House of Representatives
12 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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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 programmes,
  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 inquiries 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 Br Cass, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Morris 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. has delivered a severe blow to the Tasmanian tourist industry, and
  3. has 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 Morris and Mr Antony Whitlam.

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.

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 Mr Lynch and Mr Staley.

Petitions received.

Metric System

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

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

That there is no certainty that any significant benefits or indeed any benefits at all will follow the use of the new weights and measures.

That the traditional weights and measures are eminently satisfactory.

Your petitioners therefore pray:

That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed, and that the Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional and familiar units to be restored to those areas where the greatest inconvenience and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

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

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 Jarman.

Petition received.


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

That Medibank has proved to be the cheapest and most efficient means of bringing health care to Australian citizens and that the citizens of Australia have received Medibank as a great and valued social reform.

That Medibank has proved itself to be a far superior system of health care than was offered by the private funds prior to July 1975.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will observe the promise made by the Prime Minister in his policy speech that ‘We will maintain Medibank and ensure the standard of health care does not decline ‘.

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

Petitions received.


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively 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. Constitutes 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 Mr Garrick and Dr Jenkins.

Petitions received.

Aboriginal Land Rights

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

That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976, does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory. Your petitoners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should:

  1. Extend the freeze on European claims to the unalienated Crown Lands of the Northern Territory until 12 months after the passage of the Bill; and to provide for speedy lodging and hearing of Aboriginal claims. The hearing of Aboriginal claims has been postponed as a result of Government decisions, Aborigines should not be penalised;
  2. Amend the Bill to ensure:

    1. The removal of all powers to pass Land Rights Legislation from the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, particularly its control over sacred sites, entry permits, control over the seas adjoining Aboriginal land, the fishing rights of non-Aborigines, the right of Aborigines to enter pastoral stations and control of wildlife on Aboriginal land.
    2. The control of Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
    3. The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s powers to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines.
    4. The restoration of all powers vested in Land Councils and the Land Commissioner in the 1975 Land Rights Bill.
    5. A provision that any Government decision to override Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest be itself reviewed by both houses of parliament.
    6. A provision that land-owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they wish.
    7. The removal of artificial barriers to traditional owners imposed by the Territory Borders on all tribes so affected.

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

Petitions received.

Mental Health Programs

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

That we condemn the apparent strangulation of the Community Mental Health program in the State of Victoria. By freezing new and pending positions, refusing to refill vacant positions and stopping capital works, it retards the growth of the total program. The concept and implementation of Community Mental Health has been considered by many health workers as the most progressive, inovative and economical step in health care delivery in many years. The savage cuts can only take us back to the dark ages.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament will take immediate steps to enable the Community Mental Health program to continue and advance in the State of Victoria and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Cass.

Petition received.

Income Tax: Land and Water Rates

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 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.

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.

Petition received.

Income Tax: Mortgage Interest Rates

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

  1. That the proposal to exclude all persons from the benefit of tax deductibility for mortgage interest rates other than first home buyers in their first five years of home purchase is a repudiation of the Government’s election undertaking to maintain the scheme.
  2. That the effect of the proposal will cause hardship to many current beneficiaries of the scheme, in that existing benefits will terminate, thus putting housing loan repayments beyond reach.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

  1. that the Government reconsider its decision to drastically curtail the scheme;
  2. that the principles applying to the scheme as introduced by the Labor Government be maintained; and
  3. that benefits be upgraded by indexation to take effects of inflation.

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

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 Johnson.

Petition received.

Tertiary Allowances

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

That we wish to protest strongly at the cuts in education expenditure and at the level of student tertiary allowances that are $23 below the poverty line. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

  1. Increase education expenditure and raise Student Tertiary Allowances to the level of Commonwealth Unemployment Benefits.
  2. Index Student Tertiary Allowances quarterly to the cost of living.

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

Petition received.

Budget 1976-77

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

The 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 guide-lines laid down by the Australian Labor Government’s 1975 Budget.

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

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 a 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 Government’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 received.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

- Mr Speaker, for the next few days the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) will represent the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony).

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Relations with Indonesia

Mr Kevin Cairns:

-Speaker, I give notice that the next sitting I shall move:

That acknowledging the vital humanitarian and strategic obligations of Australian foreign policy, this House affirms the need to maintain and to promote friendly and harmonious relations with Indonesia and asserts that only in the very gravest circumstances should it allow insurgencies in former European territories to become a weapon to promote ill will between Indonesia and Australia.

Want of Confidence in the Government

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

- Mr Speaker, I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:

That this House expresses its want of confidence in the Fraser Government because it cannot pursue and express a coherent and principled foreign policy.

Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– I would like to inform the House that we accept the motion and suggest that we debate it forthwith. I should also inform the House, if I may have its indulgence very briefly, that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) left Australia yesterday to lead the Australian delegation to the South Pacific Law of the Sea Conference being held in Suva. He will be returning to Australia on 16 October. Meanwhile, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) is acting as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I ask leave of the House to move a motion to enable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) to move forthwith the motion of want of confidence in the Government of which he has given notice for the next sitting.


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

Motion (by Mr Malcolm Fraser) agreed to:

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

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Motion of Want of Confidence

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

– I move:

That this House expresses its want of confidence in the Fraser Government because it cannot pursue and express a coherent and principled foreign policy.

The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has just returned from his latest expedition abroad, having so far visited 9 countries this year. Let me summarise what those visits and the Government’s various forays and utterances on foreign policy have achieved. It is a catalogue of humiliation, bungling and disaster. He has damaged Australia’s relations with our largest neighbour, damaged our relations with one of the world’s two superpowers, damaged our relations with the ASEAN nations, damaged our relations with the non-aligned countries, and compromised Australia’s opposition to racism in Southern Africa. He has contradicted his Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) and contradicted his Defence Minister (Mr Killen). He has seen his scaretactics and panic-mongering policies on the Indian Ocean rebutted by Australia’s allies. His Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) has accused the Japanese of aggressive intentions towards Australia.

Every visit the Prime Minister has made and every statement he has made have added to the record of confusion and irresponsibility. It is just as well that the Foreign Minister says as little as possible. There have been5 urgency debates in the House this year on foreign policy. The Foreign Minister has spoken in none of them. He did not speak on the estimates for his Department and he is not speaking today. He is away for the eight sitting days in this Budget session. He was away for eight sitting days in the autumn session this year. The relationship between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister is curious to say the least. The Prime Minister clearly has taken control of foreign policy. He has therefore pursued a policy of insisting that the Foreign Minister accompany him wherever he goes, not so that he may be consulted because that is clearly not the nature of the relationship.

Last week’s visit to Jakarta was a perfect example of these vaudeville routines. When the Foreign Minister was asked in the House on 8 September whether he would accompany the Prime Minister, he could not stress often enough that it was the Prime Minister’s visit to Jakarta and that he, the Foreign Minister, would simply be joining him rather than, in the mature sense, accompanying him on an important task. Now that the Foreign Minister is paying the full price, the Prime Minister cannot even bring himself to say the words in which his Government’s policy on Timor is formulated. He simply chants over and over again that the policy is what Mr Peacock said it was. The Foreign Minister is thus made to fulfil his highest role- to carry the can. What sort of foreign policy is it that neither the Foreign Minister nor the Prime Minister can state at home or abroad? Indonesia is only the latest and most regrettable example of obfuscation and bungling on the part of the Fraser Government. The Prime Minister must clarify our policy with the utmost urgency. Last month; on 7 September, he told the House that there would be no statements concerning Australia and Indonesia before he left for his visit last Thursday. That was that. The least he can do is make a statement after his visit to Indonesia. Not only have we been treated to humiliating contradiction and hedging over East Timor, but the Prime Minister asks us to accept that although we have a policy he is not going to say what it is. He told a Press conference in Jakarta:

The policy is on record. I don’t want to restate it. It can be found in Hansard.

The Indonesian journalists who were at the Press conference did not have their copies of the Australian Hansard with them. The Australian people are entitled to know which of the many policies on record can be restated and which cannot be restated. Are we restating or not restating the policy before 9 July, the policy after 9 July, the policy after 20 July or, for that matter, the policy before 28 August 1975. It will be recalled that it was on 20 July this year that the Foreign Minister described the process of decolonisation in Timor as unsatisfactory. These were his words:

Indonesia has moved . . . without United Nations involvement, to integrate East Timor as its 27th province. But in the circumstances Australia cannot regard the broad requirements for a satisfactory process of decolonisation as having been met.

Is that position restated or not restated? Is the Government restating its policy enunciated on 9 July that humanitarian aid would be given through the International Red Cross? Is it restating the Foreign Minister’s confirmation on 26 August that the policy on humanitarian aid had been abandoned? Is he restating the views he expressed as far back as 28 August last year that the Fretilin movement is communist? It is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that our policy has been stated before. He can get away with saying that he will not restate it. All we ask- and the least he can do- is to say which policy he means.

The Foreign Minister of course is not here today. The Acting Foreign Minister today, like last week, will be the Leader of the House. What is his policy to be stated today? On 7 September he was referring to East Timor as that colony, that is, a Portuguese colony. On 5 October he was referring to the people in East Timor who were not accepting Indonesian rule as insurgents. In 4 weeks, the Acting Foreign Minister- the best we can do with today- has changed his policy.

The Prime Minister is treating foreign policy as a joke and the Australian people with contempt. What a government of principle! What high standards of moral courage! The Government is so convinced that its policy is right that it will not even say what it is- here in the capital of Australia or in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. It will not even repeat any of the things it said before. The Prime Minister is a shining beacon of resolution to inspire our neighbours. Australia’s policy will not be restated. The plain fact is of course that the Prime Minister, for all the posturing of his Government, went to Indonesia to recognise and to approve Indonesian policy on East Timor. In the words of yesterday ‘s headline in the Melbourne Age: ‘Fraser backs down’. Of course he has backed down. Everybody knows it. Let the Prime Minister at least explain candidly and clearly to this Parliament and to the Australian people exactly what he has done. The Prime Minister may pretend that our policy cannot be explained, that it is too subtle, too sacred, for ordinary minds to grasp, but the Indonesians have had no such difficulties. They have stated bluntly that Australia has recognised the Indonesian action in East Timor. LieutenantGeneral Sudharmono, who is President Suharto’s personal spokesman, made this clear as soon as the Prime Minister had left Jakarta. His aircraft has barely taken Oil The Australian Associated Press correspondent in Jakarta reported General Sudharmono as saying:

Mr Fraser’s statement has very great importance for us. It implies that Australia has recognised the integration of East Timor into Indonesia.

According to the Australian Financial Review correspondent, General Sudharmono also stated: his measures certainly indicate that he (Mr Fraser) takes note of the de facto situation, that is, by channelling aid via the Indonesian Red Cross, by prohibiting illegal broadcasts by Fretilin radio there and also by the fact that in solving the refugee question he does not wish to act alone, he also wishes to talk with Indonesia.

General Sudharmono might have added that with the pressure which is now being brought to bear on the Australian Government it should negotiate with Indonesia concerning the petroleum exploration permits in the portions of the seabed closer to East Timor than to Australia; that is, on the other side, the northern side of the line joining the already delimited boundary between Indonesia, as we have always understood her boundaries, and Australia.

To add to the Prime Minister’s pusillanimous silence we have a diplomatic breach as well. The Prime Minister says one thing and the Indonesians say something else. Even before the Prime Minister arrived back in Canberra the contradiction and confusion were apparent. Our relations with the Indonesians are worse than they were before his departure. The Sydney Morning Herald commented this morning: st- . . Mr Fraser faces a deal of hostile questioning about his diplomacy- diplomacy which brought no concessions of significance from Jakarta and which, in the upshot, ended in implicit subservience that can make us look comic, if not worse, in the eyes of the world.

Mr Cohen:

– Who said that?

Mr E G Whitlam:

-The Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian Financial Review- from the same stable- stated this morning:

The Indonesian Government’s most senior spokesman today pulled the rug from under the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, by declaring that the Australian Government had already ‘taken note of the de facto situation’ in East Timor. He said Indonesia now considered that Australia’s fourpoint policy on East Timor was no longer applicable . . .

