House of Representatives
19 May 1976

30th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

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

Aurukun Community: Mining

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

  1. initiate a Commission of Inquiry into the whole matter
  2. insist that no mining take place on the Aurukun Aboriginal Reserve until a full environmental impact study has been made by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Housing and Community Development
  3. refuse to grant an export licence to the Consortium until detailed negotiations are held at Aurukun by Consortium representatives with the Aurukun people, the traditional owners of the land and advisers of their choice, and an agreement satisfactory to all has been reached.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair, Mr Viner, Mr Brown, Mr Connolly, Mr Hyde, Mr Morris, Mr Ruddock andMrWallis.

Petitions received.

Overseas Development Assistance

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that many Australians are concerned at the announced decision by the Australian Government to reduce the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote by $21m, and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency.

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

  1. ) as a matter of urgency, reverse the decision to cut the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote, so as to ensure that the full amount appropriated by Parliament for Overseas Development Assistance is spent this financial year to meet the pressing needs of those in the developing countries;
  2. reaffirm Australia’s commitment of Overseas Development Assistance being a minimum of 0.7 per cent of GNPand
  3. establish a fully independent statutory authority to administer Australia’s official Overseas Development Assistance.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Mr Hurford, Mr Innes, Mr Goodluck, Mr Morris and Mr Porter.

Petitions received.

Australian Assistance Plan

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 about the future of the Australian Assistance Plan.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government support the Australian Assistance Plan:

We believe the Australian Assistance Plan should continue because we believe the Australian Assistance Plan helps to make people self reliant and more aware of what they can do to help themselves. In this it is anti-bureaucratic and contrary to the idea of the welfare state which encourages dependence on Government.

We believe the Australian Assistance Plan should continue in such a way as to give all citizens the opportunity to participate through a Regional Council for Social Development in their region.

We believe the idea encompassed in the Australian Assistance Plan is an effective way for citizens to work cooperatively with all levels of Government.

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

Petition received.

Australian Assistance Plan

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 providing the opportunity for citizens of Australia to participate in an integrated planning process with all levels of Government and since Regional Councils for Social Development foster self-help and extensive volunteer activity in local committees.

We your petitioners do 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 of March 1976.

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

Petition received.

Australian Assistance Plan

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, therefore do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government endorse the continuation of the Australian Assistance Plan as a long-term programme to be implemented on a regional basis throughout the nation.

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

Petition received.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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 that Australia take a strong role of leadership at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government instruct its delegation to the fourth session of UNCTAD.

  1. . to speak in support of the principle of an integrated program of commodities
  2. to take part in follow up activities after the fourth session to help bring about the integrated program
  3. to offer financial assistance for these activities
  4. to give special consideration and attention to tea, bauxite, copra and other commodities of particular importance in our trade with the third world and the Pacific Islands in particular, and to work for the inclusion of these commodities in the program.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray by Mr Anthony and Mr Ruddock.

Petitions received.

Australian Heritage Commission

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned members 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 Government’s program 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 Donald Cameron and Mr Haslem.

Petitions received.

A petition in similar terms was lodged by Mr Ruddock.

Petition received.

Cadet Corps

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

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

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

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

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

Petition received.

Fraser Island

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

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

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

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

Petition received.

Income Tax: Land and Water Rates

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

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

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

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

Petition received.

Tertiary Education Allowance

To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned students and staff at the colleges respectfully showeth-

That the Commonwealth Government Tertiary Educational Allowance Scheme be raised from $30 per week to $48 per week.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Treasurer, Mr Lynch and the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick will carry out this Petition.

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

Petition received.

Schools Commission

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

  1. 1 ) The present level of Federal Government Education Expenditure is increased to the level recommended by the Schools Commission.
  2. The role of the Schools Commission as an independent statutory authority free to make its own assessment of the needs of Australian Education is maintained.

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 Garrick.

Petition received.

Health Insurance Act

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 Honourable 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 main concern.

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

Petition received.

Overseas Development Assistance

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 (G.N.P.) in the next budget. by Mr Les McMahon.

Petition received.

Pharmaceutical Benefits: Milk Substitutes

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

  1. That reduction of the age limit from six years to eighteen months for patients eligible to receive cows’ milk substitutes as a pharmaceutical benefit under the schedules of the National Health Act will cause serious financial hardship to many families;
  2. That children allergic to cows’ milk and other dairy products who often include asthmatics and sufferers of respiratory complaints depend on Soya Bean milk such as Isomil or Prosobee as a main source of protein;
  3. That the Government’s action is responsible for a 100 per cent increase in the cost of milk substitutes frequently involving parents in expenditure of $10 per week to sustain desirable protein intake for an affected child;
  4. That there is an urgent, humane need to restore milk substitutes to children up to six years of age to the schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that milk substitutes be restored to the schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits for children up to the age of six years as soon as possible.

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

Petition received.

Income Tax

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

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

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

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

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

Petition received.

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Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:

That this House censures the Government, the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers for their involvement in loan inquiries by State Ministers and representatives in breach of their undertaking that there would be no inquiries during the election campaign into the activities of the previous Government.

Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– I wish to inform the House that I accept the notice of motion given today by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) as a motion of censure of the Government for the purposes of standing order 110.


– I should inform the right honourable gentleman that as I interpret standing order 1 10, it comes into operation only in relation to a motion of which notice has been given previously and therefore appears on the notice paper. In order for a debate to proceed it would be necessary to suspend the Standing Orders.

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Motion (by Mr Malcolm Fraser)- by leaveagreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition moving forthwith the motion of censure of the Government of which he has given notice for the next day of sitting.

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Motion of Censure

Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition- (2.22 · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

I move:

That this House censures the Government, the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers for their involvement in loan inquiries by State Ministers and representatives in breach of their undertaking that there would be no inquiries during the election campaign into the activities of the previous Government.

On 11 November the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) outlined to the House the conditions upon which the Governor-General had commissioned him to form a government. He read a letter to the Governor-General which he had signed barely an hour before. In that letter, referring to my Government, he declared:

There will be no royal commissions or inquiries into the activities of this Government throughout the period of the election campaign.

When the Prime Minister put his name to that letter he knew that at least one inquiry into the activities of the previous Government was already in progress. He knew who was conducting the inquiry- the Premier of Queensland. He knew the purpose of the inquiry- to discover anything, no matter how tenuous or tainted or trivial, which could be used to discredit the Australian Government. He knew that the inquiry had been agreed upon at a conference of Liberal and Country Party leaders in Melbourne 9 days previously- at a meeting he himself attended, a meeting in his own office. He knew who the sole beneficiaries of the inquiry would be- his own Party, the Federal Opposition, newly installed in power and about to fight an election. He knew the inquiry was going on and he knew it would continue. He knew that unless he took action to stop it or to dissociate his Government from it he would be in breach of this undertaking to the Governor-General.

Whatever we may think of the Prime Minister or the undertaking he gave, we must assume that he was aware of its significance. He gave a solemn promise to the man who had installed him in power. It was one of the conditions on which he was appointed. These were not mere guidelines; they were much more than a gentlemen’s agreement. They were specific instructions from the Governor-General. The Prime Minister’s letter accepting those instructions amounted to a solemn and binding undertaking that the terms of his appointment would be followed. He gave that assurance, not just on his own behalf but on behalf of all his Ministers and parliamentary colleagues. It was given in circumstances of unprecedented gravity and national moment. It was not kept.

Simply stated, the Opposition’s charge is this: The Fraser Government got others to do its dirty work. In November and December last year, with the knowledge and approval of the caretaker Government, and at its instigation, the Queensland Premier made inquiries at public expense into the activites of the Australian Labor Government in breach of undertakings given to the Governor-General. At the same time inquiries were being made by people in New South Wales with the knowledge and approval of the Government of that State. Honourable members will recall that on 5 May I received a number of documents from Mr Richard Todd, the American banker engaged by the Queensland Premier to carry out investigations. Mr Todd’s sworn evidence, of which I gave the Prime Minister a copy 2 hours ago and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Ellicott) first thing yesterday morning, supports the Opposition’s charge that the caretaker Government was the prime mover in the Queensland inquiries. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a 6-page notarised statement by Mr Richard Todd.


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

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I, Richard B. Todd, of Avenida Maravillas Rancho Santa Fe, in the County of San Diego, State of California, U.S.A., make oath and say as follows:

SWORN the 1 1th day of May One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy-six at Rancho Santa Fe, California, San Diego County, U.S.A.

Before me Louisa L. Becker (Notary Public).

In the presence of.

Mr E G Whitlam:

– I seek leave too to table 20 pages of supporting documents provided by Mr Todd, some of which were tabled by the Attorney-General on 6 May.


-Is 1 leave granted?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– May I make one point? Fourteen of these documents have already been tabled. We have no objection to their being tabled again. It is odd to send somebody around the world to get documents which have already been tabled and one of which dated 24 October incriminates the honourable gentleman’s own Government.


– There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr E G Whitlam:

– It had always been assumed that the inquiries had been undertaken by the Premier on his own initiative, that they were a personal escapade by Mr Bjelke-Petersen, a piece of tough politicking by an irrepressible Premier. The truth that emerges from the documents and from a study of the Government’s own statements is very different. We have it on the Attorney-General’s own admission that the inquiry was first suggested to the Premier at a meeting of Liberal and National Country Party leaders in Melbourne attended by the Prime Minister. This meeting, a summit conference of conservative chieftains on Sunday, 2 November, is a convenient point from which to trace this story. Apart from the Queensland Premier and the Prime Minister, those present included Messrs Lynch, Sinclair and Nixon, Senators Withers, Greenwood and Cotton, Messrs Hamer, Lewis and Bingham, Dr Tonkin and Mr Ellicott. The Attorney-General told the House on 6 May that the meeting discussed rumours of improper dealings in relations to overseas loans. He said: … the name of Wiley Fancher was mentioned to the Premier of Queensland as a person who was understood to have information in connection with these rumours. The Premier was asked if he would be prepared to have the matters referred to investigated. He said he would.

The Attorney-General was deliberately vague about who made the suggestion which the Premier so obligingly took up. It needs little ingenuity to discover who it was. The Age on 8 May stated:

According to Mr Ellicott, it was at the request of the coalition that the Queenslander originally undertook the task at a meeting on 2 November.

The man in the coalition closest to the Queensland Premier and his friends was of course the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). It is apparent from the documents that the Leader of the National Country Party was involved from the beginning. Mr Todd’s sworn statement reveals that the Country Party Leader was to meet Mr Fancher at Atherton as early as 23 October. It was through the good offices of the Country Party Leader that the Premier was put in touch with Mr Fancher. Mr Todd’s affidavit shows that the Country Party Leader was in touch with Mr Todd by telephone on 2 occasions before the meeting in Melbourneon 31 October and again the next day. He was setting up the investigation. As soon as the Queensland Premier was told to go ahead he wrote to his Agent-General in London, Mr Wally Rae. The Premier directed Mr Rae to obtain any evidence about illegal acts or possible fraud in relation to loan raising efforts. These were broad instructions, to say the least; Mr Rae was not told where he might start his inquiries, apart from a suggestion that he engage Mr Todd as a financial adviser. Mr Fancher had already been in touch with Mr Todd on 24 October. On 14 November the Premier wrote to Mr Todd and engaged him as his financial adviser. His letter stated:

I hereby appoint you as my financial adviser concerning loan raising efforts by the Australian Government that was dismissed on 1 1 November 197S.

Four weeks after he instructed Mr Rae to make inquiries the Premier convened a special meeting of the Queensland Parliament to make scurrilous and totally unfounded accusations against Australian Government Ministers. He alleged that 2 Ministers and a senior public servant were due to receive kickback commissions on proposed overseas loan borrowings. Honourable members are familiar with these events. They constituted one of the most scandalous episodes in parliamentary history. The interesting aspect to emerge now, however, is this: The Premier made his accusations in the House but had not bothered to convey them to his Agent-General. They were not mentioned in his letter to Mr Rae. Apparently they were worthy of public exposure in Australia but were not worth passing on to the Government’s own investigator. It is now clear that the Premier had no information of substance to convey to his Parliament, to his AgentGeneral or anyone else. It is also clear why Mr Rae was brought into the inquiries. He was there to give Mr Fancher ‘s activities an aura of official respectability. The whole story of kickbacks was a fabrication. It was a stunt of breathtaking cynicism and irresponsibility. On 18 March the Attorney-General- then, as now apparently, the Prime Minister’s appointed mouthpiece on these matters- was forced to admit to this House that there was no substance in any of the accusations of wrongful conduct by Labor Ministers.

So it comes down to this: On the basis of information which was later admitted to be baseless, the Premier, at the suggestion of his Federal colleagues, assigned Messrs Fancher, Todd and Rae to investigate loan raisings by the Whitlam Government. It is interesting to recall how the investigation was first announced. Official confirmation of it came in a statement issued in the

Premier’s name on 3 December. It confirmed that Mr Rae and Inspector Keene had been undertaking investigations into loans in London, Zurich and Geneva for about 4 weeks. For reasons that seemed baffling at the time the Premier was embarrassed that this information had been given out. He tried to revoke his statement. He told the Press the following day- the 4th-that at no time had he authorised any statement about an investigation, nor had any member of his staff consulted him about it. I quote the Sydney Morning Herald of the 5th:

The Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, has disowned a statement issued from his office that two Queensland Government officials are in Switzerland investigating the Whitlam Government ‘s loan raising efforts.

What was the reason for this extraordinary denial? We know that the information given in the original Press release was true. Why did the Premier seek to revoke his statement a day later? He did so for an obvious reason. He knew that any official admission that inquiries into the previous Government were under way would have embarrassed the caretaker Government and its appointed leader. Press speculation about the Premier’s investigation was one thing; an official announcement would have been quite another. The only proper response from the Fraser Government to such an official announcement would be a request that the inquiries be discontinued, or at least a public assurance that the Government would have nothing to do with the Queensland Premier or his scandalous investigation. Any such statement during an election would have been damaging to the coalition parties. It is clear that the Premier tried clumsily to revoke his official statement to save the Prime Minister from further embarrassment and from any possible charge that he had breached the terms of his appointment.

Despite the Premier’s denial the investigation in Europe was common knowledge early in December. There can be no doubt that the Prime Minister was aware of it. The Courier Mail of 5 December stated that the Prime Minister had been ‘informed’ of the mission. The Courier Mail’s article raised a number of questions about the investigation. It asked whether the Premier had consulted his deputy, the Liberal Leader, Sir Gordon Chalk, or the Cabinet as a whole, about Mr Rae’s secret expedition in Switzerland. The article continued:

Was Mr Rae, assisted by a Queensland police inspector, sent to Switzerland only to gather loans information which might be damaging to the former Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam)? Was Inspector Keene sent overseas as a bodyguard for Mr Rae or as an investigator? It is extraordinary that the Police Minister (Mr Hodges) was not informed of the purpose of Inspector Keene s mission . . . The

Prime Minister (Mr Fraser) is said to have been informed of the mission. But when? It would be strange if he had been told before Sir Gordon Chalk or Mr Hodges.

It would not have been strange at all. The Prime Minister was the man who stood to gain from the investigation. It had been planned in his Melbourne office. Its whole purpose was to assist the Fraser campaign. Sir Gordon Chalk was not at the meeting in Mr Fraser ‘s office in Melbourne on 2 November, nor was Mr Hodges.

Does anyone seriously believe that the Prime Minister was not told of the inquiries? Does anyone seriously believe that he was not aware of them? On 3 December he had revealed in Launceston that the Australian Ambassador in Switzerland had sought advice on whether he should assist the Queensland Government’s investigation. The Ambassador was promptly and properly told that he should have no part in it. The Government could hardly have done otherwise. The point of this incident is not that the caretaker Prime Minister was being scrupulous about the terms of his commission, but that he had been officially informed that the Queensland Government’s investigation was proceeding and that he had been warned that officials and departments knew its implications for his own Government. The Prime Minister told the truth about the Ambassador ‘s inquiry but by no means the whole truth. It was a statement of dubious honesty. As soon as the Prime Minister heard from the Ambassador, as soon as he learned that the Australian Government was involved in this inquiry through its representative overseas, he should have told his -Deputy Prime Minister and his Country Party confederates to lay off. Instead, he decided to brazen it out. Yet he knew of the inquiry. He was made officially aware of it. It involved the Australian Government’s representatives overseas. As in so many other things, the Prime Minister knew the proper course at that stage and knew what should have been done. He failed to do it.

The allegations of Mr Todd in his letters to the Prime Minister, the Premier and the GovernorGeneral confirm the version of events I have described. Lest there be any onslaught on Mr Todd’s credibility, it is worth keeping in mind the facts about his engagement: He was appointed by the Queensland Premier as his official adviser. In th ; Premier’s view, presumably, he was a man of trust and substance. He was well disposed to the anti-Labor cause. He twice sent his congratulations to Australia on the coalition’s victory. The Queensland AgentGeneral in London was particularly impressed by him. In a letter to Mr Todd of 14 January he said:

When it conies to great guys I feel I can number you among my acquaintances.

This is the man who brings serious charges against the Prime Minister and his colleagues- a man of trust, integrity, charm and competence, a man sympathetically disposed to the Premier’s political views, a man appointed by the Premier himself. A great guy! This is the man who worked closely with the remarkable team of Wally and Wiley- the Agent-General and Mr Fancher, the man whose name was first put to the Premier at a meeting of Liberal and Country Party leaders on 2 November.

What does Mr Todd say about the Prime Minister’s collaboration with the Premier’s investigation? His letter to the Prime Minister of 12 March states:

Mr Fancher stated that he was in daily direct contact with you through Mr Douglas Anthony and Mr Philip Lynch.

The letter continues:

Mr Fancher stated that you had a gentlemen’s agreement with Governor-General Sir John Kerr not to pursue the Whitlam situation until after the general election on 13 December 1973. If I had known this while in the United States I would not have accepted the appointment by the Premier.

Evidently Mr Todd had more scruples about the investigation than the Premier or the Prime Minister. There is no reason to doubt his professed distaste for the inquiry. It was a natural reaction. Eleven weeks earlier, in a friendly letter to Mr Rae in London, he expressed the same misgivings. In his letter of 30 December to Mr Rae he said:

I thought it about time that I wrote to you concerning the 007 operation in Switzerland. I really don’t know whether Wiley explained to you that I came to Europe only after great persuasion on his part. I happen to believe that the citizens of one country should mind their own business and not interfere in the politics of another country. It was only after telephone calls between Mr Petersen and myself that I reluctantly agreed to go.

In other words, it took all the persuasive powers of the Premier to override Mr Todd’s honourable and understandable dislike of this affair. Why should we assume that his statements are fabrications? It is difficult to believe that he would even have known of the so-called ‘gentlemen’s agreement’- let alone its prohibition on official inquiries- unless someone had explained its relevance to the Premier’s inquiries.

In the same letter to Mr Rae of 30 December Mr Todd first complains about the money he believes is due to him. Let me make it clear that the Opposition takes no stand on this matter, though there are some interesting financial aspects of this affair which I shall deal with later. Whether Mr Todd receives due remuneration for his services is a matter between him and his clients. The Prime Minister’s concern for the proprieties of this world does not extend, apparently, to answering correspondence from people who have worked for his election. There is, however, a more interesting side to the Prime Minister’s discourtesy. One would have thought that his first reaction on seeing Mr Todd’s letter of 12 March would have been to write back at once, to rebut Mr Todd’s assertions and to point out that Mr Fancher ‘s statements were utterly fanciful. Why was Mr Todd not disabused of his beliefs? Why was a man engaged by the Premier of Queensland permitted to spread these colourful accounts of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ and ‘direct daily contact’ between Mr Fancher and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer if they were not true? The answer is plain. The Prime Minister knew that everything in Mr Todd’s letter was correct. The less he had to do with Mr Todd the better. He wanted to disown the one man who was free to reveal the truth about these political investigations and the breach of the undertaking given to the Governor-General.

Mr Fancher was very much a man in the know. He emerges as the principal point of contact in dealings between the caretaker Government and Mr Todd. There were frequent telephone calls during November and December between the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Fancher and the Premier.

Mr Kelly:

– I rise on a point of order. There is so much conversation on both sides of the chamber that I cannot hear the Leader of the Opposition.


– I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr E G Whitlam:

- Mr Speaker -

Mr Sullivan:

– I take a point of order. The people of Australia are not the slightest bit interested in this rubbish.


– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.

Mr Sullivan:

– I refer to standing order 303 (A). I believe that the Leader of the Opposition is now persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of this House.


-There is no point of order. I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr E G Whitlam:

-We do not have to take Mr Todd’s word for this. It is admitted by Mr Fancher and by the Deputy Prime Minister himself. The Deputy Prime Minister has admitted that he spoke several times to Mr Fancher after 1 1 November. He said on the tenth of this month on an Australian Broadcasting Commission program that the Premier and Mr Fancher were ‘pretty persistent callers’ after 1 1 November. I quote from the transcript of the interview on the program AM:

We were in a pretty desperate situation. And the Premier of Queensland was very willing to do what investigations he could because he had a constitutional right of doing this and he was pursuing it and naturally we were interested.

Mr Todd ‘s account is a more vivid one. We know he is a man who keeps careful records of his conversations. In his notarised statement which is incorporated I direct attention in particular to paragraphs 23 and 24. 1 point out that Mr Keith Spann, mentioned with Mr Doug Anthony, Mr Phillip Lynch and a Mr Andrew Hay, is the Permanent Head of the Premiers Department in Queensland. So here we have these ‘persistent callers’ ringing the Deputy Prime Minister after 1 1 November- men assigned to investigate the loan raising activities of the previous Government. And we are asked to believe that no one in the caretaker Government, no Minister or member of his staff, took any part in inquiries into an issue which members of the Opposition had been hammering ad nauseam for the best part of a year, and whose repercussions were the pretext for their refusal of Supply.

It will be interesting to hear the Foreign Minister’s reaction to Mr Todd’s account of his meetings with the Australian Ambassador in Switzerland. Mr Fancher tried to involve first the Swiss National Bank and later the Swiss Foreign Ministry in his politically motivated investigation. He asked the Ambassador, Mr Brennan, to enlist the help of the Swiss Foreign Ministry, and Mr Brennan very properly declined. Mr Todd has sworn that Mr Fancher then threatened to telephone the Deputy Prime Minister, and that subsequently Mr Peacock telephoned Mr Fancher from Australia and provided him with a list of names in the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Minister has denied that he spoke to Mr Todd. He has not denied that he spoke to Mr Fancher or provided him with a list of contacts which would assist his investigation. ‘ On 26 or 27 November, according to Mr Todd’s’ notarised statement, Mr Brennan warned Mr Fancher and Mr Rae that they could be breaking Swiss law.

The question of illegality is also raised by certain financial aspects. The Premier has said that $ 13,000-odd was paid to Mr Todd from private sources and that public expenditure on his inquiries has cost $ 1 1,000. Is it normal to finance State government or Loan Council activities from private sources? If the inquiries were indeed private, why were the Queensland AgentGeneral and a Queensland police inspector assigned to carry them out? Mr Todd has sworn that when Mr Fancher arrived in California to see him on 9 November, Mr Fancher had with him large rolls of Australian bank notes. According to Mr Todd, Mr Fancher had left Brisbane in a hurry. Mr Spann left the Premier’s office at night and collected the cash takings of 3 hotels near the executive building, for which he gave cheques.

Mr Todd makes the further remarkable claim that his advance of $13,488 was transferred to his account in New York from the New York account of Tancred Brothers. Transactions of this nature require Reserve Bank approval and must be made ‘in the normal course of business’. It will be interesting to know whether this is the normal course of business for Tancred Brothers. Reserve Bank regulations prohibit individuals from taking more than $250 in notes out of this country. I hope that the Attorney-General will be as expeditious in investigating possible breaches of the banking regulations by Mr Fancher and Tancred Brothers as he was 3 months ago in having Commonwealth Police interrogate the Labor Party’s advertising agency and report on my movements during the campaign. In respect of Tancred Brothers I suggest that he enlist the help of the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume), who is a director of the company.

It is apparent that interests in other States were undertaking similar muckraking expeditions at either public or private expense. The former New South Wales Attorney-General, Mr Maddison, has admitted that he sought Mr Todd’s assistance in the loan inquiries. In a Press release on 10 May Mr Maddison said:

It is true that I did speak to Mr Todd to seek confirmation of certain information which came into my possession about the so-called loans affair. Mr Todd was unable to provide confirmation but indicated that he was acting for the Queensland Government and was in a better position than my informant to assess the information.

I ask honourable members to look at paragraphs 28, 29 and 30 of Mr Todd’s notarised statement incorporated in Hansard. The former New South Wales Attorney-General was apparently anxious for Mr Bracey to go to Switzerland if necessary. Mr Bracey ‘s passport, which had been taken from him after he was apprehended at Sydney airport, was subsequently restored to him.

When the so-called loans affair was at its height last year no one could show- no one suggestedany illegal activity by me or my Ministers. Mr Todd’s disclosures suggest illegalities at every turn. I list 5 questions that cry out for public investigation: First, was the cash taken by Mr Fancher to the United States a breach of currency regulations? Mr Spann ‘s activities in rounding up money for Mr Fancher’s trip was unorthodox conduct, to say the least, for a departmental head. Under what heading or appropriation is this money shown? Secondly, was Reserve Bank approval sought for Mr Todd’s original contract of employment, which required the transfer of Australian funds overseas? Thirdly, was the transfer of funds to Mr Todd through Tancreds’ account approved by the Reserve Bank? If Mr Todd was engaged by the Government why was his fee not paid through official channels subject to normal appropriation and audit procedures? Fourthly, was the return of Mr Bracey ‘s passport a breach of proper legal procedure? Mr Todd has sworn that although Mr Bracey had been charged with an offence under the company laws of New South Wales, the Attorney-General of New South Wales wanted to know whether Mr Bracey could help the loans investigation. Fifthly, was the behaviour of the 3 investigators in Switzerland a breach of Australian or international law?

The more one studies this affair the more it brings disgrace on the Queensland Government, the more deeply it implicates the Premier’s Federal colleagues in a web of malpractice and deception. Every code of accepted conduct was violated. The public was misled about the purpose of the investigation. The Queensland Parliament was used to smear Australian Ministers and public servants. Public money was misspent. The spirit of the Prime Minister’s undertaking to the Governor-General was breached. There was a sustained attempt to cover up the existence of the investigation, the collaboration of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the connivance of the Prime Minister himself. They knew what was going on. They did nothing to stop it. For month after month last year, the present Prime Minister, the present Treasurer, the present Deputy Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland orchestrated, with the assistance of the media and the Labor Government’s opponents, the most blatant political charade in our history.

It is our accusers who now stand condemned. It is honourable gentlemen opposite whose malpractice, deception and breach of trust are now exposed. The loans affair is revealed for what it is- part of the discreditable, deceitful process which brought this Government to power. There was for me a painful irony in the term which Mr Todd used so innocently to describe what happened last November. He spoke of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. That may well be how Mr Fancher represented it to him. Mr Todd was quoting Mr Fancher’s own words. I do not accept that an arrangement born in deceit, an arrangement which broke every tradition, every convention, every rule of parliamentary democracy- an arrangement which may well have damaged our institutions and weakened our social fabric for generations to come- can be described as a gentlemen’s agreement. What happened last November was singularly in keeping with the standards of conduct established by the Prime Minister during his last months in Opposition. He managed to dishonour an undertaking which was itself dishonourable.


-Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hayden:

– Yes.


– I call the honourable member for Oxley


-Mr Speaker, the Government should be censured for the way in which it used the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, to circumvent its niched restricted mandate as a caretaker government. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) each should be censured for knowingly allowing the Queensland Premier to act as their surrogate to side-step that restricted mandate. The Queensland Premier deserves nothing but public contempt for the way in which he crudely and dishonourably served as the Fraser caretaker Government’s catspaw in this exercise to flout the Prime Minister’s ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to honour his restricted caretaker mandate. The Prime Minister might be many things but no one could muster the evidence with which to convict him of being either a gentleman or honourable.

The Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) gave the game away in this House on 6 May when he said:

While in Melbourne on 2 November for a meeting of Federal and State Parliamentary Leaders of the Liberal and National Country Parties, the name of Wiley Fancher was mentioned to the Premier of Queensland as a person who was understood to have information in connection with these rumours. The Premier was asked if he would be prepared to have the matters referred to investigated. He said he would.

That quote, as carefully worded as it is- no doubt another product of a second considered opinion from the Attorney-General after absorbing the stern wisdom of the Prime Ministerdeserves special attention. The Queensland Premier, faithful and enthusiastic as he is for such things, was released in hot pursuit of whatever scandal he could dredge up or manufacture in the then current loans affair. He was released by the Deputy Prime Minister with the full knowledge of the Prime Minister. The trusted lieutenant he sought out as his aide in this seamy exercise and towards whom he now feels so much affinity, a Mr Wiley Fancher, landed in this country in order to protect the integrity of his racial prejudices. His greetings to Australia on his arrival were:

I like a negro in a negro’s place and that ain’t next to my family. I don’t mind my boy playing ball with a black kid after school, but I don’t want him mixing socially with them as he grows up. The blacks there have no moral standards.

Mr Wiley Fancher, the Queensland Premier’s professional adviser in matters of high finance, on the recommendation of the Deputy Prime Minister, is a man who cannot pay his own debts. The Queensland Legislative Assembly debate reports, in a far from complete list of debts, reveal him as owing $ 100,000, and to such public and private sources as Mobil Oil Australia Ltd, Olympic Tyre and Rubber Co. Pty Ltd, Clausen Steamship Co. ( Aust) Pty Ltd, Cook Shire Council, MacTaggarts, and so on. No wonder the Queensland Premier now welches on his debt to his adviser, Mr Todd. The Queensland Premier is an apt pupil. The simple fact is that Mr BjelkePetersen was used by his federal counterparts because they knew the work was going to be dirty. They wanted to keep their hands clean. They knew the Queensland Premier and his Svengali, Callaghan, revelled in having dirty political hands.

The Attorney-General ingenuously says:

Once the change of Government had occurred on November 11, the caretaker Government adhered scrupulously to the undertaking given to Sir John Kerr that there would be no inquiries by the Government or its instrumentalities, or its employees, into the activities of the former Government.

But what of the Government’s proxy? What of the Queensland Premier whom they had seen let loose on a course of action which, if continued after 1 1 November 1975, was in clear and blatant derogation of the caretaker Prime Minister’s solemn undertaking to the Governor-General.

The Queensland Premier’s actions did continue after 1 1 November. Any disclaimers of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have tumbled from them belatedly, uncomfortably, unconvincingly and grudgingly. The Prime Minister cannot be believed. He asks to be taken at his word. What is the worth of his word? He is the man who accused the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), one of the most respected men in this Parliament, of treacherously smuggling a so-called confidential Government document to the then coalition Opposition. His claims were shown to be without foundation. But he has never had the decency to apologise for the ugly scarring with which he sought to lacerate the character of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. And he asks to be taken at his word!

In the election campaign he promised release of documentary evidence of economic mismanagement by the Labor Government, evidence which he said it had suppressed. He produced nothing, in spite of the dramatics with which he highlighted this claim. And he says his word is his bond! He was repudiated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for false assertions about OECD projections on Australian inflation rates. And he says he is as good as his word! He made an agreement, a serious compact with the Australian electorate, that he would preserve wage indexation, and one of his first actions was an assault against it which he persists with; that Medibank would be kept intact, and now he is dismantling it with the aim of forcing about half the population back into the hands of private insurance; that the housing interest mortgage subsidy would be maintained, and already he has excluded substantial numbers from its benefits. If he is worth his word- and on his record I think he is- he has not much worth.

