House of Representatives
6 October 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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– I inform the House of the death on 23 September 1976 of Mr Dominic Eric Costa who was a member of this House for the Division of Banks from 1949 to 1969. He will be well remembered by most members of the House. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places


– I thank the House.


-Mr Speaker, I would have wished to say a few words about the late Eric Costa in order to make sure that the parliamentary records contain something about the service he gave to us for 20 years. When I first came to this Parliament I sat near him and I became one of his close friends. He was one of those quiet assiduous people who give so much service to the country, sometimes not all that noted. He served on several parliamentary committees, especially the Public Accounts Committee, and he represented this Parliament overseas as a member of parliamentary delegations. I would hope that in future those people who pass from this world after having been members of this House are acknowledged and their efforts recorded in a better way than apparendy was to be the case with the late Eric Costa and did happen in the case of the late James Harrison.


– I wish to inform the House that the point made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is understandable because of the personality of Eric Costa and the fact that he was well known and loved during his period here. However, this House has developed a practice of not moving formal motions of condolence except in certain circumstances. I will be glad to provide the honourable member for Wills with the standard forms of practice which we have adopted so that he may consider them.

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The Clerk:

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

Australian Broadcasting Commission

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:

  1. Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
  2. Eschew all means, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
  3. Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into ABC programs.
  4. Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or withholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
  5. Ensure that any general enquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the inquiry.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bryant, Mr Crean, Dr Klugman, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Morris, Mr Wallis and Mr Antony Whitlam.

Petitions received.

Tasmanian Shipping Service

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

That the decision to withdraw the Australian Trader from the Tasmanian service:

  1. is a great injustice to the State of Tasmania
  2. b ) has delivered a severe blow to the Tasmanian Tourist Industry
  3. caused grave concern that this is the commencement of the dismantling of the Australian National Line.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will move to restore the Australian Trader to the Tasmanian service.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les McMahon, Mr Martin, Mr Morris and Mr Antony Whitlam.

Petitions received.

Budget 1976-77

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

The Budget will increase unemployment to unprecedented and crisis proportions at a time when hundreds of thousands of Australians, especially school-leavers, young workers and apprentices, are without work;

The Budget completes the dismantling of Medibank as a simple, effective universal health insurance scheme, providing basic coverage for the total community;

The Budget, by its heavy cuts in urban and transport programs, will worsen the quality of life available to many Australians;

The Budget will compel state governments to reduce their services and increase charges;

The Budget reduces spending on Aboriginal affairs by 30 per cent and returns expenditure on Aborigines to pre- 1972 days;

The Budget seriously disadvantages migrant groups, most notably in employment and health, and leaves room for concern over the future of ethnic radio;

The Budget, despite the government’s earlier rhetoric about defence threats to Australia, continues to hold the size of the armed services at present levels;

And the Budget, despite all the above, still cannot be expected to reduce Australia’s annual inflation rate below twelve per cent;

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the 1976 Budget be redrafted to provide for economic recovery within the guidelines laid down by the Australian Labor Government’s 1 975 Budget.

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

Petitions received.

Chiropractic Services

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

  1. Whereas the West Australian State Government has seen fit to register Chiropractors licensed under the provisions of the Chiropractors Act, 1964. This unique and specific branch of the healing arts is utilised by an everincreasing cross section of the public who can neither gain compensation nor make claim for expenses so incurred under existing Income Tax provisions.
  2. Whereas your petitioners respectfully request that action be taken to provide legislation to cover both of these matters in the States or Territories where Chiropractic is recognised by the administrative powers.
  3. Whereas your petitioners respectfully request consideration be given to:

    1. Adequate cover by Federal Health Insurance schemes.
    2. That fees payable to a Chiropractor, qualified under States or Territories Chiropractic registration acts, be made a full tax deductible item.

Both of the above being without the prerequisite of referral by a medical practitioner.

Therefore your petitioners pray your Honourable House to legislate accommodation of these matters under the provisions of Federal law.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr J. F. Cairns and Mr McVeigh.

Petitions received.

Mr Ignazio Salemi

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 an amnesty was announced for all illegal migrants and that whereas Mr Ignazio Salemi an applicant for amnesty has been denied amnesty.

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

That as Mr Salemi fulfils all the publicly announced criteria for amnesty he is permitted to remain in Australia as a resident. by Mr Innes and Mr Scholes.

Petitions received.

Child Care

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 urges that:

There be continuing and expanding support for child care of all forms with particular emphasis on the needs of children whose parents either work or are furthering their education.

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

Petitions received.


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 unnecessary slaughtering of countless whales each day on the Australian coastline and throughout the world is tragic;

That we believe that this beautiful species of animal should be protected before man destroys another part of our heritage;

That through research it has been found that all products obtained from whales can be synthetically produced.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that whales be protected by law against man’s desire to exploit nature for his own selfish needs.

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

Petition received.


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

The urgent need for a community owned and operated public access radio broadcasting station to service the mid western suburbs of Sydney and in particular the Municipalities of Ashfield, Burwood, Concord, Drummoyne and Strathfield.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should grant a licence for this purpose to 2RDJ FM Community Radio.

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

Petition received.


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

  1. That a viable shipbuilding industry, we believe, has to be retained in the national interest.
  2. That the Australian Government instead of destroying our shipbuilding industry should assist the industry by bringing the technology of the present yards up-to-date.
  3. That Australia’s defence capacity is partially related to our industrial strength; particularly our ability to build and repair ships.
  4. That shipbuilding and repairs play a vital role in the economic stability of Newcastle and Whyalla.
  5. Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government place immediate orders with the Australian shipbuilding industry.

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

Petition received.

Pre-School Facilities

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of the Shires of Ne wham and Woodend, Victoria, respectfully showeth:

That in view of increasing pre-school population in the shire, additional pre-school buildings are required.

Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to give financial assistance for the building of additional pre-school facilities in the shires of Newham and Woodend.

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

Petition received.


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

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

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

  1. ) Support a 10 year moratorium on whaling at the 1976 meeting of the I. W.C.
  2. Support research and development of alternatives to whale products, and encourage production of these products in Australia.
  3. Provide increased funds for research into marine biology.
  4. Force the cessation of whaling operations at Cheynes Beach, W.A., at the same time providing funds to assist the personnel and facilities of the factory to be otherwise gainfully used, (perhaps in whale research, to further our own and the world’s knowledge).
  5. Ban the import into this country of all whale products, and all goods containing whale products.
  6. Urge that Australia, as a member of the I. W.C, use all possible influence to encourage the end of whaling throughout the world, and refuse to service ships of all whaling nations at Australian ports, and your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Cadman.

Petition received.

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 1 968 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 Cadman.

Petition received.

Social Security Payments

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 distress is being caused to social security recipients by the delay in adjusting pensions to the Consumer Prices Index months after prices of goods and services have risen, and that medications which were formerly pharmaceutical benefits must now be paid for.

Additionally, that State housing authorities’ waiting lists for low rental dwellings for pensioners grow ever longer, and the cost of funerals increase ever greater.

Your petititioners call on the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to-

Adjust social security payments instantly and automatically when the quarterly Consumer Prices Index is announced.

Restore pharmaceutical benefits deleted from the free list.

Update the State Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act of 1 974, eroded by inflation, to increase grants to overcome the backlog.

Update Funeral Benefit to 60 per cent of reasonable cost of funeral. (This benefit was 200 shillings, 20 dollars, when introduced in 1943. It was seven times the 1943 pension of 27 shillings a week).

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

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.

St Luke’s Hospital

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:

  1. That there is a great concern and alarm at the removal of some Government support for St Luke’s Hospital, Garden settlement and for other institutions providing care for the aged within Queensland.
  2. That the removal of grants is causing unnecessary hardship to those aged citizens of Australia who are dependent upon continued care and accommodation.
  3. That the removal of grants has caused unnecessary unemployment and hardship for those who were previously employed in duties caring for the aged in those centres where reductions in grants have been made.
  4. That the aged, and others within Australian Society who are least abble to defend themselves against the arbitrary acts of governments, should be spared from these unnecessary cuts.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

That the government should reconsider its decision to cut the budgets of these institutions and immediately restore the grants to enable these institutions to continue their high standard of dedicated and unselfish care for the aged and infirm in the community.

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

Petition received.


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

That the decision of the Government to introduce a 2.5 per cent levy on incomes to finance Medibank and to offer private health insurance as an alternative to Medibank.

  1. . Consitutes a repudiation of an election promise to retain Medibank.
  2. Will place an unjust financial burden upon low and middle income earners.
  3. Will force many people out of medibank and create a double standard of health care in Australia.
  4. Will destroy the principle of a comprehensive compulsory health insurance scheme for all Australians.

Your petitioners call upon the Australian Government

  1. To strengthen and extend the principles of Medibank as a comprehensive compulsory health insurance scheme covering all Australians, from General Revenue.
  2. Provide equitable health care for all members of Australian society.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Jenkins.

Petition received.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Programs

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

That there is concern at the decline of good taste in television programs and at the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s lowering of standards by presenting the ‘Alvin Purple ‘ series. This and similar programs contravene Section 118 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, which states: The Commission or licensee shall not televise matter which is blasphemous, indecent or obscene. ‘

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to encourage the ABC to present programs which comply with the rules and regulations set down in the Broadcasting and Television Act.

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

Petition received.

Thalidomide Foundation

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government;

  1. Honour the undertaking of the previous Government with regard to taxation of the monies due to the Thalidomide Foundation Limited, and the income therefrom.
  2. That this action be taken with the utmost despatch.

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

Petition received.

Dockyards at Newcastle

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

That shipbuilding and repairs play a vital role in the economic stability of the Newcastle region.

That the recent study by the Hunter Valley Research Foundation showed that 50 000 people were partially or wholly maintained by the State Dockyard.

That stability is at present in jeopardy, as a new ship order is required within the next few weeks if serious unemployment and hardship is to be avoided.

That the previous Government’s plan for the building of a graving dock in Newcastle should be continued as proper ship repair facilities are a vital factor in the maintenance of a viable shipbuilding industry.

That the Govrnment’s election pledge to restore business and employment can be implemented in Newcastle if new orders and a graving dock are granted.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government place immediate orders with the Newcastle State Dockyard and implement the previous Government’s plan to build a graving dock in Newcastle.

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

Petition recieved.

Overseas Development Assistance

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia and residents from overseas respectfully showeth that many Australian and residents from overseas are concerned at the announced consideration by the Commonwealth Government to introduce tertiary fees for overseas students.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government;

  1. As a matter of urgency, not to introduce tertiary fees for overseas strdems and vote so as to ensure that free education is provided to overseas students to meet the pressing demand for trained persons in the developing countries;
  2. recognise that overseas students have a valuable contribution to make in promoting better understanding and friendship between the peoples of overseas countries and Australia and any discriminatory move against overseas students will create ill will and damage good relations;
  3. understand that most overseas students come from underdeveloped’ countries of the Third World because of the lack of educational facilities there which is caused by past and present imperialist exploitation by the western powers, including Australia. On the other hand, profits from imperialist exploitation have helped develop Australian educational facilities. Therefore, Australia has a moral responsibility to provide educational opportunities for those overseas students;
  4. acknowledge that the imposing of discriminatory overseas students fees would result in few overseas students from rich families being able to come to Australia for training and education. This would deprive students from poor economic backgrounds an access to training and education.
  5. reject the economic arguments advanced by some authorities’ for imposing discriminatory overseas students fees especially since they do not take into consideration the material contribution (foreign exchange, research etc) made by overseas students. Furthermore, to shift the burden of the Australia economic crisis onto overseas students is morally unfair;
  6. upholds the concept of free education and that this is not a privilege but a right of all people;
  7. reaffirm Australia’s commitment of Overseas Development Assistance being a minimum of 0.7 per cent of GNP.

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

Petition received.

Metric System

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system.

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

Petition received.

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– The Prime Minister will be aware that during the Second World War the island of Timor was occupied by Japanese military forces. The people on the western end of the island collaborated with the Japanese and at times handed over our troops to the Japanese. He will also will be aware that on the eastern end of the island the East Timorese protected and defended our servicemen. They suffered brutalities and death at the hands of the Japanese because of their loyalty to our Australian troops. I ask the Prime Minister: Is it his intention on his visit to Indonesia to sell out the gallant people of East Timor by recognising the military takeover of East Timor by Indonesian military forces?

Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

– The honourable gentleman knows very well that the time for action in relation to Portuguese Timor was when the previous Administration was in power in Australia. At the time when the Portugese Administration was starting to fall apart the Australian Government could have taken effective actions of a different kind. That was the time when the then Australian Prime Minister quite deliberately took actions of a different kind, but did not inform his Cabinet or Caucus of his actions. It is very plain now that the policies which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is seeking to pursue are very different from the policies that the Leader of the Opposition sought to pursue when he was Prime Minister. I shall read a passage from a report by Gregory Clark, who was employed in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He stated:

Since 1973 Australia has played an important role on the Decolonisation Committee. Its procedural support for the Fretilin appeals would have guaranteed their being heard. Instead our representatives collaborated closely with Indonesia, on instructions from Canberra, to make sure the appeals were either shelved or buried.

The honourable gentleman should look to his own house and what is done in that. During the visit to Indonesia the general matters of importance between Indonesia and Australia will be pursued. We live in the same part of the world. Both countries share common interests, born out of a common geography. Our policy on Timor has been stated on many occasions by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As I have reiterated in this House, it stands clear. It does not need restating.

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-Is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware of Press reports to the effect that a woman who is now in Kalgoorlie and who came to Australia on a visitor’s visa has been asked to leave Australia because her visa has expired and now seeks to have the decision reversed? Has the woman complied with all the conditions of her visitor’s visa? Does the Minister agree that visa conditions can be dismissed lightly?

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

– I am aware that there is employed in Kalgoorlie a woman who is seeking to have her visitor status changed to that of resident status. I have considered this case on a number of occasions, particularly in response to the representations made by the honourable gentleman himself. I have come to the conclusion that whilst it is possible to change visitor status to resident status under certain conditions, those conditions do not apply in this particular case. In fact, when this person applied to come to Australia as a visitor she, in line with all other visitors, undertook not to seek employment in Australia. Unfortunately, she has not abided by the conditions of entry. She has sought employment and has been employed in Kalgoorlie. Whilst I have looked very closely at the representations made on her behalf by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and other people, I can see no way at this stage of varying my original decision to require her to abide by the conditions of her entry.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that a great number of people from other countries wish to come to Australia in order to settle here. In the past rumours have been put around that if one is able to obtain visitor entry to Australia it is then easy to change from visitor status to permanent resident status. I would like to put that at rest right from this moment. I have been informed that rumours have been circulating in certain overseas countries to the effect that the Government is considering announcing another amnesty. That is certainly not the case. It is my view that those people seeking to enter Australia as visitors should abide by the conditions of their entry. Those who do not abide by the conditions of their entry will need to have extremely good reasons for me to agree to a change of status in future.

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-Did the Prime Minister during an interview with the Australian last Tuesday state that he proposed to change the tax system from the present system of rebates to the discriminatory concessional deductions system? If so, are the changes to be comprehensive or selective? What effect would such changes have on revenue, on tax rates, on the Medibank levy and on child allowances? If there would be no loss of revenue, would there not be a redistribution of the income tax burden in favour of people on higher incomes at the expense of people on lower incomes?


– What appeared in the Australian, to the best of my recollection, was accurate. I was seeking to point out that the Government was concerned with tax reform, that we had introduced a number of measures already, but that was not the end of the story. We have pointed out on many occasions the benefit of tax indexation which is not a one-off benefit but a benefit that taxpayers will feel on 1 July each year, at least as long as inflation lasts. We have also pointed out on a number of occasions that the rebate system itself was capable of its own injustices because the family rebate, as introduced in the famous Hayden reform, was most unjust on low income earners who did not have sufficient income to claim the benefit of the rebate. As a result, that system has been changed to the system of family allowances which does most to assist low income families, the people whom I hope, and I am sure, the honourable member would want to support. I mention that only to indicate in plain terms that the rebate system itself is not perfect, that it has some deficiencies and is capable of improvement.

I also pointed out in that particular interview that in our philosophy there is a basic fault in a system which provides an automatic rebate of $540, now indexed to $610, for certain classes of rebatable expenditure, whether or not people undertake that expenditure. We believe that if people are to get the benefit of rebates for expenditure on education, life policies and similar matters the benefit should be based on expenditure actually undertaken. But I also pointed out that the reason the basic $540 was introduced in the Hayden changed scales was that the scales themselves were so deficient that low income earners would have been very badly hurt had an automatic rebate of some kind not been introduced. In fact it would have been much better if it had not been called an automatic rebate for expenditure but a low income allowance of some kind to redress the imbalance in the scales which patently hurt people at the lower ends of the income scales.

There are many deficiencies in the present scales and the present system. Obviously it would be enormously expensive to overcome all of those deficiencies. But the Government will tackle the problem progressively as and when it can and as resources allow. All I was doing in that interview was pointing out some of the general problems and the philosophical approach that will be adopted in reaching a solution to them. No mention of a time scale or of which particular aspect would be tackled first was made.

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Mr Neil proceeding to address a question to the A ttorney-General-


– Order! The honourable member is not entitled to ask a question about something for which the Attorney-General has no ministerial responsibility. The AttorneyGeneral has no ministerial responsibility for the statements of Mr Wran.

Mr Neil proceeding with his question


-Order! The honourable member is out of order.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the donation by Qantas Airways Ltd of a free trip from Fiji to London as first prize in an election fund raising festival queen competition for the Fijian Alliance Party? Was he consulted by Qantas prior to that company making this controversial decision? Has his attention been drawn to claims made in the Fijian House of Representatives that Qantas might be expecting favours in return for the plane seats and that the action borders on political corruption, and to a request that Qantas should grant similar privileges to other Fijian political parties? Will he request Qantas to cease this obnoxious practice of giving selective support to foreign political parties?

Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

– I am unaware of any of the allegations made by the honourable member. I would have thought that on this occasion a Dorothy Dix question might have been in order in respect of a matter so serious as he alleges. I will look at the information contained in the honourable member’s question and give him a considered reply.

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– I ask the Prime Minister Is the healthy financial position apparently revealed by the recent New South Wales State Budget a direct result of the Federal Government’s federalism policy?


– Order! The honourable gentleman will be out of order if he asks a question which suggests the answer. He can seek information but not provide the answer to the Minister to whom the question is addressed.


-Thank you, Mr Speaker. I therefore ask: Does the Prime Minister propose to extend even further the freedom given to State governments under the federalism policy to spend their allocations as they will?


– It is the objective of the Government, not only in its relations with State governments but also with local government, to establish circumstances in which both State and local governments can make their own decisions in their own way and be responsible to their own electors for making those decisions. For too long State governments have been able to say: ‘It is just not possible to do this because the Commonwealth has withheld funds or has not provided sufficient funds.’ I think it is worth noting that in the budgets they have brought down the States have increased their real expenditure by a greater proportional amount than has the Commonwealth. Overall, Commonwealth expenditure was up by about 1 1 per cent and our payments to the States were up by about 15 per cent. Some States have increased their Budget expenditure by 18 per cent or 19 per cent, a substantial increase in real terms. That would not have been possible if it were not for the financial arrangements made under the federalism policies which have given the States much greater autonomy.

The arrangements have also given them much greater responsibility, which some States do not particularly want. I have noticed that in one or two areas the States have been exercising their own judgment about their own priorities, which I think is entirely proper and which is what the Commonwealth would want. But then they have come to us on matters which they have not classed as high priority items and said that there must be more money from the Commonwealth. They have clearly demonstrated the capacity to increase expenditure greatly in certain areas, and therefore if they have a high priority item they could have given it greater resources. For example, one State- not New South Wales- as I understand it has abolished death duties at a cost of $30m or $40m. That is fine; that is the State’s priority, but if it had wanted to put those moneys into welfare housing it could have done so. We would have no quarrel with that.- But the State made a judgment to abolish State death duties instead, and therefore it placed that particular policy item higher than welfare housing. The State has to carry that.

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Mr Uren having addressed a question to the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development-


-Order! The question is out of order. The honourable gentleman is not entitled to ask one Minister about the ministerial responsibilities of another. If the honourable gentleman had asked the question of a different Minister it would have been in order.

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-The Prime Minister will recall that the Treasurer announced in his Budget Speech that Commonwealth assistance to local government would be increased from $80m to $ 1 40m, an increase over last year of 75 per cent. I ask: Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that many local councils in various parts of Australia are now increasing their rates by 20 per cent and more? Further, can the Prime Minister explain to the House why the substantially escalated Commonwealth contribution to local government has not resulted in reduced percentage increases in rates for this financial year?


– If, in spite of the very substantial increases in payments to local government from the Commonwealth, local government bodies are still increasing rates by 15 per cent or 20 per cent or even more, that is their decision. It has been made because they want more real resources and to expand their total control over resources so that they can undertake more works, build more roads, provide greater services. We would have preferred under these circumstances when many people find it very difficult to pay rates, especially in farming areas, for local government, at the very least, to hold rates and preferably for it to reduce rates. But again, within the concepts of responsibility that we embrace, this must be a decision for local government. However, if local government has increased rates under present circumstances, it has to be answerable to ratepayers. Local government has to justify that increase to them. I hope that it can succeed. I would have thought that local government might find it difficult.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I direct a question to the Acting Foreign Minister. Is it a fact that on his way to the recent meeting of the InterParliamentary Union a member of this House made a visit to Rhodesia? Did the Government know that the honourable member was making such a visit? Since the honourable member concerned is the deputy chairman of the Government members’ Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, I also ask whether the Government approved of the visit.

Minister for Primary Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

-This is the first that I have heard of the allegation. I will inquire into the matter and reply to the honourable gentleman as though his question were a question on notice.

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-Can the Minister for Transport indicate to the House the present position in regard to the dispute between Connair Pty Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots which has resulted in a ban on airline services to Alice Springs and a crippling of that town by the denial of services? Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will do everything within its power to ensure that essential airline operations are maintained in the Northern Territory? What has been the effect of the ban imposed by the Federation on the operation of Connair?


-The Australian Federation of Air Pilots had a claim before Mr Justice Coldham, sitting as the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, several months ago. That claim was rejected. The claim was then referred to the Anomalies Committee which referred it further to the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Full Bench likewise rejected the claim. Since that time Mr Justice Coldham has called a compulsory conference. After discussions with the representatives of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, he described the pilots’ claim as mischievous, illegitimate and a monstrous exercise in industrial power. He advised the Federation to lift the bans that it had imposed on Alice Springs in order to preserve the pilots’ image.

I agree entirely with what Mr Justice Coldham has said. The fact is that Connair Pty Ltd has been operating in the Northern Territory for some 40 years providing a service not only in the Territory but up into the area represented by the honourable member for Leichhardt and in the northern part of Western Australia. This strike is destroying Connair. That might come as a shock to the Parliament. When I tell the Parliament that Captain Smithwell, in a conversation with me on Sunday, said that the Federation would prefer to see Connair go to the wall rather than give in on this it will understand the sense of dismay I have in dealing with this whole matter.

The difficulty is that the matter has been decided by the Full Bench. It is the final umpire. If the Federation is not prepared to accept that decision, it ought to work up another case entirely and put it through the proper conciliation and arbitration system. That is what the system is for and it ought to be used. The Federation should not be allowed to destroy an enterprise like Connair that has been in existence for such a long time. Apparently it was stated by the Federation yesterday or today that it intends to extend the ban to Darwin as from midnight tomorrow night and back into Alice Springs again on Friday. If this does not work, I am told, the Federation will call a national strike of all air pilots next week. I understand that those were the words used. I hope that the rest of the airline pilots in Australia will see what the Federation is doing to the image of pilots throughout Australia and will not agree to the proposal to proceed with a national strike. As to the effects that this ban is having on Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, I inform the House that a great number of charter operators have taken the opportunity to move in where Connair has been forced to pull out. As I understand it, they are providing some reasonable services at this point of time. The House can be assured that the Government is determined that Darwin, which I should have thought had suffered enough with cyclone Tracy, will not now be put in a position of being bereft of air services. The same applies to the rest of the Northern Territory.

Mr Morris:

- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Under standing order 321 I require the Minister to table the documents from which he was quoting. He may care to incorporate them since this is an important subject.


– Was the Minister quoting from a document?


– They are hand written notes. The honourable member can have them as far as I am concerned.

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-I direct my question to the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. Is it a fact that there is pressure within the Government for major modification of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act because of pressure from the mining and woodchip industries?


-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There is too much conversation in the left hand corner of the chamber. I could not hear properly the question from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I do want to hear it and the whole House wants to hear it I ask honourable gentlemen to remain silent. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


– Is it a fact that there is pressure within the Government for major modification of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act because of pressure from the mining and woodchip industries?

Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development · BASS, TASMANIA · LP

– There is a review of the Act and the administrative procedures under the Act but not for the reasons that the honourable member would lend to it. We are looking at the Act because we are not satisfied that the administration of the Act is strong enough. We believe that there are grave deficiencies in its administration. To cite some examples, there is lack of cooperation between the States; there is duplication, particularly in the preparation of environmental impact statements, which we wish to try to remove; and there is lack of warning to industry in the preparation of environmental impact statements and so on. To remove those deficiencies we will be looking to the States to engage in discussion with them. The Government has made no decision to amend the Act or the administrative procedures.

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– I address my question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. In view of wide public speculation and some confusion, will the Minister advise the House when the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission on local crude oil prices and the report of the Royal Commission into Petroleum will be tabled in the House?

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

– The report of the Royal Commission, that is, the fourth report, was tabled in this House I think back in May. As yet no decision has been taken on the recommendations contained in that report. I propose to table the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on crude oil pricing immediately after question time. Because some of the matters canvassed in that report traverse ground similar to that covered by matters canvassed by the report of the Royal Commission into Petroleum, in relation to both pricing and practices, the Government will be looking at them in conjunction- it is appropriate that they be looked at in conjunctionwith some of the recommendations made by the Government’s committee of inquiry into the Trade Practices Act, which does have an impact on practices pursued in the marketing of petroleum in Australia.

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-I ask the Prime Minister: Did the Bland Committee- the Administrative Review Committee- make great criticism of the operations and efficiency of the Department of Repatriation? Did that report lead to the change of the name of the Department? Finally, will the Prime Minister justify to the House the reasons advanced for not tabling that report?


– I have previously indicated why the Bland reports were not written for publication. I have also previously indicated to the House why the name of the Department of Repatriation was changed.

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– I direct my question to the Acting Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Further to my question yesterday to the Minister on the question of school leaver unemployment, what effect would the reduction of payroll tax have on the success of the extended National Employment and Training scheme and the Youth Employment Subsidy scheme? Will the question of payroll tax generally be discussed at the next meeting of State Ministers for Labour and Employment?


– It is difficult for me to quantify exactly the impact of the payroll tax concession to which the honourable gentleman alluded both today and yesterday. I shall endeavour to have that done and provide him with the result. The question of whether or not this matter should be raised with the State Labour Ministers is, I think, one on which my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations would have a view, and I shall refer the request to him when he returns to Australia tomorrow.

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-My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. What protection exists against dismissal by employers who may seek to take advantage of the Government’s retraining cash grants by replacing existing employees, junior or senior, with employees who are eligible to receive the grants?


-The best protection of which I think I can inform the House is the experience gained with the operation of the National Employment and Training scheme prior to the introduction of the further benefits announced a couple of weeks ago. So far there has not come to the attention of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, or of the Government so far as I am aware, any evidence that employers have taken advantage of the benefits provided under that scheme to discharge longstanding or permanent employees and replace them with young persons in respect of whom the benefit can be claimed. If the honourable gentleman bears in mind that the new initiative is different to the extent that the monetary amount is larger than the monetary subsidy provided under the normal NEAT conditions but in other respects is only an extension of the existing NEAT scheme, I think he will agree that it is fair to draw on the experience of the ordinary NEAT scheme in claiming that employers do not take and have not taken unfair advantage of the scheme. I believe that the response of employers to the NEAT scheme has been an extremely sensible and responsible one. I do not believe that they have abused the system. There is no evidence that they have abused the system. I think that to suggest that the system will be abused is perhaps irresponsible speculation.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Minister will be aware of the threatened termination of employment of Aboriginal teacher aides in schools in northern Victoria. He will also be aware of the general support in my electorate for the teacher aides program. Will the additional finance of $2 5m which he announced yesterday guarantee employment for these teacher aides at least until the end of the financial year? Will the Minister also discuss with the Victorian Education Department the question of making appropriate employment arrangements to provide career opportunities for these people at the completion of their training period?

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I can readily give to the honourable member the guarantee that he seeks. I welcome the representations which he and his colleague the honourable member for Mallee made to me about a month ago concerning the position of Aboriginal teacher aides in the Murray-Goulburn area. At present 46 Aboriginal teacher aides are employed by the Victorian

Education Department under a scheme funded by my Department. It is the kind of scheme that we are sponsoring throughout Australia in order to give Aborigines opportunities for employment in areas of this kind. A keynote of the scheme is that the State governments employ these people on the basis that they can hold out to them some prospect of permanent employment. We do not want to operate a scheme which simply subsidises the State governments for the employment of people. We want to see real opportunities for Aborigines in places where there was not opportunity previously. When the representations were made to me I immediately made inquiries. I was able to ensure that the teacher aides in the Murray-Goulburn area were guaranteed continued employment. With the provision of the additional $25m in funds which I announced yesteday, they will be employed until the end of this financial year. I shall be entering into discussions and consultations with the Victorian Education Department to see that career opportunities are available to these people at the completion of their courses.

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– Is the Prime Minister aware of public reports which allege that Fretilin broadcasts monitored in Darwin by Telecom Australia were sent by the radio seized by the Government early last week? Can he confirm or deny the accuracy of these reports? Is he aware that since the Australian based Fretilin radio was seized 2 messages have been received in Darwin by Telecom, one on 1 October and the other on 4 October? Is the Prime Minister aware that Radio Maubere broadcasts can be picked up in Darwin on the 3804 kilohertz 75-metre band at 7 p.m. tonight? Can he assure the Parliament that no attempts will be made to terminate the service provided by Telecom in receiving and conveying messages from East Timor to the Australian people?


-The honourable gentleman plainly has some intriguing information if the statements contained in his question are correct. Perhaps he would like to tell us how he got it. The miscellany of facts which he has presented to the House will be examined. I would only repeat the view that I stated yesterday that I do not believe that any members of this Parliament should support an illegal radio operating in Australia and beaming its messages to countries overseas.

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– I ask the Attorney-General: Does the Commonwealth provide funds which assist the New South Wales Law Society duty solicitor scheme in petty sessions courts? Will such Commonwealth funds stop or continue?


-I was grateful for your earlier intervention, Mr Speaker, saying that I was not responsible for the statements of Mr Wran. However, Mr Wran recently made a statement which is quite untrue. He said:

There is … a Law Society scheme at 12 courts throughout New South Wales financed as a pilot scheme from Commonwealth legal aid grants.

That is true. But Mr Wran then said: . . these grants are expected to stop.

That is untrue. Honourable members will know that Sim was set aside in the Budget this year for grants to the States. In 1974-75 something like $403,000 was provided to the State of New South Wales by the previous Government. Of that amount, $250,000 was set aside for a pilot duty scheme at about 12 courts throughout New South Wales. In the succeeding year-1975-76-an amount of $300,000-odd was provided to New South Wales. That amount was available to New South Wales to use for the purpose of the duty solicitor scheme. This year an amount of approximately the same order will be available to New South Wales. Apparently the New South Wales Government is attempting to introduce politics into legal aid.

Government supporters- Shame!


– Shame ! Since becoming Attorney-General I have attempted constantly to come to an arrangement with all the States to set up legal aid commissions for the very purpose of making a system available to members of the public whereby they will be able to go into a legal aid office and have all their legal aid problems dealt with by the one office. In New South Wales there is a public defender, a public solicitor, a Law Society scheme and a number of separate legal aid schemes run by various law societies. On top of that we have the Austraiian Legal Aid Office. I believe there could be nothing more confusing to the public of New South Wales than to be confronted with that situation.

My purpose, and the Government’s purpose, is to rationalise that situation so that there is one legal aid commission and one legal aid office in New South Wales. In the Territories there is strong support for a legal aid commission and I am at the point of preparing an ordinance relating to legal aid to be introduced in each of the Territories. I was in Western Australia last week and the Western Australian Attorney-General is very interested in setting up a legal aid commission. I hope we will be able to come to terms with him in relation to this matter. South Australia is interested in a legal aid commission and so is Victoria. One hopes that soon the New South Wales Government will set about the task, not dealing with the question in a piecemeal way as it is doing and trying to bring the salaried system, as it were, into the courts; one hopes that that Government will rationalise the system so that the amount of money, State and Federal, available in this country for legal aid will be used in the most effective way. I again invite the New South Wales Attorney-General to sit down and write me a letter telling me that he is prepared to negotiate on setting up a legal aid commission for New South Wales.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. In view of continuing interest in proposals to set a minimum price for beer in Victoria and conflicting statements by the respective heads of Government, I ask, as I did the week before last, has he yet considered the extent to which existing Federal legislation would prevail over any State legislative or administrative action which purported to fix a minimum price for commodities?


-Order! Before I call the Attorney-General, I point out that the question is couched in terms such as ‘has he considered the question of the prevailing of Commonwealth legislation over State legislation.’ To that extent the question is in order. Had it gone beyond that in asking for a legal opinion it would have been out of order. I draw to the attention of the Attorney-General the fact that he is not called upon to give a legal opinion in answer to a question without notice.