It was never applicable. The 4 points, the 4 principles, lie in tatters like every other foreign policy and principle the Fraser Government has espoused. The Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia was no less a fiasco than his visit to China in June. It was in June that he questioned the stability of the Indonesian Goverment. He told the Chinese that a question mark hung over the future of Indonesia because of the nature of the present regime. One wonders how the transcript of the conversations got out. After all, there were only 30-odd copies made. That is the way to keep things confidential and discreet- distribute 3 dozen copies of one’s confidential conversations with heads of other governments! That was only one of the Prime Minister’s gaffes. In the same visit he made his fatuous proposal that a 4-power arrangement between China, Japan, Australia and the United States should be reached. That caused some surprise, frankly, to the others who had been gratuitously mentioned. He cast doubt on the stability of Malaysia in much the same terms. He offended India, whose policies he stigmatised as unreal. He patronised Papua New Guinea by expressing partisian views about internal party politics there. He told the Chinese that detente was a delusion- a policy developed and cherished by the United States and adopted by both presidential candidates. Again I quote the Australian Financial Review:

Prime Minister Fraser is paying an intolerably high price to win friends and influence in Peking. His arrival was marked by a public display of diplomatic snubbing on the part of Russia and a number of other Comecon countries. Now Mr Fraser has managed to enlarge the circle of offended countries to include India, Indonesia and Malaysia. He has patronised Papua New Guinea and managed to infer that Washington is naive in pursuing a policy of detente with Moscow. Not a bad record for an Australian Prime Minister of 6 months standing.

One of the massive deceptions by this Government is the claim that it is seeking and achieving closer relations with the countries of our region. That was certainly one of the undisputed accomplishments of my Government. We succeeded in clearing away the clouds of mistrust that obscured relations between Australia and Asian countries. But what has the Fraser Government done? In less than a year it has revived all the old wariness and suspicion in the minds of our Asian neighbours. The Prime Minister has bullied and offended the Association of South East Asian Nations, the cornerstone of regional co-operation and stability. While attending the funeral of Tun Abdul Razak in Kuala Lumpur, he attempted in private conversation to extract an invitation for himself to attend the ASEAN summit in Bali. It was not only an inappropriate occasion on which to go lobbying; it was also an inept approach. It distressed the Malaysians and it failed. The Government tried again to ingratiate itself with ASEAN. It sought discussions to evolve some kind of special trade relationship. Its proposals were utterly rejected. The Prime Minister is unable to recognise that the methods of the school bully are neither correct not fruitful in the conduct of foreign relations. He fails as a prefect and he fails as the school bully.

The reality is that Australia’s stature in the region has not grown under the Fraser Government; it has diminished. The most telling proof came at the time of the summit meeting of NonAligned Nations in Colombo in August, which was attended by representatives of 87 governmentsnearly two-thirds of the United Nations membership. At the preparatory conference for the meeting in Lima in August of last year Australia was invited and attended with the status of a guest. It was assumed that the same status would be accorded to us at the summit in Colombo this year. The Fraser Government certainly did not withdraw the application; it left it in. But the 87 non-aligned governments made their assessment of the Fraser Government’s suitability as a guest. The invitation was not forthcoming and we missed the opportunity to monitor the thinking of the non-aligned world. Every island and coastal state in and around the Indian Ocean- except Pakistan and Australiawas there.

The non-aligned world, like the entire civilized world, will reject the Fraser Government’s flirtations with racism. There have been 2 recent examples, both of which have flouted the spirit of United Nations resolutions. On 21 September, Qantas- our government airline- brought to Perth the New Zealand rugby union team which had been engaged in contests with racially selected teams in South Africa. A Qantas aircraft brought the team on to Melbourne. In Melbourne an aircraft of Air New Zealand- New Zealand’s international airline- was waiting, having brought enough fuel from New Zealand for a return flight to that country. By giving transit rights to the New Zealand rugby union team the Fraser Government deliberately condoned sporting contacts with South Africa. It did so in connivance with the New Zealand Government. It not only needlessly offended Australia ‘s neighbours; it also needlessly embarrassed our allies, including the United States.

A week later, with typical stealth and dishonesty, the Fraser Government continued to undermine Australia’s stand against racism by conniving in a visit to South Africa by Australian policemen. The proposed police visit was brought to the Government’s attention in a question placed on notice for the Foreign Minister by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) on 18 August. A fortnight later the Foreign Minister gave this written reply:

I have just learnt that South African Airways has available, on request, brochures advertising tours of South Africa, on a package basis, for members of the various police forces in Australia and their families.

The approval of the Australian Government for this exercise has neither been sought nor given. Needless to say it would be a matter of serious concern to the Austraiian Government if such visits assumed any official character, and the Government would consider then what action it might be appropriate for it to take.

The tourists were to depart on 30 September- 6 weeks after the honourable member for Adelaide drew attention to the tour and 4 weeks after the Foreign Minister expressed the Government’s disapproval of it. On 27 September the Prime Minister wrote to the Premiers suggesting that they take measures to stop the tour. There was, of course, no time for them to do so. He took the maximum time to act and gave the Premiers the rninimum time. Either the Government was grossly inefficient in acting too late or it deliberately closed its eyes to the tour and hoped that this latest breach of the spirit of United Nations resolutions would pass unnoticed.

Last week it transpired that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) went to an Inter-parliamentary Union meeting via Rhodesia. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair) told me last Wednesday that that was the first he had heard of it but that he would write to me about the matter. When he did write, in answer to my specific question whether the Government knew that the honourable member for Bradfield was making such a visit, he said: ‘Yes’. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs did not know about it on Wednesday but on Thursday the Government had known about it. The honourable member for Bradfield holds an official position in the field of foreign affairs for his Party in this Parliament.

Mr Connolly:

– You should go and meet some blacks too. It might do you some good.

Mr E G Whitlam:

-Did you not see the Prime Minister gesticulating and indicating that you are not to interrupt me? You do not know when to pipe down, at home or abroad. At least behave yourself when you are under his eyes.


-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will address his remarks to the chair, but not in those terms.

Mr E G Whitlam:

– Not even Japan, our largest trading partner and the nation most closely bound to us by recent treaties of friendship, has escaped the crass insensitivity and blundering of the Fraser Government. On 29 March the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) went on record with a gratuitous insult to the Japanese Government and people, accusing them of aggressive military intensions towards Australia and our mineral resources. It was no off-the-cuff remark but part of a prepared and considered text delivered to the Mining Industry Council. The Prime Minister did nothing to rebut his Deputy’s statement, the timing of which was no less deplorable than the content. Australia and Japan were then negotiating a treaty of friendship. Two weeks previously the House had passed a Bill to establish the Australia-Japan Foundation to ‘stregthen, broaden and deepen the relationship which already exists between Australia and Japan’. The two useful things the present Prime Minister has accomplished in foreign policy have been to establish this Foundation and to sign the treaty, and both of them were drawn up by my Government.

The outburst against Japan was typical of inflammatory Liberal propaganda against Australia’s neighbours. It emanated from a Minister and a Party that have never hesitated to appeal to jingoistic phobias and racist obsessions. The same feelings motivated the Deputy Prime Minister when he tried to whip up resentment against the ‘Communist’ Fretilin forces in Timor. That statement, and it was echoed by the present Prime Minister, did more than anything to encourage Indonesian military action against Timor. For years the present Prime Minister and his colleagues stirred the same irrational hatred of China and Vietnam. In a notorious article in the Australian International News Review of 17 July 1965 the present Prime Minister blamed President Truman for the Vietnam war on the ground that he had prevented General MacArthur from attacking the Chinese mainland. For years Australian foreign policy was based on fear and suspicion of China, fear and suspicion of Asia, fear and hatred of the yellow peril. Fear of China, fear of Indonesia, fear of Japan- it is all part of the same insistent, neurotic pattern. Too often we have seen the dangers and tragic consequences of inflaming Australians agains people of other races, whether they be Asians, Jews or Arabs.

The Fraser Government has been left flat footed and floundering over its efforts to whip up fears of Russians ships in the Indian Ocean. The Prime Minister has not even reached agreement with the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) on whether there is a direct Russian military threat to Australia. The Government has sought to fill the hollow shell of its foreign policy with bombast about the Soviet naval threat in the Indian Ocean. The Prime Minister has intoned ‘the Russians are coming’ in defiance of his own advisers, of objective Australian and American experts, and even of the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr William Colby. The fact is that the United States Administration does not share, and has never shared, the distorted perspective of the Fraser Government in this area. On 22 April in a statement to Congress, the Administration said that naval deployments by the Soviet Union in the Indian Ocean over the past 2 years had remained relatively stable. The United States representative at this year’s ANZUS meeting, Deputy Secretary of State Charles Robinson, showed his opinion of the Soviet threat when he addressed the National Press Club on 4 August immediately after the ANZUS talks which he had attended. His speech, lasting half an hour, contained not a single mention of the Soviet Union nor a single reference to military threats of any kind. The Fraser Government stands alone in its hysterical fear of the Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean. It stands alone and divided. Even the Liberal Party Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence has rejected the Prime Minister’s view. In August Senator Sim told the Australian Institute of International Affairs:

The finding of the Joint Committee report of 1 97 1 that the Soviet presence did not in any situation short of a general war pose any direct threat to Australia is still valid.

What has been the effect of the Prime Minister’s hysteria over the Indian Ocean? Has the Soviet Union reduced its naval presence this year? It has not. Has the United States increased its naval presence this year? It has not. The results of the Government’s threat-mongering have been three-fold. First, it has strained relations with a major trading partner, the Soviet Union, which as recently as yesterday responded by accusing Australia of stepping up the arms race and heightening tension within the region. Secondly, it has caused concern among countries in the region from India to Sri Lanka to Malaysia which are advocating a zone of peace in the Indian Ocean. The Prime Minister claims that he has convinced the Indonesians of his view of the Soviet threat. Yet we read in this morning’s Australian Financial Review that General Sudharmono made one other revealing statement in Jakarta yesterday as the Prime Minister’s aircraft had just taken off. He volunteered the information that on the subject of the Indian Ocean Indonesia’s position remained unchanged as a result of the talks with Mr Fraser. The third result has been to generate an atmosphere of needless fear in the Australian electorate. That is the key to the philosophy of Fraserism.

We have remarkable and recent proof of the deplorable success of the Prime Minister’s scare tactics. An opinion survey conducted by the Australian National Opinion Polls for the Japanese Embassy in Canberra revealed this month that 5 1 per cent of Australians feared external aggression, compared with 36 per cent in February 1974. This leap in public fear, from just over a third of the populace to more than a half, cannot be rationally explained by changes in Australia’s external environment. It is the result of the Fraser Government’s deliberately generated appeals to fear and panic. It is part of the climate of hysteria, neurosis and mistrust on which the Liberals thrive. The Liberals have always needed a foreign threat- Chinese hordes, Indonesian hordes, Vietnamese hordes and, now, Russian hordes. Moreover, they are coming by sea. As soon as one threat disappears the Liberal Party invents another.

The Prime Minister who said last December that we did not need a tourist as Prime Minister has blundered into more diplomatic gaffes and foreign policy humiliations than any Australian Head of Government since Federation. At a time when our foreign policy requires the most delicate, sensitive and painstaking attention by the Australian Government, when the affairs of our region and of the world are fraught with challenge and uncertainty, the last thing Australia needs is an old-fashioned ideologue roaming the world, mouthing hard-line slogans and cold war rhetoric. There are enough real threats and dangers in the world without the Prime Minister of Australia dreaming up imaginary ones of his own. He achieved nothing with his futile visit to President Ford in July, except to offend him in election year by ringing up Governor Carter. He achieved nothing on his visit to Canada except a visit to the Olympic Games and a fishing holiday on Great Slave Lake.

The speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the United Nations this year was the emptiest by an Australian Foreign Minister in at least a decade. We have offended our neighbours, confused our friends and alienated the developing countries. On the most important contemporary issue of foreign policy the Prime Minister refuses to say what our policy is and the Foreign Minister is not even here to do so. We need a Foreign Minister who will pay some attention to foreign policy and a Prime Minister who will leave it alone. In view of its record of evasion, expediency, blundering and incompetence, the House has no alternative but to pass this motion of censure upon the Fraser Government.


-Is the motion seconded?

Mr Uren:

– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.


– I wish to inform the House that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a delegation from the Assembly of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia led by Vice President Rudi Kolac. On behalf of the House I extend a very warm welcome to members of the delegation.

Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has spoken for half an hour in what was designed to be a destructive criticism of the Government’s foreign policy, but he offered no foreign policy of his own except the foreign policy that he pursued when he was in power, which was to embrace countries whose philosophies are far to the left of ours and to offend further countries whose friends are ours. He was a bit like the Mad Hatter at the Mad Hatter’s tea party and what he said has just as much relevance to the real world and has just as much accuracy as the Mad Hatter would have. He indicated that relations with our largest neighbour had been damaged. People have only to read the joint communique with President Suharto- that is the document that counts; the joint communique to which Australia and Indonesia both have put their names- to recognise the degree of co-operation that has been achieved in a number of fields in relation to trade and to attitudes concerning the Indian Ocean.

The Leader of the Opposition also indicated that he thought it unfortunate that the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) was not here when this censure motion was moved. It was perfectly open to the Leader of the Opposition to move his motion when the Foreign Minister was here. He should be the last person to speak of a leader or a Foreign Minister being out of this country for too long. If he examines the record of this Government he will find that nothing that we have done can match his $ 1.5 m expenditure on 167 days or 51/2 months out of this country, and we know quite well that he was doing it in the most expensive way possible and all of it at the taxpayers’ expense.

He drew things into this debate which ought not to be in the debate. He tried to charge this Government with racism when he knows quite well that all Australians deplore the policies of apartheid; that this Government put clearly on record its view on apartheid. On every issue, real and unreal, the Leader of the Opposition wants to be the most divisive and the worst Leader of the Opposition there has ever been. We only need to refer to comments from members of his own Party to judge that. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) said of Mr Whitlam:

The first thing the Party has to do is get rid of Mr Whitlam as Leader.

Sir John Egerton said of Mr Whitlam:

I could never trust Whitlam again, nor could Australia. He has never given loyalty and this is one of the reasons he is not Prime Minister of Australia.

The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said of Mr Whitlam:

I would resign if I were in his position.

Mr Hawke, who I understand still has aspirations to be in this Parliament before the next general election if one can believe The Australian of a few days ago, said of Mr Whitlam:

I think he tends to make them a little bit long if I could just venture a tiny opinion.

That was said in relation to Mr Whitlam ‘s overseas trips. It was one of the most modest expressions of opinion from the President of the Australian Labor Party for a very long while. The Leader of the Opposition drew into this debate a number of matters which were completely false. He tried to suggest, in relation to the Indian Ocean and our strategic situation, that the view we have of these matters is a view that Australia alone holds. He does not have any recognition of the fact that the powers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, including 3 socialist countries, have basically the same view. Let me read again the communiques of the NATO Ministerial Council in May and the Defence Planning Committee on 1 1 June because they show that their view is our view. It is also the view expressed in the Democratic Party’s platform which was published even later on 13 July. The communique of the NATO Ministerial Council stated:

Accordingly Ministers felt that they must once again voice their concern at the sustained growth in the Warsaw Pact countries’ military power on land, at sea and in the air beyond levels apparently justified for defensive purposes. Should this trend continue it could lead to an arms race of dangerous dimensions.

The communique of the Defence Planning Committee stated:

Ministers were then given a briefing on recent increases in the military strength of the Warsaw Pact and voiced their concern that this continues to grow beyond levels justified for defensive purposes. They devoted particular attention to the implications of the increased emphasis on offensive capabilities in the Pact forces, especially air forces. A statement by the Chairman of the Military Committee followed on the current state of NATO defences emphasising once again the continuing change in the balance of forces in favour of the Warsaw Pact Ministers took note with concern of the substantial advances in size and effectiveness achieved during recent years in every sector of Soviet military capabilities confirming a clear potential to use military forces both directly or indirectly or the threat of such force world-wide.

What has happened in the Indian Ocean is merely one symptom of that trend.

The Democratic Party’s platform, which echoes a certain degree of commonality of view in the United States of America, stated:

Soviet actions continue to pose severe threats to peace and stability in many parts of the world.

So it goes on. Our view is the realistic view shared by countries that have the same philosophical commitment. The Labor Party view is a view that is shared by the Soviet Union. I know quite well which view the great majority of the people in Australia would want to pursue.

The Leader of the Opposition, who spoke for the Australian Labor Party, is the last person to come to this Parliament and speak in pious terms of honour and of principle in relation to this matter or, having regard to his record when he was in government, in relation to any matter. His own colleagues have judged him and his own colleagues have condemned him. He knows quite well that he stands where he does at the moment because the President of the Australian Labor Party has not yet found a seat in this place. Who keeps him out? The Leader of the Opposition who at one stage said that he wanted him in. He knows he could break every rule to get someone else in, but he cannot do anything to get the President of the Australian Labor Party and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in. How pathetic that can be.

Let us see what was said by Mr Gregory Clark who worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 16 December 1974 to 30 January 1976. This was during the formative period of Labor Party policy in relation to these issues and this person was in a position to know the facts. At a seminar on East Timor held at the Australian National University on 18 March of this year he said, amongst other things:

The thing is essentially this, that Gough Whitlam believed that Timor- Whitlam is not a cruel man really- I don’t think he is the brightest either- but he genuinely had this obsession.

He went on to say:

Whitlam told the Indonesians that, if they could incorporate East Timor, it would be healthier both for Indonesia and Australia.

He also said:

Indonesians, particularly I think encouraged by Whitlam ‘s decision, set about drawing up a plan. In September and October, in that crucial period when it was clear that the Fretilins stood for something, was in control of East Timor, there was that gap of about 2 months when Australia could have exerted enormous pressure to prevent the Indonesian invasion. Far from exerting that pressure, we, Australia, did the exact reverse.

Gregory Clark said:

This is not widely known. Fretilin delivered a series of appeals to the United Nations.

He went on to say:

Australia co-operated at the United Nations to make sure that those appeals were not debated, that they were shelved.

What a record for the Leader of the Opposition, who at that stage was Prime Minister. Yet now he dares to move a censure motion on this matter. He himself stands condemned for what he has done. Let us consider what the Leader of the Opposition said in August 1975:

The other interested country in all of this is, of course, Indonesia, with which we have been in very close touch on developments in Portuguese Timor in recent days.

He said:

Indonesia has shared the Australian concern about the evident drift of Portuguese policies and, like us, has urged on the Portuguese the need to reassert Portuguese control over Portuguese Timor. We for our pan understand Indonesia’s concern that the territory should not be allowed to become a source of instability on Indonesia ‘s border.

I repeat:

We for our part understand Indonesia’s concern that the territory should not be allowed to become a source of instability on Indonesia’s border. Portuguese Timor is in many ways part of the Indonesian world and its future is obviously a matter of great importance to Indonesia.

That was not Gregory Clark; that was the then Leader of the Government speaking. But let us go to the Senate and see what his honourable Senate colleagues think of this great leader. Senator Gietzelt on 3 June 1976- quite recently- said: -If in fact we find that Mr Whitlam has acted improperly in this matter, he will be dealt with not only within his own party but also in the community itself. If any person in public life acts improperly in respect of the rights of nations or the rights of people, sooner or later he is brought to book.

He went on later in the same speech:

I deprecate the failure of Mr Whitlam and his Ministers to have a discussion in the Cabinet room about East Timor.

The then Prime Minister was pursuing his policy without discussion, without liaison with his colleagues. It was his policy. It was not the policy of the Deputy Leader because we know quite well that the Deputy Leader has a very difFerent policy and in this matter now has captured the Leader. So be it. But there are other authorities. Michael Richardson from Singapore said:

Whitlam has opened his comments on Timor by saying that in his opinion the territory should become part of Indonesia . . . But he did say that he felt East Timor was too small to be independent and was economically nonviable . . . He endorsed Indonesia’s military intervention on ‘humanitarian’ grounds to quell civil war … He failed to inform his ministerial colleagues, his Party and the Australian public about details he knew of a clandestine war launched by Indonesia.

The evidence gets deeper and deeper. Mr Whitlam said that East Timor was too small to be independent. At the second summit in Townsville in April 1 975 the then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, was less scrupulous in his concern about the means, and by the end of August 1975 he was ready to endorse unilateral Indonesian military intervention. The evidence goes on. Paul Kelly in a cable in the National Times stated:

Mr Malik told the Foreign Minister of another country that he told the Labor Government that Indonesia might have to use force to settle the Timor problem.

The report continued:

The Whitlam Government expressed the hope that if military action was necessary then it should be done as quickly as possible.

What kind of man is this who moves a censure motion of this kind when he has that record? There was a time when he was in office when it would have been possible to achieve a different kind of solution. Perhaps the approaches would have ended in the same result by a free expression of view, taken in different ways and in different circumstances, but a major influence could have been exercised by the Australian Labor Party when it was in government. At the East Timor seminar on 18 March Gregory Clark said:

In the critical period between September and October 1975 Australia could have exerted enormous pressure to prevent Indonesian invasion. Far from exerting that influence we under the Labor Government did the reverse.

By the end of August 1 975 the then Prime Minister was ready to endorse unilateral Indonesian military intervention. In the Canberra Times on 19 July this year Michael Richardson wrote:

Mr Whitlam did not raise the issue of Timor in the Cabinet or inform his colleagues about what was happening in Timor.

The weight of evidence is great. It is overwhelming and it condemns the then Prime Minister for acting as he did, even if only for deceiving his colleagues about what his policy was. Mr Whitlam sold out his colleagues who had different policies. He sold out himself. In office, our policy is based on concern for the Timorese people. We took action in relation to the United Nations. The Foreign Minister had extensive discussions with the Indonesians. We took action in relation to refugees and, while it was possible, aid went through the International Red Cross. These are actions that could have been taken earlier. But they were not taken. They were taken this year by our Government and they were taken to the credit of this Government.

The time came when I, in consultation with my colleagues, felt that it was necessary to accept the invitation of President Suharto to visit Indonesia- an invitation which had been standing on the books since either late January or February of this year. I believe it was important that the visit took place in a circumstance in which there was a necessity to emphasise the totality of the relationships between Indonesia and Australia. There are many matters of common concern. We live in the same part of the world. In this light, the invitation was accepted. There are common interests- a common interest in maintaining the independence and territorial integrity of both our countries, in advancing the prosperity and the further development of conditions in which our peoples can build a decent life for themselves and in keeping great power competition out of the region. However, if there is competition, we should work to limit it to peaceful competition in the supply of aid and matters of that kind in a world economic environment which provides opportunities for all nations to develop their trade and grow in prosperity. These are important matters that Indonesia and Australia, by virtue of history and geography, have in common. It is important that our governments pursue these matters and cooperate where it is possible to bring them to greater fulfilment.

Before I visited Indonesia, the Leader of the Opposition and others stated or implied that there would be a major change of policy- a major statement about Indonesia. But there was not that major change. There was not that major statement of policy. It was assumed that without such a major change, there would be no reasonable relationship with President Suharto and the Indonesian Government. This was demonstrated to be untrue. There was no major change of policy. A useful, working and friendly relationship has been demonstrated if anyone has the will to read the joint communique between the President and myself. Where there has been change, the change is because of concern for people. Obviously, the Opposition does not want us to make those changes. The members of the Opposition are not concerned for people; they are not concerned for refugees. The decision that aid should go through the Indonesian Red Cross was taken so that aid could be given to those people who needed it. The decision to have talks in relation to refugees who want to reunite with their families, whether that reunification is here or elsewhere, was also taken to help the refugees. I can only assume from what the Leader of the Opposition has said that he would prefer us not to provide aid and that he would prefer us not to have discussions between officials concerning family reunification. The Government Parties have more concern for people than that. We will make sure that aid gets to those people who need it and the discussions about refugees will continue to take place.

The Leader of the Opposition has sought to try to make something of the fact that the policy enunciated so ably and clearly by the Foreign Minister has not been repeated. Let me say that that statement of policy is on the record and that the Leader of the Opposition ought to be able to read it. It ought to be noted also that time does not change the judgment made of actions merely because time has passed. It ought to be noted in addition that in diplomatic terms, no useful purpose is served by the continuous repetition of that policy when it is already on the record in relation to certain events. Indeed, a continual repetition of the policy could lead to some harm. Indonesia knows well the position. The Indonesians understand our policies and in these matters the communique stands clear. There were many matters in the communique of common concern to us. It was quite plain from what the Leader of the Opposition was saying that he had not even read some parts of it. Paragraph 17 of the communique refers to economic cooperation between Indonesia and Australia. If other ASEAN nations concur in a certain proposal of Indonesia itself, there will be wider cooperation between ASEAN as a group of countries and Australia. That, we believe, will be useful and constructive. Paragraph 17 of the communique spells it out plainly.

