30th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C) took the chair at 2. IS 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Whereas the Aurukun Associates Agreement Act was passed in contravention of a 1968 agreement;
Whereas this Act conflicts seriously with Commonwealth Government Policy on Aboriginal Affairs and on Australian equity in multinational corporations working in Australia;
Your petitioners therefore note with appreciation the statements already made on the matter by Government members but humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government will also
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr William McMahon, Mr Connolly, Mr Cotter, Mr Fife, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Garland, Mr Hayden, Mr Hodges, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Jull, Mr Lusher, Mr MacKenzie, Mr Neil, Mr Ian Robinson, Mr Ruddock, Mr Sainsbury, Mr Short, Mr Thomson and Mr Wentworth
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 Commonwealth Government to reduce the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote by $21m and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency. We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Killen, Mr Bonnett, Mr Cadman, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Fife, Mr Hurford, Dr Richardson, Mr Ruddock, Mr Scholes and Mr Shipton.
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 Armitage, Mr Crean, Mr FitzPatrick, Dr Jenkins, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Morris, Mr Nicholls, Mr Scholes and Mr Stewart.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas the Democratic control of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is essential to a sound system of industrial relations;
And whereas Democratic control can only be guaranteed by the opportunity for all rank and file members of organisations to vote in elections for all officials and all Committees of Management and whereas some forces within the Trade Union Movement are attempting to deny rank and file members the right to vote in all Union elections;
Your petitioners humbly pray, that the members in Parliament assembled will take steps to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Cadman, Mr Fry, Mr Haslem, Mr Neil, Mr Ruddock, Mr Stewart and Mr Antony Whitlam.
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:
There is a growing interest and concern in all sections of Australian society for the conservation of the environment, natural and man-made.
That there are also rapidly growing pressures by powerful forces tending towards the destruction of the Australian heritage.
That it is therefore urgent to appoint the Australian Heritage Commission, which was approved by both sides of this Parliament and to give the Commission sufficient independent staff, resources and funds.
That Technical Assistance Grants and Administrative Support Grants to community organizations are needed to partially redress the gross imbalance in technical expertise and resources suffered by community groups in pressing the community’s case against the exploiter.
That a proper balance between the Governments programme of public austerity and the need for action in conservation would be a modest increase in the budget allocations in these areas over that of 1975/76.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett, Mr Bourchier, Mr Chapman, Dr Jenkins and Mr Ruddock.
Similar petitions were lodged by Mr Hamer, Mr Charles Jones and Mr Simon.
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:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the Schools Commission.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Peacock, Mr Chipp and Mr Shipton.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any one year would-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax personal incomes be not reintroduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris and Mr Antony Whitlam.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned staff of Pimlico State High School by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:
That continuing financial support for Education from the Commonwealth Government is essential so that the following immediate needs of the above school in particular may be met:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett.
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 Carige.
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 possibility that cuts in Government expenditure will adversely affect the operations of the Australian Assistance Plan.
We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government endorse the continuation of the Australian Assistance Plan as a long-term program to be implemented on a regional basis throughout the nation.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Carige.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That the undersigned persons believe that-
The $300 limit on income tax deductibility in respect of personal residential land and water rates is unrealistic and is a discriminatory income tax penalty.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government will take steps to see that the aforesaid limitation is removed entirely or substantially increased.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That whereas the natural environment of Fraser Island is so outstanding that it should be identified as part of the World Natural Heritage, and whereas the Island should be conserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations,
Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in the House assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
That the Australian Government uses its constitutional powers to prohibit the export of any mineral sands from Fraser Island, and
That the Australian Government uses its constitutional authority to assist the Queensland Government and any other properly constituted body to develop and conserve the recreational, educational and scientific potentials of the natural environment of Fraser Island for the long term benefit of the people of Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
To provide a full intellectual and cultural programme aiming at constant stimulation and awareness of the world in which we live.
To achieve these aims and objectives we will need on a continuing basis the following:
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your Honourable House will continue with Federal funds for education without further cutbacks particularly in the provision for capital works and special grants.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
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 since the Australian Assistance Plan is making it possible for citizens to help themselves, thereby ensuring best possible use of limited Government resources, as shown by the fact that over 200 community projects have been initiated or funded through the AAP in the Outer Eastern Region.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament will take immediate steps to continue the Australian Assistance Plan as recommended in the Report tabled by the Honourable the Minister for Social Security, Senator Margaret Guilfoyle in Parliament on the 4th March, 1976 and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Falconer.
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:
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays, 9.30 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.; Sunday, 1.30 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that the Australian National Library be accessible to readers 9.30 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. daily.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Haslem.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the new Government during the recent election campaign, promised lower taxation and more money in people’s pockets.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will take immediate steps to prevent the introduction of Television and Radio licence fees, the imposition of a tax levy for Medibank and the introducton 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 Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 400 million people in the world are undernourished; inflation is hitting the poor countries more than the rich; every reduction in aid affects people; Australia can afford to help; Australian aid helps people help themselves.
If we are to achieve the United Nations aid target, Australia must give at least 0.55 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP) in the next budget. by Mr Les McMahon.
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 Nicholls.
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 in respect to individuals employed under the National Employment and Training Scheme, great hardships have risen with the changes in payment of allowances under that scheme.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that individuals be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living by allowing their spouses or themselves to ensure this and by revoking the $6.00 limit currently in force.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Shipton.
-I give notice that on Thursday next, General Business day No. 2, I shall move:
That this House requests the Government to reconsider the necessity for a reduction of overseas aid this financial year and now calls for its restoration in the Budget by adding an income graded overseas aid surcharge to all taxable incomes so that Australia will be able to set an example by devoting 0.7 per cent of the gross national product to overseas aid and truly honour its obligations to the United Nations and to the poorer nations of the world.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Resources. Why has it become necessary to refer the question of the crude oil pricing policy to the Industries Assistance Commission? Did not the Minister endorse the present policy when it was announced last September by the then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam? Is it not a fact that Esso-BHP and Wapet have already written off their development costs and that any increase in the current oil price at this stage can only be viewed as a golden handsake bearing in mind Press reports last weekend that Esso is repatriating $70m of its oil profit this year to the United States? If the Minister believes that the present oil pricing policy is deficient, why does the Government not say so and review its whole policy rather than shunt one aspect of it to the IAC with the intention of hiding behind its report?
– It is quite incredible that the Labor Party should continue to defend its attitude in relation to oil exploration and the development of oil resources in this country. The Labor Party has set this nation back many years. Future generations will pay very dearly if we do not have sufficient oil to meet our requirements or at least a reasonable proportion of our requirements. The honourable member makes some claim that the recent price adjustment which was arbitrarily determined by the previous Government corrected the situation. It gave very little benefit because at the same time that Government put a $2 per barrel excise duty on oil which practically negated whatever the increase might have been. It was a phoney presentation. The people who are concerned about developing the present known resources of oil have made representations to the Government pointing out that the cost of developing some of the outlying fields, some of the different pools, some of the newer areas, is quite prohibitive under the present pricing arrangements. The Government has taken cognisance of these remarks. It has asked that the matter be independently assessed and that advice be given to it. We decided to refer the matter to the Industries Assistance Commission and have asked for its report within a period of 6 months. Upon this decision will depend whether these companies are able to continue the development of” some of their fields. One such field is the Flounder field in Bass Strait. If this field is not developed nowand probably it will take three or four years to develop- our supply situation when we are approaching the 1 980s will be worse.
-The Minister for Post and Telecommunications will be aware of the large increases in post and telecommunications charges but I refer him to one in particular, the private mail bag charge which has gone up 100 per cent to $30. Is he aware that as a result of this a large number of private mail bags have been cancelled and therefore there has been no worthwhile increase in total revenue to the Postal Commission and that largely there has been just a disadvantage to many former users? As mail bags are provided by the users and are of advantage to postmasters and mailmen for sorting mail as well as being a protection for mail being delivered, will the Minister take this matter up with the Commission with a view to having the charge reduced to its former level of $ 1 5 which is quite high enough for this service?
-I am aware of the increase in the charge for mail bags. I am not aware that there has been a tremendous decrease in their use but if my honourable friend tells me that that has happened in his electorate I would accept his statement.
– He represents his electorate well and is very knowledgeable about it.
– He has only half as many people in his electorate as you have in yours.
-Of course, but they are still great Queenslanders. I have double the number but they are all great Queenslanders. The honourable member for Maranoa would know that I am concerned about the escalation in costs. We are all now paying the price for the mismanagement of the Australian economy that we had during the last few years. Of course I will look into this matter, discuss it with the Commission and report back to the honourable member.
-I address a question to the Minister for National Resources. Is it a fact as reported that the New South Wales soft coking coal producers received an increase of only 20c per tonne in their recent negotiations with Japanese importers? Has the Minister approved these contracts and if so why did he approve them? In view of the massive increase in export earnings resulting from Government intervention in export negotiations during the 3 years of Labor administration, is it not imperative at a time when the national exchequer needs every penny it can get that the policy of supervision of contract negotiations be continued? Will the Minister tell the Parliament and the mining industry what role he and his Department intend to play in the future sale of Australian resources overseas?
-The Government has made very clear what its attitude and role are in relation to the surveillance of export sales of our raw materials. This will be a watching brief to see that the national interest is being protected. It is not our intention to become directly involved in commercial negotiations which are matters for producers and consumers but we do intend to be informed at all times of what is going on. If there is any need for the Government to help in these negotiations it will give the matter consideration. We have had some very successful negotiations recently. The iron ore negotiations were carried out under most difficult circumstances because of a depressed situation. The steel industry throughout the world is working at a low level. There are very heavy stockpiles at overseas steel mills. The negotiations were not easy but we managed, or at least the industry- the iron ore producers- was able to negotiate an increase of up to 35 per cent which will apply over a period of 18 months. Now that is a very satisfactory increase to apply. It puts the industry in a much better position to negotiate even some of the larger contracts that come up in 1977.
We hear the honourable member sort of clinging to the performance of the previous Government and the way in which it got involved in some of these contracts. I refer to the iron ore contract because the then Minister held his chest out and spoke of the great job he did when he forced the industry to go back and to get a higher price in 1974. Yes, the industry went back and got a higher price but it was only a cosmetically adjusted higher price because it had no retrospectivity. The Australian industy did not get lc more because of the then Minister’s interference. All it did was to create antagonism between producers and the consuming country. The same sort of thing happened in the coal industry when the Minister raced off to Japan in 1975. He was going to solve the issue. Unfortunately there was a little affair going on in Australia about Arab money for which he had to race home. But to conclude the deal quickly, he sold out on some of the coal producers who had reached the stage where they were going to get a considerably higher price than he sold out for in the end. In his haste to do a deal, he forgot to make allowance for currency changes. As it turned out, the Australian currency depreciated against the American currency. It meant the difference of about $4 or $5 a ton. When we spread the average over the whole industry, the industry lost something between $30m and $40m because of the bungling and interference of the Minister concerned.
– The Prime Minister would be aware of serious allegations made by the Leader of the Opposition against a former Minister for Civil Aviation, the late Senator the Honourable Sir Shane Paltridge. Is the Prime Minister also aware that a former member for Denison, the late Athol Townley, on occasions represented the late Minister for Civil Aviation in this House? Is there any truth in any of the outrageous and scandalous allegations against the late Sir Shane Paltridge? What can be done to protect the reputations of deceased Ministers and prevent great emotional distress to their surviving families?
-There is no evidence known to the Government that would lend any substance to the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition. This matter began when the Leader of the Opposition wrote to my colleague, the Foreign Minister, and said that a member of the Australian National Airlines Commission had advised him that certain transactions had taken place concerning the purchase of an Australian interest in Lockheed Electra aircraft. The Foreign Minister asked what evidence there was in relation to this matter. One might have expected that if somebody who purports to be in a responsible position had evidence, he would provide it so that it could be examined, and further that somebody who purports to be in a responsible position would not idly make this kind of accusation to the great harm and distress of surviving relatives and friends and especially to the harm of somebody who has been dead a considerable number of years. But this is the nature of the man.
Who is the member of the Australian National Airlines Commission who gave this information to the Leader of the Opposition? Was it Sir Warren McDonald who died in 1965? Was it Brigadier Blackburn who died in 1960? Was it Sir Giles Chippindall who died in 1969? If it were one of those three, the honourable gentleman has kept this information strangely to himself for quite a number of years. If it is one of the members of the Commission still living, then again, why not name the person who made the charge originally to him so that it could be pursued, as the Foreign Minister suggested if there were any evidence.
What has happened in relation to this particular matter I think reminds us of another case when the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth indicted a certain person on charges of criminal libel in relation to another transaction. There were 6 charges, 6 pleas, I think, of not guilty, 6 indictments of guilty, and a year in gaol on a charge of criminal libel as a result. It was the case of Somerville Smith which also involved Shane Paltridge who had been a vastly respected member of this Parliament. I believe that the charges that Mr Somerville Smith made were very similar in kind. No evidence was adduced in that case, I am advised. No evidence has been brought forward by the Leader of the Opposition. If there is evidence, why does he have to keep it secret? Why does he have to make statements seeking to besmirch the name of a dead man, because that is what he is doing, and doing it in the cheapest possible manner. I think the words that were used in mitigation by Mr Somerville Smith were not inappropriate to the Leader of the Opposition. They were: . . . When I look back at some of the newsletters and the contents of them, Your Honour, I just cannot realise that it was myself that wrote those newsletters. And I wish to apologise, Your Honour, to anybody and everybody that may have been mentioned, from the Prime Minister down to any person in any lower standing of life. I have libelled them and I really and truthfully, Your Honour, did not know at the time the meaning of ‘libel ‘ and the implications it has on the lives of people who have been libelled. . . .
What is the difference between Sommerville Smith and the Leader of the Opposition? On the evidence so far made public there is not much difference between these particular matters.
Mr Speaker, in this place there is not great protection from or great defence against slander of people in this place, and under the rules there is not much protection from slander against the dead. Protection really lies as much as anything else, Mr Speaker, not only with the Standing Orders and what you are able to do when people are in this place, but also on the decency and honesty of honourable members themselves.
That is a matter that the Leader of the Opposition fails to understand because it is so plainly and blatantly foreign to his nature.
– You are a hypocrite.
– Order! The honourable member for Prospect will withdraw that remark.
– No matter how true you will withdraw it.
– I will withdraw it, but you, Mr Speaker, are probably aware of the -
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw it unconditionally.
– I withdraw it.
-The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw my remark, but it is true.
-Order! The House will come to order. The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw the remark unconditionally.
- Mr Speaker, I withdraw it unconditionally too.
-The House does not need reminding that the person who makes this accusation is the person who on all the evidence sought to sell his Party to Iraq for half a million dollars. Who stood to defend him? Was it the President of the Australian Labor Party? Was it other people in the Party? It was Mr Hartley. Mr Hartley was the prime enemy of the Leader of the Opposition when he was seeking to do various things to the Victorian division of the Labor Party. But now who are the closest together? Mr Hartley and the Leader of the Opposition. Because of Mr Hartley’s links with the Middle East, Mr Hartley and the Leader of the Opposition are so close together. I think these matters need to be understood.
The honourable gentleman has a favourite biographer and I would like to read just one sentence from a recent publication by that favourite biographer. Laurie Oakes wrote:
At the Caucus meeting, and at a Press conference afterwards, Whitlam was able to deny specific aspects of the News Ltd report- and give the impression that he was denying the whole story. It was a legalistic approach, and one of dubious honesty.
From his favourite biographer that might almost be his favourite epitaph- a man of dubious honesty. Mr Speaker, Senator McKenna, who knew Senator Paltridge well, made it quite plain that he regarded him as a man of uncommon character and integrity when he spoke of him in the Senate after Senator Paltridge had died.
Others who knew Shane Paltridge well have spoken of him in the same vein. There has been no evidence adduced against him. The statement in a letter from the Leader of the Opposition gave a source that is itself unnamed. If there was a source that could be named, why did the Leader of the Opposition not come forward with it as he was asked to do? I can only say, as all honourable gentlemen sitting behind the Leader of the Opposition would know, that the honourable gentleman is in this Parliament an influence that is corroding, corrosive and corrupt.
– Order! The right honourable gentleman will withdraw the word ‘corrupt’.
– I withdraw it.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he any evidence to support the imputations which he made against my Ministers and me when questions were directed to him about Lockheed Aircraft Corporation corruption by the honourable members for Fremantle and Newcastle on 18 and 24 February last? I ask him also when he first saw the letter which I sent to the Foreign Minister on 3 1 March about the information which I had been given about the late Senator Sir Shane Paltridge. I ask him further: Has he checked the question which I put on notice for the Minister representing Senator Sir Shane Paltridge in February or March 1962, which was referred to in the letter of 31 March which I sent to his colleague?
-On IS March.
– That date, 15 March, is the date upon which the written reply was given. My memory is- I have not checked it since- that the question was placed on notice in February 1962. Finally I ask: What action has the honourable gentleman taken pursuant to the questions asked of him without notice by the honourable members for Fremantle and Newcastle and the letter sent by me to the Foreign Minister on this matter 5 weeks ago?
-The honourable gentleman misunderstands, as I would have expected him to, the nature of this instance. He does not seem to understand that if somebody makes allegations of the kind that he has made, that person ought to put forward some evidence. In relation to questions that were asked of me on an earlier occasion, I think, if my memory is correct, I indicated that the charges could equally be made against the honourable gentlemen who had been Ministers when certain transactions had taken place, that both charges were equally without evidence as far as I was aware and that honourable gentlemen who sought to make these allegations should not do so without evidence. It is not for the Government to examine matters raised wildly and without evidence. It is for those who seek to besmirch a name to produce some evidence. If they are unprepared to produce some evidence, let them be silent because they besmirch the name of this Parliament.
-I ask that the letter to which I referred be incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
Government supporters- No.
-Leave is not granted.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I draw his attention to the Government’s decision to reduce the level of foreign aid. In view of this decision, I ask the Minister: Is it the Government’s intention to cut back on the food aid component of the total foreign aid bill when there are cheap, high quality foods which are valuable as food aid, such as skim milk powder and beef products, to replace other forms of aid? Will greater emphasis be given by the Government to food aid as a component of foreign aid? Will the same emphasis be given by the Government to the use of foreign aid items such as specialist personnel and production inputs such as fertilisers as components of the foreign aid program, to boost these manufacturing industries in Australia and to relieve hunger and suffering in the Third World?
-It is true that, as a result of our endeavour to bring about a better relationship between public sector expenditure and private sector expenditure, this year in our foreign aid expenditure we are providing only $29.7m. I say ‘only ‘ but I want to draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that this is a very significant sum of money. It reflects a very worthwhile contribution towards helping those people about whom the honourable member expressed concern in his question. There are a number of reasons why we are finding it difficult to provide the range of food aid that many honourable members would like us to provide. The first and most significant reason is that unfortunately eating habits in many countries do not conform with the availability of surplus food in this country. Yet, as honourable members will recall, the Minister for Foreign Affairs referred to a very worthwhile provision of skim milk powder to Mozambique which does accord both with the requirements of that country and with the availability of surplus skim milk powder.
The Government is intent on finding worthwhile ways by which it can help countries which are to be the receipients of foreign aid. We believe that our aid should conform with their basic requirements and should equally relate to the availability of products within this country. No figures have yet been set in relation to the next year’s food aid program but we hope that we can relate not only the total amount provided for food aid but also the contents of that food aid program both to the requirements of the recipient country and to the availability of foodstuffs and other types of agricultural aid within this country. In so doing we believe that we can make a very worthwhile contribution to the needs of those recipient countries.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that which I have just asked him. Did he see the letter which I sent to the Foreign Minister on 31 March concerning the Lockheed Electra purchases under Senator Paltridge before I quoted from the letter last Thursday? If he did, how long before did he see it.
-If the honourable gentleman will indicate the relevance of his question I will answer it.
– My question which is addressed to the Prime Minister concerns taxation. Has the Government made a firm commitment to introduce tax indexation? If it has, when will it be introduced and when will it be announced that it will be introduced? More importantly, can the Prime Minister advise whether tax indexation will give immediate taxation relief to taxpayers in Australia or will give relief only in the years following its introduction? Finally, can the Prime Minister tell me what reasonable expectations, if any, the taxpayer may have of reforms to taxation over and above and quite separate from tax indexation?
– The Government’s commitment to tax indexation is firm and unequivocal. We have made it plain that our decisions in relation to these matters will be announced at the time of the Budget. We have also made it plain that we will be going as far with the Mathews proposals as financial responsibility will allow. The Treasurer and I and other spokesmen for the Government have made it plain that that will be a significant step. The benefits flowing from taxation indexation will accrue not only in the first year in which it is introduced; they will be of continuing benefit because they will prevent the Commonwealth Government, from taking, by the illicit process of inflation and the progressive tax scale, a higher proportion of people’s income and of everything that Australia produces year after year. Tax indexation will give a protection to individuals that no other system can give. Also it will compel governments to be honest, because if they want more of people’s income they will have to legislate for it, and that means standing up in this Parliament and indicating their intentions clearly and openly. Mr Speaker, I think there was a second part to the question.
– I asked whether there are to be other taxation reforms.
-I hope that this Government will come to be regarded as one of continuing and enlightened reform in the best Liberal tradition, and I expect that to continue for many, many years.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. It concerns a statement contained in the Government’s submission to the National Wage Case concerning the terms of trade. The document stated that a sharp rise in import prices is ‘a likely and worrying possibility’. Given that it appears that world inflation rates are declining, will the Treasurer explain on what grounds the Government believes that a sharp rise in import prices is a likely and worrying possibility and in what specific areas of import?
– I take the traditional course which has always been adopted when matters have been before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and that is not to canvass the views which the Government is putting before that Commission. That is the approach which I took when Minister for Labour and National Service and it is the one to which I adhere at the present time.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that some wives who are separated from their husbands and who have had orders made for their maintenance, are having difficulty in collecting that maintenance? Has the AttorneyGeneral examined the extent of this problem? Will he take steps to see that orders made under the Family Law Act are complied with?
-In January I became aware of the fact that deserted wives were finding it difficult to enforce their maintenance orders. I inquired as to whether the Australian Legal Aid Office was able to assist them and I found that the previous Labor Government had decided that the Legal Aid Office should not assist in relation to the enforcement of maintenance orders. In fact, no provision for this purpose was made in the last Budget nor was staff provided. So I was not able to give any assistance in that regard. I had a look at the family law regulations and discoveredhonourable members will perhaps recall this- that the provisions for the enforcement of maintenance orders prescribe a series of alternatives for deserted wives with defaulting husbands. For instance, there is a procedure for sequestration; there is a procedure for garnishment; there is a procedure for seizure of property. Unfortunately those regulations were drawn in such a way as to be appropriate to a superior court of record and required an application to be made supported by an affidavit.
Honourable members will recall that in years past the enforcement of maintenance orders was usually done through courts of petty sessions and that the defaulting husbands would be brought before those courts on warrants. If they did not pay up they were sometimes sent to Long Bay or some other appropriate place. Under the Family Law Act that procedure was set aside. In order to alleviate the position of the deserted wife it seemed to me appropriate to amend the regulations. Another thing I found was that whereas in the past the clerks of petty sessions in the States had assisted deserted wives to take out the warrants or the informations in relation to the enforcement of maintenance orders -
– Without fee.
– Without fee. Whereas they had done that in the past they would not do it under the family law regulations because a choice had to be made as to whether the wife would apply for, say, an order for seizure, an order for sequestration or the like. The clerks of petty sessions, I understand on instructions from the Crown law authorities of the various States, no longer assist deserted wives and have not done, certainly in New South Wales and I understand in Victoria, in recent months. This week a new regulation has been gazetted. Its purpose is to endeavour to overcome this problem. In future a deserted wife whose order for maintenance is not being complied with by her husband will be able to go along to a clerk of petty sessions and take out what I choose to call a composite summons. That summons can be served on the husband. It will require him, in effect, to come along and be questioned. As a result of that questioning the magistrate will be able to make one or other of the orders that are set out in the regulations under the Family Law Act. In other words, provided the wife can establish in some way that the default has taken place and that the order has been made, there will be no need for the clerk of petty sessions in future to make any decision in giving advice to the deserted wife as to what course she should take.
– Does this mean that from now on the chamber magistrate will give advice without fee- again?
– This should mean that the chamber magistrate should be able to do that because really no advice will be involved as the summons is more or less automatic.
-There will be no fee?
-There never was a fee and, of course, it will not require legal aid. No legal aid would be available for it because of what had been done previously. But that, I believe, should go a long way towards assisting the deserted wives who at the moment are unable to have their orders for maintenance enforced.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Is it the intention of the Department of Defence to take over Lawley House for Department of Defence uses?
– I regret that I am unable to inform the honourable gentleman one way or the other. It is news to me. I will treat the question as being on notice and I will see that the honourable gentleman gets a reply to it this day.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I ask: Has the Government had the New Zealand natural disaster insurance scheme checked out? Has this scheme been operating in New Zealand since 1944 and is it known as the Earthquake and War Damage Act? Is the premium a very minimal amount and has the scheme faced up to many disasters, such as earthquakes, storms, floods, fires, land slip damage and so on? Has it met those disasters financially and does it have a large credit surplus in its funds at the present time? Can the Treasurer inform the House whether this scheme could be operated successfully in Australia to cover such disasters as the Darwin cyclone, the Tasmanian fires, the Brisbane flood and many other floods throughout the nation?
– I am aware of the scheme to which the honourable gentleman referred- the New Zealand natural disaster program- which has led to the results to which he has adverted being achieved in New Zealand. I remind the honourable gentleman of what I said recently in response to a question posed to me by the honourable member for Balaclava, that is, that the Government has accepted in principle the need for a natural disaster program in Australia because of the obvious deficiencies in the existing facilities which certainly have been brought home by recent natural disasters. A working party, representing both the government and the free enterprise sector, has been established. That working party is naturally taking the opportunity to view in all countries in the Western world which have a value for the purposes of comparison and research- and that will include New Zealand- comparable programs which may have a capacity for implementation here. As the working party proceeds with its task I will provide the honourable gentleman with whatever progress reports I can make available.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Is the Minister aware that there has been a large number of complaints from patients in regard to both the quantity and the quality of the food that is now provided to patients at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital in New South Wales. Are those complaints the result of expenditure cuts ordered by the Government? Does the Minister agree that the food that is provided to patients at military and repatriation hospitals should be of good quality and sufficient in quantity? Will the Minister investigate these complaints and remedy the situation?
– I agree with the honourable member that the quality of food at any repatriation or military hospital should be good. I am not aware of any complaints about the quality of food at Concord Repatriation General Hospital. I can only say that on visiting Concord Hospital I for one was very impressed with the quality of food that was produced by the kitchen. I had the opportunity to have lunch prepared by the kitchen. I doubt very much that there is any serious problem- or any problem at all- with the food. However, I am quite willing to have a look at the complaint. If the honourable member has any specific cases which he would like to bring to my attention I would be only too glad to examine them.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Transport. Is the report in this morning’s Australian newspaper correct that the Government is looking at the possibility of increasing the number of non-smoking seats on aircraft -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to base his question on a newspaper report. I will assist the honourable gentleman by informing him that the way to begin his question is merely to say ‘Is it correct that’ and then to go on with the remainder of the question.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker, I will rephrase the question. Is it correct that the Government is looking at the possibility of increasing the number of non-smoking seats on aircraft? If so, would the Minister agree that, with the dangers of so-called passive smoking, which non-smokers are forced to endure in the presence of smokers, and also the recirculating effects of air-conditioning, an increase in the number of non-smoking seats is not an adequate solution to the problem? Will the Minister therefore take the only step which will provide an adequate solution, particularly in regard to preserving the health of the 63.1 per cent of adults who are non-smokers -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to put a question which suggests the answer. The honourable gentleman is entitled to ask the Minister: ‘Will he make a change?’
-I now ask the Minister: Will he ban smoking on aircraft?
– I have to confess to some surprise at the support for the question. I take it from the tenor of the honourable member’s question that like me he is a non-smoker. I take it also that, like me, he has on occasions boarded an aeroplane and sought a non-smoking seat only to be placed near, as I have often been, one of the famous cigar smokers of the Parliament or worse still one of the famous pipe smokers of the Parliament. This matter was first raised by a question on notice I think by the honourable member for Murray. As a result of his question I wrote to the airlines and asked them for information as to the basis upon which they had made a judgment on the number of seats that were marked ‘non-smoking’. That was some weeks ago. I do not think I have had a reply from either of the domestic airlines on the subject. The honourable member takes the matter one stage further by asking whether I will ban smoking on aircraft. It may not be known in the Parliament, Sir, but I am a great defender of civil rights. As a great defender of civil rights I therefore must have regard for the feelings of my fellow man or fellow person, or whatever the appropriate expression may be. Therefore I do not at this stage- and I repeat ‘at this stage’- propose to ban smoking on aircraft. I will however- this is really letting myself in for something- be prepared to take representations on the subject.
– I ask the Prime Ministen Does he recall the Australian Statistician’s survey of 60 000 Australians in 1974 which showed that 51.4 per cent of those polled preferred Advance Australia Fair as the National Anthem and 19.6 per cent preferred Waltzing Matilda? In deciding that Waltzing Matilda should be played for Australia at the Olympic Games at Montreal, did the Prime Minister take account of the findings of this the largest opinion poll ever conducted in Australia- it was 30 times as large as any polls ordinarily conducted in Australiaor did he consider that the personal wishes of himself and his colleagues should override the preference so recently and clearly expressed by the Australian people?