– As I understand the honourable gentleman, he asks about a price fixing law relating to commodities. I do not understand that there has been any law in any State fixing prices relating to commodities in the plural- that is, a general price fixing law. If he is talking about a price fixing law relating to beer, and that is what he is talking about, needless to say I think that at the moment there is only a draft Bill- or perhaps, as an honourable member suggests, a Bill for draught beer- introduced in the Victorian Parliament. I have given consideration to whether that is or is not inconsistent with Federal legislation. The Trade Practices Act is one Act that may be considered as to whether there is inconsistency. Another Act that may be considered is the Prices Justification Act. The Prices Justification Act, as we know, purports to set a maximum price. The Victorian Bill seems to be aimed at setting a price which is really a minimum price. Of course, it could be that those 2 laws are inconsistent, but that is a very difficult question for me to deal with at the table in the House. However, it is a question that has exercised my mind.

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– Will the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House whether he considers that the export of livestock for slaughter is likely to affect the number of livestock slaughtered in Australia? If he considers, as most informed persons do, that, because of the cost involved, no one would export livestock if the purchaser would buy carcass meat will he undertake to use the resources at his disposal to educate the Australian Meat Exporters Council and the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union?


-There has been quite a significant build-up in Australian export opportunities to Middle East countries. It is to there that many of the livestock exports, particularly live sheep, have been transported. There have also been other selling opportunities for livestock in markets in tropical areas and in lesser developed countries where, for 2 reasons, the reception of carcass meat seems to be extraordinarily difficult. The first reason, of course, relates to temperature and the fact that taking frozen meat out of a hold and exposing it to tropical temperatures is likely to lead to deterioration of the meat. Associated with that situation are the handling facilities within the port.

The second quite important reason is that, in any event, in many of those countries there are inadequate refrigeration conditions available for the purchaser for storage of meat until such time as it can be consumed. There are associated factors; for example, the necessary killing rites which adherents of the Muslim faith require before meat can be consumed by them. It is true that those killing rites are met within those works which kill for Middle East markets; nonetheless, the principal opportunities which exist for livestock exports supplement, as we see it, and do not compete with carcass exports. Honourable members might be interested to know that live sheep exports to Kuwait have risen from something like 294 000 head in 1973-74 to 600 000 head in 1975-76. In the same period the total of exports to the Middle East has risen from 900 000 in 1973-74 to 1.669 million in 1975-76. As a result, there is an obvious very worthwhile additional market for pastoralists who have suffered so adversely as a result of the downturn in wool incomes in recent years and in beef incomes more recently.

The trade in live sheep and live cattle is certainly something which the Australian Government wants to encourage. We believe that this trade in no way prejudices the employment opportunities of those who work within meatworks around Australia. We hope that workers who belong to the various meat unions will accept the fact that it is only by maintaining these selling opportunities that producers are likely to be able to remain financial. Industrial action which people take at times in a most irresponsible way is likely not only to lead to their own ultimate loss of job opportunities but also to a certain reduction in the number of family farmers who are able to produce sheep and cattle throughout this country.

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-Does the Prime Minister recall saying at one time that he would be opposed to injustice wherever it occurred? Has he noted the widespread, mounting world criticism of the injustices repressively practised in South Korea? More specifically, did he recently note that 18 prominent critics of the Park Administration were convicted of subversion after a 4-month trial at which only prosecution witnesses were allowed to testify? Did the defendants include the former President, Yun Po Sun, aged 79, and Kim Dae Jung, aged 51, who nearly beat Park in the country’s last free election 5 years ago? Were they sentenced to prison terms of 2 to 8 years? Was their crime to call publicly for the restoration of democracy in South Korea? What steps has the Prime Minister taken and what further steps does he propose to take to display his opposition to the cruel injustices being practised on such a prolific scale in South Korea?


– This Government is opposed to injustice wherever it occurs. I think the honourable gentleman, in asking his question, might have overlooked the fact that South Korea does not happen to be in our constituency. In addition, the honourable gentleman is slightly selective in his recitation of injustice.

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Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 29 of the, Dairy Produce Act 1924 I present the interim annual report of the Australian Dairy Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1976.

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Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on crude oil pricing.

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Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the report, dated 25 August 1976, of the Temporary Assistance Authority on paper.

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Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– Pursuant to section 45 of the Industries Assistance Commission Act 1973, 1 present the annual report of the Industries Assistance Commission for the year 1975-76, together with a statement outlining the action taken during the year 1975-76 on reports made to the Minister.

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Mr LIONEL BOWEN (KingsfordSmith)Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes, I have been misrepresented. On 2 1 September last I made a personal explanation in this House. I am astounded and mortified now to read in the Senate Hansard of 23 September what appears to be my personal explanation, although it is not the same explanation as I made in this House. Upon inquiry I am informed that Senator Durack incorporated in Hansard, with the leave of the Senate, what he deemed to be my explanation. I know that that could not possibly happen in this House. Nevertheless, apparently in the Senate anything can be incorporated in Hansard, whether it is correct or otherwise. What was incorporated now appears on page 876 of the Senate Hansard of 23 September under the heading ‘Personal Explanation by Mr Bowen’. Rather than delay the House, I would point out for the sake of the record that the third paragraph is completely incorrect; those words were never uttered by me. On 2 1 September I did say in this House:

Osborne v. Commonwealth, reported in 12 Commonwealth Law Reports at page 321 indicated that section 53 was not justiciable and, if it was justiciable, of course there would be no reason for a Governor-General to intervene because the High Court had the power.

I hope that the worthy senator reads the current Hansard.


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


-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a report which appears in the Australian newspaper of today’s date which is headed ‘Cut off aid to striking students, MP urges’. The article deals with a question which I asked in the House yesterday. The second paragraph of the article reads:

Mr H. G. Chapman (S.A.), representing the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, asked Mr Ian Viner . . .

It then goes on to detail the question. While it is gratifying to have one’s political progress noted, I am afraid that my progress in the political sphere has not been that rapid. I do not yet have the privilege of representing the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) in this House. That privilege belongs to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner), of whom I asked the question yesterday. I believe that the report should be amended accordingly.


-I am sure that the whole House will note the honourable gentleman’s explanation.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


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

The failure of the Government to provide for the needs of young people seeking employment.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-


-The Opposition brings this matter of public importance before the House today for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is the most pressing issue facing the Parliament at the moment. The fact that at present there are 90 000 teenage jobless- one in eight of the teenage labour force unemployed- is a matter of enormous importance to this Parliament and it should be discussed. However, there are a couple of other reasons for bringing forward this matter. They are the paucity of positive action taken by the Government to do anything about unemployment of youth and, more important still, the Government’s unwillingness to debate the issue in this House. A couple of weeks ago during the last sitting week the Government finally took a very belated initiative in relation to the young unemployed. But instead of the Acting Minister announcing the initiative in the House so it could have been debated forthwith, the initiative was announced outside the House by way of a Press statement and then the Acting Minister arranged for a question to be asked at question time so that he could say something about it in the House. We regard this as a thoroughly underhand way in which to announce initiatives on important matters, particularly one as important as this. We believe this matter should have been announced in the House and discussed forthwith. In those circumstances the Opposition feels that it is bound to raise this very important matter in the House.

The fact is that unemployment right now on the latest survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is 4.8 per cent seasonally adjusted. That 4.8 per cent is the highest figure recorded by the Bureau of Statistics. It is 0.5 per cent higher than the figure for May. I ask honourable members on the Government side of the House to note the fact that the figure in May was 4.3 per cent and the figure in August was 4.8 per cent, an increase of 0.5 per cent. Yet we are told that the economy is recovering. That same survey shows that there are 90 000 teenage unemployed of whom 26 000 are still seeking their first job. It shows that the unemployment rate for teenagers is 12.6 per cent compared with 3.2 per cent for those aged 20 years and over. It shows that 20 per cent of the young have been unemployed for 6 months or more.

But the official figures do not tell the full story. As Mr Kirby of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations said a month ago, in the last 2 years it is estimated that 10 per cent of would-be school leavers did not leave school simply because they felt it would be hopeless to try to get a job. So we have a substantial and a disguised level of unemployment of young people as well. On top of all this, we have 200 000 school leavers coming on to the labour market at the end of this year plus 50 000 graduates from tertiary institutions. So a mammoth problem is facing this Government and this country.

What is the cause of this problem? Of course, the primary cause is a very substantial lack of jobs. The ratio of registered unemployed to registered vacancies is currently twelve to one and shows no signs of diminishing. But on top of this lack of jobs there is also another factor of extreme importance to young people, namely, a substantial structural problem. The unemployment rate for teenagers, as I have indicated, is far higher than it is for adults, but the disparity between the 2 unemployment rates is much higher now than it was, say, in previous recessions. For instance, in 1961 the census figures show that the unemployment rate in June 1961, which was in the middle of recession, for adults was 3.8 per cent but for teenagers it was 5.9 per cent. The unemployment rate now for teenagers is 12.6 per cent and for adults 3.2 per cent. So the disparity between the 2 rates has grown enormously. It is clear that a mammoth structural problem which has been developing over the past decade has emerged. It is a problem which is not occurring only in this country; it is occurring in the rest of the capitalist world as well.

Why has this structural problem occurred? Various studies on this issue point to a number of factors as being involved. Let me mention some of them. One is the cost of training young people. Employers prefer, where possible, to avoid the cost of training young people by employing an already skilled adult. This is particularly noticeable right now in the apprenticeship area where the number of applicants for apprenticeships vastly exceeds the number of positions open to them. Employers would much prefer to employ someone who is already trained. The high labour turnover rates of the young are another important factor. Increasingly, educated youth seems to be rejecting boring mundane uninteresting jobs. They leave those jobs and therefore employers are somewhat loath to employ young people in them because of the high rate of labour turnover.

Increased work force participation by married women is another important factor. There has been a dramatic development in this area in the last couple of decades. Employers often prefer married women to young people because married women are already trained, more stable and likely to stay in a job longer. The increased pay of juniors relative to that of adults makes employers less enthusiastic about employing young people. Employers increasingly complain that although young people are educated longer they are deficient in basic skills such as literacy and numeracy. In a recession, employers reduce staff by attrition rather than by sacking people and adopt a policy of minimal recruitment of new labour, thus putting the burden of unemployment on the young, especially the less educated young, because insofar as they do recruit, employers demand the highest possible educational qualifications. Therefore it is the lowest educated youth, the early school leavers, who find enormous difficulties in getting jobs.

There are many reasons for the structural problem which has emerged for teenage unemployment and therefore many solutions are needed. Finding those solutions is not a simple job. We do not in any way pretend that the Government could fix this problem overnight. It is a very difficult job but it is something with which the Government has dealt only minimally. What are the effects of unemployment on the young? This is an area of where minimal information is available, but there is some evidence from surveys of unemployment in Australia. Those surveys show that the young unemployed are often bored and depressed. They become irritable and withdrawn. They become very deficient in self confidence and that affects their ability to get a job. Many of them develop negative attitudes to work after they have been knocked back many times and decide that they would rather opt out of work altogether. They are much more likely to offend against the law. I think that this is an important aspect about which there has been little information available until recently. However, some is now available. I refer to a report produced by the South Australian Government which will be publicly available soon. The document, which is dated May 1976, is entitled Report of the Youth Unemployment Working Party. On page 19 of the report there appears some information on juvenile offenders: an analysis of the juvenile offenders, statistics suggests that the juvenile offending rate is linked to the unemployment rate. The following table shows the percentage increase for several classes of offenders in the period June 1973 to June 1976.

The report sets out a table of statistics in relation to offenders aged 14 to 18. The increase in total offenders in the period June 1973 to June 1976 was 56 per cent; for school attending offenders 40 per cent; for work force employed offenders 37 per cent; but for work force unemployed offenders 238 per cent. I ask honourable members to take note of that enormous differential figure for work force unemployed offenders- 238 per cent compared with the average of 56 per cent. The report went on:

Further analysis reveals that from 1972-73 to 197S-76 the proportion of 14-18 year old non-student offenders who are unemployed at the time of committing an offence has risen from 43 per cent to 7 1 per cent for the whole group and risen to 82 per cent when the age 1 7 group is isolated.

It is obvious from that information that there is some relationship- indeed it looks to be a rather startling one- between the ratio of offences by young people against the law and the fact that they are unemployed. I suggest that there are fairly obvious reasons for this. We should not be surprised at this dismal picture of people becoming more and more withdrawn, becoming depressed and irritable at being unable to obtain a job, and of developing negative attitudes to work, because work is a major means of self expression in our society, and if it is denied to people we cannot expect them to display normal behaviourial characteristics.

What has the Government done about this problem? I suggest that it has done not very much. Only a month ago it had done nothing except encourage the dole bludger syndrome. It did that very substantially earlier in the year, particularly when it changed the guidelines for unemployment benefit, and a subsequent speaker from this side of the House will refer to that point later in the debate. The initiatives that the Government has announced since then have only scratched the surface of the problem. The inquiry into education and training is worthwhile. We hope that something good will come out of that but it is a very long term proposition and will do nothing for the current unemployed or those who will become unemployed at the end of this year when they leave school.

The relocation assistance scheme similarly is aimed at adults rather than young people. It does not provide any jobs now and it is not going to do very much for the special problems of young people, although it may help some. The special youth employment training scheme is a direct program of assistance for the young but it does not go nearly far enough, in the view of the Opposition. Firstly, the requirement of 6 months registered unemployment is unduly restrictive and is longer than the period of 4 months which applies to applicants for retraining under the National Employment and Training scheme as it has operated to this time. The reason for the extension of that figure was not explained by the Acting Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Howard) in his Press statement. The subsidy of $58 is quite inadequate, in our view. It is less than the NEAT allowance of $64.54 which applies to an adult in-plant trainee, and is only $6.36 above the amount which applies to 18-year-old or 19-year-old in-plant trainees under NEAT.

It must be remembered that we are dealing with people who have no work skills. They must have left school in the previous 12 months and they must have been unemployed for 6 months. Such people are not terribly attractive to an employer, particularly when he realises that a lot of school leavers will soon be coming on to the labour market. The idea of the subsidy was to try to get these people into the work force and give them skills as soon as possible. In those circumstances, $58 is not likely to achieve that object, and it is the Opposition’s view that to achieve anything substantially worth while in the immediate future the subsidy should have been 100 per cent. The updating of allowances for in-plant trainees, which I have mentioned, was well overdue and the Opposition welcomes the increase. The abortive proposal to increase apprentice training was rejected by the States. The Government refuses to face the fact that it may have to spend some money on things like that. It is trying to bring about increased apprentice training without spending any money. Increasing the national apprenticeship assistance scheme subsidies would provide added incentives to employers to employ apprentices, but so far the Government has refused to do that.

In summary, the action taken by the Government is better than nothing but it does not go anywhere towards meeting the needs of the young unemployed. In the view of the Opposition, the first thing that is needed is jobs. One way to get jobs is for the Government to change its whole economic strategy. I do not have time to go into that, but if the Government increased its expenditure, cut indirect taxes and stopped cutting real wages it would have a much better chance of providing jobs, particularly for young people. The second thing that is needed is job creation programs. They are very necessary right now, and I think it is almost criminal that the Government has turned its back on such programs at a time when we have substantial unemployment. We had job creation programs during earlier recessions. We had them in 1961, when a Liberal-Country Party Government was in office, and we had them in 1971 in similar conditions. We do not have them now, but the Government has not said why it refuses to introduce them.

I think that in this debate the Minister should indicate why the Government refuses to introduce job creation programs. They are operating now in a number of other countries and it seems to me that they would be very appropriate in Australia. Even if there were a change in economic policy, there would still be a lot of unemployment in the short run. If we are to get young people into jobs now we have to introduce job creation programs such as the Regional Employment Development scheme and the special youth job creation program suggested by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, or provide temporary employment in the Public Service, which occurs at the moment in the United States, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Canada. All those programs could be introduced without any substantial cost because costs would be offset by the unemployment benefit that would otherwise be paid and the tax revenue received through having people in gainful employment. More assistance is needed in training for jobs, in increased subsidies for apprentices and for the special youth employment training scheme. Assistance to young people to enable them to overcome the effects of prolonged unemployment should be provided through such schemes as the job corps, which operates in Canada, or the job hunters clubs which have been used in the State of South Australia, or by devising a greatly expanded program of vocational training.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and Acting Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations · Bennelong · LP

– I share the concern of the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) about the level of youth unemployment in Australia at the present time. I also acknowledge to be a fact, as he stated, that this is not a problem which has suddenly come upon us. Indeed, my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), when speaking in the House on a similar matter of public importance raised by the Opposition, pointed out that many of the problems in terms of the high level of youth unemployment experienced in Australia find their genesis in changes and happenings which occurred in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course the Government regards youth unemployment as a particularly serious problem. It does have serious social consequences. The Government acknowledges that. We also make it very clear that it is our belief that a long-term solution to the high level of youth unemployment in Australia is inseparable from a long-term solution to the general level of unemployment.

I do not think any serious analysis of the problems of employment in Australia could gainsay the fact that until such time as there is a greater revival in the private sector, to which the Government’s economic strategy is directed, we are not going to have the reduction in levels of unemployment for which I am sure honourable members on both sides of this House would look. I was therefore pleased that the honourable member for Gellibrand acknowledged that the problem really is a problem of jobs. Of course it is a problem of jobs. It is a problem of generating jobs, of creating jobs, and the Government believes that the most effective way of creating and generating jobs in Australia is to get the private sector of our economy moving. We reject the proposition that a government can spend its way out of unemployment. We have 3 years immediately behind us which demonstrated that governments cannot spend their way out of unemployment.

It is therefore of some concern to hear the Opposition spokesman on industrial relations castigate the Government for what he says is its inactivity in respect of this problem, and then advance no seriously constructive suggestion as to what alternative measures might be taken to cater specifically for the problem of the high level of youth unemployed amongst the general unemployed. The only thing that the honourable member could offer by way of a constructive alternative to the policies being pursued by the Government was to call in effect for the reintroduction of some of the schemes that his Government- the Labor Administration between 1972 and 1975- had in train. The honourable member knows as well as every member on this side of the House that those schemes did not solve the unemployment problem. He knows, as everybody here knows, that when Labor assumed office in 1972 the level of unemployment in Australia was 135 000 and it had soared to 328 000 when Labor went out of office in December 1975. The honourable member knows also that the level of youth unemployed during the same period escalated from 80 000 in December 1972 to 152 000 in December 1975. Those are unassailable facts. It is also an unassailable fact that the response of the Labor Party when it was in Government to the problem of unemployment proved ineffective.

The distressing thing is that, despite the experience of those 3 ineffective years, nothing new has come out of the Labor Party in relation to coping with the problem of unemployment. It refuses to accept what has now been accepted even in the United Kingdom under a Labor Government- that until such time as there is a sustained revival of private sector activity there will be no long-term solution to economic problems. The Labor Party has refused to accept what even Mr Callaghan ‘s Government in the United Kingdom has accepted- that the path to economic recovery does not lie in a government endeavouring to spend its way out of difficulty but lies in the sort of strategy which is now being undertaken by the present Government in Australia.

Of course the Government recognises, as I am pleased to say the Opposition recognises today, that the problems of unemployment cannot be solved overnight. In particular, the problems of youth unemployment cannot be solved overnight. They can be solved only over a longer period. As the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said in his Budget Speech, this Government yields to nobody in its concern for the unemployed of Australia. We will yield to nobody in our special concern for that section of the unemployed of Australia described as the youth unemployed. It is precisely because we have identified amongst the general unemployed in Australia at this time a particular problem being experienced by some 12 000 young people who left school in 1975 and who have not been able to obtain stable employment since that the most recent initiative announced by the Government in this area was introduced. All that the honourable member for Gellibrand can say in respect of that initiative is not that it was a bad initiative, not that we were not on the right track but that is was a good initiative; he said, however, that we should have taken it further. In other words, the honourable member for Gellibrand had to concede that, given a special problem so far as the youth unemployed were concerned, the sort of initiative that we have introduced is on the right track.

I am grateful that the honourable member for Gellibrand acknowledges that we are on the right track on this occasion and that the only change he would make to our initiative is not to replace it with another one or do things in a completely different fashion. What he suggests is that we should increase the subsidy, liberalise the terms and conditions and change it in a few other minor ways. In other words, what he is advocating is a bigger and better version of what we announced a couple of weeks ago. I am grateful for this bipartisan support for the inititative undertaken by the Government. I am grateful that the Opposition has recognised that this is a well tuned response to the problem of youth unemployed. The honourable gentleman therefore must go on record in this debate as having endorsed in general terms the direction in which the Government is going with respect to the unemployment problems of the young. The scheme has been introduced as part of the overall national employment and training scheme which has now been in operation in Australia for some time. It will be monitored carefully over the initial period of 6 months of its operations. Its operations will be reviewed at the end of January 1977 and decisions will then be taken by the Government regarding the future scope of the scheme in the light of the experience of its operations. It is tailored specifically to cater for that group of approximately 12 000 young people who left school last year and who have not been able to obtain stable employment since leaving school. It is designed specifically to cater for the people in that category provided their age falls between 15 years and 19 years and provided they are able to demonstrate according to quite liberal criteria that they have not been able to obtain the requisite amount of stable employment over the period in question .

The level of subsidy being paid is significantly higher than the level of subsidy currently available under the NEAT scheme. I believe that this scheme will receive a generous response from the employers of Australia. I understand from information given to me by a number of honourable members from this side of the House that in a number of the States considerable interest has been generated already in the operation of the scheme. Undoubtedly the light of experience will demonstrate that some changes to the scheme may be necessary after its initial period of operation. I and the Government do not rule out in any way the possibility that after its first 6 months of operation some changes will be made if it is decided to continue the scheme. We do not regard this as being the end of the unemployment problem and as the only answer to it so far as the young are concerned. We do not in any sense regard it as the be-all and end-all in solving the unemployment problem. But what we do regard the scheme as being, and what is significant about it- the House should take note of this- is that it has been tailored specifically to cater for that group of people in the community which presumably is the subject matter of the Opposition’s motion to discuss a matter of public importance. To that extent, the Government is extremely pleased that the Opposition has raised this matter of public importance today. It provides an opportunity to speak regarding the initiative of the Government in this area.

As the honourable member for Gellibrand rightly pointed out, there have been structural changes in the Australian economy which have produced a situation in which the level of unemployment amongst the under 20-year-olds is higher than the general level of unemployment. I think he would agree with me when I say that that situation is not unique to Australia. It is the experience of most urbanised societies around the world. I think he would agree with me also that the concentration of unemployment among this group is nowhere near as bad in Australia as it is in other countries with which it is fair to make a comparison. I think that the honourable member would agree with me also- indeed, the facts indicate that he may have no alternative than to agree with me- that although it must be acknowledged that structural changes in industry affecting employment have produced this situation and those changes have occurred obviously over a fairly lengthy period of time, it is nonetheless an undeniable fact that there was an extremely sharp acceleration of those factors between the years 1972 and 1975.

Whilst I would be the first to admit that not all of the unemployment problems being experienced at the present time are due to the policies pursued between 1972 and 1975 and that some of the difficulties of the young unemployed at the present time are due to structural changes of which the honourable member spoke, undeniably the evidence is that if there was a problem it was aggravated massively during the period from 1972 to 1975. Until the policies of the present Government which represent a reverse of the economic policies pursued by our predecessors have been given an opportunity to work, we will not see the fruits of that reversal. This Government has reversed the economic direction of this country. It has rejected the policies pursued by the previous Government. It makes absolutely no apology whatever for reversing the emphasis placed by the previous Government on the public sector as opposed to the private sector. It makes no apology for saying that until there is a revival in the private sector of the Australian economy there will not be sustained economic recovery in Australia.

This Government makes no apology for saying that a government cannot spend its way out of economic difficulty or that a government cannot spend its way out of unemployment. It makes no apology for saying that the best illustration this country has of the absolute incapacity of a government to spend its way out of unemployment difficulties is the 3 sorry years between December 1972 and December 1975. Those 3 sorry years saw our unemployment soar from a level of 135 000 people to a post-depression record of 328 000 people. That is the proof perfect that no government with the type of economy Australia has or is ever likely to have can spend its way out of economic difficulties.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-I congratulate the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) for raising this question in the House. It is one of great importance to a very large section of our community. I was looking forward to sitting in the chamber and listening to the Acting Minister for Employment and

Industrial Relations (Mr Howard) speak during the 15 minutes that were available to him. I was hopeful that out of all of that he could make some suggestions as to how this very sensitive problem could be solved. Unfortunately, my calculations were that the Minister devoted about 4 minutes of his time to dealing with what the Government has done about this problem and spent the other 11 minutes delivering rhetoric and heavy irony which, in my view, are very cold comfort for those hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for employment in Australia. I rather think that there is something apathetic about the constant statements of the Government which indicate its blind faith in the private sector being resurrected. In the Minister’s own words, he told us that all of the countries with which Australia would like to be comparedI take it that he means the capitalist countries around the world- are suffering a similar fate to Australia and possibly worse. No evidence exists in the world today that private enterprise- the great and mighty god that the Minister and those who sit behind him worshipwill ever lead the world out of the economic recession in which they, the capitalists, have now placed it.

The Minister spoke about a long term solution to the problem, and I agree with him entirely; but there is a need to look at the situation of those who at the moment find themselves unemployed. Can we please be spared any future examples of the Prime Minister of this country finding positions for 4 young men from his home town of Hamilton at a place almost 200 miles away- at Highett in Victoria. It was not by coincidence, I suppose, that those 4 young men were placed with the Nylex Corporation and that a member of this House has very close associations with that company. It is also very interesting that those 4 men did not stay very long. That raises a question: Did the company have 4 vacancies and could it not find 4 young men who lived close by to take those positions? Or did the people who engage people at that factory do a favour for the Prime Minister of this country to get him some cheap publicity in the newspapers while those 4 young men stood around twiddling their thumbs or taking the wax out of their ears, and giving the impression that the Prime Minister was able to find positions for people?

Just for the information of the Prime Minister and for the information of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, I should like to remind them that at present in the city of Broadmeadows important, but not very large compared with the rest of Australia- 1688 young people under the age of twenty-one are unemployed. Of these, 457 males and 437 females are under the age of twenty. The vacancies registered at the Commonwealth Employment Service Office in Glenroy are for 3 junior males and 2 junior females. If the Prime Minister of this country is such a great job hunter let him find jobs for those young people in Glenroy and Broadmeadows. The fact is that he cannot.

This problem and the difficulties that are experienced by young people who are unemployed have been very carefully and capably noted by my colleague, the honourable member for Gellibrand. This Government, which told the people of Australia prior to 13 December that it had the panacea to all of these ills and encouraged them to vote for it, has done nothing in the period of almost 12 months it has been in office to improve the situation. In fact the situation has worsened. It is known by the Minister that before very long 400 000 people will be unemployed in Australia and, commensurately, that the number of young people unemployed will increase dramatically. Six per cent of the work force in Australia will be unemployed. To paraphrase words I have heard before in this Parliament, this Government is presiding over the worst unemployment and the highest rate of inflation in this country for 40 years. Surely the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) will go down in history as the Minister for unemployment and strained relations.

Serious consideration must be given to the problems that confront young people in finding employment. Surely with the giant resources that are available to government in the Public Service and other areas, the problem is not insoluble. It is all very well to look at long term situations but young people, like older people, have a habit of growing and getting older. So if the problem is not solved in 2 years time, somebody 20 years of age now who does not have a job will not have a job when he is 22 years of age. That is pretty axiomatic but it is something that has to be borne in mind in order to assess the whole situation and for job creation programs to be worked out.

The Minister told us repeatedly that governments cannot spend their way out of problems. There may be some truth in that, although I doubt it. But by going the other way, by cutting back on the number of people employed in the Public Service, for example- in other words, by adopting staff ceilings- and by cutting back on expenditure for public works this Government is not doing anything to alleviate the situation. Money made available for public works would not be money wasted; it would be money which was creating assets. Surely the Minister, with his wide knowledge of these areas, cannot argue that that would be spending money in the sense that he talks about- that is, spending one’s way out of a problem. The Government contradicts itself in relation to the specific area of public works, because by spending money on public works it would help to stimulate the private sector. The work carried out for the Australian Government in this area is carried out by private contractors who engage people in the community generally. They are not public servants. They are people who are now standing in dole queues collecting a cheque once a fortnight when they could be more gainfully employed improving the infrastructure of this country and providing the facilities that will be needed if there is any dramatic move in the development of the nation.

Again we come back to the continual blind faith in the private sector. If the Government is going to let the private sector solve this problem for it- that is what the Government seems to be saying- the problem will remain for evermore, because in my view the private sector is not terribly interested in solving the problem of unemployment. People are of little consequence to it except as consumers. As producers they can be readily replaced with machines. However, the paradox of that situation is that unless the wealth created by the machines is distributed among the community then the manufacturer will soon run out of consumers. So it will require the action of government; it will require interference, if you like, in the private sector. Apart from the handing out of incentives to employ young people that raises the question: What do the young people do when they are employed? If there are vacancies in the factories now, why are not employers employing people? Why do employers have to be paid money to encourage them to employ people? Is it just a ploy to have more people in the factory than are actually needed in order to make the statistics look good? Are we being serious about the problem or are we just trying to dress it up to make it electorally acceptable? I trust that this House is being serious about the problem and is not just taking it and dressing it up to make it electorally acceptable.

In this whole area there is a need for governments to exercise their influence. The change in the guidelines for the unemployment benefit, for example, did nothing but place the unemployed and those seeking employment completely at the hands of unscrupulous employers. Quite recently cases were reported in the newspapers where people had their unemployment benefit taken away from them at the whim of an employer who had the choice as to whether or not that person would be employed.

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


– I share with honourable members who have already spoken in this debate the concern about the needs of young people seeking employment. However, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) when introducing this matter for debate provided some confirmation- unconscious confirmation perhaps on his part- that the previous Labor Government made at least some contribution to the problems we are facing at present in regard to youth unemployment. He said that many young people did not leave school last year because they feared they would not find a job. Therefore they stayed on in the education system. We will face the problem of coping with them when they leave school at the end of this year. Why, I ask, did they not leave school at the end of last year? It was surely because of the economic circumstances which were brought about by the previous Labor Government. We, for our part, now have to cope with the problem which will come on to our plate. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson), made a few comments about the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the efforts of the Prime Minister as a local member in his own electorate to find employment for people who come to him with problems. I think that the honourable member for Burke would be well advised not to be critical when he is vulnerable himself. I shall quote what the honourable member said in this House on 18 February last in a speech in the Address-in- Reply debate:

Only today I had a telephone call from one of my constituents, a man who is almost at retiring age, who is able to negotiate his retirement and who is willing to do so provided his son can have a job in the Public Service. This man has been told quite loudly and quite clearly that if he negotiates his own retirement he can go into retirement but the vacancy caused by his retirement cannot be filled by his son.

The attitude of the honourable member for Burke to the question of employment is conditioned by the jobs-for-the-boys mentality of the previous Labor Government, as demonstrated by that quote. I remind the House that this Government took over an enormous problem. The economic policies pursued in previous years resulted in a transfer of resources from the private sector to the public sector. The previous Government used the public sector as a pace setter in wage determination. This had the effect of raising the cost structure in Australia and reducing the ability of private business to invest. There was a 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cut which severely hit many industries, particularly industries in decentralised areas where there are now severe pockets of unemployment, partly or even largely the result of that action. So there were a number of policies which reduced business confidence and which raised the cost structure of Australian industry in comparison with industry overseas. I shall quote what the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) had to say in this House earlier this session when he pointed to the level of the wage rises that had occurred in Australia in previous years:

In the 2 years to the December quarter 1974, real male award wage rates rose by the staggering figure of 1 6 per cent Bearing in mind that the long-term annual average is approximately 3 per cent, it is evident that the equivalent of a little over 5 years normal growth in real award wage rates was crammed into two.

As one former Minister for Labor in the previous Government said, one man’s wage increase is another man’s job; and that is the situation that we face in Australia today. We have become uncompetitive compared with many overseas countries. I refer not merely to Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea where many manufacturers have established manufacturing facilities. But compared with many industries in the United States, we have become uncompetitive. So let us not hear the Opposition now cry crocodile tears for the unemployed who cannot find a job largely as a result of the policies that it pursued in the previous 3 years.

There is a particular reason for many employers not wanting to employ juniors, and I agree with many of the comments made by the honourable member for Gellibrand in this respect. He pointed to the fact that wage rates for juniors are now higher, compared with the adult wage rates, than they were a number of years ago. This means that many employers prefer employing a mature person, someone with training and experience, rather than taking on a junior employee whom they have to train and from whom they do not get the productivity of an older employee. I have been speaking to a number of retailers recently and it is evident in that field. The large retailers still want to take on young people. Large retailers such as the Myer Emporium Ltd or David Jones Ltd or John Martin & Co. Ltd want to take on young people every year to ensure that they have people moving through their training programs to provide their supply of future managers, future departmental supervisors, and so on. But some of the smaller employers in the suburbs, smaller retailers who just want to employ a couple of people and do not want an enormous training program that they have to maintain, much prefer to employ a mature woman coming back into the work force, in terms of her attitude to her work and her attitude to the customers, than to take on a young person fresh out of school and have to train him or her from scratch. So the measures that this Government has implemented have been designed to try to improve the productivity of the young employee to employers.