The Indonesian purpose was that those discussions would not only embrace bilateral matters between ASEAN and Australia, but further and wider issues involving economic and commodity matters in the world at large which would be of concern to the governments of ASEAN, to the Government of Australia and to Australia itself. It is worth noting that there was a proposal by the former Government in 1974 in relation to trade co-operation but that that proposal was not responded to by Indonesia or by ASEAN. This was a direct proposition put to us in discussions and it is one that Australia has willingly accepted. Other political matters in relation to ASEAN were widely discussed as was the future of Papua New Guinea, cultural exchanges, a common view about aid and the way aid should be brought forward, and a common view about inflation and the need to overcome inflation. Also in paragraphs 9 and 10 of the communique there were elements concerning the Indian Ocean and the general strategic situation which no doubt the Opposition Party would want to ignore because they indicate a sense of common purpose which had not been there on previous occasions when the Australian Labor Party was in power. Paragraphs 9 and 10 are well worth examination. Paragraph 9 reads:

The two leaders agreed that the fact there was a possibility of a renewed arms race between the super powers gave cause for concern, and any shift in the global balance between the super powers could have far-reaching implications for the long-term security of the region. They also noted that great power rivalry was still a fact in world politics and that Governments needed to be alert to its manifestations. In particular, the absence of great power rivalry in South East Asia is a specially desirable objective for the maintenance of peace and stability in the area.

That is a very useful common statement. The communique then goes on:

  1. The President and the Prime Minister expressed their deep concern about the situation in the Indian Ocean which is an area of political and strategic concern -

I repeat the words ‘political and strategic concern’- to both nations. The two leaders agreed that it is not in the interests of the region that any great power should dominate the Indian Ocean. In this connection the President expressed his belief that such a situation could be avoided if the great powers and other major maritime countries observe the United Nations General Assembly resolutions declaring the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, which had been reconfirmed by the Non-Aligned Summit Meeting in Columbo recently. Pending the achievement of a zone of peace, the President and the Prime Minister recognised that a balance in the Indian Ocean at as low a level as possible should make it possible to avoid a competitive escalation of forces.

I believe that was the first time there has been that recognition of reality in these particular matters.

Mr Hayden:

– Come off it! They did not give you any concessions.


-Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. I call upon members of the front bench of the Opposition side of the House to cease interjecting.


-Mr Speaker, thank you for your intervention. But the greater the extent to which honourable members opposite show themselves for what they are, the better I would prefer it so long as it does not transgress your ruling. I think it is worth noting that the position is well understood. Honourable members might be interested in some of the quotes from Indonesian newspapers which have reported the communique and the Press conference and what has happened as a result. Berita Yudha, which often reflects official thinking led with the front page headline ‘Australia’s stand on East Timor unchanged’. The leading morning newspaper, Kompas, said ‘No change yet on attitude to East Timor’. A third paper, Angkatan Bersenjata headed its leading article ‘Australia’s attitude towards East Timor remains unchanged’. I think honourable gentlemen might well note those particular views. The Leader of the Opposition sought to quote some sections from an alleged Press conference by General Sudharmono. I think it would be much better if the honourable gentleman sought to look at exactly what was said and not necessarily at a quotation in relation to it which might not have been entirely accurate. I will give an example of how people can get a wrong interpretation of what has happened. General Sudharmono was asked this question about the Indian Ocean:

Doesn’t this weaken our struggle to obtain a free zone?

General Sudharmono answered:

We still try to get that, but we are not dreamers. This is a statement of facts. We recognise the facts.

The facts are in the communique. It should also be noted that both sides recognised the weekend’s discussions as successful, and both sides put that into the communique. I believe that the relationship between Indonesia and Australia will advance constructively as a result of the weekend’s discussions. That ought to be the wish of the majority of Australians and of the majority of people in this Parliament. The Government has adhered to its policies. At the same time it has looked to the reality of the position in relation to refugees so that we could do something to assist them. On the contrary, we heard from the Leader of the Opposition a 30-minute speech which was barren, destructive and typical of him. He has destroyed the Australian Labor Party. When is it going to learn?


-We are debating a censure motion against the Fraser Government. It reads:

That this House expresses its want of confidence in the Fraser Government because it cannot pursue and express a coherent and principled foreign policy.

It is quite unusual for an Opposition in this House to have to initiate a debate on foreign policy. During the period of nearly 20 years that I have been a member of this Parliament generally conservative governments have tried to initiate debates on foreign policy in this House. But we know that, besides its economic policy, the Achilles heel of the Fraser Government is its foreign policy. Whenever the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) travels overseas disaster follows. The Prime Minister has tried to change this question from one of policy to one of personality. He keeps quoting matters about the Leader of the Opposition on East Timor. He refers to statements made by Mr Gregory Clark and to a statement supposed to have been made by Michael Richardson. I have been in this House for nearly 2 decades, and whether honourable members opposite agree or disagree with my policies, I have stood firmly by any decision that I have taken on a principle; I have not twisted and turned and I have not made statements or scored off untruths.

I nail again- as I have nailed it in this Parliament previously- the accusations made by the Prime Minister regarding the notes of conversations at a meeting between General Suharto and the then Prime Minister in 1974. The Prime Minister knows that those accusations are false. I can say clearly to honourable members that I have seen the notes of conversations at the meeting between General Suharto and the then Prime

Minister in 1974, and the accusations made by the present Prime Minister are completely false. The Prime Minister also says, in order to try to create a division between my leader and myself, that the Leader of the Opposition was pushed into this debate. I say clearly that this censure motion was the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition with the full support of the Parliamentary Party executive but it was his idea and his thrust, and of course he led for the Opposition in the debate.

The Prime Minister tries to label the Australian Labor Party. He says that the view of the Labor Party is shared by the Soviet Union. It was not the Labor Party which tried to initiate the regional pact with the Soviet Union; a conservative government put forward that proposal in 1968. It was then an anti-Chinese approach. The great fear at that time by the conservatives was the downward thrust of China. As regards the Labor Party’s policy on the Indian Ocean, we want to see a neutral zone- a zone of peace- in the Indian Ocean. We do not want to see a build-up of the great powers in the area. The statements made by the Prime Minister are completely wrong. The Prime Minister constantly quotes old North Atlantic Treaty Organisation communiques in an attempt to bolster his false assessment of the Soviet threat in the Indian Ocean. The fact is that the NATO communiques do not mention the Indian Ocean. I challenge the Prime Minister to read us a NATO communique which describes the Soviet Navy as a threat in the Indian Ocean.

Australia today is facing a crisis of leadership. The Prime Minister with his succession of foreign affairs blunders and ineptitude is providing the world with a ludicrous image of Australia. His indiscretions in China, his hawkish view on the Indian Ocean and now the Jakarta follies have discredited Australia in the eyes of the world. There is no escaping this plain, simple fact. In his efforts to appease the generals in Jakarta he has made Australia look two-faced, deceptive and insensitive to the suffering of 600 000 East Timorese. By doing this he has scarred the clear conscience of many thousands of Australians. Can Australia feel any sense of pride in our defence of political and social freedom in the world today? Surely the answer, following this latest tragic series of blunders, is no.

Again I must stress the facts that have accumulated over the period while the Fraser Government has been in office. On 2 occasions the radio links with East Timor have been terminated by the Prime Minister to appease the generals. This was a blatant attempt to prevent the East Timorese case from being heard. Whilst the war has continued defence aid from Australia to Indonesia has been increased. No doubt some of it has been used against the East Timorese. The humanitarian aid ship from Australia was obstructed and virtually prevented from providing necessary aid to the suffering people of East Timor. The catalogue of appeasement and obstruction has continued unabated. The Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock)- one could be excused for believing that in reality it was the Prime Minister for he is really our Foreign Ministerinexcusably failed to mention East Timor in his recent speech to the United Nations. What an exercise in cynicism! What an exercise in attempting to water down the world ‘s hostility to the brutal military invasion of East Timor. How did Australia look in the eyes of the world? There was a war less than 500 miles from Australia, in respect of which there has been substantial division in Australia, and it failed to rate even a mention in a speech by our Foreign Minister to the United Nations. What a farce! Whom does the Foreign Minister think he is kidding?

This Saturday, 16 October, is the first anniversary of one of the blackest days in our history. On 16 October 1975, 5 Australian journalists who were bravely communicating to the world news of the Indonesian secret war in East Timor were murdered. The Government throughout 1976 has been negligent in its responsibilities to the Australian people in not pursuing the full facts surrounding the tragic deaths of these 5 Australian journalists. Despite overwhelming evidence of Indonesian complicity in their murder, no forthright statements have been made. Further- and more damaging to this cynical Government- the Prime Minister was in Jakarta less than one week before the anniversary of the deaths of these 5 Australian journalists.

Did the Prime Minister raise the matter? Did he state to the Indonesian President the belief of most Australians that they were murdered by Indonesian troops? Did he protest at this inevitable conclusion drawn from all the evidence gathered in relation to this murder in Balibo? We can only have the deepest concern that he did not. Certainly the communique signed by the Prime Minister and the presiding General in Jakarta failed even to mention this vital, tragic and contentious issue. Expediency mounted the platform in Jakarta. Once again the Prime Minister has let down the Australian people in his unprincipled fumble towards appeasement.

Even if this list of commissions and omissions by the Fraser Government were to end there we would have no room for a sense of well-being, a belief that we have tried our best to assist the East Timorese people, for the visit of the Prime Minister and his servant to Jakarta can only astonish the sensibilities of even the most resigned of us. Prior to leaving Australia a tight-lipped Prime Minister tried desperately on several occasions to avoid answering questions concerning the East Timorese issue. Typical of his attitude was his answer to a question by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) when he said:

As I have said on a number of occasions, the policy in relation to Timor has been stated very clearly and unequivocally by the Foreign Minister.

Steadfastly he has repeated that over and over again. The Foreign Minister has echoed him on this matter. The so-called 4-point policy of this Government was not repeated in the Indonesian Parliament nor in the communique; rather the Indonesian and Australian people were told that we must now Mook to the future ‘. What does that mean? What it really means is that we have lifted up the corner of the carpet to try to hide the dirt from sight. The reality of this classic case of short-sightedness was repeated by LieutenantGeneral Sudharmono on 1 1 October when he said that the Prime Minister’s visit had led to the justifiable belief that de facto recognition had been given to Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor. The Lieutenant-General said:

Mr Fraser’s statement has very great importance for us. It implies that Australia has recognised the integration of East Timor into Indonesia.

It is fortunate that these foreign policy doubledealings of the Fraser Administration have been revealed in unexpected and unusual ways. We all remember well the China dialogue. It shows the grave danger to Australia of the foreign and perhaps domestic policy of this Prime Minister. On the one hand he expresses in private meetings points of view which clash with his public utterances. In the case of East Timor it is impossible to deny that the contradiction between private scheming and public pronouncement has reached epidemic proportions. This contrast is nowhere more clearly felt than in relation to East Timor, for, whilst this private scheming and appeasement of the Jakarta generals continues, thousands of innocent people in East Timor are suffering and dying. No greater act of callousness can be found in Australia’s recent history. Yet the Prime Minister’s duplicity and deception has continued and most likely will continue.

What is left of the so-called 4-point East Timor policy that the Foreign Minister stated earlier this year? The Prime Minister has not publicly reiterated the first 3 points to the Indonesian Parliament or to General Suharto. The communique says only:

The Prime Minister recalled that Australian policy on the East Timor question had been clearly set out by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Parliament

What sort of explanation is that? What a convenient usage of words. The inescapable conclusion is that the Prime Minister has sold out the East Timorese people and the conscience and integrity of all Australians.

What has the Prime Minister achieved out of the latest foreign policy blunder? He has encouraged the extremist elements of the Indonesian generals to proceed with military aggression. Indonesia’s Lieutenant-General Sudharmono has pulled the rug from underneath the Prime Minister and has shown all Australians the deception that is implicit in the Prime Minister’s actions in Indonesia. The appeasement we have witnessed is the more disastrous when we look at the long-term crises of Indonesia and the region. The $10 billion Pertamina loss, the increasing political repression in Indonesia and the accompanying poverty and exploitation will have wide-ranging effects on the social, economic and political fabric of Indonesia. The separatist wars waged by movements in West Irian, the Moluccas, Kalimantan and Sumatra are certain to create instability for the Javanese-based ruling military regime in Indonesia. Further, what will the people of Papua New Guinea think of this sell out, especially when it has come about so readily and has been accompanied by a script of deception that could almost have been written by the Jakarta generals themselves?