I want to move to the record of the Queensland Premier in this matter- an absolutely contemptible record. Without any compunction at all and with a total absence of any evidence of substance, he set about blackguarding the character of 2 Ministers of the former Whitlam Government and a senior serving public servant. The matters now before the House bring into central focus the often crude, rarely responsible and mostly rather strange conduct of the Queensland Premier in this matter. He called the Queensland Parliament together on the eve of the last double dissolution election of the Federal Parliament as an opportunity to dramatise outrageous allegations which he knew, on the eve of the Federal elections, would only be disablingly harmful to the Labor Party at the polls. He said:

In one deal alone, it is now clear that 2 Ministers of the Whitlam Government, together with a number of other people, were due to receive staggering sums of money as a consequence of secret commissions and kick backs.

Some 3 months later- when redemption could help little at an election held 3 months earlierthe Attorney-General reported to the House that, as a result of inquiries: … the Government is completely satisfied that there is no substance in the suggestion that either the official or the 2 Ministers were involved in the wrongful conduct alleged.

The Queensland Premier even now evinces little, if any, repentance at the lack of restraint evidenced in his outrageous statements. What is remarkable, because it is surely unparalleled in this country, is the way in which the Queensland Premier throughout this sordid episode of his, has been able to run the Queensland Government like some sort of feudal institution. He funds secret and sinister Government activity from a secret slush fund. No one in the Government knows anything of the details of this feudal overlord’s slush fund. The Premier shares more confidences with grey, shadowy, anonymous figures from the fringe of public life, who can buy a slice of the action by bankrolling the Queensland Premier’s slush fund.

How much is in this strange fund? How is it spent and who audits it? Who watches over the Premier with his unfortunate ‘Caesar personality problem”? How can the people of Queensland feel confident that the Premier has not compromised the State Government? How can his own Ministers and Government members feel confident that their independence has not been compromised? Anonymous outsiders have more influence with the Premier than his own Ministers or his Government colleagues. This is government by a clique which excludes his own Government members, ignores his Cabinet and bypasses with disdain the Deputy Premier, Sir Gordon Chalk. In Queensland you do not have to stand for elections to Parliament or be appointed to State Cabinet to be right in on the nerve centre of the drama of Government action. If you have enough money and had enough paranoic hate in your heart towards the last Federal government, you are suitably credentialled in the eyes of the Premier to buy into the action.

Who are these strange patrons of the Queensland Premier? One source has been divulged- Tancred Brothers. Fortuitously, Tancred has its resident representative, direct from its board room, in this House- the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume). He comes with all the qualifications and experience he amassed as a partner in Patrick Partners, the busted sharebrokers. Patrick Partners showed great skill in making quick and questionable money, ignoring debts and leaving broke lots of little people who trusted them. Such are the moral standards of the sponsors of the Queensland Premier’s secret slush fund. How can the Queensland Premier sensibly claim that his Fancher-Todd escapade is no business of his

Government? How can he throw into the action a senior and respected police officer, send him to distant, exotic places, divert the Queensland Government Agent-General to foreign lands, apply the services of one of his top public servants to personal attention to the whims of his lieutenant, Mr Fancher, and then say that it has nothing to do with the Government.

For the sake of illustration, let us assume that some future Queensland Premier conducts a legal gambling casino as a personal enterprise. Does the present Queensland Premier’s action mean that the future Premier can use police, public servants, Agents-General, to track down someone who has not paid his gambling debts? The trouble with this Queensland Premier is that too much of his erudition in government comes from Mickey Spillane and none from Sir Ivor Jennings.

It is sheer fantasy for the Premier to assert that his claim to independence is based on his Loan Council membership. He is on the Loan Council as the representative of the Queensland government in his office as Premier. He does not negotiate loan matters there on his own behalf. Actually, I discovered that he cannot because he does not understand such matters and has to leave them to his Treasurer. This alibi is a flimsy concoction to justify what has easily been the most powerful, crude and ill-informed assault on the principles and practices of the Westminster style of parliamentary government and the proper conventions of Cabinet collective responsibility. The Queensland Premier is seriously deluded if he thinks he goes to Canberra to Loan Council meetings, there to enjoy splendid independence from his colleagues. Who does he think he isLouis XVI with his Versailles and his clever wits about him at the bottom end of George Street? He brushes off the cost of his indulgences in the Fancher-Todd debacle as being insignificant. ‘Only $1 1,000’ he says, ‘it would not build more than half a house, so I mean that is not the argument as such.’ The Courier Mail of 8 May reported a more likely cost of $200,000. How was that money gathered and at what cost to the freedom of action, the probity and frankness of the Queensland Government? Has the Queensland Government been compromised by the Queensland Premier’s outrageous actions?

Furthermore, the independence and impartiality of the Queensland Public Service have been seriously sullied by the behaviour of the Queensland Premier. Imagine the assumption of the Queensland Premier that he can whistle up a senior police inspector to do his whim and not even tell the Police Minister, or convert his

Under-Secretary into a message boy doing a late night pub crawl cashing cheques so that Fancher, with the Premier’s aid and abetment, can violate the currency regulations. Does the Premier think he is restoring the power and privileges of absolute monarchy? What of Mr Todd’s allegations that on or about 31 October last year he spoke by phone to Brisbane and that he spoke to Mr Doug Anthony, Mr Bjelke-Petersen and Mr Fancher? If Messrs Anthony and Bjelke-Petersen deny this incident, does this mean that Mr Fancher had arranged for someone to impersonate the Deputy Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier? Were the frequent alleged conversations with the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) by Fancher figments of a fertile imagination? These things need to be cleared up beyond any doubt. Any fear that they could represent a conspiracy to the embarrassment and disadvantage of the Australian or Queensland governments must be removed.

Has Mr Fancher a written authority on the Premier’s Department letterhead to operate for the Queensland Premier- that is, to operate for the Queensland Government? The Premier’s office is an office of and is responsible for and to the Queensland Government. If so, what are the conditions of the commission? Is the commission open to unrestrained interpretation by Fancher? The Premier did not issue his authority to Mr Todd on paper, indicating that Todd was commissioned by the Premier in virtue of his position on the Loan Council. If the Premier wanted someone to represent one of his companies in some sort of private capacity he would properly use a letterhead of the company. In fact, he used official letterhead for an official purpose.

Is the Queensland Premier satisfied with a Mr Bracey, a man on bail charged with a serious criminal offence- fraud- being one of his personal agents in this ill-conceived escapade of his? Does he not care how much dirt sticks to his fingers? Furthermore, what is Mr BjelkePetersen ‘s involvement in Mr Fancher ‘s efforts to raise money for the Queensland cattle industrynot for the Cattlemen’s Association or any other group, but on behalf of the Queensland Government? Mr Fancher did represent his position in these attempted loan raisings- at least in several cases- as being on behalf of the Queensland Government. Apparently Mr Bjelke-Petersen does not mind loan hunting without a licence if he has the right companyFancher, with all of his strange, fanciful behaviour, and Bracey, with his interest in the criminal dock.

Was the Queensland Premier a keen party to Mr Fancher ‘s goading of another shadowy overseas figure- Sundeman- that if Sundeman unlawfully arranged for certain documents to be removed from a bank box Sundeman ‘would be looked after’? Was a new car to be part of the reward? Strangely enough, Sundeman acquired a new car at or immediately after the departure of Rae and Fancher and the Swiss police are now seeking him for offences against the Banking Act in Switzerland. Who paid for the massive cost of the telephone calls and telegrams by Fancher? Who paid for the Zebra Motel suite opposite the Premier’s office in Queensland that was used so indulgently by Fancher? Did the Queensland Premier pay for Bracey ‘s stay at the plush Savoy Hotel in London? Did he provided the $2,000 Bracey wanted for a paper to come from the ‘Middle East’- wherever that may have specifically meant?

The Queensland Premier has shown by his actions, his associates and his motives a reckless disregard for proper standards of conduct in public office. He has degraded the institution of Parliament and the proper principles of Cabinet government, compromised the impartiality and independence of the State Public Service and brought himself into deserved contempt. The Queensland Deputy Premier, Sir Gordon Chalk, who is concerned about the Premier’s behaviour in this matter, as in so many other matters with which the Premier has been associated, may well ponder the injunction of Cromwell to the Long Parliament and recommend it to his friend the Premier:

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.

Finally, I return to the theme of my opening comments. The Queensland Premier was set upon his poisonous task by his Federal counterparts. The Prime Minister- this physically tall man who is a moral dwarf on stilts- is as implicated as anyone. Let me show how shaky are the stilts. The Prime Minister is the man who sermonises about self-reliance and who condemns waste or misuse of the public purse. The biographer whom he quoted so approvingly here during the last week in which we sat has pointed out in the same work that the Prime Minister has quoted how, earlier as a Minister, the Prime Minister gave ‘Nareen’ as his home address so that he could gather the daily ministerial travelling allowance for residing with his family at his permanent home address in Melbourne. The daily ministerial travelling allowance is about $44- more than the long-haired people on the dole whom he spent so much time scorning get for a week’s unemployment benefit. He deserves to have the till drawer slammed shut on his fingers.

The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier have condemned themselves. Their own actions, their associates and their associates’ words and deeds are witnesses against them. They all deserve censure and they all deserve the contempt of the Australian public.

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Yesterday’s man, moving yesterday’s rejected motion, today presents himself as a person criticising others of dubious honesty, to use the epithet of him who is his favourite biographer. He predicates the whole of his case not at breakfast time but here in the light of the second day of the resumption of the Parliament after the return of his personal Private Secretary from escapades abroad to suggest that in some way there are things grievously wrong in several ways with the present Government. The first thing is that in some way during its period as a caretaker government there were negotiations and associations which in some way reputedly were apparently involving members of the present Government with inquiries made by the Queensland Premier. The second is that in some way there was apparently a continued association between individual members of our Government with those who were making these inquiries. Then there is a fringe suggestion that to some extent there might well have been some efforts to borrow funds overseas. I do not intend to go through all the nonsense of the papers that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has tabled this afternoon, but there are some aspects of them that I think we need to revert to. I thought I might just for a moment refer to the inquiries by the Queensland Premier and some of the papers that interestingly he was able to bring to light in his inquiries into some of those overseas loan negotiations by the then Labor Government under the present Leader of the Opposition.

First let me remind the House that even in the substance of the charge that has been made in this Parliament this afternoon it appears that one who is a supposed informant on whom the Leader of the Opposition has based his case against this Government suggests in a cable on 24 October that he, Wiley Fancher, was apparently involved in relation to loans to the Australian rural industry under the umbrella of the Australian Government. That is dated 24 October 1975. The Government changed, as we all remember, on 11 November 1975. Let us look at the credibility of the man who makes the charges. Perhaps I should first in this place and at the beginning of this charge say that so many of those charges have already been denied. The Deputy Prime Minister has had no contact whatsoever, to the best of his knowledge, with Mr Todd. I have had a note from Mr Peacock. Mr Peacock has said that any allegation that he supplied Fancher with the names of four Swiss law officers is totally untrue. It is certainly true that he contacted Mr Brennan, the Australian Ambassador in Geneva. He did that in order to tell the Australian Ambassador that on no account was he to embark on any sort of co-operative effort to pursue those inquiries to which the motion of the Leader of the Opposition refers. Not one of those charges made individually or collectively against this Government is true. Let me state that firmly and avowedly at the beginning of my response to the motion of the Leader of the Opposition.

Let us look at the credibility of the man who makes the charges, for it is all predicated on Mr Richard B. Todd. Of course this is a little bit difficult. Mr Todd, of course, is virtually unknown in the banking field. His New York office, we are told, is actually his lawyer’s address. We are told that in fact his company was established in 1968, yet the Whitney, Todd and Company letterhead says that it was founded in 1901. Of course it is true that it was asserted and has been asserted by Mr Terry, Mr Whitlam ‘s private secretary, that: ‘Mr Todd is no fly-by-night. He is obviously involved in a lot of big deals. He is obviously a very respected member of his community. This is obvious when you walk around with him and go to his club and that sort of thing’. Suffice to know that the report in the Courier-Mail of 11 May suggests that is some way the personal private secretary of the Leader of the Opposition enjoys Mr Todd ‘s contacts. It is a wonder indeed that Mr Terry did not return via Iraq, but then perhaps that is where the Leader of the Opposition is going for the larger part of that 6-weeks tour that we see he is embarking on over the course of the winter months.

I think it is important that we look at this man, Mr Todd- this man who is involved in big deals. He does seem to have learnt one thing from Mr Whitlam, that is, if your first accusation does not work, make bigger and better ones, and if you are accused of something make sure you make an accusation rather than stay and face the music. The letter that Todd sent to the Prime Minister in March did not say that he, Todd, had spoken to anyone, but claimed that Mr Fancher had communicated with Ministers of the caretaker Government. It was only in May when the story seemed to be lagging that Todd discovered that he himself had spoken to Mr Anthony, to Mr Peacock and to Mr Lynch, and if this was not sufficient he also claimed there was someone in the Rural Bank of Australia behind the whole deal. He reached this conclusion after reading the documents that Mr Whitlam ‘s personal private secretary had shown him. Perhaps Mr Whitlam will now make charges against a member of the Reserve Bank. It is rather sad that the whole world seems to be conspiring against the Leader of the Opposition.

All Mr Todd’s claims are worthless. He immediately had to retract his claim that he had spoken to Mr Peacock. Todd said he was confused because so many names were mentioned to him and he had not really met any of the people concerned. So much for his claims of personal knowledge. So much for the attempts to represent him as a man obviously involved in big deals. Todd’s claims that Mr Fancher had been in constant daily contact with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) through Mr Lynch and Mr Anthony have been categorically denied by Mr Fancher. The only thing that can be said of Todd ‘s credibility, if there is a question of credibility in the case of a man whose every claim is either rebutted by others or rebutted by himself, is probably that it exceeds the credibility of the Leader of the Opposition. It can be said that Todd makes his claims against people who are living and can rebut them, unlike the Leader of the Opposition. Todd’s latest reported statement is that he cannot understand the Prime Minister’s attitude because the Prime Minister’s brother is such good friends with him, Mr Todd. As we all know, the Prime Minister has no brother.

The Opposition Leader has launched into a welter of charges based on Mr Todd’s word. As we now know, Mr Whitlam says Mr Todd is a reputable man. I think the interesting thing, and what I would like to talk about a little for a while in this debate, is the association that so obviously exists between Mr Todd and the former Labor Government. It is in that that I am quite sure the executive of the Labor Party yesterday had second thoughts about the priority that should be given to this motion of censure on the Government.

Mr Killen:

– More so today. Look at them.


– Their absence from the chamber demonstrates their support behind the charge. What the Labor Government sought to do, it will be recalled, was to borrow $4 billion. To be repaid was an unbelievable $19 billion. But its plan went astray when reputable financial institutions overseas began to ask questions. So it turned to other sources apparently not too fussy about the law or the ALP’s methods. We began to hear names like Khemlani, the Moscow Norodny Bank, then names like Richard B. Todd, Sundermann, Cohen and Bracey- a whole list of shadowy names to shadowy figures. Let me make this point to the House: No one had ever heard of these people until the Whitlam Labor Government scoured the back alleys of the banking world to turn them up- and to turn them up to do business with them, business involving incredible sums of money, incredible sums of commission and strange intricate means of getting this funny money into Australia for funny purposes. But Mr Whitlam says that Mr Richard B. Todd and, by inference, others associated with him are reputable men. It is on the charges of this reputable man, this man with whom he did his business, that the whole of this censure motion is based.

The ALP’s interim leader has based his attack not just against members of this Government but against the Queensland Premier on a number of assertions. First let me say that there are a number of assertions within the responsibility of the Commonwealth Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott). Let there be no mistake. If a charge is made about something falling within the responsibility of the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral, in every instance he investigates it according to the proper and correct function of the law. If any consequences flow the AttorneyGeneral, without fear or favour, exercises his responsibility. I therefore in no way seek to respond to the charges that are made with respect to moneys taken out of the country, other than to say that I regard the inferences against Mr Spann as totally uncalled for. There is a suggestion that in some incredible way an enormous sum has been collected around the bars of Brisbane. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition has ever tried to cash a cheque around the bars of Brisbane or anywhere else. I doubt whether he would be given any money. Even those of us who have some creditworthiness find it difficult to cash a $50 or $100 cheque, let alone one for the thousands of dollars that the charge of the Leader of the Opposition contains.

Let us go back to some of the background to Mr Todd and bis association with the Labor Party. I refer honourable members to clause 25 of Mr Todd’s notarised statement that has been tabled in the House this afternoon. It illustrates fairly effectively the credibility of the man. It states:

That, by letter from the Queensland Premier dated 14 November 197S and received by me on or about 16 November 1975, I was appointed financial adviser to the Premier of Queensland.

If you care to turn, Mr Speaker, to the Queensland Premier’s letter, you will find that that is not the form of words. Let me quote from the document. It has been tabled in the House and therefore there is little reason for tabling it yet again. It is a letter from the Premier’s Department under the hand of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland. It states:

I hereby appoint you my financial adviser concerning the loan raising efforts by the Australian Government that was dismissed on November 11, 1975.

I draw a distinction between the suggestion that the words ‘financial adviser’ are broad and embracing and the use of the words in the Premier’s letter. I think it is important that I draw that distinction because the whole of the involvement of the Queensland Premier, as has been explained in this Parliament, began as the result of a meeting on 2 November when we were in opposition and when, not unnaturally, we were highly alarmed at the overseas loan negotiations of the Whitlam Government, loan negotiations that led to a personal explanation by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) in this House but a total failure on the part of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) in any way or at any time to explain the charges that were made against him. So at the time the inquiries were first initiated through discussions with the Premier of Queensland, first, we were in opposition; secondly, we were greatly concerned with the whole of the circumstances of the loan raising efforts of the Labor Government; and thirdly, we were worried about what the longterm implications for this country might be. In case there might be any suggestion that these negotiations involved some type of deal with the caretaker Government after 1 1 November, let me revert to yet another letter. This is the letter to the Agent-General for Queensland, which also was tabled the other day, signed by Joh BjelkePetersen, which instructs the Agent-General for Queensland to pursue certain loan inquiries in association with Mr Richard B. Todd, to whom the charges referred this afternoon, in order to see what the circumstances of the loan raising efforts of the Australian Government were. This letter is dated 8 November 1975. The inquiry began while we were in opposition and in no way contravened any of the responsibilities or the charge that the Governor-General placed upon the Prime Minister.

I think that it is important that we recognise, first, that Mr Todd’s credibility is highly suspect and, secondly, that throughout the loan raising affairs of the Whitlam Government he was very intimately involved with a number of members of the ministry of the Whitlam Government with respect to those loan raising activities. As the Attorney-General has told this House, Mr Fancher obtained quite a deal of information, and the Queensland Premier felt it was his responsibility as a member of the Loan Council to pursue these inquiries. There has been some assertion that he should have made some statement to indicate on what basis and in what way the funds were made available to Mr Fancher. I think it is important that I refer honourable members to the Queensland Parliamentary Hansard of 23 March 1 976, when a full and complete statement was made by the Premier of Queensland with respect to all funds from the Queensland Government that have been involved in this transaction. I think all honourable members will do well to realise that any suggestion that the Queensland Government was involved has been totally explained within that explanation. The degree to which funds were committed has similarly been explained before the Queensland Parliament, wherein it is the responsibility of the Queensland Premier to make his response. The Queensland Premier not only made a statement in the Parliament but also made a separate statement. It was dated 10 May. I have a copy of it here and I may table if for the interest of honourable members. It sets down the position quite fully and firmly. It states:

No member of the caretaker Federal Government, Mr Fraser, Mr Anthony, Mr Lynch nor Mr Ellicott was involved in any way in my investigations. In fact, as Mr Fraser has said, the Australian Ambassador in Switzerland was specifically instructed not to assist.

This then was the Opposition’s first charge- that the caretaker Government had broken its undertaking. The Leader of the Opposition still seems obsessed with blaming everyone but himself for his crushing rejection by the decent people of Australia who were appalled by his Government’s deception, incompetence and mismanagement. That ploy has not worked so he now turns to trying to suggest that there is something corrupt in the Queensland Premier’s actions.

A few days after the Melbourne meeting, the Queensland Premier contacted Mr Fancher and asked him to come to Brisbane. As a result, the inquiries instigated by Mr Fancher began. I do not intend to go into the whole of the circumstances of those inquiries but Mr Fancher, Mr Rae and the Premier have all acknowledged some of the nature of those inquiries. Mr Fancher met Mr Todd and in the course of his discussions with Mr Todd some quite interesting documents came to light. There is one that I should like to table that was handed to Mr Fancher by Mr Todd. It is addressed to Mr Richard B. Todd. It is signed by Mr Herbert R. Burris, Attorney at Law, 19 West 44th Street, New York. The letter is dated 6 November 1975. It reads:

Dear Mr Todd:

This is to confirm that about March, 1975, Mr Humphrey J. Ellison-Rich, of London, England, told me that he contacted and discussed on the telephone with Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, arranging aloan for Australia.

Right through the whole of the loan inquiries who said he was not involved in loan inquiries? It was the then Prime Minister. I table that document.


– Leave is required.


-I table the document.


-Is the Leader of the House seeking leave to table the document?


-Is leave required?


-Leave is required from the honourable gentleman to table the document during the course of a speech. The Minister is entitled to table a document at any other time.


-I do not mind whether or not it is tabled in the circumstances. I seek leave to table it.


– Is leave granted?

Mr Keating:

– No.


-Leave is not granted.


- Mr Burris, I might add, just happens to be Mr Todd ‘s attorney.

Mr Keating:

- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The practice is that the Minister shows the document to the member of the Opposition at the table so that the document can be authenticated before leave is sought. The Minister has not done this; therefore leave was rejected.


– Just in case anybody does not know what was in the document, let me read it again. It is written by the attorney for Mr Richard B. Todd. It states:

Dear Mr Todd:

This is to confirm that about March, 1975, Mr Humphrey J. Ellison-Rich, of London, England, told me that he contacted and discussed on the telephone with Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, arranging a loan for Australia.

Very truly yours, HERBERT R. BURRIS

It is witnessed by David Davidoff, Notary Public, State of New York, qualified in Nassau County. It then gives his registration number. There are many other letters. There is a telex dated 1 April 1976 signed ‘Burris/for Whitney Todd’. It is addressed to a Mr Bracey, Sydney. It reads:

Re: 4,000 million US dollar loan Sir Thomas Buxton prepared to come to Australia, if desired, any time after April 15. Prior to visit, availability of funds can be confirmed.

There are so many of these telexes and telegrams. There is another that -


-I have so many of them. The point is that I do not really like to implicate to too great a degree all of the associations between Mr Todd and the loan borrowing efforts of the Labor Government, but I thought that perhaps there was one other reference I should make. Mr Todd supplied Mr Fancher with a copy of the log he kept of all telephone calls and telexes. It really does make quite extraordinarily interesting reading. All sorts of people seem to have been in contact with Mr Todd. We have mention of Dr Cairns. One entry states:

Mr R. F. X. Connors, Canberra, 730413 Deputy Prime Minister Interested up to 8B 10 -

I am told that means between 8 and 10 billion US dollars-

OK’d by Parliament and Prime Minister Overseas Development Geneva had all papers Discussed Nuclear Energy stated Japanese Company had been retained to advise Mr Connors and Government

The information that comes from some of these documents really is amazing. There is reference to a Mr Peter Fouwkes solicitor, London, whom I see made a statement the other day. The entry states:

Humphrey Ellison-Rich telephone Whitlam, PM of Australia on approx 17.3.75 as he didn’t think John Bracey was telling truth. He phoned Jakarta to say he could work direct thru Whitlam and didn’t need Bracey help. Godwine/Rich went to see Australian High Commissioner in London ref. Ok of paper work.

Sir Thomas Buxton prepared to go to Australia to confirm funds. Bracey Australia notified by Telex April 1st 1975 Code: Whitoddco/Godwin/Aus-75.400.

This is the man whom the Leader of the Opposition sent his personal private secretary around the world to see so he would find out who he was and what it was all about. When did he first make contact with him? I go on to the next line:

Godwin contacted Cairns at suggestion of PM Whitlam at this time via Telex AA 62372 COMTRES.

So at that stage of Dr Cairns’ loan-raising negotiations, honourable members will remember that the Leader of the Opposition, the then Prime Minister, said that he did not know anything of the negotiations. This man, Mr Todd, really has an extraordinary collection of records that associate the present Leader of the Opposition with him. I am rather surprised that he was prepared to do all this. Then at another stage of this same document, it is stated:

Mr Nagy/Mr George Harris. At Dolder Grant Hotel. After meeting Mr Harris stated he was going to Paris to meet Mr Cairns.

I should like to table that statement also. I seek leave to table that statement.


-Is leave granted?

Mr Keating:

– Yes.


-There being not objection, leave is granted.


– If there is any suggestion that in any way there were any efforts by the Queensland Government to borrow funds, I think it is true and needs to be said that Mr Fancher had said on a number of occasions that he sought to raise money for the cattle industry in Queensland. There has never been any denial of that. We have appreciated and accepted the fact that many people are concerned about the liquidity of people in the rural sector of the economy. Apparently Mr Fancher had this same concern. He wrote to the Queensland Government suggesting that funds might be made available. Suggestions were made by Mr Fancher to the Premier on a number of occasions that moneys might be made available if Mr Fancher were allowed to proceed in a way towards raising them.

I mentioned a statement that the Premier of Queensland made on 10 May, in which the Queensland Premier said that the Queensland Government was not seeking loans, but that it was true that others were seeking loans. As a result, the Queensland Premier found it necessary to refer the requests for these loans to the Federal Government. I know that people are worried about the degree to which people can borrow funds outside of Australia. There is a very correct and proper procedure as to the way in which such loan raising activities are reacted to. The Federal Treasurer responded on 14 January 1976 to an approach made through the Queensland Premier as a result of these loan raising exploits of Mr Fancher. I believe it is very necessary that I also read part of this letter to the House. It comes under the signature of Phillip Lynch. It states:

My officers have examined closely an offer of loan funds to the Commonwealth Government submitted by telex by Mr W. Fancher about whom you spoke to me.

The claims made by Mr Fancher have been carefully examined together with details of other oral offers which he has submitted to Treasury officers over many months.

In my role as Treasurer and as Chairman of the Loan Council I am required to arrange all borrowings, domestic and overseas, on behalf of the Commonwealth and the States unless the Loan Council agrees otherwise, by unanimous decision.

He continues:

I am sure you will appreciate my concern that, in the total context, Government borrowing be handled in the strictest conformity with the policy which has been enunciated. As I say, I am determined that this Government will avoid the mistakes the previous Government made in the area of overseas borrowings.

That is a perfectly correct and proper response in which the Federal Treasurer says in effect: ‘Thank you very much, but that is not the way in which this Government negotiates loan borrowing activity’.

I think it is necessary that we realise that in the whole of the climate of the allegations made by the Leader of the Opposition, he is relying entirely upon the circumstances that are presented to him by Mr Todd. Mr Todd is a man whose doubtful credibility appears through the whole of the circumstances of his loan raising efforts and his attachment to the past Federal Labor Government.

Without going through all the other documents that Mr Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, received as a result of the loan raising inquiries, I need only say that they demonstrate quite effectively that there is a continuing association between Mr Todd and Ministers in the former Labor Government. The documents demonstrate quite effectively the extent to which Ministers of the Labor Government were prepared to go in order to seek to raise an extraordinarily large sum of money without in any way having referred the whole of the character of those loans to the Australian Loan Council; in other words, acting in a manner quite outside the responsibilities of the Federal government and beyond the normal responsibility of a member of the Loan Council. I think it is in that context that we need to look at the whole climate in which the charge by the Leader of the Opposition is made.

There is one other charge that has been made and to which I want to refer before the debate concludes. Honourable members will remember that Mr Todd was engaged by the Queensland

Premier. I think it is important that we realise that the period of employment was only until 28 November. I have in my file a letter which I am quite happy to table. It says to Mr Todd: ‘Your services are no longer required’. It is written by Mr Wally Rae as Agent-General for Queensland and it states:

As we are now back in London, and to enable us to act in accordance with our agreement, I have to advise that your services as Financial Adviser are now terminated.

My personal thanks for your co-operation and company.

There is another letter dated Tuesday, 2 December 1975. It states:

Wally gave me the sack today. Very official and all that you know. I was shocked.

The letter is signed ‘Dick’. It is from Richard B. Todd. I seek leave to table those two documents.


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


– Both cf these documents demonstrate quite effectively the continued association; that the association was one that related only to the question of loan raising activities.

As to the question of fees, the Queensland Premier, again in the statement to which I have referred, stated the circumstances by which payment was made to Mr Todd. In those circumstances all that can be said is that neither in the allegations made against the caretaker Government nor on the basis of the credibility of the man making the charges has the Opposition any basis whatsoever to raise this censure motion against the Government. The whole of the credibility, not of the Government but of the man raising this matter and the Party that stands behind him, has again been put to risk simply because of the failure of that man to act in a responsible way. The motion itself has been passed up by the Executive of the Labor Party mainly because it was not prepared to raise this matter yesterday. There is no foundation in fact or substance in the motion and I move:


– The question is that the question be now put. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it. The question now is that -

Opposition members- A division is required.

Mr Sinclair:

– You did not call for it. You want to wake up.


– I am prepared to put the question again. If the member of the Opposition at the table engages in a cross fire of interjection across the table and does not hear the question put -

Mr Keating:

– I did not hear it.


-That was because you were engaged in cross fire. I will put the question again and I ask the honourable member to understand that the practices of the House must be observed.

Question put:

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)

AYES: 85

NOES: 32

Majority……. 53



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put.

That the motion (Mr E. G. Whitlam’s) be agreed to.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)

AYES: 34

NOES: 85

Majority……. 51



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 2199


Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented. The Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) produced a document alleging that I had spoken on the telephone to a Mr Humphrey Ellison-Rich, or some name like that, about March last year. I have never spoken on the telephone with anyone of that name or any name like it. I have spoken only once by telephone with anyone overseas about loans and that was Sir William Gunn. I do not recall ever having met a person bearing the name Humphrey EllisonRich or any name like that. When I was Prime Minister I introduced the practice of having a ministerial correspondence unit in my Department open and handle all letters addressed to me at any address. I do not recall ever having seen a letter from anyone bearing the name Humphrey Ellison-Rich or any name like it.

page 2199




-Are there any questions without notice?

Mr SINCLAIR (New England-Leader of the House)- I ask that any questions be placed on the notice paper.

page 2199


Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations · Corangamite · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present a report prepared by F. E. Emery and C. Phillips entitled Living at Work.

page 2199


Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations · Corangamite · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the fourth report of the Royal Commission on

Petroleum entitled The Marketing and Pricing of Petroleum Products in Australia.

page 2199


Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · Warringah · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the former Department of Environment for the period July 1974 to June 1975.

page 2199


Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · Warringah · LP

– Pursuant to section 8 of the Urban and Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Act 1974-1975 I present an agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Western Australia in relation to the provision of financial assistance for urban and regional development, 1975-1976.

page 2199


Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

– Pursuant to section 35 of the Student Assistance Act 1973 I present the report on the operation of that Act for 1 974.

page 2199


Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:

That leave of absence for one month be given to the honourable member for Indi on the ground of ill-health.

page 2199


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


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

The clear and dangerous threat to Australian democracy, law and order posed by public statements inciting mass action outside the parliamentary process.

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 clear and dangerous threat to Australian democracy, law and order posed by public statements inciting mass action outside the parliamentary process is a matter which we as patriotic Australians would ignore only at our national peril. I say that public statements inciting mass action come from . the enemy within this country. This year we are spending approximately $ 1,800m in the defence estimate for the purpose of protecting our country from the enemy without. I ask this Parliament to spend an hour or two now discussing the naked threat to our country from the enemy within. In recent years there have been calls from time to time from members of the extreme left wing of Australian politics that mass action should be resorted to because of their failure to gain admission to the parliamentary system. Regrettably comments have been made from time to time by insignificant back benchers, also on the left wing of Australian politics, urging revolution and urging people to take mass action when the parliamentary process did not come out as they expected. But the matter reached a high peak quite recently with reported statements attributed to a person of significance in this country. I refer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren). I used the words ‘reported statements’ because I will be dealing with what has been reported and what he has said, including statements to the effect that he had been misrepresented. 1 will be seeking to analyse the evidence. This House then will draw the conclusion I urge upon it, that is, that the making of statements along the lines of those reported and attributed to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are matters which no Parliament could ever ignore if it believes in democracy.