– The honourable gentleman, as always, has his mind in the past and I suppose it will stay there because for him there is no future. The circumstances that the honourable gentleman established in relation to that poll were not real ones. They were circumstances in which God Save the Queen could not even be part of the poll and in which military bands were told that they must not play it. The honourable gentleman deliberately set out to establish a false set of circumstances. My colleagues and the Government have expressed a strong preference for a particular tune because it is the tune which is known right around the world to depict Australia and much of what is best in Australia. The circumstances in which it is often played arouse a feeling of comradeship and mateship which, before the honourable gentleman became Prime Minister, were so much part of the Australian scene. The decision announced yesterday indicating the Government’s preference seems to have met, both yesterday and today, with a remarkable degree of public acceptance through one form or another. Whatever final decision the Australian people make, I am sure that it will be a decision that is intrinsically their own and something that will be remembered and be of value for a long while.
The honourable gentleman did not remind people before conducting his poll that the second verse of Advance Australia Fair again harks back to the days in the past that he would wish to forgetwhen Britannia did rule the waves. The words do not really seem to be the most appropriate, although the words are not the most significant element. Advance Australia Fair does not seem the most appropriate tune in the view of many people for Australia’s national tune. That is what it is all about.
– I ask the Attorney-General whether New South Wales is the only State in Australia where litigation can be taken up on behalf of a deceased person in the event of that person having been libelled and whether Queensland or some other State would be an appropriate place in which to slander a deceased person deliberately?
– I rise on a point of order. The question clearly asks for a legal opinion.
-The question does ask for a legal opinion but it is competent for the Attorney-General to answer in terms of whether the legislation exists, as distinct from the second part of the quesion as to whether Queensland would be an appropriate place. The AttorneyGeneral is entitled to give a statement of fact regarding the legislation.
-I am not able to answer the question completely. I can only say that I think in 1958 the Defamation Act of New South Wales provided a definition of defamatory matter that included statements, for instance -
– I have had plenty of practice at it.
– The honourable member has had experience of the defamation laws of New South Wales. The Act included a definition to the effect that defamatory matter related to matters reflecting on a deceased person. However, in the interpretation of that I understand that even if something reflects on a deceased person it has to reflect also on the living. For instance, if somebody said of somebody’s mother who was deceased that she was a whore I understand that that would reflect on the living. So not all defamatory matters would come within the classification. I doubt whether this provision still exists in New South Wales. I think it was taken out in 1974. Whether it exists in other States, I am not sure. From recollection, it was contained in the laws of Queensland and I think of Tasmania, but may I say that it is not a matter that I have looked at precisely for some time.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of recent speculations about mini budgets can the Treasurer explain to the House whether it is Government policy in general terms- I do not think he knows any other- to reflate or deflate the economy?
-Order! The honourable member is not entitled to ask a question inviting the Minister to announce Government policy. He may ask the Minister to explain Government policy and within the terms of that interpretation of the question I call upon the Treasurer.
– It is very difficult to understand quite what the honourable member is getting at. The Government has made its position perfectly clear. We are determined to wind down the rate of inflation. We have exercised decisive policy decisions in relation to monetary policy, wages policy and certainly in relation to the question of reducing the overall size of the Government deficit because of its inflationary consequences at the present time. The honourable member may be bemused about Press reports which have been appearing in recent days. They range from fact to fiction. All I would say to the honourable member, if that be the prelude to what he was asking of me, is that of course at the present time the Government is undertaking its normal Budget process. I might say to the House in relation to our approach to this matter that that process will be far more thorough and far more comprehensive than was ever the case when the honourable member and his colleagues were in government and decisions which flow from that process will be the subject of announcement in this Parliament at the appropriate time.
- Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House for a moment in relation to a question asked of me by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) relating to Lawley House.
– May I inform the honourable member that no initiative has been taken by the Department of Defence to acquire Lawley House. That information has just reached me. Following suggestions that Lawley House may close, informal discussions have been held in the Army Office of the Department to see whether Lawley House could be used for the purpose of accommodating members of the Services presently housed in guest houses throughout Canberra. If there is any further information available I will notify the honourable member.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian National Railways Act 1975, 1 present the annual report on the operations of Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30 June 1975 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General relating to those statements.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on a north-south highway connecting Darwin to Melbourne via Mount Isa and Broken Hill. Due to the limited number available, reference copies of this report have been placed in the Bills and Papers Office of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Library.
– For the information of honourable members I present Part A of a report by the Bureau of Transport Economics entitled ‘Consumer Preferences in Urban Buses and Bus Services’. Due to the limited number available, reference copies of this report have been placed in the Bills and Papers Office of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Library together with copies of Parts B and C of this report which contain supporting technical data.
– Pursuant to section 5 of the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1971, I present a statement of payments authorised under section 3 of that Act during 1974-75. The statement shows the total amount paid to each State in respect of non-government and government schools, the grant paid to each nongovernment school, and the government schools assisted with grants.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Laverton Royal Commission 1975-76. Due to the limited number of copies of this report available at this time reference copies have been placed in the Bills and Papers Office of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Library. I seek leave to make a statement relating to the report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On 5 January last year an incident involving police and Aborigines occurred at Skull Creek, near Laverton in Western Australia. Reports of the incident at the time were sufficiently serious to warrant further investigation on an official level. The first of these official but secret inquiries was a high-level police investigation which exonerated the police. The second was an inquiry by Magistrate Syddall, sponsored by the Western Australian Government, which was also secret. The third, by the Laverton Joint Study Group, was made public. It confirmed the seriousness of the incident.
Briefly this was that vehicles carrying 74 men, women and children, had been intercepted by a body of police at Skull Creek. Without provocation or cause of any kind, violence was done to a number of Aborigines and a significant number of them were arrested, gaoled and humiliated. It became known in the Press as ‘The Skull Creek Incident’.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs at that time, Senator Cavanagh, was not satisfied that the previous reports went far enough. He fought hard for a royal commission into not only the Skull Creek incident, but also into reports of incidents involving drunkenness and violence among Aborigines in the town of Laverton itself for several weeks prior to 5 January.
This report which I am tabling today is the result of that royal commission. It makes disturbing reading. Before describing some of its findings I would like honourable members to be clear in their mind about two facts. Firstly, the report deals with two separate situations. One concerns excessive drinking and violence in Laverton itself. The other concerns the incidents at Skull Creek in which alcohol played no part.
The royal commission found that there were indeed a number of drunken Aborigines in
Laverton who had been behaving sometimes violently, throwing stones and using bad language for several weeks prior to the Skull Creek incident. Police reinforcements had been called from Kalgoorlie to help cope with the situation and the report states clearly that the police, in regard to disturbances in the town of Laverton, had acted reasonably in difficult conditions.
However, one of the most serious aspects of the report is concerned not with incidents in the town of Laverton but the royal commission’s condemnation of the police in respect of Skull Creek. Namely, it was found that:
Without any cause whatsoever, police arrested innocent people and having arrested them, imprisoned them.
Police then fabricated charges against them in order to justify their arrests. Further, the same police were proposing to fabricate evidence through other police officers, who were not in fact witnesses, to support the charges.
They, the police, altered their original charges, stated to be Aborigines fighting Aborigines, to Aborigines fighting police- a charge which was false although the royal commission found that there was one incident of violence, or more, at Skull Creek for which it could not say who was responsible.
When the royal commission discovered the alterations to the charges and sought to find out how and why these had occurred it was, in the words of the report, ‘intentionally frustrated’ by the police officers in their attempts to establish the truth.
By any standards of conduct, towards Aborigines or non-Aborigines, this constitutes the most deliberate attempt to pervert the administration of justice. Further any question of excessive consumption of alcohol by Aborigines cannot be regarded as a cause for the conduct of the police at Skull Creek, nor was it regarded as such by the royal commission.
It has been suggested that there was a lack of interest by officers of my Department in the incidents. However, I am aware that the Department’s Area Officer in Laverton at the time, Mr Bachman, had been working beyond the call of duty with the Laverton Police Sergeant for some weeks to overcome the problems associated with the excessive consumption of alcohol among Aborigines in the town. After the Skull Creek incident, this officer was not called on by police. He was, however, sought by the imprisoned Aborigines and through visiting them and hearing their stories was able to help them. In doing so, Mr Bachman was later able to assist the royal commission and was accepted by it as a witness of reliability and integrity. In respect of alcohol the report says:
Whilst the underlying causes are complex, the immediate cause of most of the troubles which we have described in this period was excessive drinking by Aborigines.
This problem, I would like to assure honourable members, is of great concern to myself and to the Government. It is of great concern also to Aboriginal people themselves. In the latter case, proof of this concern can be found at the moment in Sydney where an all Aboriginal national conference on the problems of alcohol is being held this week. In my opening address to the conference on Monday I drew attention to the common but wrongly held view that Aborigines and drunkenness necessarily go together.
As an indication of the Government’s concern in this field, I have given to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, as its first task, a reference on alcohol abuse problems in the Aboriginal community. I am confident its report will be as valuable a document as its previous reports into other problem areas. But drunkenness had nothing whatsoever to do with the incidents at Skull Creek, as I have already said. Events as revealed by the Royal Commission show the innocent purpose for which the Aborigines were moving from Warburton to Wiluna- to take part in their traditional rain making ceremonies. It is this fact which points up so clearly the chasm which exists between one culture and another when the people of those cultures do not understand each other and why they do certain things.
Of the 28 police officers stationed at Laverton at the time of the Skull Creek incident, only ten had had any previous dealings with Aborigines. Since the incident, the Western Australian Government has taken a number of steps to improve police-Aboriginal relations and to foster better understanding between the groups. Other States, notably South Australia, have been active from time to time in setting up committees on which police and Aborigines are represented, to build better relations. The setting up of such a committee in Redfern, in Sydney, some time ago led to a significant drop in the number of arrests of Aboriginals.
I am of the firm opinion that an organised nationwide effort is overdue to further better relationships through an increased understanding of Aboriginal culture, tradition and values in law enforcement agencies. I am therefore giving due consideration to sponsoring an effort to look at proposals for a national policy on policeAboriginal relations. If, in fact, the officer who took charge of the police reinforcements at Laverton at the time of the Skull Creek incident had knowledge of customs and traditions of Aborigines, he most likely would have understood the purpose of the Aborigines at Skull Creek and have made appropriate inquiries before taking any action.
I believe the decision to hold a royal commission into the Skull Creek incident, as well as events earlier in the town of Laverton, has been fully vindicated. It must be a matter of satisfaction to this Parliament and to Senator Cavanagh who sponsored the royal commission. We now have a public document which will be the source of much study and thought and which will perhaps provide guidelines for the future. The cost, which has been reported in the newspapers, will have been worth every cent if, as I hope, the real value of the report is felt in the way it can change the future of police-Aboriginal relationships, attitudes of courts and judges, prison officers and ultimately, one might hope, the future of race relations in Australia. I present the following paper:
Laverton Royal Commission- Ministerial Statement, 5 May 1976
Motion (by Mr MacKellar) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) has moved that the House take note of the paper. The honourable member at the table, the honourable member for Kingsford -Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), has risen, as did the honourable member for Hughes.
– I would like to make this point: As shadow Attorney-General it was suggested that I might begin the debate by saying that the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) wished to take part in it. However I wish to make this opening comment: That it does concern -
– If the honourable member does so it will mean that he is getting the call. I will grant him indulgence for a couple of sentences.
– I wanted to make the point that this matter involves law reform. We are very anxious that the Minister directs his mind to those aspects which have been the subject of a
Law Reform Commission report. I say no more than that because my colleague the honourable member for Hughes has details which he wishes to mention.
-I appreciate the courtesy extended by my colleague. I am gratified to hear the comments that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) made in tabling this report in respect of the royal commission conducted into the Laverton affair, well known as the Skull Creek affair. I believe that the report fully justifies the stand taken by the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, who, against great odds and despite the reluctance of the Western Australian Premier, despite the reluctance of the Minister for Community Welfare in the Western Australian Government and despite the opposition of the Police Commissioner and the Deputy Police Commissioner, persisted with the idea of probing this unfortunate incident.
It is 16 months today since the Skull Creek incident occurred on 5 January 1975. As the Minister has pointed out, some 74 men, women and children were on their way in a large-scale mobile party moving from Warburton to Wiluna for the purpose of a rain making and man making ceremony. As a result of the lack of understanding on the part of the police, that force which was substantially oriented towards a religious observance was unjustifiably set upon. The sequel, of course, was that there was very grave mishandling of the Aboriginal people involved. Some 22 police were involved in the raid and some 22 Aboriginal people were apprehended and found guilty of offences which had never been committed. They were locked in cells. What has been revealed and acknowledged by the Minister in his summary of the report is that there has been a conspiracy. This adds up to a sorry blot on the reputation of the Western Australian police force. To some degree it must be regarded as reflecting the prejudice which prevails to too large a degree around Australia towards the Aboriginal community.
There were 3 inquiries before the royal commission was conducted. It says something of whitewashing processes that those inquiries could have taken place without the evidence which was subsequently revealed. The first inquiry was the official police investigation. It in every way exonerated the police. It lent no credence at all to the contention of a police conspiracy, to the contention of provocation, to the contention of misunderstanding on the part of the police, to the contention that there was a complete lack of knowledge of Aboriginal behaviour in situations of this kind, to the contention of mishandling by the police, to the contention of heavy handedness by the police or to the contention of police brutality. The Aboriginal people were left looking culpable; they were left looking like a drunken rabble whereas, in fact, that has been established as contrary to the facts of the situation.
The second inquiry was conducted by a magistrateMagistrate Sydall- who was said to be sympathetic to Aboriginal people, having worked and lived in their communities and also having been a member of the police force. The position in regard to this inquiry, which was initiated by the Western Australian Government was that the magistrate, regardless of any good intentions he may have had, was left inadequately clothed with powers so that there was no privilege and no evidence taken under oath. Finally at the end of this secret inquiry, there was a secret report which I do not think has effectively seen the light of day. So in every respect that inquiry can be regarded as very limited in its findings.
The third report was prepared by the Laverton Joint Study Group. This report was made public. The attention of Senator Cavanagh was drawn to the seriousness of this position. What the Minister has said today can be summarised in these terms: The Minister said that the report represents disturbing reading. The police have arrested and imprisoned innocent people on a considerable scale. The police have fabricated charges. The police proposed to fabricate evidence through other police who were not witnesses. The police prepared bogus charge sheets, that is, they destroyed the initial sheets and produced other sheets. The police conspired to say that on arrival at Skull Creek, the Aboriginal people were fighting whereas in fact it has been established through the royal commission that that was not the case. Senior Inspector Hilton has been named by the royal commission as having knowledge that the police had prepared false charges and that he acquiesced in that process. The police altered the charges. The initial charges and the subsequent charges have been established as being untrue. The Minister said that this was a most deliberate attempt to pervert the administration of justice. He has also made the point that contrary to the claims that were widely made by Western Australian authorities, alcohol was not the cause of this incident at all. He made the point that it had been established that the officer in charge was lacking in knowledge in regard to the customs and traditions of the Aboriginal people. In every way the Aboriginal people have been vindicated and my ministerial predecessor, Senator Cavanagh, has been vindicated as well. I believe congratulations are due to him from the Australian Parliament, the Aboriginal people and indeed the people of this country as a whole since it has now been established that it can happen that Aboriginal people can be unfairly and vindictively dealt with on a large scale.
There are many other matters which justify such a comprehensive inquiry. Honourable gentlemen are aware of various disturbances that have taken place in the Northern Territory. One I recall took place at Fink where 3 Aboriginal people were ordered away from the water tank by railway workers. As a result a disturbance occurred and the Aboriginal people were very badly treated. There was another incident at Fink when an out of town policeman came into town shooting his revolver indiscriminately. There have been a number of incidents which, in the course of my ministerial period of office caused me to commit myself on behalf of the then Government to a comprehensive inquiry into Aboriginal-police relations in the Northern Territory.
I know that Senator Cavanagh has talked about the case of Paula Sweet in Alice Springs. She was the Aboriginal girl who was murdered. It was a murder in respect of which 2 Aboriginal people were charged with murder, assault and attempted rape and four were charged with assault and attempt to rape. All were subsequently released but only after it had been established that the police had conspired to fabricate evidence and to cause those unsuspecting victims to utter words which had not originated from them and which did not in fact represent the true situation. All this is now widely known but there has not been a comprehensive inquiry into the affairs of Paula Sweet.
Towards the end of the Labor Government’s period of office, on behalf of the Government, I had made the commitment for a royal commission into Aboriginal-police relations in the Northern Territory in regard to a series of incidents and the general position. This was not just for the purpose of vindictively searching out people who had offended in the past and bringing them to the bar of justice, but for the purpose of preventing a recurrence of the kind of situation which has characterised Aboriginal-police relations for far too long. The terms of reference had been drawn up. Indeed, since there has been large scale evidence of bad treatment of Aboriginal people by the courts, the police, institutional people and many others associated with justice, I sought at the request of the Aboriginal Legal Service and a large number of other legal people and persons involved with social welfare organisations to extend the terms of that inquiry past the Northern Territory on to a Australia wide basis. As Senator Cavanagh mentioned in another place only yesterday, there is some doubt as to the constitutionality of such an inquiry being held throughout Australia having regard to the Australian Government’s prerogative. It was for that reason that I had proposed that the inquiry to be conducted in the Northern Territory should be extended into the States of Australia to the extent that those States were prepared to welcome it. To his credit, the Premier of South Australia, on behalf of the South Australian Government, immediately responded without any delay to my request and said that such an inquiry would be welcomed in South Australia.
I believe that the matter which the Minister has raised today, the manner in which he has raised it and the comments he has made give credence to the idea that the Laverton report should not be an end unto itself. I believe that a prima facie case has been made out and should cause governments, preferably in a co-operative way, to hold an inquiry, preferably in my view by a royal commission process, to probe thoroughly all aspects of Aboriginal-police relations. One thing has been well established not only at Laverton but in many other places. Far too many policemen who have a real prerogative in such situations know little or nothing about Aboriginal culture. There are too many instances where the police involved with indigenous people who do not speak the English language have no knowledge of the tribal language and no one in the force can effectively communicate with the Aboriginal people. One only has to look at the statistics to see the great incidence of injustice which is done to Aboriginal people.
I would like to see the inquiry extended to examine the role of the Aboriginal Legal Service which has done very worthwhile work on behalf of Aboriginal people since its incorporation in July 1973. Since that time the organisation has given representation in some 48 000 legal matters. Without a special assault of a positive nature with an inclination, a sympathy and an orientation about Aboriginal interests, the injustice which has characterised Aboriginal-police relations in the past will continue.
I have not had the opportunity of reading the report although I have read some Press accounts of it in the Western Australian Press. I believe that the Minister has established that he is not biased and that he has a reasonable attitude about these matters. But I say to the Minister who has summarised the Laverton report in a fair and reasonable way that Laverton simply shows that there is need to lift the curtain on a much larger scale. I suggest to him that the comprehensive nation-wide royal commission which the Labor Government had in mind and which was coming near to finality on 1 1 November last should be given effect to by this Government and that all governments in Australia should be asked to co-operate in the probe which all of us would hope will bring a fair go and justice to Aboriginal people who have been subjected to indignity for far too long in respect of these matters.
-I found the statement made by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) admirable and balanced. I have not had the opportunity of reading the report, but I shall look for an opportunity to do so. I believe that we cannot put all the blame on one side. I am convinced that the Aborigines were utterly and absolutely innocent in respect of Skull Creek. I do not think the same could be said about the previous incidents at Laverton. I do not think that any of us really want to say that. So it is not just a case of one side being right and one side being wrong. I think that nothing can excuse an attempt by the police to twist evidence and to frustrate the inquiry. Nothing could excuse that at all, and one does not want to.
The Minister spoke in fair and commendatory terms of what had been done by Senator Cavanagh. Could I add that I believe that the House should also look at what has been done by Mr Manfred Cross, the former member for Brisbane, who was the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aboriginal Affairs in the last Parliament. He, like myself, when we read of the incident at Skull Creek and made inquiries, was convinced that the Aborigines at Skull Creek were completely innocent of the charges made. Of course, I do not know to what extent he spoke to Senator Cavanagh in regard to this incident. That is a matter for his own Party. But I do know that Mr Manfred Cross was very much in favour of the inquiry which took place and which has been completely justified.
I do not know that one gets a great deal of satisfaction in trying to hunt down the police, and in saying that everything the police have done has been wrong. The House will know that there are very considerable disturbances in the Aboriginal community equivalent to the disturbance at Laverton to which the Minister makes mention in his statement. The incident at Laverton is not an isolated one. In the interests of the Aboriginal people it is essential that the kind of incident that occurred at Laverton be brought to an end throughout the north and central part of Australia where Aborigines still maintain some of their own tribal infrastructure.
I believe that the policies of past governments -and I use the word ‘government’ in the plural- have been wrong in that they have endeavoured to disregard the Aborigines own identity and systems of authority. I think we have to take a completely different approach if we are to give some hope to the Aboriginal people. I say with very great regret that in the last few years the deterioration in the condition of the Aboriginal people in the north and central part of Australia has been shocking and to me almost unbelievable. Things are not getting better; they are getting worse. Something has to be done. It is no good denigrating the police as a whole. The conduct of the police at Skull Creek was inexcusable. At Laverton the conduct of the Aboriginal people was of such a character that if it is maintained at other places it will destroy them and their chances of advancement and even of maintaining their present position.
What I liked most about the Minister’s statement was that it was balanced and that it did not try to say that there was nothing wrong with the Aboriginal people. It did not say that there was nothing wrong with the police. It tried to say that there was some blame on both sides, although not at Skull Creek. The Skull Creek incident, taken by itself, was one for which the Aboriginal people could not be blamed. They were entirely the innocent party. That is not the position in regard to the anterior incidents at Laverton. Let us be balanced about this matter. It is only by a balanced approach that we can hope to do anything to help the Aboriginal people to help themselves.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The necessity for the Government to make a prompt commitment to selective decentralisation.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
-The Opposition has raised this matter of public importance to expose the certain destruction by the Fraser Government of the growth centre program. It is of such serious concern and is such an important debate that only one member of the National Country Party is in the chamber. I want to begin by looking quickly at the known facts, before fitting them into certain consequences for growth centres. Last Budget, the Budget for 1975-76, the Labor Government allocated a total of $65.9m for growth centres. This was made up of about $40m for Albury-Wodonga, $8.5m for BathurstOrange, $ 1 6.6m for Sydney-south-western sector and $0.5m for Monarto. When the Fraser Government took over it did not tamper with these levels of spending. In any case, there was little that it could do. The money had been committed to the States and could not be withdrawn.
It is not what happened in 1975 that is the issue but the massive disembowelling of the growth centre projects that is now engaging the Government. Shamefully, this carving up of the growth centre program has been done by stealth. The line that is coming from the Government’s official spokesmen is completely different from that which is coming from its hatchet men in the Treasury who are actually doing the job. Last Friday the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, Senator Greenwood, who is the Minister responsible for growth centres, made a sensible speech in Adelaide on the future of growth centres. There is little with which to quarrel in the theory of Senator Greenwood’s speech. He pointed to the likely population movements in Australia over the next 25 years. In particular he pointed to the heavy rate of household formation in the next 15 to 20 years. In the main, I agree with the population projections which he expressed and with the implications for internal population movements which he drew from them. He went on to stress the importance of a selective growth centre approach while not excluding the need to provide other forms of related regional assistance. Again I found little with which to quarrel in the philosophy expressed by Senator Greenwood. It is similar in many ways to the philosophy built up by the Labor Government and absorbed by the old Department of Urban and Regional Development.
But Senator Greenwood had nothing to say on the crucial point, which is: How is the growth centre program to be funded? The whole tone of his speech and the philosophy which he expressed are based on keeping up the flow of funds to growth centres. Yet nowhere did he come clean and make a firm commitment of future funds for the existing growth centres and for the new ones that will be needed over the next few years. In this respect the speech is grossly misleading, because it implies a firm level of future funding. Yet, as Senator Greenwood well knows, his Cabinet is about to abolish growth centre spending, at least for 1976-77.
Last Friday I made a statement in which I said that the Treasury had decided not to include the funds for growth centres in the Supply Bills which are to come before this Parliament before it rises at the end of the month. On Monday the Australian Financial Review reported that there would be no funds for growth centres in the Supply Bills, apart from $4m for Albury-Wodonga. I have no reason to disbelieve the story. It may have been based on later information than that which was available to me. In any case, the essential point remains, which is: Whether a token allocation is made to Albury-Wodonga or not, the Government is bent on destroying the growth centre program.
Let us make some calculations on the information which I have put to the House. Assume that the figure of $4m for Albury-Wodonga is correct. If $4m is allocated in the Supply Bills, this implies a total spending for the whole of the financial year 1976-77 at around $9.6m. Comparing this figure with the 1975-76 figure, the allocation for Albury-Wodonga will be chopped by around 75 per cent, from just over $40m to just under $10m. With only Albury-Wodonga funded, the entire allocation for growth centres will plunge from $65.67m in 1975-76 to $9.6m in 1976-77. It may be said that it is unfair to argue on the Supply period alone and that the Government might resume funding when the Budget for 1976-77 is put to the Parliament. I cannot accept this proposal. If the funds are not there for the first 5 months of the year it is logical to expect that they will not be there for the balance of the year. In any case, the damage would have been done.
Growth centre programs have been carefully developed in 5-year rolling programs. These programs are not designed to leap-frog over a year in which the funds are chopped off. Once the money stops, the programs stop. They are disrupted in many ways, and it may take years to overcome the disruption even if the Federal cash flow is resumed. The whole process of allocation of resources is thrown completely out of gear. Private investment decisions are deferred and in many cases abandoned. The provision of the infrastructure through public works programs is run down and eventually stops. Job opportunities disappear, and there are grave risks of a severe recession. This is the picture which Treasury strategy is painting for the key parts of Australia ‘s developing economy.
I want to look now at the order of spending that is required to keep a viable growth centre program going. As a guide, I refer to the last figures that were available to me as the responsible Minister. No doubt the Government has more accurate figures, but at least these figures give an indication of what is required. The forward projections for Albury-Wodonga require a spending of $68m in 1976-77. As I indicated earlier, the best that this growth centre can expect is $9.6m. The amount required would taper in future years as a substantial part of the land acquisition and capital works program in Albury-Wodonga is completed. According to my estimates, Albury-Wodonga would need $58.5m in 1977-78 and $28.9m in 1978-79. 1 stress that these figures are calculated on June 1975 prices. The other growth centres also require a consistent level of support. For instance, BathurstOrange would require $ 13.7m in 1976-77, $ 13.1m in 1977-78 and $1 1.3m in 1978-79. The honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie) and the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Gillard), whose electorates have been betrayed by the Government, can no longer remain silent.
For the Sydney South Western sector the projected order of spending would rise to a peak of $48.3m in 1977-78 and then taper off to $39m in the following year. The electorate of honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) has been sold out. Neither of these key programs is to be funded in 1976-77, nor is the Monarto growth centre in South Australia. Again it seems that the Government has completely scrapped the new growth centres which the Labor Government was developing. If we had stayed in government there would have been certain funding for other growth centres in the 1976-77 Budget. I refer to Geelong, Gosford-Wyong and Townsville. I know that Mr Hamer has been working on the Government to make a commitment to Geelong. On all the evidence he has failed. His failure to stand up to the big land developers in the Geelong region disturbed me greatly when I was the Minister. His own unwillingness to confront the conservative elements of his Cabinet delayed funds for Geelong which the Labor Government committed: It might interest the Premier to know that our forward projection for Geelong involved a level of spending of about $26m for the next 3 years.
Both the’ Gosford-Wyong and the Townsville growth centres are geared to where population increase is now occurring in Australia. Outside the capital cities the main sources of population increase are the New South Wales coast north of Sydney and the Queensland coast. There are other areas of strong increase such as the Pilbara in Western Australia and the Bowen Basin in Queensland which are best looked at in the context of a development policy. But Townsville and Gosford-Wyong are tailor-made for the growth centre approach. Unfortunately both State Governments have dragged the chain. The Premier of Queensland particularly cost his State tens of millions of dollars by refusing to cooperate with the Whitlam Labor Government. Now that the Government has changed he is desperately trying to recoup his losses by getting this Government to support a growth centre at Townsville but I am afraid that it is too late. If it is any consolation to the Queensland Premier, the forward planning of the Whitlam Labor Government was looking to a total of around $ 1 3m for Townsville over the next 3 years.
Apart from Townsville and Gosford-Wyong, there may already be a case for looking at other potential growth centres on this coastal axis. We have made money available for the Fitzroy Basin region of Queensland to upgrade the services of Gladstone. There may be a case for a growth centre in the Fitzroy Basin, perhaps at Gladstone, and there may be a case for another one on the north coast of New South Wales. Much will depend on the trends of population growth and internal migration over the next few years. Let me conclude by looking at the order of spending at which the last Government was looking. It would have risen rapidly in 1976-77 to a peak of $ 194m in the following year. Without new commitments it would have fallen to around $ 160m in 1978-79. 1 stress that these are only estimates. Quite clearly, we could not have made a definite commitment so far ahead without knowledge of the immediate budgetary situation. It shows the lines on which the Labor Government was working to develop a growth centre program which would cut the pressures on existing cities and provide attractive alternatives.