We note that the fourth point of providing aid to the East Timorese people throught the International Red Cross already has been dropped altogether. Rather we have given $80,000 to the Indonesian Red Cross, which has already broken Red Cross undertakings that aid should be provided to all sides in the conflict. The Indonesian Red Cross is a partisan in the struggle in East Timor. If aid is to be given to the East Timorese people it should be given to both sides- to those areas controlled by the Fretilin forces as well as to those areas controlled by the Indonesian generals. What have we as a nation to gain by so easily forgetting our principles in East Timor? How will future generations of the diverse peoples in our region consider this tragic episode of appeasement? The answer is clearly that all Australians have lost. We have seen how the Fraser Government can so easily forget principle and be so subservient to a repressive militarist government. One can only fear the consequences in the long term of this weakness and appeasement.

Since returning the Prime Minister has only added to our consternation. Hidden away amongst the vague words of this secretive man is an occasional glimpse of his future actions. He has already obeyed the request of the generals to close the Fretilin radio. What of the other important element of the generals’ request? On AM. this morning the Prime Minister was asked the following question:

Would you be happy to see a limiting of the activities of Fretilin people in Australia?

The Prime Minister answered:

I think I have already made it quite plain in Parliament that the Government does not believe that it is appropriate activity for people to use Australian soil to help cause difficulties in other areas.

It is here that I believe the deceptive policies of the Prime Minister are fully revealed. It is evident that he believes that the activities of the East Timorese independence movement in Australia is causing ‘disruption’. After all, what did the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair), who is to speak next, say in replying to a question asked of him last week? He called the East Timorese people insurgents. It that is not a recognition of the military takeover by the Indonesian generals of East Timor I do not know what is. How can the Prime Minister hold that attitude if he does not recognise the Indonesian armed takeover? Can he really believe that the putting of the East Timorese case for self determination before the Australian people is a disruption unless he has in fact recognised the illegal incorporation? Surely not. All fair minded Australians will bitterly resist the latest attempt by the Prime Minister to further seal off East Timor from the rest of the world.

I think we have again to ask ourselves why the East Timorese people should remain independent. They should remain independent because, they want independence and their background is different from that of other Indonesian people. For over 400 years they have had a different cultural background. They were led into the Christian faith and have been a part of that culture for hundreds of years. Indonesia is a Moslem country. We owe them a great debt because in the Second World War their forces stood by us. The island of Timor was divided in two. What did the people on the western end of the island of Timor, now Indonesian Timor, do when one of our men, a prisoner of war, was able to escape from a prison camp, or when one of our men evaded capture? They handed him over because they collaborated with the Japanese. But that was not the situation on the eastern end of the island. The people living in the eastern end of the island defended our forces. Some 50 000 East Timorese perished in defence of our servicemen, directly and indirectly, out of a population of about 600 000. Yet during the entire Second World War Australia lost only about 26 000 men from our military forces.

That shows the debt that Australia owes to the East Timorese and they have been sold out callously by this Government and by this Prime Minister in particular. On the one hand this Government has a private policy and on the other it has a public policy. So far as I am concerned, this Government as a whole, and the Prime Minister in particular, stand condemned for their callous policy on East Timor and for their blundering at large in foreign affairs as a whole.

Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs · New England · NCP/NP

-On 13 December 1975 the people of Australia very rightly passed judgment on the morals, standing and stature of the Australian Labor Party. Today, 12 October 1976, the left wing of that Party must feel very much in the ascendancy. Today, on one of a number of occasions when we have been told that there is to be a motion moved reflecting want of confidence in the Government, the left wing has decided finally that now is the hour and for the first time the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has been given the blessing of his Caucus and his executive to introduce this motion.

I suppose we should all be pleased that at last the Leader of the Opposition has been allowed to have his own way. We were told by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) that his motion arose as a result of the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition, that it was not the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who wanted to push the Opposition into the debate but that the Leader of the Opposition did want to say something on foreign policy and to initiate this motion. I find it quite interesting, although it is alarming that it is in relation to a matter of foreign policy, that the Leader of the Opposition has given in to the left wing. Throughout the Australian community there are signs of the ascendancy of the Communist Party, and of the radical left in the trade union movement. Now it is appearing in the manipulations of the Labor Party in Parliament. It is quite critical that the Australian people recognise this motion for what it is- yet another positive demonstration that the radical left has total control of the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary Labor Party. This is not a motion of condemnation of a government; it is a motion which acknowledges that the Labor Party no longer has the capacity to take decisions on its own but is prepared to listen to whatever the left-wing might wish and that it is prepared to comply with the radical communist led trade union movement. The leadership of those of the left obviously is far more dominant in the affairs of the Labor Party than any of its present parliamentary members.

Having referred to that matter and having noted that it was the Leader of the Opposition who introduced this motion, let us look at the principles that he espoused. Firstly, he tried to make something of a division between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). I thought it might be of interest if I brought in to the House some indication of where the Minister for Foreign Affairs has been and why he is not in the House for this debate today. As the Prime Minister said when opening business in the Parliament today, the Minister for Foreign Affairs at this moment is in Fiji representing the Australian Government in an extraordinarily important discussion on matters relating to the law of the sea. It is being attended for the first time by all the countries of the Pacific region. The Pacific Ocean happens to adjoin us but perhaps the Opposition has not realised that fact. It is important for Australia to confer with those nations in this region to determine just what effect the law on the sea and those discussions will have on our mutual relations.

The Leader of the Opposition said something about his claim to have asserted closer relations with countries of our region. Why on earth does he think the Minister for Foreign Affairs is in Fiji? He is there for just that purpose. He is not here to take part in some petulant demonstration of what he has achieved but in a positive, factual and effective way he is in Fiji at the moment. In case there is a feeling that in respect of some of his other visits he has not been pursuing a public cause, Mr Speaker, I table a paper setting out speeches made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The list includes 2 major speeches in this House. One was on 4 March during which he set down the Australian Government’s attitude towards East Timor. Another was on 1 June when he engaged in a major foreign affairs policy debate. The paper also includes a list of questions on a wide range of matters. He has answered 70 questions without notice and 58 questions on notice. Certainly the Minister has been outside Australia on a number of occasions.

However, for the interest of honourable members and so that there will be no misunderstanding about where the Minister is and why he is not in Australia, I table this paper.

The second matter that is of interest in relation to the motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition is the suggestion that Australians do not want a tourist for Prime Minister. How right he was. The tourist who was Prime Minister prior to 13 December last year was absent from this House on 66 days in 1973 at a cost of $445,019. In 1974 he was absent for 80 days at a cost of $782,818. That was up to 21 January 1975 when he completed a rather extensive trip to Europe and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. For the balance of 1975 he was absent from Australia for some 21 days at a cost of $281,886. I know that the taxpayers of Australia will recall that the total cost of those trips was something like $1,509,723. His total absence from Australia was’5!6 months, or 167 days, during the period of almost 3 years that he was in office. I think those figures speak for the manner and performance and characteristics of the man who was a tourist Prime Minister.

But this particular motion canvasses far wider issues than the tourist aspirations of the man who was Prime Minister. It canvasses, in quite a serious form, Australia’s relations with its neighbours, both in the immediate vicinity and in the broader international scene. The first of the countries that our Prime Minister visited was New Zealand. It is interesting that once again we have seen today something of the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition towards New Zealand. He reiterated that quite flagrant charge that in some way Australia had flouted a United Nations resolution because Qantas Airways Ltd had carried the All Black Rugby Union team from South Africa to Australia. I really think that the Leader of the Opposition believes that at no stage should an Australian Government, an Australian Parliament or the Australian people, take its own policy decisions. This Government has repeatedly condemned apartheid. We have said repeatedly that we do not accord in any way with that policy. In our relations with New Zealand we have seen fit to extend significantly the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We have done so in such a way as to minimise injury to producers and manufacturers in Australia and likewise to their counterparts across the Tasman Sea. Our policy with respect to New Zealand is that we should proceed in every way in close cooperation and co-ordination and to the maximum of identity of interest. One might almost suspect that had the Labor Party been in office at the time of the Montreal Olympic Games it would have taken the Australians out of those games in high dudgeon because of the believed effrontery of New Zealand. What a way to perform. How close a relationship does the Labor Party have with countries which are our neighbours in this region?

The second visit by the Prime Minister was his very important trip to Japan and China. It is interesting to look at the joint communique issued at the conclusion of the Australian Prime Minister’s visit to China and to see just one of the significant events that was concluded. In a joint communique dated 28 June 1 976 it was stated:

China agreed with the view that no great power should dominate the region of which the ASEAN nations form a most significant part. It is in the context of the future strength and stability of South East Asia that I also attach considerable importance to China’s statement that it will not permit its relations with foreign communist parties to interfere with its foreign policy relations on a state to state basis.

What more significant conclusion could there have been from a visit, a first visit, by a LiberalNational Country Party Prime Minister to the People’s Republic of China? That was a most significant achievement. It was not the product of some sort of tourist excursion, a visit for the sake of seeing the ruins of the ancient world. That visit was made in order to establish modern, up to date and continuing relations with one of the great countries of the world.

It might be worth while looking at the next visit because it dealt with resource diplomacy. We should consider what the former Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, did to destroy the efficacy of Australia’s trade relations with Japan. Of course, it has only been as a result of the change of government and of the continuing efforts by the present Australian Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and other Ministers that we again have something like a commonsense approach in dealing with Japan. So much for the rapport which the Australian Labor Party Government was able to establish with Japan. Of course it was the visit to the United States which perhaps more than any other visit tended to generate ire among members of the Australian Labor Party. Honourable members will recall how concerned Australian Labor Party supporters were in those early days when they came into office to demonstrate their close affiinity with the United States! Honourable members will recall those daily headlines which came in rapid succession. The Australian of 8 January 1973 stated:

Uren accuses Nixon of mass murder’.

My word, that statement would really endear another country to Australia. Paul Webster in the 1 1 January 1 973 edition of the Australian stated:

Cairns will not stay silent if Nixon resumes raids. The Federal Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, said last night he would continue to make statements on Vietnam and foreign policy if the United States resumed bombing.

How close the Australian Labor Party was to the American people! Another newspaper stated:

Third Minister attacks US Govt.

The Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Uren, made a strong attack on President Nixon yesterday, accusing him of arrogance and hypocrisy.

Another article stated:

Cameron hits out at US ‘hawk’ unions. The Minister for Labor (Mr Cameron) yesterday attacked American unions for their threatened retaliatory ban on Australian shipping.

My word, the Labor Party really did establish rapport and friendliness with countries of our region. This is in marked contrast to the statement issued on 28 July 1976 by the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, on his return to Australia from his visit to the United States. It was a joint statement, issued in conjunction with President Gerald R. Ford. It states:

The Prime Minister expressed the belief that the United States had a unique leadership role and mission as the world’s most powerful democracy. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that the steady pursuit of that mission was essential for the stability and peaceful development of the nations of the world. The President noted the need for continuing close collaboration with friends and allies including Australia. The President and Prime Minister noted the importance of maintaining the cohesion and constancy of alliances in present international circumstances, and the importance of conventional forces in conditions of nuclear parity. In this connection they agreed on a desirability of maintaining the excellent record of consultation and cooperation that has characterised the ANZUS relationship.

That was another bridge mending exercise. What a contrast it was to the performance, mannerism and misbehaviour of the Labor Administration. It is important that we recognise that in the whole of the substance of the allegation which is now before us in the Parliament, what is happening is that the Labor Party is contrasting its continued and progressive subservience to the Left- to the communist influence within the trade union movement- rather than presenting a policy on behalf of the Australian people.