On 22 April 1976 the Deputy Leader of the Opposition addressed a meeting of students at the University of Western Australia and afterwards consented to answer questions. I repeat that the speaker was a man who is one heartbeat away from the Prime Ministership of this country in the unlikely event that the Australian Labor Party is ever returned to power in the foreseeable future. His comments at that meeting were reported in the media. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has twice publicly commented on those reports and has claimed in this House that he has been misrepresented. I wish to analyse the evidence available- what has been reported, what has been denied and, significantly, what has not been denied. I do so without rancour against the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whose personal courage and bravery in the Second World War I frankly admire, but the moment of truth has now arrived for him. He must either accept and justify the reported statements attributed to him or he must now publicly disown the remarks which attach to him the role of an inciter of mass action outside the parliamentary process.

The remarks attributed to Mr Uren are at best naive and misguided and at worst deliberately and dangerously provocative. I believe they are remarks which could involve the urging of mass uprising, revolution in the streets, and the total destruction of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law in this country. I repeat that no patriotic Australian can remain silent when such comments are made publicly let alone by a person holding the high office of Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

The obvious starting point at which to analyse the evidence and to make a fair assessment of whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did or did not say what is alleged against him is to look at the notes that his office issued at the time of his speech to the university students in Western Australia on 22 April 1976. A fair reading of that document confirms that there is no reference to mass action and no reference to some of the matters which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is reported as having said. But he did say 2 things which I think are significant and which must bring home to him that he must have known that what he was going to say was of national importance. He said this:

I don’t want to say very much but what I have to say concerns the Labor Party and the Labor Movement -

And I emphasise these words- throughout the whole of Australia- not just the Western Australian Branch of the Party.

A little further on he said what could be regarded as the understatement of the year for 1976:

I just want to make a few comments that are forwardlooking.

Forward-looking indeed! They were backwardlooking, to the extent, if those statements were made by him, that they pose the greatest public attack by a senior parliamentarian in this country on the parliamentary system under which we have operated since 1901. I and others are not prepared to let him go unchallenged in making remarks which threaten the continuation of the parliamentary process and the rule of law in this country.

A little later and in this chamber on 28 April, when the Press statements to which I will refer shortly had been brought to his attention and made the subject of some attack, he said this: 1 spoke at the Labor Club at the University of Western Australia. No accredited journalist was present. I spoke for one hour, with questions and answers and with only a 5- minute introductory comment.

A little later on he said that an editorial in the Australia ‘was based on a garbled report’. Then he said:

I said:

The real power lies outside of Parliament.

Then right at the end of personal explanation which sought to exculpate him he made the most damning admission of all, because he repeated in this House the thing which led to the reports in Western Australia, namely:

I said that Parliament was an important weapon but it was only one weapon that could be used in the democratic process.

In front of the nation I challenge the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to say what on earth he is talking about when he says that Parliament is only one weapon. What is the other weapon he is talking about? It is mass action and physical uprising. It is potential revolution. If it is not I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to be specific and say what in fact it is.

What did the Press say about this meeting which was not attended by an accredited journalist? I will refer to 3 newspapers and the first I turn to obviously is the West-Australian. The West-Australian quoted Mr Uren as having said this:

The ALP would have to act outside the parliamentary process if it could not bring about worthwhile changes to the ‘establishment’, the Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr Uren, said yesterday.

Parliament was an important weapon in this regard. But it was only one of the weapons that could be used in the democratic process.

Outside forces could also be employed.

What outside forces was he talking about? Was he inciting people into the streets? Indeed, that is what he was doing because later on he talked about the sort of thing done in respect of Vietnam. Then he added these classic words to this meeting which he said was not attended by an accredited reporter ‘What we should have done was to show our muscle and our might’.

What sort of muscle and might was he talking about? Was he talking about galvanising the union forces in this country to challenge the authority of the Parliament? It does not matter whether there is a Liberal government or a Labor government in office, if any group in the community is going to challenge the authority of the Parliament democracy is on the way out and totalitarian dictatorship is on the way in.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was reported also in the Canberra Times. I wonder how that newspaper got this report if there was no reporter at that meeting? It stated:

The ALP would have to act outside the parliamentary process if it could not bring about meaningful changes to the Establishment, the Deputy Leader of the Federal opposition, Mr Uren, said today. ‘If we can’t get results we will have to start to use more mass action’, he said.

Were those words plucked out of the air or was it that a second newspaper got the story wrong? It quoted him verbatim as saying this:

Parliament was an important weapon in this regard, but it was only one of the weapons that could be used in the democratic process. Outside forces could also be employed.

The third newspaper was the Australian and it headed its report as follows:

Uren hints at ‘ mass action ‘.

Again we see these words: . . . Parliament was only one weapon . . . What we should have done was to show our muscle and might.

The point I want to make is that in all the waffling of the personal explanation of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber a few days ago he never denied that he used the words ‘mass action’. He has never denied the fact that he said that Parliament was only one weapon. He has never explained what the other weapon is. He has never denied the fact that he said that we ought to resort to muscle and might.

Those statements are disgraceful. I say they are unpatriotic to the extent that they involve an attempt to break down the parliamentary system in this country and to replace it with street rabble revolution. The fact is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition came critically under attack. I refer to what was reported in the Australian when the matter was referred to in an editorial. That newspaper said that he was talking about ‘anti-democratic revolution’ and was advocating the first step towards a totalitarian regime. The editorial went on to say:

It cannot possibly represent Labor Party policy, and, if Mr Uren thinks it does, his party and his leader must rapidly rid him of the delusion.

No other senior member of the ALP has been prepared publicly to support what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was reported to have said. I will read further from the editorial to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred but whose contents he never denied. In fact he wrote a long letter to the Australian which that newspaper published, together with a photograph of him. He never denied in that letter that he had used the words ‘mass action’. He never denied it in that letter to the Australian on 4 May that he had talked about muscle and might. He never spoke at all in that letter about being misreported. I suggest that what he said let the cat out of the bag. In that letter to the Australian on 4 May he said:

It is my strong conviction that people must be involved in the issues that control their lives;

That is fair enough and I do not argue with that point, but then he went on to say: they cannot leave it only to the ballot box every three years. They must be on guard and meet the issues day by day.

What was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition saying? Was he saying that between each 3- yearly democratic election we should gather in little groups or big groups, that we should go into the streets, that we should preach violence and revolution, and that we should white-ant -

Mr Chipp:

– Bring the jackal out.


– That is right, bring out the jackboot. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants young impressionable students to become part of a sinister new guard in Australia in 1976 to impose socialism by force when the people rejected it through the ballot box on 13 December last year. It is not just Liberals who were appalled at the reported remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I repeat that he has never denied the main remarks attributed to him and reported in at least 4 newspapers by apparently separate reporters. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition came under fire in Tasmaniaand rightly so- from a trade union Leader. An article in a Tasmanian newspaper reported the remarks of the Tasmanian Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association. The report states:

A union leader and member of the State ALP executive has accused the Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr Uren, of inciting riot.

The State secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association, Mr Bill Wood, said yesterday that Mr Uren should be ‘hauled over the coals.’ Mr Uren told students at the University of West Australia last week that trade unionists and progressive thinkers should have taken over the centre of the capital cities.

Mr Uren had said: ‘What we should have done was to show our muscle and our might. ‘

Mr Wood, a genuine trade unionist, said that he wanted to know whether Mr Uren had been given the authority to make the statements on behalf of the ALP. The report continued: ‘In making them, Mr Uren incited the people of Australia to riot against the laws and freedom of Australia, ‘ he said. ‘1 hope all good ALP members bitterly oppose what Mr Uren said. ‘He is hinting that university students and industrial workers take over capital city centres at the next election, but he did not have the guts to say it before the December election.’

If the ALP continued not to recognise the fact that it had lost the election, continued to attack the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and Lady Kerr, and persisted with its slogan of ‘Shame, Fraser, shame’, it would lose more seats and votes. ‘Until the ALP gets back on the rails and puts forward positive and sincere policies, it will not win an election,’ Mr Wood said.

How right he is, Mr Speaker. The words I quoted from Mr Wood, the Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association in Tasmania, are words that have been uttered right around the country by thousands and thousands of Labor supporters. I suggest that the day of reckoning has now come for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition either to stand up and defend what he said or publicly to dissociate himself from it. If he does neither the judgment of Australia will be that the Australian Labor Party has as its Deputy Leader a man who would countenance mass action, physical violence, coming out in the streets and preaching revolution. Thank God the majority of members of the Australian Labor Party will reject such heresies, such incitements out of hand as the meanderings of a person who either did not know what he intended to say or said it without appreciating the serious consequences of his words. Mr Speaker, I give the honourable member the benefit of the doubt.

Mr Bourchier:

– You are too kind.


-Perhaps I am being too charitable. I give him the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he sometimes says things that he does not really mean. But now he has reached the time when he has publicly to concede his position. If he does not publicly get away from the position which he put in Western Australia, I suggest that he will bring nothing but shame and disgrace upon himself and a party which could be, but probably not for many years, a driving force in Australian politics.


– It is sad that smokescreens have been used by the people opposite who supported one of the most violent actions ever perpetrated against the Australian people. I refer to the stopping of Supply to the Australian Government. It was these same men who supported the violent action taken by the Governor-General- the sacking of a Prime Minister and an Australian Government that had a majority in the people’s house. It was these people opposite, these law and order men, who involved our young men in the bottomless pit of human suffering of Vietnam. It was these same law and order men who sent our young men overseas into that war of violence. An honourable member opposite shakes his head, but nowhere in the whole of Australia has a member of the Liberal Party or a member of the National Country Party ever dissociated himself from the violent action of Vietnam, with the exception of one person, namely, Senator Hannaford. This applies to members of any upper or lower House in any State parliament or in any previous parliament. We should talk about the violence of these men when they talk about law and order issues and try to raise smokescreens. They do not deal with the facts of the address I delivered to the students.

I dealt with where the real power of this nation lies. I set out in a letter to the Australian newspaper where the real power lies. So that we may clarify what I actually did say, I seek leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard a copy of the brief talk I gave on 22 April to the University of Western Australia and a copy of a letter which I wrote to the Australian on 30 April 1 976.


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

Deputy Leader of the Opposition


I don’t want to say very much but what I have to say concerns the Labor Party and the Labor Movement throughout the whole of Australia- not just the W.A. Branch of the Parry.

I think it’s better that we leave as much time as possible for your questions. I’ll try to answer them as honestly and fully as I can.

I assume that most of you have an interest in the Labor Party and that you are fairly well up on the events of the last six months.

I just want to make a few comments that are forward looking.

Let me say, at the outset, that I am very optimistic about the longer term future. Iam optimistic because I have faith in the ability of the people who back the Labor Party to make it a better Party, to bring it into shape to meet the challenge that this country faces, now and in the future.

The people who are the Party and will determine its future are young people like yourselves. I ‘ve been very impressed in the last six months, with the level of political awareness of many of the young people. Many times during the election campaign I’d hear comments from young people that showed much greater maturity and understanding of what’s really going on, than I heard from some of my colleagues in the ALP.

The people who are the Party, are the workers of the Labor movements. This is the Party’s real base- a fact that should be acknowledged by all people who look to the Labor Party for representation. The Labor movement is not only the Party’s real base, it is the whole Australian economy’s real base.

The Party also receives allegiance from all the progressive movements- from ethnic groups, the women’s movement, the environmentalists, the artists and what can broadly be called the peace movement.

Sometimes this allegiance is qualified. Sometimes the ALP doesn’t live up to the hopes of the progressive people. But, when it comes to the either/or choice, people have under the Westminster Parliamentary system, these people can at least feel some hope with the Labor Party.

As I said before, I am optimistic because all these people who are good people, are in some way or another with the Labor Party and are coming forward. They can, and I believe they will, remake the Labor Party.

You may well ask, how will this all happen? And I cannot really give you an answer.

I am well aware that the established Labor Party machinery at times does not seem very inclined to take advantage of the engergies of all these people, or to question itselfand change. But I am also aware that the Party is not so much an organisation, but a collection of people.

I am hopeful that the young, the workers and the progressive people will have enough energy to go into the Party and. uninvited by any of those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo, to remake it. I believe the people can remake the ALP to be the Party of the people.

There are just a few other related comments I ‘d like to make.

If you young, the workers, and the progressive people are to come together and remake the Party, it is necessary that each group and each individual is sympathetic to the position and the concerns of the others. A special maturity is required of the young, to understand and accept the views and attitudes of the older people. A special maturity is required of progressive people, to realise that some of their colleagues who are workers or just of an older generation may not have had the opportunity to broaden their horizons far enough to really understand by say certain environmental concerns, or the liberation of women.

In a way, it is an advantage for the Labor Party to be out of office at this time. When we were in office, our function was to preside over the established system and to maintain it. Yet that establishment system, and the vested interests that really control it, are in most cases opposed to the interests of the workers and of human (and humane) progress.

This is even more so, in times of economic difficulties such as are faced by the whole industrialised/capitalist world.

Now that we are out of office, we are free to give serious consideration to how we can really represent the long term interests of the people who look to us.

Finally, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I think all this is going to be easy. I don’t and it’s not. It means hard work. It means a lot of confusion and groping in the dark.

It requires of everyone who is going to take part, a lot of self-questioning, a lot of learning, and in many cases, a sort of internal revolution.

It means facing up to fairly fierce opposition, that will make the end of last year look like a storm in a tea-cup. But I think that the hope of seeing a more just, more humane society, and a more meaningful life for all people in the society, will make the effort worthwhile.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition 30 April 1976


The Australian’ Dear Sir,

Your Editorial of 24 April,’Uren’s Weapons’ was personal, misleading and intimidatory.

As much as I am tempted to be otherwise, I will try to be objective in reply. What was the situation?

I spoke to the Labor Club of the University of Western Australia. No accredited journalist was present. I spoke for over one hour with answers and questions with only a 5 minute introductory comment.

On what was your editorial based? It was based on a garbled report. In one question, I was asked, ‘Arising out of the November crisis and the sacking of the Whitlam Government, has the Parliamentary system failed, if so, what alternatives are available?’

I said, ‘The real power lies outside the Parliament’. I gave details of the power structure, for example, in the income year of 1972-73, the Taxation Commissioners Report revealed that 200 000 companies made a taxation return, but less than 400 companies- less than 2 per cent of all companies shared nearly 50 per cent profit of all companies and of those 2 per cent of companies most are multi-nationals.

The real power in this country lies in the multi-national corporations, the media and the Federal bureaucracy. The citadel of the Federal bureacracy was the Federal Treasury. They are the powerful sections of the system. Federal Treasury follows its own policies regardless of government.

I said Parliament was an important weapon but it was only one weapon that could be used in the democratic process. Forces outside Parliament had to be active if democracy was to function.

People must be involved, I contended, if we were to make an impact on the system. For example during the last Federal Election; if we were to fight elections on the sacking of the Labor Government, if we were to keep the people’s attention to the real issue, we should have had at least one or two national stoppages. They should have been co-ordinated demonstrations similar to the demonstration against the war in Vietnam.

I made the point that for at least the two Fridays before the 13th December, trade unionists and progressive people should have marched on the centre of capital cities, sat down and discussed rationally how a democratic government could have been sacked in the manner it was.

I explained that I did not think it would have changed the result of the elections, as no government in the western world at this period of history could survive when the Opposition is able to choose the time for an election.

I gave as an example the failure of the Gaullists in France, the success of the socialists and communists in local government elections in that country, and the failure of the social democrats in State elections in Western Germany, and the fear of the communists being elected to Government in Italy.

I said capitalism in the western world was in a crisis situation.

May I say quite clearly that I will not be intimidated by the publishers of ‘the Australian’. I was a demonstrator, a participator at the grass roots level, before I was a Minister for Urban and Regional Development, before I was Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party. I went to gaol for my convictions against the brutality and stupidity of the police in their illegal action against me when I was protesting against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. I fought power and privilege for 61/2 years in the courts of this country, the State Supreme Court of New South Wales, the High Court of Australia, and the Privy Council in London. Even then I received justice from the people not from the judiciary.

It is my strong conviction that people must be involved in the issues that control their lives; they cannot leave it only to the ballot box every three years, they must be on guard and meet the issues day by day- it may only need to be a letter to the newspaper or a protest to your local politician but where it warrants it, it may need mass action, a mass protestwhether that action be the Victorian farmers marching on Melbourne, or people demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, or trade unionists demonstrating for economic justice, or ratepayers demonstrating against their Council’s rezoning of their living area from a low ratio residential development to high rise, or it might just be a protest march to protect a pan of our national heritage. The issue will determine the magnitude of the action taken by the people.

That is my position, I am not a demogogue- during my lifetime in politics I have tried to work collectively with people and I am continually examining my position- drawing on my experiences to make myself better able to serve the people and assist to create a more just, a more equal and more humane society.

Yours sincerely, TOM UREN


-I thank the House. I dealt with the matter in some detail. I asked the students: Where does real power lie in this nation? I said that it does not really lie in the Australian Parliament; it really lies in the powerful companies, the monopoly sections, the media and the federal bureaucracy. I explained to the students that of the 210 000 companies that lodged a taxation return in 1972-73 fewer than 400 of them, less than 0.2 per cent, actually earned nearly 50 per cent of all company profit. In the 1972-73 income year company profit was $4,000m. Fewer than 400 companies shared approximately $2,000m. Most of those companies are multinationals. They are one of the great dominating powers of Australia.

The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) is trying to put up a smokescreen. The so-called economic package that is to be introduced into this Parliament will really be an attack on the wage-earning capacity of workers; that is where the attack will be. The Government will attack on 2 issues. It will minimise Government expenditure, the money that governments can spend indirectly to assist people by raising their health standards and improving their hospital and education facilities, assisting with urban problems and social problems. These will be affected by the attacks. Money will be diverted to the very powerful sector. That is what will be involved. I explained this to the students. I said that Parliament was a very important section of democracy, but if we are to make democracy function we have to be alert at all times.

The letter I have incorporated in Hansard sets out in detail clearly what I said. I said that part of the democratic process might need to be only a letter to the editor, a protest to one’s politician, a demonstration or protest to one’s local council on the re-zoning by that council of an area from low density to high density. It could take the form of a demonstration by farmers, as they demonstrated in the centre of Melbourne in March 1970. The demonstration in Melbourne on 23 March 1970 was addressed by the now Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who was then the Minister for Defence. Tens of thousands of farmers marched on that city. They had the right to demonstrate at that time because they were concerned about economic issues.

Honourable members opposite talk about demonstrations. Let us look at what the honourable member for Denison had to say in a question he asked on 29 April 1976. He said to the Minister representing the Minister for Education:

He would be aware that today is £ day and that several thousand teachers and parents from many parts of Australia have travelled to Canberra to put the case of education to this Parliament.

Of course there were thousands of teachers outside Parliament House demonstrating in accordance with their rights. It is hypocrisy that this matter of public importance should have been raised.


– Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.


-Well, I say that the honourable member has the audacity -


– Order ! The honourable member will withdraw as requested.


– I withdraw. With respect, I would not have changed the word if I had not withdrawn. The honourable member has the audacity to raise this as a matter of public importance. It is all right for the Friends of the Earth to demonstrate outside this building. It is all right for teachers to come to Canberra to demonstrate. That is a respectable demonstration. On 27 April 1976 the member for Braddon (Mr Groom) asked a question of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in which he said:

Has it been brought to the attention of the Minister that a number of prominent farmers from north-west Tasmania are planning to block public streets and highways in Tasmania with tractors and farm machinery to draw attention to their desperate plight?

That was a question by a Government supporter so why should I not talk about the Government as a whole as a government of hypocrisy? Of course it is a government of hypocrisy. Its supporters have a law for one section but not the other. For too long supporters of the Government were able to send our young men to Vietnam. They were able to do so by using their numbers in this Parliament. They ignored our protests against Australian involvement in Vietnam. And what did members of the Labor Party have to do? We had to go to the people and ask them to demonstrate non-violently against the actions of the government of the day. We asked them to show their indignation at the violence with which the then Australian Government was associating itself. My colleague, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), who will follow me in this debate, led some one hundred thousand demonstrators into the streets of Melbourne. It was a sight such as Melbourne had never seen before. I was associated with similar demonstrations in Sydney. I was proud of that association and I was prepared to meet the violence and corruption of the police at that time. I went to gaol in 1971 because members of the police force perjured themselves and there was a conflict of evidence in the court. But one must have the courage of his convictions.

The honourable member for Denison spoke of reports of my remarks in Perth appearing in many newspapers. The honourable member is just an infant in this Parliament so I should give him a lesson. It is a fact of life, unfortunately that the same report of what happens in this Parliament appears in many newspapers throughout the nation. It is syndicated. The Press proprietors want to cut down on the wages of journalists. They do not want journalists to be independent. One journalist makes a report which is syndicated to all newspapers throughout Australia. I said earlier that there was not an accredited journalist at the meeting at which I spoke. Consequently one phoney and distorted report was made.

Mr Hodgman:

– Are you saying that the report was not the truth?


– I say that a phoney and distorted report was made. That report was syndicated throughout the country. What I stand by is my letter to the Australian newspaper and the copy of my address which I have had incorporated in Hansard. If honourable members want to question any of the facts in my letter to the Australian or any of my remarks in my opening address to that meeting I will answer them, but I will not be judged by innuendo. The honourable member can read my letter. I have been prepared to stand against power and privilege, even in the courts of this land. I have faced power and privilege. I have confronted the Packer Press and the Fairfax Press. I took the Packer Press to a jury of twelve, then to the Full Supreme Court of New South Wales, then to the Full High Court of Australia and then to the Privy Council. This was followed by a second trial and then I went back again to the New South Wales Full Supreme Court. When honourable members want to talk about power and privilege, I know something about what happens where real power lies. I have not been cowed by people who have real power so I will not be cowed by a lightweight such as the honourable member for Denison. So far as I am concerned, we must stand up for our rights. People should not restrict their means of demonstration to elections for the Parliament. They should use their right to demonstrate between elections whenever they determine it is necessary. In a democratic society people must be involved and must challenge and rechallenge policy proposals. That is the only way by which we will get an honest society.

The real issue involved in this debate is not what I did as a member of the Parliament. Earlier today a motion of censure was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). This matter of public importance is a smokescreen to take real pressure off the Government in respect of its economic policies. Those Government supporters who timidly expressed concern about the Government’s proposal to discontinue the $40 funeral benefit for pensioners are aware of the present economic chaos and the squeeze and crunch to come as a result of actions by the Federal bureaucracy. But they, as mere backbenchers, will toe the line. The real decisions are being made outside this Parliament and they will have little to say about them. This should be understood. The more the Australian people understand the situation the more they will seek to be involved in our society and consequently the more honest they will try to make our society function.

St George

-Throughout the world democracies are under threat. Democracy is also under threat in this country. Violence has been the history of the human race and it will be the history of any race whose political leaders advocate it. We have not been able to rid ourselves of violent action in all the time that people have been on this earth. Democracies have been tried and, to an extent, very successfully in recent times as a means of settling disputes amongst groups of people in a society without recourse to violence. If people are not able to see in their political leaders a clear denunciation at all times of the use of violence then we are on the road to violence.

The question is: What were the meanings of the words used by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) in Perth a few weeks ago? The facts can be read only one way, namely, that the words reported in the newspapers were substantially correct because of 2 factors. Firstly, the honourable member did not avail himself of the opportunity in this House at an early time to make a personal explanation as to having been misreported. This matter was first raised in this House by myself and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) on Wednesday, 28 April, in the adjournment debate at 10.30 p.m. Secondly, the honourable member has failed to deny the report, as he has been asked to do time and again by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), and to indicate what were the words that he used. We can only accept the facts as they have appeared and, even more importantly, what appears from his words in this House on 28 April.

The honourable member for Reid does not know the meaning of the word ‘violence’. That is where the whole trouble has arisen. Many members of the Australian Labor Party do not know the meaning of the word ‘violence’. If I hit the desk in front of me it is violence. If I tell the honourable member that he does not know what he is talking about it is not violence; it is assertion. The plain difference is obvious to anybody who has ever walked for one day on this earth. Here we have a man who says that it was a violent action to refuse Supply. That was not violence. He is talking rubbish. That was action at a political level. There was not one ounce of violence in it. When the honourable member talks about violent forces outside the Parliament bringing about the sacking he simply does not understand the meaning of the word ‘violent’. No matter how one looks at what happened in those times before Christmas, one cannot in the slightest term it as a matter of violence. Violence is physical action.

What did the honourable member mean when he said: ‘They should have taken over the centres of the capital cities and showed their muscle and might’? What he was saying, what he was allowing people in this country to believe that he was saying, what he was allowing impressionable people to act upon was a statement of violence and an incitement to violence- and that is the crucial issue. When that sort of view is expressed by a man who is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party- a Party that has had a great history in this country despite the fact that some of its members have those sorts of views- and when that view is expressed by the Deputy Leader of the alternative government of this country it means that this country is on the road to violence if the Labor Party ever gets back into power.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has also talked about the matter being one in which the magnitude of the issue shall determine the action to be taken by the people. I uphold to the full every man’s right to free speech, to association, to walk down the streets, to say: ‘I do not agree with what Australia did in Vietnam’, to come here and lobby and say: ‘We want more money for education and the pensioners’. Every man is entitled ‘ to express himself in that way and, within the law, to go into the streets and say: ‘We are here as a peaceful protest’. The whole question again is: What is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s meaning of ‘mass action’? When he advocates mass action, when he does not know what violence is and when he says: ‘The issue involved determines the magnitude of the action’, he is saying: ‘We will decide whether any individual issue warrants our taking violent action’.

I, as well as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, have at a time in my life been a practitioner of violence in the military arena. He would know as well as I that, taking the average man as an example, if one gives a wink or a nod, if one incites or if one says: ‘Do the wrong thing’- this never happened with the Australian forces in Vietnam- people will act violently That is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has done and that is why he has been quite cogently and properly criticised by the Australian newspapers and his own trade union leadership. Let him say quite clearly that he believes in peaceful, careful, sensible demonstrations or representations to politicians. We agree with action of that kind. Let him say that between elections it is proper to write to one’s member and try to put legitimate views to him. We agree with that. But if he talks about ‘mass action’ and says: ‘We will determine the magnitude of the action’, and if he allows his words to be read by the people as in any way appearing to be an advocacy of violence, he is abusing entirely the role of a senior parliamentarian in this country. He is advocating action and he knows it.

Many times we have heard members of the Labor Party say: ‘It is your system, not ours’. They say: ‘The parliamentary system is yours. We have, through our movement, fought our way for years against the conservatives. It is the conservatives’ parliamentary system and we are going to fight against it’. We have heard that before from a number of members of the Opposition. The facts are that many of those men really see life as nothing more than a straight out power struggle amongst groups. They do not care anything about the particular status of any institution or group other than its assistance to them to exercise what power they can within the community at large. They give no status to the Parliament; they have no consideration for it. We have at times by our own behaviour in the Parliament allowed the public in some cases to look down on us or even despise us. The press has at times tended to promote that attitude. But

I believe that the Australian people have the utmost respect for and confidence in the Parliament itself as an institution.

After there is an election in this country there is a change from one side of the House to the other. That happens not because the police come in and throw out certain people; it happens because offices have been vacated as a result of an election. That is the Parliament. That is the power of the Parliament. We should increase the power of the Parliament. We do not have any history or any suggestion, for example, of the armed forces in this country ever being under the political sway of one party or another. They are subject to the government of the day. That is the Parliament. That is the power of the Parliament. We have a question time. It may be sensible even to increase the power of that, perhaps by permitting supplementary questions to be asked. That could be a further method by which the Opposition would be able to attack the Government. Of course, we have seen recently puerile attempts by the Opposition to use even question time properly. Its performance has been poor, to say the least. There are very few members of the Opposition present even now to listen to this debate.

We know that in totalitarian countries the restraints upon the use of military power by the leaders of those countries are far less than they are in a democracy because those leaders are not subject to the constraints of public opinion or to having someone come down the road, knock on the door and say to their local member: ‘We do not like what you are doing about sending our kids to Vietnam’. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked of what we did there. The facts of life are that in the Soviet Union one does not have any say, and one does not have any say in many other countries. The fact is that the Parliament is the subject and the servant of the people, and until the Labor Party tries to make the system work more efficiently, until all groups in this community co-operate and realise the need to support the Parliament, we will get far less support in this country for real democracy. Indeed, I am not so sure that the Labor Party is even concerned with proper democracy.

The question is: What is the role of a politician? I repeat: If he does not exercise scrupulous care in making sure that his words are seen to be sensible and moderate, if he is seen to be advocating or inciting violence, violence will be the result. We must support the Parliament. The words that have been used are a direct affront to it. Honourable members on this side of the House will not have one bar of them, nor will the Australian people.

Dr J F Cairns:

-I do not know the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil), but if I were to judge between him and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) as to who was most inclined to use violence I would say that the honourable member for St George has just proved that he would be. I think the whole of his speech illustrated the kind of violent potential that rests somewhere within his character, in contrast to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who shows none of that. I would say that the violence that has occurred in the history of this nation has come much more from honourable gentlemen like the honourable member for St George than from honourable members of the kind who are on this side of the House. I think violence has always been identified with the conservative forces, with the conservative parties, with the conservative governments. Those governments always have been the first to put this nation into war. It was those governments that put this nation into the war in Vietnam and stood behind that violence all the time. Violence is the act of states, the act of governments. Violence is not the act of people. Rarely do people ever use violence in any situation. Violence is the act of states and the act of governments. If one wants to understand violence one has to understand it as the act of a government. Rarely is there any record of individuals having chosen violence in the course of political action.

Essentially this debate represents an alternative view of what democracy really is and I think that alternative view is a very important one. But a good deal of the time has been taken up in discussing what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said. He has told honourable members opposite what he said but they do not believe him. They go back to those newspaper reports that he said were not true. Honourable members opposite all know that if newspaper reports are true it is by accident. They all know what happens in the case of newspaper reports, even if no accredited journalist is present. The story is picked up and it is syndicated around Australia. When a mistake is made in the first place that mistake is spread around the country. Honourable members opposite know that very well. You people opposite were not satisfied to accept that what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in the House was what he in fact said. If that is the standard that the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) and the honourable member for St George are going to set during the rest of their time in this place then I have very grave doubts about the validity of this parliamentary process insofar as they represent it. If they have no respect for a man on this side of the House they can have no respect for one on the other side.

Let me tell honourable members opposite that I think the tragedy in this nation is the lack of confidence in the ordinary people- those in the galleries and those outside this place- that they can do anything in the government of this country. The tragedy in this nation, as in so many others, is the widespread feeling people have that they cannot do anything about governmentthat it does not matter very much which Party is in office, there is nothing much they can do in the government of their own country. That is the tragedy. Honourable members opposite want it to remain that way. They want to discourage anybody from taking any sort of action. They want to leave the power where it is. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made it very clear where power is in this nation. He said power does not lie in this Parliament. If honourable members opposite have not found that out yet, they will before long. In 21 years I have found out that power does not lie in this Parliament. Power lies elsewhere. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out that there are 210 000 companies in this nation which, in addition to having more than 50 per cent of the company income of this nation, control over 75 per cent of its property and assets- of everything that is worth while. Wealth is power.

The media are part of that situation.

Mr Hodgman:

– Rubbish.