We have introduced this special extension to the National Employment and Training scheme called the special incentive for youth employment training, which reduces the initial cost to the employer by providing a subsidy of $58 a week. It gets the young employee into industry and commerce and gives him or her practical training and work experience in skills that will be of direct use. We believe that this is the sort of constructive attitude which must be at the base of any scheme to provide work for school leavers and the young unemployed. Make-work schemes of a type which simply find something for people to do while providing them with a small wage may get them off the unemployment rolls and make the figures look better, but they do not in themselves remedy the problem and provide people with real work skills which they can take into another job in industry and commerce. We have to ensure that people are trained in skills which are of real use in the productive work force and which will be of benefit to those people in succeeding years. We have not only introduced the special incentive for youth employment training; we have also extended the NEAT scheme in other areas and made improvements to the scheme which apply to in-plant training.

It is significant to note that the young unemployed is not taken into account in the wage fixing system in Australia- certainly not to the degree that he or she should be taken into account. There is no union to look after the interests of the young job seeker before the industrial tribunals in Australia. The unions that presently exist are there to a very large extent to represent those people who are presently employed. They represent the adult worker, not the person seeking work. So we are seeing the development of some groups of young unemployed in the community who are getting together to work on co-operative projects that will provide them with work and with an avenue for discussing their problems. So I think that in the long term we have to look at the role being played by wage fixing tribunals and the extent to which the system of wage fixation is militating against the best interests of the young person seeking work, who must have some period of training, some period of relatively unproductive employment before he is a fully useful member of the work force.

There must also be a review of post-secondary education, and I am pleased to note the comments made in this regard by the Prime Minister recently. I believe that there has been an imbalance in the development of post-secondary education in Australia which has led to many of the structural problems that we face. Our educational institutions are turning out people who cannot be employed properly in the work force.


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

page 1552



Ministerial Statement

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

– by leave- The Government has determined a number of changes in the rates and conditions of various student assistance schemes to be effective from 1 January 1977. In July of this year the Government appointed an interdepartmental committee to recommend changes in rates and conditions and to correct certain anomalies which had become apparent since the schemes were introduced. The committee was instructed to recommend changes in rates and conditions and any desirable rationalisations to the various schemes. The committee had before it a number of submissions by various bodies, including student organisations. In addition, it studied the report of the Williams Committee on the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme- commonly known as TEAS.

That report, prepared by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr H. S. Williams, Director of the Western Australia Institute of Technology, was submitted to the Whitlam Government in May 1975. It recommended a wide range of changes. The report was not implemented and few changes were included in the August 1975 Budget of the Whitlam Government for the 1976 calendar year. As a result, current tertiary living allowances have not been varied since January 1975 and are based on June 1974 prices.

The Whitlam Government’s failure to vary the living allowances, combined with the erosion of the allowances by inflation and the difficulty experienced by students in getting part time jobs to supplement their incomes, has caused appreciable hardship to those who are wholly or predominantly dependent on the allowance.

Government Decisions

In general, the Government affirms its support of the present nature and form of student assistance schemes. It emphasises that the main thrust of such assistance should be towards the most needy. It notes and endorses the following principle asserted by the Williams Committee with regard to TEAS:

The Committee has taken the view that the public purse should not be expected to bear the total costs of tertiary education. In view of the significant benefits which generally accrue to the individual from such education, the student and/or his family should bear pan of these costs. The purpose of TEAS is seen as providing a subsidy to those students and their families who are unable or whom it would be unreasonable to expect to provide all of the costs normally expected to come from sources other than the public purse. The level of subsidy provided should cover only the basic needs of students and their dependants.

The then President of the Australian Union of Students was a member of the Williams Committee and a signatory to the report.

The Commonwealth Department of Education will administer 10 student assistance schemes in 1977. They are:

Details of 1977 rates and conditions of each of the schemes are as follows:

Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme

The Government confirms that means tested assistance should continue to be provided to full time students at universities, colleges of advanced education, technical colleges and other post-secondary institutions through the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme- TEAS. It acknowledges the following means test concept as defined by the Williams Committee:

The basic purpose of applying a means test for student grants is to ensure that only those in financial need are assisted and that only to the extent that this need is not or cannot be met from other sources. In determining the extent to which a student’s needs may be met from other sources it is necessary to take into account the other demands on the use of the funds, such as the support of dependants.

The following rates will apply to TEAS from the beginning of next year:

Where previously only one rate applied to both independent students and dependent students living away from home, the Government has decided to introduce an intermediate rate for dependent students living away from home who can be expected to benefit from some family support when compared with the independent student. The Williams Committee suggested that incidental allowances should be incorporated in the TEAS living allowance. The Government has chosen, however, to continue to pay separate incidental allowances at the present rates.

In future, widows, widowers and other single independent students with dependants will be able to receive incomes up to $4,850 per annum without affecting their entitlements to allowances under TEAS. This is in line with the Williams Committee recommendation. Currently such people are treated as single students and so have their allowance reduced when their income exceeds $1,500. In future, allowances will be reduced at the rate of $1 for every $2 of income in excess of $4,850. The means test for a married student under TEAS will in future be applied to the spouse’s income in the financial year preceding the year of study. At present it applies to the calendar year in which the student is receiving benefits. This has resulted in a number of overpayments due to the inability of the spouse to estimate income for the current year.

The maximum personal income which a student may receive without affecting his or her allowance entitlement will remain for 1977 at $1,500. In accordance with the Williams Committee recommendation, the income taken into consideration for this purpose will include earnings in the long vacation. These are at present excluded. However, there will be a relaxation of the abatement rate, that is, the rate by which the allowance is reduced by income in excess of $1,500. Currently the abatement rate is $1 for every $ 1 of income in excess of $ 1 ,500 for dependent students and $1 for $1.50 for independent students and spouses. In future, for both dependent and independent students it will be $ 1 for every $2 of income. The limit of assistance which a student may receive from another award without affecting his TEAS entitlement will be reduced from $600 to $150-a Williams Committee recommendation. New students receiving assistance from another Commonwealth award in 1 977 will not be eligible for TEAS benefits.

Full time students who are unable, because of course requirements or arising out of a direction from the institution attended, to undertake the 75 per cent of a normal full time load- now the minimum requirement to attract a TEAS allowance- may qualify for TEAS provided they undertake at least 66-2/3 per cent of this load- a Williams Committee recommendation.

Eligibility for independent status on the grounds of 2 years’ self-support will be limited to those students who have been full time in the work force, or registered as unemployed, for a total period of 2 years- a Williams Committee recommendation. This limitation will not apply to any student who has already been granted independent status for a year prior to 1977.

The maximum adjusted family income, known as MAFI, which attracts a full allowance will be increased from $7,600 to $8,200. At the same time, to ensure that the provisions of TEAS may be related more closely to those in need, the abatement rate of allowance for incomes above the MAFI will be increased from $2 to $2.50 in every $10. The abatement rate will be constant for all levels of income. The present sibling concession and the deductions for dependants used in applying the means test will continue.

Adult Secondary Education Assistance Scheme (ASEAS)

The adult secondary education assistance scheme will be continued as a means of assisting adult students who are undertaking the final year of secondary education. The levels of allowances and means test provisions decided upon for TEAS for 1977 will be applied also to ASEAS. The conditions, such as those applying to widows under TEAS, will also apply to recipients under this scheme.

Pre-School Teacher Education Allowance Scheme

This scheme is at present being phased out. Allowance increases determined for TEAS will also apply to the remaining recipients under this scheme.

Commonwealth Teaching Service Scholarship Scheme

The Commonwealth teaching service scholarship scheme will continue to provide non-means tested competitive awards. The number and distribution of these awards will reflect the particular needs of the Northern Territory schools and of specialist teaching fields in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory where qualified teachers are in short supply. The levels of allowance and conditions for TEAS will apply.

Post-graduate Awards Scheme

The following allowances will apply:

Secondary Allowance Scheme (SAS)

The secondary allowance scheme will be continued as a means of assisting families on low incomes to maintain their children at school during the final two secondary years. For 1977 the maximum allowance will be increased from $450 to $550. The maximum adjusted family income for SAS will be increased from $4,300 to $5,150. The abatement rate will be set at $2.50 for every $10 of excess income, but will make provision for the sibling concession as applied to TEAS which provides a reduced abatement rate where more than one member of the family is eligible under the scheme. The dependant’s deduction allowed in calculating the adjusted family income for the proposed SAS entitlement will be increased from $300 to $450 and extended to include full time dependent students at postsecondary level.

Aboriginal Secondary Education Grants Scheme (ABSEG)

Special assistance will continue to be provided to Aboriginal families through ABSEG to provide a positive incentive to those families to keep their children at school. Consideration will be given to the possibility of introducing a means test but a means test would not be introduced for 1977. A survey will be undertaken into levels of incomes of Aborigines which will be sensitive to the customs of Aboriginal communities and to the difficulties of determining family incomes, before a decision is reached on means testing.

Allowances payable under ABSEG will be set as follows:

Stricter provisions will be made regarding unsatisfactory attendance and also repeating students beyond the school leaving age.

Aboriginal Study Grants Schemes (ASGS)

This scheme will continue as a separate form of assistance and encouragement to Aborigines who have left school. A study will be made of the possibility of introducing a means test but it would not be applicable to 1977. The following allowances will apply:

The present 3 levels of allowances have been reduced to two for 1977 in recognition of the costs to Aboriginals aged 1 8 years and older who have no other means of support and thus require the same level of assistance as older students. Dependants’ allowances will be at the same levels as for TEAS. The special provision for payment of boarding fees and a reduced living allowance for students living in residential colleges will in 1977 be extended to students living in hostels and be adjusted to provide an increase in the special living allowance rate to $15 per week. The establishment allowance payable under ASGS will be increased to the following levels:

Aboriginal Overseas Study Awards Scheme

This scheme will be continued. Payments will continue to be based on the Aboriginal study grants scheme.

Scholarships for Graduate Diploma in Recreation

This limited scheme which had little support will be discontinued. Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances are available for approved courses in recreation studies.

Assistance for Isolated Children

Benefits will continue to enable parents in isolated areas to give their children access to appropriate schooling. The following allowances will apply:

The means test applicable to the additional boarding allowance will be similar to TEAS, except that the abatement rate will remain unchanged at $2 for every $10 of excess income. The special supplementary allowance currently payable to isolated, low-income families will be adjusted in accordance with the new provisions of the secondary allowances scheme. The total cost of maintaining all student assistance schemes will be approximately $ 1 78m in the current financial year. This compares with the amount of $15 1.877m which was initially allocated in the 1976-77 Budget. The full cost of student assistance schemes in the calendar year 1977 will be approximately $200m.

The Government will review all allowances for 1978 within the context of its 1977-78 Budget. In addition to these schemes of student assistance, the Government will institute an inquiry into the feasibility of a loan scheme for postschool students. This inquiry will seek the views of the public as well as the directly interested parties and will include, among those conducting the inquiry, a representative of students. This inquiry will begin as soon as possible.

The Government has decided not to proceed with the reintroduction of tuition fees for higher and second degree students or for overseas students in tertiary institutions. It took this decision after careful consideration of the detailed implications of the proposed measure. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) had already indicated in his Budget speech that the Government had no intention of reintroducing fees for Australian tertiary students undertaking their first degrees. The measures I have announced result from a comprehensive review of the whole range of the Commonwealth’s student assistance programs. I am confident that the revised arrangements provide an equitable and reasonable basis of support for the various classes of students during 1977.


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

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (KingsfordSmith)The Opposition welcomes this statement. We make the point quite clearly that we disagree with a number of matters in it, not the least of which is the suggestion that the previous Australian Labor Party Government did not do its duty in relation to education generally. I remind the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), that if he looks at the financial resources which the Labor Administration allocated to education in its 3 years of office he will see that it was an all time record. Let us note, for the sake of the debate today, that the Labor Government abolished all fees for tertiary institutions. Of course, this was of undoubted benefit to all students. The record of payments to the States clearly indicates that. For example, in the last Liberal-National Country Party Government Budget the amount payable for education to the States was $259.4m. In our last Budget the amount by way of payments to the States escalated to $ 1,454.8m. So it should not be thought at any stage that we were unmindful of the needs of education.

The whole emphasis has been on the basis that there has been a great need in education in all the various levels throughout Australia, whether it be in the pre-school, primary, secondary or tertiary fields. As honourable members know, we set up a number of commissions to ascertain those needs. They will readily recognise that the Karmel committee clearly established the principle that those in need did not get the opportunities to develop their talents that they merited. Of course, the real issue was money. Now we come to this statement which points out that there will be an improvement in the amount allocated in the tertiary field. We are somewhat cynical of the fact that this could not have been announced in the Budget. Surely the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) knew how much money he had in mind when making statements about the tertiary allowance field. The Williams committee report of which we are reminded by the Government was tabled in May 1975. Students in the tertiary field are entitled to say that they have been denied any advancement in 1976. That is the point. I know it upsets honourable members opposite. The fact is that those students could well have received some benefit in the Budget discussions of May this year. That is the point.

Mr Bourchier:

-They did not get it in 1 975.


– We did have difficulties last year. Let us place on record what we did from the point of view of setting up the tertiary allowance scheme and an independent tribunal under the chairmanship of Dr Williams. In early 1975 we introduced legislation which increased the allowances from $850 to $1,000 and from $ 1 ,400 to $ 1 ,600. Honourable members opposite might say that that is not good enough. Nevertheless, it was carried out in legislative form. It was certainly an improvement over what existed previously, because we see that the Williams report states:

The Committee accepted that financial assistance to tertiary students should not be limited to the most academically gifted but should be available on a needs basis. It considered that the Scheme for this reason was a significant advance on the previous competitive Commonwealth University, Advanced Education and Technical Scholarship Schemes.

In other words, that is an advance on what the present . Government has always thought to be good enough for education. Let me make this charge now: There will be no further increase in student allowances until the next election year which will be 1978. Honourable members opposite know that the Williams Committee suggested that these allowances be indexed at least twice every year and that they be virtually related to average male weekly earnings, and that has not been done. So the students are not going to get the benefit to which they thought they might have been entitled pursuant to the Williams recommendations.

Let us place on record also the difficulty which the Labor Government had in trying to survive in office for the 3 years that it did. It had to fight its way through a double dissolution position in 1974. With respect, I think that delayed the introduction of quite a number of matters which could have readily assisted students. In that context, the Williams Committee reports:

The Committee did not see public responsibility under an assistance program, however, extending as far as compensating the student for earnings forgone, but rather as providing maximum allowances at a level that would enable him to study ‘without inordinate financial pressure’.

I make the point again that the Committee further recommended that the student allowances should be adjusted twice a year. It recommended further that the existing means test being applied to gross family income did not adequately cover the capacity of the family to contribute to the support of the tertiary students. It therefore recommended that there should be a deduction from gross family income of the income tax paid to allow for the variations in the proportion of tax payments with different income levels. We can now add to that the Medibank levy which will apply as from this week. So there are these sorts of issues which have not been taken into consideration.

The Minister’s statement does foreshadow some tightening up as compared with what we thought was reasonable. I note in passing that some variation is made in relation to the categories of people who will be recipients of the benefit. Not the least of those will be the recipients of Aboriginal study grants. As a matter of interest, the Treasurer did forecast a reduction in the amount of money made available in the Budget for that purpose.

Mr Viner:

– It has gone up now.


-Thanks to the Minister, I know now, the amount has been increased. But if the Minister looks at the Budget Papers he will note that that appropriation was reduced from $ 1 .8m to $ 1.6m. The point I make is that by means of this statement the Government is able to add to the Budget allocation a further $26m which apparently could not be found on 17 August. I am very cynical about that fact. It may well be that the Government is having second thoughts about student allowances, but perhaps the question which arises is this: Are those allowances still good enough in the context of welfare generally? I make no comment about that, except to say that it is a tragedy for young people to have to drop out of tertiary education because of impecunious circumstances. If one looks at page 16 of the students allowances report, which deals with tertiary allowances, one observes that of the number of students starting in the universities some drop out in the second year and that there is a really savage reduction in the numbers by the third year. That must surely be related not only perhaps to the lack of application of the students to their tertiary studies but also to the fact that they cannot cope with the financial responsibilities. For example, of the 12 342 students who commenced their first year in 1 975, only 3 787 remained in the third year. An even greater reduction in the number of students occurred in the College of Advanced Education.

The same situation applies in the technical education field. A summary of the situation shows that in 1975, 31 167 first year tertiary students were receiving assistance and only half that number were receiving assistance in the second year. That is quite a waste which obviously people interested in education would need to look at.

I return to my point about the tightening of assistance. On page 6 of his statement, the Minister says:

The means test for a married student under TEAS will in future be applied to the spouse’s income in the financial year preceding the year of study. At present it applies to the calendar year in which the student is receiving benefits.

I am not at all certain that the applying of a means test to the preceding year will be equitable. It could well be out of touch with reality, and it certainly will be out of touch with the present situation should there be any diminution in income. The statement continues:

The maximum personal income which a student may receive without affecting his or her allowance entitlement will remain for 1 977 at $ 1 , 500.

There is no improvement there. In fact, there is a diminution in the benefit in the sense that the income which is taken into consideration will include earnings received during the long vacation. At the present time such earnings are excluded. So there will be some problem for the students in that regard. The situation is deemed to be mitigated by the fact that the abatement rate will be $ 1 for every $2 of income in excess of the $1,500, compared with the current rate of $1 for $ 1 or $ 1 for $ 1 . 50. That is an improvement.

The other matters which seem to involve some tightening up are these:

The maximum adjusted family allowance which attracts a full allowance will be increased from $7,600 to $8,200.

That is an increase of $600, but it seems to go nowhere near compensating for the inflation rate. It certainly goes nowhere near keeping up with average weekly earnings. Nevertheless, it is an increase. The statement continues:

At the same time, to ensure that the provisions of TEAS may be related more closely to those in need, the abatement rate of allowance . . . will be increased from $2 to $2.50 in every $10.

So the benefit will be diminished. I say in conclusion that while we recognise the fact that the Government has belatedly done something about tertiary allowances we feel that the proposal should have applied to the whole of 1976. We think also that the adoption of the recommendation of the Williams report in relation to indexation and a twice-yearly review would be more equitable to the students. Ultimately we in this Parliament may find the situation in which there is a minimum income for everybody, in which case we may well be able to adjust these payments much more satisfactorily than on the ad hoc, piecemeal basis that applies at the present time. If one looks at the needs of students, particularly those paying rent, it is quite clear that the allowance will go nowhere near sustaining them. That is one of the points made by the students, particularly those in Queensland and elsewhere in remote places. Those students have to travel many hundreds of miles and then board or pay rent. They made the point that they had particular difficulties which they felt should have been taken into consideration. I have indicated the Opposition’s support for what has been done but castigation for the delay in doing it. I have made some criticism of the fact that some of the issues are more stringent than they need to be.

page 1559


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 5 October.

Second Schedule.

Department of the Capital Territory

Proposed expenditure, $64,304,000.

Department of the Northern Territory

Proposed expenditure, $59,599,000.


-In addressing oneself to the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory, one can only assert at this stage, after 10 months of office of the present Government, that the badge of office of the new Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) should surely be Ned Kelly’s coat of armour. There has been a consistent attack, almost from day one, upon the people of Canberra. As the previous incumbent of that office, I might say: What did the people of Canberra expect when they took part in the destruction of the Labor Government? The people that they played their part in inflicting upon Australia were, of course, well known to them. Right across the board those people have been out to get at the purses of the people of Canberra. Rents have risen. Rates have gone up. Interest rates have become exorbitant and extravagant. This is what has happened under the people who used to attack us about the general interest situation. In fact we are now talking about interests rates that are absolutely under their control. General fees have gone up.

I suppose the ultimate in exploitation was the first exercise of authority by the previous Minister for the Capital Territory, now the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric

Robinson), or whatever it is called at the moment, who lifted the price of land. As I understand it, when he was asked why he was doing that he said: ‘We need the money’. If there is one area in which there ought to be no exploitation of the private citizen it is in the price of land. I will say this, though: Because we are the inheritors of the past the people of Canberra still can buy land in Canberra much cheaper than anywhere else in Australia. The lesson in that for everybody is that if government could own all the housing land in Australia houses could be supplied to people at a much lower cost.

In the few minutes that one has available in this discussion I would like to say something about the housing situation and in particular the rental situation. I find in the explanatory notes for the estimates of the Department of the Capital Territory which I have obtained from the Senate side of the Parliament, because apparently the serfs in the House of Representatives are not entitled to these documents, reference to the full economic level of rent. What exactly do we mean by that? One cannot, of course, discuss the situation at any length. Unfortunately in the field of housing we are inflicted with the market place philosophy of you take what you get. We would not tolerate such a philosophy from the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. If BHP created an artificial scarcity and then said it would put up its prices, honourable members would be after BHP, as would the Prices Justification Tribunal and the public. But housing, which is a fundamental need of a community and one of the great social areas, is being used for the exploitation of the citizen.

As a former Minister for the Capital Territory, I carried out a long battle to protect people against the pressures to raise rents. What is the situation? We have heard so much so often about the subsidised rents of Canberra. But of course it is a specialised use of the word ‘subsidy’. What do we mean by this word? Last year revenue collected from rents was $ 10.8m. The actual expenditure in running the system was something like this: $2. 3m for general maintenance such as painting, etc., and $1.2m for general servicing such as electricity and that sort of thing; coming to $3.6m. Then one has to allow for the cost of servicing this operation. I suppose one could add something like 10 per cent of the revenue- say another Sim- about the level the general community charges for such services. Therefore the cost of running the system last year was $4.6m. As I have mentioned, the return was $ 10.8m. The surplus- I will not be so bold as to describe it as a profit- was $6.2m. If this were an ordinary commercial operation one would say that one had made a $6.2m return. It may be said, of course, that this is not a satisfactory return on the capital invested. The actual capital cost of housing in Canberra at the moment would probably have been a bit over $ 100m but it now has an appreciated value of close on $300m. Taking the 1 1 400 dwelling units at the standard price of $26,000 at which each is being sold in Canberra at the moment, the value is something over $300m.

What are we doing this year? We have lifted the rents. The return this year will be $16m. So there will be a profit of $ 12.7m on a capital investment of perhaps $100m which will give a clear 12 per cent return. The Treasury used to say- this was the accepted rule- that the money was appropriated at 6 per cent. This argument was put to me once. Of course the Treasury does not appropriate anything; the Parliament appropriates it. We took the money from the citizens of Australia and invested it in housing. We received a return on this money until about last year of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent. As one who thinks that the provision of housing is a very important social exercise and not strictly a commercial operation, and as one of the shareholders and a contributor through taxation, I would say that this return was adequate.

We should get rid of the phrase ‘welfare housing’. This is not a country of the deserving poor. All sorts of people need housing, particularly people who live in a situation such as Canberra. So we ought to take the housing stock, operate it in a commonsense way and make a deliberate decision that the return ought to be of a certain order, say 3 per cent, 4 per cent or 5 per cent, because the country will get the money back, the people will get their houses and the value of the stock will appreciate.

Unfortunately no consistent philosophy has been developed about housing of this nature anywhere in Australia. We are still inflicted with the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement of 1945 or 1946. We are still inflicted with archaic attitudes towards public money- that one does not invest public money; one lends it. If this were an ordinary commercial operation conducted by any commercial operator a dividend would be struck. The operation would not be loaded with an interest component. It is very hard to extract from the records since 1924 how much of the capital spent on housing in Canberra actually came from loan funds and how much actually came from revenue, but the big proportion of the investment in Canberra’s housing system came from revenue. So there has been a direct equity capital investment by the people of

Australia as has been the case with nearly all public works carried out in this country over the last 30 or 40 years. Therefore if we talk about commercial operations, we ought to apply commercial principles and we ought not to inflict notional rates of interest or, as we are doing to the people of Canberra, inflict on people what the market will bear- the economic rent.

We have tried all sorts of idiotic formulae. Why should people pay a percentage of their income- 20 per cent, one-fifth or whatever it is- on rent? One does not do that when one buys a car or a railway ticket or makes a telephone call. It would be simple in this town, if perhaps a lengthy operation, to define the amenity value of each house and treat it as a unit in that kind of system. I hope we will maintain the size of the housing stock.

I hope that I will have a chance to speak for another 10 minutes in this session because there are one or two other matters, apart from these estimates in those for the Department of the Northern Territory, with which I would like to deal. I am sure that the Minister for the Capital Territory would be hurt if we did not take any notice of his portfolio except to refer to interest rates. Recently this Government increased interest rates on existing mortgages in Canberra. We will collect something like $ 1 9.2m in interest this year. What is the moral ground upon which people continue to raise the interest rate on money that was taken from the community and invested in the system 20 years ago? Some people fortunately are protected by the kind of contracts that were written; others are not. We are inflicting on this city all sorts of financial aberrations.

I see that the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) is in the chamber. While the citizens of this city might appreciate his devotion to his duty as their local member, I hope that they will also sit down and do some arithmetic in respect of the high price of the sitting member for the Canberra electorate. The honourable member is actually costing them millions by just being here because of the part he played in the subversion of the parliamentary system by placing this Government in office. I hope that I will have a chance to continue these remarks later because there are a few more things to be said about Canberra.


-I was not going to cross swords with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) until he said those nasty things about me, but we all know his thoughts on the simplistic approach to the world.

Oh be it thus that Canberra could operate in the way he would like it to operate because we would have everybody in Australia living here as it would be such a jolly fine place. Fortunately the realities of life are such that the people of Australia and the people of Canberra want good administration, and that is why I am here today.

I rise on behalf of the embattled people of Canberra; the people of Australia’s national capital; the people who have built this jewel in Australia’s crown; and the people who administered the affairs of this beautiful country. I do so to discuss the appropriation of funds for the running of the Australian Capital Territory, both as a city of 200 000 people, and as a city created to embody the aspirations of the whole nation. Much has been said over the last year in relation to Canberra. Much has happened in this city over the last 4 years to bring to Australia’s notice the impact of government on the citizen. The people of Canberra have had uncertainty over the last 3 years, first from the erratic behaviour of the former Government and, more recently, from the quite traumatic experience of being told in no uncertain terms that they have to pull their weight in the quite enormous effort required to bring the Australian economy under control.

During the period running up to the Government’s first Budget a number of hard decisions were announced for the Australian Capital Territory. We saw the apparently savage impositions of Public Service staff ceilings. We saw the change of the very generous Commissioner for Housing loans scheme from a general incentive scheme for relocated public servants to a welfare scheme aimed predominantly at helping the people who are most in need of assistance. We have seen rents on government housing increased to ensure that it is a welfare scheme for those who need help rather than a handout to some people who have no claim to subsidised accommodation. We have seen a reintroduction of school bus fares, to place the Australian Capital Territory on the same footing as most other States. The people of the Australian Capital Territory, more than the people of any other community in Australia, have been asked to pull their weight to revitalise this country. We have had our doomsdayers in Canberra, the prophets of doom, the stirrers and the troublemakers, the people who have a vested interest in gossip, conjecture and connivance. All sorts of dire predictions have been made, but I am proud to report that the reality of this Government’s policies has been a sympathetic and understanding assistance to change. Hard decisions have been taken by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the other Ministers, but their implementation has been with a maximum of assistance to those people in need and with a minimum of disruption. The real problem has been a sort of community future shock, fanned consistently, I might say, by those people opposite who pretend to be the champions of the people.

Let us look at the appropriation for the Australian Capital Territory through the Department of the Capital Territory. The appropriation represents an increase of almost $10m, or about 18 per cent, over the expenditure for 1975-76. Generally, in line with the wishes of the Australian people, administration has been tightened up, with lower allowances for such items as travel, consultants fees, advertising and the like. But there have been increases in essential community service areas such as servicing and caretaking of government dwellings, recreational, cultural and community services, fire brigade and bus services, maintenance of parks and gardens, lighting and cleaning, police and- of very great importance- social welfare. We have already seen increases in the staff of the Departments of the Capital Territory, Education and Health and such essential community services as fire brigades and police. If I might be permitted to be a little lyrical, I should like to quote what Patrick Tennison said about this city:

Canberra, from its beginnings, has always been the Pastoral Symphony among the various rhythms of different Australian cities. As the national capital, it .carries the distinguished tide of the nation’s first city although it was, in fact, the last of them to be built. But being last built has meant also that it was more carefully planned than some of the others. Here good fortune and successive paternal governments have combined to treat the residents generously. Canberra is also a living monument to a dream that has recurred regularly in this century; that people should be able to fashion for themselves living quarters that suitably complement the natural setting.

He goes on:

In some ways Canberra is a modern miracle.

With the city about to come of age and given the right to govern itself, as the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) has just announced, we must not forget that it is and always will be the city of Australia. Its planning and its beauty are the responsibility of this Parliament. Any move to hand over the planning of this city to other than those responsible to the people of Australia would be a blasphemy. By all means, we must give the citizens of Canberra a greater say in their own affairs. People who spend the municipal taxes should be responsible for their stewardship. Our education authority and health administration likewise must be answerable to the local electorate through the community and through elected local representatives. But the plan of this city must be kept above the sort of petty squabbles that have developed in some local government areas.

The people of Canberra are lucky people. We live in Australia’s finest city. We pay our taxes and we pay our way. Thanks to various government inquiries, we have recently been asked to pay our way in over-full measure. It is my view that Canberra has been brought down to earth with a bump. The estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory, as with the estimates for the other government departments which are to be discussed later, are an indication that the Government does support this Territory, its continued steady growth and the improvement of its standard of living. We in Canberra have taken the necessary economic medicine. I must say, however, that we now need to be reassured. The spirit and morale of the community is a sensitive thing. We all look forward to some firm indication that the people of Australia are proud of their capital and of the public servants who serve the nation so well. I know we will get that indication. Let this Government now take positive steps to restore consumer confidence in this city and reassure those who had the foresight to build the national capital that it is to continue to be the gleaming jewel and not a rapidly tarnishing lump of copper which bewitched people for a while but has now outlived its usefulness.

I have confidence in this Government. It has a fine record of management. The Budget is fair to the people of Canberra, and those who look at it carefully will see that we have done well. But I say quite clearly to the Minister for the Capital Territory: We want no more special increases to bring us into line with the rest of Australia. Now assure us of the regard in which we are held in the hearts of Australia and assure us that the Government is not singling out Canberra for any special repressive measures.


-In support of the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) in his appeal to the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) to cease mulcting the citizens of Canberra, I make one or two points. This Government was elected to office on the theme that is was going to reduce inflation. It has increased the cost of everything in Canberra. The honourable member for Canberra said that the people here had been brought down to earth with a thump. The Government even increased the price of the earth, quite unnecessarily in my view. As I said earlier, the misuse of land as a field of exploitation is an act of social immorality. No citizen here should be allowed to profit from land or speculate in land and no government ought to do it either. There is a fair price, and the price increase at the beginning of this year was introduced simply to raise more money. The honourable member said that the Government is going to restore consumer confidence. How can consumer confidence be restored when the biggest customer in the city, the Government itself, withdraws from the field? How can customers’ consuming be increased, if that is what customers do, if the Government, which is the biggest employer and the biggest consumer, cuts down on its actions? Yet the honourable member talked about a fine record of management.

We have now reached the stage where we are getting daily amendments to the 1976 Budget. Last night it was so many millions for Aboriginal affairs. Today it is so many millions for students. I wish that the people of Australia, and honourable members opposite also, would apply themselves more thoroughly to a study of the increasing incompetence this Government is showing in the actual management of the country, the Medibank system of course being the finest flowering of that incompetence. I want to speak briefly about self-government. I suppose that we are more or less on common ground. What exactly do we mean by self-government? None of us will govern himself in the strict sense in a modern society. We are all part of a co-operating system. First of all, this community has the Legislative Assembly. Members of the Legislative Assembly were continually asking: ‘What are our powers?’. In the time of my administration of the Australian Capital Territory, I said: ‘Your powers are whatever you wish them to be with the proviso that the House of Representatives and the Senate have a final say’. I think that I gave proof of that, under some pressure from all sorts of quarters, by signing the poker machine ordinance into law. I did not want to do so but the Legislative Assembly had passed it. There were pressures from various areas in the community. My party agreed that under those circumstances it ought to proceed. I would offer the same remarks in regard to the liquor ordinance.

I think that the Legislative Assembly should be given many more resources than it has to administer its affairs. Certainly it should have its own drafting facilities. Perhaps some of its members should become full-time members, in the course of time, in administering matters. I say first of all that the powers of the Legislative Assembly are whatever it chooses to exercise from day to day. If it wishes to bring down a law on this, that or the other thing, it ought to get on with it. It has to negotiate, perhaps, with the Minister about the way in which this power will be exercised. Then it will have to run the gauntlet of this Parliament just as the House of Representatives has to run the gauntlet with the House on the other side of Kings Hall. I think that its powers are best undefined. Its functions are to carry out the will of the people of Canberra and its future will be what it makes of it itself.

I think that we should aim at evolution. All experience shows that written documents which attempt to define in 1976 what the score will be in 1986 will tend only to strangle the situation. The most effective government is government by evolution and partnership. What exactly do we mean by self government? It is say in our own affairs. In this city there is perhaps more participation by the local citizens in its government than in any other area of Australia. The Legislative Assembly members are members of various authorities. In which of our electorates are the local citizens deeply involved and supplying the membership for the administration of education, health or bodies such as the Totalizator Agency Board? Of course, they are not. Most of us are ciphers in the system. In this city we have a burgeoning group of authorities on which the local people participate. My view- I was taking steps to implement it- was that the chairmen of those authorities ought to be members of the Legislative Assembly. There were some difficulties with the authorities that required full-time chairmen because we had not reached the stage at which we could have full-time Assembly members, although one or two of the members as I know them apply themselves pretty thoroughly to the job in a full-time way.