We come to the final charge which has been very effectively rebutted by the communique which was issued by the Prime Minister and President Suharto after the recently concluded visit by the Prime Minister. I think it is worthwhile for us to look at some of the products and the contrasts between the Labor program and our own. Let us start with the Labor Party attitude towards Australia and Timor. Of course, as the Prime Minister noted, this is not peculiarly a matter for comment for those outside Parliament. Senator Gietzelt, whom I understand holds some position within the Labor Party, was most critical on 3 June and on another occasion in the Senate about the attitudes of the then Prime Minister and of the Australian Labor Party. But let us rely not only on members of the Australian Labor Party. If we look at the Courier-Mail of 19 March 1976 we see a report about Mr Gregory Clark who was a former consultant to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and to Australian diplomats. It states:

He claimed Mr Whitlam gave Australian approval for the incorporation of East Timor to the Indonesian Foreign Minister (Mr Malik) at talks in Townsville earlier last year. He told a forum on East Timor at the Australian National University that Mr Whitlam had told Indonesia that if it incorporated East Timor it would be healthier for both nations. Mr Clark said Mr Whitlam ‘genuinely had an obsession -

He has a few obsessions, actually- about the stupidity about creating small nation states’. The forum, a part of East Timor moratorium activities, was organised by the Canberra branch of the Australia-East Timor Association . . . ‘Indonesia . . . set about working a plan for the subversion of East Timor,’ Mr Clark said. The plan reached Australia, where it was studied and basically approved.

Mr Whitlam told Mr Malik in Townsville last March that Australia did not object to the plan. ‘Then it was only a matter of time’ … He said the then Government’s behaviour in September and October was particularly bad.

Goodness me, it was not only in September and October that the then Government’s behaviour was particularly bad. The report continues:

Australia could have exerted pressure to prevent the Indonesian takeover.

Most damning of all, the report points out:

Mr Clark also claimed Australia co operated with Indonesian officials at the United Nations to make sure a series of appeals sent to the United Nations by the Fretilin Independence Movement were shelved.

The report also states that Mr Clark said that Australia’s handling of the East Timor question was worse in some ways than anything that had happened before. It is quite important that we recognise that within the whole approach of the Labor Party towards East Timor if anything could have been done by Australia it was during those days when Mr Whitlam was Prime Minister and when the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition was one of his senior Ministers. There is no doubt that the whole trend of Mr Whitlam ‘s attitude towards East Timor and Indonesia at that stage was the reason why Indonesia believed that it had Australia’s blessing in any action it might take. In the National Times of 22-27 March Gregory Clark again notes:

With Australia’s blessing, the ‘Dragon’ moved on Timor.

Why was Australia so determined to support the Indonesians? A major reason was Mr Whitlam ‘s inflexibility on the issue. He seems to have made up his mind that the idea of an independent State of East Timor was an anomaly- and that was that.

Even in October when his Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Willesee- and according to some reports the Foreign Affairs Permanent Head, Mr Alan Renouf- were starting to feel uneasy about the whole exercise. Mr Whitlam would not budge.

It is Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition, who moves a motion today condemning the product of what was a most effective and successful visit by Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to Indonesia. Let us look to see where we got to as a result of that visit. I think the comments in a communique issued by the Prime Minister and His Excellency President Suharto at the conclusion of the visit are worth noting. The communique states:

The Prime Minister said that he regarded his visit to Indonesia for discussions with President Suharto as a positive indication of the very high importance which Australia placed on maintaining and developing further in the future the strong and close relations that had been established over the years with Indonesia.

Later, it continues:

The two leaders agreed that the fact there was a possibility of a renewed arms race between the super powers gave cause for concern.

It was not just a matter of discussing one subject. It was a matter of establishing the sorts of relations with our neighbours which a responsible government should seek. It was a matter of mending bridges, of again establishing rapport and understanding. The personal rapport which has obviously been gained by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser with President Suharto must stand this country in good stead. But the Australian Labor Party does not realise that. The communique refers to the fact that there was recognition of shifts in the global balance between the super powers. It states:

They also noted that great power rivalry was still a fact in world politics and that governments needed to be alert to its manifestations. In particular the absence of great power rivalry in South-East Asia is a specially desirable objective for the maintenance of peace and stability in the area. The President and the Prime Minister expressed their deep concern about the situation in the Indian Ocean which is an area of political and strategic concern to both nations.

How different that rings when contrasted with the sorts of statements which came from the Leader of the Opposition. As a result of the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia there was a personal and national understanding and a recognition of the changing power balance in this region. There was an acceptance that it is quite essential that there be a recognition of the problems of the changing power structure within the Indian Ocean at a time when there has been a promulgation of a non-alignment position by ASEAN- a position which has been supported by some members of the Australian Labor Party. It is important that the real position is accepted and recognised. Because this seems to be the ultimate butt of the allegations of the Labor Party it is necessary that I reiterate the conclusions from that same communique about the position in Timor and the relationship of Australia to Indonesia in that regard. It states:

The Prime Minister recalled that Australian policy on the East Timor question had been clearly set out by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Parliament.

I have just referred to the statement which he made on 4 March. The statement continues:

He said that it is a complex question which was greatly complicated by the rapid changes in Portugal and the breakdown of that country’s control and administration of East Timor.

The Prime Minister considered that the important thing now was to look to the future, and to alleviate, so far as possible the human suffering which had come with the fighting and associated disruption in the territory.

There is nothing in the allegations in the Sudharmono statement. What is said is a recognition that Australia wants to provide aid to people- a perfectly proper attitude. This motion has no substance. The present Australian Government has advanced Australia’s image from the quite disastrous image it had under Prime Minister Whitlam. The motion has nothing to commend it and I therefore move:

That the question be now put.

Question put.

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

AYES: 83

NOES: 30

Majority……. 53



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question put:

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

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

AYES: 32

NOES: 83

Majority……. 51



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 1735




-Are there any questions?


- Mr Speaker, I ask that questions be placed on notice.

page 1735


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 5 of the Dairy Adjustment Act 1974 I present agreements between the Commonwealth of Australia and the States of Victoria and Western Australia in relation to dairy adjustment programs provided for in that Act.

page 1735


Minister for Transport · Gippsland · LP

– For the information of honourable members, I present a report by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads entitled: ‘Standards for Construction and Maintenance of National Highways’.

page 1735


Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP

– For the information of honourable members, I present the final report, dated 1976, of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools.

page 1735



-Mr Speaker, may I have your leave to make a personal statement?


-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?


– Yes, I claim to have been most grievously misrepresented. On Wednesday, 6 October, issue No. 413 of the Dandenong Regional News carried the defamatory headline: Jobless figures distorted- ACTU Advocate accuses Yates’. The newspaper went on to give credence and support to this libel, and I now quote the advocate of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Jolly, a special parliamentary candidate looking for pre-selection. Discussing unemployment figures for the area, Mr Jolly said:

They indicate that he -

That is me- is prepared to misrepresent unemployment statistics in order to gain short-term political capital.

Mr Jolly then proceeded to provide his own employment figures. Mr Speaker, I have been misrepresented because I cannot -

Mr Hayden:

- Mr Speaker. I raise a point of order. I question the propriety of trying to use Hansard to increase the circulation of the Dandenong Daily, or whatever it is. I suggest that what the honourable member is raising has no relevance at all to himself and that he ought not to be allowed to proceed unless he can show that it does have relevance to himself.


-Order! There is no point of order.


– I am grateful for the protection of the Chair. The matter was raised in the newspaper and my name was used. In order to save the time of the House, I would therefore ask that my original statement be incorporated in Hansard so that honourable members can see that I used no figures whatever other than figures of speech and no statistics either. I wish to conclude my statement, and it would not be personal to say so, by being charitable. I must remind myself of that old Sydney saying -


-Order! The honourable gentleman is entitled to remind himself anywhere else but not in the House. Application has been made by the honourable member for Holt to incorporate a statement in Hansard. Is leave granted?

Mr Hayden:

– No, the Opposition has not seen it.


– Leave has not been granted. I advise the honourable member for Holt to show the statement to the manager of business for the Opposition and leave may be granted at a later time. If so, the honourable member may then renew the application.


– On a point of order, in my own defence may I now read what I said, having been accused of distortion?


-No, the honourable gentleman has concluded his statement.

page 1736


Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · Warringah · LP

- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to modify an answer I gave in the House last week.


-Is the Minister seeking my indulgence?


– Yes.


– It is granted.


– Last Thursday, in answer to a question without notice from the Leader of the Opposition in relation to refugees from Thailand, I said: the father of the 2 boys was amongst the 550 refugees who were brought from Thai refugee camps earlier this year.

I went on to say a little later:

Of those 800 people, approximately 550 came out of Thai refugee camps.

Although the 550 people from Thailand were refugees as defined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, not all of them were from the refugee camps. Some were living outside the camps, and the father to whom I referred was one of those.

page 1736


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


– I have received letters from the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) and the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion. As required by standing order 107,I have selected one matter, namely:

The Government’s failure to establish a definite trade relationship with the Government of the United States and the limiting effect of this failure upon access to the United States domestic market for Australian beef.

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-


-Mr Speaker, the last election campaign -

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:

That the business of the day be called on.

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

AYES: 82

NOES: 29

Majority……. 53



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 1737


Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– I move:

Customs TariffProposals No. 22 ( 1976).

The proposals are now being circulated to honourable members. The customs tariff proposals I have just tabled relate to proposed alterations to the Customs Tariff Act 1966. Customs TariffProposals No. 22 (1976) give effect to the Government’s decision on recommendations made by the Temporary Assistance Authority in its report on paper. The effect of this decision is that tariff quotas will apply to imports of certain uncoated paper. A temporary additional duty of 15 per cent will apply to imports in excess of quota.

The proposals also implement the Government’s decision which was announced on 17 September to increase the preferential rate of duty applying to ceramic sanitary ware from 9 per cent to 32 per cent. The competitive position of the Philippines relative to the United Kingdom was seriously affected by the recent withdrawal of the developing countries preference on ceramic sanitary ware. The action now being taken is in accordance with the Government’s policy of helping developing countries overcome any competitive disadvantage with imports from developed countries in the Australian market. A comprehensive summary of the changes which will operate from tomorrow is now being circulated to honourable members. I commend the proposals to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Young) adjourned.

page 1737



Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence · Boothby · LP

-I move:

That the resolution of the House of Representatives of 3 June 1976 referring the construction of sleeping accommodation for 80 Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps personnel at Puckapunyal, Victoria, to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, be rescinded.

It was planned that the proposal commence in 1977, subject to a favourable report by the Committee and subsequent endorsement by the House. However, recent consideration of the overall accommodation situation at Puckapunyal by the Department of Defence has led to the conclusion that the project should be deferred for the present pending the completion of a detailed review of living-in accommodation availability and requirements for all 19 units in the Puckapunyal area.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1737


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 7 October.

Second Schedule.

Department of Primary Industry

Proposed expenditure, $52,827,000.

Port Adelaide

-I take some delight in entering the discussion on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry because I think that in no other field is the role of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party in Opposition laid so bare as it is in their performance since coming to government. They have learned, to the distress of the many thousands of people in the country areas dependent upon the policies of government, that airy-fairy promises made in Opposition are a great deal different from the decisions that have to be made in government. Whilst I can understand their deceit in their treatment of those people in the urban areas with regard to many other policies, it is beyond me that they can mislead the many thousands of hard working people in the country areas with the promises that were made in Opposition and which now cannot come to fruition as a result of their attitude on the Budget.

If we look through what was promised in Opposition by this Government, we can see the great quandary that they are in in trying to bring about some resolution of those policies. Perhaps we can get some idea of the despair in which people in the country areas are living. It may be that the Labor Party has to do a great deal more work in terms of its relationship with people who live outside our great cities. There can be no doubt that a lot of people in those country areas are waiting for us to do just that.

The role of this Government, its performance, and the way it has deceived country people have been absolutely incredible. I do not wish to go through the promises word for word but for the benefit of honourable members I should like to refer briefly to the Liberal Party and National Country Party so-called primary industry policy which was circulated throughout Australia prior to the general election on 13 December 1975. In that document of 4 foolscap pages we find many promises, none of which have been carried out. We will also find that in many other areas which were being handled by the Labor Administration affecting the lives of people and the standard of living of people living outside the cities, many programs have now been stopped. So not only will the Government’s policies in regard to primary industry affect the man on the land and the rural worker, but there will be a decline in the real living standards of the people in the country towns and provincial centres. In addition, such matters as education and child care have also been greatly affected and this has affected the children and the communities in those centres.

Let us just go through some of the things that were promised by this Government when it was in Opposition- promised recklessly and irresponsibly and in a manner that has left a great question mark over these communities in the country areas. Just a few weeks ago we saw the lengths to which the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) will go in his disdain of country people. We had a situation in this chamber that could have been solved in 5 Minutes. The Minister’s role was to keep the House dividing for 5 hours. The Cabinet was meeting during those 5 hours but the Minister for Primary Industry preferred to miss a Cabinet meeting. So he missed representing the people he is supposed to represent in the Parliament. He preferred to carry on with the childish tactics in the House of calling divisions.