Dr J F Cairns:

-Of course it is rubbish but it should not exist. It is the rubbish which is at the core of power in any country of this kind and unless the people are prepared to do something for themselves, unless they can derive confidence to do something for themselves, they will be ruled by those places where power is. How can anyone compare the power of a man who owns 6 television stations and 3 national newspapers and countless small newspapers all over the country with the power of a person sitting in the gallery of this Parliament? Of course the owner of a newspaper chain or the owner of a television station network is a thousand times more powerful than an ordinary citizen of this country. That is where power lies, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out. Unless the people of this nation realise that power lies in those places- in the factories, in the huge banks, in the stores, in the media- then they will never be able to govern themselves.

What is democracy? Democracy is participation by the people in whatever they can in the government of themselves. Democracy is not simply dropping a ballot paper into the box once every 3 years and doing nothing but listening to radio, watching television and reading newspapers until the next time you vote. Is that a definition of democracy? Democracy is not passive consent. Democracy is active participation in every conceivable way that a person can and there is little enough that a person can do. ( Government supporters interjecting)

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!

Dr J F Cairns:

-It does not matter, Mr Deputy Speaker. You might call them to order but I think that interrupts me more than it interrupts them. I think democracy is participation. Democracy is doing whatever you can when you can. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, democracy is writing letters to the newspapers, attending meetings, going to demonstrations, taking part in marches. Of course these things are democracy and unless you people opposite realise the significance of participation you miss the meaning of democracy completely and constantly you miss the meaning of democracy except for your own kind. I suppose the honourable member for Denison would not object to Tasmanian apple growers marching in the streets to demonstrate that things were bad among apple growers. I am sure that he should not also complain about members of the trade unions marching in the streets to show that things are bad as far as workers are concerned. I am sure that he should not complain about ordinary people marching in the streets to show that they are against a particular war that we might happen to be involved in. I am sure that he would agree with all those things.

What is the point that he is complaining about? It seems to me there are 2 words involved. They are ‘mass action’. As if there is something wrong with mass action! I hope there are enough people today who feel that it is worth while to do something to bring about mass action in Australia. The trouble is there is far too much feeling that you cannot do anything about things. There is far too little concern among the people of Australia. There is no issue that seems to move them very much. I think that is what the people opposite ought to be complaining about, not the possibility that people suddenly might do something. What are you people opposite scared of ? Should you not be really saying that the kind of country we want is the kind of country in which there are people who really feel concern about something, people who feel that they have to do something to show their meaning and bring home to people whatever view they might have? Why are you people opposite continually trying to scare the people with all these stories about violence? It is because you want to silence them. It is because you want the people with power- the people for whom you are an agent- to hold that power and to exercise it. You want to scare the ordinary citizen into not taking any kind of action in the government of himself, and everybody knows that that is what government is.

Everybody knows that it has been an unending struggle of the ordinary citizen to get anywhere at any time in the government of his country. He has had to win power from the barons and from the lords in other countries from which we have come. He has had to win power from the squatters, and the squatters are back in office again and they have provided us with a Prime Minister. We know that power lies where there is wealth and we know that if you have not got wealth you have not got much power. The only way in which the ordinary citizen can offset the power of wealth is by some kind of participatory action. There is no one in this country who has had more experience of this than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and myself for that matter, and no one has counselled peaceful action, effective action, more than we have. We on this side of the House know far more about what democracy is and we know far more the harm that violence does- the violence that the people opposite have stood for. We know far more the harm that violence does than do honourable members opposite and how important it is that the ordinary citizen, when he is acting in the government of himself and his own country, his own nation and amongst his own people, should not participate in violence. I had the honour to be at the head of a movement of 100 000 people in the city of Melbourne and we proved that when the people act they act peacefully. Violence is an action of government.

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

page 2209




-I seek the indulgence of the House to raise a matter. Throughout the debates which have taken place today there have been continual interruptions from the paging system which according to the contracts let is not supposed to work in this chamber. Will you, Mr

Deputy Speaker, ask that this be investigated? I think it is quite wrong that members in this chamber should have paging devices beeping all the time.


– I will pass the honourable member’s comment on to Mr Speaker and ask him to have the matter looked at.

page 2210


Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP

– I move:

I do not intend to address the House for very long on this motion. Essentially the purpose of the additional 2 sitting days is to ensure that to the maximum we dispose of the business of the House before the Parliament adjourns for the winter recess. A Premiers Conference is currently scheduled for the week following 4 June, and I believe that if practicable it is desirable for the Parliament to rise after these 2 additional sitting days proposed. Nonetheless, as I intimated to honourable members yesterday, it is quite possible that we will be sitting during the week after 4 June, and whether it will be on the Tuesday and Wednesday, or the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will depend essentially upon the ability of the Parliament to proceed with, deliberate on and conclude its legislative measures which the Government now nas on the notice paper and others that I hope will be listed within the next few days. I commend the measure to the House.


– It is not the Opposition’s intention to oppose this motion. The additional sittings unfortunately are made necessary by what appears to be a regular practice or lack of practice of the House in ordering its business. I think it is fair to say that for the first four to five weeks of the sittings of the House virtually no business came forward. Now at the end of the session, as appears to be the normal practice, we will have a rush of major business. Some of the business is extremely important. We will be asked to pass it without, in many cases, the levels of debate which are desirable.

Mr Bourchier:

– We will give you more time than you gave us.


-That may well be so. That does not necessarily mean that what was done in the past was correct. We are under extreme legislative pressure at the moment and will be in the next one or two weeks because of economic decisions which have been made somewhat in haste which will be required to be passed by this House before the winter recess. These are obviously measures introduced in panic. They are measures which the Government hopes will satisfy the magic wand formula that it undertook to introduce when it sought election. The Opposition hopes that they work but has grave doubts. The Opposition does not oppose the motion before the House but points out that at some time somewhere it should be possible for governments to order their programs so that the business comes forward during the whole of the sitting rather than during the last two or three weeks, as appears to be the practice which no one has proved can be avoided.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2210



-I present the Third Report of the Publications Committee.

Report- by leave- adopted.

page 2210


Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Viner, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

-I move:

This annual States Grants Bill will provide legislative authority for the payments of grants to the States, for Aboriginal assistance programs undertaken by the State governments during 1975-76. It follows the pattern of States grants legislation of previous years. I seek the agreement of the House to the incorporation in Hansard of several tables of expenditure. Table 1 sets out the estimated expenditure under State grants for various broad functions in 1975-76. 1 seek leave to have that table included in Hansard.


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


– Table 2 sets out actual expenditure for the 1974-75 financial year. I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.


– Table 3 shows the pattern of appropriations to the States for Aboriginal affairs programs from 1969-70 to 1974-75, including proposed allocations for 1975-76. 1 seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.


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


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


-These tables will show to Parliament the breadth and scope of the Commonwealth’s activities to overcome Aboriginal disadvantage in co-operation with the States.

This financial year a total of $ 192.065m was appropriated for direct Commonwealth Government expenditure on Aboriginal Affairs- an increase of 2 1.5 per cent over the $ 158m actually spent in 1974-75. Of this year’s funds, $145.8m was to be spent through my Department either directly in the Northern Territory and by direct grants to Aborigines or organisations; through grants to the States or through related Government companies and statutory bodies. The balance was to be expended by other departments with which my Department acts in close collaboration such as the Department of Health, the

Department of Education for study grants, secondary grants and special programs in the Northern Territory, and the Department of Housing and Construction in the Northern Territory. My Department was able to achieve savings of about $3m in the States grants program in support of the Government’s action in restraining the growth of Government expenditure this financial year in order to control the size of the Budget deficit. As with other savings, our aim was to meet commitments made and avoid major disruption to programs, an objective I am satisfied has been achieved. I seek leave to incorporate table 4, which is a statement showing how the $ 192.065m was allocated.


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


-These 4 tables will provide honourable members with information on the wide range of funding undertaken by my Department through both grants to the States and direct administration of the Department. The mere words and figures do not of themselves reflect the deversity of programs and projects undertaken nor the divergent problems of urban, fringe dwelling and remote communities of Aborigines with which the Government must cope.

This Bill is not the occasion to discuss all these matters in detail but for the moment I will shortly outline some of my actions and objectives since assuming responsibility. Since coming into office the Government has embarked upon a review and re-assessment of programs aimed at eliminating waste and inefficiency, providing real value for money spent and establishing a firm foundation for future reforms and sound long term policies. The Government is expected to receive shortly the report of the inquiry conducted by Mr David Hay into services financed by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

In recognising the valuable contribution which is being made by the States in supporting the Commonwealth’s programs for Aboriginal Affairs, the Government will be keen to explore ways in which its primary objective of developing Aboriginal self-management and Aboriginal self-sufficiency can be meshed in with the need to continue ongoing programs. The principles of Aboriginal self-management and self-sufficiency are not only major objectives of the Government’s policy but will, it is believed, have a cumulative effect in freeing Aborigines from

over-dependence on government and removing all taint of past paternalism. Wherever possible through direct grants Aboriginal organisations are funded to carry out programs apart from those performed by Commonwealth and State government departments.

It is our aim to find ways in which Aborigines can play a more significant role in their own affairs. This includes the setting of long term goals and objectives, establishing priorities for expenditure within overall budget allocations and evaluating programs and formulating new ones. Some States already have machinery for involving Aboriginals in their programs and for consulting with them. Within the Government’s pursuit of a real policy of federalism I would hope to promote in co-operation with the States, a higher degree of involvement of Aboriginals in State programs in line with our own policies for direct funding of Aboriginal organisations throughout Australia. This is not to be regarded as an excuse for delaying steps towards a greater degree of Aboriginal involvement. In saying this there needs to be recognised the problems which Aboriginal organisations face in accumulating managerial, administrative and other expertise as they move to more responsibility for their own affairs.

The Government will foster State participation in concert with its policies on federalism where it is seen that State agencies are the most appropriate avenue for assisting in Aboriginal affairs programs. However, I would remind honourable members that, with the co-operation of almost every State Government, arrangements have been made for the Commonwealth, through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, to assume a major role in policy and administration in the States following the decision of the Australian community in the 1967 referendum. There is already a high level of co-operation with the States and I aim to build upon it. Since 1974-75 the Commonwealth has assumed responsibility for Aboriginal affairs in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. In Western Australia responsibility is a joint Commonwealth-State one pursuant to an agreement between the State and the Commonwealth. My Department’s presence in Queensland continued to increase in 1975-76 whilst at the same time expanding the provision of grants to the State Government.

There is foreshadowed in the coalition parties’ policy statement on Aboriginal affairs the establishment of new funding accounts. I am looking at these as a basis for future reform.

The Government has initiated certain measures aimed at improving the level of consultation with Aboriginal people. The appointment of a committee of inquiry to review the functions and role of the NACC, that is, the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee, is the most important of these measures. Three of the 4 members are Aboriginals. As I have stated previously it is not the Government’s intention to abolish the NACC. Our objective is to determine the most appropriate role for it within a total framework of consultative arrangements which ensure that differences in the situations, culture and diversity of life styles of Aboriginals throughout Australia are recognised. The interests of the more traditional communities in remoter parts of the country are not the same as those of urban Aboriginals. We have announced that a major legislative commitment in the early life of this Government will be the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory which I expect to introduce before this autumn sitting ends.

Since my appointment as Minister, I have become aware of the need to institute policies at the national level to improve the relationships between Aborigines and police. I will not dwell again on the statement I made concerning the royal commission’s report on the incidents at Laverton and Skull Creek in Western Australia other than to indicate that more needs to be done in achieving a greater level of understanding of the problems of Aborigines by those who enforce the law. This circumstance has highlighted the good sense of the Government parties in identifying cross-cultural understanding in their Aboriginal affairs policy as a matter of high priority.

This is so because it is not until we, as Australians, come to accept the problems of minority groups living by their different historic cultural values that better race relationships can be established. We would aim to promote Aboriginal history and culture programs through the primary schools and other measures designed to give effect to these goals. In many respects one of the most disturbing effects of contact with traditional Aboriginal communities is the destruction of their social and cultural organisation with the resultant inability of some groups to withstand the shock of the clash of cultures. Fortunately the destructive force of the forced abandonment or plain disdain of traditional Aboriginal social structures is now being recognised.

The problem of alcohol is a much discussed but less understood symptom of this situation. Aboriginal groups and communities have shown their desire to deal with the problem. More traditional communities have done this by their own control of the availability of alcohol within the community. Individuals in more urban situations have shown their wish to play an important part in the treatment programs. What is being done here is a good example of Aboriginal involvement and the range of activities supported by the Government. Various Aboriginalrun pick-up services, night shelters and half-way houses are already operating very successfully. A recent national seminar funded by the Government on Aborigines and alcohol recommended the use of predominantly Aboriginal staff in treatment programs; that courts and ambulances refer Aboriginal alcoholics and problem drinkers to Aboriginal services; and that Aboriginal/ police steering committees be set up in each State to co-operate on the legal aspects of drunkenness and arrest. To assist and develop these services $288,330 has been allocated in the current financial year to voluntary organisations working in the field. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs has before it a reference on alcoholism and Aborigines.

Employment training and support programs are an important element in activities aimed at overcoming disadvantage. In conjunction with my colleagues, the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), I am reviewing the relationship between widespread Aboriginal unemployment and social consequences, in many cases disastrous for communities in remote areas, of the payment of unemployment benefits. In conjunction with my colleagues, the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) and the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt),

I am considering and reviewing the needs of Aboriginal people in those areas against the background of the coalition parties’ policy statement. There have been significant developments in the field of education and the attention which has been given to programs in this area is beginning to show results.

An examination of the tables and some of the points that I have made indicate the wide range of our programs, the inter-relationship between the various areas of activity and the need to cross functional boundaries in order to achieve results. In much the same way as we must act at the Commonwealth level to co-ordinate programs with other departments, we must necessarily do the same between the Commonwealth and the States. What I have said also points to the particular responsibilities which the Government faces in developing national policies in Aboriginal affairs. I have not attempted to provide an extensive exposition of whet is being done by and through my Department in the field of Aboriginal affairs. I have sought to give an outline of what lies behind the bare figures presented in the tables as indicative of the range of activities in which the Government is currently engaged in meeting the needs of Aboriginal people. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.

page 2215


Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Adermann, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Honourable members on this side of the House will know that the aim of the Government, and a clear commitment in our election policy announcements, is to bring the Northern Territory to ultimate statehood. This aim was reflected in the Governor-General’s Speech on 17 February last, in the following words:

In line with its policy of developing governmental authority, the Government will progressively act to confer executive responsibility on the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory with the objective of advancing the Territory to statehood.

The Northern Territory is poised on the threshold of an important period in its history. The Territory’s resources, particularly its minerals, are only just beginning to be tapped in a major way. In 1974-75, for example, mineral output was valued at $140m, an increase of 75 per cent over that of 1972-73. The more important minerals produced are manganese, gold, copper, bauxite, alumina and bismuth. Its uranium reserves are of world significance, as also is the McArthur River lead-zinc deposit. Oil has been discovered in the Mereenie Basin and offshore exploration is continuing. Mineral output from the Territory will become an important factor in the nation’s trading position during the 1980s.

In many ways, the Territory is in a position not dissimilar to that of several of the Australian States, or colonies as they then were, in the latter -half of the nineteenth century. Its population is now of the order of 100 000, including about 25 000 Aboriginal people. This population constitutes something less than 1 per cent of the total Australian population but those people inhabit approximately 17 per cent of the total Australian land mass. It is worth noting that the State of Queensland, when it attained responsible government in 1859, had a population of a little over 30 000. South Australia had approximately 85 000, and Tasmania 81 000, inhabitants when they were granted responsible Government in 1856.

The unique nature of the Territory’s physical environment has bred in, or attracted to it, a special kind of people. Despite many hardships and disappointments they have established themselves and their families in the Territory on rural properties, isolated settlements and towns of great character and vitality. With its known natural resources guaranteeing it a secure economic base, allied with the strength, resourcefulness and initiative of its people and under the guiding hand of the Territory’s own fully elected legislature, the future of the Territory must surely be bright.

As promised, this Government, immediately on being elected, began moves towards executive responsibility for the Legislative Assembly based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Northern Territory which inquired into constitutional development in the Northern Territory- recommendations which were available to the previous government for 12 months. That report, which was presented to the Parliament by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), as Chairman of the Committee, has made a valuable contribution to the Territory’s constitutional development. The Government will continue to have regard to many of the Committee’s recommendations as we proceed with the devolution of executive autonomy. Our immediate aim is the transfer of executive responsibility for the Northern Territory Public Service and a large number of Northern Territory statutory authorities, broadly along the lines suggested in the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee.

Since this Government took office, a number of discussions have been held with members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on the transfer of executive responsibility. A consultative committee, consisting of the Minister for the Northern Territory and members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, has been established to consider the issues involved in the transfer of executive powers. As the first step in this process, I have reached accord with the Executive of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly that the Northern Territory (Administration) Act be amended along the lines set down in this Bill. The provisions in the Bill are designed to enable the Government progressively to transfer adminstrative responsibility to a Northern Territory executive.

I want to emphasise that the passage of this Bill Will represent one of the most significant events in the Northern Territory ‘s history. Whilst I welcome the action taken in 1974 to establish a fully elected Legislative Assembly, there was little point in bringing that about without the transfer to the Assembly of real powers and responsibilities. Indeed, the previous Government promised that not only would a fully elected Legislative Assembly be established for the Territory; it also promised increasing autonomy to the Territory through that Assembly. However, when the Australian Labor Party was absolutely rejected by Northern Territory electors, the promises and assurances were speedily forgotten and the Assembly ignored.

I turn now to the BUI. As I have said, it is directed principally at making the legislative changes necessary to facilitate the progressive transfer of executive responsibility to the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory by amending the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1974. Clauses 1 and 2 of the BUI are formal provisions and cover citation and commencement. The BUI is to come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation. Clauses 3, 4 and 5 are interpretive and technical and insert additional definitions and revise the headings to parts II and IV of the principal Act. Clause 6 repeals sections 4ZA and 4zb of the principal Act dealing with the Administrator’s Council, its composition, appointments thereto and its functions. It renames the Council as the Executive Council of the Northern Territory of

Australia, lays down its membership and provides for its procedures. It enables the Administrator to attend aU meetings of the Council and to preside at meetings at which he is present. The clause sets down consequential interpretive provisions.

Clause 7 inserts a new part in the principal Act enabling the Administrator, after consultation with the Minister, to determine the number of offices of executive members of the Legislative Assembly and their respective designations. It further enables the Administrator, after consultation with the Minister, to determine the matters in respect of which the holder of an executive office performs his functions as executive member. Those matters will be all matters arising under specified laws of the Territory- other than Commonwealth laws- and matters to which the function of a specified Department of the Public Service of the Territory relate. Determinations by the Administrator under this part are to be published in the Government Gazette of the Territory.

This part further establishes the functions of an executive member as being to assist in the administration of the Government of the Territory with respect to the matters within his control but subject to the directions, if any, of the Administrator. In particular, an executive member is enabled to formulate policies and plans and proposals for expenditure in relation to such matters, to make recommendations to the Executive Council of the Northern Territory in relation to those matters, to administer specified laws within his control and to direct activities of a specified Department of the Public Service of the Territory. Directions by the Administrator under this part are not to be given until the Council has had the opportunity to tender advice. Whilst the Administrator is not bound to accept such advice, if he does not he must cause a statement of his reasons to be laid before the Legislative Assembly within a specified period. This part further provides for the appointment of an executive member and the termination of such appointment. It also provides for the tenure of such office and an oath or affirmation of office. Clause 8 provides for consequential technical amendments to the schedules to the Act.

The introduction of this BUI gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. The BUI represents a major step forward in the Territory’s progress towards executive autonomy. The authority and responsibility which this BUI bestows on the Territory ‘s Legislative Assembly reflects the Government’s confidence in the democratic process and its commitment to the Federal system of government. It is tangible evidence of the Government’s determination to give effect to its election undertakings on the constitutional development of the Northern Territory. The transfer of authority which will flow from this measure will impose serious responsibilities on the members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. For the first time in its history it will be a responsible legislature in the constitutional sense. The Government looks to, and is confident of the ability of, the Legislative Assembly to meet that responsibility.

It is appropriate and laudable that the people of the Northern Territory should, at this stage in their history, seek largely to control their own affairs. The Government is determined that this desire will be fulfilled as quickly and effectively as possible and this Bill is an important step towards the realisation of that aim. It is, most importantly, an indication that the Government intends to work in a spirit of amicable cooperation with the people of the Territory and their elected representatives in the task of giving birth to Australia’s seventh State. As such, I feel sure that it will command the support of all honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Scholes) adjourned.

page 2217


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 29 April, on motion by Mr Eric Robinson:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


-Most of the amendments proposed in the Audit Amendment Bill 1976 are technical. The Opposition does not oppose them. The previous Australian Labor Party Government had a Bill proposing the same amendments in the course of preparation at the time its period in Government was cut short by the unprecedented actions of the Senate in refusing to pass Supply. The Bill seeks to update the Audit Act, which is the basic legal framework in which the Government’s accounts are kept. Some of the amendments are necessary because the use of computers has changed accounting practice. The repeal and replacement for instance of section 40 and the amendment of section 41 to remove the obligation on the Treasurer to maintain a cash book and provide a cash sheet to the Auditor-General fall into this category. With the large number of transactions which now occur and the use of computers, it is not practical to maintain a single cash book.

Some of the amendments are to dot forgotten ‘i’s and cross forgotten 44 in the existing Act. The amendment to section 32 is an example. As the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) said in his second reading speech, if the provisions in the present Act were strictly adhered to they would cause delays in the payment of income tax refunds and in the making of other payments. The common sense of all concerned has led to these provisions in the Act being ignored in practice. Even though no one is likely to challenge that practice in the courts, I understand that the Auditor-General would like to see the common sense approach embodied in the law. I agree that it is proper to take this opportunity to amend the Act accordingly.

Another group of amendments is needed to enable some unnecessary accounting and legislative procedure to be dispensed with. The new versions of sections 27 to 30 and section 62B will reduce the accounting work associated with interest earned by private moneys held in trust by the Government. The new provisions regarding transfers of appropriations at times when new departments are established to take over existing functions of other departments will also reduce accounting difficulties. The changes to section 49 come within this group. The existing section requires the Treasury to publish a monthly statement of the receipts and expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and expenditure from the Loan Fund, and a halfyearly statement of the receipts and expenditure of the 3 funds- the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Trust Fund and the Loan Fund. These statements are out of date. It is many years- even decades- since governments budgeted in terms of these accounting funds. The Budget is nowadays presented in terms of the economic effects of various transactions and the functions of government for which expenditures are made. The continued publication of data based on the 3 funds causes only confusion, and the proposed amendment will mean that the data no longer must be published.

This amendment raises in my mind the question of why we are not abolishing the 3 funds. It seems to me that they are as redundant as the statements we are being asked to abolish with this Bill. Their continued existence affects the legislative streams through which the Government’s spending policies come before the Parliament, so that detailed scrutiny cannot be in the context of total spending but is focused instead on spending from one fund at a time. In the past the Parliament has hardly looked beyond the

Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is my hope that the new Expenditure Committee of this House, of which I am a member, will be able to look at all the transactions of the various departments and will not be constricted by the outmoded 3 funds system.

The final group of amendments proposed in the Bill related to the role and functions of the Auditor-General. One of these amendments grants him some discretion in the reports he makes to Parliament. Others permit him to undertake audits other than those required of him by Parliament and, in certain cases, to charge for services rendered. As I said at the outset, we do not oppose this Bill. We had intended, as I also said, to introduce an identical Bill ourselves while the Australian Labor Party was in government. As the Minister said in his second reading speech, the amendments have been discussed with the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts and detailed scrutiny by that Committee threw up no difficulties. I see no reason why the Bill should not pass quickly.

Before I resume my seat I would like to say something about efficiency audits to which the Minister alluded in the last paragraph of his speech. At present the Auditor-General reports on the regularity of transactions and the authorisations for those transactions. He looks at the Government’s accounts to see that money has been spent as the Parliament intended and that frauds etc. have not been committed. He does not consider whether or not value for money has been achieved. There is a strongly held view in the community at large that value for money is hot achieved by many programs. I hope that this view is not generally accurate, although I am sure that it is true in some areas. Perhaps even the superphosphate bounty could be a case in point.

When the Australian Labor Party came to government we commissioned Dr Coombs to report on the ongoing expenditures of the former government and to advise us on programs which were not providing value for money. We published the report and we acted on many of the items discussed in the report. In fact later tonight or certainly tomorrow when the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 1976 is before us there will be discussion on one of the Coombs ‘ recommendations relating to wine producers. The present Governn.ent apparently has carried out a similar exercise, though rather more covertly. It appointed a Mr Visbord who has made a report to the Government. On the basis of that report I read that cuts of $ 1,400m- the figure varies; it could be $ 1,500m- will be made in spending. Maybe we will learn more tomorrow night from the much publicised statement of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). I hope that the Visbord report will be presented tomorrow night, along with other papers that will be brought down in this House at the same time as the Treasurer’s statement is made, so that we can all see what criteria were used in arriving at these cuts.

Clearly then both sides of this House have found a need to examine programs to see that they are necessary and valuable. It would be desirable that this process be continuous and that all reports prepared be published. It may be that the Auditor-General is the right person to prepare such reports, but I am not sure that this is so. Since 1901 the Auditor-General’s Office has carried out accounting-legal functions. The Auditor’s staff are experts in this area. However, that does not necessarily mean that the staff members are experts in efficiency or in value for money. Indeed in the Bill before the House we can see that some of the legal and accounting processes they have been administering have reduced efficiency and led to wasted administrative effort.

It seems to me that one of the essentials for efficient administration is flexibility- the freedom to vary programs in response to changing circumstances. This requirement obviously conflicts with the requirements of the Audit Act that spending be precisely as authorised in the detailed appropriations, etc. I wonder whether the so-called efficiency audits might not be better left to a body such as the Expenditure Committee of this House. For that Committee to carry out that task, which is surely part of its charter, it obviously will require a sizable and high quality staff. I hope that the Government does not carry its staff ceilings policy to such lengths that it stifles the work of the committee in this area.

I notice the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) in the House. When he was last in this Parliament a few years ago he and I served on the Public Accounts Committee. I believe that you were a member of the Committee at that time, Mr Deputy Speaker. You and he will remember that three to four years ago we on that Committee studied amendments to the Audit Act. I note that the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) also is in the House. He was a valuable member of that Committee. We all should take pleasure from the fact that at the last the Parliamentary Counsel has had time to put into legislative effect the changes proposed in those days long ago.

On the subject of efficiency audits I might add that I have thought through another possibly. I am not sold on the idea that a committee of this Parliament can carry them out. If a committee of the Parliament is to do so, I am sold on the idea that it must have a very efficient secretariat in order to do it well. However, I have in other places, including conferences of the Royal Institute of Public Administration, canvassed the idea of the Auditor-General himself doing it. I know that he has thought of this himself. Indeed he would be the first to agree that his staff would require different training. He would require a far larger staff than he now has. But somebody would have to learn this new work and, after examination, it may be found that it would be best if the Auditor-General and his Department undertook this work. I add that this would be following the precedent of the United States of America where the similar officer and the similar department- namely, the Controller-General and his Department- carry out not only the narrower function of our Auditor-General but also the efficiency audit, looking at the efficacy of expenditure, ensuring that it is being spent in the most profitable way and ensuring that it is being spent for the purposes for which parliament appropriated it.

In 1974, just over 2 years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the United States. In the course of my educational tour in Washington I got to know the Controller-General of the United States Government and a few members of his senior staff. I explored the valuable work that they are doing in this area. I have just one more thought on the subject and that is that where in the United States programs are jointly carried out with the States of that nation the Controller-General has the function of sitting down with the Controllers-General of the States and jointly auditing the programs which are joint programs. I hope that under co-operative federalism, as it really should be and as it will be instituted by the next Australian Labor Government, the functions of the Auditor-General will mean that he will sit down with his State counterparts and jointly audit programs for the benefit of this Parliament and for the benefit of the State parliaments. I repeat that I am delighted that this Bill is at last before the House, after all these years of examination of the subjects. I hope that soon we will have before this House another Bill of a similar nature which in some way or another will mean that an efficiency audit is carried out, perhaps by the Auditor-General or by some other body of this Parliament. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill.


-I rise, with very little notice I must confess, to speak briefly on this Bill. I am given great support from the realisation that the debate on the Audit Amendment Bill is a non-political activity of this House. The sad scene is that there are so few honourable members in the chamber. It is of interest to know that sitting in the House today during the debate on this BUI are 3 former chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee. I think that that is most significant. It is significant because the chairmen of the Committee who have dealt with the Audi: Act have seen the need for amendment. As the previous speaker, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), so rightly said, for those of us who have dealt with it it is a source of great pleasure that the Bill will be passed here today.

As the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) said in his second reading speech, this is a technical Bill and the amendments are of a most technical nature. It is not my intention or my position to canvass those again for, without being unduly flattering to the Minister, I believe that he did the job most capably and well. The interesting thing is tha: the amendments have the total support of the Auditor-General himself. If I may digress for a moment, I believe that the status of the AuditorGeneral in the Public Service should be looked at. I believe that the Auditor-General should not have any person in the Public Service of Australia senior to him in status. I regret to say that there are still certain First Division officers of the Public Service who have a higher status than the Auditor-General. As the second reading speech indicated, the importance of auditing to the Australian public is reflected in the fact that the first Audit Act in 1901 was the fourth piece of legislation enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament. That information came as a surprise to me. I hope that if the members of the Remuneration Tribunal are listening somewhere or will read Hansard at some stage they will reconsider the status of the Auditor-General in the Public Service. As I say, no person should be senior to him.

I was interested to see that the amendments to the Act do not suggest any change in the powers and responsibilities of the Auditor-General. In the spirit of the Opposition, and of the Government which has brought this legislation forward, I accept that but I suggest that we cannot rest here. The honourable member for Adelaide properly talked about the need for clarification of where efficiency audits should take place.. Obviously the present situation is not satisfactory. As I have said previously in the House, it is a sad commentary that so few members of this Parliament understand public accounting and public finance in any detail. I am pleased to see sitting opposite the former Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who himself has taken a role in the development of these changes to the Audit Act. I do not know that I agree with the previous speaker who said that it should be the role of the new Expenditure Committee to carry out efficiency audits, nor do I quite agree with the suggestion that we should move more towards the American system. I too have been fortunate to study the American government accounting office. I think that in this case we should look more to the House of Commons practice where- certainly in regard to the estimates but I am not sure about the expenditure the Auditor-General’s staff services the parliamentary committees. In the United Kingdom there is a staff of something like 7 SO assisting parliamentary committees when matters arise relating to audit styles or to approaches to means of controlling or examining public finance in general terms. I suggest that we should be moving more along these lines.

It would be improper for me to discuss what the present Public Accounts Committee is considering but I could not let this opportunity go without mentioning the need to examine the format of accounting in governmental institutions which are run on commercial lines. We members of the, Public Accounts Committee are presently looking into one of those institutions. I do not mention its name now for reasons of propriety. However, I do suggest it is a forward move. It is the next area at which we in the Parliament should look. We are talking of the Audit Act and the role of the Auditor-General and I think we should very closely consider the stage at which we should start applying commercial accounting examinations of these public accounts.