We are facing a heavy rate of household formation in the next few years, particularly in the next 10 to 15 years. There is no doubt that these young families will be looking for better and different lifestyles. The growth centre program was devised to provide these opportunities at the same time as giving a breathing -space which would allow the replanning of our major cities which have gone badly astray. It can be done at a cost which the nation can bear. It is ridiculous to castigate as too costly a growth centre program whose peak annual cost is below the capital cost of one of the new cruisers which the Government is buying from the United States of America. There is no alternative to the selective growth centre program. The scattered decentralisation program which has been suggested by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) which spreads assistance thinly over a wide range of centres does not work, nor does the commitment to the overcentralisation of Sydney and Melbourne which occurred under previous Liberal-National Country Party governments. State governments have tried to meet these problems for years. The private sector cannot do the job without the support of government. This will be proved very quickly if support for Albury-Wodonga is withdrawn. It can be done with all levels of governmentFederal, State and local government- working closely with the private sector and the local communities. This is the essence of the growth centre concept. It would be tragic for Australia if the growth centre process which has been carefully built up over the past few years were to be destroyed by lack of commitment by this Government.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) has proposed for discussion as a matter of public importance:
The necessity for the Government to make a prompt commitment to selective decentralisation.
He did not really speak very succinctly to that proposition. In fact, as we are coming to expect from the honourable gentleman, he based bis arguments on suppositions and Press reports but on little hard fact. As I understood it, the whole of the honourable gentleman’s speech was based on the proposition that Treasury had taken a particular line in relation to the supply to be brought in in the future, that this particular Treasury line would result in a very great diminution of the amount of money available for growth centre projects and, in addition, that the Treasury line was not only acceptable to but had already been accepted by the Government. That is a fairly tenuous series of events on which to base a speech of this nature.
I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition revealed very clearly the attitude which he and the Government of which he was a member put into effect during their period of power. He talked about how much money they intended to spend. He seems to take a great deal of delight in talking about large sums of money which the Government is going to spend. That was typical of the activities of the previous Labor Administration. Honourable members opposite were very good at spending other people’s money. They did not care very much whether it was spent efficiently, well or in the right area. As long as they were spending ever increasing amounts of other people’s money they were happy. That was the approach that characterised the previous Labor Administration. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition remains unrepentant. In the summing up of his speech here this afternoon he came back to this theme again. He talked about hundreds of millions of dollars as though hundreds of millions of dollars were readily available to the Government without the necessity to raise it from the people of Australia. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is very good at spending other people ‘s money.
I was very pleased not only that he had read the recent speech by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Senator Greenwood) in relation to growth centres, but also that he praised it. He made some general comments in the initial stages of his speech about a massive disembowelling of growth centre projects but then in the very next breath he said Senator Greenwood’s speech last Friday about growth centres was a very sensible speech. I find it a little difficult to follow his logic in this respect. It has been suggested that there has been a massive disembowelling of the growth centre project- this is the statement that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made this afternoon- and yet there was a sensible speech by the responsible Minister as recently as last Friday. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition praises Senator Greenwood for that speech and the concepts contained in it. There seems to me to be a difference of opinion between those 2 statements. It is not as though those statements were separated by a great period of time; they virtually followed each other. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that there is a massive disembowelling of growth centre projects on the one hand and that sensible speeches are made by the Minister on the other- speeches that he admits give a review of the situation and a philosophy with which he found little to quarrel.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we were about to abolish growth centre spending in 1976-77. He made that statement completely unsupported by any evidence. If he has some evidence to produce to back up his statement I should be grateful to see it. There has been no announcement at all by the Government in relation to this matter. In fact, as I said at the beginning of my response to the honourable gentleman’s speech this afternoon, the whole of his approach has been based on 2 suppositions, neither of which has been proved and neither of which he can prove. In relation to the Government’s approach to growth centres, perhaps for the information of honourable members I also should refer to the speech the Minister responsible for growth centres, Senator Greenwood, gave last Friday when he discussed the Government’s approach to growth centres. He looked at it in the context of a total approach. He asked the question: What is the future of growth centres? He asked the question: Are they still viable ventures following the first report of the National Population Inquiry? Of course, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has already indicated and admitted, the report of the National Population Inquiry has a great significance in relation to future developments in growth centre projects. He rightly paid tribute to the work of the Borrie Committee and to the results of its inquiries which were demonstrated in its report.
Senator Greenwood asked: How will the recent change of Government and reports of cuts in Government spending affect these projects? The figures which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition outlined today as reflecting necessary forward commitments are based on the S-year program for each centre. Of course they do not indicate that the Commonwealth necessarily should take up the task of providing all, or even a major share, of these funds. Whether the Government does this, or the share that the Government takes up, will of course depend on budgetary priorities and on the priorities of the States involved because we have a very different approach from that which characterised the previous administration. We seek to consult the States in relation to massive projects of this nature. I pay a tribute to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the previous Minister, because I think he was one of the few members, if not the only member, of the previous administration who seemed to take some real trouble in seeking the co-operation of the States for projects with which he was committed.
The projects are subject to regular review. I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would agree that these regular reviews should take into account the actual growth which is taking place, in other words the results of the Projects. We just cannot have a commitment which does not take into account the results of the projects as they carry on in time. Obviously the amounts of money mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition related to the 5-year program which his Government brought down. In relation to settlement policy, the Government’s broad national goals are: Individual freedom and responsibility, economic growth, efficiency in the use of public and private resources, a greater degree of equity in terms of people’s access to services and opportunities and a high quality environment. Taking these goals as a whole, the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development stated last Friday a series of basic objectives of a settlement policy in Australia. He stated the approach of the Government when he said:
We must provide basic employment and other economic opportunities to country residents, and to ensure that they are not economically and otherwise disadvantaged because of their location and the costs of distance which they incur.
We must provide country residents, wherever possible, with basic services (education, welfare, health, culture and recreation).
We must provide enterprises and governments with a wide choice of locations for economic activities, as an aid to the growth of national economic efficiency and more equal opportunity among regions.
We must try to develop a more balanced distribution of population and economic activities at a national level, and provide opportunities for a better national distribution of higher order and more specialised services and activities.
We must relieve development pressures in major metropolitan regions by creating adequate opportunity elsewhere, and secure thereby greater efficiency in development processes and expenditure.
We must plan for the distribution of population and employment opportunities within and between metropolitan areas so as to assist orderly growth and change and the more efficient provision of related services.
We must ensure that adequate advantage is taken of developmental opportunities of national economic significance, particularly involving the use of mineral resources, and to ensure the efficient development of infrastructure and settlement in relation to such opportunities.
And finally we must take proper account of the specific and particular problems of declining rural regions, of Australia’s remote areas, and of depressed metropolitan regions.
Of course there is a difference between metropolitan growth centres and regional growth centre. It would be unwise and misleading to talk about growth centres as though they were all the same with the same difficulties, the same opportunities and the same problems.
– They are all inter-related.
-They are inter-related, as the honourable member interjects, but different ones have different characteristics. I believe a proper approach would be to assess each growth centre to try to overcome the particular problems and the particular aspects of the growth centre which reflect its location.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has accused the Government, as I said, of disembowelling the growth centre project. As I have pointed out so far, the Minister in charge of growth centre projects, the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Greenwood, as recently as last Friday put on paper in public a firm commitment to the continuation of the growth centre project. But he went further than this. In the conclusion of his statement last Friday Senator Greenwood said:
I want to reiterate that while I believe that a country like Australia should be regularly looking at, and evaluating, its settlement policies, there is a wide range of instruments available to which the growth centre concept is a fundamental element
Selectivity in the development of regional centres is essential, but we must recognise that for reasons founded in equity, attention must be paid and some resources applied to the particular needs of country areas which are outside their range of influence.
I also feel that State priorities must be a major influence on any national policy in this area.
He stated further
When we came to power a few months ago we were confronted with some tough economic realities.
It is clear that our programs must be examined in the context of the total budgetary circumstances from year to year.
The immediate implication is that there must be a greater regard for cost effectiveness both in the short and long term.
By this I mean that we should be concerned with evaluating how public funds can go further in helping to achieve social and economic objectives in growth centres and in alternative or complementary decentralisation measures.
He went on to say later:
In other words I am proposing that there ought to be an expansion of the role of the private sector, so as to obtain the maximum possible gearing from public sector investment in the growth centres.
Those are not the words of a man who is involved in the process of disembowelling the growth centre projects. Those are the words of a man who represents a government which has regard for the effective and efficient spending of public moneys- moneys which, after all, come from the people. The people themselves have had to bear a tremendous burden as a result of 3 years of Australian Labor Party rule. When we assumed office we were confronted with the situation of a massive government deficit- a deficit greater than any in the history of this country. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition still talks about record spending as though there is no tomorrow and as though there is no way in which any responsible government must seek to do something about cutting back the rate of government expenditure, about cutting back the massive deficit which confronts this country. The Opposition’s case has been based on 2 suppositionsthe supposition that the Treasury has put forward a proposition that will lead to a massive cutback in growth centre expenditure in the first half of the next financial year and, secondly, the supposition that that supposed Treasury -
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– My Deputy- Australia’s first Minister for Urban and Regional Developmenthas today, as on many earlier occasions this session, attempted to prize from the Government a commitment to growth centres, to selective decentralisation. The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), who is not a member of the economic committee of Cabinet, has pleaded that money is involved and that therefore the Government, 6 months after it was installed in office, cannot make a commitment to growth centres. The simple fact is that it costs the Federal Government, a State government and a local council less money to settle a family in a designated growth centre than it costs each of those bodies to settle a family in any capital city in Australia. The growth centre program saves money for the 3 tiers of government in Australia. The Minister cannot gloss over the dispute which has arisen between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Senator Greenwood) concerning the growth centre program. The Minister cannot gloss over the dispute which has arisen between the Prime Minister and the Liberal Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales on the growth centre program.
Nowhere is there a greater need for clear and declared government policies than in this area. It is difficult enough for ordinary communities and businesses to plan ahead in the absence of firm government decisions. It is doubly difficult in areas dependent on a specific government commitment. Decisions taken by private firms, developers, local government, planning authorities and individual citizens and their families depend on firm assurances of government support for growth centres. Uncertainty, hesitation or back-tracking waste millions of dollars and jeopardise the employment of thousands of local residents and public servants and the future of businesses and contractors who have settled or plan to settle in growth centres. A half-hearted commitment to a growth centre is worse than no commitment at all.
The Fraser Government has little interest in growth centres. In his speech on the Budget of 28 August last the present Prime Minister himself opposed all expenditure on growth centres. He presumably considers such expenditure as wasteful or extravagant. In the current financial year there is an appropriation of $64m for growth centres. According to the Australian Financial Review on Monday the Treasury has recommended that Albury-Wodonga receives only $4m in the forthcoming Supply Bills to cover the 5 months from July to November next and therefore, presumably, less than $10m for the whole of the next financial year. Furthermore the Treasury has recommended that no funds be provided for growth centres elsewhere. Of course, the Treasury does not have the final say, but the Ministers cannot make up their minds about the matter. Presumably the people in Albury-Wodonga and all the other designated growth centres will not be able to know what their future will be this financial year until the Budget comes down in the middle of August.
The commitment to Albury-Wodonga was made on 25 January 1973 by the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, my Deputy and me. The same day a commitment was made to the future of Bathurst-Orange by the Premier of New South Wales, my Deputy and me. Those were very early examples of co-operative federalism- not the reactionary Fraser version that was rejected by the people of New South Wales last Saturday. State Ministers, such as the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Decentralisation, Mr Murray Byrne, said last February that it would be a tragedy if Albury-Wodonga were abandoned.
The Fraser Government may ignore the advice of its State colleagues, but it cannot ignore the advice of Australia’s leading planning consultant, Sir John Overall. Sir John was appointed by the Menzies Government in 1958 to head the National Capital Development Commission. He was appointed by the McMahon Government in 1 972 to head NURDA-the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. NURDA was obliged by its statute to report by not later than June 1973 on urban and regional development during the period of 5 years immediately after that date- and it recommended these growth centres. It was not my recommendation and it was not my Deputy’s recommendation; it was the recommendation of a body establishedbelatedly, certainly- by the McMahon Government in which the Prime Minister was a Minister.
This Liberal initiative- admirable though belated- is now being discarded by the present Prime Minister. It is true that an argument is still continuing in Cabinet about it between the Prime Minister and Senator Greenwood. In the meantime Albury-Wodonga has been left in the lurch. I mention that in particular because Sir John Overall is still committed to this proposal. He recommended last March that the centre should be promoted as a national endeavour with the Prime Minister’s personal backing and that the centre should be regarded as a prime contribution to the total urban pattern of the future Australia and said that the Development Corporation has made an excellent start, is well on its way and is assured of success, given the ongoing commitment of government.
A few days after that report was received my Deputy asked for the Prime Minister’s reaction to it. This is the answer he received:
What happens in Albury-Wodonga is, of course, of great significance. We make decisions. We are advised by certain people. The Government, however, will make its own decisions.
It was a feeble and contemptuous response, typically sneering and supercilious. When, 4 weeks later, I asked the Prime Minister about Sir John Overall’s report, it was quite obvious that he had not even read it in the intervening 4 weeks.
There are many honourable members who are concerned with growth centres and who have shown their devotion to the idea- the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), for the designated growth centre of Geelong; the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), who will follow me in the debate, for the growth centre of Gosford-Wyong; and my Deputy, not only for Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst-Orange but also for Holsworthy-Campbelltown, which is largely in my electorate. I myself have said something about Albury-Wodonga, HolsworthyCampbelltown and Townsville over the years.
In New South Wales we had the co-operation of a Liberal government. In Victoria we had the co-operation of a Liberal government. It is true that in Queensland we could not get the cooperation of a Country Party-Liberal government. Nevertheless, let me mention as an instance one such growth centre that was recommended by NURDA, which has been converted to the Cities Commission, in June 1973- nearly 3 years ago. I refer to the Fitzroy centreGladstone in particular. Gladstone is a prime example of a city where, according to Sir John Overall and his colleagues, social factors and environmental aspects urgently require Federal Government initiatives. Without a prompt commitment to growth centres the progress of Gladstone will be held back. If no money is to be allocated in the forthcoming Budget to Gladstone the people of Gladstone who have lived there a long time as well as the thousands who have gone there in recent years following State Government and corporate decisions will do without those facilities which residents anywhere else in Australia expect to receive from their governments.
Gladstone is ideally suited to positive policies for growth. It is now at a stage of development where systematic federal assistance could produce a thriving and prosperous community. Without such assistance the city will never meet the demand for roads, sewerage, drains, transport, health, child care and other community facilities which its recent growth is creating. A number of growth centres have grown since the war beyond all recognition. I refer to Wollongong, Mount Isa, Whyalla and the like. But we know from the statistics which we follow- censuses and elections- that in the last 10 years the population of Gladstone has doubled. The expansion of the city as a port and industrial centre has been rapid. Cargo handling in the port alone in the last year for which a report was made was IS million tonnes. An alumina refinery opened in November 1973 produces 2 million tonnes a year. There are plans by Comalco Ltd for an aluminium smelter. An 1 100 megawatt power station is under construction.
Gladstone is the principal shipping point for central Queensland coal exports and primary products. With expansion on this scale ratepayers have no way of raising the funds to meet the cost of local services necessitated by the sudden influx of residents through government or corporate decisions. Growth centre policies are not just intended to stimulate growth but to make existing growth orderly and beneficial. It will be tragic if Gladstone suffers the fate of Townsville- a prime example of conservative obstruction and obstinacy on growth centres, lack of initiative by the Federal Government of Mr Fraser and lack of response by the BjelkePetersen Government while my Party was in Government.
-Order The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Mr Deputy Speaker -
– This will be good.
-Yes it will be good. This is one of the few times I agree with the Opposition. I rise to speak as one of those members who has been presented with such dire warnings from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) that the Government’s growth centre policy will be electorally disastrous for members in electorates such as Macquarie and Calare. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition inform himself of the attitudes in those electorates. I assure him that I have not received one letter since I have been a member telling me how electorally important it is that a growth centre be established in the Bathurst-Orange area, or one telling me how disastrous it will be if the policies of the previous Government are not followed to the final letter as laid down. However, I have had a large number of letters expressing great concern about inflation, unemployment, duplication, wastage and centralism- so many of the aspects of the disastrous situation that we inherited on 1 3 December.
I was also intrigued with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s reference to the fact that only one member of the National Country Party was in the House while he was making his speech. I took considerable interest to see how many members of the Opposition were in the House when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition rose to speak and when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) rose to speak on what I thought they had put forward as a matter of public importance. In fact only one member of the Opposition apart from those who were speaking in the debate was in his seat in the chamber. By the time the Leader of the Opposition was half way through his speech some other members had trickled in. I ask: Is this indicative of the fact that this matter is not a matter of public importance? Is it indicative of the fact that in the view of their colleagues the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are not worth listening to? Is it indicative of the fact that the major initiatives so proudly upheld by the Department of Urban and Regional Development, including the growth centres, no longer are of any consequence?
I give full marks to the persistence of the Opposition in raising this issue, which is a similar issue to the one raised on 17 March concerning the failure to announce a policy on growth centres. My contribution at that time pointed out the desperate need for decentralisation in Australia and that there is far too much concentration of population and productivity in the metropolitan areas and on the seaboard of this country. (Quorum formed). As I was saying, I support the idea of growth centres as one form of decentralisation but not necessarily as the only form of decentralisation. I would point out that there have been some examples in my opinion of maladministration, bad planning, insufficient investigation as to the most effective form of decentralisation and in particular the most effective form of establishing growth centres. I point to the figures that the previous Government specified for the growth centre of Monarto in South Australia. The figures are interesting. In 1973-74, $4.5m was allocated; in 1974-75, $5.4m was allocated and in 1975-76, barely half a million dollars was allocated. What happened? The Chairman of the Monarto Development Corporation has reputedly claimed that he is resigning because he has nothing to do. A large area of land has been acquired on which it seems unlikely that any major growth centre development will occur for many years.
I believe that these are the sorts of mistakes that we should avoid and I also believe that we must consider other forms of decentralisation in association with growth centres. Let us also look at just how important was this pet development of growth centres of the previous Administration. In fact a measly 8.2 per cent of the total allocation in the Department of Urban and Regional Development budget was allocated for this purpose and there was virtually a nil allocation to any other forms of decentralisation. The previous Administration did nothing for decentralisation in the broader terms except to try to stifle and kill rural, regional and private industry to the extent that there was no incentive for them to leave the major metropolitan centres to go into the regional areas. I commend the statement by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, Senator Greenwood, for what I believe is a balanced and rational dissertation on this Government’s present attitude towards growth centres. I remind honourable members in the Opposition that it is not the Treasury which makes the decisions; it is the Cabinet and those on this side of the Parliament.
I also remind honourable members that the Minister made a strong point of saying that decentralisation, including growth centres, must be a combined effort and a co-operative effort between local government and private industry. Until private industry sees some prospect in this country, it will be impossible, in my opinion, to achieve decentralisation solely through publicly funded and supported growth centres. I have examples where on a small scale private industry in my electorate has made substantial progress.
A small assembly factory in Wellington is now employing a substantial number of people after being in operation for a very short period of time. In Orange the city council, in co-operation with private industry, a large construction company, is providing an office development which will provide over 500 places for office workers. All it is asking government to do is to provide guaranteed tenancy either with new departments such as the State has done with the Soil Conservation Service or with a rationalisation of departments and agencies that are already within that city. This type of development is worthy of wholehearted support.
Whilst selective decentralisation is a relatively new experiment in this country, it is one that should be perservered with. I am aware of the colossal economic restraints under which we are now working. I am aware of the dangers of committing ourselves to long term programs of expenditure, but I believe also that this Government will take a balanced, rational perspective not only on growth centres but on decentralisation measures right across the board.
-During this debate already I have heard a number of interjections about what growth centres will cost. I put it to the House that it is much cheaper to invest money in growth centres now than to take the attitude that we cannot afford it at the moment and that we should let the existing metropolises and conurbations gradually become a worse inefficient mess than they now are. In my own area of Gosford-Wyong I have seen the sort of problems that occur and are likely to keep occurring over the next few years because past governments, local and State, have not bothered to provide and plan for the future. My own area, apart from a number of major towns, has dozens of small hamlets that have been allowed to grow because a developer has been able to buy a piece of land, open up a couple of hundred blocks and sell them. Over a few years homes have been built on them and gradually the population has grown to perhaps 300 or 400.
In the Gosford-Wyong area there are 50 or 60 communities of this nature. This type of development is grossly inefficient because each and every one of those little communities must be provided with the basic amenities of life. They must have and they demand decent roads from their councils and State governments. I notice the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fife) listening. As a former State Minister, he would be well aware of the sort of demands made on him by communities such as those I am talking about. They require water, electricity, sewerage and telephones. If State, Federal and local government provide those services a little at a time, when, as m my area, a bitumen road of seven or 8 miles is laid to service a little hamlet of 200 or 300 people, or when the Australian Telecommunications Commission has to lay 6, 7 or 8 miles of cable to provide 80 or 90 telephones it is grossly inefficient and uneconomic.
– But are they happy?
– Instead of making inane, stupid interjections why does the honourable member not get up in the House and make a speech? We would like to hear from him.
-Order! The honourable member for Robertson will address his remarks through the Chair. I suggest that the honourable member who interjected retain his peace. He is a little too close to the honourable member for Robertson at present.
-In the long run it is far more efficient to plan communities of 20 000, 30 000, 40 000 or 50 000 people, as has been done in Canberra. Admittedly, it requires an outlay of a great deal more initially but in the long run it saves millions of dollars. The honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie) made the point that after 3 years of expenditure on Monarto there is still nothing to show. Of course there is nothing to show. I was told that in the Woden and Belconnen suburbs in Canberra it was about 9 years from the start of planning before everything started to go through the pipeline, and people were actually living on the site. If towns and suburbs of 30 000, 40 000 or 50 000 are to be planned, it cannot be done in the ad hoc, hit and miss way in which we have allowed our metropolises to grow over the last 170 or 180 years.
I press on to the question of population growth. This matter has caused a great deal of speculation in Australia in recent months since the Borrie report came out. Professor Borrie said that he thought Australia’s population would not rise to 25 million as previously predicted but would stay at about 17 500 000. Professor Borrie may be right. I hope he is more accurate than he was in his 1948 prediction when he said that Australia’s population would be 8 million by 1970. It was, in fact, nearly 13 million. He predicted that the American population would grow to 150 million. He was about 70 million out. Perhaps this time he has more accurate figures than he had then. Professor Borrie ‘s predictions just after the war were grossly inaccurate. We do not know whether Australia’s population will be 17 500 000, which is an increase of about 4 million, or whether it will be the original prediction of nearly 25 million. The point is- this has been taken up in a number of articles recently- that while it may be true, as Professor Borrie says, that the population will not exceed 17 500 000 there has been a drift in the population away from the major metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne. People are now getting fed up with city life- the crowded, ugly, squalid and polluted areas of our 2 major citiesand are shifting into the outer fringe areas to places such as Gosford-Wyong, Bathurst-Orange and Albury-Wodonga.
– You are arguing against yourself.
-If the honourable member would listen and try to comprehend what I am saying, he would realise that the population of Sydney has remained fairly static in recent years. The growth has been in areas such as GosfordWyong. We have to remember that there are 2 sorts of growth centres. There are the natural growth centres, the places where people are going of their own free choice, such as GosfordWyong area, the Blue Mountains and Campbelltown and there are those that have to be stimulated by forms of incentive, such as the Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst-Orange areas. The people are choosing and want to choose a better life. I now quote from an article in the Sun-Herald of 21 March 1976 written by Chris Anderson:
The figures show that between 1966-71, Sydney had an average surplus of departures over arrivals of about 2000 people.
By 1972-73, the net loss was estimated to have reached 24 000 in that year alone, and later statistics indicate continuation of the trend.
Government officials estimate that on average now at least 500 families a week in Sydney are deciding to quit city life and figuratively head for the hills.
The figures show they are migrating to places like the growth centres of Bathurst-Orange, Albury-Wodonga, the north and south coasts, and the smaller State capitals of Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.
Of the 24000 net loss to Sydney, it is estimated that 12 000 went to other parts of New South Wales and 12 000 interstate.
There is a natural growth factor in the increasing population of the areas I have mentioned, but a lot of people want to get out of the metropolitan areas and we need to provide them with the planned communities so that they can do just that. I pointed out earlier that it is more expensive not to do anything about it now and let areas like Gosford-Wyong and the Blue Mountains grow like topsy-turvy, as Sydney has done. The sprawling urban areas of Sydney now extend right up to the Blue Mountains. We should plan properly and provide the sort of communities that we have been able to achieve in Canberra. The growth rate of my electorate is running at about 6 per cent to 8 per cent. Between the elections of 1974 and 1975 it was the fastest growing electorate in Australia. It grew by almost 9000 electors and probably by about 12 000 people in the short space of 1 8 months.
– Moore grows more quickly than that.
– Between those elections my electorate grew the fastest in Australia. It is one of the most beautiful areas in Australia. It has magnificient facilities and it is attractive to people. Instead of living in the western suburbs of Sydney, in the hot and dry areas out past Parramatta and out in the plains, people had the advantage of being able to live in places like Gosford and Wyong, to live near the beaches in beautiful areas, and they are doing so, but no plans are being made. As I pointed out in a letter which I had incorporated m Hansard during a speech I made on 8 October 1975, the former Minister for Urban and Regional Development, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), made gallant attempts during the whole period that he was in office to get the co-operation of the New South Wales Government, but there was a stalemate because we were dealing with the plans of the New South Wales Department of Decentralisation which wanted to build a city in the Warnervale-Wyee area. We had tried to get a growth centre established but the New South Wales authorities simply would not sit down and talk. They wanted to leave it to the developers and to those who owned the land, those who were buying land in the area and who would be able to make a fortune. They wanted us to spend $100m on the building of roads, schools, parks and hospitals but they wanted to leave the land in the hands of a handful of developers who would be able to make a fortune out of taxpayers’ investment. The report we have from Gosford is that there is going to be a Labor government in New South Wales in a few days time and I can only hope that Mr Wran, who will be the new Premier, will proceed with plans and do something about the Gosford-Wyong area, which his predecessor did not do. Unfortunately we now have a Federal Government that obviously is disinterested in decentralisation, disinterested in growth centres and in providing these sorts of funds that only governments can provide to build proper planned communities for the people of New South Wales and for the people of Australia.
-The subject listed today as a matter of public importance reads:
The necessity for the Government to make a prompt commitment to selective decentralisation.
The only argument that Opposition supporters have been able to put forward has been on the matter of growth centres. Apart from mentioning growth centres as some form of decentralisation in a specialised manner they have avoided the very topic listed for debate. One can understand why. Why has the Opposition used the term ‘selective decentralisation’? Let me just check back over the record of the Opposition, this former socialist government, which talked about decentralisation. Who increased telephone charges? Who cut out the petrol equalisation scheme that was designed by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government to assist decentralised industries? Who imposed tariff cuts and forced import duties on us which caused many decentralised industries and country industries to close? It was the very people opposite who have brought forward this so-called matter of public importance. At the last election the people of this country summed them up as not being interested in decentralisation in any shape or form. Opposition supporters have no idea of what is going on in rural areas. Let us be honest about this. In talking about decentralisation all they are interested in is setting up some specialised centres that might be of some electoral advantage to themselves.
Some years ago the State Government of Victoria set down a program to provide a certain number of growth centres as part of an overall decentralisation program. It was part of an overall program. Under this program certain cities were designed for development. To name a few, they included Geelong, Ballarat, I think Warrnambool, Bendigo and Wodonga. These areas were to be growth centres in the true sense of balanced growth- not growth in one particular spot in a State. It was not a matter of setting up a new Public Service sector. It was a matter of undertaking proper decentralisation not by force, not by forcing people to move or by shifting certain public bodies to an area but by encouraging industry. The State Government of Victoria provided encouragement by reducing payroll tax for industries prepared to decentralise, but the previous Federal socialist Government, now the Opposition, offset that encouragement quite easily by not allowing any acknowledgment of that effort by the State Government when assessing income tax and as a result any gain made by decentralised industry was taken away at the taxation end.
The former socialist Government, this present Opposition, just cannot understand that if you want to help the people of this country- if you really want to help them- what you have to do is to encourage industry to move. You have to provide incentives to allow industry to move. The towns and cities to which the industries move will develop, the people who work in those industries will prosper and, as I said, everybody should benefit from this. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) said in his speech that in the 6 months we had been in office we had given away a commitment to decentralisation, we had stopped the funding and so on. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged that the funds set out in the Budget that the Leader of the Opposition introduced when he was in office are to cover expenditure in this area this year, so how have we stopped the funding? Why do we have to make a decision like he did when he raced across the lake in December 1972 and made the marvelous 340-odd decisions? Why do we have to do that sort of thing? Look where that led us during the 3 years that his Party was in office. It led us into an embarrassing situation financially as a country. It has not achieved anything at all. It has destroyed us. In effect, we are planning properly. We are looking at every avenue of expenditure in relation to the responsibilities of government, and when the proper time arrives the areas in which expenditure is needed most will certainly receive it. It is all right for Opposition supporters to say that we have cut off money but we have not done this. The money is there. It has been provided for expenditure this year and we are committed to that Budget.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked about Government cuts in relation to AlburyWodonga. He mentioned a proposed reduction that he got out of some newspaper. Let me reiterate that we on this side are well aware that the Labor Party, the socialist Party, when in government relied on newspapers as its sole means of communication. It even allowed its own members to find out what was going to happen by reading it in the newspapers and certainly when we were the Opposition that was the only way we could find out what the Labor Government was doing in office. But, fortunately, we do not work that way. We work by the proper parliamentary means. So I advise the Deputy Leader of the Opposition not to take too much notice of what his former colleagues and supporters who now write for newspapers put in writing. I suggest that he wait and see, as is proper, what the Government is going to do.