Let us look at some of the things which were promised by this Government when in Opposition and let us look at what this Government has already done. Perhaps the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who is trying to interject will tell us what has been done in the wine industry and the promises that were made in relation to the wine industry. Perhaps the honourable member can tell us why the promises have not been carried out and when they will be carried out. I ask honourable members opposite: What effect has the $60m put aside to be spent on the superphosphate bounty had on rural policies? It seems to the Opposition that all it has done has been to cut off all the other options. Because the first grab was so big and so quick and because the Government saw it as an integral part of its promises, the $60m allocation was made. But it seems to us now that the Cabinet has decided that that is the end of the road. So in one way the bounty may have been of some benefit. But what else could the Government have done? The Government should have taken a little longer to think about how that $60m might have been spent.

What is happening now about the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy? The former honourable member for Dawson lost his seat as a result of some of the crippling advertising against him in the electorate of Dawson about the Labor Party’s socalled proposal to do away with the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy. But what has happened now? At a time when the sugar price is dropping, we find that this Government is removing the subsidy. The very thing that it accused Dr Patterson of doing, and the very thing it accused the Whitlam Government of doing, it is now doing itself. I can assure honourable members that the Government’s actions with regard to the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy were not part of its policy last December. What has happened to the great election promise about the Rural Bank? We heard a lot about the Rural Bank, the need for it and the role it would play for primary producers. What has happened to that promise? Not another word had been said on this matter since 13 December. What is the National Country Party now saying about decentralisation? The National Country Party is giving its full support to the Liberal Party’s demolition of the growth centre concept which was introduced by the Whitlam Administration. So we will see less and less activity in country areas.

What is the Minister doing about the dairy industry? It is doing a bit more fence-sitting on the Industries Assistance Commission report on the industry. The governments in Queensland and Victoria will sabotage the report and the drought will send the dairy farmers broke. This Government and this Minister for Primary

Industry have presided over and witnessed 2000 dairy farmers in this country going on unemployment benefit. That is one of the great achievements of this Government. What has happened to the Australian Wool Corporation report on wool marketing? What have the Government and the Minister done in regard to the beef industry? They have subsidised the export levy against IAC advice. The financial benefits go to the exporters, not to the beef producers. Where are all the markets promised to primary producers by this Government when it was in Opposition? That is just another of the great empty promises of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party in Opposition.

What marketing reforms has the Government or the Minister engaged in, besides getting industry offside by blundering in with proposals to restructure the Austraiian Meat Board? What has the Minister done besides publicly and naively admitting that we were dumping meat on the United States market? This Government, which was going to do so much for primary industry, has not even appointed an agricultural attache to one of our greatest potential markets, Japan. Where is the Government’s policy on the grain and cereal industries? Where is the Government’s policy on the fruit-canning industry? Where is the action on the Australian Industry Development Corporation report which showed that we had an excess of fruit in the fruit growing industry and the canned fruit industry? The growers in the Shepparton area have not been paid for 2 years. Where are all the promises now from the Liberal Party and the National Country Party about what they were going to do for people in the rural industries? What initiatives has the Government taken in regard to the apple and pear industry? What has it done about breaking down State restrictions to keep some of these products out? What has happened to the wine-grape industry and the promises that were made by the honourable member for Angas and other spokesmen for the Government? Where is the Government’s action on the IAC report on the dried vine fruits industry? Where is the Government’s action on the IAC report on rural research? In all of these things the great game of deceit has been played.

The great fallacy about this Government is that it represents people in the rural areas. The fact is that in Cabinet the Liberal Party has told the National Country Party: ‘That is the end of the road’. All of the promises that were made prior to 13 December are just empty balloons. Apart from the superphosphate bounty, in what way has the Government alleviated the problems of the people who live in the country areas? On behalf of this side of the chamber, I can assure honourable members opposite that a lot more work will be done by the Labor Party in putting forward proposals that would bring about benefits to people in country areas. The Labor Party’s only crime in government was that we refused to tell people with these problems that we could be all things to all men. Honourable members opposite foolishly, haphazardly and stupidly made thousands and thousands of promises every day they were in Opposition. Now they cannot fulfil those promises. They ought to be condemned for it.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) makes much of the commitment to the rural sector made by this Government prior to the 1975 Federal election. The impossible financial position in which this country was left after 3 years of Labor administration has presented this Government with the major task of reducing inflation. In the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry this year we find not an outlay, but a contribution of $25m to the exchequer. A close study of the estimates will show that this contribution has occurred because the wool industry has been able to pay back a substantial part of a Commonwealth Government loan made to it in 1974-75. This was not a hand-out, as many people in the electorate at large have represented it but a loan in the true commercial sense. It was a loan which provided a much needed dose of confidence in the wool industry during a period of market instability.

It is a sad fact that not all our rural commodities are suited to receiving financial assistance by way of ordinary borrowings, but I commend the Commonwealth Government for providing rural assistance where possible through loans, not hand-outs. Loans do more for the dignity of the rural businessman than hand-outs ever will. Because of a combination of adverse markets, dry seasonal conditions and . high inflation rates, there are several pockets of depression across the pastoral areas of Australia which are much in need of government assistance and direction. In Western Australia there are serious problems in 24 shires which cover the area from Geraldton to Merredin which is approximately 150 miles east of Perth. In Victoria 135 out of” 151 shires are affected- nearly the whole State. In New South Wales the areas covered by 21 Pastures Protection Boards have been declared drought areas. In

South Australia 35 out of 49 countries are affected by severe drought conditions. Substantial rain in the last few weeks has brought relief and some hope to many of these areas but of course it has not altered the need for the provision of assistance now; it has not wiped out the hardships suffered while the drought conditions prevailed.

Many of the farmers in drought-stricken areas to whom I have spoken say that they are most in need of low interest short-term loans to cover farm operations through the crisis period. I am happy to hear that the Western Australian and South Australian Governments have now acted to provide carry-on loans. The Victorian and New South Wales Governments, on the other hand, have been deplorably lax in not taking steps to alleviate the severe financial dehydration of almost all Victorian and New South Wales farmers. No carry-on loans are available in those States. The Commonwealth, since the Budget was presented, has announced a generous openended funding intention for carry-on loans once the States have used up their base amount for national disaster relief. It has also offered an alternative funding arrangement based on a dollar-for-dollar contribution. In the light of unlimited funding possibilities it is hard to understand the inaction of the Victorian and New South Wales Governments. Surely repayable loans are a form of assistance preferable to subsidies and other forms of hand-outs.

This recurring necessity for drought assistance over the years highlights the potential for the income equalisation deposit scheme. Deposits lodged from a year of high returns will be deducted from the assessable income of that year. They will collect interest at 5 per cent and will not be included in assessable income until the year they are withdrawn. Such tax-free money tucked away will enable farmers better to withstand a year of unusually poor returns. I hope the scheme will provide in good years an attractive investment alternative to often unnecessary and unwise purchases of equipment and land as a tax dodge. People on the land should understand all too well the fluctuating nature of their incomes. The income equalisation scheme will provide a realistic opportunity for self-sufficiency through bad times as well as good.

When drought conditions prevail in Australia the earth is scorched, livestock has to be slaughtered, crops stay in the paddock, and hardship is obvious. But the most dogged and persistent thorn in the side of the farmer is not an obvious circumstance like drought. It is an inflated high cost structure. High freight rates, equipment charges, handling charges at terminals, killing charges and high wages mean that the rural industries, both export industries and small import industries, are threatened with cheap overseas products. As I look for the cause of this high cost structure I am not about to indulge in a round of union bashing. The ‘what can I get for nothing’ attitude is a general malaise in our society. We can all afford to take a look inward and inquire about the responsibility of our work attitudes. Here I refer to management, business, unions and farmers. We should look inside ourselves and ask whether we are doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and whether we are carrying out a responsibility towards our nation and the generations of Australians to come.

In the time remaining to me I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the effect of this high cost structure oh some of our smaller import-competing horticultural industries. Some industries at present being threatened by cheap imports and by a high cost structure at home are the apple industry, the canned fruit industry, the dried fruit industry, the onion industry, the mushroom industry, the citrus industry and the raspberry industry. There are many more. I would like to detail the history of one of these industries, the mushroom industry, to show the dangerous pattern which emerges. In 1974-75 supplies of mushrooms, canned in brine and dehydrated, were imported from Asia. This affected the relatively small outlet for Australian mushrooms grown for this market. It caused the rejection of Austraiian crops and the downgrading of prices received by those who found local markets. In the financial year ended 30 June 1974 imports of mushrooms represented, in value terms, approximately 25 per cent of the total Australian market for mushrooms of all types. In May 1975 the Government marginally increased protection of the industry as recommended by the Industries Assistance Commission. Of course, mushrooms from New Zealand remained duty free.

At the time of the IAC inquiry dissenting Commissioner Cossar believed that the IAC recommendations underestimated the injury to the industry and predicted severe under-confidence if the imports continued to flood in. This is what has happened. At present there is a marked vacuum. Imports have become scarce and expensive. Canneries are now encouraging the Australian growers to increase production to meet projected demand for the 1977 season. At the same time the canneries are meeting present demand with imports of fresh mushrooms from

New Zealand, paying 10c a pound more than the local growers receive. When their livelihood is so obviously at the mercy of imports, who could expect the mushroom growers to invest with confidence? The canners in turn claim that they import produce only at a time of shortfall in the local market, but at present there is no guarantee of their good intentions for the growers. Grower confidence is the problem, and we must now decide whether we want to keep in Australia these small though long-standing industries such as the mushroom industry, which are suffering from an abnormally high cost structure. The mere fact that they are having trouble competing with overseas markets does not mean that the importcompeting horticultural industries are inefficient, especially by Australian standards. I will take the mushroom industry as an example again. In its report of 1 0 December 1 974 the IAC stated:

The Commission was impressed by the efficiency of the industry, the high yields it has achieved and by the research it has carried out with very little assistance.

At present overseas exporters have to compete with the price of horticultural produce in Australia. I believe that without these small efficient industries in Australia it would not be long before prices for overseas products would rise and we would be subject to the vagaries of a foreign source of supply. What happens if there are bad seasons in the supplying countries or if a foreign government drops its grower subsidy? The Australian consumer will pay if we allow to develop a situation in which we have none of these industries of our own. The ideal way in which to restore grower confidence is to reduce the high cost structure that is being brought about by inflation. I urge all Australians to show a little restraint to this end. If this does not happen in the near future the Government will have to decide whether these small industries are wanted. If the answer to that is yes then the answer to the lack of grower confidence must lie in the direction of import regulations.


-In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry I wish firstly to endorse the remarks of the 2 previous speakers from this side of the chamber- the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) and the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). They both drew attention to the fact that certain promises were made by honourable members opposite prior to the last election. It is quite obvious that those promises are not going to be kept. Reference was also made to the nitrogenous fertiliser bounty. When this subject again comes up for debate some honourable members opposite will be reminded of what they said on a previous occasion and how they have now changed their minds.

Let us go back to the period a few years prior to the Labor Government coming to office in 1 972. On the basis of the record of honourable members opposite then we cannot expect their record in the primary industry field to be as good as the promises that they made during the election campaign. During the few years prior to the Labor Government coming to office many of Australia’s rural industries, including the wool and wheat industries, were in dire straits. I always say that it is very handy for a politician to have a short memory, but it is handier for the politician if his electors have shorter memories and forget about what has happened in the past. If people were to go back over the years prior to the Labor Government coming to office- the late 1960s and early 1970s- and looked at the position of the rural industries in those years I am quite sure that they would not support the Government parties quite as much as they do.

I am prepared to admit that the people engaged in the rural industries support the present Government, but I think that they do so more as a tradition than anything else. If they were to make an independent-minded analysis of the policies of the past and what happened in the past I am sure that there would be more of them voting against the present Government’s policies. In the first place I think that the National Country Party of Australia and the Liberal Party of Australia have a vested interest in trying to divide the Australian people. They did it in connection with the war in Vietnam. They do it in connection with the position of rural interests as against city interests in that they say that the Australian Labor Party is anti-rural. Unfortunately they meet with quite some success. Of course, in many areas they control the media- the radio stations, the newspapers and so forth- and as such are able to peddle their own point of view.