There are an enormous number of other units in the city in which the local people serve- emergency housing committees and the like. I do not know whether they ought to be integrated more. I am inclined to leave structures alone, to concentrate on functions and make them work. There is an obsession with structures rather than functions and the way we go about things. There is a tendency to look at the form rather than the reality of business. Of course, we have the 4 local members in this Parliament who sit as members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. Perhaps there ought to be a closer relationship between the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) and the Committee to develop a system of partnership.

Unfortunately we have inherited a continent which is strangled by constitutional principles, precepts and writings. They can prevent us from doing almost anything. I used to wish wholeheartedly that I could do for my electorate in

Melbourne the kind of things that could be initiated here in Canberra. In Canberra it was possible to talk directly to the representatives of all the responsible authorities- housing, education, transport or water supply- around the table and come to a group decision. After the discussion, we could start things going. But imagine the tangle that occurs between all the operational authorities within a few hundred yards of my office. Let us not therefore, interfere too much in Canberra by setting up forms and structures which will strangle the future. We should do anything that we can in this regard to assist the Minister. I think that this area has a greater participation in its own government than any other part of Australia, across the board. The element of partnership in Canberra between the national Government and the local authorities is what we must achieve everywhere else in Australia. The continuing participation of the people of Canberra through the various boards and authorities has to be sponsored. The Legislative Assembly has to be strengthened in the resources at its disposal. It may even need an increase in its membership. There are many advantages in having people retain their functions in society- in the universities, in commerce and in the Public Serviceand serve in a representative capacity. I hope that we will bring a continuing imaginative view in this area.

I wanted to say a word or two about the Northern Territory to make sure that it is known that honourable members on this side of the chamber know of its continuing existence and of its distinguished but grievously politically erroneous member. I wish to mention also the sad collapse of the railway system in the north when perhaps we ought to be starting to think about a trans-Australia railway from the north to the south of the continent. One has only to consider what happened in 1942 subsequent to the bombing of Darwin to support this proposition. We saw total collapse of” communications because of the failure of the transport system. One had only to participate as a member of the Cabinet in the post cyclone Tracy decisions to know how essential it is at times like these, instead of having railways scrapped, to continue with their expansion.

I hope that the Minister will adopt the more democratic electoral system we have in Canberra for the Northern Territory. It is nonsense that a major political group should be defeated in every electorate, as was the case in the Northern Territory, and therefore be unrepresented in the Legislative Assembly. I think that a comparison of the Australian Capital Territory operation and the Northern Territory operation provides a good demonstration of the difficulties of singlemember constituencies in trying to arrive at a democratically elected structure. I hope that we do not create another State of the Northern Territory in the sense that perhaps it will be a sort of pale echo of Queensland. But I am afraid if we do not keep a close watch, this is what will happen.

Minister for the Capital Territory · Chisholm · LP

– I thank honourable members for their comments. I have been the recipient of advice on a number of occasions from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) who has just resumed his seat and who was my predecessor in this position under the Labor Government. I may not always accept his advice but I always enjoy receiving it. Of course, on a much more regular basis I receive the advice of my Liberal Party parliamentary colleagues, the honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) and Senator Knight. We are working very closely together. Naturally, from time to time they have to stimulate me a little not always with the success they would wish but always with goodwill. I am not suggesting that there is not goodwill in relationships across this chamber. I find also that normally I can discuss matters with the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) on a pretty reasonable basis. I must note that my Liberal Party colleagues are absolutely assiduous in the performance of their duties. It is no wonder that the people of Canberra turned to them at the last election. There is no doubt in my mind that they will both be returned at the next election, whenever that might be.

Of course, they have to face their electorate as I have to face my responsibilities as Minister in this chamber in times that are very difficult for the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Perhaps they are times more difficult than has ever been the case in the past. Undoubtedly it is a year of consolidation in the Australian Capital Territory made necessary by our Government’s need to clean up the mess that Labor made of the economy. Speakers during many other debates have gone into this at great length; so I will not go into it at great length.

Mr Bryant:

– Tell us about Medibank.


– We have been doing what we can there also. As I say, I shall not go into that matter here today. I shall just say that we faced an economy which was in desperate straits. We faced a situation where there had been an alarming increase in the growth rate of the Public Service not just federally, but at State and local levels. We faced the greatest turnround ever in public and private expenditure when public expenditure rose at the expense of private expenditure. Everyone in Australia knows we had to do something about this. That is what we have been involved in ever since we came to office. We will not rest; we will barely sleep until we have fixed up inflation and the economy.

Because there had been such an expansion in public sector spending and in the Public Service, we had to continue and increase policies started up by the previous Labor Government. Let it not be forgotten that honourable members opposite were the ones who began the processes of cutting back the Public Service and cutting down Public sector spending, which we furthered. I do not believe that had they remained in office they would have been as virtuous as we have been in pursuing these crucial goals. Nevertheless, they began the process and they know in their hearts that we are on the right track. By and large, I believe the people of Canberra know in their hearts that the sorts of things we have been doing are right, just, fair and proper. By and large, the people of Canberra are aware of the fact that we could not have allowed the Public Service to go on growing the way it was growing.

Regretfully there is of course an impact on Canberra, which is an overwhelming Public Service city, when the rate of growth of the Public Service and public sector spending are cut down. We have done everything we can during our period in office to stimulate private sector spending, to aid people with a proposition to put it into practice, and to help businessmen get cracking with new proposals. We have loosened regulations wherever we can. We have speeded up bureaucratic processes. In fact we have had a very good response indeed from the private sector in this city. The private sector has confidence in the future of Canberra, and it is moving in rapidly to fill up the gaps left by the reduction in public sector spending and the cut in the growth rate of the Public Service. I want all people in Canberra to know that we will listen to any sensible proposition. We will break through bureaucratic red tape wherever possible. I do not necessarily mean in quite the same way as my Labor predecessor, but we will certainly break through bureaucratic red tape in the interests of proposals for the community, individuals and business. People accept that Canberra is not today a hardship city in the sense that people have to be lured to Canberra with a pot of gold which is not obtainable in other places in this country. People come to Canberra because it is a good place to live in. Canberra is a great place to live in. It is one of the world’s pre-eminent capital cities. As the Minister for the Capital Territory I would not want to be over-boastful of it, but it is one of the world’s greatest capital cities. This present government regards it as such and we will do nothing to damage the standing, the stature, of this city as Australia’s national capital. We are not calling on the people of Canberra to suffer in any way in which the people of the rest of Australia are not suffering also. We have been scrupulously careful to ensure that, where we have had to ask the people of Canberra to do a little more to pay their own way, we have not asked any more of them than the average person in any other major city in this country. Perhaps I should not mention this too loudly, but in some cases Canberra people, even after the reviews in expenditure, are still a little bit better off. The honourable member for Canberra (Mr Haslem) has been assiduous in ensuring that wherever possible that is the case. We are facing the facts of life in this city.

The National Capital Development Commission is spending a little more money this year than last year. With the exception of the Commissioner for Housing Loans scheme and the deferral of a new building for the Department of the Capital Territory, the Department is spending about the same amount of money this year as last year. It is basically business as usual. We are ensuring that all essential community services are being maintained. If we find a hole, we will plug it. If we find a gap, we will cover the gap and we will move rapidly to do so. The way in which the Government sees Canberra and the special situation of the Department of the Capital Territory was recognised in the fact that the Department was given special staff ceilings. The Department has been increasing the number of its staff so that it can service the community at times when other departments, for very proper reasons, have been sacrificing some staff.

I point out that notwithstanding the restraints Canberra is still growing and will keep on growing. Canberra is regarded by the Government as the national capital. The people of Canberra will be given a fair and generous deal. In the area of housing we have introduced a policy which has a fundamental welfare orientation which no one who believes in assisting those in real need could ever object to. What we are doing is giving the limited resources which the Government has at its disposal to those most in need. I think all honourable members would agree that that is an absolutely impeccable priority of government. It is certainly what the Henderson Committee has recommended as the fundamental approach in this area. I thank honourable members for their useful contributions. I look forward to working with them in the year ahead.

Northern Territory

– First, I should like to thank my friend the honourable member of Wills (Mr Bryant) for his humorous remarks concerning myself and the representation of the Northern Territory. But I should like to remind the Territorians of the effects of his tenure of office as a Minister which in some way touched some parts of the Northern Territory and sections of the community. Those effects are not so humorous.

The honourable member spoke of the collapse of the transport system. No doubt he was referring to the Darwin to Larrimah rail line. I remind him that that railway line was upgraded while the Liberal-Country Party Government was in government to carry ore from Frances Creek to the port of Darwin. The fate of that line was sealed when the honourable member for Wills’ colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), the then Minister for Transport, virtually sent the Frances Creek Iron Mining Company to the wall with his cost recovery program. It was that company which was using the line for 70 per cent to 80 per cent of its freight. To continue running that Une with 2 trains a week to Larrimah at the cost of $2m per annum surely would have been too much, even to the Labor Government. Had the former Minister woken up to that fact, for a few hundred thousand dollars the line would still be in use and all the workers would still be employed. So much for that matter.

I notice that the estimates for the Department of the Northern Territory have increased this year by $27.7m. A major item in the estimate is the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Of course this Government and the previous Government, although there was a lot of confusion and I do not blame anyone for that, did get on with the job of repairing Darwin. This Government and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann) have certainly continued with the reconstruction of Darwin and it is showing very positive signs of being a city rebuilt. It is really heartening to go around the city and see what has taken place.

Worthy of note in the allocation for the Department of the Northern Territory, which has risen from $1 12m to $142m this year, is the Department’s civil works program, which does not come under the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. The country centres in the Northern Territory have benefited to a marked degree in these estimates from increased expenditure on housing, electric light, water, local land and so on in the towns of Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and the other outlying centres. The amount provided for those centres has been increased from about $3m to about $24m in these estimates. An amount of $ 12.7m is provided for Alice Springs, $4.2m for Katherine, $800,000 for Tennant Creek and $6.6m for other centres. So the financial position of these centres with regard to the local works that will take place, I hope, in the coming year has been improved. I say ‘I hope’ because the tenders for these works will have to be expedited and there is always the problem of contractors being held up by the wet season. Works are not only held up but also they become far more expensive.

Under these estimates an amount of approximately $800,000 is to be expended on the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. I am sorry that my friend the honourable member for Wills has left the chamber because he criticised the amount of money that is being spent on the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. He said that a rather quaint set of values had been struck in that the amount of money being provided for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has been doubled while the amount provided in this Budget for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee has been reduced. In view of the moves towards constitutional development that have taken place in the Northern Territory, and the responsibility which shortly will be shouldered by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly compared with the responsibility being shouldered by the NACC, I say to the honourable member for Wills, who was a Minister in the former Labor Government, that I consider his remarks to be quite quaint.

I note in these estimates that an amount of $ 1 4.9m is to be spent on developmental roads, of which $2.5m is to be spent on new works. I can understand why the figure has been reduced. A tremendous amount of work must be done on the Stuart and Barkly Highways in upgrading and repairing them after last year’s floods. An amount of $12. 5m is to be provided for maintenance, of which $5.4m is to be spent on upgrading the Stuart and Barkly Highways. I hope- I do not think that this will happen- that the work on the Newcastle Waters causeway, which very often holds up traffic travelling to the north for weeks at a time, will really be carried out with much expedition as we cannot continue to have this main link between the south and Darwin broken. This year it is proposed to commence the second 3-year program of carrying out improvements to and maintenance of the Stuart and Barkly Highways. The estimated overall cost is $34m, to be spent over 3 years.

I should like to refer briefly to the Port of Darwin which, I have said repeatedly in this chamber, should be a link between Australia and the Indonesian archipelago. I believe that Darwin, which is a very fine port, is not really being used by Australia to its best effect. I urge the Government, or whichever departments are studying the question of the expansion and upgrading program for the port, to hurry up with the work as the port, in my opinion, is greatly needed by the rest of Australia. I have often in this place and in other places attacked the wharf labourers on the Darwin waterfront, but I must be charitable and say that a lot of the problems on the Darwin waterfront are caused by congestion on the wharves, with the wharf labourers trying to unload various types of cargo on a jettytype structure. Darwin certainly needs landbacked berths.

I turn briefly to deal with the pastoral industry which has been assisted in many ways. I commend the Minister on the efforts he has made to open the Katherine meatworks and to get carry-on finance for the cattlemen. Now is the end of the mustering season when the cattlemen are getting together their herds for sale to try to raise a few dollars to meet their raging debts. So I urge the speedy passage of this Budget, because it contains provision for $600,000 to be used for carry-on finance. I should also like to commend the Minister for his persistence in getting finance for the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, for home loans, for local works, etc, and also for pushing through the constitutional development program for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. It is a program that will take 5 years or more to implement. It has to be started.

In closing I should like to say something which I am afraid has nothing to do with these estimates. I condemn the actions of the pilots employed by Connair Pty Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots for holding the Territory to ransom and aiming to put the whole country at a disadvantage.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage)-

Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP

– I thank honourable members for their contributions as they related to the estimates for the Department of the Northern Territory. I, too, am sorry that the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has left the chamber because he has an intriguing and peculiar philosophy. I know that he was speaking in the context of the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory, but he referred to the evolution of government. Over the years the Northern Territory has seen that evolution often means a backward step. The Northern Territory has waited so long for so little. It has been promised so much and nothing has been delivered. The Northern Territory had a right to feel frustrated because of the treatment that it had received from the central government in Canberra. The honourable member for Wills also tried to blame the electoral system for the debacle which occurred in the Northern Territory at the last Legislative Assembly election and for the lack of membership of the Australian Labor Party in the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory. That did not occur because of a gerrymander; it did not occur because of the electoral system; it occurred because of the decisive judgment of the people. It was a judgment on a government that had failed the Northern Territory and Australia. That judgment in the Northern Territory was followed soon afterwards by similar judgments in Queensland and in the rest of Australia.

My colleague the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) identified another fallacy in the argument of the honourable member for Wills who tried to blame this Government for what he called the collapse of the railway in the north. As the honourable member for the Northern Territory has pointed out, the collapse of the railway in the north was the direct result of the action of the Labor Government. The closure of the Frances Creek mine was the reason for the collapse of the railway in the north. The honourable member for the Northern Territory also exposed the reason why Frances Creek was closed. It was because of the freights, costs and charges imposed by the Labor Government. The Labor Government made jolly sure that Frances Creek would not survive. But the railway has not been permanently closed. It will operate again when it is economically justifiable for it to do so. The Northern Territory could be on the verge of very great advances.

I am pleased that the honourable member for the Northern Territory had an opportunity to speak on these estimates. He referred to the work of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. It is true that Darwin is a city that has almost been rebuilt. I have been advised by the Chairman of the DRC that at present it is building about 42 houses a week. It is completing 6 houses a day, 7 days a week. So the slack is being taken up. Also, I hope that very shortly the number of houses being completed will be increased to 8 houses a day, 7 days a week. By the end of next year the DRC will have done such a good job that there will be more permanent houses and residential units in Darwin than there were before cyclone Tracy. I commend the co-operation that I have received from the Chairman and officers of the DRC and I commend them on the task that they are carrying out in the Northern Territory.

I took note of the remarks of the honourable member for the Northern Territory on constitutional development of the Northern Territory. I know that what we have been able to do in this regard pleases him. It is the result of his advocacy over such a long time. He has pointed out how the Northern Territory was promised so much and given so little. He has fought long and hard for the Northern Territory in this place, on many platforms and in many forums. I am delighted that he and I can now work together on bringing to the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory what the Australian Labor Party promised, did not deliver and in fact started to take away.

Mr O’Keefe:

– It was irresponsible.


– It was irresponsible. Its actions were a betrayal. It was my privilege to go to the Northern Territory only last week and talk again to the Executive of the Northern Territory and give it the commitment of this Government to the handing over of a great heap of functional responsibilities. That is something that we will be progressing towards. The Government is committed to giving increasing autonomy to the Northern Territory and taking it forward to statehood.

I thank the honourable member for the Northern Territory for his remarks on the pastoral industry. The pastoral industry in the Northern Territory has the problems of the pastoral industry in other parts of Australia but probably to a greater measure. There are specific problems in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory. We, as a Government, have been able to give it freight rebates and compensation for tuberculosis and brucellosis reactors. We have been able to provide carry-on finance. We are looking at a number of other measures to assist the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory. In closing these remarks, I am pleased to join with the honourable member for the Northern Territory in wishing the Legislative Assembly of the

Northern Territory well. It has shown great responsibility. It is ready to take unto itself these powers and autonomy.

Mr Bryant:

– It is full of Country Party members.


– That is why it is of such calibre. That is why it is of such strength and depth. It shows the very good judgment of the electors of the Northern Territory that they so chose. I join the honourable member for the Northern Territory in saying that the Assembly is ready to assume these responsibilities and will acquit itself well. I thank the honourable member for the Northern Territory for his contribution to the debate. I also thank the honourable member for Wills for noting the Territory in his remarks. I promise him that when we discuss these estimates again next year he will see that some remarkable advances and changes have taken place and they will be the result of cooperation between this Government and the elected government of the Northern Territory.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Department of National Resources

Proposed expenditure, $47,647,000.

Department of Overseas Trade

Proposed expenditure, $63,299,000.

Melbourne Ports

– I wish to address my remarks to the estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade. Having just listened to the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory and the Department of the Northern Territory and the replies of the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Staley) and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann), I wish that people sometimes would not think that everything that is wrong with this country can be remedied in this place. It is nice to extol the virtues of the honourable member for here, there and so on but there are many problems in Australia that are aggregate problems. I suggest that Australia’s overseas trade falls within this category. The Minister for the Capital Territory said that when his forces came into Government they found an economy in desperate straits. I suggest that in many respects the economy still has to face very serious problems. With all respect, I do not think that these problems are being faced up to.

Australia happens to be one of the countries which has a very large proportion of its total economic activity determined by international trade. For instance, in 1975-76 our exports totalled $9, 555m. On the other hand, our imports for the same period totalled $8, 240m. In other words, there was an international trade aggregate of something in excess of $17 billionover one-quarter of the total gross domestic product. This trade has shown substantial changes in patterns over the last 25 years. I think it is about time that we gave some serious thought to where it will go in the next 25 years. In the past we were dependent- we are still heavily dependent- upon the export of certain primary materials, the principal ones being wool, wheat and dairy products. These products still form a substantial part- I think it is about 40 per cent -of our total exports. Australia is also one of the few countries in the world which is still an exporter of food on a large scale. I think members of the National Country Party would acknowledge that in the areas of beef, sugar and wheat, to mention only a few, by far the preponderant part of what is produced in Australia is not sold in Australia. It is sold overseas and it is sold in markets in which, to date, we have had little influence. I think that the situation that has been reached in Australia with regard to beef has emerged largely because some assurances were given years ago that the United States would become an importer on a grand scale of beef from Australia. Unfortunately, when there is an economic recession in the United States there tends to be a decline in its absorption of products, including beef, from other parts of the world.

That is only one example of the difficulties we face. Candidly I do not think there is any difference in the policies being pursued by the present Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony) from those which were being pursued when I happened to be the occupant of that position. The former Labor Government was endeavouring to get certainty from those who were to be our customers about the quantities they were likely to require. I am afraid that is not very easy to do. It will become much more difficult in respect of other products which Australia may become dependent upon for export in the years ahead. I think honourable members are familiar with the formidable document called the Jackson report- the report on manufacturing industry. If one may summarise such an omnibus document, I believe that what it meant to convey was that if the manufacturing industry in Australia is to employ in the future the same share of the labour market as it has in the past, it must rely on exports for expansion. It is easy enough to say that but it is not very easy to come forward with the candidates in the manufacturing area who are likely to achieve successful increases in the years ahead.

I believe that these are the serious sorts of problems to which Parliament and the people responsible for the economic destinies of this country have to give more serious consideration in the future than they have in the past. I have a great admiration for the Department of Overseas Trade and for its overseas trade commission service in particular. Sometimes it is criticised rather unfairly. If one looks at these estimates totalling $65m and takes out of that figure the $28m set up for export encouragement one realises that the Department is a fairly cheap one to administer, considering the services it provides.

We have had a great spate of documents in recent times in Australia. We have had the Coombs report on the structure of government; we have had the Borrie report on future population; we have had the Jackson report on manufacturing, with all its allied documents. One might say about all these documents that the authors are very good at pointing out problems, but they are very short in providing solutions. Maybe it is not their task to provide solutions; perhaps it is the responsibility of the community to delve a bit deeper and get solutions. I do not believe that economies can be run anymore on what in other days used to be called hunches.

I did not observe the remarks of Mr Charles W. Robinson, the United States Deputy Secretary of State, when he was in Australia some time ago, but today I was rather intrigued to receive in my mail a copy of the Journal of Commerce, New York, dated 16 August which contained a summary of the address he gave to the National Press Club in Canberra. It is very rare that Canberra gets a headline in a New York paper. This is what Mr Robinson said:

I have developed a very firm conviction that interdependence means involvement of government in what might have been hitherto free enterprise areas.

I submit it is about time that sort of lesson was underlined in this Parliament. Since the change of government I have heard speeches ad nauseam on free enterprise. I suggest that there has to be more co-operation between government and business in the future, particularly in this area of overseas trade. I would hope that this Government would have second thoughts about a measure which its members rejected when it was introduced by the Labor Government. I refer to the setting up of an overseas trading corporation. I believe that Australia is at a great loss in markets where currently it does no business. No one is complaining about the markets we have already but there are vast areas of potential trade that Australia has not yet reached. In my view it will not reach them unless there is a greater degree of co-operation, with government representing economic interests in Australia rather than those economic interests always directly finding their own markets. I would commend to the present Minister for Overseas Trade, because a lot of work was done on this subject, the suggestion that he look at the files about the overseas trading corporation. At least now he has been to places like Russia and China and is willing to acknowledge that Australia has to live with these parts of the world which contain more than a quarter of its population. Perhaps he will have second thoughts about that matter.

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


-When we talk about resources we talk mainly about mining resources, but in Australia we have many other important ones. I am not going to talk on all of them tonight, but they include beef, wool, salt, fishing, oil and gas, just to mention a few. I would like to take to task the previous speaker, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). He said that when members of the present Opposition were in Government, particularly when he held a ministerial portfolio, he tried to create and encourage certainty in the minds of the buyers of our exports. About the only things he was able to generate successfully in the minds of the buyers of our exports were uncertainty, distrust and confusion. We have to get away from that situation and try to generate a certain amount of trust in Australia again.

Consider the fishing industry in Australia first. That is one of our resource industries. It earns well over $40m in export income from the Western Australian waters alone and employs many hundreds of people. Our crayfish and prawns from Western Australia have become world famous.

Mr Martyr:

– There are some in this House.


-Yes, I agree. There are some odd mammals in this House, particularly on the Opposition side. Our fishing industry needs a strong defence organisation so that it can be protected. For example, recently I was out at Barrow Island. Coming back we flew over Monte Bello and happened to see the now famous Fu Long 11, the Taiwanese fishing vessel, in the lagoon there. We watched part of the history of the Fu Long 11 all the way down the Western Australian coast. It ran aground and subsequently has been subject to some court orders.

The development of our huge oil and gas reserves, a lot of which will happen offshore in the high cost areas, will require clear incentives in order to allow profitability for the developers. Again we must think of our defence capabilities in those areas. The huge amounts of capital needed dictate that private enterprise- again I take issue with the honourable member for Melbourne Ports- is best suited to develop these high risk ventures. It is fairly reliably estimated, for instance, that about $2,000m will be required initially to get the North- West Shelf gas ashore. I want to cite some of the incentives that this Government has granted. As honourable members know, in the last Labor Budget an excise of $2 a barrel was introduced on the production of crude oil condensate and naturally occurring liquefied petroleum gas. This Government accepts that that levy represents a substantial deterrent to companies considering exploration for new fields and therefore it decided that oil from discoveries after 17 August would be free from production excise. The result will be that production of crude oil from future discoveries will have full import parity. The incentives we are now allowing will encourage developments such as the North- West Shelf to get under way shortly.

Turning to mining, in 1974-75 mining added approximately $2,000m to the value of Australia’s income. In 1974-75 Australia’s mineral exports totalled $2, 357m, being just 27 per cent of the value of our total exports. Mineral exports from Western Australia alone up to 30 June 1976 amounted to $ 1,351m, a jump of 21 per cent over that for the previous year, and there are big things in store for us in months to come.

The Commonwealth Government’s basic policy towards all industries, particularly our mining resources industries, is to provide a legislative and economic framework which includes sufficient incentives to enable new development programs to get under way. For instance, the Australian coal industry estimates that it would now be feasible to spend up to $2,000m in additional capital on new projects over the next 5 years. I want to cite some of the things we have done for the coal industry. The previous Labor Government introduced a coal export levy of $6 a tonne on high quality coal and $2 a tonne on other coal. Certain low grade coal was exempt. Our Government has always regarded this as an entirely inappropriate form of taxation. We will reduce the tax immediately. The Government regards this as the first step towards completely phasing out this tax within 3 years. As far as immediate steps are concerned, the Government will remove the duty from non-coking coal and reduce the rates on coking coal by 25 per cent.

These changes, which will apply immediately, will cost an estimated $33m in 1976-77 and $37m in a full year. Projects were recently announced in Western Australia to expand iron ore operations with capital expenditure of $650m. This will create up to 3,000 new jobs in the area. Bringing these projects to fruition was a tribute to that super salesman, Sir Charles Court.

The 2 greatest problems facing resource development are inflation and industrial unrest. We are coming to grips with inflation. I am confident that we can get it completely under control. On 9 July the secret ballot legislation was proclaimed. It is working successfully and it will play a major part in curbing industrial unrest. Proof that it is working is seen in the latest desperate attempts by some radical union leaders- desperadoes- to cause chaos in industry. Recently we have seen this at places like Telfer and others. The average hard working unionist is sick to death of politically inspired stoppages. He wants only to earn a good day’s wage. The most senior managing director of Nippon Steel Corporation, Mr Suburo Tanabe, warned that unless we achieved industrial peace in Australia, Japan would be forced to look elsewhere for its raw material. I am of the opinion that we are making progress in relation to industrial peace with our secret ballot legislation and with other measures.

Mr Tanabe is obviously aware of this as very recently he has expressed renewed interest in areas such as Area C in the Pilbara. He has indicated a time frame of about 1980 for this project With coal and mineral development in New South Wales and Queensland and mineral and oil development in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Australia is on the threshold of exciting and absolutely enormous development. Each time our natural resources industries take a step forward, new development in Australia takes a leap forward. The spin off development in manufacturing industries and the general lift in the economy help to raise the standard of living for all Australians. To enable this to take place we need to create an economic climate for profitable ventures financed and run by private enterprise. We need to realise that this profitability, and so the viability of projects, must not be destroyed by irresponsible industrial unrest. Let us aU get behind this great surge forward in our natural resources area which will carry Australia through to the 1 980s.

Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.

Mr Keith Johnson:

– We are dealing with the estimates for the Department of National Resources and the Department of Overseas Trade. I think that my colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) who is a former Minister for Overseas Trade, has probably dealt with the estimates for that Department very well in his usual competent fashion. When we speak of national resources, of course, we are dealing with a very wide field, because it includes not only our mineral deposits and our other natural resources but also, of course, the very large human resources that we have in this country. Without those human resources none of the other resources would be worth very much at all. Generally when we start thinking of our natural resources our minds turn to our mineral deposits. It is very important to consider how those resources are going to be exploited for the benefit of those of us who live in this country. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Cotter) who proceded me in the debate and who represents the second largest electorate in the world -

Mr Cotter:

– Largest.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-It is the second largest. The honourable member says that it is the largest. I remind him that Alaska is the largest electorate in the world. His electorate, with an area of something less than 900 000 square miles, is the second largest electorate. That apparently is news to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and I am sure that he will remember it for a long time. The honourable member who represents the second largest electorate in the world- the largest electorate in Australiarepresents also an area which is very rich in minerals. It is an area which over the years has been found to contain very great mineral deposits. The colleagues of the honourable member on the Government side- those members of the Liberal Party; and I suppose we must include the members of the National Country Party because they are part of the Government- have always voiced the cry that the only way in which those minerals can be developed to the benefit of Australia is by free enterprise. They are great champions of free enterprise.

Mr Martyr:

– Hear, hear!

Mr Keith Johnson:

-The honourable member for Swan says: ‘Hear, hear! ‘ That is not surprising. The fact of the matter is that if this country is to develop in the way in which most of us- certainly all of us on this side of the chamber -would like to see it develop then there must of necessity be a planned development of the natural resources of this country. It is not good enough for the honourable member for Kalgoorlie or others to say that in order to develop our natural oil deposits it is necessary to give a bonus of $2 a barrel on new discoveries of oil.

Mr King:

– You have to find it first, chum.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-The fact that a royalty of $2 a barrel is paid has little to do with whether or not oil is discovered. The attitude of honourable members opposite displays a great paradox. They talk with the one voice about free enterprise developing these things. Free enterprise, as I understand it, is devoid of government interference. However, those who practise and preach the principle of free enterprise then have to say that the Australian people should forgo the $2 a barrel on all new discoveries of oil. The fact of the matter is, of course, that nobody is going to use any more or any less oil than he needs. If we are talking about oil discovered on the continental shelf of Australia and, as I heard somebody interject, oil from the Arab States then we are talking about 2 unlike substances. I remember seeing on television in Melbourne a commercial in which somebody was talking about oils. The commercial had a son of a gangster setup, and somebody said: ‘Oils is oils’. I invite honourable members on the Government side to consider that, because in fact, to use a colloquialism, oils ain’t oils. Oil discovered off the coast of Australia is very different from that which is found in the Middle East, and the oil which is found in the Middle East is not necessarily acceptable to Australian needs. We are 90 per cent self sufficient in our supplies of oil. Our oil is a low sulphurous grade oil which can very easily be converted into petroleum products which we need more than anything else. The heavier oils from the Middle East are the bunkering oils used for ships, which perhaps we can do without. Why do we give a concession of $2 a barrel to the oil explorers? Why do we hand back to them in the form of a royalty money that rightly belongs to the Australian people?

That brings me to the next point I would like to make. As long as Australia is afflicted with this free enterprise Government there will be no national plan formulated by a national government for the development of our mineral resources. Does the Government intend to leave that development in the hands of individuals of the ilk of Lang Hancock from Western Australia, Sir Charles Court whom I heard lauded earlier tonight- I cannot imagine why- and the Premier of Queensland? The Government apparently is going to allow those people to develop the natural resources of Australia. Let us have a look at the 3 people I have mentioned. Each and every one of them in his own right is the enemy of Australia. I will mention their names again: Lang Hancock, Sir Charles Court and Bjelke-Petersen from Queensland. Each one of those people in his turn proposed the secession of his particular State from the Federation. I happen to be an Austraiian. I believe in the federation. I believe in Australia as a nation, as a land mass of some 3 million square miles, remaining as an entity in its own right. But the 3 people I have mentioned have wanted to hive off parts of Australia. I have heard it said- I think it is probably true- that the only foreign country with which Australia has got a land border is Queensland. But that is probably said because of the Premier of that State rather than the people who live there. I know that the people who live in Queensland are Australians through and through. So I cannot understand why those people who sit on the Government benches now want to turn over to private individuals the development of the natural resources of this country which are not the property of those private individuals; they are, in fact, the property of the Australian people who are denied the opportunity of ownership of any of them because these people claim ownership of those resources.

The honourable member for Kalgoorlie was very loud and long in lauding the reduction in the concession given by this Government in the form of royalties. That concession to the mineral explorers amounts to about $60m. He lauded also the reduction in the levy on coal exported from this country and the reduction of the royalty of $2 a barrel on oil. Has anybody given us a valid reason for giving those concessions? It has been said by the Government, I rather think in a facetious way, that unless the $2 a barrel on oil is given back to the oil companies they will not explore for any more oil. What a lot of nonsense that is. I have never heard of a commercial enterprise yet that would not be prepared to go into any venture at all if there was a profit in it. No matter what incentives you might like to offer, it still will not move into that venture unless there is a profit in it. So why should the Government of Australia offer incentives to people who are already making enormous profits out of these activities.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-In rising to contribute to the debate on the estimates for the Department of National Resources I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the situation of the genuine small Australian petroleum and mineral explorer who is trying to operate in this country. As a Western Australian I am extremely conscious of the fact that the future economic prosperity of my State and, of course, of the whole nation is dependent on the large scale development of our natural resources. The present and correct pre-occupation is with efforts to get off the ground discovered large projects based as they are on known deposits of gas, iron ore, other minerals and uranium. If these attempts are successful- I believe they will be- we will surely experience another economic boom. However, I am of the opinion that we must always be forward looking. By this I mean there must be continuous oil and mineral exploration. There is an urgent need for us to remain self sufficient in oil and petrol if we are to maintain our standard of living. I strongly believe that best suited for such exploration are the small explorers, and further, that the health and vitality of the Australian exploration effort depends on the viability and strength of these small enterprises.

Mr Martyr:

– Free enterprises.


-Small free enterprises. The Australian Petroleum and Minerals Explorers Association defines the small explorer as the prospector and prospecting syndicate through to the small exploration company which has nil to moderate earnings, which has the fundamental stated objective of exploration for any and all minerals, which is innovative and prepared to work under difficulties, which in the event of success would seek to work the deposit by itself if funding was not too onerous, or which would seek to move forward by sharing the discovery with a company containing capital resources, particular expertise or product requirements.