The honourable member talked about a reduction of expenditure on growth centres. Let us be realistic about this. Assume for argument’s sake that there was to be a change in funding. An amount of $65.9m is involved in the development of Albury-Wodonga. I wonder whether the people on the other side of the House have been to Albury-Wodonga to see what has happened. Miles and miles and acres of land have been bought. Land has been bought all over the place. There is no doubt that land is a good investment, but surely it would have been much more prudent to mark some of the areas of land for future development and to hold the land in that way, as I can well remember the Army did with land around Puckapunyal. Perhaps it held it too long; nevertheless, that is the way it did it. It did not rush in and buy the land straight away and it still has not bought it.
Of the money that has been spent in Albury millions have gone in the purchase of land. We have a large force of public servants working there, although we do not know what they are working on. They are there. They are being paid. No doubt they are doing a very valuable job, but when I was visiting the place they proudly told me that they were selling their first batch of land and this was only late last year. The first batch of land was being sold, they told me, at much below prices for equivalent land anywhere else, particularly land in Melbourne, and it was being sold for $8,000. 1 can assure them that they could have bought better blocks than that in Bendigo for about $5,000. But those blocks were developed by private developers. When I queried how the land was costed I was told that in fact this land was the best value and the price was much lower than equivalent land anywhere else, but I could not get an answer as to how the land was costed. I am led to believe because of the lack of communication on this point- and I intend to pursue this further as soon as possiblethat this land has in fact been heavily subsidised.
It is all very well to say that you can set up a development area anywhere and that it does not matter where it is. If a government is going to set up a growth centre anywhere it does not necessarily follow that it will provide the cheapest land to the people in the area at all. What really happens is that the total costs involved in the development of the land are not taken into account, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has now left the House, is well aware of this. The situation is that Albury-Wodonga, as with other areas, represents a large investment of money, money which is going to remain stagnant for many years. Large farms were purchased. In lots of cases immediately the deal was made with the farmer he was told that he could have his property back at a very low lease for the next 20 years, or some lengthy term. What sort of an arrangement is that? The farmer was given a mammoth amount of money for the purchase of his land and then he was allowed to continue operating it at the cost of a very low lease. That is not economy, it is stupidity.
Fortunately there has been a change of government and we will be able to rationalise this waste of money. Buying land is not a waste of money in itself but it is a waste of money if too much land is bought at one time and if tied up indefinitely, particularly when we have such a strained economy. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in his usual blase way, said that he would have gone on spending money there for the next 5 years. Obviously he forgot that his Party when in government had a Treasurer with no knowledge of the economy, a man who produced a Budget for this year with a proposed deficit of $2,700m. Within 3 months, by the time that Government was thrown out of office, that deficit had risen to $4,800m. How could he rationalise and offer this Parliament a real basis of argument for saying that his Party logically could have gone on spending money in this way? It could not have happened and he knows it. He knows, now that he is in Opposition, that he can say anything he likes because it does not matter. The fact is that the previous Government wasted public funds and did not plan correctly. He talked about localised growth rather than planned and reasonable development.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.
Debate resumed from 28 April on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1975-76 as they are related measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both measures? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-In opening this debate on these 2 Appropriation Bills I am bound to mention the occasion when Appropriation Bills were last before this Parliament. I am referring, of course, to Appropriation Bills (No. 1) and (No. 2) which eventually were passed by the Senate, after a damaging delay, on that infamous coup d’etat day, 11 November 1975. Although by next Tuesday 6 months will have elapsed since that shameful day in Australia’s history, as far as I am concerned- I believe this applies also to my colleagues in the Australian Labor Party- time has not diminished our feeling of outrage at what happened on that day and during the period leading up to that day. The stark fact is that a parliamentary democracy anywhere is a system which requires tolerance on the part of those operating it if it is to survive. It is a fickle flower, a fragile mechanism. Our constitutional monarchy in Australia is no exception. Part of that essential tolerance is not only an adherence to the written word of the Constitution but a respect for and a submission to convention; and furthermore, an interpretation of those conventions and those written words which is politically practical and represents commonsense.
Leading up to 1 1 November, to the unnatural termination of the Whitlam Labor Government, important conventions were broken in a ‘sleazy grab for power’ by the conservatives of this country. Labor senators were not replaced by other Labor senators when their terms terminated by death or for other reasons because Liberal and National Country Party State regimes broke the convention. The Senate of this Parliament, by refusing to grant Supply, forced an election of the House of Representatives against the will of the House of Representatives, thus breaking a convention which had stood for 75 years and a convention which applies in every other comparable Parliament in the world, including those of federations. Before Supply had run out and allegedly without warning by consultation with his Executive Council, and certainly against the wishes of his Executive Council, a substitute Head of State terminated the term of a Government which still commanded the support of a reasonable majority of this House. That was a political act which has irreparably damaged not just tolerance in our community but the fragile fabric of our constitutional monarchy.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision itself, namely the forcing of an election by the Head of State- I do not go into the constitutional details but I concede the point that that could well have been an inevitable outcomethere is no visible excuse for the way it was done. If there is an excuse, for the sake of tolerance in this country, that excuse should be told to the people now so that we can return to a greater tolerance, so that our system does not continue to be in danger, and so that time will heal.
In no way is time alone going to heal the present wounds. Boycotts will continue. What goes on in this Parliament, whatever the opinions and reactions being expressed by people like me, is only a reflection of the genuine and understandable feeling of outrage which exists outside this Parliament. What will go on in Perth during the Governor-General’s forthcoming visit is a testimony of that. If anyone thinks that the royal visit next year, if we still have the present Governor-General, will be a joyous occasion had better think again. I repeat that time itself alone is not going to heal.
Only by codifying the essential conventions, by changing our written Constitution, and, more immediately, by the resignation of our substitute Head of State who made these decisions which brought about this damaging and politically dangerous situation will tolerance return. There are people of goodwill on both sides of this Parliament, some sensitive people, who see the dangers of allowing an ugly and divisive situation such as exists in so many minds today to continue. All these people should get together to make sure that the necessary changes are made. Too much of what was done was done for the short term advantage of a few greedy people. Let us work for the long term advantage of our nation.
The irony of the stark facts I have just outlined is that the follies were committed in the name of good government. What ‘good government’ is there in the virtual instability which exists now? Until change is made Australia must suffer a system where not even a short 3-year term of government can be guaranteed. A hostile Senate with an Opposition majority can interrupt the already normal short term of a government if there is political advantage in that being done. So a government in this position must always be looking to what is popular, not to what is correct and what is right for our nation. This is bad government. With the breaking of the essential conventions for stability it could even happen to this present government with its seemingly large majority right now. One or two aeroplane crashes can turn Senate majorities into Senate minorities and the results in the New South Wales State election show how quickly popularity in the community can wilt away. I do not think there is one new conservative member in this House from New South Wales who would win a majority on last Saturday’s figures. This has happened in less than 5 months since the last Federal election and less than 6 months since the infamous coup d’etat day of 1 1 November.
Before leaving the point of instability in government which was one of the tragic results of that shameful episode, let me point out that a federation like ours, with the short 3-year terms, is the last place in the world which requires these extraordinary powers for the Senate. We are the most over governed nation with far too many politicians. With all our many State governments and with the ever present probability of having Senate elections separate from House of Representatives elections, we are always having elections. Never can a Federal Government become unpopular in this country without dire consequences for the Party which forms that government. There is an enormous pressure for conservatism, for resisting change, for popularity. There is no need for this Senate veto, particularly over money matters. Furthermore, if ever our founding fathers intended that there should be this veto- and there is real doubt whether or not that was the original intentionthen the reasons for it do not exist today.
The Senate is not a States’ House. It is a Party House. This nation is not 6 separate communities. Improved transport facilities have made it one nation with each part to an enormous extent dependent on the rest. Not only have the politically outrageous acts of late last year created enormous instability, but they have driven home the deceit of our system, the deceit of the pretence on which it is based- the pretence that the Senate is a States’ House. They have driven home the conservativeness of our system; the realisation that it is almost impossible to bring about orderly change within this system. Tragically those outrageous events have turned some minds to thinking about bringing about change outside this system.
There is further irony in the outrageous events. The motivation for the damaging action perpetrated by the Liberal Party and the National Country Party which led to the damaging political atrocities of the substitute Head of State was brought about by so-called reprehensible circumstancestwo of them. The first was alleged dishonesty in government. Where is this dishonesty? The Liberal-National Country Party Government has been in control now for almost 6 months. Where are the royal commissions to find our dishonesty? If there were a smell. or truth in the despicable claims, we would have had many such inquiries by now. The eccentric bleats of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) do not add up to anything of substance, because there is no dishonesty to be found on the part of any member of the Australian Parliamentary Labor Party, nor of any Labor Minister, nor of any Labor back bencher.
Those are the facts. The more time passes by the more realisation there is that it was wise to seek fixed interest loans from overseas for the development of this country. Such loans are far preferable to allowing the equity of this country to be purchased by foreigners. That was what happened in the 1950s and the 1960s under the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Similar large amounts came into this country but equity was purchased. They did not come in by fixed interest loans. In a time of development we do need the foreign exchange reserves. Only this past week the present Government has announced more loan raising overseas, in this instance a fixed interest loan from the United States of America. With the benefit of hindsight, we may conclude that there are some methods of raising such loans which are better than others. But this does not add up to a reprehensible circumstance. That excuse for committing outrageous and damaging acts of destruction against the fragile fabric of our constitutional monarchy just will not wear.
So we come to the other alleged reprehensible circumstance- the so-called mismanagement of the economy by Labor. It has taken less than 6 months for the people of Australia to realise the falsity of this claim. The people of New South Wales, by their vote last Saturday, whether the electoral system allows Mr Wran to become Premier or not, have shown by a vast majority in anyone’s language- well over 50 per cent of the popular vote- that they do not reject Labor’s attitudes and philosophies and potential.
Australia is a great trading nation. We are affected enormously by the world-wide trade cycle. Our present troubles of inflation and unemployment to a large extent are the result of a world-wide trade cycle phenomenon. The Australian Labor Government suffered the misfortune of being in power for the first time in 23 years, with so much to do, at a time of world economic upheaval. It was totally dishonest to blame Labor for so many of the economic difficulties that prevailed.
The economic history of the last 6 months of Liberal-National Country Party Government shows how dishonest it was of the Frasers, the Lynches, the Anthonys, the Sinclairs of this world and all their followers -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member should refer to members of this House by their parliamentary titles, not by their names.
– I accept your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am referring of course to the 4 Leaders of this coalition Government- the 2 National Country Party Leaders and the 2 Liberal Leaders. It was foolish for them and all their followers to pretend, and it is misleading to pretend to the Australian people that they had the answers. They did not have the answers. They have not the answers now and from all the signs it is doubtful whether they will improve and have the answers in the future. Due to their false philosophies, stupid attitudes and wrong policies they have postponed the economic improvement which was under way. The world economic recovery has commenced. The signs are good in the USA, West Germany and, to a lesser extent, Japan. We should be locking into that world recovery situation.
Apart from the March retail sales figures, which could be a temporary aberration, the Australian indicators show a turn for the worse since the Liberal Party and the National Country Party came to power. They lied their way into office. They have not been able to deliver the goods. The Australian people are already beginning to give them their just desserts. I refer, of course, to the New South Wales election. Their policies and utterances have been wrong. It would seem that to a limited extent, they now realise they have been wrong. Some of them are now changing their tune. Instead of talking gloom- belt tightening, no soft options, tough budgets- they are now exorting people to get out and spend. Presumably they are talking to those people whom they have allowed to have some reasonable income and whose bank deposits are growing; not to those people whose incomes they are limiting- pensioners, wage earners and so many others.
Now we have rumours of mini-budgets. These are panic measures of men who realise that thenwords and their policies have hitherto been wrong. They have caused chaos in the wages market by putting indexation in jeopardy. They have increased interest rates. They have caused unemployment. They have caused hardship by slashing Government expenditure. In short, they have postponed the return of consumers’ confidencethe one thing needed for economic recovery.
They have managed to be generous where their own, more affluent supporters stood to gain. The superphosphate bounty was one case in point. The investment allowance- a most confusing area of their policy- is another. It was overgenerous and has not helped economic recovery in any measurable way. Because it was so expensive to revenue, it has closed other more beneficial options. But it is to Government expenditure and so-called savings- in my view more aptly called under-expenditure- as detailed in these Appropriation Bills and the second reading speeches that I want to devote the rest of my speech.
Even in the second reading speeches on these Bills, the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) has been unable to resist the temptation to distort the facts and to seek to reflect ill upon the Australian Labor Government. The Treasurer compares the extra appropriation of $506m sought in this year with the $ 1,241m sought at a similar time last year. The comparison is meant to portray more efficient management on the part of the present Government. The Treasurer conveniently omits to inform us that the extra included in last year’s Bills was of course the result of deliberate policy initiatives taken after the 1974-75 Budget. It was a time of world caused growing unemployment. Spending was necesary to save that unemployment from becoming worse. That saving was instituted; unemployment was saved from becoming worse.
In general, I have left it to my colleagues to explore the details of the cuts outlined in the documents which accompany these Bills. I shall concern myself primarily with the ramifications of these cuts for economic recovery. However, there are cuts in one area which I must mention. The full cynical nature of this Government is revealed in its cuts in foreign aid. How anybody, let alone an Australian Treasurer, can feel pleased with making savings of $2 lm on finance which was destined to alleviate suffering in countries much worse off than Australia is beyond me. The full import of the lack of feeling that runs in this Government is brought home when one realises that such a cut has minimal significance for the running of the Australian domestic economy. Other cuts- or foreshadowed cuts- which illustrate the shortsightedness of this Government’s penny-pinching in some areas are plans to shelve the impact long term economic planning model of the Australian economy and also the household expenditure survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Both these projects could be of invaluable aid to effective future economic planning. These cuts are counterproductiveinefficient.
I now turn my attention to stabilisation impacts of the Government’s cutbacks. The Australian Labor Government’s Budget of August 1975 was subject to a campaign of vilification from the very date of its introduction. However, little debate took place over the real issues in the Budget, most attack being directed at the planned deficit of $2.8 billion. This was strange, as the Opposition’s alternative Budget which it introduced to the world a week later contained an imputed deficit of much the same size. As the campaign to justify the ultimate removal from office of the Australian Labor Government gained momentum, members of the Opposition, particularly the present Treasurer, attacked the very success the Labor Government had in controlling the rapid growth in wages. As wage growth slowed, so did taxation receipts and naturally the deficit widened.
It is important to realise that virtually all the $ 1,200m to $ 1,400m increase that will occur in the deficit has been as a result of a shortfall in taxation receipts, not as this government would have us believe as a result of extravagant expenditure excesses. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in this House on 26 February described the deficit as ‘rising out of control’good propaganda but totally misleading. As it turns out the ultimate deficit will be of the order of $4 billion, a total reflection of the success of the Australian Labor Government’s wages policy. We do not like seeing workers with less wages, but we realise that the rate of increase in wages must be minimised for economic stability in our country.
This Government’s ideological assault on the concept of deficit financing has been long and intense and it has still not ceased. The Budget deficit still retains such an awe of fascination for the Government that virtually every economic statement emanating from it contains words of false wisdom about the harm caused by the deficit. The Treasurer in this House on 27 April in reply to a question from the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) accused me as shadow Treasurer- I suppose I should be pleased that he felt it worth while doing this- of making ‘utter and complete distortions’ in statements ‘on the international comparisons of the Australian deficit as a proportion of GDP’. The implication of what he said was that in describing the Australian deficit as far from unique I was supporting the untenable.
To accompany this statement the Treasurer produced a series of statistics designed to demonstrate the relatively large size of the Australian domestic deficit compared to overseas countries. As is the Treasurer’s habit he declined to give us the source of these figures. This, of course, tends to reduce their worth. However, let us assume that they are the latest available from a reliable source. I will speculate that they are unconfirmed Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures. If one is going to base a larger part of the rationale for one’s economic policy on these figures, surely 2 provisos should be mentioned in their relationship. Firstly, the figures for the United States of America and Germany will understate the extent of deficit financed public expenditure. This happens because of the different constitutional relationship between central, State and local government as regards public sector borrowing. The OECD incidentally in the past has pointed this out when giving figures such as those produced by the Treasurer. The States and local government in those countries can go into deficit which the Australian States and local government cannot do.
The second point regarding figures such as these is that statistics must lag behind actual events. For example, the figures quoted by the Treasurer for the United States appear to be appropriate to a central government deficit of $50 billion to $70 billion- an original estimate much along the lines of the estimate of $2.8 billion for the Australian Budget deficit last year. As reported in the Economist of 4 October 1975, Mr William Simon, Secretary to the United States Treasury, stated to a Congress committee that the United States Budget deficit was going to be much larger than that originally budgeted and would probably be of the order of $90 billionapproaching 6 per cent of gross domestic product. This makes nonsense of the answer given to the Dorothy Dixer asked by the honourable member for Curtin in this House.
The purpose of this discussion of figures is not to engage is a semantic argument with the
Treasurer over the definition of the deficit, for that is all it becomes when comparatively small differences are looked at. The purpose is to demonstrate that running a higher than normal deficit is not a purely Australian phenomenon. It is happening as industrialised countries throughout the world attempt to cope with the deepest recession since the depression days of the 1930s. Unfortunately, as long as the Treasurer continues in this campaign of attaching odium to the very existence of the deficit by any means whatsoever, meaningful debate on the right course for Australia’s economic policy will be stifled.
It is important to dispel the erroneous impression that a high budget deficit is uniquely Australian. But it is more important to realise that as far as economic stabilisation policy is concerned changes in the direction of government expenditure at any one time are of more significance than the actual levels of that expenditure. This the Government appears not to realise. The Australian Labor Party contends that slashing government spending- a deflationary move- is not the action needed to engender economic recovery in Australia. It is becoming more and more obvious that overseas countries which have turned the corner out of recession have done so with the aid of an expanding government sector. I will now instance a few of these countries.
Japan is a country whose recent economic ills have closely paralleled our own. Let us see how they have attacked their problems. The Japanese Government has taken a number of measures which sharply contrast with those of the Fraser Government. On government expenditure the Japanese Government introduced in October 1975 a supplementary budget designed to reflate its economy. The key reflation ingredient was increased government spending. This occurred in a number of areas including public works, housing finance, loans for pollution control and loans for small business. On the interest rate front the Japanese Government moved to make real cuts in interest rates. Compare this to the action of the Fraser Government which instituted a phoney, artificial cut in the lower maximum overdraft rate and then ensured a general lift in interest rates by the introduction of the overpitched savings bonds. The Japanese Government set about trying to promote recovery through encouraging the private sector to see that it was the Government’s role to supplement shortfalls in overall demand levels. The Fraser Government saw until recently only gloom at every corner and any government-initiated demand supplement as an evil to be avoided at all costs.
So much for Japan. But now let us look at recent economic problems in the United States. Dr Pierre Renfret, Economic Adviser to 3 United States presidents, at a recent gathering of Sydney members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia outlined 2 key factors in America’s economic revival. One of these was an upturn in consumer confidence, something the Australian Labor Party has been advocating here, and the other was that the American Government was, to quote him, ‘spending money like there was no tomorrow’. Dr Renfret estimated that the real American central government deficit would be at least half as large again as that budgeted.
Deficit figures for fiscal years 1975 and 1976 indicate also that Canada is using increased government expenditure to underwrite economic recovery. As the Economist of 4 October 1975 points out, even France, which on face value appears not to be doing so, is reflating through public sector involvement. This is because although it has a comparatively small budget deficit the financing of this deficit is being done through a direct increase in the money supply.
The Bulletin of May carries a story on a western European country which appears to have got off scot free while its neighbours are freezing in the slump. This country is, of course, Sweden. The main reason given for Sweden’s economic health is its willingness to spend its way out of potential trouble. Incidentally the Swedish performance would tend to put the lie to another socalled ‘fact’ members of the present Government are fond of parading- that of a link between an increased size of public sector and poor economic performance. Sweden’s public sector as measured by general government expenditure as a percentage of GDP hovers around 50 per cent while the comparable Australian figure is of the order of 32 per cent
One does begin to wonder just which countries the Treasurer was referring to when he said:
The simple fact is that governments throughout the industrialised world- particularly those with which I have had direct conversation- at the present time are in the process of reducing their deficits ana in particular the overall quantum of public spending.
One would recognise New Zealand as one of this select group but even it is in a somewhat different position to Australia as it is confronted with a massive balance of payments deficit.
Incidentally, before the Treasurer starts quoting projected 1977 deficit figures as evidence of an international move towards a decline in government expenditure I point out that once recovery is substantially under way the requirement for stimulus from government is reduced and therefore, of course, the requirement for government deficits is reduced. The point to be noted in this regard is that while overseas a recovery is definitely emerging, the actions of this Government in this country, as I have already said, appear to be postponing such an occurrence in Australia.
The examples of the actions taken by countries with similar problems to Australia’s are intended to repudiate the myth being foisted on the Australian people by this Government. The Fraser Government has conducted an elaborate campaign to convince Australians that severe cuts in government spending are a virtual prerequisite for economic recovery. The actions of governments in countries where recovery is under way deny this. We have reached the stage where the Treasurer parades every cut in government expenditure with all the enthusiasm of a new Messiah with a message of salvation. Cuts are announced and immediately seen as good and just. No attempt has been made to explain the ramifications of the multiplier effect of individual government cuts. Even the Treasurer must know that different types of government expenditure have different impacts on the economy. This Government seems not to realise that cutting government expenditure does not automatically transfer resources to the private sector, and that cuts themselves mean less work for firms. Let us look at just one industry to suffer from shortsighted government cuts. I quote ‘The Fraser Government’s economics are seriously damaging the already weakened construction industry’. This is how the business digest Rydge’s in its April issues describes the action of the Government which came to power on the promise that it was the administration which could get business moving. The Sydney newspaper the Sun Herald in its edition of 2 May in a story headed ‘Builders on the bread line’ points to a significant issue which the Government appears ready to ignore. I quote:
If the industry (building and construction) is allowed to sink to the very depths of depression there will not be sufficient competent professional, contracting teams and tradesmen to handle the work when demand revives.
This statement highlights the problems of structural dislocation which continued recession will bring- recession caused by the Liberal-National Country Party Government’s false ideology.
Despite this threat on the horizon the Treasurer announces that the Government has saved $18m be deferring a number of capital works projects in the Departments of Transport, Northern Territory and Construction and a further $29m by abolishing the Australian Housing Corporation. This might be $47m of saving to the Treasurer and hence a source of satisfaction to him. One doubts that the ailing companies and the unemployed workers in the building and construction industry for whom this money was intended would share his satisfaction, nor would the people of Australia who need the fruits of the work of this industry. The problems confronting the building industry are just examples of the damage being done throughout the economy as recovery is delayed. The Labor Party feels confident that just as the world-wide economic recession was the prime cause of the Australian recession then eventually Australia will be dragged into the world-wide economic recovery despite delays caused by this Government. However, we are concerned about structural damage which may occur in the meantime. At long last it would appear that sections of the Government are also recognising this, if the Prime Minister’s recent exhortations and recent change of attitude are any guide. They are, it would seem, now at the stage of changing policy. I hope so. Their old ideology is in tatters. They do not know whether they want to deflate or reflate. They do not know whether they are coming or going.
– When I came into the House I thought I would be listening to some constructive contribution by the shadow Treasurer to the problems that face us economically, financially and industrially. I regret to say that I did not hear such a contribution. This is understandable because of the shadow Treasurer’s lack of knowledge of finance or of fiscal or monetary concepts of any kind. I sympathise with him. I am sorry for him. I think whoever wrote his speeches should have written a somewhat different one for him which would have given some kind of guidance to the Australian people and particularly to this House as to Labor’s fiscal policies and alternatives. He referred to an issue that ought to be forgotten by now. He referred to the withdrawal of the mandate of the former Prime Minister as Prime Minister and to the vesting of that office in Mr Malcolm Fraser. There can be no doubt that that action was welcome to the Australian people. The vote showed it. He spoke about whether there was power under the Constitution to take such action. Obviously he has not read section 5 of the Constitution. If he reads the words of that section surely he will have to concede that there is such a power. Could there be anything more precise than the words in that section? It states:
The Governor-General may appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit, and may also from time to time, by Proclamation or otherwise, prorogue the Parliament, and may in like manner dissolve the House of Representatives.
Therefore he has the specific power. What else could he have done in a situation like that which existed towards the end of last year? There is no doubt that the economy was being mismanaged. There is no doubt at all that Supply was just about to run out.
In this context I refer to another section that should interest the shadow Treasurer because of his hitherto total ignorance of this subject. Under section 83 of the Constitution, there can be no appropriation unless there is a vote of the Parliament. If there had been an attempt at appropriation, even if the money had been borrowed overseas, it would have been illegal and unconstitutional to appropriate it without a vote of the Parliament, not just the House. Under section 61 of our Constitution the Governor-General in Council has certain obligations. One is to ensure that the government of the country is carried on. As there were no prospects of the government of the country being effectively carried on under the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr E. G. Whitlam), the former Prime Minister and now the Leader of the Opposition, the GovernorGeneral had to act. For the time being, I hope, after the Paltridge affair, he can be only the temporary Leader of the Opposition. It was a sorry and degrading day for us that the events associated with the name of the late Senator Sir Shane Paltridge alleging corruption should have been made a subject of public debate without any evidence and pursued not only in this House but outside as well.
For these reasons I dispose quickly of the first argument of the shadow Treasurer. Then, he referred to the powers of the Senate. There is no doubt that the Senate has the power to refuse passage to a Bill. That power has been there for donkeys years. People accept that power. Mr E. G. Whitlam and the former Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Murphy, both stated that they would use that power if they had the opportunity.
– They never used it.
– Do not be a hypocrite. They tried but could not muster the numbers. They accept that fact. The shadow Treasurer obviously does not understand what all this is about. Again I sympathise with him and express to him my sorrow. Nonetheless, there it is. They would have done it. Now they resent the fact that the Governor-General appropriately and properly took the action he did. Of course the question is this:
What is wrong with the people of this country being given an opportunity to express their views when the country is headed for a depression? When the Government cannot control appropriation there can be no doubt that the economy had moved out of the stage of stagnation and stagnation. We had marched through the phase of recession, and were steadily and inevitably moving towards depression. Under those circumstances surely the people of Australia had the right to vote? They did! What was the result? The sovereign power in this country, the people of this country, took the present Opposition to task and chucked them out. The people acted in the most responsible and decisive way known in Australia’s history.
The shadow Treasurer then mentioned the funny old story about inflation being a world phenomenon. In one sense it has been a world phenomenon. Apart from Australia, no country had the same prospect of escaping the rigours and unfortunate effects of this world phenomenon as we did. We had oil enough for our own needs. We could have isolated ourselves from many of the misfortunes of the world. We had an immense export income. We had an economy which, when the Labor Party came in, was developing at a magnificent pace. Real growth was 7 1/2 per cent. Inflation by the implicit deflator was 2.2 per cent, and by the consumer price index it was 4.6 per cent. Unemployment was down to 88 000. Out of this inheritance what a horrible, nasty, mean mess the Labor Party made of the economy in less than 3 years. It reversed all those trends and established the conditions that prevailed when the Fraser Government came into power in 1975.
I must mention retail sales but I will do that a little later on. The shadow Treasurer distorted statements made by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). Let me make this clear and positive statement. The shadow Treasurer raised the question of deficits and said that Australian deficits were small compared to others. There cannot be any doubt on the best figures that are available, that the figures given by the shadow Treasurer were manifestly and provably false. The figure for the deficit in the United States of America is 4.6 per cent, for Canada 4.3 per cent, for West Germany 3.3 per cent, for Japan 3.7 per cent, and here it is 6.1 per cent. The honourable member’s statement that we are at the bottom of the league is wrong. In fact we are at the top of the league in real terms. If he knew a little more about monetary and fiscal policy surely he would have turned to what was one of the decisive influences in halting the environment conducive to inflation- the money supply. In the United States if the money supply is in excess of 7 per cent people go jumping through hoops. Here we had to tolerate a level of 27.7 per cent whilst Labor was in Government. It would not have stopped if the Fraser Government had not come into office. Do not look like that. You look as though you ought to be in another place.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The House will come to order. The right honourable member should address the Chair.
– I should, Mr Deputy Speaker, but when I am tempted in that way I cannot resist.
– I am sure that the right honourable member has been here long enough to yield not to temptation.
