in the Bill the exact proposals of the Crawford committee. Reading the Crawford committee’s recommendations, it is not possible to let one’s mind to dwell on the vast scope and range of expertise which was applied by that committee to the establishment of the Foundation without in some way being referred back to the concepts and the deep understanding for an initiative- something that is relative and important but something that is practical- that were brought forward by the present Australian Ambassador to Japan, Mr Shann. In early days these measures to establish a foundation were termed by some people as grandiloquent gestures. People in high positions in the Department used those terms. Nevertheless, Mr Shann ‘s proposition has been incorporated in the legislation from which Australians and Japanese will draw great benefit.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has spoken in this debate. He has shown great interest in the matter. I think his understanding, with that of Mr Shann, was probably the key link, but it needed somebody to be the midwife. I am afraid it would have been a prolonged pregnancy if there had not been that understanding. It seems that for reasons of red tape and because of difficulties in relation to interdepartmental considerations this matter was delayed for some time. The delay indicates no lack of interest on the part of the then Government but a lack of capacity in administration which was evident in many fields other than this. I fear that in his interest and personal attribute of attempting to understand and delve into the minds, the culture, the history and the background of the Japanese the former Prime Minister was over-weighed and misled by the activities of other Ministers. We heard one of those Ministers speaking just a short while ago. It would seem to me, after having discussions with the Japanese, that the important thing to do when doing business is to understand what a contract is about, to understand something of the culture and the nature of the Japanese people. That seems to me to be vital. But once having made a decision one should abide by that decision so that one achieves the respect of those people with whom one seeks to negotiate.
I have said something of the current difficulties of the sugar industry. The salt industry has undergone similar problems. Only by firm action can these problems be resolved. There is no need for an academic approach, as expressed by the former Prime Minister. Neither is there a need for elephantine activity, as was demonstrated by the previous Minister for Minerals and Energy. There is a need to be firm and a need to understand. Fortunately the activities in Japan, of the previous Minister, whilst damaging to some extent, are not irreparable. I think we have now moved to the stage where there is true and proper understanding, where departments and people with expertise within our embassies and on our consular staff can exchange ideas knowing that they will flow to the Minister, that the Minister will perceive the value of those comments and act upon them. There is no way that a nationalism, expressed by way of resources diplomacy, is of any great value to any nation in the world. We have seen the Arab nations express to some extent diplomacy of resources. The fearful circumstances of that soon became obvious to the world. I put it to the House that part of the reason for the previous catastrophe between ourselves and the Japanese people was a denial of resources. I think that if one starts to get into the area of resources diplomacy one will reap the whirlwind. I think that whilst the former Minister did not reap the whirlwind, he was not in that position sufficiently long for the whirlwind to build up. It was a fortunate thing for both countries.
The support of private enterprise for the proposal to establish the Foundation is something that I would like to stress. I hope that those businesses and enterprises which have an interest in Japan will strongly support the Foundation by benefit of gift or contribution so that they, their employees or future generations can benefit. Since the foundation of our understanding started with the economy and with trade between our nations, it seems an obligation almost that private enterprise and business should be involved in the Foundation. It is a wider thing, a deeper thing, but the benefits will also be wide and deep. I cannot stress too strongly my feeling that business of Australia has in some way a debt to play a part in achieving future understanding and the future security of the relationship between our 2 nations. If business can permit itself to be involved I think the benefits will indeed be great.
The establishment of the Foundation is probably the forerunner to further acts which will consolidate our relationship with Japan. The former Minister touched on the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation, the so called former Treaty of Nara. I trust that that Treaty will be developed and signed shortly. It too was delayed by lack of will to press it forward. No one denies that it is a difficult measure, but the lack of will was the reason for its delay. It is an umbrella treaty and there are many areas of complication. The inference for Australia and Japan is far reaching. There is significance in the fact that it expresses an intention. But an intention in these circumstances must be expressed in fact at a later stage, such as the upgrading of the trade agreement between the 2 countries which was last written in 1957.
As I have said, this measure has been described as a ‘grandiloquent gesture’, but I think the travailling conflict of the past has dissolved through necessity and that the future for our 2 countries holds a prospect for mutual benefit and understanding. It is by measures such as this and the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation that depth is given to such a relationship.
-It is inevitable when we have a debate about Australia and Japan that there should be discussion about purely economic matters. They seem to occupy the minds of most people. The Australia-Japan Foundation Bill which is before the House- I am very pleased to see that the new Government acted so quickly on the Bill that was drafted by the previous Labor Government and brought the matter forward for discussionraises other questions of the relationship between 2 peoples, particular cultural relationships. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) in moving into that area mentioned the difference in understanding between our 2 peoples of such a simple thing as a contract. To us it is a simple thing. Then the honourable member set about saying- I do not think I have taken his words down correctly, but he seemed to suggest this- that the previous Minister for Minerals and Energy, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), was not very well accepted in Japan, was a bit bumble-footed and a bit elephantine. I think they were the words he used, giving the impression that the honourable gentleman did not understand the Japanese psychology in trade. It was my understanding when I was in Japan and when I spoke to people in Japan- people who have lived there for many years, people who are occidentals and who claim to understand the oriental mind- that the honourable gentleman was held in very high regard in his negotiations with the people of Japan.
It is my firm belief, having watched them in action, that the Japanese business people are very astute business people in that sense. I think that the so-called captains of industry in Australia appear to be something like a kindergarten class when they come up against the Japanese businessmen. They are manoeuvred at every turn of the wheel and they do not have the capacity to deal with the Japanese people on an equal level. The Japanese, to use a colloquialism, in fact play them on a break in every deal that is made. But there was a slightly different attitude towards the honourable member for Cunningham, because in the first instance he went to Japan not to make any sharp deals or anything like that but to look after the interests of our Australian heritage, our natural resources. He had seen enough of previous governments trading away the natural resources of Australia at bargain basement prices and was determined to redress that situation. Indeed, in the 3 years that he was Minister he in fact did that.
I think the House will recall the occasion when the smart miners in this country, in writing their contracts for the export of minerals, made an error of judgment and wrote their contracts in American dollars. When the Australian dollar was revalued they did not know how to get out of the situation. It was the honourable member for Cunningham who approached the buyers of our minerals and sought renegotiation of the contracts. So the smart captains of industry in Australia got themselves hoist on their own petard. It was only the elephantine efforts, if one likes to use that phrase, of the Minister for Minerals and Energy at that time which saved those people from financial disaster.
The honesty of the Japanese people is incredible and something really to see. I well remember an occasion in a very crowded store in Kyoto when I was buying films which at that time were priced at 1,000 yen each, which is roughly SA2.50. In my haste I gave the girl a 1,000 yen note and a 10,000 yen note, believing that I had given her two 1,000 yen notes, and I walked away. In fact she had received one note worth $A2.50 and another worth $A25. 1 had paid, or was prepared to pay, $A27.50 for 2 films which apparently were worth $A5. But she chased after me out of the store and into the street and insisted that I accept the change from the 10,000 note which I had given to her. I do not want to cast aspersions on any shop assistant in any country but I would be surprised if a shop assistant in another country in similar circumstances pursued somebody half way round the town to ensure that change was given to him when that person was quite happy with the transaction that had been carried out. This is indicative of the honesty I found amongst the Japanese peoplefrom this little girl working in a store, operating a cash register, all the way up the line to those who were arranging deals of international magnitude.
This is something which is not generally understood by the Australian people. I find when speaking to people in my own country that there are many misconceptions about the Japanese people. There seems to be an aura of mystery about the Japanese language. Of course it is a difficult language but to Australian people any other language is difficult, including Queenslandese. The difficulty with Japanese is magnified by the fact that it is not written in Roman characters. I suppose that that is a difficulty but it is not an insurmountable one provided people are prepared to sit down and look at it. There is a great deal of misunderstanding and misconception by the Australian people about the people of Japan. This is reciprocated by the Japanese people, who have a very limited knowledge of our country. We are at opposite ends of a trading route, at opposite ends of the eastern Pacific area, yet there is very little intercourse between the 2 countries except at the trade and commercial level. There is no wholesale movement of Australian tourists to Japan or vice versa. I understand from the Bill that the Foundation is to be charged with the responsibility of making sure that closer relationships are developed.
I have 2 minds about the need for a Foundation. I recognise and fully understand the need for it but it strikes me as very strange that a government, the Australian Government- and the Government should be congratulated on its initiative even though it is taking up a measure introduced by the previous Government- should set up a Foundation to encourage trade, intercourse and cultural relations between 2 peoples. Australian people are quite noted for their capacity to travel to other places, and for the way that they do travel, but seldom do they travel north along the route to Japan. Australians generally drop off at what they consider more exotic places such as Singapore and Hong Kong. I do not know that we can coerce people into engaging in cultural exchanges. I do not think that is the intention of the Bill, anyhow. I think the intention of the Bill is to provide a centre or a font from which information can be disseminated about the people of Japan and about their cultures. I am afraid there still are a lot of Australian people who caricature the Japanese culture as being that of the geisha house, mixed bathing, sukiyaki and the Datsun motor car. I am pretty sure that the Japanese caricature Australian culture as being based on the meat pie, tomato sauce and Australian Rules football. We all know that that is not the culture of Australia and our own intelligence should tell us that the Japanese culture is much deeper than those superficial things. There is a limited amount of information available in Australia about the real Japan and perhaps the Foundation will overcome this situation. Perhaps the Foundation will set up resource centres where information can be disseminated to the community.
I found the Japanese people to be remarkable, considering the work they have done in their islands and the fact that Japan has no real natural resources. Japan had no raw materials with which to build its freeways, bridges, underground railways and to do many other things that have been done in that country. The raw materials were imported and processed and then these things were manufactured or erected. The Australian transport authorities could well learn from Japan’s underground rail system. It runs a train every 2 minutes in Tokyo and the system covers every part of the city. After 5 minutes study of a chart the system can be used by any dumb foreigner such as 1. 1 managed not to get lost on the Japanese rail system. I travelled all over the city on it. It was quite a magnificant arrangement. Everything was colour coded so that I did not have to understand the language. All the stations are spaced out and all I had to do in order to find out where I got out of the train was to count the stations. There was not even confusion about how much I should pay for a ticket. Tickets are issued automatically from machines. I just pumped coins into a machine and it pumped the tickets out for me. The railway that runs some 300 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto is fully computerised, and trains run every 20 minutes. I cannot get that sort of service from the Victorian railways at Broadmeadows and that is only 9 miles from Melbourne.
– If we had their machines we would be right. We do not have them. They are going to put in ticket machines.
-Ticket machines would be a big help but the service is more important. That sort of information should be disseminated generally among the Australian people. Australians should be encouraged to visit Japan and Japanese should be encouraged to visit Australia, just as they move westward across the ocean to Hawaii and the United States of America in large numbers. That in itself would bring about a greater understanding.
I am very much afraid that prejudices still exist in Australia- I am not so sure that they exist to such an extent in Japan- following events that occurred over 30 years ago. Those events are still remembered and, unfortunately, still spoken of. It is better that they be forgotten now than that they should continue to be a barrier between 2 people living in a region, one of them occidental in origin and the other oriental. We have to continue to live in this region and to trade with one another. There will never be successful trade treaties unless there is understanding by one of the psychology of the other. So long as there is some form of distrust between the 2 peoples there will continue to be conflict.
I am not so sure that the resources of this country can be left in the hands of individuals. I do not agree at all with that proposition. I think the development of the natural resources of this country is a matter for the Government of this country. I speak not of the separate State governments but of the Australian Government, the national Government. Negotiations that take place to dispose of or sell those resources should be conducted at government to government level, not at individual to individual level. That applies to the minerals of this country, such as coal, and our primary products.
It is not my intention to take up the full time available to me. I welcome this Bill. I have some regrets that it was not brought in much earlier. That is always the case with somebody who believes in something and finally sees it come about However, the Bill is here now and it is assured of a speedy passage through this House and the other place as there is no opposition to it. The measure was proposed by the previous Government and therefore the Labor Party has no objection to it. This Government has introduced it and it has no trouble in getting Bills passed through this House or the other place. It is quite clear that the Bill will not be delayed. I believe that the sooner the Foundation is set up, the sooner it will function and the sooner will the benefits become apparent to both the Australian and the Japanese peoples. I commend the Bill.
-I wish to be associated with the Australia- Japan Foundation Bill because I believe the Foundation will be important in maintaining and developing good relations between our 2 countries. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) referred in his second reading speech when introducing the Bill to the 1957 trade agreement between Australia and Japan. He referred to that agreement as being a bold and historic step, a statement with which I would agree. One of the major movers for that trade agreement was my predecessor in the seat of Murray, Sir John McEwen. I believe that the Australia-Japan trade agreement at that time was one of the great achievements of that great Australian, Sir John McEwen, an achievement of national and international significance. I would place with that achievement 2 other things that he achieved for this nation and for the world. One was the international commodity agreement for quite a range of goods, to bring some stability, for at least a period of time, in some markets and to include better food aid provisions in foreign aid arrangements.
I believe that in these international commodity agreements, which included food aid conventions, he for the first time encouraged wealthy nations that may be food importers rather than food exporters to share some of the burden of foreign food aid. I believe as a result of that, at that time at least and for some years afterwards, there was a better basis and arrangement for food aid for underdeveloped countries than exists at present. The report of the committee on the proposed Australia-Japan Foundation, which is referred to as the Crawford report after its Chairman, came out in February 1975. As a matter of coincidence, in one of today’s newspapers it is reported:
Australia- Japan report timed to the minute.
Sir John Crawford, Chancellor of the Australian National University, and Dr Saburo Okita, chairman of the Japan Economic Research Centre, are to present to their governments the same historic report on the 2 countries’ relations at the same time. The weighty document took 3 years to produce and involved ISO economists.
The article contains more information and states that the report will be released on 28 April. I think as a matter of coincidence that this points to the role that Sir John Crawford has played in establishing a greater understanding between our 2 countries. The purposes of the Foundation are clearly stated in the Bill. Basically they are to promote study of each country’s language, culture, traditions, geography, etc and to encourage visits between the 2 countries by various groups of people. The general points of the legislation have been canvassed and I would agree with those general points.
I want just briefly to refer to some specific points concerning the importance of a rural input to the Foundation. I believe that it is most important for the future of our 2 countries that the rural sectors of both countries get to know each other better. As the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) mentioned in his speech, the basis of Australia-Japan relations at present is economic. He went on to state that Japan is our major market and we are Japan’s third major market. Rural exports from Australia are very significant in the commodities traded between the 2 countries. When one looks at some of the activities in Japan in considering whether certain trade will be allowed one realises that rural politics is of considerable importance. One can say that both in the Liberal Democratic Party Government of Japan and in this Government there is a weighty rural voice which will, to a certain extent, modify and change the policies and the attitudes of the Governments to each other. Because of this I believe it is most important that the rural industry organisations, rural politicians and rural people generally in each of these countries get to understand each other’s problems and attitudes better.
It is the hope of rural Australians that Japan will, if it has not already- it certainly has not to the extent that we would have hoped- replace Britain as the major market for so many of our products. In the last week a group of 23 Japanese farmers was in Australia. I think that is the sort of thing that is important from a rural point of view. I believe the leaders of our State and national farmers’ organisations and commodity organisations should be spending more time in Japan. Perhaps of more importance than this is that their Japanese counterparts should be spending more time in Australia because of the complicationssometimes unnecessary complicationsthat can arise in our attitudes to each other because of this lack of understanding.
I should like to give one example of this. As the honourable member for Bradfield mentioned, the Japanese shut the door on our beef exports to that country in January 1974. There was a build-up of stocks of beef in Japan. The rural lobby is also very important in the Japanese political situation. There are quite a large number of Japanese beef farmers even if the number of cattle they have is not large. As a result of this Japan has introduced the LIPC- I think it is called the Livestock Improvement Promotion Corporation- which has I believe the general effect of forcing an artifically low price for beef in Australia for producers as opposed to an artifically high price for that same beef when it is sold to the consumer in Japan. It also breaks the even flow of the beef. The difference is pocketed in Japan. The Corporation also restricts the flow or the possibility of sale of chilled beef to Japan. This was a most important aspect of the beef trade we were developing.
I think credit is due to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) because on this trip to Japan, as well as getting some greater flexibility in quotas, he was able to obtain some concessions on chilled beef. Surely there is an alternative way of safeguarding the interests and the rights of the Japanese beef producer. I recognise that he has these rights. But surely they do not have to be at the expense of the Australian beef producer who is not able to obtain a fair market price for his product which is later sold at an artifically high price. This raises the question of the use of the
British deficiency payments system at the Japanese end to assist Japan without hurting us. That is just one example. One could go on dealing with quite a range of other products just in the rural sector apart from the mineral sector and all the other sectors of our trade between the 2 countries. No doubt Japan has the same points to put to us in these matters.