As we have heard, this is a technical Bill and there is delight on the part of those of us who have been associated with it over the years that it now has come to pass. It comes as no surprise to many of us that there would be no opposition in the House to the technical matters described. I suggest, however, that in the not too distant future but rather immediately after this Bill is passed the Government listens to submissions as to the role of the Auditor-General, his status and the problems he has with his staffing situation. I commend to the Minister the sentiments he described in the last paragraph of his second reading speech wherein he said that he does not propose to change the powers and responsibilities of the Auditor-General. I suggest that this be the subject of a select committee investigation. I suggest with respect that this should be done by a parliamentary committee or, at the least, a joint Government and Opposition committee so that the decision to look into the new realms of auditing and accounting in public matters can in no way be regarded as having a political content but rather be regarded as a matter of concern for an effective and efficient approach to properly accounting and auditing the massive public accounts which obviously need constant review. I am delighted to support the Bill.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– I want to mention one matter for a few minutes only and that should make the Government Whip very happy. It is often said that members of Parliament speak mostly about things about which they know the least. I cannot pretend to have a precise knowledge of the Audit Act but there are one or two points in it which worry me and about which I am requesting an answer from the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson). I direct the Minister’s attention to clauses 3 1 and 33 in this Bill, particularly clause 31.1 know that if the Minister cannot give me an answer between now and 6 p.m., he will give me an answer, perhaps in the House, on another occasion. I am puzzled. Section 49 of the present Act requires a statement from the Treasurer monthly in relation to transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the expenditure’ of the Loan Fund. Essential features of that section are being taken out of the Act as a result of the passage of this Bill. I shall read section 49 ( 1 ) of the Act in order to explain. It states:

The Treasurer shall, as soon as conveniently may be after the expiration of each month of each financial year, publish a statement of the receipts and the expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and of the expenditure of the Loan Fund for that month and during that year up to the end of that month.

That section is to be significantly altered. The relevant clause in this Bill proposes to delete the words ‘of the receipts and the expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and of the expenditure of the Loan Fund’ and to substitute the words ‘in such form as he thinks fit, of the receipt and expenditure of public moneys’. That is a much more elastic obligation that a Treasurer can observe under the new proposal compared with what he has to observe under the Act as it now stands.

I know that the monthly statement of the Treasurer is very valuable. It has a long history. Its form has been changed once or twice over recent years to a more functional one which makes it rather more difficult for one to look at the receipts and the expenditure of money. Nevertheless I ask the Minister. In what form is it proposed that the Treasurer shall make his statements in substitution for the present requirement in the relevant section of the Act? I suggest that to say that it is to be done in such form as the Treasurer sees fit is not quite a sufficient guarantee that the Parliament will have readily available to it, and spontaneously available, the accounts of the Commonwealth which it would desire to have. The present administration of this section of the Act is of very great economic significance. It has very great financial significance. A former Treasurer will immediately acknowledge what I am saying. This requirement may have been a burden on the Treasury and it may have been a burden on the former Treasurer but nevertheless this was a very valuable statement which made the Treasurer answer for various aspects of Commonwealth economic and financial policy. The elastic obligation to be substituted by means of the relevant clause of the Bill is not sufficiently precise for my purpose. These days, when we have to consider the nature of Budgets and Budget deficits and the way they are financed, the economic and financial effects of the financing of Budget deficits, that statement ties in with the significance of the monthly doings of the Commonwealth that cannot be put aside very easily.

I ask the Minister: In what form is it intended that the Treasurer make his statement subsequent to the passage of this Bill? We need to have some guarantees. I believe they are needed for the correct management of the Commonwealth. Section 49 (2) is to be omitted. Basically it relates to a half-yearly statement. Why is that to be omitted? Why should it be omitted and what is to be substituted in its place? I have gone over my time. The Government Whip has indicated that my time has finished. I put those 2 questions to the Minister in relation to clause 3 1 of the Bill and I would appreciate an answer from him. It is important for a whole host of reasons which I do not believe have been dealt with.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– in reply- I have little to add regarding this Bill to what I said in the second reading speech. I want to thank the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), for his response on this occasion and for his comments. Speaker after speaker in the debate has said that this is a very technical Bill. It is designed to improve efficiency. We are all aware of the tremendous changes in accountancy procedures, the use of computers and the need to have a greater flexibility. I think it important to repeat that these matters have been closely studied and agreed upon with the Auditor-General.

I should like to respond to the shadow Treasurer, by saying that he is aware of the comments I made about efficiency audits. They will be considered. We do not believe it is appropriate on this occasion to do that but it is a matter which I accept we ought to be looking at. The comments and suggestions made by the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) will have the attention of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). Time does not permit me to answer in detail tonight the things which concern my good friend and colleague the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). But at an appropriate time I am certain that I will be able to satisfy him in all matters that he raised. I thank those who have contributed to the debate. It is pleasing to see that both the Opposition and the Government are of one mind concerning this matter.

Mr Kevin Cairns:

– You will make a statement in the Parliament?

Mr Eric Robinson:

-Yes, certainly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Eric Robinson) read a third time.

Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.

page 2221


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 6 May, on motion by Mr Street:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP

- Mr Deputy Speaker, may 1 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 the Stevedoring Industry Charge Amendment

Bill 1976 as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, 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, I will allow that course to be followed.


-The Bills now before the House are relatively minor in themselves and are not opposed by the Opposition. However, they do open up for debate an extremely important and difficult subject, that is, the form of governmental control, if any, that should prevail in the stevedoring industry. The substance of the Bills is principally to extend the current legislation for a further 6 months. The Government has been obliged to take this action because it has not yet decided exactly what permanent arrangements should be provided for the organisation of the industry. The Opposition does not seek to make anything of this delay because it realises full well the difficulties involved. Indeed, successive governments since the 1967 legislation was enacted have found that they have been unable to reach a firm decision and have been obliged to extend the legislation. The consequence is that arrangements which were originally intended to last for a 2 ‘/4-year trial period from 1967 have now been extended several times and are still in operation 9 years later.

During the 3-year period in which the Labor Government was in office two important inquiries were launched into the stevedoring industry and they provide ample material regarding the views of the various organisations engaged in the industry. The first of those inquiries- by Mr Norm Foster, a special adviser to the then Minister for Labor- was launched in mid- 1973 and he reported a year later. His report, which was entitled ‘Some Aspects of the Stevedoring Industry in Australia’, extensively reviewed the opinions of the operative stevedoring companies and concluded that the only rational policy for permanent arrangements for the industry would be for the Government to sponsor a company or corporation which would have the sole right to undertake stevedoring operations with respect to overseas trade.

Subsequently- in October 1975- the then Minister for Labor and Immigration requested the Chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Council, Mr R. Northrop, Q.C., as he was then, to review the attitudes of groups having an interest in the industry. He reported back to the present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) in February of this year and outlined two options that seemed to him to be available- one being roughly that advocated by Mr Foster and the other being for the Government to withdraw from the industry and treat it as any other industry. Mr Northrop did not recommend one choice as against the other, though he did make it clear that continuance of the present arrangements was not desirable. One reason why he dismissed that option was that nobody interested in the industry wanted it. The National Industrial Council, which represents the two employer groups involved, that is, the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour and the Terminal and Depot Employers Federation, submitted that the industry should be free of governmental control, as did the Waterside Workers Federation. Thus the two key organisations involved in the industry- the employers and the unions- recommended that the industry be freed of government involvement.

On the other hand, some employers not in the National Industrial Council- for instance, the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the British Phosphate Commission- recommended greater government involvement in the form of the establishment of a statutory stevedoring corporation to employ waterside workers and regulate the industry. One employer which was a member of the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour- F. G. Strang Pty Ltd- also supported the notion of the establishment of such a statutory authority, as did the Australian Shippers Council, which represents various overseas trading companies and statutory bodies, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which currently performs various regulatory functions in the industry, the Fremantle Port Authority, the State Shipping Service of Western Australia, the Association of Australian Port and Marine Authorities, the Wharf Superintendents Association of Victoria and the Australian Foremen Stevedores Association.

The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council was not too sure what it wanted. First it supported the withdrawal of the Government from the industry. Then, after Mr Northrop made his report, it changed its mind and supported the concept of the establishment of a statutory authority to employ waterside workers. Thus, apart from the principal employer organisation and the principal union involved in the industry, all other interested bodies advocate greater government involvement. No one wants a continuance of the status quo for the reason that it has proved to be increasingly unsatisfactory for all concerned. From the view point of those organisations that sought greater government involvement the current arrangements are unsatisfactory principally because they regard them as having resulted in greatly increased freight costs. That, they allege, is partly due to the much improved wages and other conditions of employment for waterside workers since the conference scheme was introduced and partly due to the inefficiencies that have been built into the scheme while it has been in operation.

The two principal inefficiencies that have arisen are those relating to what is known as locked-in idle time and idle time generally. Locked-in idle time arises through the process of employees of one operational stevedoring company at a port being idle whilst other stevedoring companies are fully employed and clamouring for more labour. Despite the existence in permanent ports of a pool of labour which is available to be farmed out to those companies which need more workers, the situation often arises that the labour demand by some companies is such that the pool is empty but they are still short of labour and at the same time some of the employees of a company which has slack demand are idle. Whilst on idle time waterside workers receive $31.44 a day. So when locked-in labour becomes more than an occasional matter it represents a serious addition to the costs of operation.

Those who support the establishment of a statutory corporation to employ waterside workers say that such a body would enable the elimination of this inefficient process by having all waterside workers in a pool and allocating them to the various operating stevedoring companies as they are needed. On the other hand the employers, as represented by the National Industrial Council and the Waterside Workers Federation, believe that this problem can be overcome by agreement between them. For instance, the employers have suggested that agreement could be reached to transfer work between employers by the transfer of gangs.

The Waterside Workers Federation has not put forward a proposal publicly but is aware of the problem and the effect it has on costs. However, the Waterside Workers Federation is adamant that one alternative it will not accept is a return to the pool system because that is what had operated up till 1967 and that is what they and the employers were anxious to get away from. An important aim of the conference scheme was to achieve a normal industrial relationship with employees being associated with a specific employer. It was also hoped that this arrangement would bring about better industrial relations through the development of some sense of identification of workers with a particular company, though whether this has occurred to any degree is a moot point. Some indications that it may have some effect is the fact that the National Industrial Council supports the concept of the elimination of all pool labour and the employment of all waterside workers by a particular employer.

The other means by which idle time has become a great problem for the industry is the overall excess number of waterside workers. Despite massive reductions in their numbers since the mid-1950s, the introduction of containers, roll-on roll-off facilities and other mechanised loading processes combined with the current economic recession have had such an effect on work availability that there is still a surplus of waterside workers. The House may be interested to note that the number of registered waterside workers in this country has declined since the mid-1950s from 27 000 to a little more than 12 000. This remarkable reduction, with their numbers being more than halved in a couple of decades, has inevitably had to be obtained at a price, and that price has been a substantial improvement in wages and conditions and attractive redundancy payments. The alternative would have undoubtedly been at the cost of massive industrial disruption as occurred in a number of countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America when containers were introduced. Nevertheless, despite this massive reduction there is still an excess of labour and consequently idle time payments have become a substantial burden on the industry. In 1974-75 idle time payments rose from $3.6m to $8.4m but this was not due to increased union featherbedding. Rather it reflected the recruitment of additional waterside workers in 1 974 because of the greatly increased trade at that time, and the subsequent world economic slump that substantially reduced work in this industry. Clearly an improvement in our economy and in the world economy would greatly assist in overcoming this postion, but a redundancy problem may still exist.

Most of the organisations that sought a statutory corporation also sought restoration of the rights of employers of compulsory redundancy, but that is totally opposed by the Waterside Workers Federation and is not proposed by the National Industrial Council which instead put forward a proposal for early retirement. In this connection it is relevant to note that the average age level of waterside workers is well above that for the work force generally. Mr Foster noted that two-thirds were between the ages of 40 and 60 years. This means that many workers will leave the industry by normal retirement in the near future. Mr Foster estimated that 25 per cent of the waterside work force would retire over the next 10 years. In these circumstances it may well be that the redundancy problem will be overcome in the near future through the normal process of attrition.

Apart from this important matter of idle time, the present arrangements have a number of other deficiencies that all interested parties consider must be rectified. For instance, the levy imposed on man hours worked for purposes of meeting long service leave, pension and idle time payments, has caused dissatisfaction because,eing based on man hours, when demand for labour falls the revenue obtained from the levy declines, at the very time that more workers go on to idle time. Furthermore, it is generally considered that by being based on man hours rather than tonnage it unfairly penalises the conventional stevedoring companies as against the container terminal operators. General dissatisfaction exists in the industry also at the delays that have occurred in increasing charges through the process of having to go through this Parliament if the maximum rate allowed under the Act is being approached.

All that I have said to this stage makes it clear that change is needed in the existing arrangements for control of this industry. The available options as outlined by Mr Northrop are completely divergent and I have shown on what basis these divergent views have been established. In opting for the withdrawal of the Government from a direct role in the industry this Government is taking a very substantial step. On the basis of the submission made to Mr Northrop it will not please the many interested groups which sought an increased government role, but perhaps this depends on the ability of the employers and the unions to reach satisfactory solutions to the major industry problems mentioned by the Minister in his second reading speech. I note in passing that in enumerating these problems the Minister gave prime emphasis to reducing the work force. In view of my earlier comments on this matter it may be that he has somewhat overestimated the importance of this issue. If the parties can reach satisfactory agreement on means to overcome the industry’s major problems then this would certainly remove much of the argument for the need to have a statutory corporation playing a dominant role in the industry. There is no doubt that this was the path that the parties entered upon in drawing up the conference scheme and it is a logical development now to take the next step provided satisfactory agreement can be reached.

It is worth noting here that much of the impetus for the conference scheme came from dissatisfaction of the parties directly involved in the industry with the role of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The Waterside Workers Federation in particular saw it as an additional hindrance to its aim of improving the welfare of its members and were, indeed still are, particularly resentful at the role the ASAI played in inflicting penalties on wharfies that were harsher than any that applied to other workers throughout the nation under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

However, the role of the statutory authority in this industry need not necessarily be so unsuccessful. In New Zealand, for instance, the Waterfront Industry Commission is apparently accepted and approved by the parties and indeed is currently in the process of having its powers considerably widened. Indeed, it is being made the sole employer of waterside labour and will allocate labour to the various stevedoring companies operating on the wharves. In other words, the New Zealand Government is taking the option that the Australian Government has now rejected.

There is one other matter which could still be of concern to those interested parties who called for a statutory authority in this country even if the employers and the unions can reach satisfactory agreements on means by which to overcome the industry’s problems. This other matter is the fear that costs will continue to escalate through the process of employers acceding to union demands and passing the costs on to shipping companies which in turn pass them on to their customers via higher freight rates. The Opposition is intrigued that the Government has sought to placate such fears by reference to the role of the Prices Justification Tribunal in reviewing applications for charge increases by large stevedoring companies. This reliance on the Tribunal comes strangely from a government which, when it first took office, was avowing its intention to abolish the Tribunal. Indeed, so far as I am aware the Government has to this stage only deferred a decision on the eventual fate of the Tribunal. Perhaps the Minister would inform the House whether this reliance on it in this instance is indicative of a government intention to keep the Tribunal permanently.

Finally, I wish to refer to the position of the employees of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The Authority’s role in the industry has been gradually reduced with the introduction of permanency and accordingly the fear of redundancy has been growing among the Authority’s staff for almost a decade now. If the Government plans to proceed as announced then the Authority will be wound up at the end of this year and some 220 employees will be redundant. As only a handful of the staff are permanent public servants there is great anxiety in their ranks about their future. The Minister referred to this matter in his second reading speech but he did not give the staff great solace. The Minister offered 3 measures of assistance. These were: The application of the Government’s program of assistance to redundant employees; the assistance of the Commonwealth Employment Service in finding alternative work and requesting employers in the industry to take what steps they can to employ some of these people. These measures are, in our view, quite inadequate. The Commonwealth redundancy payments, as they have applied in the past, are not generous and certainly not generous in comparison with the redundancy payments made to waterside workers who willingly leave the industry. In our view the staff of the Stevedoring Industry Authority is entitled to nothing less than the redundancy payments now payable to other people in that industry.

The offer of special assistance from the Commonwealth Employment Service does not really give much comfort to a potentially redundant employee especially when there are already a quarter of a million unemployed. As for requesting employers in the industry to help, this is unlikely to be of great assistance as I understand quite a few of the companies have an excess of staff already. In these circumstances we urge the Government to be more directly helpful by instructing all Ministers responsible for statutory authorities to consider ASIA staff for appointment where they are suitably qualified. Indeed, where vacancies occur in the Public Service and these staff are qualified for a position we believe they should receive priority treatment. We urge the Government to take positive steps on behalf of the ASIA staff as we believe it has a moral responsibility to do so. Its redundancy is directly attributable to a policy decision of this Government and as such it should be offered every assistance possible.


-Firstly I would like to point out that what I am going to say tonight will be said on behalf of the coalition

Parties, the Liberal Party and the National Country Party, which I understand because of some pressure of time are allowed only one speaker in this debate. The essential pan of this Bill is to extend the temporary provisions of the present system. Everyone who knows the stevedoring industry well, as the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) undoubtedly does, knows that there has been an extension from one temporary period to the next with monotonous regularity. If the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has his way and if I have my way in supporting him, this will be the last time that a Bill such as this comes into the House. It will be the last time that these temporary provisions are renewed. (Quorum formed). I repeat that the intention in this Bill is to extend for the last time the temporary provisions that have applied for so long on the waterfront. The Minister, in his second reading speech, not only spelt out this fact, but also spelt out all the steps we should take so that we can properly face the problems of the future and have a better situation on the waterfront and so that the disastrous situation that has applied on the waterfront for so many years is not continued for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

To give a measure of the significance of the size of the problem I will give only 2 examples. One of them was brought forward by the honourable member for Gellibrand and that is that we are spending at the rate of about $8m a year to the idle time bill for the people who are working on the waterfront. The amount is perhaps more than $8m at present. Let me put the position in more measurable terms. I use an illustration given to me specifically by people in the industry. A ship tied up alongside the wharf at Sydney can be loaded with cargo at the rate of nine to ten tons per gang hour. The same cargo can be unloaded from the ship at Norfolk Island, anchored not at a wharf but at the anchorage with the lighter and the ship bobbing alongside one another, at 3 times the rate. That is a measure of the mess we are in. There would not be one honourable member from either side of the House who did not have a sense of acute awareness that the present situation, wherever the blame may lie, is one of utter disaster. We know that we cannot continue it. I am glad that the Minister has spelt out that this is the last time the temporary provisions will be extended and the present disastrous situation continued. Everybody knows how bad it is. I am not casting aspersions on any group. The previous Government knew with crystal clarity how bad it was. We in Opposition know how bad it was. We spelt out time after time that the present position, if continued, would be disastrous. The honourable member for Gellibrand did not say so in specific terms, but he knows that the present situation on the waterfront is so serious that it cannot be allowed to continue for one minute longer.

As a result of the previous Government’s interest and anxiety about the matter, it appointed Mr Justice Northrop to look at the problem. He spelt out the options open to us. One is to go on as we are. I repeat- the honourable member for Gellibrand supported this point of view- that no one would countenance going on as we are. We would be in a position of utter despair if we went on as we are. The second option is to nationalise the stevedoring industry and the waterfront. I must admit that I have looked upon this option with some favour in the past but I have to admit firstly to the philosophical problems we would face in adopting it and the performance of other nationalised industries does not give one any optimism that this industry would work any better.

The third option that has been put forward by a great many people and some very responsible bodies such as Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, the British Phosphate Commission and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is that the Authority should engage the labour and hire it out to the stevedores. This is something that has attracted me for some time, but I turned away from the idea when I imagined myself running a wool shed at shearing time with someone else engaging the labour and my being responsible for the wool shed’s operations. When one looks at the matter in those terms one sees the clear problems it would impose. I do not say that it is impossible. If companies like BHP support it they obviously recognise that it is possible but it is not the kind of proposal that I can support after some examination of the industry. The fourth proposition put forward in the Northrop report is for the Government to back out and leave the industry to sort itself out. This immediately makes one quite pale with anxiety because those of us who have studied the industry know the fundamental problem that has dogged the industry is that the agreements, the sweetheart agreements as they are called by honourable members opposite- I used to call them that- that have been forced on the shipowners through the monopoly power of the Waterside Workers Federation have encouraged the cost escalation, the cost plus sytem, on the waterfront.

Let me tell a personal anecdote. When I was looking at this problem a year ago and talking to some responsible shipowners, the employers, we discussed the 4 alternatives. One of them, with splendid logic, spelt out why nothing should be altered and that we should go on as we were. I told him: ‘I want you to understand one thing clearly. I do not know what the new Government will do when it comes into power but I will tell you one thing: Things will be different. If the Government backs out a responsibility will be laid on the industry to act responsibly and to cease these forced agreements and force both employer and union groups to face up to the facts of life.’ I should like to add one thing and that is the simple message that nothing clarifies the mind like the knowledge that you are going to be hung in the morning. In the morning, when the Opposition takes government there will be a different system. If it turns out to be a system where the Government backs out, 1 beg those concerned to concentrate their minds on the problem. I am glad to say that the indications so far are that they will do so.

What are the definite steps that have to be taken if we are to have a waterfront position that is sensible and that can do what the Australian community wants it to do- to handle the goods on the waterfront sensibly, responsibly and at a reasonable return? The first thing is that we have to have a flexible work force for a flexible task. It is nonsense to talk about permanent employment when we know that what we want is a system of weekly hire. I do not want to go back to the old days of casual employment, but I think for many reasons we have to have a system of weekly hire. We have to get rid of this position on the waterfront now where the chap who is a member of the Waterside Workers Federation has certainty of employment until he dies, unless he is bought out with a golden handshake, which is the envy of all the community. Secondly we have to have some system whereby the picking off of certain ships or certain lines is made impossible or very much more difficult. We know, the WWF knows and indeed everybody in the industry knows, that there is a practice whereby a certain ship comes in and the WWF will say: ‘Well now, look, we know they want to get this ship out. Let us impose conditions which we know are irresponsible but which we think we can force on them’. That is another problem. We have to get rid of this power to pick off certain ships and certain lines, which exists at the moment.

The third and perhaps most vital thing that wc have to change is the power of the WWF to impose these fixed agreements. They used to be called ‘sweetheart agreements’, but that is the wrong term. Under these agreements, because of the economic cost of keeping a ship tied up at the wharf, particularly these high capital cost ships with containers on board, which have to be got out, a cost is imposed on the shipping industry. I must admit that the WWF is given in to far too freely by the shipowners- although I can understand their problem- because of the monopoly power that the WWF possesses.

The Government has accepted the employers’ and the employees’ plea that the Government should back out. The WWF, the employers of waterside workers labour and most of the other groups involved asked the Government to let them sort out the matter themselves. We have accepted this. From now on the WWF, the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour and the various components of the industry will be doing the driving. We will not be driving from the front or the back seat; perhaps there has been a bit too much of this in the past. It is very easy and a comfortable position to sit in the back seat and do the driving. The Minister, in his speech, has made it clear that the driving will be done by the people concerned, the people who know the industry- the WWF and the shipowners. They know the situation and they will be doing the driving. We are not going to be ready to grab the wheel all the time. I can understand the anxiety of all sections of the industry when they say: Well, what is going to happen now? Is the process of the past where the forced agreementsthe sweetheart agreements- have imposed burdens through the freight system and the conference system going to break us?’

The Minister has referred to the sanction of the Prices Justification Tribunal. I do not place any great weight on the Tribunal. I know that I could delude almost any prices justification tribunal that came onto my place to examine the cost of my growing wheat or anything else. I would leave them for dead. So I do not place any great weight on the Prices Justification Tribunal. Hanging over the industry is the knowledge that we can withdraw the restrictive trade practice sanction which gives a particular advantage to the conference system by which the shipping lines can make freight increases which they have imposed to offset increased costs. That is a sanction we can use. But above all, the industry must realise that the Government stands ready and willing so that if the industry itself cannot do what it asks us to do and sort itself out, we will take action. We must be prepared to impose a system of authority control of the industry with a bite that would make an alligator go pale with envy.

The present situation just cannot continue. We have accepted the plea of the industry to let it sort itself out. It is with a feeling of utter thankfulness that I find that the industry seems to be facing up to its problems both on the Waterside Workers Federation side and on the shipowners’ side. There seems to be a realisation that this is the end of the nonsense of the past and that we are going to face up to the situation. I just want to say to the groups concerned- not so much to the House- that we as a government will do our best to see that we never drift back into the old system. We know that when the marriage is consummated and the honeymoon starts, everything goes swimmingly for a while, but in 2 or 3 years’ time the old temptations emerge. When the temptation to get the ship out at any price rears its ugly head, I want the people concerned to know that we will do what we can to stop the present situation being pertpetuated. For the sake of everyone in the country, the people working on the waterfront and the people working on farms, we cannot continue the present situation. The Government cannot back away from the problem in the future. When the honeymoon is over people may say that surely there must be room for negotiation. There must always be some room for negotiation; I am not pretending that there is not. But we must face up to the problem that we have to make the waterfront a much more efficient tool so that it can serve the people who work on it responsibly and well and so that it can also serve the country in the way that it ought.

I have a message here which states:

The Minister has indicated that in relation to the staff of the Authority he will carry forward his expressed intention to ensure that their interests are protected. He has already told the unions concerned that discussions on these matters will take place once this Bill has been passed. The Minister will act to see that the fears the Authority’s staff may have are settled as quickly as possible and that they are treated fairly and responsibly.

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

Mr Keith Johnson:

– It is rather interesting to hear what the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly)-

Motion ( by Mr Donald Cameron) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Street) read a third time.

page 2228


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 6 May, on motion by Mr Street:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Street) read a third time.

page 2228


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 6 May, on motion by Mr Lynch:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations · Corangamite · LP

- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Superannuation Amendment Bill (No. 2) and the Income Tax (International Agreements) Amendment Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter. of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.


– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.


-I formally move the Opposition’s amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill 1976 in the following terms:

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House notes that:

the legislation involves the breaking of election promises with the removal for many of home mortgage interest deductions and the inadequate alterations to winemakers’ tax liability, and

the provisions for the introduction of the investment allowance have created a chaotic situation in the economy.

The Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill is made up of 5 main parts. Firstly there is clause 3 which covers the eligibility of securities for the 30/20’ status. The House will know that life assurance companies and superannuation funds are saved from additional tax imposts if they invest a certain ratio of their securities, namely the ‘30/20’ ratio, in authorised investments. Clause 3 alters this arrangement by excluding those securities issued after 12 April 1976 by banks constituted under Commonwealth, State or Territory legislation. The Opposition has no objection to this alteration. From our knowledge and advice, those banks do not and will not have difficulty in obtaining investment by institutions and the public in the scrip they have to offer. Important though the investment in that scrip may be, this law until this point of time did give an advantage to such banks over their competitors in the private sector. Let me state again on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that, although we promote public enterprise, like other social democrats and democratic socialists everywhere in the world we see this promotion in the context of a mixed economy of private as well as public enterprise. Where both exist side by side we see the need for the competition between the two to be scrupulously fair. We intended this to be so in promoting an Australian Government Insurance Corporation. We want the competition to be fair in the banking field. Therefore we do not oppose this measure. Frankly, we see another fringe benefit. The investment by life assurance companies and superannuation funds which will not from 12 April take place in these banks must be lodged in other authorised areas for the 30/20’ rule to apply. If anything we see these other areas- Commonwealth bonds and State government instrumentalities, to name just two- to be more important for the national interest.

The second principal section of this Bill relates to the trading stock of wine makers and covers clauses 5 and 20 of the Bill. We shall see later that the majority of those taxpayers promised something by the Government’s investment allowance have at least received something. The wine makers, however, have learned the hard way the real consequences of the meaning of the statement which became ‘inoperative’. On 19 June 1975 the present Treasurer (Mr Lynch), when Deputy Leader of the Opposition, issued a statement calling on the then Australian Labor Government to withdraw the system of stock valuation of wine producers introduced in the 1973-74 Budget. He said the new basis of stock valuation for wine makers combined with the increases in company tax rates was threatening to bankrupt many important Australian wine producing companies. A pledge was given that a Liberal-National Country Party Government would abolish Labor’s new stock valuation system. The wine makers could be forgiven for being surprised when they found that the Treasurer, when the test came, did not honour this undertaking. One would imagine that in future they will treat promises from politicians of the Liberal and National Country Parties with a little more scepticism than they have in the past. Obviously wine makers do not rank highly on the private sector influence hierarchy. When the crunch came, promises to them went by the board.

Although the legislation before the House increases by 3 years the time provided in the existing Act for the payment of deferred taxes, there is in effect only a one-year increase over what the Labor Government was preparing to do when it was removed from office. The Premier of South Australia, on behalf of the then Prime Minister, announced on 7 July last the measures incorporated in clauses 5 and 20. The only real difference in this legislation before the House now over what was proposed by us is a phase-in period of 8 years rather than 7 years. Despite the fact that this Government while in Opposition vehemently opposed the abolition of section 3 1 A it now sees merit in the removal of that section. This is another example of the expediency ethic which pervades this Government. This is the same ethic that has brought us the equivocation over Medibank, pensioner funeral benefits and other issues.

Let us get this issue clear. Whereas most taxpayersin fact, as far as I know, all but those who trade in livestock- are obliged to bring into their taxable income a valuation of stock which is based on the lower value of cost replacement or market value, wine makers used to be given a concession under section 31A of a still lower value. Although a certain parcel of stock may have cost them, say, $100 to produce- and they got a deduction for this $ 100 cost- yet under section 3 1 A they were allowed to bring in as a credit only, say, $80. So their taxable income was reduced by $20. Eventually when the parcel of stock was sold they would be caught up with. Say that parcel of wine was sold in the following year for $ 120. They would then have to pay tax on the surplus of $40- the difference between the $80 and the $120. If they had brought the stock in for the full value of $100 they would have paid tax on only $20 in the earlier year and another $20 in the following year. So section 3 1 A had the effect of postponing the profit to a later year. It had the effect of giving wine makers an advantage over most others in our community. It deferred their tax on this extra surplus.

There were arguments in favour of this deferred tax. A characteristic of the industry is the operation of many small companies which do not have a lot of working capital. Wine makers need to keep red wines for quite a long time. Those who enjoy the product of the grape will know that many reds improve with maturity. But, of course, improvement with maturity applies to other products as well- for instance, some timbers. Both sides in politics have now agreed that there is equity in the elimination of section 31 A. We believe that the industry can adjust to the new circumstances without dire consequences. Certainly I shall be doing all I can to see that the small companies survive. I assume that the large companies will automatically survive. I like to think that if I were Treasurer at the time of this change being made I would have drawn the legislation in such a way that no deferred taxes would have been payable and those who did not use section 31A would have been credited with the notional value of the tax had they used a 3 1 A valuation of their stocks. But this was not to be. My Party decided that the deferred taxes should be paid over 7 years. This Government, the Liberal and National Country Party coalition, has altered this from 7 years to 8 years.

What humbug this is. We roundly condemn these coalition parties for misleading the wine industry, as indeed they have done, in their grab for power. They gave the clear indication, not only to the nation in general but also to the wine industry in particular, that they would give great benefits to the industry. They have done no such thing. For window-dressing, for hoodwinking reasons at a time of an election, they have merely increased the payment of deferred taxes period from 7 years to 8 years. They stand condemned. There is such condemnation in the Opposition’s amendment at the second reading stage of this Bill.

The third principal part of this Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker- I know you are interested in wine but I am moving on from there- relates to the removal of the special double depreciation allowance on new plant and the introduction of the 40 per cent investment allowance. Before dealing with these separately, may I indicate, as we have done in our amendment, that I believe these moves have created a chaotic situation. The Treasurer said in his second reading speech that provisions relating to the :new investment allowances were the outstanding features of this Bill just as the allowance was an outstanding feature of the Government’s program for getting the economy on the move again. I hope for the sake of the thousands of Australians out of work that the Government’s less outstanding measures to get the economy moving have greater success than the socalled outstanding measures of this investment allowance.

The joint survey issued by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the National Bank in April revealed that only 8 per cent of respondents said that the allowance had greatly influenced their investment decisions. In fact Mr S.’ F. Hickson, President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, was drawn to say ‘that the improved outlook for capital expenditure has been maintained despite the fact that very few companies have been greatly encouraged by the 40 per cent investment allowance’. One can readily understand the fear that exists on either side of the House for future economic recovery under this Government if this is the impact that the outstanding feature of its program has had.