– Yes. You are right, Sir. If it had not been for the action taken by the Fraser Government probably the estimated deficit of $2,860m at the beginning of the Budget year would have risen to at least $4,750m and ended up, probably, at about $5,000m. So how can the honourable member argue in the way he did about the kind of action taken by the Fraser Government to reduce the deficit Government expenditure. I could talk in this way for some time but I have no wish to do so because there are other matters that ought to be dealt with while I am speaking in this debate. I would like to mention one, but only one, fact associated with the Appropriation Bills and compare it with the performances of the Australian Labor Party last year. I refer to the fact that the savings under Appropriation Bills (3) and (4) will be of the order of $500m. Let us contrast that with what happened under Labor. Last year expenditure increased by $ 1,700m. All told there would have been an additional deficit of $ 1,200m. This was just part and parcel of the persistent way Labor did things- the devastatingly destructive way in which they acted when they were looking at the Budget and expenditure of Government Funds.
At least the shadow Treasurer acts with good will. I cannot criticise him for lack of goodwill or integrity. If you look at the actual figures associated with Labor’s various Budgets you have to concede that the first 2 Treasurers did not try to control expenditure. On every occasion they gave in to the pressure or cajolery of Ministers and the Caucus. The first Treasurer- the honourable member for Adelaide who is the fourth in succession in a long line of failuressaid that he had no intention of restricting his colleagues’ requests in relation to increased and excessive expenditure. Let us look at some of the figures to prove that point. If we look at the year 1971- 72 we find a domestic deficit of $405m. In 1972- 73, at a time when we had to stimulate demand in order to ensure that we moved out of a recession and on to prosperity and reduce unemployment- which we did- we had a domestic deficit of $2 15m and a total deficit of $709m. We knew what we were doing and would have had to put on the breaks early in 1973 when the economy recovered. We get to 1974-75 and find that the deficit under Labor rose to $2,567m- a colossal increase and one that could only cause damage and create the environmental and financial conditions under which wage claims could be made and achieved. Inevitably over time with productivity fallen we would have created the conditions of depression which I mentioned a few moments ago.
The point I want to make here and now is this: I believe that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has rightly stressed that the first objective of this Government must be the reduction of inflation. I believe that this Appropriation Bill gives us the opportunity to look at the various changes in particular departmental appropriations and the explanations given to establish the trend that is occurring in the economy, to highlight the real problems the country faces and what ought to be done about them and to inquire whether we can move more quickly to get this country strongly back on the path to economic and financial recovery. I think that honourable gentlemen will agree with me that the critical factors in the policies of the Fraser Government are these: First of all, the shadow Treasurer knows that national growth and development, and with it prosperity, are the keynotes of success. To achieve that purpose we must have a diversion of resources from the non productive sectionthat is the public sector- back to the private sector. Secondly, we have to ensure that the money supply will not create inflationary expectations and develop a momentum for wage increases of its own.
I believe it to be a truism that to achieve success the critical factor must be in national growth of an effective kind both of supply and demand. Keynes fashioned the theory of effective demand. He said that there ought to be enough money created by the Government to absorb potential supply at full employment level. I change his words a little and I say that supply has to be increased in an effective way- that is, in accordance with the wishes and needs of the people expressed in the market place. I had intended to say something about the international position and the prospects of higher prices for our exports but time prevents me from doing so. Instead I have to content myself with the statement by the shadow Treasurer about the international position and that conditions in Australia are a reflection of world conditions. Today only one country is showing obvious signs of getting back to real growth development and prosperity, and that is the United States. Japan looks as though it might soon reach the take off stage in the same direction. The United Kingdom is putting up a magnificent performance to restrain wages and public expenditure but so far is getting nowhere. If you look at the rest of the world, you are drawn to the conclusion that, with the exception of West Germany and the oil producing states of the Middle East, the world is in a very sick condition. We cannot expect a strong and permanent improvement in commodity prices or the prices of our primary industries or our extractive mining industries or for that matter the products of our manufactured exports until the second half of this year. In fact so far as manufactured goods are concerned they have been reduced to minimal quantities during the time when Labor was in power.
Only today I read some figures which illustrate the kind of problem we face in this country. The figures are associated with the gross national product in Australia and the way in which the various sectors have joined in making up the GNP. Let me turn to what I regard as the critically important section of the economy if we are to achieve an increase in our gross domestic production. I refer to the manufacturing and producing section of this country, to corporate profits and to the relationship between corporate profits and wages. Normally, when the economy is bubbling along in a healthy state we like to believe that as prosperity and growth develop we achieve satisfactory and reasonable proportions between wages and profits and, out of those profits, the ability to develop- whether by technology or by the application of more machinery. When my Party was in power at the end of 1 972 the amount of our gross national product that went to profits was 17 per cent. Under Labor it fell to about 8 per cent or 9 per cent. At the beginning of 1975 the figure had risen to 13 per cent. Before the turn of 1975 it worked down to 11 per cent again. This is the great economic problem that we face today. The former percentage of corporate profits must be restored. Looking at the facts observers will see that wages themselves and their percentage of GNP have consistently improved. Of course we want wages to have a better purchasing power and to ensure better standards and more options for all. But unless the flow of money to industry is increased, industry cannot invest and generate the confidence to do the job that is so necessary if Australia is to prosper. We want every single section of the community to have the opportunity to share in prosperity.
Let us look at one facet of this; frankly I cannot discuss any other because of the limitations of time. I ask honourable members to look at the statistics for other new capital equipment besides housing, motor vehicles and production of a similar kind in our manufacturing industry. This relates to 1975. Here is the condemnation of Labor and its policies- the damnation of Labor’s policies and where they were taking us in their headlong rush to depression. In the September quarter of 1975 investment in manufacturing fell by 7 per cent. In the December quarter the figure was a further fall of 1 1 per cent. In mining there was an increase in the September quarter of 12 per cent and the figure fell to minus 6 per cent in the December quarter. If you look at industry as a whole and take into consideration the theatres, entertainment industries, recreation and occupations of that kind, you will see that we had a deficit in investment of 5 per cent. In those circumstances what alternative was there unless policies were changed? There was none. The real prospect was a recession followed by depression.
I believe that the Fraser Government is on the right track in legislating for an investment allowance and double depreciation provisions for industry as a stimulus. I believe it is on the right track in attempting to divert resources from one section of the community to another- from the public sector to the private sector. But I also believe that the most urgent action it must take now is to make further representations to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission about wage and income tax indexation in the national wage case. We should look at the fall in profits as a percentage of gross national product and the prospects of a further rise in wages due to the probable increase in the CPI of 3 per cent and a possible wage rise of $9.20. This prospect should be considered against the background that the Fraser Government has decided that in the next Budget, for 1976-77, it will start the process of indexation of personal income tax. The Fraser Government has already stated that it will commence indexation of personal taxation. In my view that statement has been treated with scorn by the Commission and not without reason. It is not precise enough or a basis on which the Commission can act.
I believe the time has come when the Fraser Government must be more explicit in saying what it intends to do with personal income taxation in the light of the statement by the Treasurer last night, that he will from time to time make statements relating to such matters as indexation as a help in solving the nation’s problems. I took it that he meant indexation of personal income taxation. There is a very good precedent when we are considering great national issues of an economic kind and when the judgment has to be made as to whether the Government should take action quickly. I do not know of any person who has had better knowledge of finance and economics than Keynes, the great British economist. He and for that matter his disciples never hesitated to act quickly when the future was at stake. We now have within 6 months increases of 6.4 per cent and 3 per cent in the consumer price index and these will be written into wages. So we face a 1 5 per cent inflation rate in a year. In order to pre-empt that I believe we have an obligation as a Parliament and a government to indicate clearly to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission what it will do in terms of income tax indexation with its effect on future wage claims. There is a precedent. Many years ago the Arbitration Commission informed the Government that it would not grant a wage rise if child endowment was introduced, and child endowment was introduced. I believe our general approach in the present Arbitration case is right and that is that the Commission should permit the CPI increase to apply up to average minimum award rates and then that amount should flow through the whole of the award wage structure, providing always we have hearings every so often- once every year or every year and a half- relating to relativities, work value claims and matters of that kind. This is a moment of decision. It is a moment of trial for the Government. I believe it is one of those occasions when with courage, a persuasive, logical and acceptable case can be presented to the Arbitration Commission. Members of the Commission are talented and experienced men. They are looking for leadership and guidance from the Government. They must be assisted with a sensible and achievable approach by the national Government. I believe that the Fraser Government is the only government that is capable of giving it.
– I want to talk about the collegiate system of voting in union elections. I begin by saying that the Australian Labor Party’s platform provides for participatory democracy in union affairs and provides that no financial union member shall be deprived of the right to vote in the election of union committees exercising any powers of management and that no committee man shall be permitted to occupy a full time office unless he is elected by a direct secret vote of the rank and file of his union. However, the 1973 Conciliation and Arbitration Act gave unions until mid-November of 1976 to comply with the provisions of the 1973 Act. The rules of the more democratic unions had already provided for the direct vote of members for all offices. Those that did not took the necessary steps to bring their rules into line with the requirements of the 1973 Act. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a list giving examples of the unions which had full time office bearers elected directly by the membership and those where the election was by the collegiate system.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. ( The document read as follows)-
The vast majority of smaller unions
A small number of smaller unions- mainly Public Service organisations
– I thank the House. Some of these unions, as will be seen from the list have held back. In the main, they were extreme right wing unions whose officers were afraid to face a direct vote of their rank and file. In the main they were unions dominated by the National Civic Council. In the main they were unions that confidently predicted that they would be able to get from this Government the right to continue with an anti-democratic control of their unions.
They first attempted to subvert my successor, Senator James McClelland. Mr Maher and Mr John Maynes, both of them NCC agents, made representations to persuade the Labor Government to alter the Act to allow a continuation of the collegiate system of depriving union membership of a direct vote for office holders. Senator James McClelland rejected their representations out of hand and the matter never even reached the Cabinet room. I pay tribute to the very fine work carried out by Mr Joe Riordan in opposing this insidious attempt by NCC agents to persuade Senator James McClelland to defy Labor Party policy and the platform of the Australian Labor Party to bring in this anti-democratic system of controlling union officials. But then these people gambled on the possibility of the Senate refusing Supply, of forcing a double dissolution and bringing about the defeat of the Labor Government. They seemed to be better informed about what the Governor-General intended to do than the Government was. It is certain that they apparently knew as much about the intention of the Governor-General as the then Leader of the Opposition knew. They knew that if they could defeat the then Government they would have the power to get their own way and to prevent the rank and file of their unions from having a direct say in the election of office holders.
They had an important advocate for their cause right inside the Department of Labor and Immigration. They knew that Santamaria could put the indian sign on the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) whenever he wanted to. And he has done it and he has got what he wanted. They knew that they could also count on the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) with whom they had established important ideological links when he was the Minister for Labour and National Service. But I ask these people to answer this simple question: What are they afraid of? Why are they afraid to let the rank and file of their unions have a direct vote for the election of the office holders of their union? My Conciliation and Arbitration Bill provided that the cost of officially conducted union ballots would be paid for by the Government. They cannot argue that the conducting of these extra elections will cost the small unions money that they cannot afford to pay because, I repeat, my 1973 Bill provided that all officially conducted ballots would be paid for completely by the Government. They cannot argue the cost aspect. They cannot even argue the physical disabilities aspect because that, too, would have been taken care of under the 1973 Bill.
I say quite openly and quite proudly that I have frequently been personally responsible for organising petitions for the holding of officially conducted ballots in the Australian Workers Union. I knew that if we did not have an officially conducted ballot in the AWU we would not have a fair dinkum ballot; it would be a corrupt ballot. Therefore I was in favour of officially conducted ballots inside the Australian Workers Union. I was in that Union for longer than anybody in this building. I know more about that Union and its history of ballot corruption than almost any person in Australia. I had no alternative but to organise the holding of officially conducted ballots. I never knew any opposition to come from the rank and file members of the Australian Workers Union to the petitions for clean ballots that I used to take around and organise. I never struck any opposition from within the AWU. I never knew any rank and file member that I approached to refuse to sign a petition for an officially conducted ballot and I do not believe that there is very much difference between the rank and file members of the AWU and the rank and file members of most other unions.
As a matter of historical record, the AWU’s executives are now actually asking the Registrar to carry out all of the ballots of the AWU by the officially conducted system. The members of the executive no longer see any advantage in trying to rig ballots. They know that if they do their jobs they will win any ballot without having to rig it. Rigged ballots are only essential to people who are not doing their jobs. People who do their jobs and who are true to their trust have nothing to fear from a clean ballot of the rank and file. The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia has for years had written into its registered rules a provision requiring that all ballots of the union shall be conducted by the Electoral Officer.
The Street proposal, which, if it has not already gone to the Cabinet, will shortly go to it, provides as a kind of pay-off for this antidemocratic proposal of retaining the collegiate system a sop which says that provision will be made to allow the rank and file to petition for a ballot to alter the rules in favour of rank and file ballots where the collegiate system already operates and, conversely, to allow those who have a rank and file ballot to petition for an alteration of the rules to bring in the collegiate system. Let me say with quite a degree of certainty that the latter proposal is never likely to eventuate.
The collegiate system is undemocratic. It is unworthy of any government or any country that preaches democracy and participatory democracy within the trade union movement. It is contrary to the solemn promise which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) gave to the electorate on the hustings. He received massive support for his promise to give unionists the right to elect their own office holders in secret ballots. It was support that was not deserved because every union’s rules already provide for secret ballots. A union cannot get registration unless its rules do so. But it was a political gimmick that paid off. I know that it paid off because I met people on the factory floor who said that they were attracted by the Prime Minister’s promise to allow the rank and file to have a direct voice in the election of their office holders. Nobody should imagine that it did not win votes for the Government; it did. But, of course, by the same rule it will lose votes for the Government now that those who voted for it in the belief that they were going to get the democratic direct voice of the rank and file know that they are going to get only an indirect voice and that handfuls of men calling themselves the management committees of unions will elect each other to the most important full time positions at the federal level. It will only need 12 people in the second largest union in Australia to get together and elect between themselves their own federal secretary, their own federal president, their own federal vice-presidents, their own trustees and their own returning officers under the electoral system.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-The unfair part about the Government’s proposal is that those unions which sought to comply with the Act which this Parliament passed in 1973, which required that the right of the rank and file to elect its own office holders should be sacrosanct and which brought their rules in line with the requirements of the Act are now being put in the position of being worse off than those unions which sought to delay their compliance with the
Act until the very eleventh hour. The Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union and the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, to name but three of the largest unions but by no means the only ones who had previously been using the collegiate system for the election of office holders, complied with the requirements of the Act and are now in the position that the officials will be stuck with the rank and file system of electing officers unless they are able to persuade the rank and file to give up their right to directly elect their officers. I am referring specificially now to the Minister’s submission to Cabinet. It says:
Having regard to the objections both by employer and employee organisations, it would seem desirable to permit organisations to have rules providing for a collegiate system of voting provided that members of the organisation could request a plebiscite supervised by the Australian Electoral Office to be held if they desired to change to a system of direct voting. In my view, this would not cut across our policy proposals in relation to democratic control and supervised ballots and would be in accordance with the policy in connection with fundamental changes to the rules of an organisation. If we adopted this approach it would follow that we should allow organisations by plebiscite of the membership to change their rules from a direct voting system to a collegiate system. I propose that we remove the requirements inserted in 1973 providing for the direct election of all fulltime office holders.
There are 2 things about that part of the Minister’s submission to Cabinet. The first is that it would appear that all you have to do is to object to something that the Government proposes to do and the Government will not proceed with it. The Minister starts off by saying, in effect; ‘Having regard to the objections that have been lodged by employer and employee organisations we now do not propose to go ahead with the proposal’. Does this mean that the Government will pay the same regard to objections from unions to all the other things that it proposes? If it does, the Government will have to back down on a lot of the promises or threats which the Government made when it was on the hustings. The Government will get plenty of protests and plenty of objections- to use precisely the term used by the Minister- when it seeks to bring these other amendments into the Act.
The other thing of which I would like to remind the Minister is that the Act passed by Parliament in 1973 was not an Act that the Labor Government railroaded through both Houses by the use of the guillotine and without the approval of the Liberal and Country Parties. The Liberal and Country Parties did not oppose that provision in this House. They did not oppose it in the Senate. They could have used their numbers in the Senate to prevent the proposal for the abolition of the collegiate system from ever getting into the 1973 Act had they wished. But no, they did not. They believed the Bill was right then. They must have believed it was right or they would have used their majority to reject it. What sort of double standards does the Government have and use in relation to matters of this kind. Those union officials who refused to comply with the Act, waiting until the very last minute allowed to them under the provisions of the Act to make changes to their rules, are now in the position presumably that the rank and file will not be able to get rid of the collegiate system unless the rank and file first of all are able to get enough names to obtain a petition for a plebiscite to decide whether the collegiate system is to remain or be abolished.
The Minister has not said, and he does not appear yet to have given indications of ever saying, in the statute what number of members will be required to obtain a successful petition. I suggest to the Minister that the number ought to be written into the statute. It is not good enough to have it in the regulations. Any Minister in the Executive Council, which means the Minister concerned, one other Minister and the GovernorGeneral, can alter the required number needed for a successful petition, as has already been done on many occasions. I do not agree with the whole concept of the collegiate system for a start, but if we have to have a collegiate system and there is a provision for a plebiscite I do not disagree with the idea of a petition. The number of people required to obtain a petition ought to be written into the Act. The figure of 250 or onefifth of the total membership, whichever is the smaller, is contained in the regulations now. That ought to be written into the Act so that it can remain there and no Ministers can fiddle the regulations to suit their political friends.
– One-twentieth, is it not?
-One-fifth is the same as one-twentieth, I think. No, the figure should be 5 per cent. I beg your pardon. The Minister has the advantage of Melbourne Grammar; I only went to Loos School. The figure is 5 per cent or one-twentieth of the total membership. I thank the Minister. I am obliged to him. I would like to tell the Minister something else. I am grateful to him and in a way flattered by the fact that he left his delegation to come and listen to me. He must not be misled by what allegedly occurred at the Arbitration Committee of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. My information from ACTU Executive officers is that the Committee’s decisions are not binding on the ACTU until they are endorsed by the ACTU full Executive. They have not been yet endorsed by the ACTU full Executive and in my opinion they are not likely to be endorsed.
– They are a point of view.
– They are a point of view that was put to the Committee by the National Civic Council’s prime representative, Mr John Maynes, who came into the meeting without warning and threw onto the table of the meeting of the Committee opinions and legal views prepared by Mr Tony Macken who I am told by people inside the NCC is to succeed Santamaria as the Chairman of the NCC if he does not get appointed to the Industrial Court first. That is my information. I would like to know whether, in seeking to change from the collegiate system to the rank and file direct vote, the same kind of stipulation will be put into the Act as was put into the Act in respect of amalgamation proceedings. The collegiate system cannot be changed even by a plebiscite of the members unless there is a 50 per cent response from everybody entitled to vote. If this proposal is to be in the Act it will stand branded for what it is.
This is a blatant breach of a solemn electoral promise, of an electoral mandate, sought by the Government and obtained by the Government. It is a cynical disregard for the will of the electorate. It is an unashamed betrayal of all those who believed that the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party stood for rank and file control of trade unions. Nothing that the Government says again at an election will ever be believed by those people who on this occasion were silly enough to believe that when the Government said it believed in democratic control of trade unions it did believe in it, because the reintroduction of the collegiate system proves beyond all doubt that it does not believe in union democracy.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). I say at the outset, not speaking in my capacity as chairman of the Government Members Industrial Relations Committee but as the member for Hotham, that there is a great deal of what the honourable member for Hindmarsh just said with which I agree. I do not know nearly as much about the subject of industrial relations as he does because of his industrial experience. All I know is that I have saturated and satiated myself in this one question in the last 4 weeks. I have had countless trade unions making representations to me. I confess that I am in a state of utter confusion about some aspects.
The only point I make is that this issue is not as simple as the honourable member for Hindmarsh said. It may be simple to him because of his great knowledge and experience in these areas, but I say with respect to him that he oversimplified a number of issues. I make a plea to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). If he brings in legislation I ask that it be laid on the table of this House so that interested parties can put views to the Government, so that the kind of view that the honourable member for Hindmarsh put, which is a respectable view, can be put and listened to by the Government, or preferably by some committee. As chairman of the Government Members Industrial Relations Committee, it gave me no pleasure to know that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has a distinct advantage over me because he was waving around in his hand a copy of a Cabinet submission.
– They must have given you a copy as chairman of the committee.
– The honourable member need not make a cheap point. As a former Minister, he knows that a Cabinet submission is never given to back benchers.
– I always gave my submissions to my industrial relations committee.
– We live in a strange period of morality when that kind of Cabinet submission can be given to a man in the Press gallery and circulated to the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Where it leaked from I do not know, but I have nothing but utter contempt for the kind of individual who leaks Cabinet submissions or any secret documents. This is a standard of morality that I wish to speak about in a moment or two when I speak generally about the behaviour of members of this place.
I am constrained at the moment to comment on what the honourable member for Hindmarsh said, except to say that I believe that he spoke about one of the most important issues facing this Parliament at this time. I am constrained because, as chairman of a government members committee, I believe that the proper way is to go through the committee to the Minister, through the Party room, to form a view and then come into this House and state the view. But let me say that a great deal of what the honourable member for Hindmarsh said I personally have sympathy with.
I was speaking about morality. I would like to speak about what I believe to be a deterioration in the standards of behaviour of members of this Parliament inside it and outside. Lately there seems to be an obsession with attacking the individual, with innuendo, with individual members of Parliament both living and dead. This institution is founded on a concept that one speaks fearlessly and vigorously against the opinions of an opponent but never against the personality or character of an opponent. When that is done it demeans the person who does it and it demeans the institution of Parliament itself. I do not want to appear to be adopting a holier than thou attitude, but in my 15 years in this Parliament I have seen a steady deterioration of these moral standards, particularly in the last few years. There are questions on the notice paper which I would be ashamed to put my name to. There are questions on the notice paper about the divorce of the Governor-General’s wife and about who travelled with the GovernorGeneral on a certain aircraft. Then the scuttlebutt goes around the Press gallery and the corridors of this place saying: ‘That is why I asked that question’. I think this sort of question just demeans the standards of this institution. We had an example of it outside the Parliament but by a member of this House that frankly made me sick when I read it. This member was demeaning a dead man. I think that is reaching the lowest depth to which a member of this place can sink. How can we expect to command respect from the people? This is the governing institution of the nation. How can we go to the people and ask for an increase in salaries, which is long overdue, if the people do not respect the individual members of this institution?
I would be a hypocrite if I were standing here saying that the only person who has demeaned this place in the last few weeks has been the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam’ with his attack on the late Sir Shane Paltridge, because in my view members on the Government side have not been guiltless. I am not proud of the actions of a colleague of mine who tabled in a place in this Parliament an unsigned, unsworn document which demeans another member of this place. I say that after due consideration. I am not proud that a Minister moved a resolution and called for a division or attended a division concerning an unsworn, unsigned, unverified statement which said the most shocking things about another member of this Parliament- a member of this Parliament whom incidentally I do not respect, but that is irrelevant to the point. If this voice in the wilderness is to be of any use at all, let me point out that this sort of precedent once established will allow any member of this House to have some villains concoct a piece of infamy or calumny about another member, have it typed up, not have it signed or verified, and then by sheer weight of numbers have it tabled in the House or incorporated in Hansard. That very act would allow the newspapers of this country to carry that sort of calumny on page one the next day. I speak about this sort of thing on this Appropriation Bill because this Appropriation Bill reminds us, with the expenditure involved, that we are the Government of the nation. If democracy is to survive in the way we want it to, one of the most important things for that survival is to command and sustain respect from the people of Australia.
I want to speak about two other matters on this Bill. The first concerns the Australian Assistance Plan. Rumours are circulating and there has been speculation in the Press- whether it has been inspired I do not know- that the Australian Assistance Plan is to be axed, is to be chopped, is to be decimated. I want to read something into the record to give my strong, vigorous unequivocal views on this matter. When the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) introduced the Australian Assistance Plan during the term of office of the Labor Government, as shadow Minister for Social Security I had something to say about it. I said this with the full authority of the joint coalition Opposition at that time. I said:
Here is one of the most important social documents laid down in this Parliament for 20 years. I should like to compliment the Commission -
That was the Social Welfare Commission- for an outstanding document and I extend my appreciation to the Minister for embracing it and its philosophies. Indeed, one could almost be persuaded that a Liberal Minister wrote the document and embraced its philosophies. This is in fact liberalism at work. It is a document and a speech to which I personally would have been proud to attach my name.
I went on to say:
This sort of philosophy in the Australian Assistance Plan has been Liberal policy for years and we accept it.
What is the Australian Assistance Plan? It is a concept in which local communities in various regions throughout Australia can band together and look after, evaluate and assess the evolving social needs in a community. It is not a handout from the Government which says: ‘OK, you have a problem here; we will give you money to fix it’. It is not a Government department which looks after the mentally handicapped or whatever. This plan says to the people of Australia: ‘If you are prepared to help yourselves we will give you so much catalytic assistance to help yourselves’. As a result 37 or more regions have been formed throughout Australia and thousands of Australians who never bothered about getting involved in local government or Government have joined in, have contributed to the plan, do attend meetings, join its task forces and go into the grass roots of each community to find out what the social needs of each community are. The thing that holds it together is the fact that the Government has said: ‘We will fund the appointment of an executive officer, an office, a secretary and up to 4 community development officers who can be the people who will go out among the community and report back to you so that you can report to your regional committee ‘.
To me this is an exciting concept because I am often asked by people what I rate as the biggest problem facing the people of Australia todaythe biggest menace facing Australia today. I do not hesitate. Certainly inflation, unemployment, the interest rate and those sorts of things are important, but they are abstract in the sense that they do not look after the individual on the ground. They do not care about people as individuals. If I am asked what the greatest menace to Australia is today, I would say it is the fantastic growth and concentration of people in our cities because world wide experience has shown that the drug problem, the problems of alcoholism, marriage break-up, baby bashing and all of those social evils which affect the human being are rampant in the cities which are too large. If we believe that life in the big city forces on people the 3 barriers to liberalism in a human being- conformity, bureaucracy and anonymity, and that is what the big city does to a person; it makes him feel part of an amorphous mass removed from the decision-making process and governed by a bureaucracy that he cannot seeand if we believe this sort of thing gives him a feeling of isolation that makes him turn to other pleasures, if I could put it that way, such as drugs, alcohol, marriage break-up and that sort of thing, then surely this is the area which we as a Federal Parliament ought to be assisting. This to me is the very essence of liberalism. In fact, that is why I am a Liberal and proud to be a Liberal.
Has the Australian Assistance Plan been a success or a failure? Like many of the good things that the Labor Party brought in during its 3 years in office- and it did bring in many good things -it fouled this up by bad administration, by spending money as if it was going out of fashion. I am not going to advocate that the Australian Assistance Plan as it was structured by the Labor Party should be maintained. What I am saying is that we are morally, politically and I believe conscientiously bound to it. I would like to say that during the election campaign, not as the shadow Minister for Social Security but as the Minister for Social Security or the caretaker Minister for Social Security, I was authorised by the Cabinet itself to issue on 22 November a statement which committed this Government if elected to retain and maintain the Australian Assistance Plan. That was said in these unequivocal terms:
The Liberal-National Country Parties reiterate their commitment to supporting and enlarging participation in the decision-making structures relating to the AAP.
That statement was made for a particular reason. A commitment to continue the AAP was in the social welfare policy of the Parties. That policy, I am proud to say- and I hope I say it with some modesty- did something to win votes in the outlying electorates that were won from us in 1972 and 1974. It is in those kinds of electorates that we find the swinging voter who does care about his community.
At that stage on 22 November there was a great deal of doubt about that policy. It was put to me by the Australian Council of Social Services by several regional councils and by Liberal and Country Party candidates in those sorts of areas: ‘We are getting complaints that your policy is not quite clear enough ‘. I took that to Cabinet and I was authorised to issue the document I have in my hand. It clarified our policy and it unequivocally commits us to a continuation of the Australian Assistance Plan. I would regard it as a very serious matter- I say this knowing the consequences of what I am saying- if the AAP is decimated, if it is changed to such an extent that it cannot function any more, if it is changed to such an extent that it cannot perform its functions.
I say this knowing that the Government has massive economic and budgetary problems, but I do believe very strongly that sometimes in this place we talk too much above our heads about these issues like unemployment, inflation and so on. They are vitally important. I am not saying they are not, but what I am suggesting is that sometimes in this place we get too obsessed with the abstract, with the theory, and sometimes we forget the effects the changing society in which we live is having on human beings. The quicker we return to that and maintain those sorts of things which do care about the individual I think the more respect we will earn in the electorate.
– I want to confine my remarks to the financial aspects of these measures. There are 2 Bills before us, Appropriation Bill (No. 3) which provides for an expenditure of $344m and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) which provides for an expenditure of $16 1.7m. The expenditure totals about $507m. We also have this other curious document called Treasury Information Paper entitled ‘Statement of Savings Expected in Annual Appropriations’. I suppose no such document has ever been presented to this Parliament before. It purports to indicate that there will be savings of $266.8m under Appropriation Act (No. 1) and $21 1.4m under Appropriation Act (No. 2), a total of approximately $478m. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) rather glibly summed up the effect of these things in this way in his speech on these Appropriation Bills: … the net effect of the additional appropriations I am proposing, and the savings we now expect to be realised, is an increase of $28m on the expenditures provided for in Appropriation Act (No. 1 ) and Appropriation Act (No. 2).