In relation to the question of a rural voice or rural recognition, I suggest that, as the Foundation will consist of not less than five or more than 15 members, it would be most appropriate that least one of those members be an eminent rural person. I note that the members are to be appointed on a personal basis rather than on a representative basis. I think that is a good idea, but I am sure the rural community has some eminent people who in their own personal right would be eligible for appointment.
The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman), who spoke earlier in the debate, has the added advantage of just recently having been to Japan. His speech showed the advantages to be gained from this first hand contact. I believe that is another example of the benefit of greater contact between our 2 countries. I hope that opportunities are provided for members of other parties of this House also to be able to study Japan and for Japanese members of Parliament to be able to come to Australia more frequently than has happened in the past. I support the legislation.
– I should like to add a few words about this Bill. I want to concentrate mainly on the cultural aspects of the Bill and to consider it with rather more care. It is remarkable to note that Japanese is not one of the major languages in any of our major State schools- nor is Indonesian for that matter, either. I cannot see how we can propose to take part in the events of the changing social patterns in the world unless we can understand and converse in the language of our neighbours. For 4 years Brighton Grammar School has piloted a scheme of international exchange directly with a Japanese school. I think some of the lessons that have been learned by the host families on one side in Japan and by me as a member of a host family in Australia are of importance and are of great interest to us.
Perhaps the most important thing to realise is that we must all have patience and understanding in dealing with international exchange programs. In passing I must pay tribute to one school in Victoria, Waverley High School, which also has piloted an international exchange scheme for students of forms four, five and six. These international exchanges must form the pattern for and form part of what some of the money will be devoted to under this Bill. What are the points that are of value in an international exchange of 2 boys or 2 girls, one in Japan and one in Australia? First and foremost is the complete understanding of the social customs of the 2 nations. In understanding the social customs of the 2 nations one brings together the understanding of how families live in the 2 countries.
In supporting this Bill I do not want to delay the House in its deliberations or to go much further than to add a plea that this Foundation, from its very early stages, should do all it can to assist those in this country who are anxious to improve the direct cultural relations between the younger generation because it is their future that we are in fact building. In short then, I support this Bill because we must be sensitive and alert and make creative decisions here in Australia which will make a significant contribution to life in the Far East in times of rapid social change. In strategy too, we are partners with Japan. In strategy too, we realise that we are also to be friends with China and all our neighbours. As I said in my maiden speech, the nation must be a good neighbour nation in the years ahead. I commend and support the principles and ideals of this Foundation. I hope that it will bring lasting and positive enjoyment and endurance to the younger people of the nation and will build up strong, firm, friendly and understanding relations between the people of Japan and the people of Australia, I commend the Bill.
– I most certainly will occupy only a few minutes of the House’s time. I do feel that I should like to associate myself with what I think is a splendid step forward in Australian- Japanese relations. That is the establishment and, I hope, the continuance of the Australia- Japan Foundation. During the last 10 years there has been a growing recognition by both Canberra and Tokyo of the wide community of interests shared by the 2 countries. These shared interests are most evident in the economic field. We have these shared interests with Japan despite the antagonism which grew up during the last 3 years. I say that not out of any feeling of meanness towards the demised government, the previous Government, but based on facts. A government cannot, on the one hand, berate the capitalist countries of the world and almost point a finger across the waters to Japan and the United States, and then on the other hand put out a miserable, hypocritical hand of friendship. It just does not work out that way.
As though that were not enough, from time to time we see in the minds and the hearts of many a person who sits on the Opposition side, their uncontrollable racist attitudes. No one knows more of them than I do. I have kept a little dossier. One of those most responsible for racial outbursts was the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). There was a great spokesman for Australia. On the one hand he will give vent to his racist emotions and on the other he will go across to Japan and expect these people of Asiatic origin to greet him with open arms. The situation just did not turn out that way. However it is a fact that whatever be the circumstances, the relations between Australia and Japan more particularly at this stage are based on our trade relations. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who is an enthusiast in this regard and the Government with him are intent now on taking our relations beyond that. It is fairly obvious from this Bill that there is going to be an effort to bring our peoples much closer together.
Most members in this House, I suppose, have visited Honolulu or the United States in one way or another. It will only be one way from now on I guess- the other has gone. However, these members would have observed- this is more particularly noticeable in Singapore and Hawaii generally- that there are literally thousands of Japanese tourists. Admittedly we are beginning to get a trickle of Japanese tourists into this country. The people who come into the country- the people who embark on a tourist safari of this nature- are usually people who are concerned with talking about their trips, not only with coming over for the ordinary pleasures which I suppose are in evidence here and in some respects to an even greater extent in Japan. I think that when we plan our tourism it should be done with the idea in mind that people will take back not just the reaction of an ordinary tourist but an appreciation of what this country has to offer which goes beyond the ordinary tourism. I hope that the Foundation will stimulate a much greater flow of tourists from Japan to Australia. I think we have a fairly heavy flow of tourists from Australia to Japan. No doubt that flow would be accelerated too.
The main point I should like to make in the one or two minutes that I propose to speak on this Bill is the importance of bringing together the peoples of Australia and Japan generally, but more particularly the peoples in northern Australia and Japan. My mind immediately goes to the huge and almost limitless possibility of producing solar energy in this country. We have vast areas and recent experimentation on solar energy has brought it almost to a stage of perfection. It has almost reached a stage now where it could become a commercial enterprise. Two scientists, a husband and wife team in southern Arizona whose names just escape me for the moment, have recently produced what was the unattainable. That was a means of storing solar energy in a small compact area, in a sort of battery form. Those who know what they are talking about claim that Australia is probably the one country in the world which could produce huge quantities of hydrogen from solar energy and so on. If one goes a little further and gets a little more practical in this matter, it is quite possible that within the next 10, 15, or 20 years, we may see our motor vehicles running on hydrogen. This is a simple proposition. The only complexity about it is that a tank about twice the size of an ordinary petrol tank is required.
What has this got to do with the Foundation? It has a lot to do with it and it has a lot to do with northern Australia because geographically the people there are a little closer to Japan than the people of the southern part of Australia. Hence I think it is a little hard to explain the great wastage that occurs in taking some of our materials from the southern part of the nation right around the coastline and up to Japan when the very same products could be taken out of the soilthey are being produced in great quantities in northern Australia-and shipped to Japan at a much lesser cost. This has been a great point in northern Australia. The Townsville Harbour Board and all of those people up there who are anxious to stimulate direct trade with Japan just get a little appalled and browned off when they are excluded from such an arrangement. I ask the House to take heed of this possibility and when the Foundation does come into operation and our people are brought together with ties not only of trade, but of culture, of industrial attitudes and so on, to keep well in mind that northern Australia is a little closer to Japan than the nation generally. I would go along with the other speakers and express my support for the Bill. I hope that not only will it come into action but that it will stimulate and bring our people together in a very effective and, most importantly, in a genuine way. There should be not just a sudden change of attitude towards these Asiatic people because we can cash in on them but a genuine attitude of friendship. Unless there is a genuine attitude, the Foundation will not survive and will not be stimulated to become the powerful force it should most certainly be.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 February on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1976 as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-The Opposition is not opposing the passage of these Bill. which are standard machinery measures. The 2 Bills, the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill 1976 and the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1976, are to enable overseas borrowings to be made on behalf of Qantas Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines. The borrowings are for the purchase of new aircraft. In the case of Qantas, the money will be used for the purchase of an additional Boeing 747 aircraft with associated spare parts. The total cost which will be incurred by Qantas in this package is $33.9m. The Export-Import Bank of the United States of America- Eximbank, as it is called- has already agreed by means of a pre.liminary commitment to provide a credit facility of $12.85m which is roughly 40 per cent of the cost of the aircraft. I presume that this 40 per cent of the aircraft cost is without spares because my mathematics tells me that 40 per cent of the total cost of $33.9m is not $12.85m. I hope that those who write the second reading speeches of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on these loan Bills in the future will make these details clear.
The loan carries an interest rate of 9 per cent over a period of 10 years. Because of the special financial needs of the aircraft industry, the loan is repayable over the last 5 of the 10 years of its life. The loan will be in the name of the Australian Government and, as on past occasions, it will be on-lent to the airline on the same terms and conditions as the funds are borrowed by the Australian Government. The airline will meet all costs and charges associated with the loan, so there will be no net charge on the Government, thus the taxpayers of this nation will not be incurring any costs. The costs will be incurred of course, by those who use the airlines, and that is as it should be. This loan is part of an on-going program by Qantas to expand its Boeing 747 fleet and the aircraft to be purchased by this loan will bring the number of 747 aircraft in the Qantas fleet to twelve.
If the Parliament approves this Bill Qantas will have government backing for a borrowing of $25.7m of the total $33.9m required by the airline for this package, that is, for the aircraft plus associated parts. Qantas will find from its own resources $8.2m. I have stated already that Eximbank has a preliminary commitment to lend $12.85m of the $25.7m total borrowing under this Bill. The balance of the funds required, namely, another $ 12.85m, will come from leading overseas banks and underwriters. My research tells me that it will be a surprise if this loan for the balance is not negotiated with Eximbank. Incidentally, if the life of the loan is less than 10 years the interest rate is reduced under the Eximbank terms from 9 per cent to 8.75 per cent. Nevertheless it should be said that against that there is no firm commitment to Eximbank and the total loans could be negotiated elsewhere. No doubt if lower interest rates are the result of the upturn in the United States economy which is taking place at present, lower interest rates could be achieved in relation to this loan which it is more likely than not will be negotiated in the United States.
The other Bill provides for the Australian Government to borrow on behalf of TAA an amount up to $7.4m for the purchase of an additional Boeing 727 jet aircraft plus spare parts. That will bring the number of aircraft in the TAA 727 fleet to seven. This amount represents 80 per cent of the total cost of the purchase of this aircraft plus spares, the total cost being $9.3m. As with Qantas, the loan will be on-lent to TAA and the Government will not be left holding any tab for this loan or its charges. In fact, the funding arrangements are the same as those for the Qantas loan. In other words Eximbank has already agreed in a preliminary deal to lend half of the amount pro tern on the same terms as the Qantas loan but the total package will be let out for tender, if it has not already gone out for tender, after this Bill becomes an Act. The Qantas loan has already been approved by the Loan Council and only the precise details have yet to be approved. However, the TAA loan has yet to come before the Loan Council but it is anticipated that it will be put before the Council at its meeting in June this year. The TAA aircraft is due to be delivered in November 1976 whereas the Qantas 747 is due to be delivered earlier, namely, next July.
These Bills give opportunity for those in the Parliamentary Labor Party who specialise in transport matters to enter the debate. I am glad to say that the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris), the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and perhaps some other of my colleagues intend to enter this debate. Before I as shadow Treasurer leave the financial aspects of the Bills, I would like to ask the Treasurer to state explicitly when he is replying to the debate, why these Bills are necessary. This was not done in the Treasurer’s second reading speech. Of course, it is not good enough to say that this has always been the way in which Qantas and TAA have financed their aircraft purchases from overseas, although I realise that even Labor Governments have put through Bills such as these. I have no doubt that the answer to my question is that the airlines achieve better terms for their borrowings when these loans pass through government hands. This should be said, provided it is correct, and perhaps the Minister will say so when replying. Because of his presence in the House now, I am presuming that the Minister for Transport will be replying to this debate notwithstanding that the Treasurer introduced these Bills. As shadow Treasurer I am leading for the Opposition on these matters and am putting only financial questions.
In a similar way Ansett Transport Industries Ltd is helped with its loans when it wants to purchase aircraft abroad. I ask the Minister for Transport- perhaps he knows the answer- why Ansett is not in the market on this occasion. We have not a Bill relating to Ansett before the House at the present time. Normally whatever TAA does Ansett does, or vice versa. They are like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Has Ansett decided to make to do an older aircraft whereas TAA has decided to trade in its equivalent older aircraft on this new one? I hope the Minister gives us the reasons in this debate.
This raises the whole question of which undertakings in our country should have their overseas borrowings guaranteed and which should not. Has the Government ever guaranteed the overseas borrowings of, say, the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, in order to achieve a lower rate of interest and thus, presumably, a lower price for steel? If not, why not? Do we have the situation of these borrowings being guaranteed in the case of the Australian airline industry because we have the phenomenon of two of the three large corporations in that industry being public enterprises? Qantas and TAA, of course, are the public enterprises. Is this another example of the worth of public enterprise, namely, a lower rate of interest on overseas borrowings? I look forward to hearing the Minister philosophising on the subject when he replies to this debate.
To encourage him to philosophise on this subject I am going to embark on a little of my own philosophising. Qantas and TAA are two magnificent examples of public enterprise which are a credit to our nation. I congratulate all who work in those enterprises. They have their bad times and they have their good times. However, I make the claim that they are both managed as well as any concerns in our country and those who work for those two public enterprise corporations are as dedicated to the job in hand as the employees of any other corporations. We hear a lot of nonsense talked about the inefficient public sector and the efficient private sector. I say it is nonsense because some public concerns are efficient and some inefficient. Similarly, in the private sector efficiency and inefficiency are more related to whether a concern is too big and impersonal than to whether it is a public concern or a private concern.
We are suffering at the present time government by a Liberal-National Country Party coalition which sees all virtue in the private sector and has set about, in my view, to damage the public sector. This is a false doctrine. The people are already beginning to suffer from this false doctrine. My colleagues and I are committed to the mixed economy. We see some things best done in the public sector; we see other things best done in the private sector. We see still other things best done in industries whose structures provide competition between the private and the public sectors. Banking is an example of a mixed industry with competition between the Commonwealth Bank and some State banks on the one hand and the private banks on the other hand. The insurance industry is already a mixed industry with State government insurance offices providing competition with private insurance companies. It is difficult to credit this when one contemplates the ballyhoo which took place last year over the formation of an Australian Government Insurance Corporation, which formation would have mainly merely rationalised and co-ordinated the work of the separate State insurance offices.
The domestic airlines industry is another example of a mixed industry. Frankly, my personal view is that we would have cheaper, more co-ordinated, more satisfactory internal travel, if like Germany with its Lufthansa, our domestic as well as overseas airlines were totally in public hands. The inevitable result of the 2-airline policy under which we have one public company and one private company- TAA and Ansett- is that both chase the maximisation of profits, within safety limits of course, which means the optimum use of aircraft. This means that everywhere in Australia on the main routes, with few exceptions, aircraft are taking off in tandem following each other from one capital city to the other. I mentioned Tweedledum and Tweedledee earlier. There is hardly competition when it comes to timetables. Very often 2 aircraft make the same journey each half full. What choice does this give the Australian public? Certainly not enough choice. There is some choice, and I welcome the competition that there is in some spheres, but there is no choice to speak of in timetables between capital cities. This is an inevitable result of the 2-airline policy as we have it now. If we want competition it would be better if that competition in this industry was between 2 public enterprise companies so that maximisation of profits would not be the main goal and so that the present situation of aircraft following each other everywhere would cease and a real choice would be given to the Australian public. Before anybody accuses me of being against Ansett I want to place on record that I think Ansett runs a very good airline. As far as I can see it is well managed and its employees are happy in its service, but if it were a public enterprise and not a private enterprise it would not be obliged to chase profits to the same extent as it is now; it could rationalise its service with TAA to a great extent and the Australian public would be given an improved service by both airlines jointly.
– Like the railways.
-There are mindless people in our community who make such remarks as ‘like the railways’ when they should know better and should know that railways are a declining industry everywhere and that no private company will take over any railway. They should know better and should know that even in the United States of America, that geat home of free enterprise, the private companies cannot give away the railways quickly enough to public enterprise because of changes in tastes and changes in industry generally. So that was a mindless intervention in this debate. I have no doubt that mindless people in our community will shout ‘socialism’ at this idea of mine just expressed about having 2 public enterprise airlines perhaps competing with each other. Let me state that that is a private view.
– That would be right too.
– You are one of the mindless people who would do just that sort of thing. I do not believe that socialism is a dirty word anyway. It is the society in which decision-making is based on the test of what is in the community interest, not just private profit interest. In many cases ownership in private hands is in the community interest. In those cases none of us on the Opposition side would want to transfer that ownership to public hands just for the sake of doing so. I have given my own personal specific arguments in the case of the airline industry to show why I believe that the 2-airline system, with one airline public and one private, is unsatisfactory. My purpose will be achieved if my remarks stimulate some discussion on this subject in the public interest.
None of us should be doctrinaire on these issues. We live in an ever changing world. The present Government’s doctrine of damaging the public sector is a false doctrine and the people of Australia will soon see that it is a false doctrine. Funnily enough, the only political group in the Australian political society today which is not in some part socialist in outlook is the Workers Party. It would do away with the public sector. It would have no pensions and no welfare of any kind, perhaps just a small defence force and a police force as well, which is being just slightly socialist. Our Liberal and National Country Party opponents shout, as we have heard one or two of the mindless ones say in the House today, that socialism is a dirty word. The National Country Party in particular practises socialism vigorously with its Government intervention in paying superphosphate and so many other subsidies. Its socialism is very much one way socialism- a greedy look after self. The good independent country people of Australia will not be hoodwinked with this sort of doctrine for long.