The attributes of small explorers are multiple. They have a capacity for individualistic action and their past track record shows that they have made the initial discoveries of many major mining areas. Small explorers have a single-minded attitude to exploration and can provide essential competition for the larger exploring concerns, both of Australian and overseas origin. Because of their size they can provide diverse employment opportunities, job satisfaction and if encouraged with Government incentives, direct and/or indirect, chances of work for geologists, geophysicists, engineers, accountants, solicitors and skilled tradesmen, many of whom are currently unemployed.

Small explorers assist decentralisation and help the development of an elite core of bushorientated Australians. Their successful existence ensures continuous development and use of the growing body of information about our mineral occurrences. They are Australian, making decisions in Australia, providing efficient ways of achieving Australian ownership and representing a broad cross section of Australian shareholders. Small explorers give to the small Australian operator and Australian investor who is willing to take the risk, access to our national resource wealth. Small explorers can successfully become small developers who can economically work small deposits. They can even turn into giants of the natural resources industry and I cite Western Mining Corporation as an excellent example. This list could be continued but I simply wish to bring home to honourable members the importance of the small explorer.

I cannot stress enough the continuous need for this country to make oil, gas and mineral discoveries and the past successes of the small Australian explorers have dispelled any myth of these discoveries being due largely to foreign expertise. Eighty per cent of all discoveries to date have been because of the little men. We have the experts here and we need to recognise them and the importance of their role. It should never be forgotten that exploration is the life blood of the mining industry and the vehicle by which this country has developed. We need it even more to continue our development.

The previous Labor Government pursued a taxation policy which almost totally wrecked the mining resource industry of this country. The revival of the industry has been and remains a major concern of the present Government and incentives and indirect assistance as announced in the Budget are designed to improve the situation. For example, petroleum mining expenditure will be deductible against income from any source. Mining and petroleum companies will be able to use accelerated depreciation on mining operations. Allowable spending on facilities for transporting minerals will now be deductible on a straight Une basis over 10 or 20 years and port facilities spending will now also count as a tax deduction. The $2 a barrel oil levy has been scrapped and the phasing out of the coal export duty has commenced. These measures are welcome and will assist the mining industry in its recovery. However, the policies of the Labor Administration also effectively killed aU incentive for exploration.

The assistance to the mining sector does not benefit the small explorer who is not also a producer. This is an important point, for indeed there is a distinction between exploration and mining and I believe we should recognise that distinction in the assistance granted. In addition, as well as the situation persisting where there are little incentives to the explorer, unfair competition also exists. Overseas governments sponsor and assist exploration efforts in Australia and producers, whether overseas or in Australia, can offset exploration costs against income from production. The small explorer, however, using capital for exploration cannot possibly hope to continue raising such capital unless the investor gets some advantage. If and when the community refuses to contribute, no significant exploration will be done. As it is in Australia today the only such significant exploration is that being undertaken by producers who can offset the cost of current exploration against current income.

The disturbing feature of this situation is that the amount and the type of exploration resulting is insufficient to ensure discoveries adequate to replace depleting reserves. A very necessary measure to improve this state of affairs and the position of the small explorer is to reintroduce tax deductions for financial contributions to exploration. World-wide exploration effort is very closely related with tax-effected community involvement. At present the staffing has been knocked out of the small explorers by the cancellation of taxation deductions and the realities of the exploration game. At the present time our small, local explorers cannot compete effectively with multinational concerns which receive tax incentives back home for exploration activities in Australia. Unless we move to reverse the situation, we as a nation will be the losers. It simply makes good sense to create a situation whereby our own small explorers are encouraged to go out and explore and discover.

In the short time remaining to me I would like to move to the estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade and talk about the disruption of sheep exports from Western Australia. I am a resident of the city of Fremantle. On Monday I took my children to the Fremantle wharves to look at the Atlas Pioneer which is under a union embargo in Fremantle Harbour and on which sheep are beginning to die and rot. I hope that the trade unionists who are preventing the loading of live sheep at Fremantle Harbour for shipment to the Middle East will understand that what they are doing is not in the interests of Australia or in their own long-term interests.

The Western Australian Government is now so concerned about the continual industrial sabotage to industrial projects in the Pilbara and to the export of live sheep from Fremantle Harbour that it is considering implementing right-to-work legislation on similar lines to the Taft-Hartley Act which is operating in many American States. The Trades and Labour Council continues to sabotage industrial projects in the Pilbara, at the Telfer gold mine project and the export of live sheep to the Middle East at a time when unemployment in Australia is at a critical level. The Trades and Labour Council in Western Australia led by Peter Cook appears to be obsessed with deliberately maintaining unemployment levels.

Mr Young:

– What is his name?


– Peter Cook. Action by the Trades and Labour Council and unions in the Telfer dispute, for example, amount to sheer industrial larrikinism. Right-to-work legislation is common in the United States and stems from the Taft-Hartley Act. As a result of this legislation left wing militancy is now a thing of the past in many parts of the United States. Organised industrial militancy is causing immense harm to Australia and its people, and the only way to defeat it is for more moderate and sensible people within the unions to assert themselves and gain control.


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


-In speaking to the estimates for the Department of National Resources, my remarks are predicated on 4 assumptions: Firstly, Australia will mine its uranium; secondly, we will export it; thirdly, we ought not to export it just as yellow cake or hexafluoride but we ought to pursue a policy of maximising the added value by enrichment. That course was recommended in a recent report by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Fourthly, there is no better location for such an enrichment plant than in South Australia. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a submission by the South Australian Government to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) setting out the reasons why such a plant ought to be established at Redcliff.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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

The document read as follows-


In general terms, the Redcliff site has all the prerequisites for an economic uranium processing activity. These prerequisites are not available in the Northern Territory for an efficient and progressive industry, e.g., a stable and specialised work force, reliable services and good transportation.

The Redcliff site is recommended for immediate detailed examination for the reasons itemised below, and because substantial site investigations and urban planning, which have already been carried out in connection with a major feasibility study on a world-scale petrochemical complex, provide confirmation of its attractiveness as an industrial site, and could mean a time saving of up to two years in the establishment of the centre.

  1. 1 ) The site is on the seaboard, close to Port Pirie, which has all the handling facilities necessary for product despatch. Deepwater at the site can provide direct access for shipping if required. Port Pirie is on the recognised route of vessels engaged in Australian trade with Europe, the U.S.A. and Japan.
  2. The site is centrally placed in relation to Australia’s uranium resources and probably more secure by virtue of its inland seaboard location.
  3. The site has already been subjected to substantial environmental study and no major problems in this context have been identified.
  4. The site is not subject to extremes of weather, such as cyclones, monsoon rains or tidal waves, and is relatively safe from seismic activity.
  5. The site is adjacent to good rail, road and communication services.
  6. Sufficient supplies of power and water can be made available.
  7. The site is close to Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla, where products from the steel industry, chemical industries and engineering and other services can be made available to supply construction and operational needs. Proximity to Adelaide additionally can enable manufacturing industry there to play a major role in the establishment of the centre.
  8. 8 ) A well-housed supply of construction and plant operators can be drawn upon from the above established population centres where new housing and community services have already been planned in advance for employees and management staff of the Redcliff petrochemical project, which was subsequently abandoned.
  9. The site offers ample land for expansion and development.
  10. 10) The site is reasonably close to a number of Commonwealth establishments such as research centres and railway workshops which could provide a service to the project.
  11. The site offers comparatively low infrastructure costs and considerable time savings because of the planning and environmental work which has been done already in connection with the Redcliff petrochemical project.
  12. The site offers ready proximity to scientific research and training centres in Adelaide, including the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories (Amdel), Adelaide Universities and Technological Institutes, where skilled operatives, scientists and engineers can be readily trained and/or recruited.
  13. The site offers scope in a ready availability of capacity for centrifuge manufacture through the Adelaide motor industries and allied supply sources.
  14. The site leaves open the option of further developments, such as nuclear power generation (should this become an acceptable and necessary energy alternative in the future) and associated spin offs, such as sea-water desalination. South Australia’s energy and water resources are limited compared with those of other States of the Commonwealth. Both nuclear power and desalination may be necessary to supply these vital requirements to its industries and people in the future.

-The history of this Government’s management of natural resources is scarred by uncontrolled exploitation. This has been reflected in the deliberate theft of people’s rights in the sell-out of their shares in Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. The Government has removed the Australian Atomic Energy Commission from uranium mining at a time when the importance to Australia of close control of uranium export policies is essential for orderly marketing and the structure of marketing is going to be crucial. The action of the former Minister for Minerals and Energy in preventing the sale of Australian uranium at sell-out prices has contributed to the present escalation in the value of Australian resources overseas. In 1972 the price stood at $5 per lb and, taking 500 000 short tons at $30 per lb at the moment, one gets a value of about $33,000m. It needs little calculation to assess the mammoth sell-out that would undoubtedly have occurred under a Tory government had it remained in office in 1 972.

The importance of Australia’s reserves has to be gauged in a world context. In spite of frantic exploration for uranium in the west, suitable high grade ore is not being discovered in anything like the quantities needed. There is no surer indication of scarcity than price. The price of yellow cake has rocketed from $5 per lb in 1972 to $30 or $40 per lb this year. As uranium is strategically, politically and economically important, it ought to call for total government control. The Australian Government- this Governmentmust be the only government in the world which is disengaging itself from the uranium supply situation. Since the present Government is unlikely to be persuaded to buy into the uranium industry or to dominate exploration, its intended role, if any, will be in marketing.

It seems obvious to me that insufficient thought has been given to setting up a compulsory government-to-government marketing structure, and surely uranium justifies this control. At present the royalty on uranium produced in the Northern Territory stands at Vh per cent. Given that the present Government is pulling out of direct equity in uranium, there is a good case for a very large royalty- by Australian standards -to be applied. That is, instead of about 5 per cent, as normally envisaged, we should be asking for something like 50 per cent of the sale price. At $30 per lb, that still leaves a profit for a mining company of $14m on a production base of 1000 tonnes a year. If the known Australian reserves of yellow cake are averaged, the Government would receive $1 1,700m. Failure to pursue a policy of maximising the added value of this resource at a time when we can confidently expect other nations to supply the technology and capital resources is wilful neglect, at best. Australia does not need nuclear power. It does not need uranium for some time to come. But as an energy commodity uranium is sought by many nations, and this Government has the responsibility to supply on terms of what is economically best, what is best for posterity and what is best for Australia’s international relations. The uranium industry has the potential to contribute to the Australian economy on a scale which probably exceeds that of any other single development. By 1980 it would be one of the most important mineral exports in terms of overseas earnings. The industry could provide employment for between 8000 and 10 000 people by 1985. This leads to the concern that Australians must have for setting up the uranium industry on sound development lines if we are to gain the benefits from its full exploitation.

In South Australia interest in uranium has persisted from the Second World War, when the first call was made by the United Kingdom Government. That led to the setting up in my State of AMDEL, which played a major role in developing all subsequent uranium treatment plants of the 1950s and 1960s. It led to the setting up in 1953 of the Atomic Energy Commission, after the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth had agreed to export uranium so that Australia would have the best technical expertise available to co-operate with the States and allow Australia to move, if needed,- into nuclear power generation. South Australia is particularly important in this connection because it has the least energy and water resources of any State. Its interest in uranium is still profound. South Australia needs priority consideration as a site for an Australian uranium processing centre and for the enrichment of our mined uranium. It should be an essential part of Australian uranium mining industry policy, and the Minister is strongly advised to study in depth the reports submitted to him by the South Australian Premier’s Department. In my view, uranium is too important to this country not to develop it now to the fullest possible extent as a need for energy deficient countries and as a source of wealth and an insurance for Australia’s future.

Mr Abel:

– I hope you tell the unions that.


– One thing at least that I can be proud of is that I will be consistent. The Government must accept the full responsibility for establishing the industry under an authority that will ensure its development along responsible lines, with Australia as the centre for major processing activity. This responsibility goes far beyond the marketing ambitions of individual companies, whose immediate aim is to offer to the Government a medium for the yellow cake sales proposal. The Government cannot overlook this responsibility and, with the responsibility, the necessity for governmenttogovernment negotiations with purchasing countries in the first place on production and marketing polices for this unique energy resource. In conclusion, let me impress upon the Minister that the establishment of a uranium treatment centre in South Australia, particularly at Redcliff, will secure an industrial and employment base for South Australia and, in so doing, will extend the base of South Australian manufacturing industry.


-I want to introduce into this debate a discussion of the coal industry, which is both a resource of great significance to Australia, certainly in the electorate of Macarthur, and a significant major export industry, providing more export earnings last year than did wool. Macarthur has one of Australia’s richest and highest grade seams of coal, and in the Burragorang mines a great degree of development is proceeding, providing more employment not only in the mining industry itself but in associated industries, and bringing increased benefits to the whole community However, there is a big ‘if involved, and that ‘if depends on the capacity of the industry to export its product through the ports of New South Wales. In particular, the bulk of the development in the Burragorang area, which envisages something like a 50 per cent increase in production in the next few years, depends on the State of New South Wales deciding whether or not it is in favour of loading coal. The new Government in the State of New South Wales at this stage cannot make up its mind whether it is in favour of loading coal on ships. As a result, the development of the mines in my electorate and the job opportunities which flow as a consequence of that development are in jeopardy. If it is possible to have mines up in the air, this is where they are at the moment.

Mr Martyr:

– This has happened under a Labor Government.


-This is what has happened thanks to the indecision of a Labor Government which at the moment is conducting a window dressing inquiry into Botany Bay, despite the fact that all the work has been done in examining the reality of using Botany Bay as a coal-loading port. But I guess that political window dressing is more important than getting on with the job which brings employment into my electorate. Of course, if the development at Botany Bay does not go ahead- it is the natural place from which to export the major increase in coal production that will be available in my electorate- I put to the House that these consequences will follow. They were stated in a submission to the Botany Bay port and environment inquiry a few weeks ago.

Clutha Development Pty Ltd submitted that if further export coal loading facilities were not provided, coal output could not be expected to increase greatly. Additional jobs, with their multiplied benefits for the community, could not be created. Without extra coal loading facilities, additional output by 1985 of 3.5 million tonnes a year would be lost, 600 jobs would not be created, $ 10.5m in wages would not be generated, $97m of additional capital would not be spent and $83.2m in revenues would be lost to the State and Federal governments, the Public Transport Commission, and electricity and port authorities. The fact is that the coal industry- a major export industry in my electorate- is now on the point of being held to ransom by a State Government involved in some heavy politicking over ‘environmental questions ‘.

I stress to the State Government involved that if it would like to take the responsibility for failing to provide these jobs, failing to provide this development and failing to provide the export revenue, it should keep going about things the way in which it has been proceeding. I will concede that there is a plan to increase the capacity of the Port Kembla coal loader. But the Port Kembla coal loader is not ideally suited for the task. I will read from the report on the adequacy of Australian ports which was presented to the Parliament in February. I regret to say that it states quite clearly:

Vessel delays caused by labour problems in the hinterland or by waiting for a berth or by waiting for the tide suggest to some that the port has a limited future.

The Opposition spokesman on these matters who is at the table, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), may have different views on that. I would be interested to hear them. But the problem is that if we proceed to increase the load on the Port Kembla coal loader, as is the proposal, we may well be able to obtain an increased capacity to export coal, provided that the wind is in the right direction, is not blowing at more than 10 knots and the waves are not too high. I submit that the facts suggest, even though it is essential to increase the load at the Port Kembla coal loader with the export of local coal, if we did that on its own it would cause a serious disaster in transport within the Macarthur area. I point out to the Committee that at the moment there is massive road transport of coal from the Burragorang Valley right from the north section of the Macarthur electorate to the coast. This has created an unspeakable hazard. There are countless accidents and deaths on that road going through Appin. In fact, I was pleased to see that a Liberal-National Country Party Government Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) acted to alleviate this problem earlier this year by granting export road status to that road and to provide some finance at least to help -

Mr King:

– A good Minister.


-He is a good Minister. I thank my colleague. He provided a grant to increase the work being done on that road. However, there are far too many movements of trucks there now. It was submitted to the current Botany Bay inquiry that coal truck traffic on the Mount Ousley road on the southern freeway would double to about 1400 movements a day when the $55m expansion of the Port Kembla coal loader was completed. Already the coal truck movements are absurd. Already they are causing immense disturbance to the residents of the area. Already they are causing far too many deaths and accidents. But even worse, coal will be hauled at night from the mines above the BulliPort Kembla escarpment to avoid increasing daytime traffic. I am taking this from a report by the New South Wales Department of Public Works. As a result, noise levels on the road and freeway will increase significantly at night. In addition, rail traffic on the Moss Vale to Unanderra Une will eventually more than double, thus increasing level crossing hazards until the next stage of the freeway is built.

I put to the Committee that it is all very well for a Federal government to do what it can to encourage exports and to remove from the southern mines the grossly unfair coal export levy which was applied by our predecessors equally to the high cost underground mines of the Macarthur electorate as it was to the low cost mines in Queensland. It was an intolerable levy in an area like Macarthur where this high grade coal is won at much greater cost than in the north. There have been suggestions that this levy should not be withdrawn and that the money raised should be used to increase the transport capacity from the Burragorang and Tahmoor areas to the coast. That is saying that an unfair levy should be maintained on a relatively higher cost operator in order to put in a facility. I suggest that it is an unreasonable and unfair way to go about financing this facility. It is essential that there be better transport. The simplest and most direct way would have been for the previous New South Wales Government, and I will concede -


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


-I listened with great interest to my neighbour, the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume). I do not propose to be embroiled in a parochial dogfight with him. Perhaps he has very good reasons for raising a little bit of a smokescreen to distract attention from other even more important matters in relation to the Burragorang coal mines. I refer in particular to the recent sale by Clutha Development Pty Ltd of a 50 per cent share for a little matter of $ 160m. The main deposits included in that are from the Oakdale coal mines which were sold for $9,750,000 in 1968. The contract was validated by legislation of the then Liberal-National Country Party Government of New South Wales which claimed that the mine was uneconomic and that it could not do anything with it. But the hard fact is that in the total consideration of $160m, about 3 500 000 tonnes of the 5 500 000 tonnes total production of the Clutha interests that were sold, as to 50 per cent only, comes from the Burragorang area. Whether the company ought to be shipping efficiently from Botany Bay or from Port Kembla is a matter that other people more proficient in transport than the honourable member or I will decide. I could not care less which way it goes. I am not parochial in these matters. I am proud to have established coal as the main export earner for Australia, no thanks to the present Government for its frustrations.

Speaking in more general terms, I state that the Government’s dilemma at the present time is a very real one. It is desperately in need of. further funds to shore up its reserves of foreign exchange. Ever since a Liberal-Country Party Government first took office in 1949, to use the celebrated words of the late Arthur Calwell it has been in the process of allowing parts of the farm to be sold to pay the grocery bill. Only today in the Australian Financial Review there is a report of an interview with no less a person than Mr Coates who is the investment manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the largest single investing group in Australia. The report is worth quoting. Mr Coates had this to say: the equity market as such is not a significant outlet for institutional funds in the long run . . . The equity that is available, that is not held by overseas parents, presents a thin market Our investment opportunities lie outside equities, and more in direct investments. Our recent association with Utah is typical . . .

I see people literally scrabbling in the dirt for a paltry few million dollars. But I have also seen, as I have watched over my 26 years in Parliament, the gradual dissipation of Australia’s real wealth, its natural wealth. As a classical example I take the Utah organisation, which came to Queensland to arrange to get 30 per cent of the then proven deposits of 1000 million tons of black hard coking coal. That company suddenly discovered when it did some ore drilling that there were 6.4 billion tons of coal there. It asked whether it could get that coal also. Company representatives came to me for that purpose. I told them frankly that we, as a government, would honour a contract that had been entered into. The gross value of that coal was $A40 a ton. That company was doing mighty handsomely out of the situation. I told the company that it would get the limit of 300 million tons to which it was entitled.

Strangely the Japanese chose to foster that company and for very good reason because with all its engineering competence it missed one of the main protective arrangements, namely, the need for escalation clauses. The Utah people, despite the fact that this year they will receive a total of about $150m profit after paying tax, have no escalation clauses. So Utah exists and draws its money by grace and favour of the Japanese. That is a shocking state of affairs for a company which dominates to the extent of twothirds the total black coal export market of Australia. Recently that company was shamed by this Government- I give it credit for doing so- into coming across with some interest. In return that company got another 150 million tons of coal worth $6 billion gross. After deduction of extraction costs and before paying income tax, it is a matter of about $4.5 billion net profit. The AMP Society- I have a very great respect for that company; it is an important Australian association- came into the deal. That is the price we are paying in our attempts to buy back the farm.

If we go a little down the coast we will come to the Thiess-Peabody-Mitsui interests, 58 per cent of which are held by Peabody. Peabody in turn are owned by Kennecott, the major copper combine which has been told by the United States Supreme Court that it has to divest itself of its coal mining interests. The Kennecott-Peabody interests came to see us when we were in government. They interviewed the then Treasurer, Mr Crean, and myself. We told them frankly that, if they were going to offer Australian interests together with their other interests on a worldwide basis, we were not satisfied and that their interest ought to be first offered to Australians. That has not been done. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at present is trying to acquire those interests. They ought to acquire them. I challenge this Government to say what it is going to do to really protect the interests of Australia.

Let us go to the other side of Australia and have a look at the iron ore setup. The Japanese are delightfully playing one group off against the other. This Government, through its mulishness and stupidity, is quite deliberately dismantling the contractual supervision that we imposed not merely on price but also on volume as well as on quality. Those iron ore interests which in aggregate are 78 per cent overseas controlled are more interested in maximising their profits. Their final policy decisions will be determined by the dictates of their overseas directors rather than by the best interests of the people in Australia There quite selectively and deliberately the Japanese are choosing 3 existing companies. What a choice they have! What a bagfull of riches! Eighty million tons of iron ore is offered to them when they need only 20 million tons. What a humiliating spectacle! This Government and the State Liberal-National Country Party Government of Western Australia are sitting supinely and doing nothing about controlling the situation. We are dealing with a monopsony. The Japanese- give them credit for it- are patriotic and are true to their nation and to their national interests and are good, astute businessmen. There is only one way to match them and that is to do the same; that means national interest and national control.

We have a further sellout looming at present despite the fact that after 2 years of obstruction by the then Opposition with its majority in the Senate we were finally able to establish, through the High Court of Australia, the fact that offshore hydrocarbons and minerals were the exclusive property of the people of Australia. Today we are confronted with a report from the Industries Assistance Commission. I sometimes wonder whether it is not the Industries Assassination Commission. That report proposes that there should be a golden handshake for the companies which are operating in Bass Strait and which propose to operate on the north-west shelf. The companies involved are entitled to a proper return, but they are not entitled to a golden handshake of $600m. I have listened to tedious debates in this House arguing over a couple of hunder thousand dollars, yet right underneath our nose the major interests and the major assets of Australia are being filched from the Australian people.


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


– I rise to support the estimates for the Department of National Resources. There is a provision of $47,647,000 this year as against an expenditure last year of $45,547,876. The largest item of expenditure relates to running expenses under the Atomic Energy Act and amounts to $ 19,668,000 as compared with an expenditure of $18,367,278 last year. The development of our uranium resources is of vital importance to Australia and will be to our economy what petroleum has meant to the Arab nations. We in Australia face a grave energy crisis. If new discoveries of petroleum are not made in the immediate future our economy will be seriously affected. To bring supplies of petroleum from overseas increases our costs in Australia right across the board and depletes our overseas balance of trade. We have a valuable mineral ore in this country in uranium, which can solve our energy problem and at the same time provide valuable export earnings. There is considerable opposition to the rnining of uranium. This is unfortunate. This opposition is being extended by the Friends of the Earth and of course by the left wing unions.

Nuclear power is here to stay, and sane thinking people should realise this fact. In various parts of the world nuclear power is already being used to provide power generation. It is being used in Great Britain, where 15 per cent of the power generation comes from this source, the United States of America, Canada, West Germany and Japan. It is a particularly safe method of producing power. When we look at the records of these countries we find that there has been no loss of life. If we look at the record in Australia we find that uranium mining was carried out successfully and safely in Australia from 1954 to 1971. It is interesting to note the amount of ore treated during that period. The figures were: Rum Jungle, 863 000 tonnes; United Uranium, 128 000 tonnes; South Alligator, 13 000 tonnes; Mary Kathleen, 2 947 000 tonnes- that mine is now operating again; and Radium Hill and Port Pirie, 970 000 tonnes.

The question to be asked is: Why should uranium mining be less safe now than it was then? We must realise that uranium is being mined on an increasing scale in overseas countries, including the United States, Canada, South Africa, Niger, France, Gabon, and the Soviet Union. If it is unsafe, why do these nations mine it? Research has shown that 160 nuclear power stations are already operating, and there has not been a single death or injury to the public at large as a result of the operation of those stations. The United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, France, Canada, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, West Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Holland, Pakistan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and many other countries are investing massively in nuclear power because they realise that this is the power of the future, particularly because of the drain on petroleum resources throughout the world. Even the Arab nations, including Bahrain and the Persian Gulf countries, fear that in the next 10 years their petroleum resources will be exhausted. That is why nuclear power is so important Currently 1 80 new nuclear power stations are being built and 160 stations are on order. It is estimated that by the year 2000, 50 per cent of all electricity generated in the world will come from nuclear power stations.

Here again it is reasonable to ask: Can all these governments and their advisers be wrong about the safety of nuclear power? It is not essential to have nuclear power stations to produce a nuclear weapons capability. All nations have access to uranium ores from the ever growing mining industry or from sea water. Separation processes can be used to acquire weapons material from these sources. The denying of access to Australian uranium therefore can have no effect on the spread of nuclear weapons. Many people in politics and in the community in Australia may be of the opinion that a few overseas shareholders would benefit from Australian uranium mining. This is absurd and utter rubbish. People of the world, both poor and wealthy, require more and more power to improve their standards of living. The demand comes from them, and a splendid example of this is the rapid increase in the consumption of electrical energy all over the world. Nations such as Australia which have far more uranium than is required for their own energy needs have a duty to sell the excess to those less fortunate nations. If we do not sell our uranium we could be classed as being selfish and this could add to international tensions.

By 1985 the Australian uranium industry will be capable of satisfying 20 per cent of the world market This could earn for Australia $3, 000m a year. Between 1976 and 1985 the uranium industry will spend $l,800m- that is on present-day values- and most of this money will be spent in Australia in providing employment and development particularly in our sparsely populated north. As a member of the Government trade and resources committee I had the pleasure recently of visiting the uranium resource in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. By 1985 nearly 10 000 employees could be working in the uranium industry and an estimated wage bill of $2m would be fed into the economy each week. This would create a demand for goods and services which would improve the economy and further increase employment. For the benefit of Australia let us get on with the job of developing, mining and selling uranium to the great benefit of this nation and its work force. We talk about unemployment. The mining of uranium in Australia will provide employment particularly in the sparsely populated areas, and this will create decentralisation.

Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP

– In the absence of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) I thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate. My Whip has asked me to be brief, but I wish to make a couple of points in reply to some of the comments that were made. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) always makes a thoughtful contribution. I think that if his colleagues had taken more notice of his counsel when they were in government they would have fared much better than they did. He referred to the problems concerning the export of meat, and he identified those problems. The Government is making strenuous efforts to develop and diversify the markets for our meat. The major barriers to our exports of meat were faced in 1975 in our major markets of the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Economic Community, but the situation has improved in recent times. This was facilitated, for example, by the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister to Japan earlier this year. In addition to developing traditional markets, efforts are being made to develop small new markets with potential in areas such as Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.

The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Cotter) showed a knowledge and expertise of the various industries. I think that he made a very good contribution to this debate, as he makes a very good contribution to the planning and policy initiatives of the Government. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) gave us his usual performance. He said little or nothing. He did a little bit of private enterprise bashing. He talked about television commercials. He quoted a few figures but he got them wrong. I think that a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. The honourable member for Tangney (Dr Richardson) raised the matter of the small exporter. Honourable members will know that the Industries Assistance Commission considered the re-introduction of shareholder deductions. The majority view of the Commission was that these deductions should not be reintroduced. The minority view was that they should be reintroduced. The Government gave very careful consideration to both points of view. Unfortunately, in the context in which the Budget was framed, it was not able at that time to do more than it did. I feel that the Government went as far as it possibly could. It did show a complete change of direction in dealing with the mining industry.

I was interested in the contribution of the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi). He espoused uranium mining, enrichment and export. That was refreshing. He said that uranium is too important for its development to be neglected. The Government will not take any decisions regarding the development of Australian uranium until it has received and considered the report of the Ranger uranium environmental inquiry. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has not really changed. He was the architect of the coal export levy. Let me make quite clear the Government’s position with regard to the coal export levy. It has consistently stated that it considers the coal export duty to be a discriminatory and inequitable tax which should be removed as soon as the economic circumstances permit. The recent Budget takes the first step in this process. It can be regretted only that the economic circumstances did not allow a larger step to be taken. Nevertheless, the immediate step which has been taken will reduce hardship in some areas, and the firm commitment to phase out the duty will enable planning of new coal projects to proceed with a major uncertainty removed.

The honourable member also said something to the effect that in return for the Commonwealth obtaining 55 per cent Austraiian equity in Norwich Park larger areas were made available to the Utah organisation. Of course, the allocation of mining rights is made by the State, as he knows, and not by the Commonwealth Government. The honourable member also spoke of a sellout of the Australian resources that were mentioned in the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on petroleum prices. I think that report was tabled in this chamber today. The Government has not had time to consider it. The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O ‘Keefe) raised a number of matters concerning uranium. I have already explained to the Committee the Government’s position in regard to uranium development. It is awaiting receipt of the report of the Fox inquiry. I will pass on the comments of honourable members to the Minister for National Resources. I thank them again for the part they have played in this debate.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Department of Industry and Commerce

Proposed expenditure,$164,833,000.

Department of Business and Consumer Affairs

Proposed expenditure, $94,5 1 9,000.

Port Adelaide

-In the few minutes available to me tonight I would like to direct my remarks to the question mark that is hanging over industry in Australia. I think that enough has been said about the way in which the Government had meddled with the appropriations for the Trade Practices Commission and the Prices Justification Tribunal and, perhaps, with its series of directives to the Industries Assistance Commission. Let me say firstly that, whilst on occasions I have had some criticisms to offer of remarks that the IAC has made in various reports, I still stand by its role of an independent body giving expert advice to the Government of the day and then allowing the Government to make decisions based on that advice.

I do not believe that meddling in the affairs of the IAC is in the interests of the future development of our industries or of ascertaining the correct path that we ought to follow. But in respect of the recent exercise that was conducted in relation to the shipbuilding industry I do say that I believe that whenever any government requests the IAC to consider the situation in a single industry in a hurry, as the Government did when it requested the IAC to consider the impact of the dismantling of the shipbuilding industry, there are good arguments for other departments being involved with the IAC in bringing down a final report. The IAC made some comments on the defence nature of the shipbuilding industry. It may be that the Government committee, looking at the defence capacity of our industries, ought to have been spoken to about the social scan that should be left. Perhaps the Department of Social Security should have been more involved than it was concerning the social scar that could result. I believe that there is a good case to be made out for extending the arm of the IAC when that sort of occasion arises but I would not recommend it in the normal course of events.

A wave of shock must be be going throughout industry in Australia today despite all the optimistic views industry expressed following the change of government in December last year. Many industries believed that all the problems of the economy would end on 13 December last year. In spite of the comments of the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) about the employment opportunities offered by the mining industry, and in spite of all that has been written about the money that has been invested in the mining industry, the fact remains that it still employs only 2 per cent of our work force so it does not overcome the problem of the allocation of human resources in respect of employment. All those industries which believed last December that all their problems were over are today looking at a completely different picture. I believe there is also a very good case to be made out for setting up new national forums of employers, employees and perhaps primary producers who, apart from government and spun off from government, can give government and the Parliament the results of their thinking and their guidance on what ought to happen in Australia. It is in the interests of all of us to put the unemployed back to work, but no one has the grand plan for how to do it.

The White Paper on manufacturing industry is taking so long to be born that it is starting to look more like a white elephant. Those who are prepared to gamble are expecting it to be very feeble in what it says about the future of industry. Most economists put forward the view that we should be preparing for change in industry and that it is not in our interests to maintain industry as it is, which has been the fight we have had over the years. Very little preparation seems to have been done in Australia on acknowledging the changing nature of our work force. We are not prepared to give the instructions that ought to be given to our educational institutions on preparing the children now going to school for what the work force will require. We are still following traditional lines of education and preparing children for a society which may have existed in Australia 20 years ago. It is astounding to me that we all sit by and watch skilled people being forced out of work and in some cases having to do unskilled work. It seems astounding that we do not make more of a protest about the fact that the intake of apprentices in 1976 is down on last year’s intake by 25 per cent. It seems incredible that we are expecting everything to return to normal.

The metal manufacturers admit that at least 80 per cent of them are now importers as well as manufacturers in Australia. We have come to recognise that many of the jobs of the people who are unemployed in Australia are now outside Australia, perhaps in the industrial zones of South Korea, the Philippines or Singapore. There is no chance of Australian industry changing its cost structure in such a fashion that it will be able to compete with those industrial zones. There seems to be no intention on behalf of this Government to bring forward a restructuring program that will look after the people in industry who lose their jobs or give guidelines to industry to become a little more efficient and thereby provide it with some opportunity not only of meeting the local markets but also of becoming an export industry. I think we can all agree, with the population growth we have at the moment, that there is not much future for an industry being set up in Australia just to engage in the local market. The benefits to flow to industry obviously will flow to those industries which can both meet the local market and go outside this country.