Further on in his speech he said this:
One would have to go back a long way to find a year when outlays were in fact less than the Budget estimated.
With all respect, I suggest one can place no value whatever upon that document entitled ‘Statement of Savings expected in Annual Appropriations’. I suggest that some of the savings are occasioned simply by the political paralysis that took place in this nation from about the time of the introduction of the Budget until 11 November last year. The savings are not savings in any legitimate sense; they simply mean that Government activity that ought to have been undertaken in fact was not undertaken and that the program has been slowed down. I suppose that is one way of saving. It is rather like the saving as a result of closing the National Library 2 nights a week and not worrying about the value of the books in the Library or the students endeavouring to use them. A few man hours can be saved by closing the Library. If these things are savings I suggest it is time that this nation had a look at the kind of philosophy that seems to underpin this Government’s approach to financial affairs.
I heard before this afternoon a rather pious justification of what this Government is supposed to have done given by a former Treasurer and Prime Minister. I would say, and I have said it before in this House, that there is no single economic act done by this Government since it came into office that in any way has improved the Australian economy. By that I do not mean that the Australian economy has not improved. I am saying that the improvement has nothing whatever to do with what this Government has done or has not done. It is about time we got away from this nonsense of attributing every malaise in the economy to the previous Government and every slight improvement that has taken place since the change to this Government.
Unemployment existed when the Labor Party came into office. It was rising when we came into office and it continued to rise during our period of office. It is continuing to rise during the period of office of this Government. Investment has been stagnant in Australia for several years. The Jackson committee adverted to the fact that there had been a lack of enterprise and a lack of satisfactory investment in Australian manufacturing industry not just over the last several years but over the last 10 years. There has been a failure to face up to the structural changes that are implicit in the Australian economy. This failure to some extent has resulted in things like inflation and unemployment. I do not deny that when we were in Opposition we sought to get some political advantage out of unemployment. We are not the only Western country that has unemployment but we have not got it at as high a level as some other countries. We are not the only country with inflation at unsatisfactory rates. No government has been able to solve those 2 problems given that we want to maintain what is called a free economy and a market operated economy.
The big single question always is the share of the total cake that goes to wage earners on one side and profit takers on the other side. I have never regarded the word ‘profit’ as a dirty word. Neither have I regarded it as a term very easy to explain. But as I have said before, I am getting a little nauseated by what is called ‘ free enterprise ‘ in this country and the insinuation that somehow it disappeared and now it is going miraculously to return.
Whatever the Treasurer says about Budget expenditure this year actually being less than was expected when the Budget was drawn up, I want to say something about the 2 sides of this Budget transaction because they are what are involved in the deficit. Expenditure is going to be roughly the same as that set out when the Budget was drawn up. There is to be an increase of something like $2 8m. If the deficit is going to be greater than originally thought then it will be greater because taxation yields are less than was expected. One of the reasons that taxation yields are less than was expected is that wage rates have not risen at the rate anticipated this financial year. I do not know whether anybody consciously sought that to happen but I do believe that what is known as indexation had something to do with it.
Like the former Prime Minister to whom I referred earlier, I think it is about time the Government came a bit cleaner about what it calls tax indexation. I have been a little bit intrigued to see certain proposals, not specific proposals; I can rely only upon the figures that I have seen quoted. Indexing personal taxation is said to be going to save $ 1,200m but indexing company tax is said to be going to save $ 1 ,000m to the companies. I contrast that with the fact that in the Budget it is estimated that we will collect $10 billion from personal taxation and slightly over $2 billion from company taxation. So it is said that there is to be a saving for individuals of $ 1,200m via indexation and $ 1,000m for companies. One does not need at this stage to go into how company profits are distributed among a relatively small number of companies getting large profits and a large number getting small profits. I think that again this is indicative of the approach. It will be nice if one happens to be in the groups that get indexed. It will not be so nice if one does not get indexed equally. One may be indexed unfairly and what about the sections that will not be indexed at all? If everything is indexed in fact maybe nothing will be indexed. I think it is time that there was a little clearer thinking on this subject.
The Treasurer may brag this year that this is the first year that expenditure has fallen short of anticipation. I suggest that there may be reasons for that happening. However I would say that he is going to face great difficulties in preparing his first Budget in reconciling promises about tax reductions and promises that there is not an intention to cut back on Government expenditure drastically. I suggest that he will face a deficit of some magnitude before he starts. Candidly, I have never been a person who condemns a deficit. When loosely talked about it becomes a rather meaningless concept. In the last years of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government it was nice to talk about something that that Government called the domestic deficit. It no longer seems to be a popular thing. It is now called the local deficit. People can make the Labor Government’s performance appear to be worse by relating deficits to the old domestic basis and ignoring it now. The former Treasurer’s statement about the matter reveals a difference of some $700m.
Surely one of the matters that is significant is how the deficit is financed. I think I have referred in this House to the process that is known as ‘crowding out’ whereby if you get to a certain level of activity and you engage in more government expenditure, in essence all that you do is to reduce private expenditure by as much or more. With all respect, I doubt whether we can necessarily be thought to have reached that stage in Australia at the moment. The Government seems to be going through a kind of trauma of its own as to whether a recovery has to be investment based or consumer based. The clever Treasurer the other evening made it an amalgam; it has to be a bit of both. I suppose it has to be a bit of both in the finish but I still think it is simple enough to suggest that no entrepreneur expands his capacity unless he believes that he is going to sell the additional products that his extended capacity will provide. There does not seem to be much doubt in the finish that a consumer induced expansion has to occur.
I do not think the previous Government was given full credit for this: It was not until the end of January broadly that the effects of the new taxation deductions began to have effect. They did have some stimulus as far as consumer expenditure is concerned. On the other hand, there was not as great a stimulus as might have been desired because wages had not risen as fast as had been expected. In some respects some people would regard that as a good thing because they claim that it is the rate of wage increase that in the finish is the regulator of the rate of inflation. Again, I am not quite sure that it can be summed up as neatly as that; but that passes for logic on the other side of the chamber at the drop of a hat. Nevertheless, I submit that we do face a great problem in Australia in the next several months.
The present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) used glorious phrases during the general election about the Australian economy being on its knees. What that picturesque phrase was supposed to conjure up I do not quite know, but I submit it is sheer nonsense to suggest that the Australian economy is among the worst economies in the world. It is not. It is not as healthy as it ought to be but it is much healthier than are some other economies. It is not as unhealthy as it is simply because there was a different government to what we have now. Nor is the recovery likely to be as rapid as it should be because Government supporters literally do not know what they are doing and where they are going.
I think it is time we got better answers at question time than we now get when Ministers say: ‘Who are you to ask a question about inflation?’ or. ‘Who are you to ask a question about employment; you produced the greatest rates of inflation in history?’. That is not true. The greatest rate of inflation in Australian history occurred in 195 1 during the period of the Liberal-Country Party Government. Unemployment in Australia is now higher than it has ever been. Nobody denies that, but do Government supporters believe that they will reduce the unemployment figures to under 100 000 within a 12-month period? Do they unctuously claim that they need 3 years to govern? They denied us any right to govern for 3 years in order to carry through a consecutive plan. Despite what the previous speaker said about morality, I would say members of the Liberal Party as a whole should be the last people to speak about public morality. Such were the actions perpetrated by the Senate in the first place and by the Queen’s representative in the second, that certain people who did have faith in the parliamentary system of government now threaten to take their own actions. I think at times that these sorts of situations ought to be contemplated when actions are taken.
I think my colleague, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) began by referring to the events of 1 1 November. I say this- it is not the first time I have said it and it will not be the last time- that for this parliamentary system to be workable, no Senate can ever dare to think it can refuse Supply. I think it is time the Government examined the structure of expenditure, the continuity of expenditure, the permanence of employment, the permanence of commitment to pensioners and so on. It thinks you can take a few annual statements and say: ‘Until you appropriate that dollar, you cannot do this or you cannot do that’. The second thing that would make parliamentary government workable in the future in Australia is that the numbers in the House of Representatives shall determine who the government will be. In 1976 nobody should take the powers that were discarded by the monarchy as far back as 1776, in fact constitutionally even earlier than that, and say that he can dismiss a government. The only feasible ground that the Governor-General had was that he was listening to the whispers in the Press gallery and the kind of nonsense that went on here about corruption and so on.
I join with the previous speaker in suggesting that it is time we talked less about corruption and so on. The Labor Government was not corrupt. The Labor Government, in one or two of its actions, may have been foolish. I have said this before in other places and I repeat it. The Khemlani affair was the only leg upon which the Governor-General had to stand for his actions. If the Khemlani affair had not existed, he could not have done what he did. In any case, he should not have done what he did. He still should have acted on the advice of his Ministers. There are no prerogative powers. If the Australian parliamentary system is to be a modern working one, if it is to maintain the respect and the confidence of the ordinary people of Australia, the sooner the House of Representatives asserts its proper rights about financial powers and about the dismissal of Ministers, the better. It ought to be acknowledged on both sides of the House for the good of the institution as a whole.
-The Government of the day is placing a great deal of reliance on the economic measures which it has introduced and the economic measures which are being considered at this time for introduction in the next few months. I believe it is opportune for this House to take note of some of the trends that are developing in other parts of the world that affect this particular economy and to look at some of the views that are being expressed in those countries. I refer particularly to the United States of America. Tonight I should like to put to the House some views that are being argued in the United States at the moment and which ought to be considered and of which members of this Parliament and the Government ought to be aware. I emphasise at the outset that the views that I put are views that are being expressed in the United States; they are not necessarily views that I hold myself, but again I think they are views which ought to be considered.
I start off by saying that there is a great degree of reliance being placed upon the recovery as it is termed in the United States at the moment. Views are being expressed that a genuine recovery is not really taking place in the economy. One of the reasons being argued in the United States is that the fundamental financial position of the United States has undergone far more serious deterioration than is generally realised. A spring can be distorted within reasonable tolerances by applying force such that when the force is removed it will rebound to its original state. However, if the distortion is so great that the spring’s inherent tolerances are exceeded it will not recover. Somewhat similar to this, it is being argued that the United States economy has been distorted beyond its inherent capabilities, that it will not recover along statistical trajectories based on past recessions and past recoveries, and that the current popular economic projections radically over-estimate real growth potential and radically under-estimate future inflation and employment levels of the nation.
It is easy to have a great leap forward if one starts from far enough back. The former levels of economic activity in the United States cannot be achieved without a reversal in a fundamental problem, that is without a reversal toward sound money, money that is worth saving, that is worth lending and that is worth investing. I think that these are lessons which we ought to be applying in our own economy in Australia. The short term bullish factors in the United States, by their very nature must run later into restraints that are inherent in the fundamental disequilibrium in that country. A decade of rampant inflation has created a yo-yo economy in the United States and, in fact, in most Western countries. Specifically- and this is the most severe latent constraint- the crowding out effect that did not materialise in the money markets in 1975 is virtually certain to do so in the late spring and summer, in United States terms, in 1976. The United States Treasury has already budgeted the huge deficit to run through until October and it is expected to tap capital markets for about $70 billion this year- about $18 billion in the first quarter alone. It has to raise the money through the financial markets or else it must print it. We suffer the same constraints.
Throughout 1975 the United States Treasury was very fortunate in that it had very little competition in borrowing in the financial markets, since corporations generally eased up on capital outlays and generated any necessary funds internally by liquidating inventories, or by floating new equity issues on the crest of the stock market surge in the spring of 1975. Furthermore, in 1975, much of the increased savings deposited by individuals was lent by commercial banks to the United States Treasury as they took down treasury bills to bolster their portfolios in the face of decreased demand for general personal and business loans. The unique situation in the first half of 1975 led to an increase in interest bearing marketable public debt of $33 billion, in contrast to about a $4 billion decrease in the first half of 1974. Fourteen billion dollars, or 42 per cent of this debt, was placed with the commercial banking system without putting noticeable upward pressure on interest rates.
In other words, the United States Treasury had everything going for it in 1975. Not so in 1 976 if the myriad short term bullish factors continue for even a few more months. Specifically, on the one side, increased consumer credit borrowing together with increased business loans needed to finance inventory and to finance capital expansion, on the demand side, will begin to compete in earnest with the United States
Treasury which, because of its printing press backing, stands firmly entrenched at the head of the line at the money trough. On the credit supply side, general business and stock market euphoria, orchestrated by the political activities in Washington this year, will cause consumer optimism to surge, resulting in decreased saving rates, increased spending rates and a decrease in the available excess reserves generated by personal savings in the commercial banking system.
I think it is fair to say that many of these factors which have been experienced in the United States have been, although not necessarily at the same time, experienced in our own financial operations as an economy and as a government. It is argued quite strongly in the United States that the economic recovery which is now under way is not a sound economic recovery. It is a politically induced superficial recovery which must be politically prodded to keep moving. The fundamentals have not changed. I think we have to learn that lesson here, because by and large the problems that we face are not a great deal different from those which have been experienced in recent times in the United States. We have to see that our economy recovers on the right lines, that we are not simply inducing a politically prodded recovery as is being argued is the case in America. The problems of inflation affect most of the Western world to a greater or lesser extent. There are only 2 ways in which runaway inflation, from which we are still not clear, can terminate. One is a crash deflation and depression. The other is a hyper-inflationary money explosion and depression. It appears that there is no third terminal alternative. The efforts of fiscal and monetary officials to steer a middle course is not a real alternative. It is rather a delaying tactic which makes the eventual alternative consequences all the more extreme. The longer this policy is pursued the more likely it becomes that the final outcome will be hyper-inflation. I think that this is one of the things that this Government is trying to attack right at the root. We have to put our house in order in economic terms. We have to see that we do not have the sort of interference in the economy which will not put the economy in the direction which it properly should be taking if in fact we are to solve the problems and avoid a bout of hyper-inflation.
Much has been said about booms and troughs. It has been argued that it is a misconception that inflationary booms and deflationary busts are inherent in a free market economy. I think it is worth putting a view that has been argued by Austrian economists that actually the periodic booms and busts of history are not business cycles at all; they are not inherent in a free market economy and they are one result of state intervention into the economy. They are actually fiat money, or unbacked paper money, and credit cycles. The classical economists, particularly Ricardo, recognise the essential nature of the cycles. In a nation having a fractional reserve money and banking system, the cycle begins with a money substitute and credit expansion. As the paper money supply increases, money incomes and spending rise in nominal terms. Prices are bid up. There is an inflationary boom. Businesses prosper, even poorly conceived and managed ones. Comparatively, prices abroad look cheap. Imports increase. Domestic products look expensive to foreigners. Exports decrease. Thus, there is a balance of trade deficit and a balance of payments deficit. Real money- gold or silver- is shipped abroad to make up the difference. Thus, the backing for the large paper money and credit supply becomes smaller. At some point the bankers of the nation become concerned that they may not be able to meet future demands for gold and silver payments or, worse yet, that their depositors entertaining the same fear may make a run on the bank.
The bankers become concerned. They stop making new loans and they stop reissuing their own bank notes that come in. In short, they contract and reverse the inflation period. The inflationary boom turns into a deflationary bust. With a reduced domestic money supply, prices, incomes and spending fall. Business becomes depressed. Comparatively, foreign goods look more expensive and local goods less expensive. Imports decline, exports increase and the balance of trade and payments deficit reverses itself. Gold comes back in. The bankers remain cautious for a time and the depression continues until all of the unsustainable mistakes, distortions and excesses of the preceding inflationary boom have been liquidated. When the surviving businesses adjust their activities to the new situation and eventually get their financial affairs on a sounder footing, they become more creditworthy. The way is then paved for the cycle to begin again whenever the bankers again become over-confident. It is a view which is being argued and of which we should be aware. To some extent it is an argument for keeping government involvement in business and in the economy to a minimum.
Tonight I want to say a few words about the state of our budget outlays and about some trends. Again I want to refer to the United States experience. I am particularly concerned that Australia may be in for a period of open ended welfare funding. The demands on the welfare vote are showing signs of increasing by very large amounts. I will use some figures from the Australian experience. They are not designed to be misleading. I obtained them from the Budget Speech for last year, which gave figures back to 1965-66. 1 do not want to mislead the House. I hope these figures are representative. I took them at random. The amount allocated for the function of social security and welfare in 1965-66 was $933m. The total outlays in that year were about $5,000m. So the amount of Commonwealth Government outlays for the social security and welfare function was about 18 per cent of the total outlays. In the present financial year, under the last Labor administration, the amount allocated to the social security and welfare function is close to $5,000m. Total government outlays are estimated at something like $22,000m. The figure for the social security and welfare function is approaching 25 per cent of total expenditure. So in 10 years the outlays on the social security and welfare function have risen from 18 per cent to an amount roughly equivalent to 25 per cent.
I draw the attention of the House to the experience in the United States. Welfare spending increased steadily in the 1960s. It trebled during the decade. In the 1970s it is exploding. In 1970 it had risen to $77 billion. As recently as 1972 it amounted to $1 19 billion, taking 33 per cent of total federal spending. In 1975 it jumped to $159 billion, consuming 48 per cent of total federal spending. In the fiscal year ending June 1 976 it is expected to reach $200 billion and will devour over 50 per cent of total federal spending. It is impossible for this trend to continue without leading to hyper-inflation. The trend, rather than getting better, is expected to get worse, barring a sudden and drastic overhaul of the whole welfare state. All the programs tend to be self accelerating. This is in American terms, but I think it is applicable to Australia. The total about doubled in the decade of the 1960s. It doubled in the 1970 to 1975 half decade. It will double again in the next two or three years. The argument is that it will probably double each year if it is not checked.
I believe that Australia needs to look at welfare and at the emotional and extreme demands on Federal Government outlays in this direction. I think we must determine a level of welfare spending which is acceptable to the community and to the Government. I think that a figure of something like 25 per cent, which we are presently experiencing, is probably about the maximum. Then we must allocate that amount of money among all our competing welfare functions, in much the same way that there is an acceptable figure for the amount of money that ought to be spent on defence. In recent times we have been told of the acceptable amount of money that can be allocated to foreign aid and things of that nature. Then we must allocate the money within those financial limits. We may need some sort of commission to determine priorities. We may have to accept the recommendations of such a commission.
I am horrified at the prospect of the politically sensitive area of welfare putting increasing pressure upon the Parliament and upon the Government m relation to the expenditure outlays which the Parliament is called upon to allocate. Obviously there must be a very sympathetic approach to those people in our community who are in need. We must accept the fact that we cannot allow to develop in Australia a situation which would be anywhere near similar to the American experience where something in excess of 50 per cent of the federal Government’s outlays are going one way or another into the area of welfare. I ask the House and the Government to give some consideration to this suggestion, because obviously there is a limit on the amount that can be allocated. I hope we are able to get the community to support that proposition and that we do not have a situation in which we, as a parliament, are put in a position of not being able to support the worthwhile aspects of our commitments because of the increasing amount of money that will be needed. Often it is increased by political activity, by bidding up and by the creeping welfare. I do not use that word disparagingly, but the welfare commitment tends to creep.
I want to say a few words on the deficit and on the implications of it. Deficit spending increases the debt burden in 2 ways. Firstly it increases the Federal debt, upon which interest must be paid. Secondly it pushes up interest rates, which affect everybody. I think it is worth noting that in America in only 4 years interest on the federal debt doubled from $20 billion to in excess of $40 billion. The Americans are now spending 10 per cent of their budget on interest repayments. I hope we learn a lesson from that. With the record Treasury borrowings in America this year and next year, with the likely outlook for interest rates being that they will rise and with Treasury debt issues being mainly short term, they are looking conceivably to a doubling of the interest to $80 billion or more in the next couple of years. I hope we are sufficiently wise to avert that situation in our country. The American budget deficit has risen from $45 billion in 1975 to $78 billion in 1976, an increase of 73 per cent. We just cannot have that same sort of thing happening in Australia. The Americans are starting to realise that in respect of their situation.
I believe very strongly in the thrust of the Australian Government at the moment in trying to do something about all these problems which must come to Australia and which can result only in higher inflation, a more significant unemployment problem and a longer term situation which will not be in the interests of our economy. I hope we can learn from the American experience. I hope we have the discipline necessary to restrain the Government’s desires and to rationalise the demands being made on government. I think it is particularly important that we take note of it in this welfare area.
-Firstly, I think I should point out that it is a dangerous proposition to take in isolation figures for any section of government. One of the factors which has affected the American experience has been the collapse of the capacity of the city to carry its welfare programs, which was the historical means by which welfare was financed in that country. In Australia a not dissimilar situation has occurred in recent years with regard to State welfare programs being substantially taken over by Federal funding, in some instances- I would think significant instances- without a greater expenditure of actual funds on welfare services. Federal funding has increased. To use a parallel, if the Commonwealth Government took over the State railway systems the debt would not disappear, nor would the losses. But the States’ budgetary situations would change considerably. So would those of the Commonwealth, in the reverse direction. With an expenditure of a similar amount of money one might well see a different budgetary result.
To achieve any sort of pattern in this area one has to assess and take into account where the expenditures are, where they have been or whether they are pre-existing expenditures transferred from one system of government to another. The United States experience especially has been a collapse of the capacity of what one would have to call city-State type operations where their city controllers exercise very much the functions which our State governments exercised in the past. I think that there is a danger in present Government policies also of a similar situation occurring. To withdraw the Commonwealth from an area of expenditure is not necessarily to change the amount of expenditure within the nation. I would have thought that the total fiscal package within the nation is what is relevant rather than what the Commonwealth spends in isolation.
We have heard over a considerable period a great deal about the size of the Commonwealth Public Service and the need to reduce the intake of public servants. But if the growth of the Public Service is a vital area surely the State public services and local government public services must be taken into consideration. If it is said that a 4.7 per cent or 4.8 per cent increase in the Commonwealth Public Service last year and a not dissimilar increase the year before are excessive I wonder what comments we should be hearing about a 6.7 per cent and a 10.5 per cent growth in the Victorian Public Service in the last 2 years. That is more than double the rate of growth of the Commonwealth Public Service. Local government has had a similar experience in the last few years.
On that particular point I want to raise a matter, and I am glad to see the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) at the table. There does not appear to me to be any rationale in setting ceilings on Government activities where those activities are commercial activities, where the commercial activities are profitable, where the business community and the community at large have a demand for exclusive services that can be provided by that Government activity, and where setting ceilings reduces the capacity to service the needs of the community and to further the commercial interests of the activity concerned. I refer to the Australian Telecommunications Commission. One of the areas which concerns me is that there are increasing signs of delays in telephone installations because of what has been a very rapid demand for this facility. Any upturn in the business cycle will place very heavy demands on telephone requirements. I understand that at this time there has been something like an 85 per cent to 90 per cent reduction in the intake of technical trainees at the Rhodes college of Telecom in New South Wales and a downgrading of the technical training staff- the tutors- in that institution. I understand that similar reductions have been made in intakes of trainees in other States.
The basic commodity required to keep up with the demand for the installation of technical services provided by Telecom is trained personnel. They are specialist trained personnel who cannot be recruited outside the service. If the intake of trainees is cut back from 200 to 25 in one year in order to meet a Treasury demand, which may be a political consideration, then there will be a cutback for a number of years in the capacity to supply that level of trained personnel which we hope increasing business activities will require. I would like to hear an explanation of why, in an area of business activity where the Government is making good profits, where it is neither a burden on the Treasury nor a burden on the community, the Government is slowing down the rate of training of personnel, is slowing down the rate at which vital communications can be provided to both private and public sectors, and is reducing the intake of funds which will assist in providing the capital necessary to increase the capacity to service the community’s needs.
In this area I think there is some sort of a blind spot in those who suggest that blanket cuts are the way in which to deal with this type of problem. If a commercial organisation, big or small, were subjected to the rigours of the control of the Treasury and the Public Service Board or if a group of commercial organisations had to go through the justification procedures and the red tape necessary to expend money in order to further a profitable enterprise, there would be no profitable enterprise. It is essential that judgments in these matters be taken on the basis of what is the real situation and what is the necessity for the service and the capacity of those carrying on the service to justify any increases in staff or expenditures which they undertake.
That brings me to the second matter of concern. At this stage the Minister has made no statements that I know of on the matter but it is widely reported that a committee is inquiring into the 2 Commissions which were formed out of the Postmaster-General’s Department, on the basis of examining any modifications or otherwise which may be justifiable. I do not believe that at this stage the Commissions have had a fair chance to operate. I hope that we are not about to go through the experience of Britain where the Post Office was placed under a board of control and immediately political interference at almost all levels destroyed the capacity of that board to carry out the functions with which it was charged by the Acts of Parliament establishing it. The Postal and Telecommunications Commissions in Australia are in their infancy. Whether they will succeed will not be evident for possibly five to ten years. Certainly political control of the Post Office will fail. Political control of the State rail systems has failed. It is not able to cope with the necessary business and other activities and also to meet the political requirements of the government of the day. It does not matter which party is in government.
The Post Office is possibly the biggest industry in Australia. It is an industry which provides important communications. With the sort of development which is necessary and which will take place, I believe that it will, given some freedom of its own, develop services which will give Australia something approaching an adequate communications service. I doubt very much whether a country like Australia can ever have an adequate service or the types of services that people expect at the prices people expect to pay. I think that that is highly relevant. One can have a first class service in anything if one is prepared to pay first class prices, but one cannot have a first class service in anything if one is not prepared to pay a first class price. I am concerned- I do not want to make too much of this- at this point of time that the Postal and Telecommunications Commissions may well be going back into the dark ages when they were subjected to Public Service Board control. Something like 86 000 out of some 120 000 employees in the Post Office are in exclusive grades which do not have relevance to any other section of government employment. The Public Service Board, in these areas where it denies the Commissions the right virtually to negotiate their own conditions and wage rates, is the creator of industrial disputes which reduce the service and cost the Commissions revenue, usually without any saving whatsoever in the wage or other areas. I think the Minister may well acknowledge that recent experience has been that where there has been outside interference in negotiations with the Commissionsnot necessarily under the present Government- there has been serious loss of revenue to the Commissions without any saving in the long term in salaries or the provision of conditions.
The Commissions are charged with responsibilities by this Parliament. I believe that they ought to be given time, without political interference, to carry out those responsibilities. Whilst that capacity exists we have a chance- I say a chance- of the Commissions developing the means by which the Commissions can properly operate and provide the services at the highest possible level for which the community is prepared to pay and reducing the fairly low incidence of industrial disputes within the Postal and Telecommunications Commissions. If on the other hand those Commissions are to be subjected by the Public Service Board, the Department of Employment and Industrial relations and by the Treasury to interference in their management without any real justification we can expect a deterioration in their services in the same manner as the deterioration took place in State rail systems when politicians tried to run them and took away any initiative at all from the persons charged under the State Acts with that responsibility.
The British experience has been that the Postal Board in Great Britain was never given a chance to work because political interference arose almost immediately it was set up in the form of directives and other forms of restraint. I hope that the Australian Commissions will be given a chance. If any government goes back to the situation of political control it will be putting a noose around its own neck, not necessarily in that it will lose office but that it will be restrained in its activities by its need continually to pump resources into an area without getting any effective and efficient result.
In the time I have left I want to take up something which is far more parochial. Like other honourable members on this side of the House I am concerned with reports that no funds will be provided for growth centres in the forthcoming Supply Bills. Most honourable members here will be aware that Geelong was a designated growth centre. They will also be aware that it has one of the highest incidences of unemployment in Australia. It has a regular high incidence of unemployment. The non-spending of funds on growth centres is suggested as a fund saving activity. It may well be so if one accepts the proposition that funds saved at a federal level, even though they are expended at a State and municipal level, are funds saved. I do not.
In the total scene of the Australian economy it does not matter to the taxpayer whether he pays a local government body, a State government or the Commonwealth government; he still pays. In the provision of accommodation for people it is nearly twice as expensive to settle a family in Melbourne or Sydney now as it is to settle them in most of the non-metropolitan large regional cities. Investment in encouraging people to move to those areas is a saving in total expenditure in the short and long term. Under provisions which were made, a number of projects, some of which would have cost the Government very little, were allocated to the Geelong area. One of the projects was not to expand the accommodation for Commonwealth public servants within the inner metropolitan area of Melbourne but to provide accommodation on the periphery and also at Geelong. One thousand public servants were to be housed in accommodation which would have been built by private developers and leased to the Commonwealth. There would have been no expenditure on this by the Commonwealth for at least 2 years.
There would have been some expenditure in the transfer of public servants in a couple of years time, but that expenditure as a total community commitment would have been reduced considerably if it were offset against the community costs of having public servants travel into the centre of city areas and the community cost of providing access to cities. This is becoming an increasing burden on each State government and one which has been to some extent recognised by the Commonwealth but not to anything like the extent which the cost incurred would warrant. Two other major projects were allocated to Geelong. One was the establishment of the Deakin University which, unless the funding for the construction of the necessary facilities is increased, will most likely be like the early parliaments in England and meet under the oak trees.
– It might be an improvement.
-It might be but it would be awfully cold and I think the students might become a burden on Medibank which would mean there would be no saving. The other project, which I think is of a more urgent nature, is the establishment of the National Animal Health Laboratories. This is a major project to provide protection for Australian primary industry and to enable Australia to reach self-sufficiency in the provision of serums and in the investigation of animal diseases. At present we rely very heavily on good luck and supplies being available from other sources. This project will take a number of years to complete, but on completion will be a valuable insurance. The project is deferred for examination at the moment. I feel quite confident that the Government will eventually proceed with the project but I am certain that the loss through increased costs caused by the deferment is in excess of $lm a month. I am sure that that is about the order of the loss.