The airline industry is a living example of public enterprise, indeed of socialism, at work. I have given my personal views on how the domestic airline undertakings could be improved, but generally speaking the domestic industry is a healthy industry. Thank goodness it is being helped by these Bills, by borrowing money more cheaply via the Government than would otherwise apply. In itself this borrowing overseas is I suppose socialism at work through the Government. Thank goodness on this occasion the public sector is not being damaged by the LiberalNational Country Party Government. The Australian Labor Party Opposition does not oppose these Bills.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to follow the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) in this debate. It is always interesting to see a half self-confessed socialist- apparently it is not a dirty word- who still wants competition in his socialist dream world. It would be interesting seeing 2 bureaucracies each trying to become less inefficient than the other. The thought is fascinating. If we can have a philosophic diversion, I would suggest to the honourable member for Adelaide that one very good thing about the concept of profit and the pursuit of profit is that it ensures the efficient distribution of resources within a society if in fact there are conflicts in the possible uses of those resources. Obviously the honourable member for Adelaide would rather have some deiform figure, isolated presumably from the real world in such a centre of activity as Canberra, determining the allocation of resources in our society, than the free interplay of competitive forces. He appears to have a total misconception of what profit is all about. It is obviously something by which resources are allocated. It is a thing that creates jobs, creates taxes and creates the pool of wealth from which our predecessors on these benches tried to distribute goodies in handouts, forgetting that that pool had to be replenished from profits.
Let me come back to the matter in hand. One should not be distracted by such a clearly absurd proposition as that put up by the honourable member for Adelaide, but it was too exciting a thought to pass by. I want to stress that I have a great deal of admiration, as has the honourable member for Adelaide, for Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines. My admiration is not only for their technical capacity. As a total layman in these matters I might say that the fact that anything heavier than air can rise into the clouds remains a matter of great magic mysticism to me. Apart from the technical excellence of those organisations, of which I have been assured their financial management has appealed to me immensely. The way in which they have discharged their financial duties has certainly been a matter of commendation of them and a clear indication that government owned corporations can behave in a competitive way- and I agree with the honourable member for Adelaide on that- particularly when they have the stimulus of real competition.
However, there is one matter which seriously concerns me about their role in a private enterprise environment. I speak as a member of a judging panel over many years which has closely read these annual reports and has given them marks in order to place them in a hierarchical structure of goodness- or ‘less worseness’ if one would like to call it that -in Australia company reporting. The reports of these government corporations have featured continually among the lists of the best annual reports of corporations of any kind in Australia over the last 20 years. Their standard of reporting has been a matter at which many private corporations could look with a great deal of envy. I regret that so many Australian privately owned corporations have not followed the outstanding lead set by these 2 public enterprise corporations in the matter of reporting to their shareholders. In this case their shareholders are of course the people of Australia through this House.
This leads me to a very serious problem. There are rules of reporting, rules set by legislation and by stock exchanges, rules which corporations owned by shareholders must follow. They are mandatory rules. It strikes me as curious that in this area of state-owned corporations there is a contemptuous disregard for the rules of company reporting which I believe we should bring to a sudden end. That relates to the timing of their reports. The. annual report of Qantas Airways Ltd for 1974-1975 is an excellent report, as always. The balance date is 31 March. We receive this report within one month of the closing of its books for the following year. That is simply not good enough. Not only is it not good enough; it also breaks the corporate laws in the States in which it is registered. If it were listed on the stock exchanges it would no longer be so listed. It would have been suspended by 3 1 September and delisted by 31 December. I have been assured in the past that the reason for this is that the Auditor-General takes a great deal of time and has many tasks in front of him and that it is his delays which hold up this kind of public reporting. I submit that if that is the case something should be done about the AuditorGeneral’s Office.
There is a clear responsibility on corporations of this kind to report speedily to their shareholdersto their owners- in this case, to the people of Australia particularly when very large amounts of money are involved. For example, the amount of loss which Qantas will presumably face this year could be regarded as a very large amount of money. The same applies to TAA, but one hopes that it will not be in a loss situation. I turn to the TAA report. The balance date was 30 June last year. Its report of directors was signed on 20 January this year. That is almost 7 months after the closing of the financial year. The auditors’ report was dated 20 January. If that corporation had been listed on public stock exchanges it would have been suspended by 3 1 December. I want to suggest to this House that we should take a very serious view of lengthy delays in reporting to us and to the people by government corporations which have a responsibility through us to the people.
I turn now to the matter of the Bills and particularly to the degree of borrowing. I want to draw attention to the serious problems facing Qantas and to the degree of sympathy which I hope aU of us feel towards Qantas in a period of immense difficulty. There is no doubt that the Boeing 747 aircraft is a much more efficient method of transporting people around the world provided there are reasonable load factors. Unfortunately, in the current situation in air traffic, loads are declining. Last year was bad enough. According to its report, Qantas incurred a deficit on airline operations of $4.4m. But things have become so much worse. The report says:
The current year is notable for its uncertainty and it is difficult to be anything but pessimistic. We are experiencing the continuing effects of adverse influences beyond the control of the Company, including still higher costs, increasingly severe price competition on our main routes, and a marked downturn in traffic. Passenger traffic between April and August has actually declined from the level of the same period last year. A significant upward movement in fuel prices would also have a serious and harmful impact on Qantas’ earning ability and, as already acknowledged, can only lead to higher fares.
Qantas can blame its previous mentors for only a couple of things- higher prices, higher fuel costs and so on. The facts are that in a difficult environment Qantas has to take some fairly desperate measures. There is no doubt that the 747 is a much more efficient animal. Our problem is to see whether or not its seats will be filled. The Boeing 707 has been withdrawn from the
Pacific route now, and Qantas has ended its services to England via the American continent. That is one of the reasons the loading factor has improved so much because Qantas planes were going to that large area with very few bottoms in very many seats and this was obviously a dreadful loss factor. I am glad to see that economics are playing a very strong role in Qantas decisions rather than nationalistic flag-waving. The success of these improvements is going to depend, of course, on people’s willingness to fly and in this context I would like to quote from an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 January. It reported as follows:
Qantas could face a record loss of more than $20m this financial year.
With only 2 months left before its financial year ends on March 31, Qantas sees little hope of reversing the continuing down-turn predicted late last year by the airline’s chairman, Sir Lenox Hewitt.
The article then quoted from the Qantas annual report. The article continued:
Until recently Qantas expected to lose several million dollars this year. Now, however, it is believed the loss could rise dramatically to possibly $20m or more.
This could mean a revision of the less profitable- or as Sir Lenox says, more unprofitable- routes Qantas flies, particularly those to South Africa -
South Africa is not involved any more-
Hong Kong, Japan and Papua New Guinea.
It could also force Qantas to consider retrenching staff -
It might also mean Qantas might have to consider raising its fares although this possibility does not appear to have been discussed seriously yet.
That article appeared in the Press in January. The points that I am making are that I believe we are going to see from this corporation, this very efficient corporation, a result that is disastrous. I suggest to the House that people who would say in that case ‘Why on earth go and buy more big aircraft?’ clearly do not understand the economics of air transport. We must get rid of the relatively inefficient smaller aircraft, the 707s which have been going now for, I think, 15 years and whose economic life is certainly coming to an end on the sort of routes on which Qantas has pulled in its horns. Qantas is now flying on high density routes and that is why this bigger kind of aircraft is so desperately needed. I do not wish to comment on various other activities of Qantasits apparent disagreement with American authorities, its withdrawal from charter activity and so on. But what I do want to suggest is that Qantas has shown a capacity on its own endeavours to do something about its problems and certainly the energetic promotion last year of low fares between Australia and Europe resulted in Qantas carrying about 60 per cent of the total passenger traffic on that route. That kind of promotional effort, particularly with the facilities that Qantas will have through continual purchases of this kind of aircraft, will, I believe, be the only way it can get itself out of its present problems.
I have not dealt in the same detail with the Trans-Australia Airlines situation. I would stress that the one thing that is quite evident from looking at the Trans-Australia Airlines report, as with the Qantas report, is the tragic impact of massively rising costs in Australia on that corporation. Of course with Qantas it becomes more tragic when one recognises that that corporation is involved in competition with overseas airlines even though the extent to which price competition can be meaningful is severely limited. When there is a limitation on pricing capacity and costs are rising far greater at home than they are overseas an intolerable squeeze is put on corporations. I would hope that, as these 2 corporations are so close to the hearts and minds of honourable members opposite, the realisation of the squeeze on margins arising from rapidly high prices at home and prices in the market place overseas will draw some slow, dull awareness of the reality facing most Australian export industries. I commend the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6 till 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting we listened to a very interesting address from the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume). I was extremely interested to hear him tell honourable members in his most pompous manner how Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Airways Limited had produced two first-class reports, how they had failed to do certain things, how those reports had not been presented to the Parliament within a certain time and how, because of this failure, they would have been deregistered by the stock exchange if they had been private companies. It is a pity that the honourable member did not apply the same interest and diligence in the business in which he was a senior partner and in which $2m of people’s money went astray. It would be very interesting to see how he could apply that interest to the company in which he had so much responsibility. It is a pity that the great free enterprisers who enter the Parliament do not display such interest in the companies for which they are responsible.
The two Bills before the House seek to authorise Qantas and the Australian National Airlines Commission- TAA- to borrow money to acquire respectively a Boeing 747 and a Boeing 727 aircraft. I find these financial arrangements most interesting. They give approval to Qantas to borrow 40 per cent of the cost of the 747 aircraft from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, 40 per cent from the banking institutions and it has to provide 20 per cent from its own resources. The Eximbank makes this money available at a rate of 9 per cent interest, repayable over 10 years by ten equal instalments over only the last 5 years. This is an indication of how the United States Government is prepared to assist American companies and American manufacturers to produce goods and sell them on the export market. It is a pity that Australian governments were not prepared to give the same assistance to their own Australian manufacturing companies. I do not want to deal with that matter in any great detail.
I refer to some questions raised by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) who led for the Opposition in this debate. He asked why the airlines were buying Boeing 747 and Boeing 727 aircraft when no clear case had been presented for their purchase. I have a letter which I received on 26 September 1975. I will read it because it clearly sets out the reasons TAA was given authority to purchase Boeing 727 200-series aircraft. The chairman of TAA wrote:
The Commission’s current Boeing fleet comprises six 727-76 aircraft and six 727-276 aircraft. The first two 727-76 aircraft were introduced into service over 10 years ago in November 1964.
There are only four 100 series aircraft in service today that have hours in excess of 35 000, and these are the two hightime TAA and Ansett aircraft.
There are a total of 43 B727-100 aircraft operating with flying times in the bracket 30 000-35 000 hours and four of these aircraft are also on the Australian register, i.e. 1 7 per cent of the 100 series having hours in excess of 30 000 are on the Australian register.
The Commission’s long-term fleet planning was based on having a minimum of eight B727-200 aircraft in the fleet on the introduction of wide-bodied jet aircraft, at which time 100 series disposal would commence and proceed according to capacity requirements.
Having regard to our early 100 series having the highest hours in the world, -
I emphasise those words- it is desirable that their phasing out of service be commenced at an early date.
I hope the honourable member who asked the question when leading the debate on behalf of the Australian Labor Party understands just what the position is. Trans- Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia have the two longest ‘ flying 727 100-series aircraft in the world and, quite frankly, it is time they got rid of those aircraft. TAA is doing the right thing by buying a new aircraft because this will then allow it to sell the one they want to replace. In my opinion, Ansett should be doing the same thing. In other words, people flying with Ansett will be getting second best and not the best to which they are entitled in this country. Whilst the technical advisers in the Department of Transport were not prepared to say, and did not say, that these two aircraft were unsafe, they did indicate that it is no proud record to possess the two longestflying aircraft of their type and it was time that the airlines started to get rid of them. I hope that before long the Government will receive a request from Ansett to dispose of its existing aircraft.
When I approved the purchase of the new aircraft it was on the understanding that if Ansett wanted to get rid of his aircraft he was at liberty to do so, and approval would be granted for Ansett to buy a 727 200-series aircraft as it had been granted for TAA. I should like to make that point clear to honourable members. When the facts were brought to my attention by the technical advisers I gave immediate approval. There are other reasons that the airlines should be permitted to acquire these aircraft. In another part of his letter the Chairman of TAA said that there is an improved ambient noise in the 200- series aircraft and that it complies with the FAA FAR 36 noise requirements whereas the 100- series aircraft does not. This is another indication that TAA has some consideration for the people who live near airports, Sydney and Brisbane airports in particular. It is buying the quieter aircraft that will make less noise and will cause less inconvenience to the people who live near the airports. These are important things to be borne in mind because aircraft noise is a major problem.
I am not altogether happy that TAA is buying the 727 200-series. I should have preferred to see Ansett and TAA move into the wide-bodied jet era. It is time that they moved into that position in the Australian domestic services. I do not care which make they buy because there are a number of very good wide-bodied jets in the world today. I instance the Boeing, the Lockheed, the Douglas and the European Air Bus, aU of which would meet the requirements of Australian domestic services. These aircraft would reduce the congestion that exists in some of our major airports, particularly in Sydney. There are very few aircraft for which a holding exercise does not have to be taken in the early morning to allow other aircraft to land. These problems can be overcome by the airlines to a great extent by the purchase of the wide-bodied jet instead of, as in the existing proposition, purchasing the 727 200-series. A further important point of course is that the modern wide-bodied jet is a much quieter aircraft then even the 727 200-series aircraft. There is a lot to be gained for the people generally. I think they are more important than the companies and the people who want to travel by air. I think the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) is still with us. He was here earlier tonight. I hope to see at a very early date his continuing our policies. We were trying to get out of the airlines a promise that they would move into the wide-bodied jets as early as practicable and as early as possible.
I deal now with TAA. It has much with which to contend. The honourable member for Adelaide talked about the need to have a 2- airline policy. I do not dispute that. I think a 2- airline policy has very decided advantages for a country such as Australia where there is only sufficient room and sufficient traffic to warrant 2 airlines. At least let us have 2 airlines operating on an equal basis, not with the private operator being given vast advantages over the nationalised airline, TAA. Take, for example, the position in Western Australia. It is well and truly understood in the industry that the monopoly advantage which Ansett has over TAA in Western Australia is worth about $5m a year. It is not only an advantage to Ansett but also a disadvantage to the people of Western Australia. Liberal-Country Party members of this Parliament from that State have prevented the people of Western Australia getting a reduction in air fares of approximately 25 per cent. The people in Western Australia who travel MacRobertsonMiller Airline Services get a second rate service and an economy rate aircraft for first class fares. The Liberal-Country Party was the Party which prevented the Labor Party allowing TAA to operate in Western Australia, which would have given the people of that State an immediate first class service, with a reduction in air fares for those people who wanted to travel economy instead of, as at present, travelling in an economy class aircraft with an economy class configuration at first class rates. It is time TAA was put on an equal footing and was given equal access to the traffic in Western Australia. It is time it was given the opportunity to share the $5m in respect of which Ansett has had a very distinct and decided advantage over TAA. People talk about Ansett making a better profit than TAA. Do not forget the fact that Ansett has a $5m start in Western Australia.
I have not time to go through all the details with respect to Qantas. If honourable members read the latest annual report of Qantas they will see that in the financial year 1973-74 Qantas made a record profit of about $17m. Last year, under adverse circumstances, it was able still to finish up with a profit for the year. It has been brought out already in the debate that this year it is expected that Qantas will lose about $20m. All I want to know from the Minister for Transport is why he sat on the regulations, which were made available to him or which were available on 1 1 November, Remembrance Day, until 24 February when he tabled them in this Parliament. Those regulations which were drafted by the Department of Transport protect Qantas from the unfair discounting that is taking place in Australia today. I do not want to name the airlines. Honourable members know them. Foreign airlines are discounting heavily in this country. The result is that instead of Qantas being able to carry its share of the traffic into and out of Australia these other airlines, by unfair discounting, are taking away from Qantas the people who in normal circumstances should be travelling with Qantas. I hope that the Minister will rigidly enforce these regulations. I know what they contain.
– He is not even here.
-I cannot help that. At least he can read. I can see officials of his Department. They will, I know from past performance, convey to him what went on here tonight. I hope he will enforce these regulations to make sure that Qantas is put on a more reasonable basis. I hope these people who are indulging in illegal discounting are brought up with a very sharp jerk. I hope they get on with the job of selling fair dinkum in an equal market so that Qantas, instead of losing $20m, which is money belonging to the people of Australia, will be in a much better position to compete with the foreign airlines.