Had time allowed us to speak longer on the estimates for the Department of Overseas Trade we could have seen the damage done by this Government in the field of export incentives. People may argue that the amount involved is not very much, but the psychological effect of it is very damaging indeed and could have a very lasting effect. I say to the Government, as I have said to it on a number of occasions previously, that its phobia about the deficit is going to leave lasting scars in many areas. People overseas, where perhaps we had an opportunity of getting a market, are not going to wait until this Government reaches the position of saying it has the deficit where it wants it. Commerce does not work that way, and this Government is supposed to be expert in the field of commerce.

The fact is that industry is changing whether we like it or not. The Government has no plans for it. Some members of the community, employers and workers- a few of them- have to accept full responsibility for what most of us believe is in the best interests of this country. It is high time that the Parliament had a good look at those who are asked to take this responsibility. It is for those reasons that I say that perhaps the national forum of employers, primary producers and trade unionists can come up with a far more viable plan for what should happen in Australia than governments have been able to do in the past. I think this is going to have to be done quickly because part relocation schemes and part subsidy schemes for young people to go into industry are not going to occur if the industries cannot take on the additional people. They are not going to occur if people have to shift out of Newcastle or Whyalla and other areas of Australia if they are simply shifted into areas where they will be just as much unemployed. Those people are not going to go if they cannot find a job in their own trade and there is no infrastructure for retraining. In all these things we lag far behind most other advanced nations.

I believe we are going to have to do something about these things very quickly. As I said at the outset, this does not mean interfering with the authorities that have been set up to deal with many of these questions. It should not become a war between the urban dweller and the rural worker or the primary producer. There are very few of us in Australia and we should be able to settle these questions in the interests of all who live here. This is not going to be done while this Government sits on its backside without having any ideas.


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


-Mr Chairman, it will be no surprise to you or to the Committee that I am going to espouse the cause of tariff reform while we are dealing with these estimates for the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. I have learnt from bitter experience that people who deliver unpopular messages have a pretty rough time, in this House and in other places. The bearers of bad news used to be beheaded by the Roman emperors. I have noticed, with regret and shame, the treatment that was meted out to the previous Chairman of the Industries Assistance Commission, Mr Alf Rattigan, from both sides of the House. I say, with a proper sense of shame, that he was castigated for saying the things that had to be said. I could think of phrases like ‘search and destroy missions’ to describe the cheap puerile criticism of a man who was saying what had to be said.

It is interesting that the new Chairman of the IAC, Mr McKinnon, has made his first major speech. He did so recently in Perth and in it he spelt out the same kind of message spelt out by Mr Rattigan. I think honourable members ought to recognise that these people speak from conviction, knowing that there are no easy ways and knowing that if they are to do their job they have to be unpopular. Let us consider some of the things said recently by Mr McKinnon, the new Chairman of the IAC. People used to speak scathingly about Mr Alf Rattigan when he spelt out things relating to resource allocation so frankly and fearlessly. Mr McKinnon said in his speech:

But we simply cannot afford to persevere with a policy of ever-increasing assistance to industries which seem to be becoming less economic for the Australian environment It reduces the opportunities for the more economic industries and those which have good prospects of growth.

That is the same kind of thing as Mr Alf Rattigan was saying, something which has to be said in this place, unpopular though it may make one. Mr McKinnon went further and spelt out another message which people hate to hear and that is that tariff protection is a subsidy paid by exporters. Mr Chairman, you have heard me on this subject many times. Tariffs increase cost and they are passed along until they come to the end of the line, to the exporter at the end of the line who can pass them no further. But people think it is only Kelly speaking for the rural sector, and in a rather faltering voice. Let us listen again to what Mr McKinnon said. I quote from page 7 of his speech:

Other industries or sectors pay later for favours (i.e. assistance) to some industries (e.g. exporting industries pay for assistance to import-competing industries).

The burden of tariff assistance is borne not by the consumers in general but by the exporters in particular. Whether they can bear this burden any further is a subject of some argument, but do not let us have any doubt that the burden of tariff protection is borne by the exporters in particular. I am glad to hear honourable members on the Country Party side saying ‘Hear, hear! ‘ because I am beginning to wonder when it will be that people who speak for the rural sector will recognise the weight of the burden that is carried by the exporting sector.

Mr Edwards:

– What is the weight of it?


– I will come to the weight of it in a moment. I was glad to hear that interjection. Frequently, when talking to groups of people, particularly the captains of industry in Sydney or Melbourne, the great and powerful people, they have said to me: ‘That is all right about you, Kelly, but you do not realise that the farmers are getting far more subsidy than secondary industry. ‘ Let us look at that matter. I have not measured this myself as I am not very good at arithmetic, but I refer now to the IAC report which came in today. If honourable members look at the amount of subsidy going to the rural sector they will find that it is $61m. That is not ungenerous. If they look at the direct subsidy going to manufacturing industry they will find that it is $159m. If they look at the burden of tariff protection, which is measured at page 140, they will find that it is very difficult to follow. I certainly could not follow it so I came back again to Mr McKinnon who did measure it and said that the subsidy equivalent of the tariff is about $3,900m. Those are not my figures; I did not dream them up. This person appointed by the Government to be Chairman of the IAC came out and did some measuring. This is the kind of cost that the exporting sector is being asked to carry. Themining sector is asked to carry it, the manufacturing and exporting sectors are asked to carry it, and the rural exporting sector is asked to carry it. The burden is borne by the exporters, whoever they may be. Let us go further and see how proper it is to impose that extra burden on the rural sector which supplies about 50 per cent of the exports and therefore bears about 50 per cent of the burden. I have given some figures to the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). I hope he will agree that they ought to be incorporated in Hansard.


– Is leave granted for the figures to be incorporated in Hansard! There being no objection, leave is granted.

The document read as follows-


-The figures spell out the position. It is said that we cannot reduce the real income of people. Let us look at the real income per farmer. We start in 1973-74 at $10,835. For the next year the figure dropped to $5,690; for the next year it is $4,864; and for the next year it is $3,611. This is the parlous position of the people who are carelessly being asked to assume more than their share of the tariff burden. I am glad to hear at last the support from honourable members in the National Country Party corner. I am getting rather sick of having to carry the burden on this side of the House with the assistance only of some of my more valiant friends.

There is an almost pathetic kind of confidence that when the White Paper on manufacturing industry sees the light of day there will be a wonderful white rabbit to pull out of the hat which will give us an easy solution. Anybody who deludes himself that there are any easy, popular solutions in this area is kidding himself and other people. I shall cite 2 examples from the highest authority. One example is the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who has spelt out the fact that we cannot take refuge in tariff protection forever. He stated:

Australia cannot afford to pursue courses of action that isolate us from external competition. As in our domestic affairs, we must face up to the reality of a competitive outside world. If we fail to do so we will run the risk of ultimately becoming a country of second-raters.

That is what this matter is all about. We ought not kid ourselves that there is an easy solution in the White Paper. There are no white rabbits. There is no hope that we can suddenly pull out an easy, popular solution. As soon as everybody on this side and on the other side of Parliament recognises that we have to face up to problems and not just talk eloquently about them in the hope that we will find a white rabbit, we will be better able to face the many problems that need to be faced.

Smith · Kingsford

– It is always refreshing to hear the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). The point is that he is so modest that we usually have to read about what he thinks. On this occasion I understand that he has again said what he feels should be government policy but he has indicated clearly that the Government is not really prepared to do what he suggests. I ask: Why is the Government not prepared to do this? It is because if the Government implements the policy of the honourable member for Wakefield it will be thrown out of office lock, stock and barrel. We know the position. The honourable member talks about structural change at this time when we have massive unemployment. Let us give a bit of praise to Alf Rattigan. as he is called. The only time he suggested structural change was at a time of full employment. One of the great problems with what is deemed to be the Rattigan theory is the blood, sweat and tears theory; that is, we leave it to the free market forces to work out the destiny of our manpower.

Admittedly, we might have protection for industry but the United States has protection. What does the United States do when it talks about meat trade with Australia? It puts on an embargo. The European Common Market has protection for all its industries as well. It protects itself from our meat industry. The honourable member for Wakefield boasts about how good a meat producer he is. I have no doubt that he is. But he cannot get any price for his cattle because people will not buy them. He has the most economic cattle one can produce in the world but people still will not buy them. Countries have a protective device to suit their own people.

Today we heard a suggestion that South Korea is certainly not a free enterprise nation. How can we compare our textile industry with that of South Korea where females are obliged to work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day and to live on the factory premises? The same remarks apply to most of the so-called developing countries. I ask: Where does the money go? Does it go to the development of the people? The answer is: Not at all. It goes into the selected few running those industries. The United States is wise enough to say that it will not allow penetration of its textile position by South Korea. The position in Australia is that the honourable member for Wakefield does not mind what happens to the textile industry. But what is the alternative? Where are the manpower policies?

Until such time as an Australian Government realises that it acts for the whole of Australia and not for one pan, we will have this difficulty. Until such time as my party realises that it cannot rely on what is called the private enterprise structure to guarantee full employment, we will have difficulties too. When I was a Minister I did nothing but meet the captains of industry who had their hands out for money. They said: ‘Give us a subsidy or we will sack the men. ‘ That was the alternative. I can name them. They are E. Z. Industries Ltd, Broken Hill South Ltd and Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. Each of those companies asked: ‘Where is the subsidy for me?’ The mistake we made was to give them a subsidy. We should have given it to the men. That would have been much more effective.

At the last election we got precious little thanks from the point of view of trying to prop up these industries. Perhaps it would have been better to do what the honourable member for Wakefield, now that his party is in Government, suggests; that is, to let them go to the wall. We were thinking of the social problems as we now have in Whyalla and Newcastle. What will the Government do for those people? Will it let them go to the wall? What about their homes and their future? They do not have a future because there is no manpower policy.

I shall now deal with some more detailed matters which my friend the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) might take notice of. One matter is the Trade Practices Act. I urge the Minister to have a look at the questions which have been asked of him in the House recently in relation to doing something when there is a suggestion of false advertising. This was suggested to him about medical benefit funds. I do not think it does him any credit to suggest that somebody can take out an injunction. The message is clearly in the Act. He has a responsibility as well. It is not good enough for the Minister to say: ‘Make the complaints to the Commission. It ought to do something. I will not interfere’. Quite clearly, under the Act, he has a responsibility. He can interfere in the sense that he can take legal action. I urge him to do that because the people of Australia must think that he is more interested in propping up those private funds than in the welfare of the people and, more importantly, the real intelligence behind the Act which is to stop this sort of nonsense going on where false advertising can mislead the people and encourage somebody to do something against his better interest. The Minister has a responsibility to abide by the terms of the Act. I urge him to do that.

There is not enough time to deal in detail with the report on the Trade Practices Act by what is known as the Swanson Committee. I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the Committee has recommended the repeal of section 49. 1 think that is a retrograde step. I have a case in mind where, even now, there is deemed to be insufficient power in the Act to control the lack of effective competition. This matter applies to an area which is represented by the Government but it so happens that the person concerned has spoken to me about it. He is a tyre dealer. He wants to get tyres from Marubeni-Bridgestone Tyres Pty Ltd. The company will not supply them to him. It insists that he get them from somebody else in the St George district which the company supplies at a bigger discount than he can obtain. It is somewhat suspicious that no real benefit is coming as a result of complaints. It means that this tyre dealer was able to buy these tyres from Marubeni until recently. There is a franchise restriction there which clearly shows that Marubeni has given this franchise to somebody else who is also able to compete in that area. In other words, a good Australian is now no longer able to compete effectively with Marubeni which has dictated the terms in a specific area, denying him an opportunity of supply. I would like the Minister to have a look at this case. I can give him the details later.

I would like the Minister also to address his mind quickly to another Act which is an old favourite of his. I refer to the Bankruptcy Act and its application to Patrick Partners. The Bankruptcy Act and its problems obviously now come under the Minister’s wing. It is important that we look at what is happening to the creditors of Patrick Partners. I receive a series of telephone calls from those creditors who say: ‘What is wrong with the Bankruptcy Act?’ It is clearly shown that the present sections of the Act dealing with arrangements made under Part 10 are no longer effective, particularly if one looks at what happened in the Patrick Partners case. Pursuant to the Act some creditors decided that Mr Jamison ought to be appointed trustee. As it turned out, Mr Jamison also happened to be a member of the firm acting as auditors for Patrick Partners. So one could say that there seemed to be a conflict of interest. I read the minutes of a meeting of creditors held as far back as 17 October 1975. Mr Jamison was quite confident at that meeting that he could guarantee the repayment to the creditors of 100c in the $1. He said to the unfortunate people present: ‘I want to guarantee that we will be on the road to success here. We have the egg; we have just got to get the chicken’. I think it might have been more appropriate to say: ‘I have got the thimble. Where is the pea?’ Twelve months later the position is still that the creditors have not received any money.

At that meeting Mr Jamison introduced to the creditors a Mr Cox who was known as the doctors’ representative- ‘doctors’ meaning medical practitioners. The creditors were told that a group call Locums Pty Ltd in Victoria was going to put up about $3.1m. Mr Jamison said: “That will save you. That is my solution. ‘ I do not think that the doctors have been heard of since, and Mr Cox has not reappeared since. There has been no suggestion of any money being given.

That meeting of creditors genuinely believed that something was going to happen to their benefit. They are now saying: ‘What has happened to the Bankruptcy Act that it allows that situation to carry on?’

I say to the Minister that we should have in the Official Receiver’s office some sort of investigatory process whereby a lot of work could be done to ascertain whether a person was meeting the difficulties of insolvency. A report could be prepared for meetings of creditors so that they could be informed of the real situation. We would then not have the present situation of the defaulters themselves virtually appointing a trustee, running a set of circumstances called a democratic meeting and leaving people not at all happy with the results, not even being able to vote in the way they would like to vote. Their votes are not even counted on a proper basis. They say that an injustice has occurred. I do not have time to go into any more detail on the matter but I think that the Act is in drastic need of revision. The problems of Patrick Partners clearly show that something has to be done.

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

Minister for Productivity · Balaclava · LP

-In speaking to the estimates of the Department of Industry and Commerce I wish to say at the outset that I believe that Australia needs a vital, strong, viable manufacturing industry. The problem that arises is this: What form will it take and what level of government participation will there be in assisting people to redeploy their capital and retrain their labour? In that regard I am attracted to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration dealing with the establishment of a new department of industries and the economy. I will not have time to develop that, of course, during the course of a 10-minute speech, but I think that kind of planning department, as one might loosely call it, might help us to overcome the kinds of problems to which the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and, in a brief way, the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) referred.

I would like to say this in terms of the forthcoming White Paper which has been mentioned: There are too many people in manufacturing industry as we know it who seem to feel that the establishment of such a depanment is going to carry some kind of gold-plated guarantee that they will be able to go on in manufacturing as they now know it. In my speech during the Budget debate I made a couple of suggestions to the Government about the way in which it might assist manufacturing industry to tide itself over its present difficulties and, of course, to be sure that it did not add to the current unemployment problems. In the longer term, however, there is a great deal of work to be done, and there are certainly not likely to be any soft options available to industry in that regard.

The White Paper certainly will not produce a plan in the sense of it being a government policy to give industries a guarantee of perpetual survival by way of unlimited protection or government assistance such as that of which the honourable member for Wakefield has complained. Despite the reservations about the Green Paper- the Jackson Committee report- I personally expect some concept of key industries to emerge in order to cater for what the honourable member for Wakefield referred to, namely, that the rural and mining industries of this country believe that they are paying a hidden tax when they are helping to provide protection for industries which cannot compete internationally. I think that some concept of a key industry approach will be unavoidable if we are to have employment levels, living standards, technology and our own resources in manufacturing industry available to us.

I think we owe the Jackson Committee which presented the Green Paper a great debt. That Green Paper identified what it called a long standing and deep-seated malaise. It has focused long overdue public attention upon manufacturing industry and its problems. Some of those problems, of course, stem from the short term palliatives which were administered by past governments which often merely deferred the day of reckoning. Thanks to the policies during the 3 years of Labor Government that day of reckoning will come harder upon us than otherwise it would have done. Other problems, of course, stem from changes in the international and domestic market and also from new demands in technology. All of those problems have been compounded very seriously by the mismanagement which occurred from December 1 972 to December 1975.

Nevertheless, the Green Paper has raised important questions which have been evaded by industry for years. I am thinking in terms of job redesign, retraining, management training, especially for supervisors and foremen, investment and production policies, in-plant communicationwe have not had anything like the Lord Watkinson report which was brought down in the United Kingdom- absenteeism, job turnover, job satisfaction. These are the sorts of problems to which we must now address our attention. The White Paper hopefully will address itself very strongly to those matters. Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd put a submission to the Government regarding the White Paper.

It identified 7 areas which require a clear statement of government policy. Those 7 areas are jobs and population, productivity, access to markets, capital investment, mobilisation of funds for investment, how best to reward successful companies and individuals. They are the kinds of matters upon which we must have a clear policy. We have to overcome the acrimonious kind of debate we have in this chamber in which people label themselves as protectionists or free traders and hurl abuse across the chamber or, indeed, on the same side of the chamber. It is therefore important for Australia that government, management and the unions work together to set national goals on those matters. They must in that way overcome the malaise. Of course, it really is misleading to use the word ‘industry’ only in the sense of management. Industry includes employees and their representatives, the unions. Equally, ‘manufacturing’ is a misnomer when it encompasses such a diverse series of sectors involved in processing. Equally, it is silly to talk in terms of the metal industry when in fact we have many industries working in different metals and with different systems of work and processes.

Australian businessmen have long admired the unique relationship which exists between industry and government in Japan. That clearly is what the Green Paper is leading us towards, and that is what we must strive towards. That unique relationship used to be thought of once as being directional but now it is being understood as being consultative. That is precisely what we should strive for. In addition to crystallising the issues facing manufacturing, some of which have been referred to tonight, the Green Paper suggested a mechanism for consultation and for policy formulation. I will not have time to deal with that, but it is important that we set up a mechanism which adequately enables industry and government- I use the word ‘industry’ in the sense of including unions- to exchange economic intelligence which will be crucial to the healthy development of those parts of manufacturing which can be internationally competitive and export oriented and which will be based on Australian talents, skills and resources. Only by the closest possible communication between government and industry can we achieve the goals spoken of in the Green Paper and which would have widespread community support. This includes, of course, less dependence on foreign capital, increased Australian ownership, improving the quality of working life, anticipating and adjusting to change and reducing protection levels. Clearly manufacturing industry must be viewed in the light of overall economic policy, especially if the exchange rate policy which affects all sectors continues to assume great importance.

With the appropriate consultative machinery between industry and government both might more effectively monitor market trends and better identify areas of future problems. There has been a general reluctance on the part of both industry and government to have an overall plan for manufacturing. The role of a non-socialist government is to manage the economy and help arm industry with the data needed for each industry sector to transform itself in response to market forces and for new industries to develop and expand. Where changes occur beyond the reasonable anticipation of management and government after close consultation, government should assist industry to adjust by setting up a structural adjustment assistance tribunal on a firmer basis than now exists. Structural adjustment assistance should be provided to management and employees in conjunction with far better manpower planning and retraining programs than we have yet seen from any Australian government.

The ad hoc decision making of the past has contributed to the deep seated and long standing malaise. At a time of rapid economic growth we must overcome the unsatisfactory and uncertain situation which has existed when the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Industries Assistance Commission have been at odds with each other. A structural adjustment assistance tribunal is, however, needed to protect industry and its employees from sudden changes of government polley or international exigencies which could not be foreseen. In my opinion both the structural adjustment assistance tribunal and the council supervising retraining should be permanent and tripartite. Moreover, the machinery for consultation should be serviced by a secretariat staffed by a balanced mixture of persons drawn from management and unions as well as from appropriate government departments and agencies. If the machinery for consultation is serviced only by public servants, management and unions will be at an extreme disadvantage and will become rubber stamps for the ideas of persons of goodwill for Australia but persons who rarely have experience of how industry really functions. In that regard I hope that the Government will do all that it can to encourage the transfer and secondment of persons from industry to the Public Service and vice versa. We certainly do need more mobility than we have seen.

If one looks at pages 71 to 74 and 78 to 84 of the Budget Paper No. 1 for 1975-76 and at pages 75 to 78 and 83 to 88 in this year’s Budget Paper No. 1 one sees the terrible belting that manufacturing industry has received in the last 3 years. This coupled with the deep seated malaise to which I have referred and traced shows what a terrible mess manufacturing industry is in. I hope that no one in this House would decry the need for short term assistance for manufacturing industry. Equally I hope that nobody would mislead industry into thinking that that short term protection will be perpetuated.

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


-Prior to the 1975 election the then Liberal-National Country Party Opposition made great play about its tourism policy. At that time Senator Rae was the shadow Minister for Tourism. He went before various sectors of the community and the travel tourism industry saying what the government would do for tourism and travel within Australia. There is no need for me to remind you, Mr Deputy Chairman, that come the election at which the Labor Party Government was defeated, Senator Rae was sacked as shadow Minister for Tourism and the Department of Tourism and Recreation ceased to exist. It would take somebody who knows the workings of the Department of Industry and Commerce to appreciate that that Department is now charged with the responsibility of tourism in Australia. So the promises that were made prior to 1975 by Senator Rae for and on behalf of the present Government were immediately broken by this Government when it came into office.

In order to demonstrate the complete hypocrisy of the Government on tourism we find that Senator Robert Cotton, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has established a Government back bench committee on tourism. The senator issued a Press statement on 16 September in which he listed the personnel on that committee. Included on the committee is Senator Peter Rae. The Minister said that on the committee every State and both territories were represented, as were the coalition parties- the Liberal Party and National Country Party.

To recap what happened prior to the 1975 election, Senator Rae went around the country saying what the Liberal and National Country Parties would do for tourism if they became the government. Senator Rae suffered the same fate as Don Chipp. He was sacked from his shadow portfolio and his place was filled by someone else. After the election all mention of tourism by this Government was taken out of ministerial portfolios and virtually from the Australian Government Directory. As I have said, very few people know that tourism is now covered by the Department of Industry and Commerce.

I cannot say that I have a great deal of sympathy for the Australian National Travel Association because prior to the 1975 election the executive of the Association published a Press release saying that the Liberal and National Country Parties policy on tourism was better than that offered by the Labor Party Government at that time. Now we find that the Australian National Travel Association is complaining bitterly about the lack of mention of tourism in the policies followed by the present Government.

One has to go to page 85 of the Budget Papers before one finds any mention of the tourist industry. On that page we find the allocation of the magnanimous amount of $3m to the Australian Tourist Commission for this year dropping down to $ 1.5 m next year providing that State governments and industry groups can match the Commonwealth ‘s contribution on a $ 1 for $ 1 basis up to $1.5m. The Canberra Tourist Bureau is to get $100,000-$0.1m. The Northern Australian Tourist Board is to get $500,000. Is it any wonder that the Australian National Travel Association is now complaining? Mr Graham Tucker, the Executive Director of the Australian National Travel Association, as far back as 24 May 1976 wrote a letter in which he said:

This year, the number of Australians going abroad will almost certainly exceed one million. Their spendings will exceed $S00m, making overseas travel one of the biggest single drains on the country’s Balance of Payments.

Visitors from overseas, on the other hand, are expected to be almost at a standstill, some 550000 people, spending approximately $250m in Australia.

Mr Leslie M. Perrott, the then National Chairman of the Australian National Travel Association, whom I am certain some Liberal members from Victoria will know because of his association with the Liberal Party, said in a Press statement on 25 May:

Rather than cutting back on the funds of the Australian Tourist Commission, the Government should be increasing its allocation both in the interests of boosting its balance of payments- outgoing spendings by Australian travellers of $500m against incoming spendings of $250m by overseas visitors- and also in the interests of stimulating the domestic recovery in one of the major employment industries in the country.

The travel tourist industry is an industry. I put a question on notice to the Minister earlier this year. I have received a reply to my question. I seek leave to incorporate the question and the reply in Hansard.

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

The document read as follows-


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce:

  1. 1 ) What is the estimated amount per annum generated by the Australian travel/tourist industry.
  2. What percentage of the Gross National Product does this represent.
  3. What percentage of the workforce is employed in the travel/tourist industry and how much of this is female labour.
  4. How much in foreign exchange is earned by the travel /tourist industry.
  5. What is the estimated amount per annum spent by Australians travelling outside Australia.
  6. Does the Government intend to offer any incentives to the Australian tourist industry; if so, what form will these take.

Mr HOWARD: My colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has supplied me with the following information-

  1. 1 ) The Australian Statistician advises that expenditure on travel or tourism in Australia is expenditure on the products of several industries, but only on part of their products. These industries include restaurants, hotels and accommodation, transport, and travel agencies. Official estimates of the products of these industries going into expenditure on travel and tourism are therefore not made. However, a survey of domestic travel conducted by the Australian Travel Research Conference estimated that, in 1973-74, Australians spent $736m on travel within Australia. In addition, overseas visitors spent $ 1 62m making a total of $898m spent on travel within Australia. There is evidence to believe that the domestic component of this estimate considerably underestimates the value of domestic travel expenditure, as the survey on which it was based relied on the respondents’ abilities to recall travel undertaken over a considerable period.
  2. The estimated $898m spent on travel within Australia in 1 973-74 represents 1 .77 per cent of Gross Domestic Product for that year. This figure under-estimates the contribution of the tourist industry to Gross Domestic Product, because of the under-estimation in domestic tourism expenditure and because no estimate in available of gross fixed capital expenditure in the industry.
  3. Because of the reasons outlined in my answer to the first part of the question no official estimates are made of the workforce employed in the travel/tourist industry. However, the official estimate at 3 1 December 1 975 of wage and salary earners in the entertainment, recreation, restaurants, hotels and personal services industry was 5.8 per cent of total civilian employees- 60 per cent of this category were females.
  4. Estimates of expenditure by foreign visitors, or travel credits, are shown in Table 1.
  1. Estimates or expenditure by Australian residents travelling overseas (travel debits), from 1970-71 to 1974-75 are shown in Table 2.
  1. Since the election in December 1975 the Government has introduced a number of measures which will assist the tourist industry. These include

    1. A 40 per cent investment allowance available for eligible tourist plant and equipment on site or ready for installation from 1 January 1976 and up to 30 June 1978.
    2. Restrictions on the tax deductibility of interest received from convertible secured debentures have been eased as from 1 January 1976.
    3. The suspension of quarterly payments of company tax.

-The answer indicates that our trade debits and credits- that is, the outgoings as against the incomings- showed a deficit or a travel gap of $64m in 1970-71, $133m in 1971-72, $ 198m in 1972-73, $ 179m in 1973-74, $192m in 1974-75 and $292m in 1975-76. This industry covers 1.7 per cent of the gross domestic product. As at the end of December 1975 the travel-tourist industry employed 5.8 per cent of total civilian employees, and 60 per cent of those employees were females. The industry is a decentralised, smokeless industry. It takes Australians into the outer reaches of Australia to our tourist attractions. It allows people who live in coastal or inland areas which have tourist attractions to open an industry which is smokeless and to offer job opportunities to the people in the area.

The Australian National Travel Association and the travel industry generally are similar to the manufacturing industries referred to earlier by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen). They wanted handouts from the Government. They did not want policies of their own; they could not produce policies of their own. Prior to the 1975 election the present Government said that it would do better for the travel-tourist industry than the Labor Government had done between 1972 and 1975. 1 remind the Committee that that Labor Government was the first Commonwealth Government in Australia’s history ever to have a Minister for Tourism and Recreation. I mentioned before that Australians going overseas spend $500m and that visitors coming to Australia spend less than half that amount. We are losing money on our travellers going overseas, and it was in an effort to curb that travel gap, to reduce it or keep it at a reasonable level, that the Labor Government, in co-operation with every State Minister and every State tourist department, introduced domestic tourism promotion. That was cancelled. We introduced a low cost accommodation subsidy. That was cancelled. On behalf of the Labor Government, I put legislation through this House providing for the uniform registration of travel agents throughout Australia. This Government has not even reintroduced that Bill.

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


– It is interesting to note that the former Minister for Tourism and Recreation, the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), recognises that, in pushing wages and operating costs so high, his Government effectively wrecked the Australian tourist industry. But it is not on that issue that I wish to speak tonight. I want to confine my remarks to the estimates for the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs as they relate to the Industries Assistance Commission and the Temporary Assistance Authority, for which some $6,700,000 is appropriated. We all realise that the IAC came into existence in 1974 for the purpose of extending to all industries, including rural industries, a system of public scrutiny of advice regarding assistance. I think it is important in any discussion on the effectiveness of the IAC to recognise that under the Act the Government is precluded from taking action to provide long-term financial assistance to primary or secondary industries until it receives advice from the Commission. The IAC has no executive functions and no legislative authority. Legislative decisions about assistance, and hence about IAC recommendations, still remain in the political sphere.

The credibility of the Commission’s advice depends not only on the competence of its work but also on its inquiries being open to public participation and on its advice being open to public scrutiny. I believe that the IAC has earned credibility in the broad sense, but in a general discussion of these estimates I should like to make some criticism of the former Government’s handling of IAC reports and offer some constructive criticism of the content of those reports. After the Labor Government established the IAC, it then set about undermining its value. For example, the IAC report on the motor car industry proved to be a waste of time, effort and money. The Australian Labor Party took no action. In respect of rural policy during Labor’s unfortunate term of office, major decisions such as its Cabinet made to lower the wool reserve price, a decision which was subsequently reversed by Caucus, were based on ad hoc pressures. It was shown then, and it is still a difficulty, that the lengthy procedures of the IAC were not well suited to handling rural crises, where it is necessary to review and report rapidly.

The Labor Government thumbed its socialist anti-rural nose at its own authority. For instance, the report on the eradication of tuberculosis and brucellosis in cattle was tabled in the Parliament at a most opportune time. These recommendations should have been implemented rapidly as a form of aid to a desperate beef industry. I can only conclude, as did all rural Australia on 13 December last, that the Labor Government and Senator Wriedt were not interested in the rural industries. The Labor Government proved that its pork barrel politics were more important when it came to the crunch than a good case presented by the IAC. Since coming to office the Liberal-National Country Party Government has been implementing many recommendations in reports which were not acted upon by the Labor Government, this to the benefit of rural industries.

I wish to make some comments on submissions made to me by several primary producer organisations and industries expressing a need to allow speedier and cheaper approaches to the Temporary Assistance Authority and the IAC. With regard to the Temporary Assistance Authority, reference has been made to the time lag before an application can be made because harm or damage to any industry is a prerequisite for an application. A further time lag occurs because of the procedures necessary before a hearing can take place. The second criticism of the Temporary Assistance Authority relates to cost. It is obvious that many smaller industries do not have available the finance or the expertise or even the time of their part-time personnel to prepare and proceed with a hearing. One industry has stated that its recent Temporary Assistance Authority hearing cost $10,000 to $12,000. Either the Government has to provide financial and expert assistance to these industries or an alternative system has to be developed. A further weakness of the Temporary Assistance Authority system is the period between the notification that a hearing is being considered and the time the decision is made, which allows importers to increase imports substantially in that period.

Criticism has also been made of the time lag in the provision of statistics, unless someone who has a special competence can provide the information. It has been said that other countries are better off in that regard. Another criticism is that any Temporary Assistance Authority determination applies only for 12 months and then an IAC hearing is necessary, which is even more costly and time consuming. In some cases confusion has arisen in relation to which department is involved and the roles of the various departments. Four departments- Business and Consumer Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Overseas Trade and Primary Industry- all have a role to play. It is a serious weakness in the Temporary Assistance Authority system that, unlike dumping procedures, where a provision exists requiring cash deposits while a decision is being made, within the Temporary Assistance Authority procedures importers have several months between the notice of a hearing and the start of restructuring, and there is a special need for a retroactive provision. I believe that many solutions can be recommended. A general panel could be set up comprising industry, processor and departmental representatives, which could hear applications asserting that damage may be done to an industry and which could provide temporary protection. This would include threats of imports which processors may use to depress the price to the producer. The power of the commodity panels could be increased to include this function. On the other hand, an interdepartmental committee with similar power could be set up to which an industry could complain.

Some of the problems associated with the Temporary Assistance Authority are also associated with approaches to the Industries Assistance Commission. A general criticism is that references to the IAC are too specific. No consideration is given to the wider implications of an IAC recommendation. Consultation with the industry and consideration of the terms of reference would overcome this problem. The complaint about cost, expertise and time for a Temporary Assistance Authority hearing is multiplied for an IAC hearing. The time lag between the reference and the hearing and then the recommendations and government action is such that quite often events have overtaken recommendations.

Mr McVeigh:

– Too little, too late.


-As the honourable member for Darling Downs says, action should have been taken months before recommendations come out. Also the Industries Assistance Commission looks only at the situation at a given time and does not take into account the long term situation of the industry. Protection provided by the IAC is of decreasing value because usually it is an ad valorem tariff or tariff quota. Effective protection requires a percentage tariff or quota. The Government’s decision to allow the IAC to publish draft reports for early industry analysis and comment has been a notable improvement. Section 22 of the Industries Assistance Commission Act states the policy guidelines for the Commission. I think that it is important to read the first part of this section. It states:

In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living-

While these criteria are broad, IAC reports tend to base their recommendations strongly on current economic factors and do not give sufficient emphasis to other associated and interdependent factors. For instance, I believe that the recommendations contained in the IAC report on dried vine fruits are not acceptable in total or for immediate implementation. Firstly, the report is incomplete in making no assessment of the effect on the wine industry of its recommendations for the dried vine fruit industry. Secondly, the inquiry did not include an in-depth examination of export marketing. Thirdly, insufficient information has been given on the ability of the Commonwealth to enforce the 2-pool scheme or the willingness of the States to implement complementary legislation to permit such a scheme to operate.