The lack of this facility and the possible inability of the country to find the necessary serums or other treatments which may be necessary if an exotic disease were to break out in one of our animal industries in Australia could cost several thousand million dollars. It is not a good insurance risk to delay proceeding with this project. It will take 8 to 9 years to complete. I understand that it has been delayed now for something like that period. Australia is dependent very largely on its animal husbandry industries even though at the moment they are in a depressed state. We ought to be providing the protection that quarantine alone cannot provide. I hope that a decision can be made on this important matter very quickly. It is one where I believe that savings are not being made but costs accrued.
-Before I address myself to the main matters I intend to discuss I want to raise a point on a matter raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). He spoke of the former Labor Government being often foolish but suggested that it never acted with impropriety. I ask him to take his mind back to a certain Executive Council minute that referred to a loan for temporary purposes. Enough of that; it is an old subject.
There is a myth around this Parliament and in the community that something can be had for nothing. That myth, I believe, is damaging to our economy and to our society. There is one particular aspect of that myth that I wish to discuss tonight. It relates to the protection of various industries and the belief that one can protect one industry without in some way affecting others. It is not that we have not been warned about this often enough in the past. An Industries Assistance Commission report has stated:
One industry can only be helped at the expense of another industry.
Way back in the 1 920s the Brigden report stated:
Taking Government assistance into account, costs of production in the export industries are raised by 9 per cent by protection.
In the 1960s the Vernon report stated:
As already mentioned, we have not attempted to assess the net impact of the tariff and bounties on export industries. The subject of ‘offsetting’ benefits is complex and would repay further study. We suspect, however, that the wool industry bears proportionately more of the net impact of the cost-price squeeze than most other export industries. Some simple calculations relating to this industry, made by the Secretariat -
And reported on in Appendix L of that document- suggest, that on the basis of Commonwealth Bureau of Agricultural Economics estimates, total cost would be reduced by 8 per cent, if materials, together with plant and equipment, used in the industry were free of duty.
In the document entitled Rural Policy in Australia, which is known as the rural Green Paper, it was stated:
Without the tariff, the devaluation which would have been necessary to maintain full employment and external balance, while raising domestic costs as the tariff does, would have raised the Australian currency equivalent of export receipts.
A study in a report by the Australian Wool Board in 1973 entitled Secondary Industry Protection and the Wool Industry found that the tariff structure cost to the wool industry alone is in excess of $200min 1967-68 terms.
There are no free feeds; yet this is not readily understood. It is not readily understood why this is the case. What I want to attempt to do is to explain how it is that there are no free feeds. There are 3 effects of a protection measure. It raises the cost of goods.
A tariff directly raises the cost of imported goods. I think that is obvious enough and clearly enough understood. But it raises the cost of goods that compete with those important goods. If the alternative to a good manufactured in Australia is to buy one manufactured overseas the good manufactured in Australia is dearer by the amount that is necessary to keep out that overseas good. There is also the effect upon the exchange rate. This is probably the least understood effect. It is important because it affects the whole nature of the argument. What we have to consider is not the position of protection versus no protection but of protection via the tariff, bounty or what have you and protection via the exchange rate. They do have different effects but they both protect in large measure the now protected industries.
If Australia or any other country erects barriers against imports, be they tariffs, quotas or transport and handling costs, fewer goods will be purchased from overseas and less of the country ‘s foreign exchange, which is earned by selling overseas, will be used up. Other things being equal, the overseas reserves will rise. While a surplus of overseas reserves is insurance against a rainy day it is of no immediate value to the citizens of Australia, who could use the goods and services which might be purchased with them but which are kept out by the trade barrier. If the currency is not revalued or the barrier lowered the reserves will go on growing. Meanwhile speculative money will flow into the country as people buy Australian dollars in anticipation of a revaluation. That is highly inflationary, hard to control and hence unacceptable.
Imports are permitted to flow again by revaluing the Australian dollar, so making them cheaper when sold for Australian dollars inside Australia. Import competing industries gain the advantage of a tariff or other form of protection and subsequently suffer the disadvantage of an exchange rate higher than it would otherwise have been, that is, their competitors’ imports are cheaper when measured in terms of Australian dollars. On the other hand, when Australia lowers its trade barriers the reverse will happen. Other things being equal, the foreign reserves will run down and Australia must devalue its currency, so making foreign goods dearer in Australian dollars and the price of exports higher when measured in Australian dollars. The import competing industries lose the protection of the tariff or other barrier and gain the protection of a lower exchange rate.
Of course, all things are not always equal and the Australian exchange rate is affected by many circumstances besides Australian tariffs and the reduction of the tariff protection might result in a revaluation that was prevented or less than it otherwise would have been or in a devaluation that was greater than it otherwise would have been. The essential difference between protection by tariff or other import restriction and protection by the exchange rate is that one, the tariff, is selective in its effect and the other, the exchange rate, is general. A change from tariff protection to exchange protection would result in a transfer of resources from high protection industry to low protection industry. In other words, it would result in the transfer of resources from activities that we do not do so well to other activities that we do better.
We should look at the cost to the community as a whole- not the cost to the disadvantaged section of the community but the cost to the whole community across the board- of what we are doing. According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report for the period 1960 to 1973 Australia’s gross domestic product per head grew more slowly than that of 19 OECD countries and more quickly than or as fast as only three. Australia’s gross domestic product slipped from eighth to eleventh place over that period and only Britain declined further and hence much faster. So in terms of production, increasing the wealth per head, for some reason we are not doing very well. That OECD report suggested that Australia’s protection measures, which are not only higher but also much more variable, might well be a major portion of the cost of this failure to increase our wealth at the rate that most other developed Western countries are achieving.
Attempts have been made to quantify this cost. David Evans, in a model that he set up, estimated that it would cost from 0.8 to 1.8 per cent of the gross domestic product- and that was back in 1958-59 when the general level of protection was lower and less varied. Those figures might not sound very much, but we should remember that 0.8 per cent of the 1974-75 spending, assuming that the percentage has come through the years and it has probably increased drastically, is $472m. That is roughly equivalent to what we are now spending on foreign affairs and aid or to what we are now spending on the unemployed and the sick. If one takes his higher estimate the amount is $ 1,062m- over $1 billion- and that is roughly equivalent to all the money that we spend on tertiary education, including technical education. In other words, on his estimates, if we were to have the gains from doing those things that we do best, we would have this additional wealth to spend on those things that we would choose to do.
There are other more recent estimates. Dixon and Butlin estimated the figure at 3 per cent of gross domestic product, which is equivalent to $ 1,770m- roughly the total expenditure on education. The IAC contends that these are very substantial under-estimates. It gives 3 reasons, the main one being that these models were only able to estimate the cost that resulted from misallocation of resources between broad industry groups. However, there was a very different level of protection within those industry groups. In addition to the measured loss, a substantial loss results from misallocation of resources within the industry groups of the models that they used to measure the loss to the community at large. I point out that these are very substantial figures. hey do not represent the losses to industry receiving low or negative protection- which are in fact greater- but the losses to the community at large.
This indicates the amount by which we are all poorer. However, the burden is certainly not spread throughout the community evenly. It is borne by the low protection industries, which incidentally, in answer to an interjection I heard earlier, are not just the rural industries. Many manufacturing industries have no protection at all and in fact have negative effective protection. I refer also to the mining industry. Wool growers, meat growers and grain producers have been estimated to suffer an annual loss of some $543m, which is about $4,000 per producer or 40c per kilogram of wool. I concede that those estimates are subject to challenge of degree, but even if halved they are enormous. The argument stands even after any likely challenge to the figures. Of course there is another way in which the resources’ are misallocated. Western Australians and Queenslanders are not very happy about this misallocation either because it results in a substantial transfer of resources from those 2 States to the States in the south east corner, particularly Victoria. What I wish to base my argument on mainly is that we are all poorer. I am not for a moment suggesting that we can go to a free trade position or that we should or that we could even do what is more rational quickly, because clearly we cannot. There is a misallocation of resources which results from change itself. If moves are made too quickly the resources take some time to find their new home.
However, we must recognise the error of our ways in the past and not compound the errors we have already made. We should decide in which direction we wish to head and then slowly and gradually move towards the position where we concentrate on doing those things that we do well to the benefit of us all. The Treasury paper on economic growth of five or six years ago pointed out that growth was worth having in its own right and that it did give us an opportunity to take up the social goals about which so much is said. The paper pointed out that growth gave us the opportunity to be better defended and the opportunity to have a better education system and a better health system.
– A better environment.
– Yes, a better environment. You name it. The important thing is that we get ourselves the wherewithal to take these benefits unto ourselves. Probably most of all there is a misconception in the area of employment. The tariff wall or the protection wall- not merely tariffs are involved, although they make up a big portion of it- does not create employment; it transfers employment from one position to another. It provides jobs in the car industry. As has been said often enough in this place they are not the best sorts of jobs in the world. They are jobs that are thoroughly depressing. There seems to be little argument about that. By using the tariff to provide those jobs, because we have lowered the price of other commodities like meat and copper we have denied people employment in other places. In fact in theory and I believe in practiceno one has managed to demonstrate to me that it is not so- the net change in employment is nil. You neither gain nor lose employment with a tariff wall. That is not to say that a change in the level of protection, particularly if the change is rapid, might not result in temporary unemployment. Changes do result in temporary unemployment because the resources are not as mobile as we would like them to be. The end result is, however, that without gaining employment we have all left ourselves quite appreciably poorer.
Finally I want to say a few words that probably will embarrass the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). There is much that I want to say about the courageous stand that he has taken on this issue over many years. It is fairly easy for me to stand up here and talk on this matter because I know that there are now many with similar views on both sides of the chamber at this point, but for a long time there was really only one honourable member who spoke out consistently on this issue, and he was alone. It was the honourable member for Wakefield. It is the fate of many members of Parliament to pass through this place largely unnoticed. Many members of Parliament who are promoted in the ordinary sense will scarcely rate a mention in the history books, even those directly of this Parliament. I suggest that the honourable member for Wakefield will not have passed unnoticed.
– There has been a very interesting debate so far on these 2 Appropriation Bills. However, because the field is so broad not all of it has been canvassed. With all humility I would like to make my contribution to the debate. When introducing these Bills the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) made great play about alleged savings being made by this Government. Surely the Treasurer knows that each alleged saving carries with it a cost. Economists, Treasurers and Treasury officials all have access to electronic calculators and therefore can readily go through the arithmetical exercises needed to make it appear that money is being saved. For example, if the Government cut out the pensioner funeral benefit worth only $40 to each pensioner, its own list of expenditure would be pruned by $ 1.7m in a full year. These are the sorts of exercises now being conducted on the instruction of the mingiest Prime Minister Australia has ever had.
These savings have social costs. It is well known that public works not yet commenced have been indefinitely deferred. I have extreme difficulty following the tortuous so-called logic of this worst and meanest Government of all time. Surely the Government is aware that, if not all, at least the greatest portion of its public works are carried out by private contractors who for the information of this conservative Government employ people and use materials and services which in turn require a workforce to provide them. Furthermore the completion of a public work means another asset for Australia. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the works are unnecessary or will remain unused after completion. There is one case in point. I can remind the House of a reference to the Public Works Committee in 1974 to inquire into and recommend on the need for a new building at Yalambie in Victoria to house the Australian Radiation Laboratory. The existing conditions under which the employees must work are deplorable. The Laboratory is scattered over a number of buildings in the city of Melbourneone is at Melbourne University and another at a munitions building at Maribyrnong. The buildings in the city ought to be demolished. The University needs the space being used there. The city buildings are convened offices, warehouses and an old jam factory. Considering the important and vital tasks being performed there, no person with any understanding of efficient and safe working conditions would allow the laboratory to continue operating there.
It would seem that somebody is pretty sensitive about this laboratory, because I received handwritten letters urging me to ensure that action was taken to hasten the commencement of the building at Yalambie. I made inquiries and was told that the commencement had been deferred indefinitely. Imagine my surprise when I then received a standard typewritten duplicated letter from those who first wrote to me saying, in effect: ‘Forget my letter to you. I have now been told everything is in hand’. It seems that somebody is playing ducks and drakes with the staff of the Australian Radiation Laboratory, and somebody is not being told the truth. I only hope that I am not that somebody.
I return to the public works scene. The Prime Minister’s preoccupation with cutting back expenditure has brought about an apparent complete cessation of planning and designing of new works. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) earlier this evening mentioned that technicians are not being trained because instructions have been issued not to take on staff. He explained that at some future time this will cause a problem. Exactly the same thing applies with buildings and public works. If they are not proceeded with on a planned basis, at some time in the future they will cause a problem. The previous Government either had referred or intended to refer works to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation. Since the change of government no more has been heard of these projects. I am sure that the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) must be most disappointed that the Government he supports is the government which as yet has not referred the Australian Antarctic Division’s headquarters at Hobart to the Public Works Committee. Before his election to this House he was busy claiming to have persuaded the Labor Government to hold a hearing in Hobart. Apparently he does not have the same sort of influence with the present Government.
In my experience I have found the departments of the Government very adept and aware of the need for planning for future development. Therefore the programs must proceed. Otherwise, if the pipeline is clogged now, one of two things will happen in the future. Either the pipeline will suddenly gush forth and the system will not be able to cope with it or else provision of needed services to the community will be delayed. All that is required now is that the Parliament refer expected works, the details of which are known, to the Public Works Committee so that the tedious work of conducting public hearings can be completed in some degree of leisure by the Committee. The report of the Committee commits the Government to nothing. All that the Committee does is recommend, and the Government must take the decision to spend at the appropriate time.
I repeat that I am at a complete loss to follow the reasoning of this untrustworthy Government. Tonight the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) raised the future of the Australian Assistance Plan, the AAP. His fear for its future is shared by myself and the residents of the western and north-western regions of Melbourne. The residents of Melton and those responsible for the management and operation of the Melton Community Resource Centre are particularly concerned about the fate of a reasonably recently established service for the people of this delightful satellite town only some 30 kilometres from Melbourne. I have already raised this issue in the House and tonight I want to elaborate and expand on the matter.
Melton has a population of approximately 1 1 000 people, 75 per cent of whom are under 35 years of age, with approximately 2300 children under age five. Many of the residents are lonely, isolated from their families and friends, uncertain and insecure. Because of these factors- they are compounded because Melton is the fastest growing area in the Melbourne metropolisprograms have been initiated and are proving very popular considering that the Centre has only been operating for less than a year. Let me give a brief outline of the programs. There is a neighbourhood centre funded by the Children’s Commission to facilitate child care programs, an after-school program funded by the Children’s Commission, family day care funded by the Children’s Commission which arranges for children to be cared for in private homes, and an information bureau and youth worker both funded by the Australian Assistance Plan and both serving a useful purpose. Of course the ongoing operation and administration of the Centre are funded by the Australian Assistance Plan.
This House must consider the future of these schemes. Unless funds are supplied after 30 June by the Australian Government these worthwhile schemes will wither and die, to the detriment of the community generally. Along with the cutback in spending on the Australian Assistance Plan, the Children’s Commission, area improvement programs and grants to local government, there is a belief in the community that other areas of spending will be severely cut back. On Thursday of last week many people travelled to Canberra because of their concern about future funding for education. Many honourable members, especially those on the Government side, would have seen and spoken with these people. I hope honourable members opposite were honest enough to explain to these people that they would support cuts in spending on education. Today many pensioners came to Canberra, and again honourable members spoke to them. I hope that honourable members on the Government side told them that they would support cut backs in the social security expenditure in the Budget. Tomorrow or the week after next who knows what groups will come to Canberra and press their case. If honourable members opposite stand by what they have told the people with whom they have spoken, then the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Treasurer will have one hell of a time getting their Budget through this House and the Senate.
Later this year we will see who will stand up and be counted. I believe it is dishonest to go to the electorate and claim to support retaining or improving services and reducing taxation. It is not only dishonest but it is also impossible. Yet that is what we are fed. Nobody really receives anything for nothing in this world. If we are to receive the services we need and the services we want, of course they have to be paid for by us. Where the Australian Labor Party differs from the Liberal Party is that the Labor Party believes that community services should be provided by the Australian Government because then everyone pays according to his capacity to pay. If the services are provided by State or local government or private enterprise, the burden will fall heaviest on the weak because the charge will be equal regardless of income, unless of course the States are to be allowed to re-enter the personal taxation field. Clearly, the voters of New South Wales were afraid of this last Saturday when they voted so strongly against the LiberalCounty Party coalition there.
It would be a tragedy if spending on education were to be decreased when there is still so much more to be done in this very important area. One area of education which is being severely restricted now is union training. The Labor Government established the Australian Council for
Union Training with the concurrence of the then Opposition. The Council has set about its task with efficiency and knowledge and has established a centre in each of the States ‘ capital cities. Plans were drawn up and work was commenced on the construction of a national college at Wodonga, which is appropriately named the Clyde Cameron College. Regrettably, the Labor Government made some pruning of the Council ‘s budget for this year, but the Council felt it could probably live within the amount provided by deferring some work. But the ceiling placed on staff by the present Government has really jammed the works. The College at Wodonga is not yet operating, and indeed some of the centres in the States are not operating fully yet. In other words, the field of union training is still developing and therefore growing. When the staff ceiling was introduced the Council had 41 staff members. The ceiling was put at 40- and the Clyde Cameron College not yet open. The Prime Minister did relent and allowed a further 2 staff, who were readily placed. Unless there is a dramatic and unexpected increase in students probably there will be no further substantial increase in staff until the Clyde Cameron College opens. Surely nobody would agree that millions of dollars should be spent on a college which is left vacant and unused because the Council is refused permission to engage staff. The Council is hopeful that reason and sanity will prevail and the staff needed to operate this very important and long neglected aspect of education will be recruited and trained.
Before it is too late the Government should cease to be mesmerised by the deficit and its own cheap politicking propaganda and endeavour to understand what is really happening in all Western-type economies. The Government is coming to realise that it cannot keep the promises it made to the electorate. The electorate is also coming to realise this and that is why people came to Canberra in such large numbers last Thursday. Without exception these people named schools, certainly in my area and I presume in every other electorate, where attention was badly needed and where even the enormous funds that had been made available by the Labor Government in its 3 short years in office had been put to use, but the schools and the areas have grown so large that primary schools with over 1000 students in them are unable to be managed without proper facilities. It is quite right that teachers and parents ought to be concerned about that sort of situation. It is quite right and proper that they should come and put their case to the Government to ensure that there is no cut back in spending. It was a little incongruous, I thought, for these people to speak with members of the Opposition when we are not in a position to control the purse strings. These people can rely on us at any time to raise these issues in this House. I am sure that they are aware that in the last Budget some $ 1,900m was made available for education in Australia and this quadrupled the amount that had been made available in the 3 years prior to that.
Whilst all of these things are important one very important aspect- a further one as far as I am concerned- is financing for local government because the city in which I live has received out of the Grants Commission over the last 2 years in excess of over $lm as part of a topping up operation. There is great fear in the minds of people who live in that city that an equivalent sum will not be made available to it next year. It is not an affluent area. It is a rapidly growing area. It is a new area that has inherited no services. If a football ground is needed a football ground must be built. We do not use football grounds that were built by the last generation because there were no people living there a generation ago. So all things must be built. Moving into an area like that are people who are buying their homes. There are young people buying their homes. They are paying off their furniture and the things that they need in their home. They are making their way in the world. The wife is bearing children and rearing them and is not always able to work. If you were to say to these people who find a burden the amount that they are now paying in rates out of their weekly wage that they should in turn provide themselves with their own social welfare programs it would seem very incongruous. I support the proposition that only the Australian Government of all the levels of government in Australia is in the position of being able to assess people’s capacity to pay whether they be individuals or groups of individuals, companies and the like.
The municipality cannot assess people and their capacity to pay. The fellow who lives next door to me works as a draftsman. He has 6 children at school and is in a much worse position to pay rates on his house which is exactly the same as mine. He pays the same amount in rates. He is in a more difficult position to pay them than I. So therefore there ought to be that basic charge made for services provided by the municipality, but to provide the other services needed by the people who live in the municipality it is necessary to go to people’s pay packets on their capacity to pay. Only the Australian Government can do this.
If I understand the Government’s attitude towards federalism now, it is that it intends to vacate that field and it intends to say that the States will fill the hiatus. I repeat that the States are not in a position to charge people on the basis of their capacity to pay unless they enter into the field of income taxation. I would oppose that most strongly. I am quite sure that my colleagues in the Labor Party would oppose it most strongly. For the information of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch)- I do not think he has quite worked this out yet- if that is the case, if there is this double taxation position as clearly the people of New South Wales accepted there is, then it is the people in the 4 smaller States that are going to feel that burden heaviest. I understand that there are elections in Tasmania and in Western Australia sometime next year so the people in those States will pass judgment on the financial policy of this Government too.
It is important to maintain the Budget expenditure that has been provided for instead of going through the shoddy little exercise of trying to pretend that money has been saved here and there when, as I pointed out at the beginning of my speech, there is no saving without there being a cost. The saving is money; the cost is social. If the Government is going to be honest it also ought to talk about the cost of its savings. That might sound incongruous but it is true. The Government can stop paying unemployment relief to morrow. There is nothing to prevent it doing that but it is not prepared to do it because the cost of doing it would be too high. The price it would have to pay to save that much money would be too high. It would not be prepared to pay it. So for those reasons and a host of others that will be elaborated on by my colleagues, we have no opposition to the measures, of course, but we would like to see them more generously presented.
– Some weeks ago the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said that the economic situation had proved more intractable than had been at first thought. I think we have to confess that the present economic prospects are unsatisfactory under the present financial policy of the Government. Some change is required. The economy is fragile and it is being elbowed by high interest rates. Nobody expects a dramatic collapse but we do fear some kind of long term low grade depression unless there is the requisite change in the Government’s financial policy. I believe and I would hope from what the Prime Minister has said that he himself believes that the time has now come for some kind of change in the general thrust of our financial policy.
We did inherit, of course, a tremendously difficult problem because of the almost incredible mess which the Whitlam Government had made of our economy. We have to take steps to do something about it. I think it is time for us to get the economy moving again and it is good that we should keep our objective of getting private enterprise to take up the slack. The long-term objective of cutting down the relative size of the public sector is of course a good objective, but the main thing is not to cut back the private sector. The main thing is to expand the private sector whose prospects depend so very largely upon Government financial policy.
It is good, to cut out from the Budget waste and duplication. We should all support that, but I ask: Should we not be doing something to make proper use of the resources which we set free by reducing this kind of wasteful public expenditure? There are many things that we could do. We could be taking greater steps to improve the infrastructure on which the expansion of private enterprise will depend and by improving that infrastructure now we not only give private enterprise a better incentive to go forward but we also would make private enterprise more efficient when recovery is complete. Let me instance, for example, the improvement of the vital railway line between Townsville and Mount Isa, a line which requires something like $100m spent on it and the rolling stock and the improvement of the port of Townsville, or some of the transport facilities in New South Wales. This is the kind of thing that I mean by infrastructure for future expansion of private enterprise.
We should also be thinking in terms of taking up the slack in the building industry, particularly in New South Wales, by releasing more money for aged persons homes. This House was told last night that about $300m worth of work was waiting to be done in order to catch up with the backlog in aged persons homes and hospitals. One does not ask that all that money be released at once. That would be unwise. However, I think it Would be wise to accelerate the release of funds for that purpose where the planning work has been done and employment can be provided immediately. There are schools and hospitals still needed. We should not exaggerate the need for them but there is very real need, particularly in certain areas such as the western suburbs of Sydney. I can even think of some areas in my own electorate where hospital facilities are inadequate. Again, as I have said, this is not something which we should go at madly and extravagantly but we should be expanding our capital program here and now. This is the time to reduce taxation, and reduce it especially in accordance with a plan which would keep down costs and prevent any rise in the consumer price index. This is one of the instruments which can be and should be used to beat inflation.
– Tell us why you did not do it before.
-Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will resume his seat for a moment. The honourable member for Melbourne has been interjecting consistently and has been making a nuisance of himself in the House. I suggest that he await his turn to speak rather than interrupt other honourable members.
– It is a pity you did not say that earlier.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Melbourne.
– We especially should be thinking of reducing personal income tax by full indexation here and now. These are the things which I advocate being done immediately, before this House rises for the winter recess, in a mini Budget. Unless we change the thrust of Government policy we may have a fairly disappointing time ahead of us. I ask: Why are these things not done? The answer is that we seem to be mesmerised or obsessed with some kind of idea about a mythical deficit. We get this repeated ad nauseam and, frankly, what is being said is nonsense. I refer the House to the figures. I invite honourable members to look first at the Treasury statement to the end of March, particularly the table at the bottom of the statement. I seek permission to incorporate that statement in Hansard.
– You will not get it in.
– I put this to the Opposition. It is all right.
-Is leave granted to incorporate the statement in Hansard?
-Leave is not granted.
- Sir, I approached the Opposition and obtained leave. Does the honourable member for Melbourne still refuse leave?
– I do not know what is in the document.
-The honourable member for Mackellar says he showed it to the Opposition. The Chair does not know anything about this arrangement.
– He showed it earlier to the Opposition spokesman.
– If he showed it I will bow to that judgment and allow it to be incorporated.
-Leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-This table shows that to the end of March there is a so-called deficit of $4,945 billion but I invite honourable members to look at the financing transactions in the table. They will see that the net reserve Bank credit is $1.19 billion, the proceeds of savings bonds are $1,091 billion, the net loan proceeds from the public are $1,288 billion, the use of Treasury cash balances- mainly things like superannuation funds subscribed- represents $0,754 billion, and a little item called ‘other financing transactions in Australia’ amounts to $0,622 billion. That last item is a rather peculiar one and I have had it investigated by the Parliamentary Library. I find that it consists partly of coinage profits, partly of funds for the Post Office superannuation which is not included in the main Budget, and mainly of an amount exceeding $500m of bonds sold from the Loan Consolidation and Reserve Account which was accumulated in past years to the Reserve Bank on the initiative of the Reserve Bank for the purpose of resale to the public. This is one of the things that was passed through secretly.
In point of fact the effective deficit as at the end of March was not the $4,945 billion of which the Treasury speaks. In terms of the use of central bank credit it was $1,190 billion, a different figure altogether. Even this deficit is mythical because if one looks at the last Treasurer’s statement one will see that on his estimates no less than $4.8 billion worth of capital works was included in the Federal Budget and charged in as part of this mythical deficit. I have here a table which is a summary of the amounts extracted from the Budget papers. It sets this matter out in more detail. I will read it and ask for its incor poration in Hansard. It states:
This deficit is not only caused by capital works but, as the March return shows, most of it has been financed by raising from the public or by use of funds which the public has subscribed to the Government. At the most we could say that we have a real deficit of $1,190 billion against which something like $4.8 billion of capital works are counted in. This is the real position and the Treasury apparently has pulled the wool over the eyes of the Treasurer and the Government in regard to it. The deficit is a mythical thing and really does not exist. It is high time that the Government realised this and did something about it. The bar against the use of our unused resources for proper productive capital works or proper works which have a social value is not there, the bar to immediate reduction of taxation is not there and the bar to the immediate implementation of full indexation of taxation is not there. I am afraid that the significance of the figures to which I have referred has not been realised in Government circles. It is time that we did something about it and changed the thrust of Government policy.
I have heard many comparisons of our position with positions overseas. I am not for one moment saying that these comparisons are entirely relevant to the solutions we should have to our current problems; but to some degree they are relevant. For example, let us look at what happened last year in the United States. I think that to some extent the United States has started to climb out of the recession. Last year the United States had a federal deficit of $70 billion. In addition there was a deficit of accounts outside the Government- capital accounts and so on- of about $10 billion. But that is not the full story. The United States does not have a centralised loan council. The centralised Australian Loan Council means that the figures we are talking about cover State deficits also.
Because of the use of State funds for local and semi-governmental purpose, they cover some part- not all- of local and semi-governmental deficits. If one were to try to compare the position of Australia this year with the position of the United States last year, one would have to add into the $70 billion deficit of the United States not only the $ 10 billion of uncounted expenditure, but also the multitudinous deficits of the 5 1 American States for that year, and the local Government municipal deficits too. This is something which is almost unique to Australia. I think this has been one of the cardinal sins of the Treasury for many years. Over this time we have been endeavouring to cover a great part of our capital expenditure from taxation.
We have got into this rather peculiar situation where our whole financial structure seems to depend upon the continuance of this practice. In the early days it was covered by the increase in the loan consolidation and investment reserve to which I referred a few moments ago. In later days it has been dealt with in different ways in conjunction with State finances. But however it was done, we have been accumulating far too much of our capital expenditure through our taxation and paying for far too much out of taxation. In addition to the amounts I have spoken of, both the States and the Commonwealth put in sinking funds for our borrowings. That sinking fund is put into in addition to the amounts I have cited.
So we have something of a situation where the incubus of federal taxation and the incubus of the federal restrictions on the States at present is impeding Australian recovery. This is a most important and vital thing that has to be brought to the attention of the Government because there has to be a change in the thrust of government financial policy. This has to be brought to the attention of the Government which, I am afraid, seems to have been bemused by the Treasury in exactly the same way as the previous Treasurer, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) was himself bemused. The previous Treasurer, the honourable member for Oxley, was the architect of the Budget about which I have been talking in which we had this extraordinary position where the deficit was due entirely to the charging of capital works to current revenue. It was the previous Treasurer, the honourable member for Oxley, who in his Budget Speech, gave his concurrence and support to the system itself.