The other matter which I wish to bring forward is the question of Australian industry participation. One of the things that concerns me about the order which has been placed by the 2 companies, TAA and Qantas, for the 2 aircraft is that the Minister gave no indication that there are any offset payments. I am talking about an Australian industry participation scheme by which the Australian aircraft industry has some part in the building of these aircraft. When a contract is signed to purchase an aircraft from an overseas country there is an exchange of contracts, between the builder and the buyer, by which the home country gets some share in the building of some part of the aircraft. At the moment there is no indication in these 2 Bills that such an agreement has been entered into by this Government. I have been reliably advised by people in the industry who are appreciative of what we did in the 3 years that we were in office and of the work which we were able to get for the Australian aircraft industry, that at present- this is the statement I have- there is a definite holding back by United States aircraft companies. I call on the Minister for Transport, one of the other Ministers or the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), to make a very clear and positive statement that the Government will rigidly enforce the same policies which we had. We were able to extract from the American aircraft manufacturers a promise that they would make available to Australian companies offset payments so that Australian workmen- Australian expertise- could be put into this industry and retained in this industry.
An Australian company has submitted tenders for the supply of parts of an aircraft that is to be manufactured for the Douglas Aircraft Company Incorporated in the United States. They will be offset payments for future purchases by Australian airlines for DC9-50 aircraft or for DC10 aircraft if Qantas buys them. There is some suggestion that Qantas may be looking at them. These will be offset payments for them. This Australian company has put in a tender for US$6m worth of work. Its tender is more than competitive. At this stage, because the Government has not been clear and positive as to where it stands on offset payments, the Douglas Aircraft Company is holding back the announcement about the Australian company, which is competitive and whose work is more than satisfactory when compared with the work of overseas companies. Until such time as the Government says that it endorses the strong stand taken by the Australian Labor Party Government this company is in jeopardy of not getting the US$6m order. There is involved not only this US$6m order but also other flow-ons for which the company has already tendered. Its prices are still more than competitive with the overseas tenders which have been submitted. We are talking in terms not only of US$6m but in terms of much larger sums, a continuation of work for Australian people and the retention of this important Australian industry. So it is up to the Government to get on with the job.
For some considerable time this company has been doing work for Boeing International Corporation, and doing it satisfactorily and competitively. What the Government has got to understand is this: Once Australian industry loses this work it will go to another company in another country. That country will then get the expertise, and its learners curve will come down. The result is that, by reason of the fact that the Australian company has lost contact and that it has lost the expertise which is so important in the aircraft industry, this country loses that type of work to an overseas company. So it is time that the Minister made a clear, positive statement- I emphasise this next point- and it is time that the Government endorsed the strong stand which we took and should say that unless we get offset payments for Australian industries the Government is not prepared to permit Australian airlines to buy the aircraft of these companies, and that we will buy them from other places.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is interesting to listen to the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I am reliably informed that the honourable member for Newcastle for years- years before he became a Ministeroffered in this House all sorts of advice to the then Government about what it ought to do. Then when he finally got his chance, when he finally became a Minister, what did he do?
– Well, he did do something; he bought ships from overseas while three of Australia’s six shipping yards were closed. He has almost ruined the domestic airlines. The other thing that the honourable member for Newcastle did when he was a Minister was to throw into complete chaos all the domestic airlines, including Trans-Australia Airlines, by means of his airline cost recovery program. How the former Minister can still offer advice to this Government, I do not know. However, he has got his own conscience to live with.
-It takes only 10 seconds to go to sleep.
– I hope to wake up the honourable member before I am through. In supporting the Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) BUI 1976 and the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) BUI 1976 1 must say that it is a pleasure to find that the Opposition feels much the same way as we do about the Bills. I think it has indicated that it does not really oppose the Bills. I am reminded of something else that the honourable member for Newcastle had to say the other day about these things. He accused us, I think, of not wanting to get on with the job. I suppose we could have got through the business of the House a little more quickly if honourable members opposite had not insisted on speaking.
– Then why do you not sit down?
– I will when my time has expired. The honourable member has made his speech. He should give me a chance. He has been here a lot longer than I have. There is no way in which the proposals contained in these Bills can be made to support the Opposition philosophy that public enterprise is better than private enterprise. We heard earlier the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who is sitting at the table. He could not forgo the opportunityquite understandably, I suppose- of putting in a word to support his philosophy. I noted at the same time, though, that he expressed support for private enterprise. He said that he supported Ansett Airlines of Australia and that he thought it was doing a good job, and that he also supports other private industry. I found that quite an interesting comment. However, I am quite sure that his socialist colleagues will be even more delighted than I am to hear these sentiments. I am told that in the last financial year Ansett ‘s profit was in excess of $4m. Yet the profit of TAA was only in excess of $lm. TAA has far more staff than has Ansett, but Ansett has a higher load factor on major routes than does TAA. So I think that gives some sort of an example of private enterprise versus the public sector.
I could not help but be delighted with the wonderment of the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) that machines which are heavier than air can rise in to the clouds and fly. I too have some wonderment. I think the honourable member for Macarthur had a wonderful example this afternoon from the honourable member for Adelaide whose mixed socialism idea is regularly floated in the air and just as monotonously falls to the ground at each election, and frequently in between. No matter what one thinks of public enterprise we do have the ongoing situation of maintaining Qantas and TAA. That is essentially the subject matter of these Bills. It does not matter whether some of us feel from time to time that we ought to sell our interests in Qantas and that we ought to sell TAA to private enterprise. We have the political problem. It is a financial problem and an economic problem. We have to five with it. Many people in my own electorate, which embraces the Perth International Airport, wish that they had never heard of TAA or Ansett or Qantas or any other overseas airlines because they have got to live with the noise, sometimes late into the night.
In his second reading speech on the Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) made the point that Qantas does need the money. He has established that Qantas is an ongoing affair. I think the difference between this Government and the previous Government is exhibited by the fact that the Treasurer is putting a limit on the amount of money which can be borrowed. I think that is an indication perhaps of greater responsibility on this side of the House. Secondly, the Treasurer has indicated that the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreements and that there will be no net charge on the resources of the Commonwealth, which is really the only way in which government assistance ought to be given to public enterprises in this country. It is a pump priming operation. The interest rates provided for are reasonable. In fact, they are even more reasonable, I might say, than the rate at which I have to service the loan on my dwelling. The advance approval for the loans gives the Government the opportunity of ensuring 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. Overall that saves enormous costs on the borrowings, and the costs are therefore minimised.
Finally, the borrowings are subject to the approval of the Loan Council. Apparently that approval has been obtained already, because the approval is included in the Commonwealth loan program for 1975-76. It is interesting, I think, to make the constrast between this Government and the previous Government- although perhaps this is in another field altogether from what I have in mind- that we do seek the approval of the Loan Council for whatever borrowings we intend to make.
Much the same situation applies to the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1976. To show that we are aware that the ongoing situation regarding government airlines needs attention, we, as a free enterprise government, are prepared to help TAA even if its profits are less than those of Ansett and its staff is greater. Nevertheless, if I may again refer to the Treasurer’s second reading speech, the excellent terms of the loan will enable the company to comfortably service the loan over the earning life of the aircraft. Again that is important. It is the same principle as is embodied in the Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill. Those basically are the points that any free enterprise government will require in making loans to public enterprises or government statutory bodies.
I think enough has been said from this side of the chamber to indicate our total support for the situation in which we find ourselves- a situation of having to support government enterprises. There are honourable members on the other side of the chamber who insist all the time that the Government intends to close down everything that we have disagreed with in the past. Well, I think we are proving that we are not as ruthless as the Opposition has tried to show. We want to keep these enterprises going because they are fulfilling a function. It is our duty as an ongoing government to look after their needs. I support both these Bills.
-The House has addressed itself at fairly frequent intervals to Bills intended to facilitate the purchase of aircraft by Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia. The first of the two Bills we are debating seeks the approval of Parliament to undertake borrowings overseas for an amount not exceeding the equivalent of US$32.4m or $A25.7m which in turn is to be lent to Qantas to assist in financing the purchase of its twelfth Boeing 747 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment. The second Bill is to assist TAA in financing the purchase of its seventh Boeing 727 jet aircraft, spare parts and related equipment.
I consider it perfectly proper that the Government should involve itself in undertakings of this nature. It is not a financing of the project, as many people believe, so much as a facilitation of it. It ensures that the aviation industry, which is an essential ingredient in the commnications of this country, is not impeded by last minute difficulties in arranging the finance necessary to purchase these aircraft. Furthermore, the assistance to the industry and to the community in general is fairly substantial if by the good offices of the Government these companies are able to secure borrowings on more favourable conditions than might apply otherwise.
These benefits will be reflected in cost reductions or restraint on costs and this in turn must reflect in fares and all other activities ancillary to these operations. One notes the rather exorbitant charges relating to these aircraft and recognises that with the advance in technology and the increased sophistication of the aircraft it is not unreasonable that the costs increase from time to time and eventually attain levels in the vicinity of $33.9m for a 747 Jumbo and $9.3m for a 200 series 727 aircraft.
It would be quite excusable and understandable if one noted in passing that in these prices there is the possibility that there may be a factor not unrelated to recent events which have attracted the attention of the world- that is, the tactics adopted by aircraft manufacturers in their urgent desire to attract sales which must of necessity result in a greater cost to the final consumer. Without naming the companies involved I hope that in these transactions the Australian user of the aircraft is not going to have to carry the additional burden of manipulations by companies to enhance their prospects and actual sales realisations.
These Bills provide for a preliminary commitment only and this is rather commendable. The companies would be at considerable risk if they found difficulties in raising finance at the time of anticipated delivery of the aircraft. In making these arrangements the Government has taken advantage of the regular, almost traditional, participation of the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America to the extent of funding 40 per cent of the purchase price. In turn 40 per cent will be borrowed through established international banking facilities and the final 20 per cent Will be found by Qantas and TAA from their own resources, $ 10.3m in the case of Qantas and $1.8m in the case of TAA. It might be noted in passing that Qantas purchased its seventh and eighth 747 aircraft from its own resources. This action on its part is commendable and demonstrates quite clearly that it does not have total dependence in these matters on government assistance. These aircraft represent good buying. The 747 and the 200 series 727 are both proven aircraft with high reliability and efficiency and good economics. They both have characteristics which result in a considerably lower fuel usage per passenger kilometre than many of their predecessors and in the world today, when there is a serious fuel problem, this contributes rather significantly to overall economics.
Earlier speakers remarked that in the purchase of these aircraft it is important to give attention to minimising the noise nuisance to the community in general. We suffer the trauma of determining whether we want convenient airports close to centres of population or whether we must respond to the call to locate these airports at remote localities. Whilst affording some relief to the community, considerable inconvenience and loss of time, and therefore money, is occasioned in travelling to the more distant locations.
I would have hoped, and indeed I still hope, that the advent of these aircraft will enable the airline companies to be a little more effective and realistic in scheduling their flights. It is rather ironic that with the introduction of the jet aircraft we seem to have a leapfrogging of the secondary services. The jet aircraft are introduced to the main coastal trunk routes. We find the ludicrous situation now, apparently brought about by the desire to render the most accommodating services on the main trunk routes, of schedules being arranged so that there is no logical connection between flights from one end of the country to the other. I cite in this instance, as I have rather painfully learned, that on this coming Friday, when normally it would be the time for me to return to my electorate, the first aircraft out of Canberra in the morning arrives in Brisbane, via Sydney, 5 minutes after the northern flight leaves Brisbane for Maryborough. With one airline there is no futher flight until approximately 5 p.m. There is another airlines flight at 1.45 p.m. It seems quite ludicrous that the schedules should be so arranged that the first flight in the day, virtually the only morning flight northbound, should depart from a major airport 5 minutes before the incoming flights arrive. Clearly the supplementary and secondary services tend to be slipping into the role of poor sisters. I would hope, I repeat, that the advent of these aircraft would lead to an improvement in service instead of a deterioration which seems to have been our experience in some cases.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer and it is this rather common egalitarian attitude today that we should have one-class travel in aircraft. I think that this matter is pertinent to the Bill before the House because of the features of the aircraft concerned- their huge capacity in terms of moving passengers and their other characteristics. I think it is a mistake to conclude that any aircraft is simply a unit with common passenger characteristics or features. I think all honourable members have made frequent use of aircraft and will recognise that in the modern day jet to be seated in the forward area of the aircraft gives a passenger virtually a magic carpet ride. On the other hand, at the rear of the aircraft, and the extreme rear particularly, the comfort, both in noise and vibration, cannot possibly compare with the comfort of the forward portion of the aircraft or in the graduated area, the middle section. It seems to me quite anachronistic in an age when we have established a Trade Practices Commission to ensure that there is value for money and no misrepresentation in transactions, that any airline company should involve itself in negotiations for selling such widely varying seats to customers. Quite clearly the value and quality of those seats has such a disparity that the Trade Practices Commission could well be obliged to consider whether there has been any malpractice in honest trading.
– We need an aeroplane with all front seats.
– Certainly we would all have the advantage of being the first ones to an accident. I take the honourable member’s point. Another point which relates to the rather high capital cost of these aircraft is the insurance that attaches to them. How very much at the mercy of seemingly unrelated circumstances we are in meeting the fares that are necessary to service these aircraft. The insurance ingredient in costs today is very substantial and has been brought about to a considerable extent by the international conditions reflected in hijacks, sabotage and general misuse of these aircraft. There was a time when these aircraft were at a more modest price level and the loss of an aircraft, which is now such a great capital investment did not have such an impact on the insurance world.
I think it is also noteworthy to draw attention to some of the costs involved in these aircraft resulting from the advance in technology. Whilst it is not a direct parallel to jet technology, I was rather impressed to stumble on to the figure that the cost of a propellor assembly for a Lockheed Electra aircraft is in excess of $80,000. So it is not difficult to see how the cost is built up to the total figure. But in the matter of insurance and security relating to the operation of these aircraft there is room to effect a worthwhile economy by effective security measures and hopefully in the longer term some reduction of world tensions and dissension that may give these aircraft and, more importantly, their passengers, safe passage through the air.
I certainly hope that in the not too distant future we will have the happy experience in this House of addressing ourselves to Bills which will facilitate the financing of the Concorde which I am quite sure has a role to play in communications between Australia and the world. I am very pleased to learn from more recent reports that some of the impediments that seem to be firmly established in the path of the operation of the Concorde seem to be moving aside. It affords me great pleasure to support the Bill.
– in reply- The Bills before the House seek approval of Parliament for the Commonwealth to undertake borrowings overseas to be on-lent to Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines to assist in aircraft purchases. This is the fifteenth such occasion for Qantas and the twelfth such occasion for TAA in which loans have been arranged in the name of the Commonwealth. The Bills before the House are the necessary machinery measures to obtain parliamentary approval for in principle decisions that the previous Minister for Transport in the Labor Administration made. The present Government has endorsed those decisions.
The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) asked why Ansett Airlines of Australia is not at this stage proposing to purchase an additional aircraft. By purchasing the aircraft for delivery in November 1976 TAA will save $ 1.25m on the cost. TAA’s Boeing 727-100s are now 1 1 years old. TAA intends to sell or to take out of service one or two Boeing 727- 100s this year so that excess capacity will not exist when the new aircraft is introduced into service. Ansett originally decided not to acquire a similar aircraft at the same time and on the same conditions as TAA, but I understand that there has been a recent change of heart and that Ansett is now planning to obtain its aircraft in December and is seeking a Government guarantee for any borrowings which have to be raised overseas to finance this purchase. As has been the practice in the past, the Government would be prepared to introduce appropriate legislation to authorise this guarantee.
The honourable member for Adelaide also asked why the Commonwealth should be providing guarantees in respect of borrowings by Ansett and not providing similar facilities to other private enterprise companies. I regret that I was unable to hear the honourable member’s speech entirely but I understand this is one of the matters he raised. There are many considerations in this question. For the information of honourable members some relevant considerations are: Firstly, provisions of guarantees for private sector borrowers would provide indirect subsidies to their operations. Justification for these subsidies would require very careful and comprehensive investigation. Secondly, guarantees would require specific legislation in a comprehensive form to meet the requirements of foreign lenders and to provide indemnification in the event of default. Guarantees for viable private sector borrowers on an overseas market would be provided by Australian bankers, if necessary without recourse to the Government. Thirdly, with very limited exceptions it has not been the practice of past governments to provide guarantees to Australian companies borrowing overseas. One exception is overseas borrowings by Ansett for aircraft purchases. These have been guaranteed by successive governments under the 2-airline system to ensure parity in capital equipment costs.
The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) made reference to delays in the audit of Qantas accounts by the Auditor-General. I am certain that the honourable member will appreciate that the Auditor-General is responsible to the Parliament and only to the Parliament. However, I shall ensure that the honourable member’s comments are noted. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones)- I managed to hear most of his speech- referred to the question of offsets. I assure the honourable member that this Government, more than the Labor Administration had, has the interests of private enterprise and the creation of employment opportunities very much to the fore. I do not think it is very helpful and I do not think it is very convincing to find the honourable member for Newcastle, a Minister of the Labor Administration, giving the now Government some of his comments about the stimulation of private enterprise and employment opportunities throughout Australia. One would have thought that probably no Minister contributed more in his portfolio to diminishing the capacity of private enterprise for the creation of increasing job opportunities than did the honourable member for Newcastle.