The logic behind the Treasurer’s defence of the investment allowance runs as follows: Additional capital investment will stimulate higher production and employment which will in turn make a higher standard of living possible. His case for the allowance being worth while depends on this basic assumption. If on the other hand the sequence of events is that consumer confidence rises and this generates an increased demand for goods and services which requires higher production for its satisfaction, higher production will mean higher employment with little new capacity when the rate of capacity utilisation is low. If it is not, then additional investment is stimulated. The investment decision is the last link in the chain, the first is a rise in consumer confidence. I refer honourable members to an article by Katona and Strumpel in the January edition of the journal Challenge which demonstrates for the United States and West German economies that ‘consumer confidence, not business investment, is the leading clue to fluctuations in the economy, and consumer confidence is closely tied to the faith in Government’.

This Government has ignored the overseas experience in its approach to cutting government spending and levels of deficit financing, so it is perhaps hoping for a little too much for it to appreciate the point made. But the fact remains that the experience elsewhere in the world is that the impetus for recovery must come from the consumption sector. The investment allowance then becomes simply a gratuitous handout, and one of considerable magnitude. It erodes the tax base enormously. It closes off other options for government disastrously. It is just too expensive. The implications for efficient resource allocation of a benefit of this type are of course immense. The 1973 Coombs Task Force review of the continuing expenditure policies of the previous government found that ‘there is of course no necessary benefit to the nation from increasing investment on a subsidised basis’. In addition little evidence was found for the allowance being the effective counter cyclical tool the present Treasurer sees it as. The allowance may be thought of as little more than a means of reducing the general level of company taxation but one which spreads the tax load unevenly between capital intensive companies and all other companies. It is indeed strange that a government so committed to the efficiency of market forces should attempt to bring about an allocation of resources contrary to that which the market would achieve.

At present the investment allowance obviously is not a significant determinant of the level of production and employment, nor is it an efficient means of lowering the burden of company taxation. The whole scheme is a result of the present Treasurer’s preoccupation with that curious animal- the investment led recovery. It is part of the ideological package which has postponed the recovery the Australian economy could have expected in early 1976. It has as much foundation in fact as the Government’s assertions that excessive government spending has been a major contributor to the present recession, as much validity as the Government’s misguided and dangerous obsession that cuts in government expenditure are necessary for economic recovery. It appears that $500m to $600m of government revenue will be forgone for no good purpose on this investment allowance. It will be well to remember this $600m when the Treasurer announces the expenditure cuts tomorrow. One can feel only sympathy for those industries which placed their trust in this Government and thought that the allowance would apply to them only to find at the last minute that it would not.

The hiring industry has a valid grievance. Much of their business is done in competition with leasing firms. Under this legislation they are automatically disadvantaged. It does not matter whether or not hiring may in fact lead to a better resource allocation than leasing; this Bill designates that on a cost basis hiring is more efficient than leasing- lessees get the investment allowance, hirers do not. This Government pretends to champion small business but when it found that the costs of its investment scheme were getting embarrassingly out of hand small business was sacrificed in the interest of big business. There is a considerable stockpile of high quality low priced used plant and equipment in overseas countries which could have been of considerable use to small business, but second hand plant is exempt from the allowance. I mention these instances not as a plea for a wider investment allowance but simply to point out the two-faced and inconsistent nature of the Government’s measures and to illustrate that its priority lies not with the interests of small business but with those of their bigger brothers. Incidentally I have just mentioned what might have been imported into this country. It is worth while dwelling for a moment on the thought that when the investment allowance is used it may be used to a greater extent on imported plant which will not generate employment in this country, and generating employment was a rationale given for the investment allowance.

The Opposition argues that what is necessary to bring about economic revival is an increase in consumer confidence and hence in demand generally. Direct action to stimulate demand is necessary and government expenditure has a role to play. The cutting of government expenditure is certainly not the right approach. The economic debate in this country has been stifled by the public and media acceptance of the Government’s false premise about economic recovery being dependent on expenditure cutbacks. Without endorsing a massive increase in expenditure as a solution to the problem, the Opposition will continue to argue against cuts in government expenditure at this time and will endeavour to demonstrate to the Australian people that the Liberal-National Country Party Government is virtually alone amongst world governments in taking this action of cutting government expenditure.

The business community itself obviously realises the problems that arise for the private sector when a government acts as this one has done in relation to expenditure cuts. The number of false economies that arise when blanket and unthinking assaults on public sector spending are made are, of course, many. I mention just one of particular interest to the manufacturing sector. The Associated Chamber of Manufactures has described the Federal Department of Industry and Commerce as being ‘understaffed and incapable of drawing up progressive policies for manufacturing industry’. Surely a little less ideology and a little more economic good sense would prevent the exacerbation of such problems. At every turn the point that the public sector and the private sector must work together for economic recovery seems to escape the LiberalNational Country Party Government. The public sector must be allowed to play a true supporting role to private enterprise. It must not opt out. I repeat that it must not, as this Government seems intent on making it, pursue only a diminished sideline role.

I now turn to the special depreciation provisions. The Government foreshadowed the abolition of the double depreciation scheme for new plant introduced in 1974-75 when it spoke of the introduction of the investment allowance. However, the Treasurer has omitted in this case also to clear up the loose ends. The greatest fault with any scheme arises when it discriminates between participants and non-participants in a purely arbitrary fashion. Some people who had sufficient faith in Australia ordered equipment before 1 January 1976. If that equipment cannot be installed by 30 June of this year they will get neither the investment allowance nor the double depreciation. It seems a little unfair that if benefits of this nature are to be given, those with intrinsic faith, who ordered before 1 January 1976, should be exempted. In the past there has been provision to protect people who had ordered equipment before the legislation was changed. Why not in this case? It does not augur well for the future of equitable wealth distribution in Australia if this Government cannot even manage internal equity in cases like this one.

In short, on this section of the investment allowance and double depreciation, the Labor Opposition deplores the promises that were made during the election campaign, during their grab for power. Those promises are ineffectual now in getting the economy moving. They are unfair and inequitable in their application and have brought hardship to many who find that their expectations cannot be met. When the economy does get moving this investment allowance will be chaotically expensive and will close off many other options. However, the Government has a mandate for what it has done. Many have acted on that mandate. It would be impractical for the Opposition to seek the removal of the specificclauses, despite all the faults we see in them, at the Committee stage.

The next principal section to which I turn relates to home mortgage interest deductions. I turn my attention to clause 1 1 which concerns home mortgage interest claims and I give notice that the Opposition intends opposing this clause not only at this stage in the second reading debate but also at the Committee stage of the Bill. Nowhere in the election platform of the Liberal and National Country parties is there any hint that when those parties spoke of supporting the home interest loans scheme they would be doing so in the way in which they have done in this Bill. They have no mandate for this outrage. There is no consistency at all between what is being done here and what was said during the election campaign. One wonders how many electors in seats that swung narrowly to the Government on 13 December would have cast their votes as they did if they had knowledge of this measure.

For some people it will mean an additional $9 a week in tax. It stands strangely with the Government’s previously stated intention to return income to individuals. Remember that we are not talking about an effect on high income families. The cut off point for eligibility for the deduction ensures that only people with ordinary salaries are affected. We may glean something of the Government’s scale of priorities from its attitude in this matter. The lack of notice- only 2 to 3 months- given by the Government of the drastic measures which this change contains can only add to the hardship endured by a significant number of people. Would it not have been more reasonable for a concerned government to extend the home mortgage interest claim to at least June 1978 when the taxpayer did not receive any home savings grant in the meantime? There will be people who will be denied the tax claim although they did not receive a benefit under earlier home grants legislation.

I would now like to mention some of the problems associated with the ‘ first home ‘ requirement in this part of the legislation- problems to which the Government has made no attempt to turn its mind. The eligibility for the deduction will apparently cease if a person is forced to move from his first home. No provision has been made for those people forced to move to retain employment- for example, those under compulsory transfer by an employer to a distant location; those whose employer has shifted to a distant location; and those whose present employer has had to close down and for whom no suitable local alternative employment is available. I know that my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) will be entering into this debate and will be talking about this aspect of the Bill so I will not say anything more than repeat that we of the Opposition strongly oppose this retrograde step of removing the present provisions relating to home mortgage loan interest deductions. This attitude is included in our second reading amendment. We shall press it further at the Committee stage.

I now turn to another aspect of the Bill concerning convertible notes. The measures in clauses 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 give effect to the Government’s vague election commitment to business to do something about convertible notes. The Opposition is relieved to find that the Government’s midsummer madness of last December stopped short of promising a return to the situation concerning convertible notes which operated prior to 1960. In effect the amendments in clauses 12 to 16 do not alter the prevailing situation to any great degree. They virtually clarify standard practices which have operated since 1970. The fact remains, though, that this does allow the forfeiture of some government revenue and, as such, is a subsidy to certain classes of business. Little justification has been given for this subsidy as a means of achieving more efficient resource allocation and, as such, it has a similar import for efficiency in allocation as the investment allowance. However, there is a mandate. It does not go very far in this measure. Not a lot of revenue is forgone, so we shall not press the attitude at the Committee stage.

Finally, in relation to the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill, I want to say something about company tax instalments. This clause validates the deferral of the company tax instalment due in early 1976 and also defers the 3 instalments payable during 1976-77. 1 might add that not much publicity has been given to the fact that these instalments are to be deferred next financial year. The Opposition does not oppose this part of the measure but neither is it carried away with its effectiveness as a tool of economic recovery. One would imagine it making very little difference to large companies except perhaps giving them trouble as they attempt to borrow during the seasonal liquidity rundown as all instalments are paid. On the other hand, small businesses may find some benefit in the measure, although they seem to have been left by the wayside in most of the Government’s other measures and particularly in this legislation which we are discussing. Of course, measures such as these will operate only at the margin. As I pointed out earlier, business incentives are useless without a sustained recovery in consumer demand. The Government’s policies relating to Government spending show that the coalition parties do not realise this.

So much for the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill. We are at the second reading stage of 2 other Bills in this cognate debate. I would like to say something about them. The Superannuation Amendment Bill (No. 2) is merely one which makes consequential changes to the definitions of ‘Commonwealth securities’ and ‘public securities’ in the Superannuation Act 1976. It is consequential upon the 30-20 rule changes in the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill which I have just been discussing. The Opposition does not oppose the 30-20 changes. Similarly it does not oppose the consequential changes in this other Bill.

Lastly I turn to the Income Tax (International Agreements) Amendment Bill. As the Treasurer has pointed out, the Australian Labor Government agreed to the substance of the new agreements and was involved in negotiations on them during its term of government. The Opposition does not oppose these measures and in fact welcomes them. As most honourable members will know the countries specifically involved in the agreements now given legislative effect are France and the Netherlands.

The primary reason for tax agreements such as these is to avoid double taxation. Most countries, including Australia, subject to tax the local source income of residents and non residents and basically all the foreign source income of residents. In the absence of relief from double taxation, a resident of one country deriving income from a second would be taxed by both countries. There is probably fairly general agreement that a state of double taxation is not equitable, that taxpayers who are subject to it contribute more revenue than they really should be obliged to do. Opinions differ, however, as to how relief from double taxation can be provided. It is the purpose of such agreements as these in this Bill to arrive at mutually satisfactory arrangements between the signatory countries. I repeat that in this particular case they are the Netherlands and France. It may be just as well to warn at this stage that if Fraser federalism really gets carried away with itself we may need double tax agreements between the Australian government and the State governments.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I believe I have now covered all the relevant and important points in these 3 Bills which are the subject of this cognate debate and have explained why the Labor Opposition has moved its amendment at the second reading stage and why we shall be pursuing some of the subjects of the debate at the Committee stage.


-Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Uren:

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


– It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to support these Bills and in particular the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill, and totally to reject the amendment proposed by the Opposition. The main purpose of the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill, though one would never guess it from the fulminations of the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), is to legislate for a number of the major initiatives which this Government has taken to restore the confidence, the incentive and the capacity of industry to invest and thus to provide jobs for all Australians. Undoubtedly the centrepiece is the 40 per cent investment allowance provided for in clause 10 of that Bill and I shall mainly direct my remarks to that.

I note that the first part of the amendment moved by the Opposition refers to this Government allegedly breaking an election promise in relation to home mortgage interest deduction. That measure has not been removed. In fact what has happened is that this Government has better tailored the scheme to the real needs of first home buyers and supplemented it by a home savings grant which goes to the real problem in that context, namely, the deposit gap. Having said that, I shall leave that aspect of the matter to subsequent speakers.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I trust that you will vacate your position to speak later in this debate to deal with the remarks that the honourable member for Adelaide made about wine makers. So I go back to the investment allowance. I say first and foremost that the 40 per cent investment allowance proposed in this legislation is a bold, imaginative and indeed extremely generous measure and I commend it strongly to Australian industry. The honourable member for Adelaide alleges in his amendment that it has created a chaotic situation. Who is the honourable member, or any member from that side of the House, to talk of creating chaos? That is precisely what was created over the previous 3 years and precisely why a measure such as this, bold and imaginative, is necessary to cope with the very adverse situation bequeathed to the present Government by the previous administration.

At the core of the malaise afflicting the Australian economy has been the severe depression of private business investment. By an array of measures the previous administration brought the profitability of industry low. There was the massive and rapid build-up of government spending which contributed significantly to rapid inflation. A tough credit squeeze with high interest rates was imposed to offset that. There were the ill-judged operations of the Prices Justification Tribunal, at least until early 1975. There was the impact of tariff cuts and the revaluation of the Australian dollar and the flood of imports which resulted, reducing demand for Australian production, and added to that the fact that the level of costs in Australia got out of line with those overseas. There was the bleeding of companies by the tax impact on the phantom profits arising from inflation. All these and other factors cut down the profitability of Australian industry and hence the incentive, the confidence and the very capacity of industry to invest.

The evidence is in the National Accounts figures for all to see. Whereas company profits as a percentage of all incomes- wages and salaries, interest, rents and profits or of the equivalent Gross Domestic Product- are normally of the order of 15 to 16 per cent, in 1974-75 as a result of the measures to which I have referred they were reduced to the order of 10 to 11 per cent. For the first half of this financial year, the latest statistics available, the figure still stands at only 12 per cent, and that includes a considerable component of the phantom profits arising from inflation. That is the situation we have to rectify.

Let me refer to the Government’s strategy in this respect and the role of the investment allowance. The essential overall economic objectives of the Government are: to reduce Australia’s high and stubborn inflation rate which is second only to the United Kingdom on an international comparison of 10 comparable industrial countries and, by that and other means to foster sound and lasting economic recovery and to restore full employment and economic growth. I put things this way because the cutting down of the inflation rate is itself a, if not the, main precondition of a lasting recovery in economic activity and hence in the expansion of job opportunities and the restoration of full employment.

The main thrust of the policy against inflation is of course in the area of incomes policy. I stress in passing in this context our unconditional commitment to implementing personal tax indexation. The substantial benefit of this will accrue to the ordinary wage and salary earner from 1 July. Of course the other main thrust of anti-inflation policy is to gain control of government spending and properly to fund the deficit to contain its potential for monetary inflation. We are doing that. The Australian Labor Party when in government never did so. So the strategy for stimulating the recovery in economic activity and employment is to reduce inflation and to build on a gradual recovery in real private consumption spending by stimulating real private investment spending, notably by this measure, the 40 per cent investment allowance now before the House. We have heard repeated tonight the phoney issue that the Opposition continually attempts to generate- whether we are aiming at a consumption led or an investment led recovery. It is a phoney issue. We, like the previous Administration, have been relying on a revival in real private consumption spending. We have been unhappy as the Opposition is over the socalled squirrelling of consumers. There now is evidence that this is ending and consumers are beginning to gain confidence. I stress that point. I stress that we on the Government side rely on a gradual recovery in private consumption spending because, to hear members of the Opposition speak, one would think it was no part of our strategy.

I say, however, that we are not looking for a consumer boom. It would be totally unwelcome in this situation and, to my mind, it would be somewhat unseemly. Members of the Labor Opposition are always mouthing platitudes about social priorities in welfare, education, urban renewal and so on, but from the way they talk one would think that they want to dissipate the recovery in a consumer boom. There is much more to our national purpose than the froth and bubble of a consumer boom.

What we do emphasise- and this has been a key thrust of our policy last year when we were in Opposition and it is being implemented by us this year now that we are in government- is that a key component in recovery must also be a recovery in investment spending. The thrust of our policy, particularly the 40 per cent investment allowance, is to shift the reliance for recovery from private consumption spending alone, which was the emphasis of the previous administration, to total spending in the private sector. The purpose of the investment stimulus from the 40 per cent investment allowance, combined with the continuance of the double depreciation concession to 30 June and the other measures, is to foster the recovery by bringing forward investment spending in addition to and in part related to- we recognise that point-a resurgence in real consumption spending.

However the honourable member for Adelaide then says to us that this measure constitutes a false hope- with widespread underutilisation of capacity what businesses are going to invest? To that I would answer that even where under-utilisation is the case the enterprising businessman might well take into his costprofit calculations- I believe from the latest surveys of business intentions he is doing this- that there are benefits to be gained by proceeding now while supplies, equipment and labour are more readily available as compared with what is likely to be the case when the recovery has progressed, as surely it will, to the point where everybody wants to invest at once. So there is advantage in moving now and taking advantage of the allowance and the double depreciation provision as well, up to 30 June.

Of course, in addition to that there are also major areas of investment in basic or heavy industry, or, for example, major ore projects, where the lead times in investment are so long that the investment process proceeds pretty well independently of the ups and downs of consumer demand. In those sorts of areas where the lead times are very long we can look, and are looking, to the investment allowance to have a major impact. But I stress again that the investment allowance measure is only one part of a total policy package. Of course, there will be instances where it will still not be effective because the inflation cost factor that has to be written into the profitability estimate of a project- into the discounted cash flow calculation, to use a technical term- will rule out the project. This is particularly true in import competing industries and even more so in export oriented industries where prices and markets are governed by external conditions and particularly in countries- most of our major markets- where inflation rates are now below ours, for instance Japan where it is 7.5 per cent and the United States where it is 7 per cent, to cite 2 major markets.

Of course, there are a variety of other difficulties. While the investment allowance can contribute and is contributing in a major way to the profitability sums coming out right and hence to the adoption of new projects and the creation of new jobs- I stress our aim is to get the economy moving again in order to expand job opportunities, to restore full employment and growth in this country- we come back, as I began, to beating inflation which is the No. 1 objective. That remains our principal objective.

I draw the attention of the House to the fact that a major advance in this legislation is the extension of the benefit not only to a much wider range of industry than that to which such an allowance previously applied but also to situations where plant is leased rather than purchased outright. This provision is important because as the legacy of the policies of the previous Governmentinflation, the squeeze on profits to which I referred, the bleeding of companies by the t?.x impact on the phantom profits of inflationmany firms find themselves in a position of acute shortage of working capital, and access to leasing is of great assistance to them. The Bill therefore provides a major advance over previous legislation in this area in that it makes the benefit of the allowance available to firms acquiring plant and equipment by leasing. In this respect it provides that the benefit should accrue in the first instance to the lessor. I will touch on the reasons for this if there is time. I want to quote the following passage from the statement of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on 1 April: … it was the Government’s expectation and wish that the benefit of the allowance be passed on to the lesseeuser.

That statement refers to the user of the equipment.

Mr Brown:

– That is an important point.


– As my colleague the honourable member for Diamond Valley says, it is a very important point and I want to make it clear. I want to underline the Treasurer’s words in that respect. Later on in that statement he stressed how the legislation had been drawn up, ‘so as to facilitate and encourage the flow-on of the tax benefit’ to the lessee user. My own view is that there is much to be said for making the benefit accrue direct to the lessee user. There are, however, reasons why in some circumstances it may be preferable for the allowance to remain with the lessor. For instance, there are circumstances where the lessee user cannot make proper benefit of the concession. I refer to newly established companies with profit generating potential but without sufficient profits in the first years of operation to benefit from the allowance, or companies currently in a tax loss position, and many small businesses generally. In these cases it is preferable that the benefit accrue to the lessor, and the lessor pass on the benefit by means of lower lease rentals. There is no reason to doubt that competition in these contexts will by and large ensure that the benefit will be passed on.

I conclude on this note: A measure such as this which confers such a major incentive in the interest of fostering business investment- and that is the key to lasting recovery, restored growth and full employment in Australia- inevitably has many and varied impacts on the whole

Australian economy. The truth is that not all these can be clearly identified or foreseen. I wish therefore to assure those interested parties that have made and are making representations to the Government on this matter- I trust that the Ministers in charge of the Bill will reinforce this assurance- that the Government will keep the operation of the legislation continually under review to ensure that it operates efficiently and equitably to achieve its stated purpose. For example, at the present time the Government Parties Treasury Committee, of which I am the Chairman, is looking closely at the operation of the legislation in relation to hiring as distinct from leasing firms and will be making recommendations to the Government on this matter.

Mr Brown:

– A very important matter.


– It is a very important matter. In the meantime, I commend the legislation to the House and Australian industry and I say again to Australian industry: Get up and take advantage of a bold and generous measure and thereby play your part in getting Australia moving again and in restoring prosperity to and full employment for all Australians.


-In seconding the amendment moved by the Australian Labor Party’s spokesman on economic matters- the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford)- I say that the Bill before the House is an example of the duplicity of the Fraser Government. On the one hand it honours an election commitment and on the other hand it is just one more breach of the Liberal-National Country Party’s election promises. The promised and vaunted investment allowance is the election commitment that it did not break. The introduction of this allowance is based on the premise of an investment led recovery in our economy. It is a premise that even this Government and its supporters have started to question. Originally this premise was the basis of the Fraser Government’s total economic strategy. But now it is only a part of the economic package that is supposedly designed to reduce inflation and to restore the level of economic activity.

This Government’s lack of economic expertise is shown up continually in its ad hoc measures and its sudden change in direction- in fact, in its total confusion. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) tell us that a major recovery is just around the corner. I question that assumption. I do not believe that there will be a major recovery while this Government is in power. Like all conservative governments before it, the Fraser Government accepts unquestioned the conservative Treasury doctrine on economic management policy- a doctrine that was designed by the capitalists for a capitalist system, a system that has broken down. According to this doctrine the best remedy for the economy is a severe dose of deflation based on a substantial increase in unemployment. This doctrine contends that it is possible to hit the economy hard and sustain the pressure for sufficient time to dampen wage demands and inflationary expectations. After this pressure has been applied for a time the argument is that it should then be possible gradually to reflate the economy and to restore employment and the level of economic activity.

One flaw in this sort of bludgeoning of the economy is that it is not possible to gauge accurately the impact of the policy. The main flaw in this doctrine is that it ignores any proper long term economic planning. It creates boom and then bust cycles on a continual basis- cycles that continue to hurt those who can least afford it, namely, the migrant, the low income earner and the small businessman. It does not recognise the real problems of the economy. It does not lead to sustainable economic recovery. It ignores the causes of the problem that the doctrine is designed to overcome. It does not recognise that true recovery and sustainable growth cannot occur until the causes of the problem are rectified. The Fraser Government’s use of this doctrine amounts to no more than an attack on the wage earner and on the Labor movement. It is an expression of its ideology.

The great danger to this country is the resurgence of those theorists who believe that severe deflation now will hasten the process of reducing inflation. This line of thinking must be resisted at all costs. The level of long term unemployment and the continual misuse of the country’s resources would be intolerable. The people who propound these ideas- the theorists- and the politicians who put these savage doctrines into practice do so with only a hazy idea of the consequences. These people in the main do not think of the social implications of their policies, although some of them do. Those people with the real power- the people in the capitalist system outside the Parliament- realise the social consequences of this doctrine but they are not concerned about the social effects. All they want is to increase their own wealth and power. They are the people that this investment allowance is aimed at.

Let us look at some of the more recent consequences of this doctrine. The first issue of the Australian Savings Bonds was intended to reduce the growth of the money supply to an annual rate of about 12 per cent. It backfired. It put the annual rate of growth of money into a negative rate. It increased the interest rates that potential home buyers had to pay. The Government ignored all the warning signs. It ignored our advice on the matter, it ignored the advice of the finance industry and it ignored the advice of those other sections of industry that could see the consequences. Another recent example is the cost cutting exercise that this Government has carried out in relation to the Hayden Budget. We recognise that it is always hard to reduce current spending. Capital spending can be deferred or chopped out of the Estimates with relative ease. That is what the Fraser Government has done. But the Government did not realise that it is a fundamental fact that the level of activity in the building and construction industry is heavily dependent on the public sector spending- I stress that aspect- particularly in the Australian Capital Territory.

These actions highlight the lack of forward planning in the Government’s economic policy as well as the long term implications of this type of approach to economic management. By increasing interest rates and not taking any measure to protect the key building and construction industry this Government has already set us back on the boom-and-bust cycle. Resources, both physical and material, are under-utilised in that industry. Unemployment is at a high level in this industry which directly and indirectly employs 20 per cent of the nation’s work force. Skilled workmen and apprentices are laid off daily. Many will leave the industry and never return. This means that when the boom starts again- what this Government calls economic recovery- manpower resources will not be able to meet the increased demand. The cost of building will skyrocket and lead us into another bout of inflation which will end in a disastrous recession. This investment allowance will not aid this key industry.

There are many other examples of industries in similar situations. These are the hidden and invidious consequences of this doctrine. We have said time and again in the past that the real power lies outside the Parliament. I stress that it lies outside the Parliament. For example, for the income year 1972-73 the report of the Commissioner of Taxation reveals that 210 000 companies made a taxation return, but fewer than 400 companies- less than 2 per cent of all companiesshared nearly 50 per cent of the total company profit. Of these 2 per cent most are multinationals. This is the group that this investment allowance is aimed at, but this will not revive the Australian industry. The investment decisions of these multinational corporations are not made in this country; they are made overseas. We have to stress that. The men who head these companies in foreign countries are the people who control our economy. These men, in conjunction with this conservative Government, are the people who will, if they have their way, bring about change- change for the worse- in our society. They are leading an attack on the wage earner- on real wage earnings. They intend to grab a much bigger slice of the cake for themselves. They intend to increase their wealth and power at the expense of the real wage earners. They are leading the fight to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich.

The establishment, the powerful economic interests that control this country, and the Fraser-Anthony Government that represents their interests have clearly chosen a strategy which amounts to no more than an attack on the wage earner, and the small businessman, the less privileged groups in our society. A key part of their economic strategy is the reduction of real wages. The most efficient way for capitalists to get their system out of its recession is to reduce the share going to the workers. As an example of an apparently successful implementation of this approach one has only to examine the situation in the United States. American workers had their real wages cut by at least 10 per cent in the last 2 years and unemployment in the United States went up to a level of about 10 per cent. At present in the United States about 9 million people are unemployed. That is the true basis of the much praised United States recovery. If this Government wants to support and duplicate that approach there is going to be massive unemployment in 1977.

Let us look at the indicators this Government is using in developing its economic strategy. The Treasurer told us in his second reading speech that the signs of economic recovery are apparent in the increase in the number of new motor vehicle registrations. Does the Treasurer not understand anything about consumer spending? Does he not realise that the cost of cars in this country is shortly going to rise substantially because of the new pollution control requirements? Both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer continue to quote surveys of business confidence to assure us that economic recovery and the investment allowance are going to succeed. The initial confidence in this allowance received a severe setback when very few, in fact practically no, businesses took up their offer in the March quarter. The Government disregarded this fact and again quoted from surveys to show that a higher number of businesses intended to use this allowance in the next quarter. I think the result will again be the same. Few businesses will take up this allowance. Will motor vehicle manufacturers and associated industries take up the allowance when sales are going to drop? Will manufacturers of white goods and brown goods take up the allowance when retailers are facing a gloomy future? Will textile manufacturers who are closing down all over the country be helped by this allowance? Will building material suppliers take up the allowance? The answer quite simply is no, not in the current economic climate. They are not as naive as this Government.

The multinationals know the realities. They will not make capital investments at this time. They will not take up the allowance. If they are not reinvesting in industry in their countries of origin, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Western Germany or Japan, they certainly will not do so in this country. I stress again that a few companies, those multinational companies- fewer than 400 of the 2 10 000 companies that make tax returns in our country- actually control the economy of this country. The smaller Australian companies know that it is useless to make capital investments unless there is an increase in the demand for their goods and services- a genuine resurgence of the economy. They realise that this Government is totally confused in its economic policy. They are not going to risk their own future because people in Canberra are trying to talk up the economy.

The Government should heed the warning it got last week from the former Treasurer of the Federal Liberal Party, Sir Charles McGrath, to take care in cutting back expenditure on public works. I stress that it was not a Labor member; it was the Secretary of the Liberal Party who said: ‘We warn you, do not cut back on public works. That is the one sector that can stimulate the private sector. ‘ That is what the Labor Government was doing. That is what he said to us. We agreed with him, and that is the situation. He was right when he said that the Government must appreciate that a substantial cut in Government spending would adversely affect the private sector. The private sector and the economy as a whole need large public sector involvement if a substantial recovery is to be achieved.

The people of Australia must be made aware of the consequences of the Fraser Government’s economic strategy. It is a strategy designed to decrease real wages. The Government wants to move wealth from the workers to those whom they really represent- the monopoly sector of this community. It is a strategy designed to decrease the goods and services provided by the Government. What this means is that the Government’s share of the national income will decrease and this will in turn limit the services the Federal Government will be able to provide. This in turn will affect the lifestyle of all Australians, and I want to stress this aspect. It is a strategy designed to increase the wealth and the power of the establishment and those powerful companies that I have mentioned at the expense of the worker and the people ‘s quality of life.

This Bill also spells the virtual destruction of the mortgage interest tax deductibility scheme. This is only one more breach of the Liberal Party’s election promises. The Fraser Government’s policy before the December elections stated unequivocally that it would continue to support the tax deductibility scheme. This promise has now been broken. The Treasurer said that the tax deductibility scheme was not getting to the core of the problem facing the home buyer. He said that the core of the problem was the deposit gap. This is just another example of the lack of understanding of the Fraser Government. While the deposit gap is still a problem the core of the problem now is the repayment-income gap, not the deposit gap.

By the virtual destruction of the scheme the Government also shows that it never understood the reason that Labor introduced the scheme. The tax deductibility for mortgage interest repayments was introduced to offset the added burden on the home buyer brought about by a general rise in interest rates. I ask the Government now in power whether it will reduce interest rates. The rise meant that the majority of home buyers had to meet much higher repayments than they were accustomed to. Our scheme was designed to promote relief to those people on low and middle incomes burdened with heavy repayments. I will discuss that aspect more fully in the Committee stage. I ask honourable members opposite to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford).

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

Diamond Valley

-I can see that during my 3 years absence from the Parliament not very much has changed because we have just heard from the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) the sort of speech that was frequently delivered by honourable members of the Opposition when I was here previously. We heard the same turgid, ponderous cliches trotted out one after the other; the same impossibility to recognise what really makes the country operate; the same failure to realise what is at the roots cause of the economic problems facing this country.

Dr Edwards:

– That is why they are sitting on the other side of the House.


– Indeed, as my colleague the honourable member for Berowra said, that is why they are sitting on the other side of the House. The speech of the honourable member for Reid was very enlightening. As I comprehend it, he was saying that he is opposed to the investment allowance being introduced for a number of reasons. The first reason he advanced was that it was just an attempt to prop up the capitalist system in this country which had broken down. I suppose there is a great deal of truth in that because the economic infrastructure of this country certainly broke down over the last 3 years. I remind the honourable member and those opposite of the decisions taken by their Government, such as its tariff decisions, irresponsibly taken and quite indifferent to the consequences in individual industries; the wholesale attack on business and commerce that took place during its time in power; the attempt to finance its grandiose schemes through outrageous and uncontrolled rates of taxation which crucified people who showed any incentive whatsoever; and its wholesale attack on the rural industries. Without mentioning any more of its endeavours over the previous 3 years they are enough in themselves to show that if anyone is responsible for the imminent decay of the system in this country it is the people who presently sit on the other side of the House.