So the Opposition should not draw any comfort from its own past performance. Anything that the Government is doing that is wrong has only been carried forward from the Budget of the honourable member for Oxley. It is in his Budget Speech and it is in his Budget figures. So I say that it is time that we started to do a bit of rethinking for the future when recovery is under way. It can be got under way. Then it will be time to cut down ruthlessly public expenditure and give the private sector the room to expand. At the present moment we should be giving it the encouragement to expand faster into the room made vacant by unemployment and by the end use of our present resources.
Debate (on motion by Mr Innes) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
-I wish to inform the House of the following nomination of members to be members of the Standing Committee on Expenditure. Mr Kevin Cairns, Mr Fife, Mr Garland, Mr Lusher, Mr Macphee and Mr Sullivan have been nominated by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). Mr Crean, Mr Hurford, Mr Jacobi, Dr Jenkins and Mr Stewart have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam).
Motion (by Mr Street) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight I should like to discuss the New South Wales State election which we know was held on Saturday last, 1 May. It is a cliff hanger, a photo finish,’ it is a vote against the Federal Government. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was involved in the election with the Premier of the State of New South Wales, Sir Eric Willis. If there were a swing to Liberal, the Prime Minister would have accepted the bouquets of victory, so he must accept the defeat- the 7 per cent swing to Labor. The seats of Gosford, Hurstville and the Blue Mountains will go down on the map with the win of the Labor Party in 1 976.
The New South Wales branch of the Labor Party started the fight back to the national Parliament, to win again the Treasury bench in this Parliament. The result of the election has been to the satisfaction of the little people, the members who worked last Saturday on the polling booths and who have worked on them over the years because they have believed in the party of battlers. They do not get paid like workers for other parties. They work and believe like the average Australian and will never forget what happened last November.
The disgust came to the surface in New South Wales last week. The figures for the New South Wales State election reveal that for every seat won by the Labor Party, approximately 25 333 votes were cast, but for every seat won by the Liberal-Country Party coalition, approximately 21 833 votes were cast. This coalition government extreme in gerrymandering which has been achieved by 3 Liberal distributions of the electorates of New South Wales has meant a 7 per cent swing to Labor which has over 50 per cent of the vote but which is still fighting to win the State election. How can the people of New South Wales tolerate this situation? Truth and justice must prevail. The peoples voice must be heard and accepted.
I, being a New South Welshman, must congratulate the State Branch of the Labor Party, its General Secretary, Geoff Cahill, and its President, John Ducker, for the remarkable campaign that the new Premier of New South Wales, Neville Wran, has waged. Again, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the State members of Parliament in the electorate of Sydney. I refer to Pat Hills, M.L.A., who is the honourable member for Phillip, Roger Degen, M.L.A., who is the member for Balmain and Laurie Brereton, M.L.A., the member for Heffron, and all other candidates successful and unsuccessful who worked for the Labor Party at the State election on Saturday.
On Thursday last the honourable member for Evans (Mr Abel) attacked Alderman Paul Whelan, the Mayor of Ashfield, the successful Labor candidate for Ashfield in the Legislative Assembly. The vicious attack by the honourable member for Evans on a man who is respected in the electorate of Ashfield- a family man and professional man who has spent a lifetime in the area- is to be deplored. He has attacked a man who cannot defend himself, a man who in the parliament will be an asset to New South Wales and Ashfield. Paul Whelan was elected to office with a swing of over 6500 votes from the result of the last election. On this basis if a Federal election were held next or tomorrow week there would be a Labor victory in Evans as well as in many other electorates of New South Wales and elsewhere in Australia.
The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) has stated that there will be many oncers in this thirtieth Parliament, and the honourable member for Evans could be one of these.
– And that is oncers’ corner over there.
– That is right. The honourable member for Evans was campaign director for the Liberal candidates for Ashfield and Drummoyne. Both were defeated. I can prove that this was so. At page 1780 of Hansard of 29 April the honourable member for Evans is reported as having said that he was not campaign director. In doing so he misled the House. All paid political advertisements have to be authorised. Two advertisements were authorised by the honourable member. One political advertisement stated:
Your Local Liberal For Action- Not Promises VOTE1REID,J.T. Liberal for Drummoyne Auth. by J. Abel, Parliament House, Canberra.
I seek leave to have this advertisement incorporated in Hansard.
Government supporters- No.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Leave is not granted.
– Another advertisement stated:
and INNES for ASHFIELD
Authorised by J. Abel, Parliament House, Canberra.
The honourable member for Evans did mislead the House. The honourable member is now the ham in the sandwich. His electorate is between Ashfield and Drummoyne so he will be consumed.
We are all pleased to have in the House tonight Mr Jim Cope, a former Speaker and member for Sydney, and also Kevin Stewart and Mr Eric Bedford who are 2 colleagues from the New South Wales Parliament. I hope that they have had an enjoyable victory dinner.
– I call the honourable member for Griffith.
– On a point of order-
-The Liberal -
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith will resume his seat. Is the honourable member for Macarthur raising a point of order?
– Yes. I would ask that the honourable member for Sydney table the document from which he was reading.
– There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Griffith.
– The postal and telecommunications policy of the Liberal Party and National Country Party of Australia -
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will resume his seat. Does the honourable member for Evans claim to have been misrepresented?
-I do. Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon) who has just resumed his seat stated quite clearly that I misled the House inasmuch as I was the campaign director-
– I rise on a point of order. You called the honourable member for Griffith, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the clock started to move. Now you have called the honourable member for Evans on a personal explanation. It is against the forms of the House that you should do so when the clock begins to move.
-Order! I asked the honourable member for Griffith to resume his seat until I had decided on the point of order originally raised by the honourable member for Macarthur who asked for a document to be tabled. I ruled that there was no point of order. I then called the honourable member for Griffith. The honourable member for Evans asked the
Chair for the opportunity to make a personal explanation. It is customary in this House for a personal explanation to be made after the person who has the call has finished his speech. As the personal explanation related to a speech which had just been made by the honourable member for Sydney I asked the honourable member for Griffith to resume his seat and called the honourable member for Evans to make a personal explanation. In reply to the point of order of the honourable member for Bonython, that is the position at the moment. I call the honourable member for Evans on a personal explanation.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Sydney has just claimed that I was the campaign director for Alwyn Innes, the Liberal candidate for Ashfield, and Jim Reid, the Liberal candidate for Drummoyne. Further he stated that I had misled the House. That was a vicious attack on me and was incorrect. The campaign directors for Jim Reid in Drummoyne and Alwyn Innes in Ashfield were respectively Mr John Hill in Drummoyne and Mr David Patton in Ashfield.
– I rise on a point of order. The honourable member is canvassing the issue. He has not stated where he was misrepresented.
-Order! The only thing that the honourable member has done has been to name the 2 gentlemen whom he stated were the campaign directors for the 2 candidates.
– I rise on a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I am replying to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Hunter. In my opinion the honourable member for Evans has made his personal explanation as to where he claims he was misrepresented and he has given the evidence in respect of it.
– I rise on a point of order. My point of order relates not to the merit of the explanation. The name of the honourable member for Evans appeared on the document as authorising the information and the political content. Therefore it would have been fairly reasonable to infer that he was the authoriser of the document.
-Order! The statement was made that the honourable member for Evans was the campaign director. The honourable member for Evans has said that he was not the campaign director. What was assumed, what was assessed and what was in an advertisement is not the point that was raised. I suggest that the honourable member for Evans has made his personal explanation and has pointed out where he was misrepresented. We have reached the point where the matter rests. The honourable member -
– On a further point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will resume his seat.
– I take a further point of order.
– I call the honourable member for Melbourne.
– My further point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, is to the effect that you are interpreting -
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will resume his seat. The honourable member has been a Deputy Chairman of Committees. A statement was made by the honourable member for Sydney on a particular point. The honourable member for Evans has claimed that he was misrepresented on that point. He has explained to the House where he was misrepresented. All other things have no relevance. It is not for the Chair to decide yea or nay whether it should be, could be or has been assumed. I have so ruled and that is the finish. I call the honourable member for Griffith.
-The telecommunications policy of the Liberal Party and National Country Party of Australia as announced during the 1975 election campaign stated:
The Liberal and National Country Party accepts the development of private courier services and will not seek to curtail them. Such services meet a growing community demand albeit at great cost and also provide competition for the Post Office.
– I rise on a point of order. My point of order relates the intelligible content of documentation that is put before this House. If it is a matter of reading something into the transcript-
– Did you hear Bert James the other day?
– Nothing would make sense to you.
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will take his point of order.
– My point of order is that anything that is put before this House has to be intelligible. I do not mind if something intelligible is read into the Hansard record. Material of this kind may or may not be accepted. All I am saying is that if honourable members want to read documents into Hansard they should seek leave to do so.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The point of order is that the speech is unintelligible.
– There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Melbourne will resume his seat.
– The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) speaks slowly, and still we do not understand him. The reason private courier services developed was the gross inefficiency and unreliability which existed in the Australian Post Office. The Post Office even became the butt of numerous jokes because of its incapacity to guarantee service. So we had the advent of the private courier who, with the advantages of a small business, more easily avoided industrial strife. Without the burdens associated with a large organisation he was able to provide an efficient and reliable service. Granted, with a restricted area of service, he was also able to contain costs -
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– If the honourable member for Melbourne is about to raise the same point of order, I remind him that it is not the task of the Chair to say what is intelligible or otherwise at this point of time. I suggest that the honourable member for Melbourne, by interrupting with his points of order, is not helping the honourable member for Griffith who is trying to get through his speech.
– He is trying to read something into Hansard. I object to the fact that that is what he is trying to do. It is unintelligible.
– The honourable member for Melbourne will resume his seat.
-With a restricted area of service, he was also able to contain costs which Australia Post must bear with its diverse delivery. The previous ALP Government formed the Australia Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission. Whilst they have sometimes pursued courses which have left me aghast, I am still of a mind that they be allowed to exist long enough for a proper evaluation to be made, even if some alterations have to be made to their area of responsibility and power.
-I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I put it to you that perhaps the Hansard people are having a bit of trouble with this speech. I think that is probably a point of which you ought to take notice.
– I have been watching the gentlemen from Hansard showing their customary capacity and efficiency which have never ceased to amaze me in the 25 years that I have been a member. There is no substance in the point of order.
-I rise tonight to deplore the tactics which have been used by Australia Post in its endeavours to smash the private courier services. At present Australia Post is performing better than usual in its mail deliveries. An organisation which has the history of Australia Post cannot expect to command total trust as to its capacity for good future performance. Australia Post is now using white collar thuggery methods to browbeat the users of private courier services, with doubts about the legality of their operations, instilling fear of legislative reprisals. The private courier user, because of fear -
– I take a point of order. Like you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have great confidence in Hansard. I know that at times it has been necessary to check the tape to see what a member said in this House. If that is necessary tonight, I most certainly would say that the tape would not-
-There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Bonython will resume his seat.
– May I table the rest of this prepared speech?
– May I have it incorporated in Hansard?
– Please, may I have it incorporated in Hansard? It is a very moderate address.
-Leave is not granted.
– I will take these last few seconds by accusing members on the other side of the House of being thick headed and numb brained because they would not allow members on this side -
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will restrain himself.
-They have done nothing but restrict me and prevent me bringing before this Parliament an issue which is worrying many people in Australia.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The airport debate is on again. This time possible alternative sites for an airport to service Sydney are being considered. One is at Nelson. I quote from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 3 May. It is headed ‘New move for second airport near Windsor’. This is at a place called Nelson. Actually Nelson is near the Rouse HillMaraylya area.
– In whose electorate?
– It is in the electorate of Mitchell. It is slap bang in the electorate of Mitchell. We know that this will create extreme airport noise for a number of areas. I will name the areas. The noise factor applies not only to the Nelson site but equally to the other sites which the Government is considering. One is at Holsworthy and one is at Marsden Park, which is also near Windsor and Riverstone. The flight path for the Marsden Park site would cut across into my electorate from Mitchell. Once again the site is in the Mitchell electorate and the flight path would cut into the Chifley electorate, another site is in an area west of Liverpool, in the RossmoreBringelly area. If the Government goes ahead with the proposal to site the airport at Nelson, which is in the Rouse Hill-Maraylya area, or at Marsden Park, it will mean extreme airport noise in a mass housing area. I make that point. It would particularly affect the Mt Druitt area, the Blacktown area, the Seven Hills area and surrounds, the St Marys area and Penrith. Keep in mind that some of these areas are not in the Chifley electorate; they are in the elctorate of Macarthur as well. The noise would go into the areas of Richmond, Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, etc., and even down into Parramatta which is represented by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock).
– Will the Concordes go there?
-It could happen. We never know what is ahead with this Government in office. We never know what the next decision will be. The siting of the airport at either place would have a tremendous impact upon an area right throughout the western suburbs of Sydney or what one might call the north western suburbs of Sydney. They are very densely populated. Unfortunately, so far, these announcements having been made by the Government we have not heard a word from the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) or the honourable member for Parramatta in opposition to these proposals. I would have expected them to be at least assiduously working on this issue. There have even been rumours. I do not really believe them. I make this quite clear to the honourable member for Parramatta.
– He is in favour of it.
– These are the rumours, but I do not really believe them. Rumour has it that he agrees with an airport being established at one of the sites being considered, as it would save him travelling from his home to Mascot. It would be a dreadfully selfish attitude to ignore the interests of the people in the area just to save half an hour’s travelling time back and forth to Mascot each week. I do not believe the rumour. I do not believe the honourable member for Parramatta could be so selfish. I am sure the rumour is not right. I am sure I will hear from him that he is very violently opposed to any of these sites being selected. I think I should read the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. It states:
A confidential State Government report now suggests that the use of the airport at Mascot will not increase as rapidly as earlier forecasts predicted. It suggests that Mascot could probably cope with Sydney’s air traffic until the turn of the century.
I say this: It is time the Government woke up to this fact. I have believed right through that Mascot could handle the traffic for many years to come. Members of my Party know how very definite I was on this matter over the years when certain other sites were suggested. I believe that this is the answer. Apparently the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) is quite unaware of the State Government’s report and refuses to let the issue die.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call the next speaker, I mention this matter. Earlier concern was expressed that the Hansard reporter might not be able to take down what was being said. During the time that the honourable member for Chifley was speaking the level of conversation was remarkably high. On more than one occasion the honourable member for Chifley turned around and had his back to both the Chair and the Hansard writer. Comments were being made by honourable members which must have made it extremely difficult for the gentleman from Hansard to take down what was being said. Therefore I suggest that the concern which was expressed previously for Hansard be expressed at this moment.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member for Parramatta claim to have been misrepresented?
-I do. Reference was made to me in a number of contexts. When I look at Hansard tomorrow I may want to deal with some of the other remarks that were made. In regard to the suggestions of rumours about me and my support for airport development in the area to the north-west of my electorate, I deny that such rumours are true. Insofar as it has been suggested that I have not spoken on this issue, let me say that it has been made quite clear by the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) from his own statements that there were no sites named by him upon which I could be called to comment at this stage. But I can assure the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) that when any announcements are made I will be as vocal as he is if they affect the district which I represent and which I will continue to represent.
Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley)-I claim to have been misrepresented. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) has suggested that I have misrepresented him. I did not do so under any circumstances. I said that there had been rumours which I found it really impossible to believe. I did not believe them. Nevertheless these rumours have been floating about. I was not making any direct imputation against the honourable member.
– I had intended to deal with 2 matters which concern my constituents but, in view of certain things that have been said by Opposition members, I shall have to leave those important matters of substance until some later time and refer to some of the rubbish we have heard tonight. The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon) sought to derive some glee from the preliminary figures for the New South Wales State election. Firstly, let us discern where he has misled the House. To make categoric statements about specific figures before the figures are in is totally misleading. Surely that must be obvious. Secondly, a 7 per cent swing is not even claimed by the Australian Labor Party officials in New South Wales at this time. I think even they claim something less. Thirdly, in the last State election the Labor Party did not contest a number of seats. I think they were 5 seats in the inner metropolitan area of Sydney. Obviously there is a distortion there and there cannot be any true comparison.
Surely the honourable member for Sydney knows the exact figures, knows how many Labor
Party candidates contested the last election, knows better than I do what is the true situation and knows himself the extent to which he has misled the House. Fourthly, as I understand it today, it has been said that the swing is clearly not uniform and in many areas is quite low. We have not seen the final figures but it is clear that in some areas the Liberal Party has done extremely well and may even have improved its vote. I refer to the seats of Miranda and Cronulla. The honourable member for Sydney might have a look at the figures when they come out. The next point to be looked at is that we seem to find some obsession on the other side of the House with oncers. A senior member of this House who recently retired said that his greatest achievement after many years was to survive in this place. I would have thought that quality of performance was a better criterion of a worthwhile, contribution to society than length of time. It is absolutely pathetic to say at the end of 25 years: ‘Big deal; I survived’. Surely one Bill, surely one speech, surely one contribution could have been referred to as having made the honourable member’s stay worthwhile.
If honourable members look at the figures for St George they will see that it has been a very close election. For 1 1 years they have been saying that Mr Mead will lose. If they look they will find that he may yet win. He has done extremely well. His constituency is right in my electorate. If honourable members opposite look at the figures for Earlwood they will find that in many areas the booths have shown increased swings. I think that they will find, much to their surprise, that, although logic may dictate that I as the Liberal member with the slimmest majority may not be here for long, the good sense of the people will prove them dead wrong.
The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) raised the matter of the airport. I have spoken in this House about the airport once by way of a question and once in a speech. I said that I was not going to become polarised on this issue at this time. It is far too important. I am sick and tired of years of political mud slinging over an issue that affects 250 000 people in the area of the south part of Sydney and millions of people throughout Sydney. The people of that city and the people of Australia have been very ill-served by the poor level of muck raking in political debate that has gone on concerning the airport over the years. Now the honourable member stands up and says that it is going to occur again. I certainly hope not. To the credit of Sir Eric Willis, he spoke about a second runway, and honourable members will find that there was not a particularly strong vote against him.
I have spoken about this issue. I am concerned about the noise problems. I would like the Government at this time to reassess the need for a second airport. The situation has been in a melting pot. We must reassess the need for the expansion of Sydney Airport. The Government says that there is a need. We must reassess the need for expansion overall. Having made that reassessment, we must sensibly and carefully decide the priority of likely areas and likely techniques. We must not indulge in this sort of political so-called debate. I have called on the residents of St George to write to me- I do not care if I receive a thousand letters- so that we can genuinely test public opinion and genuinely find out what the people want. We will find it out there. We obviously will not find out the truth or get any common sense in this chamber from honourable members opposite. I expect this Government to take a balanced and sensible approach to the problem, in contrast to the Galston mentality and the pure pork-barrel politicking that went on under the last Government.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is very obvious tonight that there are a lot of nervous Nellies in the Parliament. All the new boys and oncers have come in here and it is running down their legs as they see the swing in New South Wales.
-Order! The House will come to order. I suggest that in the remaining 3 minutes of the adjournment debate the House should try to maintain a high standard of debate.
-I meant that there was a lot of sweat.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I submit that the phrase ‘running down their legs’ is not the sort of expression that should be used in this Parliament.
– I have suggested that the House try to maintain a high standard of debate. That was also directed at the honourable member who is making his speech at the moment.
– It is very obvious that the new lightweight from St George is a very worried man after last Saturday’s results. There was a 7 per cent increase in the Australian Labor Party vote, there was a 4 per cent swing overall on a 2-party preferred vote but there was over a 7 per cent swing from the last Federal election.
-Not in St George.
-We will have a look at the honourable member’s seat. He is sitting on only 56 votes and I can assure him that that will not be enough to keep anyone as lightweight as he is in this place. Fancy this new honourable member for St George having the hide to attack one of the finest members who has ever been in this place, the former honourable member for Grayndler. The honourable member for St George is not even fit to polish Mr Daly’s shoes, let alone criticise him. Unfortunately there is not a great deal of time left. Let the honourable member for St George enjoy the 2V4 years that he has left here because that is all he will ever see of Parliament.
– This is part 2. The private courier users are, because of fear, terminating contracts and reluctantly agreeing to become users of Australian Post. Mr Deputy Speaker, may I table this document? It is a reasonable speech.
Opposition members- No.
– I have reliable evidence that certain businessmen have been told that they will be fined $1,000 for every letter they send via a private courier. I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, what other business enterprise in Australia can secure business by saying: ‘If you continue to use our competitors we will smash you financially1? The Alphonse Capone style of big business in the nation’s biggest business exists in Australia. I am also reliably informed that Australian Post drivers have been instructed to watch and report the activities of private couriers.
-Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
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:
and (4) Yes, such assurances can be given.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Work on the design of Australian Government Hospitals at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane has ceased as communicated in both the answer to question No. 242 1 and in the earlier remarks on page 773 of Hansard is above.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
What sum has been paid by the Department of Education to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The table below sets out total payments made to airline companies in the two years ending 31.3.76. The amounts include a small component for freight.
asked the Prime Minister, 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:
1 ) and (2) (a) The following are the items removed from the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits since 1 1 November 1975, listed under five categories of reasons for removal:
Dicyclomine Hydrochloride Tablet10mg
Dicyclomine Hychrochloride Paediatric Syrup5mg per 5ml, 100ml
Glycopyrronium Bromide Tablet1mg
Hexocyclium Methylsulphate Tablet 50mg
Hexocyclium Methylsulphate Tablet 75mg sustained release (S.R.)
Hyoscine Butylbromide Tablet10mg
Hyoscine Methobromide Tablet 2.5mg
Isopropomide Iodide Tablet 5mg
Mebeverine Hydrochloride Tablet 50mg
Mepenzolate Tablet 25mg
Octatropine Methylbromide Tablet10mg
Octatropine Methylbromide Paediatric Elixir5mg per 5 ml, 100ml
Oxyphencyclimine Tablet 5mg
Oxyphenonium Bromide Tablet 5mg
Oxyphenonium Bromide Tablet10mg
Pipenzolate Tablet 5mg
Pipenzolate Oral Solution 4mg per ml, 1 5ml
Poldine Tablet 4mg
Propantheline Bromide Tablet 15mg
Propantheline Bromide Tablet 30mg (SR)
Propantheline Bromide Injection 30mg in 1 ml
Tiemonium Iodide Tablet 50mg
Tiemonium Iodide Syrup 2mg/ml 100ml
Tiemonium Iodide Injection 5mg in 2 ml
Calcium Gluconate Tablet 600mg
Calcium Lactate Tablet 300mg
Erythrityl Tetranitrate Tablet 5mg
Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate Tablet 20mg
Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate Tablet 80mg (SR)
Trolnitrate Phosphate Tablet 2mg
Trolnitrate Phosphate Tablet 7mg
Cascara Tablet 300mg
Magnesium Sulphate Crystals 400g
Paraffin Liquid 200ml
Phenolphthalein Compound Pill
Sodium Tauroglycochnolate with Phenolphthalein Compound Tablet
Cod Liver Oil 200ml
Cod Liver Oil Emulsion 50 per cent, 450ml
Halibut Liver Oil Capsule 4500 Units Vitamin A
Halibut Liver Oil Capsule 6000 Units Vitamin A
Vitamins Compound Tablet, BPC Capsule Formula
Vitamins Compound Capsule BPC
Ascorbic Acid Tablet 25mg
Ascorbic Act Tablet 500mg
Barbitone with Pentobarbitone and Phenobarbitone Capsule 250mg-100mg-30mg
Betahistine Hydrochloride Tablet 4mg
Chlorthalidone Tablet 50mg
Hydrallazine Hydrochloride Tablet10mg
Lincomycin Capsule 250mg
Lincomcycin Capsule 500mg
Lithium Carbonate Tablet 300mg
Neomycin Powder 500mg
Orphenadrine Citrate Tablet100mg
Orphenadrine Citrate Injection, 30mg/ml, 2ml
Piperazine Adipate Granules 20 per cent,100g
Polymyxin B Sulphate, Vial of Powder 500 000 units
Sodium Chloride Injection 0.9 per cent, 20ml
Sodium Chloride Injection 0.9 per cent, 50ml
Thiabendazole Tablet 500mg
Triglycerides, Medium Chain, Oil one litre (B/Drugs available for preparation of extemporaneous benefits)
Acid Hypophosphorus Dilute BPC 63
Acid Tartaric B.P.
Caffeine and Sodium Benzoate BPC 54
Calcium Chloride BP
Calcium Lactate BP
Dimethyl Phthalate BP
Elixir Cascara BPC
Emulsion Paraffin Liquid APF
Extract Cascara Liquid BP
Oil Almond Volatile Bitter BPC 59
Oil Cod Liver PB
Ointment, Cod Liver Oil APF 64
Ointment, Gall and Opium BPC 63
Ointment, Phenol BP 48
Tincture, Cochineal BP 48
Tincture, Lemon BP 58
Zinc Gelatin BPC 68
Methylergometrine Injection 200 micrograms in 1 ml
Morphine Sulphate with Atropine Sulphate Injection 10mg-400 micrograms in 1ml
Morphine Sulphate with Atropine Sulphate Injection 15mg-400 micrograms in 1 ml
Nandrolone Hexyloxyphenylpropionate Injection 50mg(base)
Aluminium Aspirin Tablet 400mg
Aluminium Hydroxide Gel with Magnesium Hydroxide Suspension 200mg-100mg per 5ml, 360 ml
Atropine Eye Drops Oily 1 per cent, 1 5ml
Busulphan Tablet 500 micrograms
Carbachol Injection 250 micrograms in 1ml
Cascara Liquid Extract BP, 50ml
Chloramphenicol Paediatric Injection 250mg (solvent required)
Choroquine Injection 40mg per ml, 5ml
Codeine Phosphate with Aspirin Tablet10mg-300mg
Cortisone Acetate Injection 25mg per ml, 10ml
Demeclocycline with Nystatin Capsule 150mg250000Units
Dextrose Injection 20 per cent, 10ml
Di-iodohydroxyquinoline pessaries 200mg, 20
Ethchlorvynol Capsule 500mg
Ethylidene Dicoumarin Tablet100mg
Ferrous Phosphate Compound Syrup, 100ml
Ferrous Sulphate Dried Tablet 320mg (SR)
Goats’ Milk Dehydrated Powder 14oz
Hydrocortisone Ear Drops 1 percent, 10ml
Hydrogen Peroxide Solution, Solution 20 vol, 100ml
Megestrol Acetate with Ethinyloestradiol, Pack containing 16 tablets-100 migrograms-100 micrograms, 7 tablets lmg- 100 micrograms and 5 inert tablets
Megestrol Acetate with Ethinyloestradiol, Pack containing 16 tablets of ethinyloestradiol 100 micrograms, 5 tablets of megestrol acetate with ethinyloestradiol lmg- 100 micrograms and 7 inert tablets
Methylergometrine Injection 200 micrograms in 1 ml
Morphine Sulphate with Atropine Sulphate Injection 10mg-400 micrograms in 1ml
Morphine Sulphate with Atropine Sulphate Injection 15mg-400 micrograms in 1ml
Nandrolone Hexyloxyphenylpropionate Injection 50mg(base)
Pancreatin Concentrate Tablet 300mg (3 times BP strength)
Papauerine Hydrochloride Injection 120mgin 10ml
Paramethadione Capsule 300mg
Penicillinase Injection Set containing 0.8 megall and 2ml water for injections
Pethidine with Levallorphan Injection 50mg-625 micrograms in 1ml
Phenylephrine Sterile Ophthalmic Solution 10 per cent, 1ml
Phytomenadione Colloidal Solution for Injection, 10mgperml, 5ml
Polymyxin B Sulphate Eye Drops 15 000 Units per ml, 5ml
Practolol Tablet l00mg
Practolol Injection 2mg per ml, 5ml
Procaine Penicillin Injection BP 900mg
Sodium Chloride Tablet 300mg
Tetracycline Injection I.M. 250mg (solvent required)
Troxidone Tablet 150mg
Codeine Phosphate with Aspirin and Paracetamol Tablet 12mg-250mg-150mg
Sustained release antihistamines
Brompheniramine tablet 12mg(SR)
Carbinoxamine tablet 12mg (SR)
Carbionoxamine capsule 12mg(SR)
Chlorpheniramine tablet 8mg (SR)
Chlorpheniramine tablet 12mg(SR)
Chlorpheniramine capsule 8mg (SR)
Chlorpheniramine capsule 12mg(SR)
Cyproheptadine capsule 8mg (SR)
Dexchlorpheniramine tablet 6mg (SR)
Dimethindene tablet 2.5mg (SR)
Diphenylpyraline capsule 2.5mg (SR)
Diphenylpyraline capsule 5mg (SR)
Diphenylpyraline tablet 5mg (SR)
Mevhydrolin tablet 150mg(SR)
Pheniramine tablet 75mg (SR)
Clemastine Tablet lmg
Items deleted on the recommendation of the P.B.A.C.
It is considered that there will be no significant savings made as a result of the deletion of these items as they are mainly low prescription volume items and prescribing is expected to transfer to other listed items.
Nil- prescribing is expected to transfer to other similar items with no significant effect on expenditure.
Sustained release antihistamines- $2,000,000.
Clemastine Tablet lmg-$250,000.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 May 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1976/19760505_reps_30_hor99/>.