I shall bring to the attention of the respective Ministers other suggestions that have been made. In the case of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), no doubt he will take into consideration any matters which fall within his responsibility. These Bills are not controversial. They have allowed a valuable debate on the civil aviation industry. I thank honourable members who took pan in the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
BUI read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Eric Robinson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 19 February on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Eric Robinson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26 February on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the National Debt Sinking Fund Amendment Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions will of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I therefore suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-The Opposition is not opposing the Financial Agreement Bill and the National Debt Sinking Fund Amendment Bill. They make provision for the formal transfer of $ 1,000m of State debt to the Australian Government. Under an agreement reached with the States in 1970, the Australian Government has paid grants to the States to meet interest and sinking fund contributions on a growing parcel of debt, beginning at $200m in 1970-71 and rising by $200m each year to reach $l,000m in 1974-75. As the Treasurer (Mr
Lynch) said in his second reading speech, it was originally envisaged that at the end of the 5-year period, the $ 1,000m parcel of debt would be formally transferred to the Australian Government. However, the 1970 Act made no provision for the transfer. The Labor Government discussed the matter with the States last year and agreed that Bills along the lines of those now before the House would be brought forward to effect the transfer.
An interesting feature of this arrangement is that under it the grants which have been paid to the States in the last 5 years for debt charges assistance will cease. Page 100 of Budget Paper No. 1 shows that the grants amounted to no less than $75.5m last year and that they will be nil this year. But obviously the Australian Government will still be meeting the interest cost on the debt as it will be taking over that debt under this legislation, and it will still be meeting the sinking fund charges. These will total more than $57.5m as this year there will be interest on sinking fund payments for all the debt for a full year. Under the arrangement the States will continue to be relieved of these costs. But the way in which the figures are presented indicate that there is an apparent drop in the Australian Government’s assistance to the States. This of course is a deception. I suggest to the Treasurer or perhaps to the Minister Assisting the Treasurer the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) who is seated at the table, that they might consider this issue. I know that it is merely a presentational point, but I am afraid that such presentational points can influence policy considerations if they are not kept in mind and they certainly contribute to public misunderstanding.
This brings me to a related point. During the Labor Government time in power, or in office- we were never in power because we never had a majority in the Senate- we were portrayed by the States, especially those which were governed by our political opponents, as being anti-State. Firstly we were accused of starving the States for funds. Let me set the record straight. In the period from 1972-73 to 1975-76, total payments to or for the States and local government rose from $3,6 14m to an estimated $8,566m- an increase of 137 per cent. This increase was significantly faster than the growth in total outlays of the Australian Government. These outlays grew by 1 1 5 per cent.
Secondly, we were accused of restricting the growth of general purpose funds and allowing only specific purpose or tied funds to grow. Of course it is true that we increased specific purpose payments much faster than general purpose funds, but this was not done to starve the States of general purpose funds. It was done because it was only through specific purpose payments to the States that we could meet some of the needs of the people- needs for schools, needs for hospitals and health services, needs for sewerage and so on. The States general purpose funds were not squeezed in the process. In 1972-73 they increased on an adjusted basis by 14.4 per cent; in 1973-74 by 16.7 per cent and in 1974-75 by 32.7 per cent. They were estimated to rise by 27.2 per cent in 1975-76. These increases were much greater than the rate of increase in prices or the rate of increase in population. The figures show not only that we did not squeeze the States’ general purpose funds, but also that we provided the States generously with additional assistance for their special needs.
To quote Senator Steele Hall, a Liberal Movement senator from my own State, with the ..’…/-/ grab for power’ of this Liberal-National Country Party Coalition, a number of false doctrines have been given birth. I talked on one of them earlier in the day when we were debating the Loan Bills relating to Qantas Airways Ltd and TransAustralia Airlines. There is the doctrine of private affluence and public squalor, of cutting government expenditure and, by some magic which of course does not exist, thus bringing about a revival in the economy. There will be a revival in the economy but it will be due to the world upturn, which has already started in the United States of America. All that this false doctrine now being perpetrated by this Government is doing for Australia at the present time as exemplified in the policies of cutting Government expenditure and bringing on a credit squeeze, is deliberately creating unemployment and delaying the recovery in Australia
In this debate I am able to draw attention to another Liberal-National Country Party Coalition false doctrine. It is to the effect that what is done in this national Parliament by the Aus.tralian Government, as opposed to what is being done in the States, is- I quote from a speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in Victoria over the weekendinterference by Big Brother’. This is how our present Liberal Prime Minister described what goes on here in a Victorian election broadcast which was then taken up by other media. Let me quote some more of what I consider to be false, misleading nonsense. I quote from the Prime Minister’s election broadcast transcript He said:
Labor believes that all government power should be placed in the hands of a few men.
Labor does no such thing. The whole history of the Labor movement has been one of as wide a participation in decision making as is possible. For instance that is what Caucus is all about: Participation by as large a group of people in decision making as possible. This applies wherever the Labor Party operates. It applies to the greatest extent possible in the structures which we set up. On the other hand, our Liberal Party and National Country Party opponents are quite different. They elect their leader then they leave it to him. So often frankly he becomes a tyrant as some of them may be learning now when they disagree with Government policies. At the present time, power is in the hands of a few men. But this is not so when Labor is in office. Indeed, with no majority in the Senate, as I said earlier, it probably is arguable whether Labor has been in power for a number of years; it has merely been in office. Let me go on quoting this nonsense from the Prime Minister’s weekend broadcast. Referring to Labor people, he said:
They believe government should have greater control over individual lives.
I answer to that: Labor people do not so believe. This statement is false and misleading. Let me just cite just one example in this whole area of Australian Government-State government relationships which are the subject of these Bills before us to make a lie of that claim by the Prime Minister. What about the Australian Assistance Plan- a Labor Government innovation. Never in the history of our country has there been a better plan to stimulate people into working out their own priorities and planning for their own needs. The Australian Assistance Plan is in its essence a living example of a government saying to the people: ‘We do not want to be paternalistic; we do not seek to tell you what you want; we do not want to administer the program affecting your individual lives’. In an unprecedented way the Labor Government went to the people- and government now will still go to the people if the Australian Assistance Plan is not killed by this conservative Government- and said: ‘You work out your own needs; you use your own resources to the extent that they exist; you co-ordinate your own voluntary organisations and so on; and to the greatest extent possible we in a Labor Government will provide the resources for you to fulfil your needs ‘. This is regional administration. It is administration much closer to the people than anything which State Liberal governments have had to offer. Yet we have to put up with this false nonsense in the Prime Minister’s electoral broadcast over Victorian radio stations, some of which, I am sorry to say, was repeated on other stations, including the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Let me quote further from the Prime Minister’s speech. He also said:
Labor has tried to destroy the role of the States and has even attempted to exercise central control over local governments.
This measure we are specifically debating tonight has the effect of the Australian Government taking over $ 1,000m of the debts of the State governments. It is a measure which was arranged by the Australian Labor Government and is not in any way anti-State. The Premier of my State of South Australia, Don Dunstan, has freely stated on many occasions that the South Australian State Government’s resources were never so plentiful to fulfil people’s needs as they were when the Australian Labor Government was in power. What Labor governments are about is looking after the needs of people. If State governments do not or cannot fulfil those needs, national governments must step in to do so. Our national government moved into education because the needs of the people demanded it and the States were unwilling and unable to do so. We acted similarly on the needs of the cities and on the need for an adequate hospital and health service for our country. Where there are needs and those needs are not being fulfilled, an Australian Labor Government did not and will not stand back doctrinairely and say: ‘Oh, that is the duty of the States. We must not step in there’. An Australian Labor government will always seek to arrange for the administration of national programs, designed to satisfy national needs, to be carried out as close to the people as possible- at the local level. Often this will mean joint administration with the States. And why not? That is co-operative federalism. On other occasions, as with the Australian Assistance Plan which I mentioned earner, it will mean sitting down with the States and arranging for a regional organisation which is closer to the people and often based on local government to carry out the administration of these national programs.
The last sentence of this false and misleading election broadcast of the Prime Minister, and I have quoted already from the Prime Minister’s efforts at the weekend, mentioned Labor exercising central control over local government. How did this happen? How is it supposed to have happened? I have received no complaints from local government organisations in my electorate and I hope and believe that I take a normally active interest in what is going on in our nation. Yet I do not recall local government agitation against what Labor had done for local government when
Labor was in office. On the contrary, it was the Labor Government which allowed local government direct access to the Grants Commission to put its case for additional funds to fulfil its purposes. It was the Labor Government which wanted local government to have direct access to the Loans Council but was prevented from achieving this by the former Liberal-Country Party Opposition. Where the needs have been great and where the district was a relatively poor one, funds were made available to local government from the national Labor government as they were never made available before. These funds were then left for local government to administer in its own way. Similarly with the Regional Employment Development scheme. This scheme was a living example of Labor respecting local government and arranging the spending of additional funds through local government.
If I have a regret about the 2 Bills which we are debating tonight it is that although they help the States enormously they do not help local government in any way. Instead we are being offered by the Liberal-National Country Party coalition a so-called revenue sharing federalism program which is turning out to be a sham- mere window dressing. I have no apology for repeating what I said in the House on this subject on 26 February because the questions which I asked in that speech bear repeating since they have not been answered in any way. I was speaking in the second reading debate on the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1976 and I said:
Recently we had the phenomenon of a Premiers Conference devoted to this subject.
That is, the subject of Australian-State government financial relationships.
From my readings of the available papers I must make these comments about that Conference. Firstly, I believe that the Fraser Government had not and probably has not thought through the details of its revenue sharing scheme. I noted that the Prime Minister and Treasurer were not able at that Premiers Conference to answer specific important, indeed vital, questions on the subjects put to them by Premiers from each of the States. They are negligent, in my opinion, in having launched such a scheme on the Australian public wihout thinking through the proposals in the way that they should be thought through. Secondly, if their scheme ever sees the light of day there is no real guarantee that the Australian Government will not alter the tax rate structure or assessment provisions and thereby adversely affect the revenues of the States. Thirdly, I point out that there is no real fail-safe figure for the States and no guarantee of the amounts that they would get if the Australian Government were, for instance, to adopt the Asprey Committee’s recommendations, reduce the comparative incidence of income tax and enter the value added tax field.
If the Australian Government turned to indirect taxes rather than direct taxes, under the provisions of the new scheme the States would be decidedly worse off.
Fourthly, the States own income tax assessment, or surcharge as it is apparently called, can be imposed only ‘in a framework of consultation’.
No information was given to the Premiers Conference on the nature of this consultation. My fifth point is that the Premiers Conference proceedings showed that there is no provision for continuation of the benefit factor as there is of course in the present formula.
In short, the Liberal-National Country Party proposals raise more questions than they answer … the whole deal seems to me to be a singular piece of unnecessary and wasteful window dressing. As a principle I like the idea that those who have to bear the odium of raising funds, of raising taxes, should be the ones who spend them. Also I support the idea of as much decentralisation of decision making as can be reconciled with efficiency, but I believe there are far better ways of achieving this than is provided hi the present Government ‘s proposals as we know them at present.
I make no apology for repeating those views on the so-called new federalism. It is very appropriate to do so in a second reading debate such as this on a Bill which assists the States enormously by reducing their debts enormously. The Opposition is happy to support these Bills.
-I too support these Bills. The most important part of them is the transfer of $ 1,000m worth of debts from the States to the Commonwealth. This simply ratifies something which was done by a previous Liberal-Country Party Government as long ago as 1970. It is merely formalising an arrangement which was made then. This is a good thing but I do not think it is enough because what has happened over the past 4 or 5 decades is that the burden of debt has been transferred from the Commonwealth to the States. This has happened through various devices. It is a long history and I have no intention of traversing it today. I simply say that the Commonwealth Budget, by reason of its nature, has allowed surpluses to be accumulated and transferred to the States, making the States debtors for the amounts that they have been given in the past. I am not talking of the immediate present. What has happened is that the States have become bound to the chariot wheels of the Federal Treasury. This to some extent, but not to a sufficient extent, is to be rectified by the Bill before us.
The Bill also simplifies the National Debt Sinking Fund without making very substantial amendments to it. The Sinking Fund, as honourable members would know, since 1923 has paid back over 6 billion dollars of Australian and State debts. I think last year an amount of the order of $340m was paid back through the Sinking Fund. The Bill in front of us does not alter very much the impact. It simplifies the arrangements. The procedural changes which it makes in the Loan Council are welcome but of no importance.
Tonight I want to concentrate on clause 4 of the Bill. The first part of clause 4 states:
The Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated to the extent necessary for the purpose of carrying out the Financial Agreement on the pan of the Commonwealth.
I want to say something about the operation of that Financial Agreement since its inception in 1927 or 1928. Before that time the States and the Commonwealth borrowed independently and approached the market independently, and to a great extent drew their funds from overseas by way of loan. The 1928 Loan Council put an end to this independent operation but it also put an end to borrowing by the Australian governments overseas because coincidental with the establishment of the Loan Council something else happened. There was a world-wide depression. It may be remembered that Sir Otto Niemeyer came to Australia, castigated us about the amount of debt we had accumulated and raised a tremendous pother which unfortunately gained more credence then than it deserved. But there was a kind of sanctimonious reaction to this. The Scullin Government participated in it and it was taken up by the successors of the Scullin Government. This sanctimoniousness was to the effect that borrowing overseas by governments was utterly wrong. From that time forward, with the exception of the anomalous period during the Second World War, we have virtually not borrowed overseas. In point of fact our net overseas indebtedness in total has probably diminished, partly by reason of the Sinking Fund operations and partly by reason of certain private transactions which are not fully documented but the nature of which we know something about. Since that time private overseas firms coming into Australia in place of bringing their own capital from their own resources, have in point of fact drawn resources from the Australian banking system, that is, drawn their resources from the savings of the Australian people. This has caused a complete change in the whole of our financial structure.
This was correlated with something else which occurred. From 1927-28 until the time of the War our overseas trade and invisibles, put together and called current account, were more or less in balance. The discrepancies were relatively small. I put aside the period of the War, when the whole matter of financial transactions was quite anomalous. I then come to the period from the early 1950s up to this month. During that time we generated a very big negative balance on current account taking into account our trade and our invisible commitments for capital, insurance, freight, tourism and one thing and another. I have here a table which has been compiled by the statistical service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. I ask permission to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is permission granted? There being no objection, permission is granted. ( The document read as follows)-
– I thank the House. This table shows that we are now really running into a kind of endemic imbalance on the average of $700m or $750m a year. This seems to be accepted as the normal thing. I will not go into the question whether we should accept it or not. That is a long story. I have my views and I hope I shall have an opportunity of putting them forward at some other date, but I will not have time to go into that matter now. I simply say that this is the fact: Whether rightly or wrongly, we have come to habituate ourselves to this very large negative balance. Let me look at the last few years. In 1967-68 we were $1,1 43m down. The next year we were down $ 1,004m. The next year we were down $7 18m, the next year down $849m, the next year down $375m, and the next year down $302m. Then we had in 1972-73, because of the effects of the last year of the McMahon Government, for once a positive balance of $746m. But it quickly went to a negative balance of $836m under Labor and last year we had a negative balance of $ 1,076m.
This has to be made good. Unless we are to go bankrupt we have to find foreign funds to meet this negative balance. If there is a negative balance the funds can be found either by borrowing or by selling the farm one paddock at a time; in other words, by permitting equity capital to come into the country. This is where I come back to the Loan Council. One of the very bad effects of the Financial Agreement- it has been a disastrous effect- is that it has stopped us from taking in debenture form the foreign currency which we needed in order to avoid going bankrupt and compelled us to take it in equity form. Looking over the decades, I think this was the most fundamental error of the Federal Treasury in all that time. I am afraid it is one matter which has never received sufficient attention. What Australia did during those decades was different from what other debtor countries did. During those early times Japan, for example, had a large negative balance. Japan financed that by debenture and not by equity. The consequence was that Japan did very well, thank you, because when prices rose to inflation the debt was not heavy to carry and it did not multiply itself as equity investment multiplies itself inside the borders with inflation and therefore becomes progressively heavier and heavier to carry.
Japan was able to do this although Japan was very much less acceptable to the lending basins of that time than Australia could have been, because Japan had just come out of the war as an enemy country and we had come out of the war as an ally of the countries from which the main sources were available. Very foolishly, we did not do the thing which was much easier for us to do than for Japan but which Japan did very successfully. Japan, by reason of its laws and structure, took its foreign investment in the form of debenture whereas we took ours in the form of equity. Indeed, as I have said, it seems to me probably that over this period, although sometimes we raised loans overseas they were not as big as the sinking fund payments overseas plus the increase in indebtedness of foreign firms to Australian banks, because we allowed the foreign firms to mobilise the savings of the Australian people which should have been kept for the Australian entrepreneur. It was for this reason that for nearly all the time the Australian banking system has been in fetters because, by reason of the fact that this deficit was thus satisfied, the Australian entrepreneur could not, without disastrous inflation, be allowed free access to banking facilities.