The honourable member for Reid said that he was also opposed to the investment allowance because it was a wholesale attack on the workers and on the Labor movement. How on earth and by what curious cerebral processes he reaches that conclusion, I fail to see. I remind him that when the coalition parties left government in 1972 just under 100 000 people were unemployed. That number rocketed to 300 000 during the time that we were in Opposition. When we introduce measures in the Parliament to stimulate investment, to increase productivity, to provide jobs for the unemployed so that they can look after themselves and their families, what is the reaction? The measures are described as being a wholesale attack on the workers. They are not a wholesale attack on the workers; they are a wholesale attempt to get more people in this country working.

Again we hear from the honourable member for Reid the universal socialist panacea- public spending. That is the solution to all problems. According to the socialists, we should not worry about the sections of the economy that provide three out of four jobs; we should not worry about sections of the economy in which there arc people who show some initiative and who are prepared to work and improve their positions. The socialists say we should solve all our problems by increasing the percentage of total resources going in to the public sector and there will be no worries; there will be no tomorrows. Who will produce the goods and services? We are never told. Who will pay for the grandiose schemes? We are never told. So it goes on- the same tedious panacea. ‘Solve all your problems’ they say ‘by increasing government expenditure’.

The investment allowance which we are debating tonight is very commendable and should be supported by all members in this House. Like all measures it is not perfect and I hope to draw attention to some of the minor defects of it at a later stage; but it is a commendable provision in my view as it will, as has been explained, stimulate investment in the private sector once again. I remind honourable members of the simple statistic referred to by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in his second reading speech, in which he pointed out that during the period from 1972-73 to 1974-75 the share of private non-dwelling investment, which is the private investment sector, in total expenditure of gross domestic product was 10.7 per cent. Not only was it 10.7 per cent; it was also the lowest recorded share for at least 20 years. That is the situation this country has got into- one of declining investment and declining productivity, a situation in which there is no incentive or encouragement to the private sector to invest, expand and create job opportunities. The investment allowance is a commendable attempt to reverse that trend and it should be supported for that reason.

I wanted to quote at some length from the explanatory paper accompanying this Bill but I will not do so, save to say that in the explanatory paper which has been put forward by the

Treasurer together with the Bill, the investment allowance is explained in all the necessary detail. It is a wide-ranging scheme. As the House would know, in essence it is a taxation deduction of 40 per cent, or 20 per cent in the long term period, of the cost of certain defined plant and equipment, purchased or leased and put to productive use. As I have said, it is an attempt to restore investment confidence in the country. The honourable member for Reid and other honourable members on the other side of the House seem to have some doubts as to whether it will work. To cite one example of the way in which it is already working I refer to a statement in the Australian Financial Review of 28 April 1976. It is a statement of a report given by Mr Harry, who is the chairman of Vickers Australia Ltd. He praised the investment allowance that is being introduced by the Government for this reason:

It encourages us to give priority to a feasibility study to see whether we should not compress into the next 3 years capital expenditure on machine tools which would normally be made over the next 6 years.

Australian engineering industry would benefit significantly from such a program on our pan, for we know from past experience that quite extraordinary productivity gains can flow from the use of modern machine tools.

That is the sort of sign that we want to see from industry. It is the sort of sign that we will see from industry, more so when the investment allowance becomes more widely known and when it is used by people to acquire, whether by purchase or by lease, new plant and equipment, and when they start to put that to productive use.

I said that like most programs this one is not without blemish. I want to make some constructive comments about some of the defects in the scheme which I hope the Government will have a further look at with a view to amending or changing them at some later stage after the scheme is in operation. The first is that when the scheme was originally proposed by the Treasurer, there was a bottom limit of $1,000, that is to say, plant and equipment costing less than $1,000 would not be eligible for the investment allowance. A number of us on this side of the House who are concerned about the state of small business and concerned that there should be more incentive and encouragement given to small business made representations to the Treasurer, as a result of which that $1,000 limit has been reduced to $500. There is a shading-in stage between the $500 and the $ 1,000 limit. But with respect, it would seem to me that there is a very strong case for abolishing the $500 bottom limit altogether. I hope that the Government will consider this.

There are a number of reasons why this should be so. The first is the fact that there is much plant and equipment which would otherwise be eligible under this scheme and which in fact costs less than $500. 1 think for instance of some of the machinery that one would find used in small factories, such as spinning equipment. Quite often, even despite inflation over the last 3 years, it still costs less than $500. It would seem to me that this is an area where more incentive should be given to acquire plant and equipment costing less than $500. The second reason is that there are many deductions which are claimed for taxation purposes which are very small indeed and certainly much smaller than $500. The whole range of taxation deductions is open to those who can establish that the deduction has been incurred. There is no normal $500 bottom limit so far as taxation concessions are concerned.

I fail to be persuaded by the argument which I gather is advanced as to why there is a $500 limit, namely that of administrative convenience. It is said, I understand, that there is an administrative difficulty in calculating the allowance on items costing less than $500 and that for that reason the limit should be $500. I am not persuaded by that. It would seem to me no more difficult to calculate the allowance on items costing less than $500 than on items costing more. The other argument which I put forward quite seriously- and I am sure Mr Deputy Speaker that you would have had the experience that most other people have had- is that the taxation Commissioner himself is not renowned for ignoring items of income which happen to be small. In fact these days there seems to be a concern to place a very close scrutiny on all sources of income- all items and heads of income- no matter how small they may be. It would seem to me that if we are concerned with a situation as we are with taxation as it is in Australia where we calculate all sources of income then calculate all areas of deductions, then what is appropriate so far as income is concerned is equally appropriate so far as deductions are concerned. Accordingly I hope that the Government will have another look at this matter, if not before the legislation is passed then at a later stage after the scheme has been in operation for some time to see whether there is not some way of reducing the limit further or indeed of abolishing the bottom limit of $500. 1 believe that to do so would be a very powerful incentive so far as small business is concerned.

I mention another of the areas which I think should be looked at more closely. It is certainly an area which does not require amendment at this stage before the legislation is passed, but it is an area which should be looked at very closely indeed when the scheme is under operation. That is the very commendable provision of the Bill, extending the investment allowance to plant and equipment which is leased rather than purchased right out. It is a recognition of commercial reality that these days companies and businessmen lease much plant and equipment rather than buy it straight out. Why do we shy away from the fact that they do so in many cases because the leasing charges are deductible? It is a recognition of commercial reality that this is a very large area of activity where people lease equipment rather than buy it right out. It is therefore very appropriate that the investment allowance should apply just as much to leased property as it should to purchased property. But what I am very concerned with is that the Government should make a very close scrutiny to see that the advantages of this investment allowance scheme are really passed on to the lessee. It is the lessee who will use the equipment; it is the lessee who will put the equipment to productive use; it is the lessee who will employ people in the use of that equipment. It is therefore very important to see that the totality of the benefit of the investment allowance is received by the lessee. I put this very seriously to the Treasurer who is not at the table that the Government should give very close scrutiny to this matter to ensure that the scheme is implemented properly.

I return to one principal matter so far as the substance of the investment allowance is concerned. The investment allowance has had a very chequered history. It has been introduced, it has been taken away and it has now been restored on a more generous and long term basis. I venture to suggest that the predictions that were made by the present Government when the investment allowance was abolished by the socialists have in fact come true. In the Budget in 1973, the former Treasurer, that is to say the most recent Treasurer’s predecessor twice removed, announced that the investment allowance was to be abolished. He announced that it was to be abolished on a very strange ground. The ground he advanced was that it would encourage uneconomic activity to allow the investment allowance to continue. The present Speaker of the House who was then the Leader of the Opposition spoke in opposition to the removal of the investment allowance. It is very significant to read what the then Leader of the Opposition said about the abolition of the investment allowance and the consequences that were in store for the economy of the country as a result of that abolition. It must be very comforting to him to know that this prediction, like a number of his predictions on economic matters, have come true. Mr Deputy Speaker, I trust that you will convey this to him when next you see him. The then Leader of the Opposition said on that occasion:

A further disincentive directly affecting the manufacturing industry is the discontinuation of the investment allowance on the installed cost of new manufacturing plant and equipment in the first year after installation.

He went on to say:

The effect of this will be to deter investment in new plant. Manufacturing capacity, implementation of new technology and productivity improvement will be badly affected.

One might say: ‘How right he was’. Since the abolition of the investment allowance, although not solely for that reason, manufacturing capacity did decline. We saw that the implementation of new technology and productivity improvement was badly affected. They were the consequences not only of the abolition of the investment allowance- I concede that at the outsetbut they were also the consequences of a wholesale attack on any step by government to encourage investment in the private sector of the economy. The abolition of the investment allowance was just one illustration of the way in which the previous Government launched that wholesale attack on the private sector.

Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence I should like to make a few brief remarks about an area of taxation which is not directly related to the investment allowance, but which is relevant because we are concerned with a Bill on income tax. The proposition that I would make in the very few moments left to me is that there are many areas of taxation which are in desperate need of urgent attention and reform. We are to introduce tax indexation, and that will be of great benefit. But let us not fool ourselves that that is going to be a solution to many of the problems and many of the hardships imposed by the present system and structure of taxation. The first matter that will have to be attended to is the iniquitous system of provisional income tax. If it were not for the onerous burdens that I have had in my electorate recently I would have prepared an amendment either to abolish or to substantially reform and restrict the implementation of the system of provisional income tax. I mention this matter at this stage to give the Government and the Treasury officials time to prepare before the next appropriate occasion, a defence, if there is one, to this indefensible system of taxation.

I want to give one final example of the way in which personal income tax is adversely affecting people. This afternoon I received a letter from a constituent of mine who has a part-time teaching job. Last month he received $337.60 gross for his teaching. The tax on that was $159.15. He was left with $178.45. He is being taxed at a rate of 47 per cent. He has a wife and 6 children. He is trying to improve himself and his condition in the world; he is trying to get ahead. But he is being held back and being crucified by being taxed at the rate of 47 per cent. Last month he was taxed at the rate of 33 per cent; this month it is 47 per cent. That is iniquitous. In my submission it is quite indefensible and the system should be the subject of instant reform.


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


-The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) mentioned that if he had time he would have prepared a Bill or an amendment to the Bill to abolish provisional tax completely. I like the honourable member. He is a very likeable sort of fellow. But I think he should be honest with his electorate. The honourable member would have had time to prepare an amendment to the BUI to abolish provisional tax. He did not do so for the simple reason that he knew he could not because his own Party, his own Treasurer (Mr Lynch), his own Leader, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) would not allow him to move such an amendment. I do not think that to say this just to gather in a few votes- parish pumpingis a good thing. I believe that you must be honest with your electorate otherwise the electorate will not be honest with you. The honourable member may be a little confused because it is obvious that the person concerned in the case he raised must have had some other investment income or income of that type otherwise he would have to be paying provisional tax.

I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) which states: ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House notes that:

  1. the legislation involves the breaking of election promises with the removal for many of home mortgage interest deductions -

It is a great many, by the way- and the inadequate alterations to wine-makers’ tax liability, and

  1. the provisions for the introduction of the investment allowance have created a chaotic situation in the economy’.

I support that proposition because I think it exemplifies very clearly the fact that this is the most politically dishonest Government that this country has ever seen in the whole of its history. Never before has a government in such a short period broken so many of the undertakings that it gave during the election campaign.

Mr Cohen:

– Have they kept any?


– The honourable member for Robertson makes a very good point: Has the Government kept any? One has to sit down and scratch one’s head to find out what promises the Government has really kept and implemented and which ones it has abrogated. For example, about an hour ago a statement from the wine industry was placed in my box. I happened to open it only a little while before I came here to speak on this legislation. Of course, we have noted that the present Treasurer, when Deputy Leader of the Opposition, called on the then Government on 16 June 1975 to withdraw the system of stock valuation introduced in the 1973-74 Budget. Later a firm pledge was given that a Liberal-National Country Party Government would abolish the existing stock valuation system.

Mr Bourchier:

– That is not true.


– That has been stated. That was a firm undertaking by honourable members opposite when they were in Opposition. These are the undertakings that were given by the previous Opposition. These are the undertakings that have been broken consistently by the present Government. I would suggest that the honourable member for Bendigo had better get back and learn his own policy. If he did so he might do a little bit better.

As late as tonight honourable members will have received in their offices a statement from the wine industry pointing out the bad deal that it is getting. Is it any wonder that various sectors of industry, one after another today, are losing confidence in this Government? They are learning the hard way. The people in these industries believed that they would receive great assistance if they weighed in the money to the slush funds of the present Government’s election campaign. But now they find that all of those promises and undertakings have been completely abrogated.

The first promise broken tonight is the promise in respect of the home mortgage interest deductibility scheme. Some more promises will be broken tomorrow night. Promises are being broken almost day by day. The second promise to be broken tonight is the promise in respect of the wine industry. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) knows how much work went into the job of introducing a scheme to give a reduced liability for interest on the mortgage repayments of the average home owner. This scheme was a very great assistance to the majority of people who have been affected by increases in interest rates on mortgage repayments. The present Prime Minister and Government gave a firm undertaking during the last election campaign that under no circumstances would they dismantle the home interest deductibility scheme. That was a firm promise and undertaking which has been completely and utterly abrogated. One simply cannot put it in any other way than to say that this is a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ exercise. The Government says: ‘Yes, we are going to introduce a grand new scheme, a homes grant scheme which will provide $2,000 to people who are buying their first home’. What the Government does not mention is that one has to be able to save $40 a week for 3 years to qualify. Who are the people who will be able to afford to save that amount of money? These people naturally will come from the upper middle income groupings, not the lower middle or lower income groupings. It is pretty hard to save $40 a week. Even I cannot do that on my salary. Therefore I do not know how the great majority of the people can do it. For that reason I think it is disgraceful that this very important program which was designed to reduce the mortgage interest liability of the vast majority of the middle and lower income groups is to be dismantled. About 80 per cent of the people- that is a minimum figure- who qualified up to 30 June in the last financial year and who otherwise would have qualified in this financial year will now be deprived of this benefit. From now on the benefit will apply only to mortgages of 5 years duration or less and only to first residences. This is the important thing which people should keep in mind.

In the past the benefit applied to all mortgages irrespective of their period of duration, whether it was for one year, 25 years or 30 years. It applied also in respect of all homes; it did not matter whether it was a first home. The benefit will now apply in respect of the first home only and will apply only for the first 5 years of the mortgage. This means that the vast majority of people will lose this facility, particularly people, for example, in Housing Commission homes out in the western suburbs of Sydney. A very big proportion of people in that area live in Housing Commission homes. Up to now, if these people were buying their homes they would be able to claim a tax deduction at the end of the financial year. From now on they will be eligible to claim a tax deducation only if they have lived in that house for a period of less than 5 years and provided it is their first home. The benefit will not apply if they have lived in the home for more than 5 years. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) who represents a similar area to the one I represent would know, the vast majority of people acquiring Housing Commission homes in the last 5 years have not been buying them. They have not been buying because the Commission does not allow them to do so. A big majority of people who have held the houses for more than 5 years are buying them. Some of the people are buying their first home; others are not.

From now on the great proportion of people living in Housing Commission homes will not be able to claim their interest payments under the home mortgage deductibility scheme. This will have a dramatic effect on the people out in the western suburbs of Sydney. That is promise number 2 which is broken completely. Of course honourable members will find many more broken promises. More are to be broken tomorrow night in the statement which the Treasurer will make. There are so many of these promises. The coalition Parties promised to reduce unemployment. The March and April figures seasonally adjusted show an increase in unemployment. In other words the coalition Parties are not grappling with this issue after 5 months in office. The coalition parties promised that there would be no credit squeeze, and yet we have a credit squeeze by stealth. We have a credit squeeze particularly from the Australian savings bonds which have had a dramatic effect upon the building society movement in this country. On a delayed action basis these bonds will have a dramatic effect upon the building industry in the months to come. At this stage there is still a turnaround in the building industry because of loans which were approved many months ago. The time will come in the months ahead when there will be a decisive downturn.

We can go on to deal, one after the other, with the various promises that this Government has completely and cynically abrogated. The Government gave an undertaking in the election campaign that it would not interfere with wage indexation. Within a couple of months of taking office it has approached the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to do just that. If they are the sorts of policies that are to be followed, is it any wonder that people are losing confidence? The 40 per cent investment allowance is to cost a net $500m to $600m after removal of the double depreciation allowance which was introduced by the Labor Government at a cost of approximately $190m. In other words, the gross cost of the 40 per cent investment allowance will be between $590m and $690m. This is a pretty good hand-out by a government which says it wants to cut costs. Let us look at the basis of this. Let us have a look at what the Treasurer said about the new investment allowance in his second reading speech on the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1976. He said:

The new investment allowance is being introduced as a decisive and far-reaching incentive to industry to invest and, at the same time, to create jobs; in other words, to repair the damage which has occurred during the past 3 years.

This assertion is an old stock-in-trade, of course. The people are beginning to become a little fed up with that sort of nonsense. He continues:

On the other side of the ledger, by reducing government expenditures and lightening the burden of personal taxation, we shall be putting more money into the private citizen’s pocket to spend as he wishes, so that investment and private consumption can move forward together.

In other words the whole basis of the Treasurer’s contention is that more investment will occur as a result of giving this investment allowance, and accordingly there will be more production and more jobs, and so on.

Mr McVeigh:

– Do you not agree with that?


– I would agree with that in different circumstances, but in circumstances where there is a lack of confidence in the integrity and the policies of this Government to maintain undertakings it gives to the public, I cannot possibly see the idea working. I will go one step further than that: The economic policy of the Government is in such a shambles that it will not encourage the business fraternity- industry itself- to regain confidence in the economy. I will tell honourable members why. Industry will not invest unless it has confidence that it will receive a reasonable margin of profit. If businessmen find that in the present economic circumstances it is just not worth the risk to invest on a large scale because there is simply not a reasonable return, they will make the decision not to invest, and all the investment allowances in the world are not worth a cent unless in the first instance there is an assured return on the investment. If there is a margin industry will take advantage of investment allowances and, accordingly, there will be greater investment, greater production and a greater number of jobs.

In this instance I do not think the vast majority of industry will invest. A very interesting article appeared recently in the Press concerning the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) attending a luncheon in Melbourne. He thought that he would be patted on the back, but all the captains of industry told him what a bad job this Government was doing and that it would have to do something effective in order to restore business confidence. Honourable members opposite would all know about that article. They would have read it within the last fortnight. It is something of which they should all be taking notice.

Let us see why industry does not have confidence in this Government which, as I said earlier, said it would reduce unemployment. The unemployment figures for the last 2 months- if ever there was a period when unemployment should have been reduced this was it- show an increase in unemployment when seasonally adjusted. The Australian savings bonds, which I mentioned, are having a dramatic effect upon building societies and in the months to come will have a dramatic effect upon the home building industry itself. The bonds are doing a delayed action job. Let us take the reductions in expenditure in employment giving areas. This Government is absolutely and completely fanatical in its desire to reduce Government expenditure but it is not prepared to be careful to ensure that when it reduces expenditure it does not lower its resources to provide employment.

Debate interrupted.

page 2244


Nuclear power -Passports -Correspondence Addressed to Ministers of Parliament -Proposed Statement by Treasurer -Air Fares to Tasmania: Petition- Temporary Assistance Authority

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 18 February 1976 I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.


– This evening when leafing through the Encyclopaedia Britannica I came across an entry on the Children’s Crusade. The entry read as follows:

Children’s Crusade, a religious movement in Europe during the summer of 1212 in which thousands of children set out to conquer the Holy Land from the Muslims by love instead of by force. The movement ended in disaster . . .

The first group of children was led by a French shepherd boy named Stephen from … a town near Vendome who had a vision in which Jesus appeared to him disguised as a pilgrim and gave him a letter for the French King. On his way to deliver the letter, Stephen attracted hundreds of followers, some of whom decided to go to the Holy Land. An estimated 30 000 made their way to Marseilles, where they fell victim to disreputable merchants who shipped them to slave markets in North Africa.

A 10-year-old boy named Nicholas, from Cologne, Germany, led a second group . . . attracting an estimated 20 000 children. After crossing the Alps into Italy, they split into groups: some were dispersed . . . ; others continued on to Genoa, where they were refused transport across the Mediteranean . . . The fate of their leader, Nicholas, is unknown, but many of these children, like the French group, were sold in the East as slaves.

Today, looking at the Friends of the Earth outside the House, I was reminded very much of the Children’s Crusade. These young people, or the vast majority of them, are sincere, idealistic and almost entirely deluded. They are endeavouring to further a certain objective and, by their actions, are succeeding only in going in the opposite direction. I do not want to say that these people are in any sense insincere. I am sure that, like the children of the Children’s Crusade, they are utterly sincere, but I am sure that they are just as deluded.

The anti-nuclear lobby was started 20 years ago by coal and oil interests to protect their investments. I do not think that those interests are active in the lobby today because it has been taken over almost entirely by the communists. The communists get these poor deluded innocents to do their work for them. We are told by them that nuclear power is utterly abominable yet the communists, who are running them, sponsor nuclear power in Russia without any compunction whatsoever. What the communists are trying to do is to use these deluded and innocent people in order to break down the industrial structure of the democracies. What is happening in Australia is also happening in other parts of the world. This is a concerted effort.

The truth of the matter is that nuclear power is the cheapest, safest and cleanest power available to mankind at the present moment. The pollution from a nuclear powered station is infinitely less than the pollution from a coal fired station. It is true, of course, that there is some nuclear waste, but the dangers of this nuclear waste have been magnified a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold, a million-fold, so that all sense of proportion has been lost. These poor innocent little people, the Friends of the Earth, whom we saw outside the House today are sincere, decent and honest like the poor children of the Children’s Crusade 800 years ago. They are decent, sincere, honest, idealistic people and yet they are advocating what is in point of fact the maximum pollution in the environment.

St George

-A number of my constituents are suffering from a serious deprivation of civil liberties. The present Government says that it is unable to rectify the situation. No previous government has been prepared to rectify it. I refer to the matter of passports. The fact is that a person is not entitled as of right to a passport. I talk to people in my electorate about this matter and I find the general reaction is that nobody can really believe that a government has the absolute discretion as to whether a person can leave this country and can give him absolutely no reasons for refusing to give him a passport. In some respects this is what occurs in many countries which we criticise at times. The right to move, the right to travel, is a very important right. For many years- indeed throughout our history since Federationgovernments have continued to refuse to move their position one iota.

Problems have arisen in recent times in regard to Croations. A number of Croatians live in my electorate and they have come to see me. For some time now I have been trying to get the Government to give them passports but the answer has been in the negative although it has been stated that they may apply for a review of the decision at some later time. We know that many of these people were seriously affected by the raids by the Australian Labor Party two or more years ago. We do not know exactly what was the outcome of those raids in all cases but we know that the Croatian people were the subject of considerable persecution under the Labor Government. The question now is whether or not these people and anybody else are to be entitled to ask for a change in the rules and regulations. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) says that the matter is to be considered to some extent by the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security. But it would not deal with the whole problem. As is the practice in many countries, a passport is something to which a person should be entitled as of right, providing reasonable provisions are taken to protect the national security. Certainly some appeal provisions should apply in cases where passports are refused.

Except for security reasons a person ought to be entitled to know why a passport has been refused. At present there is no recourse to a court for any reason. No reasons are given by the Administration. The matter is entirely administrative. Passports can be refused because of criminal records, for security reasons, health reasons, matrimonial reasons or any other reasons which we do not know of or for no reasons whatever. The citizen can do absolutely nothing about it. Apart from the matter of security, not one of those headings to which I have referred would be the province of Mr Justice

Hope’s Royal Commission. Unfortunately none of these matters will come under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act which it is hoped will start operating in the middle of this year. The schedule to the Act lists certain powers and discretions conferred by various Acts of Parliament. They can be appealed against. But there is nothing in that Act relating to passports because it was decided when the Bill went through the Parliament not to make any provision and to leave the matter in abeyance until the Royal Commission could deal with it. As I have pointed out, the Royal Commission will be concerned with only one of a very few headings. The situation really is that the matter has been fobbed off because the Government does not want to move from its entrenched position. Neither did any previous Government feel so constrained.

It is no good the Government saying: ‘We will look at matters later’. The fact is that people in many cases have been given documents of identity. This is a half-way house that allows one to travel. In one case a constituent who works for Qantas was told: ‘You can have this document to go on a course in America’. But if he is to be allowed to leave the country and to return what is the purpose of refusing a passport? A firm of solicitors in Sydney has taken up this matter over the last few years and after threatening pressure in the media against the last Government the firm was able to obtain passports in some specific cases. In one case a gentleman who just wanted to go to visit his relatives in South Africa was granted one. The general public, I believe, does not follow this situation. In many countries the position is entirely different. Some amelioration of the absolute discretion condition that now applies is long overdue. Otherwise people are denied a fundamental right at least to know why they are being discriminated against or the fundamental right itself to move around this world.

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


-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to address my remarks this evening to Mr Speaker through you as his Deputy. Sir, you, like Mr Speaker, have been a member of this chamber for many years and you will appreciate that the work load in this Parliament has increased no end over those years. I think most of the longer serving members will agree that some years ago their work load in the chamber and in the Parliament was such that they could handle it with relative ease. But in recent times that load has increased dramatically. I think one of the contributing factors to this increase is the vast amount of mail that comes into this place. This is made up of a number of kinds. Firstly, individuals write to their respective members. They have every right to do that and I have no objections to it. I would encourage it because I think this is only right and proper. We also get a great deal of correspondence from the various departments, industry and the like. I think in the main this is also to be welcomed because it gives members of Parliament an opportunity of knowing what is going on outside this place. It gives them an opportunity of finding out what industries think.

But one thing concerns me greatly. No doubt many members in this chamber who have checked their mail as late as this evening will have noticed that there is a great influx of correspondence addressed to an individual member but carrying no postage stamps at all. For instance, I have a letter addressed to Mr B. King, M.H.R. There is nothing else on the envelope. On opening it I found it contained a lot of propaganda from an East Timor relief fund asking for a donation. I do not waste my time reading such propaganda if it does not bear a signature or is not properly addressed to me as a member. There is only one place for it and that is the round filing cabinet. That is one piece of correspondence. A second one was another small envelope addressed to the Hon. R. S. King. There was nothing else on it. I duly opened the envelope. This takes time which is somewhat valuable in this place. Inside was a little piece of yellow paper and on it is a printed letter.

Mr Porter:

– A roneoed letter no doubt.


– Yes, it is a roneoed form of letter. My address at Parliament House has been typed in. The correspondence reads:

Dear Sir.

I am a great admirer of your wonderful work for the good people of Australia.

I accept that. It continues:

May I wish you good health, and every health and happiness in the future.

I am a collector of autographed letters, and invite you to briefly reply to this letter for my collection.

With sincere thanks, and best wishes from England.

Yours most sincerely, PETER W. LADKIN.

The address is: 38 Glenville Drive, Stockland Green, Birmingham, B23 6PR, West Midlands, England

The date is 30 March 1976. Mr Deputy Speaker, I should like you or Mr Speaker to investigate where such correspondence originates. It is obvious that someone within these premises is bypassing the normal procedures of the Post Office by posting this correspondence in Parliament House. This letter originated in England, I presume.

Mr Martyr:

– It has a cheap postage rate.


– It has a very cheap postage rate. Evidently someone on behalf of Mr Ladkin is making sure that someone gets this correspondence so that he in turn can get the autographs of various members of this Parliament. Members of Parliament, I believe, should not have this responsibility. I am concerned with the vast quantity of mail that is being delivered under false pretences into this Parliament. I repeat that we have individual members sending out correspondence and Ministers, departments and officers within this Parliament sending correspondence, but I do not believe that we should be sidetracking the Post Office by distributing mail in the way I have described. I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to take the matter up with Mr Speaker.

Mr Antony Whitlam:

– I rise in this debate hopefully to lift the level somewhat. We have heard 3 contributions, one from the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). Having consulted the lunar calendar I am still not sure what he was talking about. It had something to do with a children’s crusade. I assume that it was nothing to do with the child care program that this Government is axing so savagely. Tomorrow we will see the Government’s Treasurer (Mr Lynch) present a package which puts the program even further into reverse. We heard the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) for the first time rise in this chamber and talk about something almost serious. For the first minute of his allotted S minutes I thought he was talking about civil liberties, but he went on to identify a non-existent group; he went on the talk about the Croatian people. There are no persons in this country who carry passports bearing that nationality. They all show nationality as Yugoslavian or that they are persons who came from Yugoslavia and are Australian citizens. Introducing that kind of divisive element into this chamber is just the sort of thing I should expect from the honourable member for St George who has been sent here from those right wing elements in the ethnic communities in New South Wales.

We heard next from the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King). He talked about something that exercises the attention of every diligent member in this chamber in attending to his mail.

It is an arduous task but it is one that we ought to exercise with more diligence than he has exercised. When he assigns to the waste basket- the round filing cabinet, as he calls it- the information given by people concerned about conditions in East Timor, he condemns not just easily identifiable Marxist groups who might be the people whom he can slang at easily; he condemns the Catholic Bishops of Australia who are terribly concerned about conditions in East Timor. The views put forward in this correspondence are exactly the same in sentiment as those being expressed by Bishop Gleeson of Adelaide at the moment. If honourable members opposite who are interjecting want to express a contrary view they will get an opportunity in a few moments to do so.

How extraordinary it is that in this debate we have had 3 honourable members for the Government parties use the time of this chamber on such frivolous matters. Their contributions were a good swan song because they know what will happen tomorrow in the Parliament, which was called together in mid-February to deal with the affairs of this nation, to put right the terrible mess into which the nation had been allegedly placed by 3 years of Labor government and about which the Government has done nothing until now. It has put forward only one positive measure- the $30m give-away to the rural sector. That is the one positive measure that the Government has introduced in this period. We have had 3 months of fuddling. AH the Government’s supporters, all the people who thought: ‘Gee, anything better than the Labor Party ‘ have been so disillusioned. I refer not to (‘eminence gris. I refer not to the Robert Christian Browns, the Sir Robert Creighton Browns; I refer not to those bad men. I refer to the decent honest Australians, the people who were mystified by the developments in world trade and by the contraction of the world economy which caught up with the Australian economy and which confuse the best minds in the whole world, none of which sits on the Government benches in this chamber. That confusion deceived these people and this Government has misled them. Tomorrow the Government will entertain this chamber with such diversions. Into this place tomorrow will come the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) with his package which will slash the hopes of Australians. He will slash Medibank, which the Government parties told the people they would maintain. This Government will slash their hopes and will do it for the meanest of objectives. Honourable members on the Government side will do it because they support a Prime Minister who has never worked for anybody in his life, who lives off inherited wealth, who has never rustled cattle in his life.

Mr McVeigh:

– That is to his credit.

Mr Antony Whitlam:

-He has never been caught.

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

Mr McVeigh:

– I take a point of order. Is it in order for any honourable member to stand in this chamber and criticise a man who has not rustled cattle?


-No point of order is involved. The honourable member will resume his seat and the House will come to order.


– I do not mind following a remarkable act but that last performance was one of the most extraordinary ever seen in this chamber. Perhaps it was due to the 3 years of training that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Antony Whitlam) had overseas before he came back here.

Mr Innes:

– The fascist member from Tasmania.


– In this capacity he is competing with the honourable member for Melbourne who once again is behaving as if he is the clown prince of this Parliament. I rise to draw the attention of honourable members opposite -

Mr Innes:

– You will not be here after the next election.


– That is all right. I waited for the honourable member to make a better contribution than an inane interjection. His greatest interjection was last week when he complained that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) turned his back on him when answering a question. In view of his behaviour I hope that the Prime Minister turns his back on the honourable member for Melbourne on many occasions.

Mr Innes:

– I have made 21 speeches in this Parliament. What have you done. You have uttered a lot of drivel and you will not be here much longer.


-Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting.

Mr Innes:

– I take a point of order. When honourable members are being provocative on their feet they invite interjections.


-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Melbourne resume his seat and read the Standing Orders. They mention nothing about provocation. I also suggest that interjections cease from both sides of the House so that we get through the rest of this adjournment debate without interruption.