The time is inopportune for further retrenchments in the dried fruits producing areas. Finally, I believe that insufficient consideration of the effects of the recommendations on the social life of the community has been given. I invite the Minister to consider these suggestions in an endeavour to streamline the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Industries Assistance Commission so that they adequately meet the needs of industries and the nation.

Mr Keith Johnson:

– It seems to me, after listening to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher), that his remarks represent an indictment of the National Country Party, as is its name for the time being, insofar as members of that party have to stand in this chamber to tell us how the Government ought to do this, that and the other thing about the rural industries. They should also explain to the House- it is well known to people outside it as it is to those of us inside it- that the Country Party or the National Country Party has been part of the Government since 1949, uninterruptedly until 1972 and from 13 December 1975. It is back in that position again. If the rural industries of Australia are in difficulties, as I have been told by members of the National Country Party, surely those difficulties have not been ameliorated by the actions of those so-called representatives of farmers.

I refer to the members of the Country Party or the National Country Party who sit in this chamber. Had they done their job properlytheir influence in Cabinet has not been insignificant; it has been very significant- and represented the people who they presume to represent as well as the officials of trade unions whom they never cease to berate in this chamber have done their job, the farmers of Australia would be in a much better position today. I understand that the increase in farm products last year was of the order of 3 per cent. The increase in the workers’ payments last year was of the order of 10 per cent. So I ask honourable members in the chamber to judge for themselves who has the better leadership- the farmers through the National Country Party or the trade unions through their organisations? The indictment must rest on the heads of members of the National Country Party who sit on my left and behave like a gaggle of geese.

I rise in the debate tonight to speak on the estimates for the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs and to bring to the attention of the Committee a matter of great signficance to the people of Australia. It relates to the employment of Australian people in industry, a matter which was debated earlier today and one which must be in the minds of every honourable member. Certainly it must be in the minds of those who form the Government of this country. Recently I was overseas and visited Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Whilst there I visited an industry that is know as an off-shore Australian industry. In fact, it is a subsidiary of the Nylex Corporation Ltd of Australia. The company has established a factory just outside Kuala Lumpur and is manufacturing vinyl coated fabric which I think is commonly known as leathercloth

The company is a subsidiary of the Nylex Corporation and has been established in Malaysia where it receives certain concessions. It has pioneer status in that country. Therefore it pays no income tax to Malaysia for 8 years. It has a tax free holiday. It is able to repatriate its profits to Australia under the laws of Malaysia. It is able to engage Malaysian workers and to pay them $A20 a week. It then manufactures materials, including a product that is also manufactured by the parent company in Australia at the Nylex Corporation’s plant at Deer Park in Victoria. It manufactures exactly the same product and exports it back to Australia. The justification given for this is that it is a ramification of the parent company and therefore it ought to engage in its own activities.

The end result of it all is that recently we read in the Melbourne Press that 130 to 200 work people out at Deer Park were dismissed from their jobs by the Nylex Corporation. The reason given for that dismissal was that the company cannot compete with imports. I remind the Committee that the imports come from the Nylex Corporation’s subsidiary deliberately established off-shore in Malaysia, using the cheap labour and the benefits available in that country to manufacture products and export them back to Australia in competition with the parent company.

Mr Fisher:

– You drove them out.

Mr Keith Johnson:

-I will not deal with minnows while I have a whale on the line. If the Government of this country is sincere about the retention of jobs in this country for our working people and about dealing with the advance of business in this country and the buoyancy of free enterprise conditions in this country, I fail to understand why it allows this sort of situation to prevail. It is no excuse to claim ignorance of it. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) is a lawyer and he knows that ignorance of the law is no defence.

The Government must know that this sort of situation is occurring. I know from personal experience of the activities of the Nylex Corporation in this off-shore caper as I would call it. I know because I saw the factory. I visited it and spoke with the managing director there. He quite frankly told me what the company was all about. I have not had an opportunity to visit all the offshore corporations and all the factories around the world established by Australian companies in countries where labour is cheaper than it is in Australia. Therefore I would not know to the full extent how widespread this practice is. But having learnt of one instance, it worried me greatly. While I was overseas I travelled with 2 members of the National Country Party. One of them made the comment: ‘Well, if we are going to make tariffs high in Australia for tractors, for example it will make tractors more expensive for farmers to buy and therefore adds to their cost of production’.

At a later stage during that visit we saw great areas planted out with oil palm seed. As I pointed out to the honourable member, who is quite sincere- I have a high regard for him albeit he is a member of the National Country Party- if this scheme were carried through to its logical conclusion the farmers of Australia would need to worry too because they also produce seed oil. If we believe that we can import manufactured goods into this country more cheaply than we can make them- it is probably true if we are going to import the poverty of those countries which have cheaper labour available to them- we can also import foodstuffs more cheaply. If we can import foodstuffs more cheaply, it is not the trade unionist and it is not the worker in the factory who has to look out for his job; it is the hard working small farmer not represented by the National Country Party who has to look out for his livelihood.

I am hopeful that the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs will take cognisance of the point I have made about the Nylex Corporation. I am hopeful that this matter will be investigated within his own Department and the Department of Industry and Commerce. I hope he will take great care that industries in Australia do not go willy-nilly off-shore to find cheaper labour and cheaper materials and export the products made there back to Australia to the detriment of the Australian work force. If we are going to engage in that sort of exercise, it seems that there is a very poor future in store for the working people of Australia.


– I rise to speak in support of the appropriation for the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs. In particular, I recognise at the outset the significant problems in the manufacturing industry. I also recognise the problems that have been spelt out by honourable members on both sides of the chamber this evening concerning unemployment, shipbuilding, industries assistance, tariffs, and all those sorts of things. But there is one area that has not been mentioned this evening that is of great concern to me and, I am sure, to honourable members on both sides of the chamber and to the Australian people- that is, drug abuse, particularly drug abuse pertaining to the young.

This evening I read in the Sydney Daily Mirror a report that is frightening to all parents and frightening to all Australians. In part, the article refers to special crime squads having been set up in Sydney’s outer western suburbs to deal with the problem of teenage school pupils and their introduction to drugs. The article states in part:

Schoolgirls as young as 13 are skipping classes to learn how to use reefers- marijuana cigarettes- and harder drugs.

Sergeant James said the girls, instead of going to school, met at the homes of well-known drug users.

There they had been initiated in the use of various drugs, he said.

So the article goes on. The girls were initiated into the use of hard drugs. In the 8 months ended 30 August the Bureau of Customs narcotic agents were successful in seizing 9,132 grams of heroin illicitly brought into this country. They were successful in locating that amount of heroin. That is only one of the drugs involved. Others were opium, cocaine, morphine, LSD and so the list goes on. That is to say nothing of the one million plus grams of cannabis that they were fortunate in being able to locate.

So when I look at the appropriation of funds for the Bureau of Customs under the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs, I think how well the money has been spent. To be quite honest, I think there should be a greater appropriation of funds, particularly in the area of customs officers who could detect the illicit importation of drugs which have a danger of the magnitude of heroin. I have seen, and I hope that all honourable members will have the opportunity of seeing for themselves, what harm can be done to the youth of this country when they are introduced to hard drugs. Only a few short months ago I saw a 15-year-old girl who was suffering the withdrawal symptoms of heroin and who died 3 days later. Just a few days ago the Minister released a statement following a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers concerning drugs and the problems connected with drugs. In part it said that at the conclusion of the meeting the Ministers emphasised that there should be no complacency about the drug problem in Australia. There should be no complacency about this problem.

It has been suggested in newspaper articles that there could be an imposition of a fine of $100,000 together with a gaol sentence of 25 years for persons convicted of being drug pushers, as being the drug wholesalers. I want to make a clear distinction in lending my support not only to the imposition of the $100,000 fine and a 25 year gaol sentence. I believe the drug pusher, the one who would import the drugs into this country, the one who would see the distribution of drugs, is nothing but a murderer in the first degree because he contributes to the death of children. If that person is prepared to make money from the sale of heroin, if that person is prepared to take money from the youth of this country and put it into his pockets, then death is what should be accorded them. There is no penalty large enough to be placed upon these mongrels in today’s society. They are the scum of the earth. I urge the Government and the Minister to give very clear consideration to the penalties that they should invoke.

In conclusion, because of the limitation of time, I would just say that there has to be a clear distinction made between the drug pusher and the drug importer. Sure, there are poor unfortunates who, having been introduced to the use of heroin and other hard drugs, find that because of the desire and the need for these drugs they have to sell the drugs. They are not pushers in the truer sense of the word. But those who would come into the country with the drugs, knowing that they can make possibly millions of dollars, are the pushers. I lend my total support to the campaign to deal with them and I trust that in the years ahead we will see penalties invoked in this country that will really frighten the wits out of anyone who would use our children as bait for money.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– In the limited time available it will not be possible for me to canvass all the remarks made by those who contributed to the debate. I thank speakers on both sides of the chamber for contributing to the debate on the estimates for my own Department and also the Department of Industry and Commerce. At the outset I should like to take this opportunity- as I think it is an appropriate time for any Minister to take such an opportunity- to record my own personal appreciation of the work, the endeavour and the ability of the officers of my own Department in respect of the period that we have been associated since I became the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs in December last year. My Department was formed out of elements of 4 former departments. I have at all times received the greatest possible co-operation and assistance from officers of my Department. I quite unqualifiedly record my appreciation of the work that they have done.

In particular, I should like to record my appreciation of the considerable service, assistance and advice rendered to me by the former Secretary of my Department who has recently been promoted to the secretaryship of another department within the Government. In my short acquaintance with Mr Carmody I found him to be a public servant of the highest order, a person who gave frank and fearless advice and a person who certainly in my experience served the Government extremely well. I should also like to extend my gratitude beyond the Department proper to those persons within the 3 statutory commissions which lie within my responsibility, and in particular to the chairmen of those commissions, namely, Mr Bannerman, Mr McKinnon and His Honour Mr Justice Williams of the Prices Justification Tribunal.

A number of specific issues have been raised. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) is concerned about the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority. I can inform the honourable member that the Government has under consideration at present possible changes to the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority. The Government believes, as does the honourable member for Mallee, that if an emergency assistance procedure is to be effective the Authority must be capable of acting quickly in an emergency. For that reason and also for a number of other reasons the whole question of the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority is under review. The Government does not in any way retreat from the statement contained in its policy on manufacturing industry and industrial development to the effect that we would maintain effective temporary procedures.

The honourable member for Evans (Mr Abel) is concerned, as I think all honourable members are, about the drug problem in Australia. It will be no surprise to the Committee for me to say that the Government has under consideration at present certain recommendations about making a significant increase in the penalties for trafficking in what are commonly called the hard drugs. I expect that the Government will be in a position to announce a decision on this matter soon. It is a matter of pleasure to note that at the meeting in Melbourne last Friday of a variety of State and Commonwealth Ministers from both sides of politics there was almost total unanimity of opinion regarding this problem. There was certainly no difference of opinion on Party lines. There was a total desire on the part of the State governments, both Labor and non-Labor, to cooperate as best they thought fit in introducing more effective legislation concerning this problem. Although my acquaintance with CommonwealthState ministerial meetings is extremely limited, I must say that I found this meeting, ohe of my early experiences in this area, a very welcome exercise in co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States and between governments of different persuasions to overcome what is to all of us an acknowledged social evil.

The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) referred to the recommendation of the Trade Practices Review Committee to abolish section 49 of the Trade Practices Act which deals with price discrimination. Section 49 of the Trade Practices Act is a very difficult issue. The section is regarded by many people as being one of the bulwarks in the Act so far as small business is concerned. Its sister provision in the United States anti-trust legislation, namely the Robinson Patman Act, is certainly regarded in the United States as being one of the important legislative protections for small business. But unfortunately the experience in both the United States and Australia has been that so far from these provisions necessarily acting to protect small business in the way that many people thought they should, certainly there is some evidence to suggest that on occasions they have acted contrary to the interests of small business.

The Government has not made any decisions on that recommendation or on any other recommendation on the Swanson committee of review into the Trade Practices Act. It is my hope that some recommendations will be before the Government very shortly and that some legislation flowing out of those recommendations will be introduced into this chamber during the current session. I can assure the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith that the argument that he put in respect of section 49 of the Trade Practices Act will be carefully considered. It was a fairly courageous recommendation of the committee that that section be abolished. I think there was a lot of merit in the argument that the committee put. Certainly the matter has not been the subject of a final decision.

The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith also is concerned about the operation of the Bankruptcy Act. I think he will recall that earlier this year at my request the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) referred to the Law Reform Commission a consideration of those provisions of the Bankruptcy Act which might be thought to operate unduly harshly on consumer debtors. It is hoped that out of that reference to the Law

Reform Commission a more effective and sensitive Bankruptcy Act, particularly so far as small consumer debtors are concerned, will emerge. Quite apart from that, there is a general study of the operation of the Bankruptcy Act going on at present, and I think it is fair to say that a number of possible recommendations will emerge from that study. I agree with the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, without in any sense agreeing with the particular matters which he used as an example to express his concern about the Bankruptcy Act- I think it was perhaps unfortunate that he used those matters- that legislation of this nature ought to be kept under very regular review.

The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) raised the question of off-shore manufacturing. It is an unfortunate fact of economic life in Australia that because of competitive cost disadvantage, Australian industry is increasingly going off-shore. We would be absolutely blinkered if we did not recognise that this is happening because of the cost escalation that has occurred so far as operating industries in Australia are concerned. That is a simple, undeniable fact. For anybody to suggest that the Government should intervene to prevent companies from going off-shore is to miss the point completely. The reason why companies in Australia are going off-shore is that we are becoming increasingly uncompetitive. I know that the honourable member for Burke will not appreciate my raising this point again, but nonetheless I will do so: The reason why Australian manufacturing industry became so uncompetitive in those critical years of 1973 and 1974 was because of the colossal wage escalation that occurred during that period. It is a matter of statistical fact, it is a matter of record, that they were the contributing factors to the uncompetitiveness of Australian manufacturing industry.

I thought that the conciliatory note struck by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) was extremely helpful to the debate. I share with him the very strong view that Australia needs a lasting and viable manufacturing sector. Those who believe that this country can live on imports so far as manufactured products are concerned are being very unrealistic. I think all of us ought to recognise that we need very much in Australia a strong and viable manufacturing industry, and that there needs to be co-operation between unions, government and management in working out policies for manufacturing industry.

I wish that I had a bit more time available to reply to some of the other points that have been made. I should like to thank those honourable members, including the honourable member for Burke, who have contributed to the debate and to commend these estimates to the Committee.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Progress reported.

page 1596


Department of Construction- Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme- Industrial Dispute-New South Wales Duty Solicitor Scheme-New South Wales ByelectionSecond International Airport for Sydney


-It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 18 February 1976 1 propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I want to raise briefly a matter which affects a small number of Government employees in my electorate. For some years a small section of the Department of Construction has been operating from the Avalon airfield area. For a time it carried out maintenance work on the buildings at that airfield and on other Commonwealth installations in the Geelong region. The work load in that area has dropped, as has the number of employees involved. It is now an extremely small unit. During the past 12 months almost no maintenance work has been done in the Avalon airfield area. One other thing which took place over the last couple of years was that by some clever bookkeeping in relation to which such things as travelling time were not counted, the Department of Transport was able to claim that it could do its own maintenance cheaper than could the Department of Construction. It was clever bookkeeping. It was like a lot of the bookkeeping we see on the cost of some trips and so on. Some of the costs were just left out in the actual accounting.

About 9 people are now employed there. If the work is done by the people who are employed to do it, there is more than adequate work for those employees. I understand that they are to be relocated at Laverton. They are to operate on a travelling basis doing such work as is required in the Geelong area. This is not a terribly satisfactory arrangement. As I have said, practically no maintenance work has been done in that area. I ask the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) to look into this matter. I do not know whether a complete close down is contemplated. I raised the matter some considerable time ago- prior to the change of Government- when it was suggested that the unit would close down. I think there is adequate work for a section of the Department of Construction in the Geelong area. This is certainly the case if the work which has to be done is done by the people on the spot in the Department of Construction rather than being done under a sleight of hand bookkeeping system. I think that is all we can call the methods by which some accounting is done within departments in order to show a lower cost figure than in fact occurs. Under normal circumstances there is sufficient work and justification for the maintenance of the unit.

I raise one other matter while the Minister is in the House. Some weeks ago I asked him a question relating to certain contracts for the supply of carpet. He undertook at that stage to give me a written reply. He acknowledged my question in his written reply, but at this stage I have not received any information on who received the contracts and whether they went eventually to an Australian or a New Zealand firm. If the contract was given to a firm outside Australia, I also seek information from the Minister regarding the differential between the Australian price and the overseas price in the tenders. I understand that it was in fractions of a cent.

Mr McLeay:

– I wrote to you yesterday.


– Many people wrote to me yesterday but the mailman has not yet arrived. This is a matter of some concern. I note that the Government has made a statement of policy on obtaining goods within Australia. Some clarity of that would be appreciated by the House. I do not think that is within the area of the Minister’s responsibility, but I do ask him to consider the first matter I have raised. He has told me that he has written to me regarding the second matter. I look forward to receiving his reply.


– I congratulate the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick)- indeed the entire Government- on the announcements which have been made today in relation to the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances and tertiary allowances generally. I believe that today the Government has been vindicated against extremist critics who have contended without any justification whatsoever that it did not have a commitment either to education or to students attending tertiary institutions. At the present moment there are 84 000 recipients of Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme allowances. In 1977 there will be an estimated 91 000 recipients of the TEAS allowances.

In 1956 when I started at the University of Tasmania 100 Commonwealth scholarships were allocated in each State in Australia and if one did not obtain a scholarship one’s opportunities of going to university were extremely limited. Of course, those who did not hold scholarships had to pay fees. I have stated publicly and I pay tribute to the fact that it was the previous Government which abolished tertiary fees. I am delighted that the present Administration has now decided not to reintroduce university fees. Accordingly, I want to take a little time to consider what has happened in the field of tertiary education over the last few years including the period of the previous Administration. The Government has today genuinely indicated its commitment to many students in this country whose future from an educational point of view was in doubt.

The increases which were announced today exceed those recommended by the Williams report, a report which was commissioned by the previous Administration and which was tabled in 1975. Because of the economic situation last year the previous Administration was not able to offer any increase in TEAS allowances. Therefore, students have been living on 1974 allowances, which were clearly inadequate having regard to the economic situation and the inflation which has occurred in the intervening period. Today increases of the order of 40 per cent in one field, 33 W per cent in another and 25 per cent in yet another have been announced. The tertiary allowances have now reached the stage where they are, in fact, only marginally below the age pension. I say for the record that I have said at the University of Tasmania and in other places that I would never support a situation in which student allowances exceeded the age pension because, quite frankly, that would run contrary to my beliefs and, I believe, the beliefs of any responsible government.

We have now reached a situation where the Government has demonstrated a general commitment. Those who inspired the strike last week, those who suggested that Senator Carrick was not concerned about them and those who considered that the Government had no commitment to education have finished up with egg on their faces.


-Order! There is too much audible conversation coming from 2 sources, that is, 4 people. I ask the 4 people concerned to moderate their conversations.


– I did not have an opportunity previously but I ask whoever is in charge of the Opposition for the time being whether I might have leave to incorporate in Hansard the new rates of allowances which are in fact contained in Senator Carrick ‘s statement. It will save me a little time if I do not have to go through them.

Mr Young:

– They are already in Hansard.


– I would like to incorporate them in Hansard in the context of these remarks.


-Is leave granted?

Mr Young:

– No.


-Leave is not granted.


– The honourable member for Port Adelaide has demonstrated once again how crass and ignorant he can be. It would have been very helpful to the students of Australia if I were able to give them a little speech, a small section of Hansard, setting out the increased allowances. Therefore I will endeavour to read as fast as I can the increases which have been announced today. However, my time has elapsed. Honourable members opposite have achieved their purpose and I hope they are satisfied.


-Earlier today in the chamber I asked the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) to table a document under standing order 321. At that time he was answering a question, asked by the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Thomson), relating to the dispute between Connair Pty Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. At the time I was not certain of what the document contained but I thought it would give me useful information to discover the background to this dispute. However when the document was tabled I found that it read as follows:

Can the Minister indicate to the House the present position in regard to the dispute between Connair and the Air Pilots Federation which has resulted in a ban on airline services to Alice Springs, and the crippling of that town by the Air Pilots Association?

Will the Minister assure the House that the Government will do everything within its power to ensure essential airline operations are maintained in the Territory?

What has been the effect of the ban imposed by the air pilots-


-Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide and the honourable member for Prospect are conducting a conversation at a distance. If they wish to pursue the conversation will they please come closer together and conduct it more quietly


– Thank you for your intervention, Mr Speaker. This document continued:

What has been the effect of the ban imposed by the airpilots on the operations of Connair?

The question asked by the honourable member for Leichhardt was identical with what I have just read to the chamber, with the exception of 5 words which did not change the sense of the question set out in this paper which was tabled. The words which followed, set out on that piece of paper, read as follows:

Australian Federated Air Pilots claim before Justice Coldham, Flight Crew Officers Tribunal-

I cannot read the next word-

Referred Full Bench. Considered by Full Benchrejected . . . Coldham Stanton. Justice Coldham called compulsory conference. Told pilots mischievous, illegitimate and monstrous exercise in industrial power, should lift ban preserve image. I agree. Connair 40 years in Centre. Fact is stoppage destroy Connair. Capt. Southwell of Federation said Sunday rather Connair went wall rather than go back to work.

Mr Shipton:

– Would you like my glasses.


– The notes were written by the honourable member’s Minister and I am trying to read them to him. I wish he would be patient. The notes continue:

Not prepared accept umpire’s decision. Irresponsible decision by Executive/own greed/destroy jobs. Proposing reimpose ban Alice- extend Darwin/national strike.

Standing order 151-

Mr Hodgman:

– They ought to put you on the -


– They ought to put the honourable member for Denison in a zoo. He would be an addition to it. Standing order 1 5 1 states :

Questions may be asked without notice. At the discretion of the Speaker supplementary questions may be asked to elucidate an answer.

Although the Standing Orders do not prescribe that questions without notice should be without notice, it is obvious from the document tabled earlier today by the Minister that he needs a little bit of help from time to time and that honourable members on the Government side of the House cannot ask a question unless somebody types it out for them. That is a reflection of their numbers and their arrogance. Their arrogance was reflected also in their behaviour this evening. Standing order 151 says only that questions may be asked without notice, but I am told that there is this practice of preparing questions on pieces of paper. Although it is not always judicious, advisable or discreet to write the answer on the same piece of paper, it is a time-honoured ploy which has been utilised over the years. I think in all fairness that the Minister’s gallant effort on this date should be put on record, as well as that of honourable members on the Government side, -particularly National Country Party members,: because this paper has written on it the name of Mr Calder. However, the question was asked by the honourable member for Leichhardt, so obviously at least 2 copies of it were circulating in the chamber. The Minister should be congratulated for the assistance he gives his National Country Party colleagues by typing up their questions for them. It is a pity that the Minister does not utilise the same conciliatory attitude towards the people involved in this dispute. I wish he would leave aside his blunderbuss approach to industrial relations and use a little bit of goodwill and conciliation to try to get the dispute settled and so ensure that the people of the Northern Territory will continue to have the air services which are essential for them.

St George

– I rise to express grave concern at 2 actions of the New South Wales Government. The first is its attempt to get rid of the duty solicitor scheme conducted by the New South Wales Law Society. This scheme has resulted in a very large roster of private solicitors taking their turn in helping persons in custody in the courts. The citizens involved and the lawyers participating in the scheme have praised it and magistrates have praised it. It has obtained a reputation for a high standard of representation and assistance in the administration of justice in the people’s courts. At present 12 courts are serviced and it has been the hope of the Law Society that the remaining courts in Sydney, about 22 suburban and near country courts, should receive additional assistance.

Recently the New South Wales Premier- this matter was referred to in the House today by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott)- said something about this scheme that was not true, as the Attorney-General told the House. The Premier said that grants to the States for assistance for this scheme were expected to stop. As far as I can ascertain there has been no mention of this by any Federal Minister or Government official and the Attorney-General has said that the statement is not true.

Apparently the New South Wales Government is seeking to institute a fully salaried scheme. In effect it wants to get rid of the scheme which has been instituted and which allows a degree of freedom of choice. Although it is a duty solicitor scheme it is a first step towards enabling a person later to have freedom of choice in his legal assistance. It enables the private profession to co-operate with the authorities in providing legal aid.

What the New South Wales Government wants to do is not only to transfer everything to a salaried scheme but also to blame the Federal Government for it. This release by the New South Wales Premier obviously was part of a planned program, a plan which some other Labor governments are trying to adopt, of saying to the people that the Federal Government is to blame for half the ills around the State, that the Federal Government is not giving the States money. The States forget the increase of approximately 20.6 per cent in general purpose funds to New South Wales this year. They forget that they have almost perfectly balanced thenbudgets and are currying favour with the electorate because of that fact. What the New South Wales Government is saying is: ‘Well, the Federal Government has made cutbacks’. This is wrong; it is not true. That Government is saying, in effect, that the Federal Government is trying to close down the duty solicitor scheme. It is trying to turn around and say that the Federal Government has done this, that it is the Federal Government’s fault. Then the State Government is going to put the money into a salaried scheme. There is a fundamental objection to the salaried scheme.

Dr Klugman:

– The practitioners do not make as much money out of it.


– It will provide very healthy salaries for many members of the profession who want to transfer to it. However it militates against the established scheme of Crown assignments in which many people assisted for many years. I helped persons involved in those cases for nothing or for a miniscule fee. When I did Aboriginal Legal Service work there were only about 12 or 15 barristers or solicitors who did that work regularly. When one of the schemes instituted by the former Labor Government came into operation everyone jumped into itabout 200-odd.

Mr Yates:

-Why did they do that?


– They wanted to participate in the fee, not in the service. That resulted in some inexperienced persons coming up on the list more regularly than the more experienced people and there was a reduction, for a period, in the expertise involved in giving legal assistance. The State, as a general rule, should not provide both prosecutor and defender. The seed that we sow today in our democratic society will bear fruit tomorrow in whatever society we may then have. If democracy is whittled away the door will be open for the manipulation of criminal proceedings by the bureaucracy whose regard for the rights of the individual and the rule of law may, by the mere development of that bureaucratic system, end up being less than that which we have today. This is part of the federalism fraud being perpetrated by the State Labor Government to try to turn responsibility away from itself and to try to turn the blame for its own problems on the Federal Government. This fraud is being exposed daily. This has happened with the Australian Assistance Plan and with legal aid. The Australian Labor Party Government even cut down completely on money available for aged persons homes last year. We instituted a full $225m program and honourable members opposite say that that is a cutback. It is a $22Sm increase.


– I rise tonight to congratulate the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) for his frankness. It was quite surprising frankness from a Government supporter. At the weekend he represented the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman) at a seminar which was sponsored by Civic Constructions Pty Ltd. A Press report of his speech states:

He said the N.S.W. Government could help the situation by removing the 1 Vi per cent mortgage tax imposed on all interest rates above 14 percent.

He said later he was criticising members of his own party because the tax was introduced by the Liberal-Country Party coalition in NSW, which was the only State to have had such a tax.

I congratulate the honourable member for being so frank about the matter. I am quite sure that our candidate for The Hills electorate, Mr Gibson, will be delighted. This seminar was actually held in The Hills electorate where a State by-election is to be conducted on Saturday. The honourable member made this statement in that electorate. Of course, I am quite sure that Councillor Caterson, the Liberal Party candidate for The Hills by-election, will be rather upset about the matter. I cannot really blame him because, after all, he is representing the very party, that is the State Liberal Party, which introduced this tax. He is asking the people of The Hills to give him a vote of confidence and also the discredited party which he represents, the Liberal Party in New South Wales.

While I am on my feet I shall also touch on a decision of the Federal Government which affects the Hills electorate. The decision is to refer to a Federal-State committee the consideration of 4 sites for the second international airport. These sites are: Kemps Creek, I think it is called, which is near Badgerys Creek or Bringelly, Nelson which is right dead flat, slap on the border of The Hills electorate, Marsden Park which is also very close, and Holsworthy. I am sorry for the honourable member because I do not think the Government is being very fair to him. The situation is that two of the 4 sites are virtually in the Mitchell electorate. I am very concerned because all 4 sites are out in the western suburbs of Sydney. The people of the western suburbs of Sydney are not the people who use the planes. As a matter of fact, I think about 40 per cent of the passengers come from the northern suburbs of Sydney.

Dr Klugman:

– -Caterson is the executive officer for the Air Pilots Federation.


– I agree. Councillor Caterson, I think, is secretary of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, or something of that nature. He might have something to do with this matter himself. He is very closely associated with the aircraft industry. What I object to is that for some reason or other this Government seems intent on putting the second international airport out in the western suburbs of Sydney amongst the working class people. It does not want it anywhere in the northern suburbs. It wants to make sure it does not go in that area and it has referred this matter to a Federal-State committee which it has set up to give consideration to which of those 4 sites should be selected. I point out to the people in The Hills electorate who face an election on Saturday that they should be aware of what the Liberal Party Federal Government is doing in relation to this matter. They should voice their protest very firmly this coming Saturday. I remind the Government not to forget the protest which people voiced in relation to Galston. Now the Government proposes the second airport right, dead flat in the area around Rouse Hill, Maraylya, right on the border of The Hills electorate, as well as at Marsden Park. The rumour is that one of those 2 sites is likely to be selected for the second international airport. People of The Hills electorate should be aware of this and they should voice their protest this coming Saturday.


– I do not always look forward to the pleasure of being able to follow the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). Invariably, I have the opportunity to hear his rousing comments following my own. Tonight he has raised the spectre, I suppose in the prospect that he may be able to get some local Press coverage, concerning the rather ill-informed allegations which he has made, in the expectation that he may be able to assist a candidate to succeed my late father at a by-election which is to be held. I say, with all respect to him, that the efforts were quite undeserving of the sort of attention which he gave them. He omitted to mention that one of the options, as I understand it, is that the State Government in conjunction with the Federal Government is being asked to consider that the existing facilities at the existing airport be maintained and developed as they are. Of course, that is one of the options which must be considered in any examination of this question.

The honourable member neglected to say that when his Party was in office its effort was to nominate one site, not to discuss that with anybody and not to consider the environmental implications but simply to say to the district which the honourable member is now seeking to defend: ‘You shall have it’. I recall the words of his Leader, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) at Castle Hill when he was visiting the district. He stated: ‘You will get Galston’.

Mr Armitage:

-Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I recall quite clearly that the decision of the Government then was not to give but to investigate -


-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.


-One can understand the concern of the honourable member that one might raise these matters because they are well recalled. In this district, in my district and even in the community of the honourable member- he knows this from the extent of the swing against him at recent elections- the feeling of the people was that they were not prepared to take that sort of treatment without consideration of all the implications and without discussions with the State Government which is required to consider all the ramifications which must be associated with any airport development in any area. Of course, a State government must be involved and must be asked whether it can provide roadworks and associated facilities and be involved in the planning. When the Labor Party was in office it was not prepared to consult the State Government on these matters which I think were of the utmost importance and which were deserving of discussion with the State Government. The honourable member ignores all these sorts of comments. Tonight he tries to put up a smokescreen in a poor attempt to support a candidate who has no prospect of success at the by-election which is to be held on Saturday.

I speak with a great deal of confidence when I say to the House that the Liberal Party candidate, Fred Caterson, is certainly a highly regarded and excellent candidate. He is a hardworking man and will achieve undoubted success at the by-election. I know that he will be a worthy successor to my father. Having regard to the longstanding association that he and my late father had I know that he will serve that district and give it the same sort of service that it had over the 14 years that my father represented it in the State Parliament. On matters which affect that district Fred Caterson will be as outspoken as are the honourable member for Mitchell and myself when we defend our areas. It will be quite the converse of the attitude adopted by the honourable member for Chifley when his Party was in government.


-Order! The time being 11 p.m. the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 1602


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Industries Assistance Commission (Question No. 913)

Mr Lloyd:

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

Will he provide the following information for every Industry Assistance Commission reference made since the establishment of the Commission: (a) the date of reference, (b) the date of the first hearing, (c) the date of the Commission’s report to the Government, (d) the date of Government action on the report, (e) the number of Commissioners on the particular hearing, (f) the estimated cost of the hearing to the Government, and (g) the private groups at the hearing (where known).

Mr Howard:

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

  1. to (e) The requested information is set out in the table below.
  2. It is not possible to accurately estimate the cost to the Government of past public hearings. A system introduced by the Commission on 1 July 1 976 will allow public hearings to be costed in future.
  3. The private groups attending IAC hearings are listed in the Appendices of the individual inquiry report. The cost of the hearings to private groups is not known.