During most of these decades as it happened, and people will remember it, it was hard for the Australian entrepreneur to raise loans from the Australian banking system. There were all sorts of Treasury controls. Granted the initial error of the Treasury in taking the foreign investment in the form of equity rather than debenture, there was nothing else that the Treasury could do, because if the Treasury had allowed the Australian entrepreneur to have the same free access to the Australian banking system as the entrepreneur in America, for example, had to the American banking system then we would have had an inflationary situation in Australia. So granted its initial error, the Treasury had to do what it did. The consequences have been that over the decades the guts have been kicked out of the Australian entrepreneur. We say, for example: ‘We cannot mobilise here the capital we need’. The Australian entrepreneur no longer has the initiative to go forward. This is one of the unhappy results of a wrongful policy which stems from the accident of the birth of the Loan Council at the time when the Niemeyer sanctimoniousness was at its height.
We should have been thinking in different terms and I am quite certain that, because we had this negative balance on current account, we should have taken our foreign investment as Japan did so successfully in the form of debenture rather than equity. It is water under the bridge now but perhaps we should be turning our attention to the more specific thing of trying to avoid for the future the necessity of taking in foreign investment as an alternative to going bankrupt, because the Australian economy is surely capable of doing that. No longer are we entitled to say: ‘We are such a raw undeveloped country’. We are not. By world standards we are one of the most highly developed economies in the world. It is no longer competent for us to say: ‘We are taking in all these migrants. We need capital.’ We are not taking in the migrants. It is no longer competent for us to say: ‘We need this because of the great expansion of our population.’ Our population growth is slowing down to stagnation and perhaps even to a negative growth- a decline- m 15 or 16 years’ time when the present demographic momentum has spent itself.
These are circumstances in which we, with the greatest per capita natural wealth in the world, are still unable to pay our way. We say that we need foreign capital because of our negative balance on current account. Last year it was $ 1 ,076m. This year it looks to be less. I hope that it will be less and I hope that under the policies of this Government it will become a good deal less and will perhaps even turn positive. But what are we going to do? Surely we can find from our own natural resources the exports or the substitutes for imports which will enable us to keep our international account in balance. If the imbalance continues then to a moderate extent- not to any great or dramatic extent- we should surely be borrowing abroad on debenture to prevent our being forced to borrow at equity, to sell one part of the farm after another.
I am not saying, of course, that I would be against all types of foreign investment. I think that that would be wrong and it is certainly not the position I would take. There are times when foreign investment brings skills which we do not have. There are times when foreign investment may be correlated with the attaining of an export market which we would not get without it. In these and in other circumstances which I do not have time now to traverse, foreign investment even in equity form would be welcomed. But if we cannot cure this running sore of the negative balance, which is a disgrace to Australia, at any rate let us put the most comfortable poultice on it, and that will be debenture investment from abroad rather than equity investment.
-I do not want to pursue the course which the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has just taken. I see these 2 measures as part of the problem of Commonwealth-State relationships rather than an excursus into Australia’s overseas investment situation. As in most of the debate on Commonwealth-State relations it is easy to become bamboozled. It is easy for broad generalisations to be made as though they are great revolutionary changes. I would submit, in the first instance, that the transfer of $1 billion of State debt to the Commonwealth sounds like a magnificent gesture to those who still think $1 billion is a large sum of money, but let me relate this to the total debt situation in Australia. I should like to quote figures from the latest issue of the document Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1975 that came out with the Budget. It showed that at that point Australia’s total debt, internal and external, was of the order of $17.7 billion but $16.5 billion or nearer to $16.6 billion of that amount was held internally, and of the $16.6 billion that was held internally only $5 billion belonged to the Australian Government as distinct from the States, and of the $5 billion that ostensibly belonged to Australia an amount of $3 billion was in the short term, not the long term. So Australia’s internal funded debt was less than $2 billion whereas the States’ funded debt internally was $11.6 billion. I simply suggest that to transfer $1 billion of State debt, or if you like less than 10 per cent, is in my view again the kind of obfuscation that goes on in Australia instead of facing up to the realities of Commonwealth-State relationships.
The 2 measures before us are the National Debt Sinking Fund Amendment Bill and the Financial Agreement Bill. The legislation seeks to amend the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. As the honourable member for Mackellar said, the National Debt Sinking Fund has been in existence since 1923, apparently a belated sort of recognition then- I would suggest that thinking may be different in 1976 from what it was in 1923- that even governments perhaps have to repay their debts. The Fund was set up. at least with the ostensible virtue of extinguishing the debt, I think, over a 58-year period. This of course was before the Financial Agreement which came into existence at the onset of the Depression when it was realised how stupid it was for 6 separate Australian States to seek funds externally and that it was far better for this to be done neatly. One reason for the passing of one of the very few referenda in Australia that has been passed is I think that people did not really know what it was about. Surely this again is a great reflection on the then political maturity. Whether it is any greater now I do not know, but when one analyses the nonsense that is talked by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) of giving the States back certain powers one realises that all he wants to do is take the odium from himself and put it on to somebody else. I am sure that what the States are concerned about is how much they get in total rather than whether they get it directly themselves.
I hope we never go through the nonsense again of having a diversity of income tax structures in Australia as we had prior to the uniform taxation arrangements, but that is the kind of thing that willy-nilly sometimes is the course on which you set yourself. If ever there was a government in Australia that could do what it wants to do, perhaps for 3 or 6 years undisturbed, it is the present Government but it seems to be prepared to woo popularity now on a shorttime basis rather than face up to the realities of Commonwealth-State relationships in Australia. As far as I am concerned, I would say definitely that it is a retrograde step to go back on the uniform tax arrangements. There can be a lot of argument about what the Government collects and how it is distributed, but to think that you solve the problem by formulas like the one now proposed by taking a $1 billion debt out of nearly $12 billion as though you have made some great contribution to the problem, shows the essential short-sighted nature of the problem.
I always pay tribute to the honourable member for Mackellar because I think he does his homework on measures of this sort but I think sometimes he is inclined to make the same speech irrespective of the Bill before the House. Nevertheless, he did indicate that at least as far as the National Debt Sinking Fund was concerned there really was no change at all. I would have thought that in presenting these 2 Bills, particularly the Financial Agreement Bill, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) would have made this clear. Clause 12b (2) in the Schedule headed Sinking Funds reads:
The sinking fund contribution payable by a State in the year commencing the 1st July 1973 shall be the amount in respect of the State set out opposite the State in the following table-
If honourable members read the Schedule they will wonder really where those figures come from. If they do as they ought to do, and that is go to the annual report of the National Debt Sinking Fund, they will find that those amounts are roughly what the States were paying at 30 June 1975, and of course the payments unfortunately increase year by year because the debt increases. Under the same section of the Schedule there is set out in clause 12c (2) what the Commonwealth has to pay in respect of its contribution to the various States. It reads:
The sinking fund contribution payable by the Commonwealth in relation to a State in the year commencing the 1st July 1975 shall be the amount in respect of the State provided in the following table-
That is a grand total of $30.2m compared with what the States in aggregate have to pay, that is $121. 5m, or approximately one out of five as a share. So much for generosity. Surely we ought to be facing up to the reality of the situation. We all talk about what we call a co-operative federalism and this seemed to be part of the issues at the recent election. Then we get into the nonsense that somehow this will be changed simply by a change in a formula. What is being done here is being done by the agreement of both sides. It was something initiated by Prime Minister Gorton and honoured by our Government but I do not think the new Government proposes to honour it. What one government does sometimes ought to be contractually acknowledged by the next government. At least we accepted the reality that Prime Minister Gorton said in 1970 or 1971 that over a period of 5 years he would make this magnificent gesture of transferring $1 billionless than 10 per cent of the total State debt- out of the hands of the States on to the Commonwealth. This is what this legislation primarily does. Meanwhile of course the States’ debts rise by more than the $1 billion a year or certainly something of the same magnitude. I have heard the honourable gentleman talk on other occasions about the inequity of paying out of revenue for what he calls capital works. I suggest that it is sometimes not quite as easy to draw the same sorts of conclusions about government finance as one would draw about individual finance. If a person buys a motor car he is wise to set aside some provision annually so that at the end of three, four or five years- whenever he can afford to buy a new car- he has the capital sum to replace the asset. The situation is not quite the same if instead of having one motor car a person has five or six. He probably did not buy them all in the same year and it becomes a point of some debate whether there is much difference in setting aside a fifth of the cost of each car annually rather than simply buying a new one to replace one of the five every now and again.
The same sort of argument, of course, applies to government activity. If a government has to build hundreds of schools every year, which it has to do in a growing community, it becomes a matter of bookkeeping rather than a matter of economic sense. Either it sets aside a certain sum for the life of each school building or it says: ‘All we have to do is have enough annually to pay for whatever number we want to provide. ‘
I feel that the honourable gentleman sometimes still thinks in terms of the depression thinking of Sir Bertram Stevens’ day when I understand that gentleman was a very prominent member in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly rather than in today’s terms when people demand more and more from governments in the way of public provision than they did many years ago. We may some day reach the stage in Australia- we are certainly not there yet- when we have all the schools, hospitals and welfare institutions we want. The accounting problem may then be somewhat different. Despite what this Government says about cutting down on government expenditure each week there are instances of it increasing such expenditure and it is never specific about where the reductions will take place. This is the problem of Commonwealth-State relations. I suppose one of the early lessons we all learn as students of economics is that there is a difference between what are called wants and needs and that there is also a problem that there are always scarce resources in relation to the things that one would like to do. One has to make some sort of rational choice. One has to have schemes of priorities. I have thought for a long time- I thought this in Opposition and I tried to do it in Governmentthat the body we call the Loan Council, instead of being an annual wrangle about sums of money, ought to consider rationally what has to be done at all levels of government- not just the 2 levels. After all, the previous Government was the first to acknowledge that local government, formerly the poor relation in the system, was significant.
– They are all value judgments.
– They are all value judgments but some cannot judge as well as others and some do not have the right sense of values. This is what politics is about in the long run and it is also what priorities are about. It is about things like liberty, justice, democracy, equality of opportunity and so on. It is not just about who has the billions and who does not have the thousands. My wife used to say to me: ‘You are pretty good about the billions but not too good about the hundreds’. I suppose that is the difference between private housekeeping and national housekeeping, but this Government should be concerned about national housekeeping and that means looking after the interests of people in local government areas, in State areas and in national areas. There are supposed to be sensible divisions of functions but we have not come to a sensible decision on how to allocate finance to the functions. I think that even this Government will slowly learn that it is a lot more convenient to have the finance in one hand rather than in several. I warn the Government that it should not be too easily offhanded about placating people in the name of a theory. It is the practice that matters and the Government should not give away the benefits of uniform taxation as it has operated in Australia for something like 30 years. Of course there are arguments about how what is collected should be shared.
One needs look only at the very bulky document that is furnished every year with the Budget- ‘Payments to and for the States’- to see the variety of changes that have taken place. Even in the so-called beneficence of the Commonwealth taking the $ 1000m from the shoulders of the States it is never clear in the Australian context that if there is a shift of function and finance in one direction the functions that are left will necessarily receive the same finance as it was thought they would. We had this problem in our own Government. If the Commonwealth Government takes over tertiary education from the State governments in the name of efficiency it does not mean that the money that the States formerly spent on tertiary education will be left for them to spend on something else.
These are the kinds of problems that the Government is not honestly answering at the moment. It is making great noises and doing great window-dressing about the new deal to the States but what the States want is the finance for the functions that they wish to perform. With all respect, I so not think they care much where it comes from as long as they get it. This is supposedly an exercise in changing CommonwealthState relations but I suggest that all it is is a little bit of humbug and bookkeeping rather than reality.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Viner) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 26 February on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Lynch) read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purposes of this Bill are to make special long service leave provisions for those New South Wales and South Australian teachers who were employed in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory respectively in 1973 and who elected to join the Commonwealth Teaching Service before 1 January 1974; to enable provision to be made for the employment of teachers at technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and to make other amendments to the legislation arising from the provisions of enactments which have been made since the Teaching Service legislation was last amended.
In relation to the long service leave conditions for the teachers who transferred from New South Wales and South Australia to the Commonwealth Teaching Service, the effect of the Bill will be to preserve the long service leave conditions which the teachers would have enjoyed under State legislation which was in force immediately prior to their joining the Teaching Service and, where appropriate, treatment of future service as if it were State service for the purpose of that legislation. While preserving the eligibility of the teachers for long service leave in accordance with the conditions which were operative under the appropriate State law at the time they joined the Teaching Service, the Bill permits them to have their long service leave entitlement assessed in accordance with the Australian Employees’ Furlough Act, including future amendments to the latter Act. The Bill does not confer any eligibility for any improvements which might be brought about by changes in a State law which came into effect after the teachers concerned had joined the Teaching Service. The benefits which the Bill confers are limited to a particular group whose position was affected by the Australian Government’s decision to accept direct responsibility for the provision of primary and secondary education in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. It is similar to the legislation which was introduced in 1973 by which special superannuation arrangments were made for this group of teachers.
A second purpose of the Bill is to allow the Commissioner of the Teaching Service to make available teachers to the technical colleges established in the Australian Capital Territory. Within the Australian Capital Territory, technical education has been provided by an arrangement between my Department and the New South Wales Department of Technical Education. In the main, the full time technical teachers employed in the Territory have been employed by the New South Wales Department. As part of the decision that the Commonwealth will itself provide technical and further education in the Australian Capital Territory, the Government has decided that the teaching staff of the technical colleges in the Territory should be employed under the Teaching Service legislation. The Bill makes provision for this by a variation to the definition of an Australian Government school, and by providing that a prescribed authority may be one which is established for a public purpose in accordance with the provisions of an Act, regulations made under an Act or a law of a Territory.
Other changes introduced by this Bill relate to sections 8, 30 and 37 of the principal Act. These sections are being varied to take into account the provisions incorporated in the Remuneration Tribunals Act 1973-1974. Division 5 of Part III is repealed to take into account the provisions of the Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Act 1973. I believe this legislation should be given speedy passage by the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4 March, 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.
Upon which Dr Jenkins had moved by way of amendment:
That the following words be added to the Address: ‘, but note that:
the Speech makes no acknowledgement of the financial pre-eminence of the House of Representatives;
the Speech makes no reference to the need for action to ensure that there cannot be a recurrence of the Constitutional crisis which threatens the continuation of the Australian Parliamentary system, and
the proposals outlined in the Speech are so framed as to cause the major transfer of resources from middle and low income families to those on higher income levels’.
– I support the motion in regard to the Address-in-Reply and reject the amendment moved by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins). The GovernorGeneral’s Speech gives an outline of a program which, it is hoped, will be implemented by a government that has come into power in this country- in this, the thirtieth Parliament- after a time of disturbance both in the political and the economic fields. I was interested to read some of the comments in the Governor-General’s Speech because they give an indication of some of the problems which I believe have confronted this country and an indication of some of the hopes that this Government has for the future.
I want to make 2 points in regard to portions of speeches made by members of the Opposition. The first is in regard to the economic position in Australia. The Opposition has said on many occasions that the economic difficulties facing this country were a world wide phenomenon. When we were in Opposition we acknowledged that the economic difficulties were world wide but we said that because of the action of the then Government, which is now the Opposition, because of its failure to appreciate the circumstances of the economy, because it endeavoured to do many things far too quickly and because it failed to appreciate the situation which confronted it as a government, it aggravated the economic situation to a far greater degree than was really necessary. Our side has put forward the argument that because Australia is not as dependent upon the importation of crude oil, which is one of the factors contributing to difficulties in many countries in the economic scene- for example, Japan and other countries- the economic impact of the world problem should not have been as great in Australia as it was in some other countries. That is the contention which we have made. We do not fail to appreciate the problems that confronted the previous Government, but we say that it lacked completely and absolutely the capacity to face and to overcome the realities of the economic situation.
The second point is in regard to the comments of the Opposition relating to the double dissolution and to the actions prior to that dissolution. In listening to every speech by the Opposition on that subject and even in recent times to the attack on Mr Murdoch and his section of the Press and perhaps some other sections of the media, I have been rather amazed that the Opposition has always blamed everybody else and not itself. There has been no comment on the actions that the then Government took prior to the double dissolution or on what was called the loans affair and the fraudulent minute which was passed at an Executive Council meeting. If one traces the actions of the then government one realises that these were the reasons why the Senate at that time questioned the passing of the Budget. I would hope that, if a government of which I was a member behaved in the same manner and took actions which were as reprehensible, any Senate, even if it was a Labor-controlled Senate, would take exactly the same action as was taken by our Liberal-Country Party senators on that occasion.