– The honourable member for Melbourne has again wasted the time of the House. He will be delighted to know the reaction of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) when he hears what I was about to tell the House in some detail. Due to the honourable member’s inanity he has once again wasted public money. We have been spared the Laurel and Hardy show tonight and I congratulate the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) for not making galahs of themselves again on this occasion.

I have the honour to inform the Parliament that yesterday at 5 p.m. the largest petition ever from the State of Tasmania was presented. It was one of the largest ever presented from any State. That petition, containing 13 000 signatures, was handed to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). It was prepared in Tasmania and, regrettably, the organisers did not prepare it in a form acceptable for presentation to this House. However the honourable member for Melbourne will be delighted to know that it was presented yesterday by representatives of Tasmania from both sides of this House and from both sides of the Senate. I think Senator Wriedt might have something to say to the honourable member for Melbourne for behaving in the way that he has behaved tonight when I have been endeavouring to tell the House about this most important petition. The petition was presented at 5 p.m. yesterday.

Mr Innes:

– You are boring the backsides off everybody.


-I think the honourable member ought to be careful. He might be talking about a man who may be in a position to deal with him and put him back in his box. Senator Wriedt, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), Senator Shirley Walters and I presented to the Minister for Transport a petition asking the Government to give consideration to the granting of some concession to those people who have to pay air fares to travel from Tasmania to the mainland. I would have liked to give the House more details of this petition and the benefits that would accrue to tourism, to the business community, to families, and- for the benefit of the honourable member for Melbourneto pensioners, for whom he does not care one whit. There are pensioners in Tasmania who cannot afford to get to the mainland and there are pensioners on the mainland who cannot afford to get to Tasmania. I cannot go into greater details because my time has been wasted by an idiotic performance.

In conclusion, I have much pleasure in saying that the first person I will be ringing tomorrow will be the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to explain to him why I could not give the House the information I wanted to provide because of the inanity of the honourable member for Melbourne. Now he is being assisted in his interjections by the honourable member for Chifley who is commonly known as rentamouth. This petition is a good petition. It would have had better support if people on the Opposition side of the chamber were interested in Tasmania. They proved for 3 years that they did not give a damn for Tasmania. That is why there is not a single Labor member in the House of Representatives from Tasmania, and there will not be for a long time.

Mr Armitage:

– You are a oncer.


– Now we are hearing half the Laurel and Hardy show. The petition is worthwhile and it will produce a result, despite the efforts of honourable members opposite.


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


-We have just heard a remarkable speech from the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). I take it that he was telling the House that a petition was presented to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) because the manner in which it was prepared prevented it from being presented to either House of the Parliament. It did not take quite 5 minutes to do that. I want to raise a matter that I think is of serious concern and should be of concern to all honourable members in this House. There are conditions in the operations of the Australian Industries Assistance Commission which seriously disadvantage Australian firms and can disadvantage Australian workers. I refer to the means by which an application can be made to the Temporary Assistance Authority. In at least one industry a substantial proportion of the major manufacturers in Australia- I refer to the carpet industry- are also the major importers. Because of this and because the profit area for them is in importing, they are not prepared to apply for protection. This leaves the remainder of the industry incapable of having a submission made to the Temporary Assistance Authority. That is because a substantial proportion of the industry is not prepared to make the application.

The importers are then in a position to prevent an application from being made to protect Australian industry and Australian workers against imports brought in by other manufacturers and thus displacing workers from jobs. I do not know the merits of the case but I know that if there is a case, and if there is a means by which the persons opposing it can prevent an application from being made to the Temporary Assistance Authority, the matter should be investigated. I would go one step further and say that there are instances where a single company dominates the market in Australia and is in a position -


-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I require the debate to be continued. I wish to respond briefly to the remarks of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I assure him that I, as the Minister responsible for legislation concerning the Temporary Assistance Authority, will examine the matter to which he referred in his speech and let him have a response to it as soon as possible.

Mr Innes:

– What about reversion control?


– The honourable member for Corio did not mention reversion control. He spoke about carpets. If the honourable member for Melbourne wants to raise in an adjournment debate another matter relating to the Industries Assistance Commission let him do so.


– The House stands adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10.30 a.m.

House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.

page 2250


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Apprenticeships (Question No. 158)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:

  1. What apprenticeship intake occurred in respect of each Department during each of the last 5 years.

Australian Assistance Plan: Western Sydney (Question No. 417)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. l ) What payments have been (a) made or (b) promised under the Australian Assistance Plan to the (i) Western Sydney Regional Council for Social Development, (ii) Outer Western Regional Council for Social Development, (iii) Liverpool Interim Committee for Social Development (iv) Baulkham Hills Shire Interim Community Council and (v) Windsor-Colo Social Development Committee.

    1. What is the planned intake target for each Department for 1975-76.
Mr Street:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) The intake for each Department during each of the last 5 years and the planned intake for 1975-76 is set out in the following table.
  2. What projects in the areas of these councils and committees have (a) received or (b) been promised assistance from the Australian Assistance Plan.
  3. What were the amounts of assistance, and the dates of approval for each council, committee and project.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

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

  1. I ) (a) Since July 1974, $227,300 has been provided from Australian Assistance Plan (AAP) funds to the regions mentioned.

This amount consists of the following payments:

  1. At the moment the AAP is nearing the end of a threeyear experimental period and no further funds have been committed for the above areas.

    1. No projects have been funded through the AAP in the areas mentioned because they do not have access to capitation funds for the purpose of community welfare projects.
    2. See answers to questions ( 1 ) and (2 ).

Meat Sales in Supermarkets (Question No. 449)

Mr Young:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Can he say whether meat being sold in Sydney supermarkets is being transported to the supermarkets from interstate without undergoing the inspection at the Homebush killing centre, which is required by State law.
  2. If so, can he also say whether meat from interstate is exempt from these requirements.
  3. If New South Wales law does not apply to shipments of meat from interstate, will he take steps to ensure that all meat delivered to New South Wales undergoes the necessary health inspection.
  4. What amount of (a) beef, (b) veal, (c) lamb and (d) pig meats has been imported into Australia from New Zealand since 1 January 1976, and what are the comparative figures for similar periods for the last 3 years.
  5. What inspection procedures do imported meats undergo before distribution to retail outlets.
Mr Howard:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) I am unable to provide the answers to Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the question because the matters raised fall within State Government jurisdiction.

  1. The Department of Primary Industry has provided the information on imports based on figures provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
  1. The Department of Health has provided the following response to Part 5.

Uncanned meat (except uncanned pig meat and uncanned poultry meat) may be imported only from New Zealand.

Canned meats may be imported from any country, with some special restrictions on canned pig meat.

In all cases the products must be accompanied by the certification required under the Quarantine (Animals) Regulations which for all products, includes certification of Ante and Post Mortem Inspection, and in the case of canned products, certification that the products have been heated throughout to a temperature of at least 100 degrees Celsius. All certificates are thoroughly checked by quarantine officials before clearance.

Saddles (Question No. 477)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. How many saddles have been imported, and from which countries have they been imported, in each of the last 5 years and to 3 1 March 1 976.
  2. What was the preferential and general tariff on imported saddles in each of those years.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. The Australian Statistician has informed me that saddles are not separately recorded in Australian import statistics but are included under the classification for ‘saddlery and other harness-makers’ goods of all materials’. The following table shows the value of imports recorded under this classification during the years 1970-71 to 1974-75 and for the period 1 July 1975 to February 1976, which is the latest month available at this time. Because of the variety of different goods included in the one statistical item, no information is available on quantities of imports.

Legal Aid Offices (Question No. 163)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What curtailment has occurred in respect of his predecessor’s intentions to establish new Legal Aid Offices during 1975-76.
  2. What criteria changes have occurred in respect of client eligibility and case categories for Australian Legal Aid Office assistance during his period of office.
Mr Ellicott:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)I announced on 15 January 1976 that I had begun a review of legal aid services in Australia directed to determining exactly how the provision of legal aid could best be managed in the public interest bearing in mind the need of citizens for legal aid and the efficiency and economy of its administration. The establishment of offices of the Australian Legal Aid Office at 28 new locations approved by the previous Government has been deferred pending completion of my review. The selection of locations for new legal aid offices and the opening of new legal aid offices will be matters for consideration within any new framework for the provision of legal aid that is established as a result of the review.

  1. The only change that has occurred has been the introduction of new guidelines for determining client eligibility for legal assistance going beyond the furnishing of legal advice. There has been no change in eligibility for legal advice. The basic test for legal assistance is unchanged and is still the inability of the applicant to afford the cost of private legal assistance in the particular case but the guidelines of income for the application of this basic test are stricter. The guidelines are intended to provide a general standard of measuring ‘inability’ but they are to be applied with discretion in the individual case. The new guidelines and the former guidelines are as follows:

*$50 if the estimated cost of the case did not exceed $300: $60 if the estimated cost exceeded$300.

No distinction is now made concerning the cost of proceedings.

The disposable weekly income of the applicant is now ascertained by deducting from gross weekly income the following items, calculated on a weekly basis:

  1. income tax;
  2. superannuation contributions;
  3. one half of any board paid by applicant;
  4. rent or mortgage payments for dwelling house in which applicant resides;
  5. municipal rates and water rates for dwelling house in which applicant resides;
  6. maintenance payments to spouse and children of applicant; and
  7. payments under hire purchase agreements and credit sales contracts for household goods and furniture used by applicant in his home.

Deductions under the former guidelines for full board and instalment payments on motor vehicles owned and used by the applicant have been eliminated.

The asset guidelines are unchanged-

Assets include money that is immediately available such as bank, building society and credit union deposits, or that can readily be obtained, for example, by loan, or by selling a marketable asset or converting negotiable securities such as shares and debentures. Assets do not include wearing apparel, tools of trade, household furniture or interest in a dwelling house in which the applicant resides unless the value is unusually high.

In the case of a married applicant, the combined incomes and assets of both husband and wife are to be taken into account where they are living together. Ordinarily, couples living together in a de facto relationship will be regarded as husband and wife.

In simple cases of dissolution of marriage, where there are no children under the age of 18 years for whom provision needs to be made, an applicant, in addition to satisfying the above requirements, must now establish special hardship. There has been no change of criteria in respect of case categories for assistance from the Australian Legal Aid Office.

Foreign Aid (Question No. 319)

Mr O’Keefe:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What amount of foreign aid is being given by the Australian Government and which countries are being assisted.
  2. What sum is being made available in cash, and what is the amount of food product assistance.
Mr Peacock:
Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

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

  1. The amount of foreign aid to be given by the Australian Government in 1975-76 will be approximately $357 million. The countries assisted bilaterally in 1974-75 and the actual expenditures are as follows:

In addition the assistance given through multilateral organisations in 1974-75 amounted to $49, 568,000.

  1. The significant sums made available in cash are the grants to Papua New Guinea and the contributions to multilateral organisations. These are estimated to be $107.6 million and $37.0 million respectively in 1975-76. In 1974-75 the comparable actual expenditures were $83.0 million and $49.6 million respectively. The cost of food aid to be provided in 1975-76 is estimated to be $34.0 million. The amount of food aid provided in 1974-75 was $50.7 million.

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 346)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by this Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

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

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

These figures cover the period 1 April 1974 to 31 March 1976.

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 347)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Lynch:

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

During the two years1 April 1974 to 31 March 1976 the following payments were made to airlines in respect of official travel within Australia by officers of the Department of the Treasury, the Australian Taxation Office, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (a):

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 358)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Ellicott:

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

I am informed by my Department that payments to the various airlines for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years were as set out hereunder

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 359)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department, or by Departments formerly encompassing the functions now performed by his Department, to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Howard:

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

The above figures include travel undertaken by officers of the Industries Assistance Commission, Prices Justification Tribunal and the Trade Practices Commission.

They do not include figures for officers whose positions prior to 22 December, 1975 were located in the Department of the Special Minister of State and the Attorney-General’s Department. Because it has not been possible to isolate the figures in relation to these officers their travel will be covered in answers supplied by the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services and the Attorney-General respectively. (Questions 349 and 358).

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 363)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

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

Public Service Air Travel (Question No. 368)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Staley:
Minister for the Capital Territory · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

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

Staff Levels: Australia’s Overseas Aid Program (Question No. 402)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many people, and at what levels, were employed in the foreign aid section of the Department at the time when the Australian Development Assistance Agency was established.
  2. When was it established.
  3. How many people were employed, and at what levels, at the time when the Agency was absorbed into his Department.
  4. How many are employed now, and at what levels.
Mr Peacock:

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

  1. and (2) An Office of the Australian Development Assistance Agency was established within the Department of Foreign Affairs on 1 December 1973 by bringing together the Canberra-based staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs, who had been engaged on aid functions, and the staff from the former Department of External Territories who were still required to carry out ongoing aid functions in respect of Papua New Guinea as well as to service the needs of the Agency. Subsequently, Foreign Affairs staff overseas and in the States who spent more than SO per cent of their time working on aid functions, plus staff from the Departments of Education and Labor and Immigration who were similarly occupied, were progressively taken over.

The Agency as such was formally established as a statutory authority on 10 December 1974.

The staff taken over by the Agency from other Departments totalled554, made up as follows:

The number and levels of officers employed in the Department’s Aid Branch in Canberra immediately prior to the establishment of the Australian Development Assistance Agency were-

  1. and (4) The Government recently decided to establish a bureau of overseas aid within the Department of Foreign Affairs to take over the functions carried out by the Agency. That Bureau has not yet been formally established and the organisation required for the Bureau is at present under consideration. Present levels and numbers of staff employed by the Agency are- (27 of whom are ‘inoperative’, that is on maternity leave, furlough, etc.)

This includes about 100 personnel servicing and relating to Australians serving in PNG. The arrangement providing for this terminates on 30 June 1976 and the number of staff so employed by the Agency should be significantly reduced by the end of 1976.

Fishing (Question No. 455)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. Has he any information regarding the operations of foreign nationals fishing within 200 miles of Australian territory.
  2. Can he say how many boats are engaged in each area, and what is the scale of their operations.
  3. Can he detail the nature of the fishing operations conducted within 200 miles of Australian territory from bases in the New Hebrides.
  4. If his information on these matters is inadequate, will he contact his colleague the Minister for Defence to see what intelligence can be provided.
  5. Will he ascertain from his colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs what information is available in the Department of Foreign Affairs on these matters, or what further information can be obtained.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. and (2) The following tables show data from all sources available to my Department. (see tables attached. )
  2. The home bases of vessels reported are not known. However, it can be stated with some assurance that none of the Taiwanese or Indonesian vessels reported and few, if any, of the Japanese vessels reported, would have operated from bases in the New Hebrides.
  3. The Fisheries Division of my Department liaises closely with the Australian Coastal Surveillance Organisation and its several constituent Departments on these matters.
  4. While the standing instructions to the Trade Commissioner Service and the Department of Foreign Affairs at overseas posts include a request to report matters of fishery interest to the Department of Primary Industry, it would be unreasonable to expect that details of all proposed fishing vessel departures from foreign ports for the Australian area would come to their attention. I have asked my Department to raise the honourable member’s request with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Unemployment Benefit: Females (Question No. 509)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) During the period the Great Depression in the 1930s, were single females aged 16 years and over entitled to any form of unemployment assistance.
  2. If so, what was the level of assistance, and how did it compare with the level of assistance to single males of the same age group.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) The Commonwealth Government’s unemployment benefit scheme did not come into force until 1 July 1945. This scheme makes no distinction between males and females. Prior to that date all States except Queensland administered food relief systems for the unemployed. Queensland introduced a scheme of unemployment insurance in 1923. I do not know whether these schemes differentiated between males and females.

Department of Consumer and Business Affairs:

Expenditure (Question No. 538)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What commitments for expenditure in 1976-77 and 1977-78 does his Department have.
  2. On what date was each commitment made.
  3. 3 ) What sum is involved in each commitment.
  4. For what purpose is each commitment.
  5. To whom have the commitments been made.
Mr Howard:

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

1976- 77

1 ) One commitment only- The East Asian and Pacific Copyright Seminar.

2 April 1976.


The Government’s contribution towards the cost of holding the 1976 East Asian and Pacific Copyright Seminar in Sydney during August, 1976. The private sector will be contributing the same amount as the Government towards the cost of the seminar.

Representatives of Australian and overseas industry interested in attending the seminar.

1977- 78


The normal recurring costs of running the Department such as salaries and administrative costs have not been included.

Quarantine: Port Hedland (Question No. 551)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Did the Senior Preventive Hedland, forward a minute or letter to the Sub-Collector, Port Hedland, on or about 26 September 1975 concerning insect infestation of a parcel at the Port Hedland Post Office which had been consigned from Christmas Island.
  2. ) If so, what was the text of the letter or minute.
  3. What was done by officers and employees of his Department in relation to the parcel, and what instructions, and from whom, were received in respect of it.
  4. Was any action taken by officers and employees of his Department to contain the spread of insects through the Port Hedland Post Office, or to prevent their escape when the parcel was forwarded to Penh; if so, what action.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. and (3) The minute stated that in the absence of Mr W. F. Toomer, Quarantine Officer, North West Area, Mr H. Nicholls, Senior Inspector, Plant Quarantine, Penh, was contacted in regard to a parcel being held for quarantine purposes at Parcels Post Port Hedland.

It further mentioned that the parcel had been receiving regular treatment from Mr Toomer to eradicate an insect infestation within the parcel which had presumably come from a packet of rice contained therein.

Mr Nicholls advised the officer to seize and immediately destroy the rice in the parcel and to forward the balance of the parcel to Penh for fumigation upon completion of which the clothing in the parcel would be forwarded to the addressee.

When the officer went to the Post Office to carry out his instructions he found that the parcel was contained in a heavy polythene plastic bag’. Its contents were declared as clothing only.

When opened to extract the rice the parcel was found to contain a quantity of other goods subject to quarantine. The packet containing rice had broken and its contents were spread throughout the parcel.

Mr Nicholls was again contacted and on his advice the complete parcel was forwarded to Quarantine Penh for treatment.

  1. The parcel was handled with care within the Post Office premises and before despatch to Perth was wrapped in two heavy plastic bags supplied by the Post Office.

Quarantine: Port Hedland (Question No. 552)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Did officers of his Department at Port Hedland on or about 7 October 1975 sight in the Port Hedland Post Office a parcel from Germany containing shoes with soil adhering to them.
  2. Had the parcel been stamped or marked to indicate that it had been passed by the quarantine authorities in Perth.
  3. Did officers of his Department seek advice from the Department of Health, Perth, concerning action to be taken and treatment of the shoes; if so, what advice was received and what action was taken on it.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. The officer concerned cannot recall whether or not the parcel was marked to indicate that it had been passed by Quarantine authorities in Penh.
  3. Yes. The Senior Inspector, Plant Quarantine, forwarded a quantity of formalin and rubber gloves with instructions tor cleaning the shoes. After treatment in accordance with those instructions the shoes were released.

Quarantine: Ports and Airports (Question No. 553)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) At what ports and airports in the north west of Western Australia do officers and employees of his Department carry out work for the Department of Health.
  2. What is the nature of the work done for the Department of Health by each officer and employee, and what hours did each officer and employee spend on this work during the past year.
  3. Is any payment received from the Department of Health in respect of the work performed; if so, how much was received in the past year.
  4. Have any of the officers and employees undertaken courses of instruction, or other training in respect of their duties for the Department of Health; if so, who and what was the nature of the training.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. Customs Officers are stationed at Carnarvon, Exmouth, Dampier, Port Walcott, Port Hedland, Broome, Derby and Wyndham (pan time) and are responsible for Customs requirements at all airports at which overseas aircraft land. At all places some work is carried out on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health.
  2. The Governor-General has appointed the SubCollector at each place mentioned as a Quarantine Officer under the Quarantine Act. They liaise closely with the Department of Health and do not release goods which may be subject to quarantine restriction before being satisfied that all requirements are met.

It is not feasible to estimate the amount of time spent by officers in carrying out this responsibility as it is carried out in conjunction with normal Customs procedures.

  1. No.
  2. All Customs Officers in Western Australia receive induction training which includes sessions conducted by senior officers from Animal Quarantine and Plant Quarantine. General quarantine sessions are conducted by Customs Bureau Training Officers.

All officers stationed at places mentioned in ( I ) above have received this training.

In addition quarantine sessions are included in all subsequent training courses and workshops conducted by the Customs Bureau in Western Australia.

All Sub-Collectors of Customs have attended at least three courses subsequent to induction training and were given special training and briefing on outport responsibilities before posting to their present positions.

Other operational staff stationed at Port Hedland, Dampier and Port Walcott have the experience and knowledge of quarantine requirements to enable them to effectively perform their duties in this regard.

Motor Vehicles: Imports (Question No. 554)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. How many cars purchased by Australian residents whilst overseas have been imported into Australia at reduced rates of duty in the past 2 financial years.
  2. What was the amount of duty forgone by the Commonwealth in respect of these imports because of the concession applying.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. I ) The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for motor vehicles imported under passenger concessions (i.e. free of duty) do not distinguish between those purchased by Australian residents whilst overseas and those purchased by non-Australian passengers. In addition, the statistics that are collected do not separate motor cars from motor vans and motor trucks qualifying for the concession. According to records held by the Bureau of Customs the total number of motor vehicles cleared under the passenger concessions during the period mentioned by the honourable member are as follows:

    1. In view of the variations in rates of duty and sales tax that occurred during the periods quoted and the variety of vehicles included in total figures, I am unable to state the actual amount of duty and sales tax that was forgone by the Commonwealth in respect of these vehicles. However, at present rates of duty and sales tax, viz. 45 per cent and 271/2 per cent, and on the assumption that the vehicles were all passenger motor cars, the amounts of duty and sales tax respectively would be of the order of $4,246,000 and $4,515,000.

ABC: Defamation Action (Question No. 273)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. What was the total cost to the ABC of the defamation action by New South Wales Police Commissioner Hanson against station 2JJ.
  2. What disciplinary action was taken against any ABC staff members who gave cause for this defamation action.
  3. What instructions have been given to ABC staff to prevent a recurrence.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. The action was settled on the stipulation by the Plaintiff that the terms would not be disclosed.
  2. The person who precipitated the action was not an ABC staff member, but a contract commentator. His services have since been terminated.
  3. Staff members are under continual advice as to how to attempt to avoid the incidence of defamation actions.

Mail Services: Costs (Question No. 280)

Mr Wilson:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

What proportion of the 1 8 cents cost of posting a standard letter is absorbed by the (a) direct costs and ( b) indirect costs of (i) collection from mail receivers, (ii) primary sorting at mail exchanges, (iii) delivery from mail exchanges to post offices and from post offices to post offices, (iv) secondary sorting at post offices and (v) delivery from post office to private letter boxes.

Mr Eric Robinson:

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

Australia Post’s costing system is not structured to provide detailed cost proportions for a standard letter over various combinations of possible processing streams. Costs are apportioned in total across Australia Post’s range of products and services under broad functional cost classifications.

Based on 1974-75 financial results, the relative cost proportions for a standard letter under the broad functional classifications were:

Sales and Counter Acceptance (postage stamp sales: bulk acceptance; weighing and acceptance at counters)- 1 1 per cent.

Processing (postmarking; outward sorting, handling and dispatch at post offices; outward and transit sorting and handling at mail exchanges)- 39 per cent.

Transportation (road, rail, sea and air conveyance: clearance of letter receivers)- 8 per cent.

Delivery (inward sorting and handling at mail exchanges and post offices; postman and contract delivery)- 42 percent.

The average direct and indirect cost proportions for a standard letter were 77 per cent and 23 per cent respectively and could be broken down into the following broad components:

Mail Deliveries (Question No. 320)

Mr O’Keefe:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. Has a recent survey indicated that mail deliveries arc too slow.
  2. Is it a fact that 24 per cent of the people recently interviewed found postal services totally inadequate.
  3. Is New South Wales still behind on the percentage of mail delivered on time.
  1. If the position is as stated, what steps can be taken to rectify this situation, particularly in view of the high cost of postage involved.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. 1 ) Australia Post is not aware of a recent survey indicating that mail deliveries are too slow.

Australia Post is, however, participating in a public opinion poll conducted by a specialist polling organisation. What the results obtained to date do show is that people are not aware of the quality of service which is actually being provided. For example, tests conducted recently by Australia Post show that next day delivery is achieved for 95 per cent of the letters posted by the last clearance for the day in metropolitan areas, for delivery in the same city and suburbs. However, only 56 per cent of people interviewed in March 1976 believed that mail addressed to the same city or town would be delivered next day.

  1. No. The percentage of people interviewed who rated the postal service as ‘totally inadequate’ in November 1975 and March 1976 was 6 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. This compares with 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively who rated the service as ‘excellent’.
  2. Yes. Tests conducted by Australia Post in March 1976 on the delivery performance for standard letters showed that 90 per cent were delivered on time in New South Wales, compared with a national result of almost 95 per cent delivered on time. In both cases, almost all the remaining letters were delivered the following day.
  3. Although Australia Post is providing a good service where transport schedules permit, there are areas of its activities which need to be improved in line with its objective of providing a fast and efficient service at least possible cost. With this in mind, Australia Post has in progress as an ongoing project a number of studies designed to identify particular problem areas and to develop appropriate solutions. At the same time, it is reviewing and seeking to improve service standards having due regard to the cost factors involved.

Public Service: Air Travel (Question No. 345)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for National

Resources, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by his Department, or by Departments formerly encompassing the functions now performed by his Department, to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Anthony:

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

Public Service: Air Travel (Question No. 351)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice:

What sum has been paid by the Department of Industry and Commerce, or by Departments formerly encompassing the functions now performed by that Department, to each airline for air travel in Australia during the last 2 years.

Mr Howard:

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

Having regard to the organisational changes which have taken place in the period mentioned by the honourable member the provision of details precisely in the form requested would involve, in the case of my department, an inordinate amount of effort which, in view of the staff economies which have been achieved, I am reluctant to authorise.

I can, however, provide the following details of amounts paid to the airlines by the Department of Industry and Commerce, formerly the Department of Manufacturing Industry, over the two-year period to 3 1 March 1 976:

Wool Marketing (Question No. 370)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it planned to release the report of the interdepartmental committee which studied the report by the Australian Wool Corporation on the marketing of Australian woof: if so, when; if not, why not.
  2. Have copies of the report been made available to members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, to other wool industry leaders, to representatives of woolselling agents or to wool buyers; if so, who has received a copy of the report.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) The Report to which the honourable member refers was prepared by an Interdepartmental Committee and submitted to the previous Minister for Agriculture in March 1975. It was not released for public scrutiny by the previous Government. I will be studying the Report in the preparation of recommendations I will be making subsequently to the Government on long-term wool marketing policy, and will give consideration to the release of the Report.
  2. From inquiries I have made, I understand that distribution of the Report to non-Government and Statutory organisations has been confined to two copies provided on a restricted basis to the Chairman and Executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference last year, together with a small number of copies of the Summary of Conclusions. I believe the two copies were provided to the AWIC to facilitate consultation between the Conference and the Australian Wool Corporation on aspects of the Corporation’s marketing proposals.

Postage Stamps Designs (Question No. 411)

Mr McVeigh:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it the intention of the Postal Commission to have an effigy of the Queen on all our stamps.
  2. ) How do the standards and design of Australian stamps compare with those issued by such countries as New Zealand, Malaysia and New Guinea.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. 1 ) It is not the intention of Australia Post to feature an effigy of the Queen on all its stamps. Her Majesty’s portrait appeared on stamps in most common usage for quite a number of years. These stamps were replaced in 1973 by the current Marine Life and Gemstones series, initiating a stamp issue policy featuring subjects of wide popular appeal. However, Australia Post will issue commemorative stamps featuring the Queen when suitable occasions arise.
  2. Australian stamp designs are of a high standard and compare favourably with stamps from other countries. Our stamps are popular with overseas collectors as indicated by reports published in philatelic magazines and the level of philatelic sales conducted by Australia Post’s overseas agents. Australia Post has not conducted any survey to obtain an assessment of the standard of Australian stamps compared with those of New Zealand, Malaysia and New Guinea. However, a fairly recent public opinion survey in Australia on Australian stamp designs and the subjects depicted on the stamps, showed that 64 per cent rated a representative sample of stamps as very good and good, 24 per cent rated them as average and 7 per cent considered the stamps poor and very poor.

Police Report: Foreign Exchange Regulations (Question No. 513)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

Was the original or another copy of the document which Senator Townley tabled by order of the Senate on 28 April 1 976 (Senate Hansard page 1 3 73 ) one of the attachments to the police report which the Attorney-General received in the week ended 19 March 1976 and which he had decided that he should not table himself (House of Representatives Hansard, 25 March 1976, page 1001 ).

Mr Ellicott:

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

On 25 March 1976 I informed the House that I did not think it would be in the interests of justice to table the police report received by me concerning possible breaches of the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. For the same reasons as I gave for that decision, I will not indicate whether any document now produced is or is not part of that report.

Marketing Boards (Question No. 475)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the salaries of the heads of the statutory marketing boards connected with primary industry, and what daily and travel allowances, and car entitlements do they receive.
  2. When were the salaries and allowances last adjusted, and what procedure is there for this adjustment.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) Details in respect of full time chairmen of statutory marketing boards in receipt of an annual salary are: 2262 REPRESENTATIVES 19 May 1976 Answers to Questions

In August 1975 the Remuneration Tribunal made a review of the various rates and recommended that the 3.6 per cent in the September National Wage Case be passed onto offices within the ambit of the Remuneration Act 1973-74. However these recommendations were disallowed by the Senate on 9 September 1975. Consequently the rates recommended by the Tribunal were paid from 15 May 1975 to 8 September 1975.

With the creation of the Australian Dairy Corporation the salary and allowance listed above for the Chairman were decided by separate determination by the Remuneration Tribunal with effect from 1 September 1 975.

Under the Remuneration Act 1973-1974, Section 8 the Remuneration Tribunal is required to undertake annual reviews of remuneration of public offices.

Its powers to make enquiries and to issue determinations are contained in Section 12E and Section 1 2D of the Act.

Telephone Directory Advertising (Question No. 260)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is the present contract for the Pink Pages advertising of the 1976 New South Wales Telephone Directory held by the firm of Edward H. O’Brien; if not, by whom is this contract held.
  2. Is the premium payable to Telecom Australia under the terms of the present contract expressed as a percentage of the income received by the company holding the contract, or was there a flat fee tendered for the period of the contract.
  3. Who determines the rates charged to advertisers in the Pink Pages.
  4. What are the current rates being charged to advertisers.
  5. What was, oris, the closing date for advertising entries in the 1976 Pink Pages.
  6. Must all advertisements be pre-paid at time of lodgement; if so, who retains those funds pending publication of the Pink Pages.
  7. What terms and conditions for credit are available to advertisers in the Pink Pages.
Mr Eric Robinson:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question as advised by Telecom Australia is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Yes. The registered name of the firm is Edward H. O’Brien Pty Ltd.
  2. 1 July, 1973 and 30 June, 1978 respectively.
  3. The amount payable to Telecom Australia under the terms of the present contract is expressed as a percentage of the total amount payable by advertisers for advertisements in the Directories concerned.
  4. Telecom Australia.
  5. The current rates for the various types of advertisements in the directories concerned are:
*Answers to Questions* 19 May 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 2263 (6)- {: type="1" start="7"} 0. and (8) The contract between Telecom Australia and Edward H. O'Brien Pty Ltd stipulates that the contractor shall, on a basis set out in the contract, make progressive fortnightly payments to the Commission of the Commission's share of the money paid by advertisers. The contract does not specify the terms and conditions under which credit may be made available by the Contractor to his clients. Edward H. O'Brien Pty Ltd has indicated that, for all accounts under SI 50, it is the general rule to seek full payment at the time of the sale of the advertisements. However, where the value of the account exceeds this amount customers with a satisfactory credit rating are given a reasonable extension of time to pay if this is requested.

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