Payments to States (Question No. 1024)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. How much of the amount of $2 15.6m mentioned in line 1 8, page 48, of 1 976-77 Budget Paper No. 7 was paid to each of the States.
  2. What are the full circumstances which led up to the payment of this amount in 1 975-76 in place of 1 976-77.
  3. ) Did any of the States request this prior payment; if so, on what grounds.
Mr Lynch:

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


  1. and (3) The possibility of making payments in advance to the States of the full amounts estimated to be payable in respect of the period up to 30 September 1976 was raised at the Premiers’ Conference on 10 June 1976. The Commonwealth undertook to give it sympathetic consideration. After further discussions with the States it was decided to accelerate the full payment. Although the payments in advance represented a departure from normal arrangements for the payment of financial assistance to the States, they were made as a special measure of help to the States in the light of the total situation in regard to the Medibank arrangements.

International Civil Aviation Organisation Conventions (Question No. 1028)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

Which International Civil Aviation Organisation conventions still await ratification by Australia?

Mr Nixon:

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

Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft opened for signature at Geneva on 1 9 June 1 948.

International Maritime Consultative Organisation Conventions (Question No. 1029)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

Which International Maritime Consultative Organisation conventions still await ratification by Australia.

Mr Nixon:

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

Those Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation conventions to which Australia is not yet a Contracting State are:

a ) Conventions in force internationally

Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965

International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties, 1969

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969

Special Trade Passenger Ships Agreement, 1 97 1

Convention Relating to Civil Liability in the Field of Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Material, 1971

Conventions not yet in force internationally

International Convention on Tonnage Measurement on Ships, 1969

International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971

Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972

International Convention for Safe Containers, 1 972

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1 973

International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974

Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and Their Luggage by Sea, 1974

A detailed statement of the position so far as all IMCO and other maritime conventions, protocols and amendments to conventions is contained in an appendix to Australian Transport, the report I present to Parliament annually on the working and administration of the Department of Transport.

Assistance to Fishermen (Question No. 1041)

Mr Jull:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What Federal assistance is available to professional fishermen in acquiring new boats for use in Australian waters.
  2. How many new fishing boats went into service in each of the years 1974-75 and 1975-76.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) Fishing vessels of 150 gross construction tons or more or 2 1 metres or more at the water line, are eligible for a shipbuilding subsidy of 25 percent.

Fishermen are treated as primary producers for taxation purposes and are eligible for most of the concessions available to primary producers under income tax regulations. The new investment allowance recently introduced by the Government is also generally available to commercial fishermen. The allowance is restricted to eligible plant (including new fishing vessels) ordered or the construction of which commenced on or after 1 January 1 976. Plant ordered, or the construction of which commenced before 1 July 1978 will qualify for a 40 per cent allowance provided the plant is first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 1979. Plant ordered, or the construction of which commenced before 1 July 1 978, or on or after that date and before 1 July 1 983 will qualify for a 20 per cent investment allowance where it is first used or installed ready for use in the period 1 July 1979 to 30 June 1984, subject to the basic requirements for deductibility.

The funds administered by my department are not available to assist individual fishermen. These funds are reserved for research, education and extension and development projects having broad application to the fishing industry.

  1. No official statistics are available on new fishing boat construction.

Hospital and Health Services Commission (Question No. 1046)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Does the Hospital and Health Services Commission issue statements indicating that certain community health programs will receive money during 1 976-77 and is it unable to substantiate these claims.
  2. If so, is this because block grants are made to the States and actual funding depends on the individual States budget.
  3. If the position is as stated, will he take steps to prevent these misleading statements or undertake to institute direct Federal funding.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

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

  1. 1) It is assumed that the ‘statements’ referred to in the honourable member’s question are letters which the Chairman of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission forwarded to honourable members in August 1976, advising them of Community Health Program projects in their electorates which have been approved for Commonwealth purposes in respect of 1976-77.

These letters included advice that allocations of funds under the Program in 1976-77 were for the continuation of approved projects; that the allocations had been made in the form of a single block grant to each State; and that decisions on the level of funding of individual projects were to be made by the State health authorities. These letters involved no unsubstantiated claims.

  1. As indicated in a reply to ( 1 ) above, Commonwealth funding under the Community Health Program in 1976-77 has been in the form of a block grant to each State, and the allocation of funds to individual projects from within the block grant is a matter for detailed decision by the State health authorities. This is an expression of the appropriate balance between Commonwealth involvement in broad policy issues and priorities, and the need for the States to have greater flexibility in terms of their responsibility for the administration or supervision of health services in the States. Joint discussions and agreements between Commonwealth and State authorities will precede final decisions on the block grants and later allocations to individual projects. Subsequent joint reviews will be undertaken with a view to ensuring that annual programs retain their agreed characteristics.
  2. 3 ) The position is not as stated.

Community Health Projects (Question No. 1048)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Why will future Commonwealth financial assistance for community health projects take the form of annual block grants for State programs as a whole.
  2. Does this mean that the Federal Government will play no direct role in funding these projects.
  3. Will this mean duplication of work by State Departments of Federal initiatives; if so, why.
  4. Does the Government see a role for the Federal administration in these matters; if not, why not.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. The Commonwealth’s offer of Community Health Program annual block grants to each State for the State’s total program of community health projects is based upon the Government’s federalism policies. The block grants arrangements are seen as providing an appropriate balance between the need for Commonwealth involvement in broad policy issues and evaluations, and the need for the States to have greater flexibility in terms of their responsibilities for the administration or supervision of health services within the States.
  2. The bases on which block grants have been offered to the States under the Community Health Program are that the Commonwealth will continue to have roles in relation to- broad policies and strategies for the Program; agreement with each State on the inclusion of individual projects in the State’s annual program, and on priorities within the annual program; and joint Commonwealth/State evaluations and progress reporting activities.
  3. No. The respective roles of the Commonwealth and the States are seen as complementary.
  4. Please see reply to (2) above.

Northern Territory Aborigines: Weekly Income (Question No. 1049)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to figures released by the National Aboriginal Congress, which state that the average weekly income for Northern Territory Aborigines is between $6 to $8.
  2. ) If so, are these figures correct.
  3. 3 ) Do only 1 0 per cent of Aborigines living outside towns have regular access to clean water and lavatories.
  4. Do 90 per cent of Northern Territory Aborigines live in sub-standard houses.
  5. Are50 per cent of employable Aboriginal men unemployed in the Northern Territory.
  6. Do 40 per cent of Aboriginal children not attend school.
Mr Viner:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)- (6) I have seen a press report indicating that the National Aboriginal Congress has produced figures such as those mentioned in the question. I am not aware of the basis on which the figures have been calculated.

Examinations of Bankrupts (Question No. 1061)

Mr Jacobi:

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

Are delays occurring in public examinations of bankrupts in the Bankruptcy District of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory due to lack of staff and the staff ceiling imposed this year and have delays of up to 6 months occurred during 1 976.

Mr Howard:

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

While the Bankruptcy Act provides for each bankrupt to be examined on oath as to his conduct, trade dealings; property and affairs at a time appointed by the Registrar in Bankruptcy that is no statutory requirement as to the time in which a public examination must be held.

The examination is conditional upon an investigation by the Official Receiver and report to the Registrar on the bankruptcy. That report is required to be lodged within 60 days of the bankruptcy or within such extended time as the Registrar may allow.

Even in the ideal situation it is unlikely, having regard to the numbers of bankruptcies that a public examination could be held earlier than two months after bankruptcy. In practice a longer period invariably elapses and at the present time the average time in New South Wales between date of bankruptcy and date of public examination is about six months.

The problem of delays in the hearing of public examinations is recognised and steps are being taken to overcome the problem.

Research into Diabetes (Question No. 1070)

Mr Fry:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

What financial assistance has been provided or is proposed by the Federal Government to organisations or individuals engaged in research to combat or alleviate diabetes.

Mr Hunt:

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

The Federal Government has supported a large number of research projects in diabetes through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Details of these are given in the NH&MRC’s reports on the work done under the Medical Research Endowment Act published in the session reports of the NH&MRC. The most recent report was 81st Session Report, October 1975 which is available in the Parliamentary Library.

At present the Council supports the following 9 projects at a total cost of $95,000.

University of Sydney, Assoc Prof. J. R. Turtle- ‘The pathophysiology of insulin secretion in diabetes mellitus’

University of Melbourne, Drs F. Alford and D. Chisholm- ‘Glucagon and glucagon-related peptides in normal glucose homeostatis and in the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus’

Dr R. G. Larkins ‘In vitro insulin synthesis and secretion in normal, “prediabetic” and obese hyperglycaemic mice’

Monash University, Prof. J. Bornstein- ‘Pituitary polypeptides and metabolic control in diabetes mellitus’

Drs M. K. Gould, I. C. Parsons, Prof. J. Bomstein-‘The mechanism of the insulin-antagonistic action of growth hormone: a unified hypothesis’

Alfred Hospital (Vic), Dr P. Zimmet- ‘A prevalence survey of diabetes mellitus on a Pacific island (Noumea) and an epidemiological study of vascular disease in Australian and Noumean diabetics’

Prince Henry’s Hospital (Vic), Dr D. P. CameronStudies of insulin secretion in rodents with spontaneous or acquired diabetes and/or obesity’

University of Adelaide, Prof. M. N. Berry- ‘Hepatic regulatory mechanisms in relation to diabetes’

Royal Perth Hospital, Dr R. E. Davis, Prof. D. H. Curnow- ‘ Investigation of pyridoxal metabolism in diabetes’

In addition the Council supports Dr D. K-S. Yue at Sydney University, who is expected to complete his Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Immunopathology of Insulin ‘ by the end of 1 976.

The Council is in the process of evaluating grant applications for support in 1 977 and it is not yet known how many projects dealing with diabetes will be successful.

Prices Justification Tribunal (Question No. 1074)

Mr Morris:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

When does the Government propose to implement its election promise to abolish the Prices Justification Tribunal.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

The Government has had discussions with union, employer and consumer representatives about future operations of the Prices Justification Tribunal and has given close consideration to the views expressed. The results of the Government’s deliberations are reflected in the statement tabled in the Parliament on 16 September 1976 by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs entitled ‘Future of Prices Justification Tribunal’ (Hansard, page 1118).

Air America: Visits to Australian Airports (Question No. 1076)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Were any visits made to Australian airports by aircraft of the airline Air America during each of the years from 1 960 to 1972.
  2. Ifso-

    1. on what dates and at what airports did the aircraft land, and
    2. b) what was the purpose of each of the visits.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) There is no record in the Department of Transport of Air America having performed any commercial nonscheduled flights to Australia during the period 1960 to 1972.
  2. If the airline had carried out any non-commercial nonscheduled flights between 1960 and 1972, details would not now be available since the records of such flights which are kept by the Department of Transport, the air traffic control strips are destroyed after three months and detailed financial records, i.e. the receipts for Air Navigation Charges, are discarded after two years.

Accordingly I regret I am unable to supply the precise information the honourable member has requested.

Drought Aid Schemes (Question No. 1088)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to the generous farmer drought aid schemes now in operation or proposed in several European countries.
  2. If so, is the Commonwealth Government considering an interest subsidy scheme similar to that of West Germany where the Federal Government will provide an interest rate subsidy grant to all farmers whose income has been reduced by 30 per cent or more because of the drought; if not, why not.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) I am aware that several Western European countries are considering or have introduced a number of relief measures to help farmers cope with drought. In many ways these are similar to those provided to farmers in the droughtaffected areas of Australia and include transport subsidies on water and fodder, credit aids, and interest subsidies.
  2. As I understand it interest subsidies introduced in the Federal Republic of Germany are of two kinds, the first being a subsidy on interest payable on outstanding loans to farmers subject to an income test and the second the subsidisation of interest on loans for carry on purposes. Interest subsidies of the first type are not under consideration by the Commonwealth Government but the Commonwealth has accepted, as eligible for the purposes of natural disaster relief made available in the drought affected States, carry on loans at concessional interest rates with a repayment holiday of up to two years to farmers who are unable to obtain credit from other sources.

The initiation and administration of drought relief measures are the responsibility of individual State Governments. In the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, all of which are currently drought affected, a series of relief measures have been introduced by the State Governments. The measures vary from State to State but include freight rebates on the transport of fodder, water and livestock, the provision of loans at concessional rates, compensation payments to farmers for the slaughter of helpless and unsaleable cattle and grants to State and Local Government Authorities for the slaughter and disposal of drought affected stock.

The Commonwealth Government has advised the State Governments that it is prepared to accept these measures as being eligible for Commonwealth assistance under the normal terms and conditions associated with natural disasters relief and that it will give prompt and sympathetic consideration to any further proposals put forward by the States.

Department of Transport: Additional Staff Position (Question No. 1092)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the classification and salary entitlement of the additional position provided for in the 1976-77 estimates of executive employment in his Department as shown on page 1 65 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. When will the additional position be filled.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers. The variation shown between the average staff employed in the executive of the Department for 1975-76 and the estimated staff for 1976-77 arose from several staff movements which occurred among the 26 executive positions during 1975-76. These movements resulted in a net average employment over the twelve months of 25 against an establishment of 26. Currently all these positions are filled.

It is estimated that the average staffing level of 26 will be achieved in 1976-77.

Bureau of Transport Economics (Question No. 1093)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the reasons for the reduction of 10 positions in the Bureau of Transport Economics during 1976-77 as shown on page 1 65 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. What is the classification and salary of each of the positions to be abolished.
  3. 3 ) When is the planned reduction in staffing to take place.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers.

In respect of the Management Services Division, Bureau of Transport Economics, Civil Aviation Operations Division and Finance and Commercial Division, the statistics showed reductions estimated in the average staff to be employed throughout 1976-77. The estimates have been made taking into account the likely effects of non-replacement of wastage in respect of staff engaged on non-essential tasks. In order to ensure that only essential positions are restaffed throughout 1976-77 each position is being carefully reviewed prior to any decision being taken on filling the vacancy. By means of this review process it is intended that staff numbers will be controlled to the levels required.

Department of Transport: Finance and Commercial Division (Question No. 1094)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. What are the reasons for the reduction of one position in the Finance and Commercial Division of his Department during 1976-77 as shown on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. What is the classification and salary of that position and when will it be abolished.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1) and (2) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1 976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers.

In respect of the Management Services Division, Bureau of Transport Economics, Civil Aviation Operations Division and Finance and Commercial Division, the statistics showed reductions estimated in the average staff to be employed throughout 1976-77. The estimates have been made taking into account the likely effects of non-replacement of wastage in respect of staff engaged on non-essential tasks. In order to ensure that only essential positions are restaffed throughout 1976-77 each position is being carefully reviewed prior to any decision being taken on filling the vacancy. By means of this review process it is intended that staff numbers will be controlled to the levels required.

Department of Transport: Management Services Division (Question No. 1095)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the reasons for the reduction of 97 positions in the staffing of the Management Services Division of his Department during 1976-77 as shown on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. ) What is the classification and salary of each of the positions to be abolished.
  3. When will the proposed reduction in staffing take place.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers.

In respect of the Management Services Division, Bureau of Transport Economics, Civil Aviation Operations Divisions and Finance and Commercial Division, the statistics showed reductions estimated in the average staff to be employed throughout 1976-77. The estimates have been made taking into account the likely effects of non-replacement of wastage in respect of staff engaged on non-essential tasks. In order to ensure that only essential positions are restaffed throughout 1976-77 each position is being carefully reviewed prior to any decision being taken on filling the vacancy. By means of this review process it is intended that staff numbers will be controlled to the level required.

Department of Transport: Civil Aviation Operations Division (Question No. 1096)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the reasons for the reduction in staffing of the Civil Aviation Operations Division of his Department by 340 positions during 1976-77 as shown on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. What is the classification and salary of each of the positions to be abolished.
  3. When will the proposed reduction in staffing take place.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers.

In respect of the Management Services Division, Bureau of Transport Economics, Civil Aviation Operations Division and Finance and Commercial Division, the statistics showed reductions estimated in the average staff to be employed throughout 1976-77. The estimates have been made taking into account the likely effects of non-replacement of wastage in respect of staff engaged on non-essential tasks. In order to ensure that only essential positions are restaffed throughout 1976-77 each position is being carefully reviewed prior to any decision being taken on filling the vacancy. By means of this review process it is intended that staff numbers will be controlled to the level required.

Department of Transport: Marine Operations Division (Question No. 1097)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Why is the staff of the Marine Operations Division of his Department to be increased by 34 officers during 1 976-77 as shown on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. What is the classification and salary of each of the additional positions.
  3. ) When will the additional positions be filled.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. As such they were based on average staffing levels and took into account the average number of staff for the previous financial year and past wastage rates.

The estimates therefore do not relate to positions but relate to average staff numbers.

In respect of the Marine Operations Division an increase of 34 in average employment was estimated. Some 24 of the 34 were forecast to meet additional staffing commitments brought about by upgraded relief requirements for departmental staff employed on coastal navigation aid vessels. The remaining average staff employment figure of 10 was estimated based on the need to increase staff in priority areas such as Marine Standards and Coastal Services.

Some of the additional staff are expected to be recruited to fill existing vacant positions while others will be required to staff new positions which have not as yet been identified.

Department of Transport: Policy and Planning Division (Question No. 1098)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What are the reasons for the estimated increase of 67 positions in the Policy and Planning Division of his Department during 1976-77 as shown on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4.
  2. What is the classification and salary of each of the additional positions.
  3. If the increase is to be effected by the transfer or amalgamation of personnel from other divisions or authorities, from what divisions or authorities is it expected the additional 67 officers will come.
  4. When is it planned that the increase in personnel will take place.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) to (4) The estimates contained on page 165 of Budget Paper No. 4 were related to forecast average employment for the financial year 1976-77. Therefore the estimates were made in relation to forecast average staffing levels and were not directly related to positions.

In respect of the Policy and Planning Division an increase of 67 in the average staffing level was estimated. Some 46 of the 67 was forecast to accommodate the transfer of staff from the Road Safety and Standards Authority to the Department of Transport. This transfer has now taken place and these staff are now held against the Department’s staff ceiling.

Additional increases in staff to be employed under this Division are expected as a result of the further development of the Strategic Planning and Resources Allocation activity within the Department. In this regard, the Public Service Board has recently agreed to the following15 positions being allocated to undertake these functions:

Increases in staff to fill these vacancies may come from within or without the Department. The positions have recently been advertised but until interviews and selections, the source of recruitment to the positions will not be known.

It is planned to staff these positions before the end of this financial year.

The balance of the 67 average staff to be employed in 1976-77 is expected to result from the filling of existing vacancies.

Aircraft Movements: Kingsford-Smith Airport (Question No. 1104)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. How many aircraft movements were recorded at Kingsford-Smith Airport in each of the years 1970 to 1975 and from 1 January 1 976 to 3 1 August 1 976.
  2. How many of these aircraft per year were:

    1. wide bodied passenger jets
    2. conventional passenger jets
    3. private jets
    4. passenger propeller planes
    5. private propeller planes and
    6. other types.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Statistics for total aircraft movements into and out of Kingsford-Smith Airport in each of the years 1 970- 1 975 and 1 January 1 976 to 3 1 August 1 976 are as follows:
  1. Detailed statistics in the form requested are not regularly collected but the following estimates compiled from several sources, are believed to be substantially accurate.

    1. Wide bodied jets (B747-DC10)
  1. Conventional jets (B727, DC9, DC8, B707, VC10)
  1. Private jets (non airline aircraft)

There are twelve of these aircraft at present registered in Australia and of these two now use Sydney as a base. No separate statistics are available for this class of aircraft prior to 1975.

  1. propeller driven passenger aircraft (F27, DC4, etc, used by airlines and various aircraft below 7500 Kgs allupweight used by Commuter Operators).
  1. Private propeller driven aircraft (includes all aircraft below 7500 Kgs all-up-weight used by private persons or charter companies).
  1. Other types (military, helicopters, airlines freight aircraft not covered in (a) to (e)).

Compensation to Sheep Producers (Question No. 1110)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Will the Government include slaughter compensation to sheep producers as well as local government in its drought arrangements with the States on a pro-rata basis with the States.
  2. Would $1.50 per head be the appropriate sum.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. ) and (2) The Commonwealth Government is prepared to consider any measures which State Governments propose for acceptance under the terms and conditions associated with the provision of natural disaster assistance to the States.

A committee of officials has been established by the Government to report on drought assistance measures additional to those already accepted. This Committee will examine the case for extension of the slaughter compensation measures for cattle to include sheep. So far only one State Government, namely, Western Australia, has proposed a compensation scheme for sheep.

Aboriginal Welfare: Misappropriation of Funds (Question No. 1111)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have allegations of misappropriation of funds allotted for Aboriginal welfare in Victoria been brought to his attention.
  2. Has his attention been drawn to reports in which a member of the Aboriginal Consultative Council is alleged to have stated publicly that a Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs used these funds for the provision of luxury office accommodation for himself and for the substantial up-grading of staff levels and accommodation of senior administrative staff of the State Department; if so, is there any substance to the allegations.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. No.
  2. No such reports have been drawn to my attention nor am I aware of any substance in the allegations referred to in the question.

Health Insurance Contributions (Question No. 1113)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has the Treasury given approval for the deduction of contributions to Medibank private health funds from the salaries of Commonwealth employees; if so, when.
  2. 2 ) Has similar approval been given in respect of contributions to the private health insurance funds; if so, when.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes; on 7 September 1 976.
  2. Deductions of contributions from the pay of Commonwealth employees to private hospital medical benefits funds have been permitted since 1941. These arrangements were confirmed on 1 3 June 1 975. No further approval was necessary in the light of recent developments.

Towra Point Land Acquisition (Question No. 895)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:

  1. Was the acquisition in 1975 of 2 19 hectares of land on Towra Point on Kumell Peninsula, New South Wales at a cost of $3,869,300 intended as part of a proposed total acquisition of 600 hectares to establish a national nature reserve.
  2. If so, when, and at what cost, will the subsequent acquisition be finalised.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)Yes.

  1. The New South Wales Government in 1975 initiated action in the High Court concerning the validity of the initial acquisition. No further action on the proposal to establish a national nature reserve at Towra Point is proposed pending the decision of the High Court.

Recreation Projects (Question No. 997)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What sum did the Australian Government pay during 1975- 76 for each recreation project and facility announced by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation on 1 7 December 1975 (Hansard28 May 1976, page 2692).
  2. What sum will the Australian Government pay for each of them during 1976-77.
  3. For what other recreational programs and facilities will the Australian Government make grants during 1976- 77.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) Under the program of Capital Assistance for Leisure Facilities the agreed procedures provide that State recreation departments make payments to project sponsors from bulk advances from the Commonwealth Government. The following advances were made during 1975-76 for the 17 December 1975 projects:

The advances were related to State expectations of claims to be received from project sponsors for re-imbursement of expenditure incurred by sponsors.

  1. ) On the assumption that all 1 7 December 1975 projects will be completed in 1976-77 the Budget provides funds to meet the value of the grants remaining after the advances referred to in ( 1 ). The State breakdown is:

In addition, the Budget provides $5,867,793 for projects announced prior to 1 7 December 1 975.

  1. The Budget provides funds to meet existing commitments for recreational programs and facilities. A decision on new grants in 1976-77 will be reached after examination of the report of the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health. That Task Force was announced by the Acting Prime Minister on 23 July 1976 and is under the Chairmanship of Mr P. H. Bailey.

Federalism: Local Government Finance (Question No. 1044)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has any indication been given to local government as to when payments for Federal financial aid will be made.
  2. As local government is required by statute to prepare its annual budget in the October-November period each year, will he consider making an annual payment now so as to facilitate proper economic planning by councils.
Mr Viner:

– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs has provided the following information in answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. and (2) The Government’s intention is that local government should receive the benefits of the Government’s revenue sharing reforms as early as possible in each financial year, and in a lump sum.

The Commonwealth will pay the full amount of both elements of the grant each year as soon as a State notifies the breakup between its local government bodies, following the report of its State Grants Commission.

For the financial year 1976-77, however, any payment must await the passing of the enabling legislation which will be introduced as soon as possible in the current Budget session.

Study of Man-made Tourist Attractions (Question No. 1068)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. 1 ) Has the study of man-made tourist attractions, outdoor museums and historic sites in Australia commissioned by the previous Government been completed.
  2. If so, will the Minister make a copy of the Report available to me.
  3. Is the report to be released and /or tabled; if not, why not.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes. The release of the report was announced on 22 August 1976. (2)I have arranged for a copy of the report to be made available to the honourable member.
  2. Copies of the report have been distributed to the appropriate State and Commonwealth Government Departments, the management of those attractions surveyed in the study and other interested parties. In addition, the report has been made available to all Federal members in whose electorates the surveyed attractions are located, as well as to other members who have expressed particular interest in the findings of the report.

World Food Conference (Question No. 1073)

Mr Martin:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What was the nature and extent in detail of Australia ‘s commitment at the World Food Conference held at Rome in 1974.
  2. To what extent and in what areas has Australia fulfilled the obligations it formally assumed at that Conference.
  3. Has Australia reneged on these undertakings.
  4. What action does the Australian Government propose to take on this question in the immediate future.
  5. As Australia is a leading cereals producer and could make a substantial contribution towards eliminating the injustices created and re-inforced in the world’s food distribution systems by the predominance of the profit motive, is it the intention of the Government to condone these injustices.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. Australia supported the adoption by the World Food Conference of twenty-two resolutions directed to governments and relevant international organisations. These resolutions covered many aspects of the food problem. They were concerned in broad terms with measures to increase food production in the developing countries; to improve world food security; to raise nutritional standards; and to enhance the reliability of supply and the suitability of food aid. Institutional arrangements for follow-up action were proposed in Resolution XXII and subsequently endorsed by the UN General Assembly. The official report of the Conference containing the resolutions is available in the Parliamentary library.

In response to an initiative by Canada designed to alleviate the critical food situation then existing in a number of developing countries, Australia undertook to match proportionately an undertaking by Canada to provide CAN$50m worth of additional aid. Australia’s undertaking was subsequently assessed at A$ 18.75m, taking account of the relative gross domestic products of the two countries and the current exchange rate. This aid was to be additional to the normal program.

  1. The resolutions mainly involved longer-term measures to improve the world food situation. Progress is being monitored by the 36-member World Food Council established in accordance with Resolution XXII. Australia, as a member, has been represented at both sessions of the Council- by the Minister for Agriculture in 1975 and the Minister for Primary Industry in 1976.

Resolution XIII called for the establishment of a new International Fund for Agricultural Development to finance agricultural projects primarily for food production in developing countries. Australia was one of the co-sponsors of this resolution and has participated actively in negotiations leading to the initialling of an Agreement to establish the Fund. Australia has pledged A$8m as an initial contribution; this will be reviewed at an appropriate time after the Fund becomes operational. It is hoped that the Fund will become operational early in 1977, but this is contingent on the resolution of certain problems related to the total level of pledges and the relative pledges of Category 1 (member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and Category 2 (member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

Resolutions XVI and XVII call respectively for the establishment by FAO of a Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture and for adherence by governments to the FAO International Undertaking on World Food Security. Australia participates in the former, has subscribed to the Undertaking and, in terms of Resolution XVII is active in negotiations relating to the grain trade and to stocking policies in the relevant international bodies.

Resolution XVIII covers food aid and includes a global target of 10 million tons of grain as food aid a year. While there is as yet no international agreement on the sharing of this commitment, a number of countries including Australia are already committed to regular annual contributions of food grains under the Food Aid Convention of the International Wheat Agreement. Since 1974, Australia has exceeded its minimum commitment of 225 000 tons and in 1975-76 supplied 258 100 tonnes of wheat or its equivalent as food aid.

Australia participates actively in discussions in the other bodies established pursuant to Resolution XXII. These deal in some detail with specific aspects of the food problem.

The specific commitment (see (1) above) announced by the then Minister for Agriculture at the World Food Conference, was not related to achievement in the immediate 1974-75 financial year. As mentioned earlier, however, gifts of wheat in excess of Food Aid Convention commitments have been made in the years since the World Food Conference while Australia has also contributed to the FAO International Fertiliser Supply Scheme which was established to assist those developing countries having difficulties in obtaining adequate supplies of chemical fertilisers because of world shortages and high prices. Since 1974 the food situation has materially improved in those countries that Australia traditionally assists.

  1. Seeanswerto(2).
  2. Details of Australia’s current external aid program were included in the Budget Papers. In addition, Australia will continue to take an active and constructive part in international discussions and negotiations concerned with assisting developing countries to improve their food situations.
  3. 5 ) The great bulk of world cereal production is consumed in the countries where it is produced. Australia, although considered a major exporter of wheat is, by world standards, a relatively minor cereals producer. Even as an exporter, our role is limited since we account for only about 7 per cent of world cereals exports. Thus even if it were accepted that the world food problem is primarily distributional in nature, the impact that Australia could make by departure from internationally accepted practices is minimal. It has to be recognised that the bulk of the world ‘s international trade in food is conducted between countries whose economies are based on the free market system. For those countries unable to meet all their basic food needs by domestic production and commercial imports, relief is provided in the form of food aid by grant, and sales on concessional terms. Australia’s longstanding policy is to provide food aid by way of outright grants. In some circumstances, the Wheat Board provides export credits on wheat sales to developing countries.

There is widespread acceptance internationally that the most effective permanent solution to the food problem lies in increasing output in the developing countries primarily through the efforts of the countries themselves. Increased attention is also being focussed on this objective by donor countries and international agencies. In this context, Australia’s aid program places emphasis on assistance for increasing agricultural production in developing countries.

Directory of Support Services for Women (Question No. 1085)

Mr E G Whitlam:

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

  1. 1 ) What was the cost of compiling the directory of support services available to women in Australia.
  2. How much has Woman’s Day paid for the right to publish the directory in its issues of 23 and 30 August 1976.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. The cost of compiling a draft manuscript for a proposed booklet on support services available to women was almost entirely related to staff salaries and office expenses and involved, as well as staff time within the Department of Social Security, information contributions from officers of other Government departments and voluntary agencies. It is estimated that, within the Department of Social Security, staff salary costs and office expenses of some $7,000 were involved.
  2. The Department of Social Security did not provide a copy of the manuscript for the Directory to Woman’s Day nor authorise its publication.

Port Safety Organisations- Nuclear Powered Warships (Question No. 1086)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:

In which ports under its control has the Australian Government established the safety organisation recommended in the document entitled Environmental Considerations of Visits of nuclear-powered Warships to Australia and tabled in the House of Representatives on 4 June 1976.

Mr Newman:

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

I confirm the response given to the honourable member’s question without notice of 8 September 1976, that safety organisations have been established in Western Australia and Victoria. This was done prior to the visits of the submarine USS Snook to Cockburn Sound on 14-19 August 1976 and of the cruiser USS Truxtun to Melbourne on 7-13 September 1976. Further, a safety organisation was established for the port of Jervis Bay within the Australian Capital Territory, before the USS Truxtun visited that port on 14 September 1976.

Safety organisations as proposed in the document will be established for any particular port before a visit by a nuclearpowered warship takes place.

Hurstville and Campsie Unemployment Figures (Question No. 1107)

Mr Neil:

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

Did unemployment figures at the Hurstville and Campsie Commonwealth Employment Offices decrease during 1 975-76; if so, was this consistent with the national trend and what is the reason for any decrease.

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

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

Yes. Between end-June 1975 and end- June 1976 the number of unemployed persons registered at the Hurstville Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service decreased from 3295 to 2586. The numbers registered at the Campsie employment office also fell from 3483 to 2535 during the same period.

The declines noted at these two offices were against the national trend where the total number of persons registered at the same points in time rose from 245 975 to 265 25 1 .

I would like to point out, in partial explanation of the reasons for the decrease in the 2 offices referred to, that there are some 190 offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service whose figures comprise the total for Australia at any particular point in time. Naturally, variations occur between individual offices over different points in time. These are no more than indicative of different economic and sometimes demographic characteristics of the areas concerned.

In point of fact, the number of persons registered as unemployed at 10 other offices of the CES in New South Wales also declined against the national trend over this period of time. In Victoria, the numbers registered for employment decreased between end-June 1975 and end-June 1976 in a total of 23 offices; in Queensland, 11 offices; in South Australia, 9 offices; in Western Australia, 2 offices, and in Northern Territory, one office declined as compared to a rise in the national trend. In addition, the total number registered in the Melbourne metropolitan area as a whole and in Adelaide as a whole and, in fact, for South Australia as a whole decreased against the national trend over this period of time.

Thus, without conducting an expensive and timeconsuming economic analysis of the 2 areas mentioned, I am not able to answer the honourable member’s question as to why the 2 areas about which he sought information also showed this deviation from the national trend.

Towra Point Land Acquisition (Question No. 1162)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:

Has the acquisition of 2 1 9 hectares of land at Towra Point, Kurnell Peninsula, N.S.W., for the purpose of a national nature reserve been completed.

If not, what are the reasons for the delay and when will the acquisition be finalised.

Mr Newman:

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

The acquisition of 28 1.8 hectares has been settled with the Vendor. However, in 1975 the New South Wales Government initiated action in the High Court restraining the Registrar General from registering on the title the transfer of the land. The matter is still before the High Court awaiting resolution.

Tourism Development Grants (Question No. 1025)

Mr E G Whitlam:

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

  1. 1 ) What projects were submitted by each State government for consideration under the scheme of Australian Government grants for the development of tourist attractions in the year 1975-76.
  2. What sum did the Australian Government pay during the year 1 975-76 foreach project
  3. ) What sum will the Australian Government pay during the year 1976-77 foreach project.
  4. For what other tourist attractions will the Australian Government make grants during the year 1 976-77.
Mr Howard:

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


  1. Nil. No new commitments were entered into prior to February 1976 when the Government announced the cessation of the tourism grants scheme.
  2. Nil.
  3. None. However, an amount of $833 000 has been provided in the current financial year to meet commitments still outstanding under grants approved prior to 1 975-76.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.