I believe that the situation has almost come to the point where the present Opposition, as I said earlier, is not blaming itself. It is in almost exactly the same position, one might say, as that of people criticising a judge in a court for sentencing a criminal for engaging in an unlawful action. I believe that the Opposition has made exactly the same mistake in relation to the situation facing it today. An accusation has been made that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is being attacked because certain sections of the community are trying to destroy him, that people are trying to undermine him because he is such an outstanding Leader of the Opposition.
– He does not need any help.
– As my colleague, the honourable member for Indi, said, he does not need any help to destroy himself. I acknowledge the ability of the Leader of the Opposition. He has many qualities which provide him with a foundation for leadership, but in my opinion he lacks really those qualities which make a great leader. If, as he has charged, he is being attacked by sections of the media at the moment, surely he, by his mistakes, by his inability to assess properly a situation, has set the foundation for the belief that those comments and criticisms are justifiable The action of the Opposition at the moment reminds me. of the story of the dear old lady who attended a passing out parade at which her son was a member of the armed forces. As the soldiers walked past she said: ‘Well, well, look; only Fred is in step’. It appears to me that that is what the Opposition is saying at the moment, that it is the only one who is in step and everyone else is out of step.
I want to expand on a comment which I made when I accepted and thanked the House for the nomination as Chairman of Committees of this House. I said that I believe that we have to be extremely careful in this present political situation of 3 aspects of government. The first is a complete domination of the Executive. That, I believe, is perhaps even more dangerous because of the majority that these parties have in government. The second thing is that there must not be a complete and absolute acceptance of advice from departments or departmental heads without there being made a complete analysis of that advice, because I believe that there is sometimes a problem of a departmental head or of a department looking at a proposal along a particular and stereotyped line. In one way that is not a criticism; I believe it is just a natural corollary to the life which they live and the associations which they have. But there is a stereotyped attitude towards certain aspects which need a careful, analytical approach from those who are in the political sphere. I hope that at this time in our political history our Executive will make that critical approach and that critical analysis. Therefore, before it accepts completely advice from the department or departmental heads, I hope it will give the advice very careful examination.
The third thing is that there is a necessity to appreciate the value of the individuals who are called back benchers in this Parliament. There is a valuable contribution to be made by the back benchers in this Parliament. I believe that sometimes back benchers on both sides of the Parliament see and appreciate situations with a greater degree of political clarity because of the sphere of activity in which they are engaged than does a Minister or those in our Executive. I believe that many of the mistakes that were made by the Liberal-Country Party coalition in 1971 and 1972 were made because our Executive listened too much to the advice of the departments and the departmental heads, and I believe that is particularly true in relation to the Treasury.
I move to what is now called our telecommunications. I believe that this matter should be of concern to every member in the House. I have in my hand a book entitled Telecom 2000. It is a magnificent production. It gives a summary of main conclusions and recommendations. I might say that I could come up with some conclusions and recommendations that would not be the same as those which appear in this book. The book deals with the economic, technical and social future, etc. It gives, I believe, a fairly good analysis of the scientific and technological advancements in this telecommunications era. Part B of the book deals with social futures, economic futures and various other things such as that. It deals with what is going to happen in this field through to the year 2000 and what advances and progress can be made. I believe that there has been and that there will be a great deal of progress made in the field of telecommunications. It is a marvellous thing, as is anticipated in this book, that in the not too distant future people will be able to telephone the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other countries by means of subscriber trunk dialling. But what is the good of that facility if people do not have telephones on which to make the call. It is in that regard that I believe we need to show some concern. It is completely ridiculous to talk about what we are going to do in the year 2000 when in this country there are so many people who do not have a telephone at all. I received a letter just today from somebody who made an application for a telephone in 1973. New wires have been put into that area and that person has not yet had a telephone connected. I have received letters from people on this subject in the last few weeks. I have received polite letters from the Telecommunications Commission saying that it is sorry, that it regrets that it will not be able to put on a telephone until 1977. Let me say that in Australia in the year 1976 that is completely and absolutely ridiculous. I believe that some attention has to be given to this matter. Let me give a brief example of the situation in my own electorate.
– We have a 36-hour week now.
– Whether it is a 36-hour week, a 35-hour week or anything at all it does not matter. There is no planning in this either. That is one of the tragedies. Although we have advancements in the technological field it is ridiculous in this year of 1976 that we cannot get a telephone connected. I shall give only 2 examples. People who live in the areas of Wauchope and Gloucester in my own electorate cannot make STD calls. It costs 12c to make an STD call from Port Macquarie and it costs generally somewhere in the vicinity of $1.35 to make a similar call from Wauchope because Wauchope does not have the STD facility. The exchange building in Wauchope was a temporary building 25 years ago, and that building still stands. As I said, people have been waiting for a telephone to be installed since 1973. 1 almost said since 1793; I hope to goodness that in another hundred years somebody does not have to get up and say that he has been waiting for a telephone connection since 1973. Some people have been waiting since 1973. People who now have made application have been told, as I have said, that in some instances they will not receive a telephone until the end of this year or perhaps until early 1977. We talk about decentralisation, growth centres and development to take people away from our capital cities. One of the most important factors is communications, and unfortunately in this field we are further back now than we were four or five years ago. The Governor-General said in his Speech:
We assemble at a time when large areas of New South Wales and Queensland are being devastated by severe flooding. It is a terrible experience for those affected and my Government expresses its deepest concern for their plight. The Government is consulting with the States in taking action to ensure that all proper assistance is available. The Natural Disasters Organisation is operating smoothly.
That is one of the problems being confronted by people in rural areas. It makes my blood boil when I read in newspapers and hear people in the metropolitan areas talk about rural people being spoon-fed. If I remember correctly, my friend the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) asked a question about how much subsidy was paid to the motor car industry. How much subsidy is paid to secondary industry when we relate the subsidy to the tariff proposals? I do not object to these subsidies if they make any contribution to employment and the establishment of industry and other things but, for goodness sake, why do we hear people criticise assistance to people in rural industries? We should not forget that in many instances that assistance is keeping down the price of primary products to individuals who buy them and who work in secondary industry. Why is there this criticism when the Government also is helping people in secondary industry? I have been referring to some of the problems facing people in rural industry. Today they face floods as well as all their other difficulties and problems.
I come back to the point I made relating to the Department of Post and Telecommunications. I have said before, and I will say it for as long as I am a member of this House, that the Telecommunications Commission is a service to the community as well as a business activity. It must never be forgotten that it is a service to the community and that this service must be given to the people who deserve it and need it- these people in rural areas.
– The Commission put up the price of private mail bags to $30 this week.
-My friend the honourable member for Paterson makes a point about the increase in the cost of private mail bags. The Telecommunications Commission must realise that it is a community service. It has to face up to this situation. One of the great contributions that we can make is to work to that end. I am totally opposed to forced growth centres. Let us encourage local government, as is happening in my electorate- a magnificent electorate. Local government in my electorate, through its own efforts, has brought secondary industry to the area and I invite honourable members to come to my electorate to see it for themselves. As I have said, I am completely opposed to forced growth centres. By all means, let us have decentralisation if people really want to go to an area to live in it and to develop it.
I want to comment briefly on the international situation. I have been extremely disturbed in recent months, as I have been for a long period, about what is happening in the international situation. I refer to the do-gooders, to the people who will not face up to the realities of the situation and to the people who apparently go around blindfolded. My time has nearly expired but let me refer to one aspect. We saw on our television screens in Australia a newsreel showing Soviet ships unloading Soviet material with outside assistance, and we saw outside forces engaged in what was said by these left-wing thinkers to be a natural uprising. It was there for us to see with our own eyes, yet we still hear people say that there is no left-wing influence, that there is no communist force, that there is no communist plan. Those of us who have been saying for years that one of these days this country will find itself on the end of a limb have been told that we do not know what we are talking about. Look at what has happened in Angola. The same people who cheer about what is happening in Angola talk about American influence and interference in Vietnam. These people, for their own particularly selfish aims, want to see Australia on the end of a limb, isolated and alone, facing a world with a tremendous red coverage. If these people would only look clearly at the situation. Look at what happened in Timor. Is it not amazing that the Fretilin forces were armed -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fife) I would remind honourable members that notwithstanding that the honourable member for Farrer has had a long and meritorious service in the New South Wales Parliament, this will be his maiden speech in the Aus.tralian Parliament. I ask honourable members to extend to him the normal courtesies extended to an honourable member making his maiden speech in this place.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. At the outset I ask you to convey my very warm congratulations to Mr Speaker on his elevation to his high office. I am sure that the very wide experience of the right honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden) and his good humoured nature will ensure that he discharges his duties as Speaker of this House in a very creditable way and in a way that will reflect great credit not only upon himself but also upon the House of Representatives. I also wish to congratulate the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), on again being elected Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives. The honourable member for Lyne has had a very long and distinguished experience in this House and has occupied the position of Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees for a long time. The House is fortunate to have his services available to it.
I am grateful also for the opportunity of conveying my congratulations to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury) and the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite), the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and also to other maiden speakers. We have had a very long list of maiden speakers on this occasion and I join with other honourable members in conveying my congratulations to those whom I would regard as fellow maiden speakers on this occasion.
I think at this time it is appropriate to record one’s thanks to the members of the Parliament House staff and the public servants with whom we aU come in contact. Those of us who have had experience in the parliamentary field know only too well that no member of Parliament can adequately discharge his responsibilities and duties to his constituents without the full co-operation and assistance of these people. I also wish to pass on a message of congratulations to a group of people who perhaps it is not traditional to congratulate at this time. I refer to the Government itself. It is many years since a government has come into office in this country to face so many problems as face the government of the day
The division of Farrer which I now have the honour to represent in the House of Representatives in an important part of rural Australia. It embraces the country cities of Albury and Wagga, a number of country towns and villages and some of the best farming land in the nation. This division was created in 1949 when the Par.liament was enlarged. Until the last election the Division had been represented by only one member, the honourable David Eric Fairbairn, DFC, an outstanding Australian who served his nation with distinction in war and in peace. He served in this chamber for some 26 years- nine of those years as a Minister. On my own behalf and on behalf of the constituents of Farrer I wish to place on record our thanks for his services and our congratulations for his achievements.
I also wish to express to the constituents of Farrer my own appreciation of the confidence they have shown in me. Some of them I have had the honour to represent for the past 18 years in the New South Wales Parliament but those who reside in the southern part of the Division I am representing for the first time. As well as being concerned with a large number of broad issues, members of this chamber on both sides of the House are concerned with a large number of issues that concern only the division which each honourable member represents. The honourable member for Farrer is no exception in this instance. I am sure that all members of this House, from both metropolitan and country areas in both the east and west of Australia welcome the decision of the Government, which was referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, to include local government in its new tax sharing policy. AU of us who have been associated with local government realise that this tier of government has been the poor relation for many years and each year additional responsibilities are being heaped upon it. I believe that the decision taken by the Fraser Government to include local government in its tax sharing policy will help tremendously in overcoming many of the financial difficulties that face it.
One of the regional centres within the Division of Farrer- Wagga- has a population of some 33 000 and a growth rate of 3.2 per cent per annum. This, for a country centre, is a substantial growth rate. Tremendous pressures are placed upon the local government authority and the resources of the City of Wagga as a result of this growth rate. Without financial assistance from other than the traditional ratepayer source it is virtually impossible for the Wagga City Council to keep pace with the development that is taking place. I know that what I am saying in relation to Wagga within my own constituency applies to many other country centres throughout Australia. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) has Wangaratta within his constituency. I notice the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Sullivan) nodding approvingly as he thinks of Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera and the other centres throughout the constituency of Riverina.
Like my colleague the honourable member for Indi I am very concerned about the development of the Albury- Wodonga complex. I am deeply interested and involved in matters associated with the development of the Albury- Wodonga complex. I strongly support this great growth centre project. But at the same time I realise that the speed at which the complex develops will depend largely upon the Government’s ability to provide funds at this difficult time and the interests and confidence shown by the private enterprise sector. I believe also that the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Senator Greenwood) must review a number of matters associated with the development of this complex as quickly as possible.
Obviously the basic aim of growth centres is to provide a brake on the growth of the major cities of the Commonwealth by stimulating development in selected decentralised locations. In Albury- Wodonga, although much planning has been undertaken and large sums of money spent, mainly on land acquisition- I understand that some $60m has been spent on land acquisition in the Albury-Wodonga area- development has not yet greatly accelerated. As a result, concern is being expressed locally about some aspects of the project. A review of the guidelines of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation is urgently needed to strengthen confidence. Consideration needs to be given to providing more opportunity for local decision making by means other than through the Ministerial Council on the Development of Albury-Wodonga and the advisory committees. I believe that consideration ought to be given to reconstructing the Corporation or, alternatively, establishing a review board to replace the consultative Council. I believe also that it is imperative that industry be given the choice between leasehold and freehold land. At present only leasehold land is available for industry to develop in the Albury-Wodonga complex, and this is an inhibiting factor. Private enterprise must be encouraged. It is not my view that it is necessary for government to undertake every aspect of the development of this growth centre. I do not believe it is desirable for governments to undertake projects which can be the responsibility of private organisations and individuals.
Concern is also being expressed regarding the need for tertiary education facilities. The former Government said that it would build a university in the area, but no headway has been made in 3 years. Up until the present the Universities Commission has not recommended the establishment of a university for Albury-Wodonga. I await the outcome of the decisions for university education for the 1977-79 triennium. If a decision is not made to commence a university in AlburyWodonga during the next triennium the Minister for Education in my view should ask the Chairman of the Commission on Advanced Education and the Chairman of the Technical and Further Education Commission to advise on how tertiary education facilities can be best provided for Albury-Wodonga until a university is a viable proposition. The establishment of a community college is one proposal that could be examined. The establishment in Albury of a second campus for the Riverina College of Advanced Education is another proposal that could be investigated. This proposal is one which I believe would be viable and if necessary it could provide a first stage for an autonomous institution later to be provided in Albury-Wodonga.
As has already been pointed out, traditionally honourable members do not interrupt an honourable member delivering his maiden speech. I must say that I find this experience somewhat strange this evening but I am deeply conscious of the fact that the courtesy is being extended to me. I do not wish to take advantage of the situation by being unnecessarily provocative. Of course there will be occasions for this at a more appropriate time. However, I wish to enter a plea for the individual. Members of Parliament and in particular Ministers who have very heavy responsibilities and work loads -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 18 February 1976 I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
I require the question to be put forthwith.
Question resolved in the negative.
– When the debate was interrupted, I was entering a plea for the individual and I was saying that Ministers who have a very heavy responsibility and a workload which forces them to work extremely long hours can become so immersed in the business of government on occasions that they unintentionally put the State before the individual. In the case of the former Government, I am inclined to the view that there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that at least on the part of some Ministers, this was a conscious policy. During the last 3 years, people throughout Australia grew tired and even became apprehensive of the dictatorial attitude that was adopted by some members of the then Government. I believe that we must always remember that laws are made for men and women and not men and women for the law and that governments are the servants of the people, not their masters.
How were the primary producers and their families rated by the former Govenment? Mostly they were ignored. When they were not being ignored, they were being insulted. Surely the government of the day was aware of the general downturn in the rural economy. Surely it was aware that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has estimated that the net real farm income adjusted for inflation in 1975-76 would be $750m compared with $l,109m in 1974-75 and $2,042m in 1973-74. This is the lowest figure in the past 15 years and represents a drop of nearly two-thirds in 2 years. Why did the former Government treat the primary producer and the rural dwellers as the redundant section of the community? It not only virtually ignored the individual primary producer’s plight, but in my view it also paid scant attention to one of the greatest industries and the industry upon which this country has developed and will continue to develop in the future. It is an industry that is responsible for some 50 per cent of our export earnings. This attitude is repugnant to the vast majority of Australians.
The Governor-General, in his Speech, placed great emphasis on the needs of the individual and the importance of the individual in our democracy. Many lessons can be learned from Labor’s last 3 years in Government. One important lesson is that democratically elected governments are the servants of the people and that the individual is the most important element in a democracy. I was pleased therefore to note that one of His Excellency’s concluding and keynote remarks was a delaration of the attitude of the Government in this regard. The GovernorGeneral said:
The Government is not concerned with power for itself. It is the servant of the Australian people. Its purpose is to work with the people to create an Australian democracy which will be an example to the world of what a free people can achieve.
Also included in the Governor-General’s address was a reference to the Government’s concern for housing in this country. I believe that every Australian has the right to own his own home if he so desires. When the Menzies Government came into office in 1 949, 54 per cent of Australians were living in homes that they either owned or were buying. When the McMahon Government went out of office in 1972, 75 per cent of Australians were living in homes that they either owned or were buying. I regret to remind this House that in the 3-year period in which Labor was in office, the figure has fallen to something like 64 per cent. I believe that this is due to policies that were enforced by the Labor Government during those 3 years in office. I believe it was because of conscious policy to encourage more and more people to live in rented accommodation and to become dependent upon the Government. I feel sure that it will be the policy of this Government to encourage personal initiative and to give people an opportunity when they desire to own their home.
Debate (on motion by Mr Donald Cameron) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Loan Bill 1976
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1976
Motion ( by Mr Newman) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-In line with the saga of the accusations, charges and counter-charges of political donations, I have had brought to my attention today a statutory declaration which I should like to read to the House. It states:
I, John Francis Keegan of 1 12 Jersey Road, Woollahra, Public Servant, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:
During March 19S1 whilst in London I wrote to the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. R. G. Menzies complaining that there were no facilities at Australia House, London for registering Australian citizens in Britain for postal votes.
1 offered to open an office on behalf of the Liberal Party to perform this task on the basis that I would be reimbursed for all expenses incurred for such an operation.
1 also endeavoured to impress on the Prime Minister the need for such work to be done as there were an estimated 60,000 Australian citizens in Britain as 1951 was Festival of Britain Year.
Shortly after writing to Mr. Menzies I was contacted by my former employer, Sir Frank Packer of the Australian Consolidated Press.
Sir Frank informed me that Mr. Menzies had spoken to him regarding the opening of a Liberal Party office in London and requested that Sir Frank arrange with me to open an office on behalf of the Liberal Party as soon as possible.
An office was opened at 38 Parliament Street, London SW1, and an extensive advertising campaign was launched, publicising the need for Australians to register for postal votes for the forthcoming Australian general election.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. Is it in order for the honourable member for Port Adelaide to speak quite so fast? We on this side of the House cannot understand what he is talking about.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The declaration continues:
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy
Speaker. I believe that it is important that a debate should be intelligible.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)There is no point of order involved. In the circumstances, when the honourable member for Farrer was given the courtesy of an extension of time, one can appreciate why the honourable member for Port Adelaide is speaking at a rather fast pace.
– I was speaking to Labor Party intelligence and I am sorry about those honourable members opposite. The declaration continues: . . . that a proportion of the moneys raised would be invested in a trust account in Britain to be later used by the Australian Liberal Party to establish a National Secretariat in Canberra. Sworn and declared at Sydney on this sixteenth day of March 1976.
It was signed by John Francis Keegan. Attachment A referred to by John Keegan gives the following information about the donations made in that year: Birmingham Small Arms donated £10,000; Burns Philp Shipping Company £5,000; Dunlop Rubber Company £5,000; J. Arthur Rank £5,000; Lord Woolton $1,000; Lord Beaverbrook £1,000; P. & O. Shipping Company £5,000; Orient Shipping Company £5,000; Sir Dennis Lowson £ 10,000; Lord Bruce collected from among his friends £18,000; Lord Huntingfield collected from among his friends £12,000. The total donations from those who contributed over £1,000 was £84,977. The total donations were £96,000 which at today’s values would represent almost $lm. This was donated in London.
We can draw conclusions from this. The P. & O. Shipping Company and the Orient Shipping Company both secured very lucrative contracts with the then coalition Government to transport migrants to Australia. The Birmingham Small Arms Company secured contracts to supply the Australian Army with rifles. Sir Dennis Lowson was the leading figure in Australian Estates. We know so much about that because it cost the CSR Company and the Australian Industry Development Corporation $40m to buy back properties from Australian Estates. Then we have the statement by the Liberal Party dated 10 March 1976 and I want to quote from it because this is its view on political donations:
The Liberal Party has never sought and would not accept funds from overseas.
How can anybody in Australia believe the views that are put forward by the Liberal Party through its spokesman from the National Secretariat, Tony Eggleton, or through the Prime Minister who said it was so obnoxious to accept funds from overseas? It now comes to light that this son of thing is going on in Australia. So the Opposition puts it to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that there is only one way to overcome the problem. The legislation we have put forward over the past 3 years must be supported by every member of both Houses of the Australian Parliament.
– I have heard some stupid tirades since I have been in this House but what we have just heard is one of the most shallow attempts ever, to delve into antiquity in a futile effort by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) to secure a cheap political point. Let me remind the honourable member of a few facts of life. It is his Party that coerces unionists who in the last election voted for the Fraser Government by the hordes. The honourable member insists on political levies from people who do not want to have to pay because they do not want to vote for this Party.
– Absolute tripe.
-That is not tripe. The honourable member is the biggest dealer in tripe in this place. It is stupid for anyone to talk about political democracy in this place, particularly someone who adopts the point of view of ex-trade union secretaries from States like mine, and the honourable member for Port Adelaide should damned well recognise the fact. If he wants it, I have in my office proof going back over 15 years of political levies which were enforced by his Party against the wishes of trade unionists in this country and, in particular, in my State. So do not let the honourable member bring out that sort of tripe here. If that is not bad enough, let us look at the other side of the picture. When I first stood for the seat of Angas- and I would like honourable members to take note of this for it was many years ago- there were 7500 financial members of my Party in that electoral division. That is more than many States can produce in the way of financial membership, whether they be governed by my Party or the Australian Labor Party. The honourable member with the red tie, the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) who is interjecting, can carry on his tirades elsewhere. The issue is this: My party is not a dealer in big financial donations. Having 7500 financial members in one electoral division proves that we have a spread of support, and if the honourable member cannot get the same grass roots support within his own Party he should hang his head in shame and look at his efforts in years gone by when he was not so senile
– I rise to order. The honourable member for Angas is misleading the Parliament because the Labor Party happens to be the largest political party in Australia with the greatest individual support.
-That is not a point of order and I think the honourable member knows it.
– I am sorry I did not hear the point of order raised by the honourable member for Port Adelaide.
– I will say it again.
-The honourable member for Port Adelaide will not repeat it. Whether the honourable member for Angas heard it or not, the Chair has ruled that it is not a point of order.
– I was about to say that it was probably as futile as others I have heard in the past. I want to carry this subject one stage further. In all logic, why is there this sudden flurry of perturbation by the Labor Party over its capacity to raise funds? What has suddenly got into it? There seems to be a deathly silence from that side of the House, and so there should be. The Labor Party has attempted to sell its soul, and the people of Australia will not lightly forget it.
That being so, honourable members opposite should go back to their grass roots to try to get financial support. Do not come here squealing and suggesting that people who make donations, big and small- farmers, unionists, workers- to our Party should have their names made public. I ask the honourable member for Port Adelaide: What would happen to the unionists in his electorate, which has those $70,000 homes that he and his colleagues live in, who give donations to my Party, as they are doing? Will there be no coercion if their names are put in a public register? Of course there will be. There Will be the same sort of coercion as was applied to a friend of mine recently when he retired from the Merchant Navy and dared to reply to a letter which was patently absurd, written by a left wing unionist on the waterfront. This man replied to it from his vast experience of the Merchant Navy. What happened? For 3 years that man’s roof has been pelted with stones. For 3 years his telephone has rung at odd hours in the morning and when answered there has been nobody at the other end. Time and time again there are phantom knocks at his door and when he opens it there is nobody there. So do not talk to me about coercion. The honourable member’s Party is an expert at it, and if people ‘s names are made pub- he in registers tomorrow, in accordance with the POliCY put forward in desperation and in fear by the Labor Party today, the same sort of coercion will be applied to them.
There is another matter to which I want to refer tonight. It concerns a constituent of mine. Mrs Wanda Piotrowski died on 22 February 1972. Her husband, Mr K. Piotrowski is the administrator of her estate which was valued at $81,000. The assets comprising the estate were produced by Mr and Mrs Piotrowski from a quarrying business operated by them in South Australia. Neither of those 2 migrants brought a penny into this country- not a penny. They worked hard. They were the sort of migrants we need in this country. They worked for the public good and paid a lot of taxation over the years. They were in Australia for 25 years prior to the death of Mrs Piotrowski. Mr and Mrs Piotrowski did not have any children. The late Mrs Piotrowski has one brother living in Australia and 7 brothers and sisters in Poland. Under the laws governing intestate estates, the husband receives $10,000 and 50 per cent of the residue of the estate after all duties are paid. The remaining 50 per cent is divided equally between the next of kin. This results in this case in a payment of over $ 16,000 to the relatives in Poland.
I have reason to suppose that Mr Piotrowski does not want the result of the lifetime work of his wife and himself to go to their relatives in Poland. The payment of this sum of money to relatives behind the Iron Curtain who have in no way contributed to the earning of it seems to me unjust. Also, if the circumstances were reversed, I feel there would not be any donation in the opposite direction to relations in Australia. I think that goes without saying. There is furthermore no guarantee that the funds will reach the relatives in Poland or that the correct exchange rate will be applied to the transfer. In view of these circumstances I pose a serious question to the Government. If there is an intestate estate should people be forced to pay a high proportion of the proceeds of their property to relations they do not know and with whom they have had nothing to do for 25 years and is it proper for this Government to insist on this happening? I take the view, rightly or wrongly, that if a person has died intestate the Government should not insist on such payments. I am happy to say that the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) will supply me with a considered answer on that matter, but I thought it well worth while bringing the matter before the House because there Will be other issues that will affect honourable members who may face the same sort of instance from time to time.
– Section 156 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that any promise, offer or suggestion of valuable consideration for electoral support by way of voting or otherwise amounts to bribery. Section 161 of the same Act indicates that bribery carries a penalty of $400 or imprisonment not exceeding one year. Last December a complaint was made to the Attorney-General’s Department that a sum of $500 had been offered in respect of the Senate candidates in the Australian Capital Territory. That $500 exists. It was in the possession of the Canberra Times and I think that it would now be in the possession of the Commonwealth Police because I think it would be tantamount to exhibit A in any proceedings that were launched by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott). This morning I asked the Attorney-General who was the owner of the $500 and from whence it came. He was unable to answer the question. I make no criticism of that.
What happened in the court case concerning the $500? The case came before a Canberra magistrate, Mr Kilduff, this month and, as was said this morning, the magistrate said he proposed to discharge the 2 defendants, whom I do not propose to name but who are well known. On page 146 of the judgment His Worship said:
A magistrate is clearly bound in the exercise of a sound discretion not to commit anyone unless a prima facie case is made out against him.
On page 147 of the judgment he said:
Now, it is my view that the evidence against each of the defendants has established a prima facie case.
I want to raise this matter with the AttorneyGeneral now. A prima facie case having been established, the magistrate is duty bound to carry out his functions under the law. I shall outline them. Under the Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance applying in the Australian Capital Territory, if the Court is of the opinion that the evidence has established a prima facie case against the accused person in respect of an indictable offence the Court shall proceed as provided in the Ordinance. The provision for the then next proceedings is contained in section 94 which provides:
When all the evidence for the prosecution and the defence has been taken -
I repeat that to emphasise the provision:
When all the evidence for the prosecution and defence has been taken -
Then and only then can a court make up its mind whether there is sufficient evidence to put a defendant upon trial or, if the evidence is of such light weight, the magistrate can say that the evidence is so weak that there is no need for any committal proceedings.
But, in the case before Mr Kilduff, having said that a prima facie case had been established, the magistrate did not then proceed to take evidence from the defence. In other words, he completely ignored the provisions of section 94.
– Has the honourable member not read Archbold?
-I do not know why we get inane interjections about Archbold; I am talking about the law. What I have set out happens to be the situation. If the provisions of section 94 are not carried out, a prima facie case having been established, the court has not complied with the law. That is the requirement in terms of the law in the Australian Capital Territory. With the greatest respect to my friend who interjected, Archbold does not necessarily apply here when the relevant Act is being dealt with. Let me make this point: The Attorney-General then has power under the Judiciary Act- the relevant section is 71 A- to file a prosecution whether or not there has been a preliminary inquiry for an indictable offence. That can be done irrespective of whether a magistrate commits. There is evidence to support that suggestion. The 2 cases are Rex v. McConnon and others in Tasmania in 1955 and Rex v. Gamble as reported in the Victorian Law Reports of 1 947. Those cases clearly indicate that the AttorneyGeneral can take action irrespective of the error of a magistrate. I am not suggesting that this has to be done in every case. But the fact is that in the case to which I have referred a sum of $500 exists. Nobody knows its ownership. Public interest demands that at least the defence should have given evidence and been able to be crossexamined as to who owns that money and from which bank account it came. In that sense, one could well find that others were guilty of an offence under section 156. They could have been the persons who suggested that the money be paid.
Why is it that we do not have the appearance of justice in this case? How is it that in other cases this does not happen? I mention in particular a case in New South Wales where at present a member of Parliament is subject to an ex officio indictment having been discharged on committal proceedings? We need to be very careful that we always make it clear that justice is done in respect of everybody. It is not good enough for a magistrate to make a mistake in law, as this magistrate has done, and no action be taken. It is on that basis and on the basis of a precedent that I make my claim. There is evidence that $500 in cash exists. There is evidence that it belongs to somebody. It was given to somebody. There was no evidence led to the court as to the ownership of that $500 or from what source it came. The magistrate certainly could have said there was no prima facie case if he had gone into the evidence pursuant to section 94 of the Act. But because the magistrate did not do so, I now suggest to the Attorney-General that he should have another look at this case. He certainly could ascertain that information from the Commonwealth Police because, surely, they must know who owns the money. On that basis, the Attorney-General should give serious consideration to whether he should file an indictment under section 71A of the Judiciary Act. That he can do. There is no objection to that being done. The point I emphasise again is this: While we do not seek to suggest that people should be tried twice for the same offence, in this case I am suggesting that there has been no trial at all on the first prosecution of the offence.
– Nonsense !
-It is not good enough to have interjections because honourable members opposite are frightened of the truth. They know that the $500 exists. They know that it was paid in the course of the Senate election campaign last December. Honourable members are trying to squeeze out of the issue because the magistrate said: ‘I hold that there is a prima facie case; but I am convinced that there is not sufficient evidence to go to a jury’. In my submission, the magistrate can do that only on the basis that he has complied with the provisions of section 94 and has taken evidence from the defence. The only way to discharge a prima facie case is through the provision of section 94. If the magistrate made a mistake -
– Why not take out a prerogative writ?
-If I could have a bit of silence, Mr Deputy Speaker. Honourable members opposite are very worried about the truth.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m. tomorow
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Information about the amounts paid and expenses provided is not available to my Department. I have therefore arranged for an approach to the Australian Dairy Industry Council and I shall pass on to the honourable member whatever information it provides.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Figures for the Commonwealth loan programs have not been published as these programs include amounts for contingency purposes to cover borrowings for which the need may arise during the year. I remind you that decisions of the Loan Council are confidential to that body except to the extent that it decides otherwise.
North Australia Railway (Question No. 91)
Mr Wallis to ask the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
Is consideration being given by the Australian National Railways Commission to phasing out the operations of the North Australia Railway in the Northern Territory.
If so, what steps will be taken to protect the employment position of existing employees of the Railways.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)and(2)
Pre 1 959 - Heymanson & Co.
From 1960 - G. D. Nicholl & Co. Ltd
From July 1974 - Nicholl & Cooke Pry Ltd
Since 1960 the Lockheed Corporation has been also represented in Australia by Lockheed Aircraft (Aust.) Pty Ltd.
In all cases the aircraft listed above were procured on a government to government basis under the US Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales arrangements. The Company’s local agents were involved in sales promotion activities but not in the negotiation for the sale of the aircraft to the Australian Government.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Have clinical audiologists requested and been refused specifications and eligibility guidelines for any of the National Acoustic Laboratory behind-the-ear hearing aids or the high powered model being imported from the United States of America.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There is no record either in my Department or in the National Acoustic Laboratory of such a request having been made. If a formal request from a clinical audiologist is received all available relevant information will be made available.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
am asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
In respect of my own portfolio
Committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries;
Inquiry into Transport Charges to and from Tasmania.
The above reports are being printed.
Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures Interim Report tabled 4 December 1 973
Royal Commission on Petroleum First Report tabled 16 October 1974 Second Report tabled 6 March 1975 Third Report tabled 30 September 1975
Maritime Industry Commission of Inquiry First Report tabled 9 July 1974 Second Report tabled 26 November 1974 Third Report tabled 25 February 1976
Royal Commission on Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions
Interim Report tabled 20 August 1974
Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration
Royal Commission on Human Relationships
Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security 1
Royal Commission on Norfolk Island
The National Advisory Committee on International Women’s year
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:
Does the Minister intend altering the postal vote application form to correct the present anomaly whereby many Australian servicemen and tourists are unable to vote if they truthfully answer the section on permanent residence.
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided me with the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
It is proposed to examine the postal voting provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, including those applicable to servicemen and tourists, with a view to remedying any anomalies. The question of voting by servicemen has been explained in some detail by the Minister for Administrative Services in his answer to the Member’s letter dated 24 February 1976.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1971:78 1972: 89 1973: 80 1974: 62.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice: . ( 1 ) Is it a fact that women more than 6 months pregnant are automatically entitled to a postal vote.
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided me with the following answers to the honourable member’s question.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1976/19760316_reps_30_hor98/>.