Let us go through some of the industries that were in strife in those years. Perhaps we should start by looking at the Australian wheat industry. For many years the Australian wheat industry suffered because of the policies adopted by honourable members opposite in that they refused to recognise that there was a big market for our wheat in mainland China. Because of their policies Canada was able to beat us to the gun for that market. Although China did come to us early in the piece Canada beat us to that market to the extent that we were practically frozen out until late 1972 when the Chinese, because of their needs, decided to come back to us. They did not come back to us because of the policies of the then Government. They did so because they needed the wheat and they came to Australia for it.

What happened in this industry because of the short-sighted policies adopted at that time for political reasons? The whole wheat industry had a quota system tied around its neck. Because we did not have the markets, the States had to apply a quota system. I know that it was often said that the States applied the quota system and that the Federal Government did not apply the quota system, but one has to take into consideration the fact that the Federal Government provided the finance for the advance payments for wheat and so forth and was therefore in a position in which it could dictate to the States in this area and that is what it did. So wheat quotas were introduced. Although there were bumper crops in the years prior to the introduction of the wheat quotas there were insufficient storage facilities for that wheat. We saw wheat being stored in anything on a farm that would hold it, including old tanks and plastic bags. There was insufficient storage and there were no markets.

It was not until the Labor Government came to office that firm commitments were made with the People’s Republic of China. The Labor Government decided to recognise that country. As a result our wheat sales to it increased. I think that they were on a much firmer basis than they were previously. The first advance payments for wheat at that time had not been increased for about 8 years. They remained at $1.10 a bushel. One of the first acts of the Labor Government was to increase it to $1.20 a bushel. Two other increases followed. They were the first increases for many years. While we were in government we were at least able to establish firm markets for this product. I understand that the wheat industry is again in trouble and that this time it is because of drought. There have been some good rainfalls recently in some areas of South Australia. It is certainly to be hoped that the industry will get out of its predicament. I am sure that if we were in office the people who sit on the other side of the chamber would be trying to blame us for the drought, too.

I turn now to the wool industry. It had similar problems in the late 1960s and early 1970s in that prices had dropped considerably. They were down to about 29c a lb. The wool industry is another industry that was forced to its knees during the reign of the previous Government, but what did it do about it? After much argument between the Country Party and the Liberal Party a wool deficiency scheme was introduced. The Country Party pressed for a 40c a lb deficiency scheme, but the scheme that was introduced was based on the sum of 36c a lb. It was a little different from the scheme introduced by the Labor Government. One should compare the scheme introduced by the previous LiberalCountry Party Government with the one introduced by the Labor Government.

Let us examine the $30m that was distributed to wool growers because of their falling incomes. It was an ad hoc and badly organised scheme. I think even the responsible Minister admitted that there were anomalies in the scheme. That was quite obvious to me by what I was told by various people I know in my electorate who tried to gain some assistance from the scheme. Because of the way in which the conditions were laid down they did not have any hope of obtaining any assistance; yet at the same time some wealthy people were able to get the maximum of $1,500 provided under the scheme. Because the incomes of wool growers had to be a little over 92 per cent of the income of the previous year the battlers got nothing. I can remember being told by one battler in particular, whose income was 92.17 per cent of that of the previous year, that he had $60,000 worth of debts on his farm but he received absolutely nothing, whereas the person next door was able to gain the full $1,500 although he had no debts on his property. It was an ad hoc program that was typical of the programs introduced by the previous Government. It is the sort of thing that Liberal-Country Party governments are inclined to do.

We introduced a new scheme. It was one which the people in the industry had wanted for quite some time. Our scheme was based on a reserve floor price plan. We made $3 50m available to assist the wool industry. I know that it was not a gift; it was a loan. But it did allow the Australian Wool Corporation to operate on the market and to maintain a decent level of wool prices. It took the humps and hollows out of the market and more or less levelled it out. Whilst it was not the complete solution to the problem it certainly did give the industry a chance to get onto its feet. I know that this year the Government has increased the level of support to 275c per kilo clean, but the point is that the price of wool on the market is somewhere around that figure. So it is not going to cost the Government a great deal. In fact it has been worked out that the Government may be up for only a couple of million dollars. Certainly the scheme introduced by the Labor Government did bring some stability to the wool industry. I am not saying that the wool industry has completely overcome its problems, but it certainly has been in a lot more stable position since the introduction of the Labor Government’s scheme than it was in during the three or four years prior to the Labor Party coming to office.

The next industry I want to discuss is the beef industry. During the bad years that I mentioned earlier the only bright star on the horizon was the beef industry. But what happened to it? Through the adoption of short-sighted policies people were encouraged to increase their beef herds. I know that between 1970 and last year the beef herds in my area increased by 3lA times. The policies were short-sighted in that although we had allowed our herds to increase we had not provided markets for our beef. We had not allowed for what happened in the European Economic Community and in other markets that we had looked on as being traditional markets. The Liberal-Country Party Government encouraged the increase in our beef herds and over the last 1 8 months we have not had markets. The industry is in an extremely bad way and government assistance is necessary. It was the Labor Government which came to the assistance of producers and provided $90m for low interest loans. Later on that Government entered into a matching scheme with the States to provide further assistance, yet it is the Labor Party which is supposed to be against rural producers.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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

Darling Downs

Discussion of the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry gives those of us who are vitally interested in the real wealth producers of this country the opportunity to highlight some of the very serious hardships faced by rural producers. We are dealing with a very significant group. It is significant in the sense that it produces by far the greatest percentage of our export earnings and receives very little Government assistance in comparison with other countries and other sections of the Austraiian work force. It is about time the attention of all Australians was focussed on the personal difficulties encountered and endured by them and on the singular hardships that they characteristically bear in an unflinching way. It is hoped that knowledge will lead to understanding and understanding to a sense of appreciation that the example of primary producers of hard work, expertise and dedicated diligence is for the common good and the individual satisfaction of a job well done.

Total primary production, including mining and quarrying, for overseas earning purposes last year was $6,941m or 74.9 per cent of export earnings, these figures being expressed as at June 1976. This is notwithstanding that the farm work force has declined from 404 000 or 7.3 1 per cent of the total work force in May 1 971 to 352 000 or 5.8 per cent of the work force in May 1976. Due to a decline in prices and quantities produced the percentage of gross domestic production represented by primary production in the farm section declined from the most recent high of 8.87 per cent in 1973-74 to 5.03 per cent in 1975-76.

But the real disaster in the particular and general situation has been the movements in the prices received and costs incurred from the indexed base of 100, the base being the 3 year average for the period 1960-61 to 1962-63. In June 1976 the comparison of prices received with the base index of 100 was 159 and the comparison of costs incurred over the same period showed an increase from the base of 100 to 265. These figures are indicative of the declining position of rural incomes in relation to their costs and costs, of course, are matters over which farmers have no control.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the average age of the working farm community is increasing. We are not attracting the younger people. It is true that there is a real credit gap for finance for purchasing farms but people are being attracted to other occupations where the reward is far greater, where less effort is required and where risks are minimised. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain and we will have to wait until the recent census figures are dissected but in June 1961 the average age of the farming community was 40.5 years. In June 1966 it was 41 years and in June 1971 it was 41.7 years. I believe there will be a marked increase in this figure when the latest figures are available.

This is not acceptable. We need young, vibrant farmers who will restore us to the previous position of being a rich and fortunate country. The Labor Government, during its 3 years, concentrated a deathly attack on primary industry and brought it to the verge of economic and social disintegration. Farmers are not receiving sufficient return in relation to effort and risk. Rural income in real money terms gives increasing cause for concern and declining reason for confidence. Taking 1970-71 as the base year, and using information obtained from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, we ascertain that the average income for farmers in real money terms, expressed at constant 1970-71 prices, was $4,038 per annum but for 1976-77 it is estimated to be $3,611 per farmer per annum. The farmers of Australia have legitimate concern for their future position as members of society. They have every reason to question and one could excuse them for rebelling when faced with facts regarding the allocating of government assistance. Subsidies paid in respect of people engaged in the shipbuilding industry in Australia amount to $13,000 per worker per year and the equivalent of $3,700 per person is paid in subsidy to the car manufacturing industry, whilst the recent Budget allocated from Australian Government sources only $607 as government assistance to each farmer. In the United States of America in 1974, the last year for which figures are available, $1,708 was allocated as assistance for each farmer.

Every farmer can be excused for his expression of righteous indignation when he has to digest information indicating that his share of the manufactured article in Australia is declining with monotonous regularity. Let us consider a few examples. As prices have gone up in recent years the farmer has received a miserly deal. He is the forgotten man in the system. In 1956 the retail price per gallon of liquid milk was 50c. The producer received 60 per cent. I am referring to prices received at the factory, not at the farm gate. In 1975 the retail price was $1.28 a gallon and the producer’s return represented 47 per cent not the 60 per cent he obtained in 1956. Similarly, butter cost 44.36c per pound in 1956 and the farmer received 82 per cent of that amount. In 1975 he obtained not 82 per cent but 40 per cent from the retail price of 72.36c.

Mr Millar:

-It is no wonder that the honourable member for Wide Bay, speaking on behalf of his constituents, should say: ‘Shame on the Labor Government’. In the case of cheese, the corresponding figure, based on the 1956 retail price, was 44.36c per pound and the farmer’s return was 42 per cent. In 1976 the retail price was 88.77c per pound and the farmer’s share represented 25 per cent. The figures for wheat, in the form of bread, came down from 58 per cent in 1949 to 30 per cent in 1961 and 15 per cent in 1976. For a pure wool worsted suit off the hook, the wool growers share of the consumer’s $1 was 14.3 per cent in 1949-50 but it declined to 8 per cent in 1960 and 2.3 per cent in 1976. There is a message running through all these figures. The Australian farmer obviously is a very efficient producer but he can stay in business only if he receives a just return for his efforts. I submit that the situations I have quoted must change.

Dealing with specific estimates, in this debate it is welcome and refreshing to note the allocation of $1,682,000 this year, as compared with $1,255,000 last year, to the Wheat Research Trust Account and the increased allocation, from $192,865 to $254,000, for agricultural extension services, as well as a similar updating of funds for barley research. Australia, a very dry continent by world standards, needs a continuing research program. Parallel with this research we require adequate channels to disseminate the results of such research. Australian agriculture owes its success to a mutually beneficial relationship involving the farmer, the scientist, and the extension officer. It has been a good partnership. We are most grateful for the spirit of co-operation.

What is the benefit of this research? Its principal contribution is that it allows farmers to be cushioned against savage cost increases. Recently, in Queensland, research officers of the Department of Primary Industry at the Hermitage Research Station, near Warrick, in the electorate of Darling Downs, released corvette, a new stock feed barley variety. These research workers, workers with infinite patience, conducted more than 60 trials and the figures indicated an average yield increase of almost 18 per cent over the current commercial variety, clipper. This is the first barley variety released specifically for the stock feed industry. Although it will not be suitable for malting, it may be acceptable for human consumption in Japan and Korea. Similarly, wheat breeders at the Wheat Research Institute in Toowoomba have under trial this year 1000 individual plots of new crossbread wheat. Our wheat breeders are world class. Names like Soutter, Rosser and Syme are recognised as outstanding men, even in world discussions. Their work in releasing wheats which were rust resistant has allowed Australia to produce wheats which attract premiums on the world market on account of their protein quality and quantity and on account of their hardness, colour and milling quality. The emphasis in the past has been on rust resistance. But I believe that we must channel an increased amount of finance into the area of frost resistance. Yields are often drastically reduced through frost damage which is not as spectacular as rust but which is equally as costly.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-In speaking to the estimates of the Department of Primary

Industry I think it is about time that this chamber had its attention drawn to what must be the greatest single risk to primary industry in Australia. It is a risk which has been allowed to continue over an extended period of time. This year work was scheduled to start on the establishment of an animal research laboratory facility to provide serums and other protection against exotic animal diseases. Every honourable member will be aware that any outbreak of exotic disease in Australia will immediately close our export markets for beef and other meat products. Commencement of work on this facility has been deferred for at least 12 months and, most likely, indefinitely. That, in itself, would not be serious if we were assured of long-term supplies of the necessary serums and also if we were confident that our quarantine facilities were up to scratch. I recognise that quarantine is a matter for the Department of Health but the Department of Primary Industry must have the major vested interest in the success or failure of quarantine facilities in Australia.

I draw attention to the situation which has existed in Western Australia over a long time. There has been a dispute between the administration of the Department of Health and quarantine officers in the field, or one quarantine officer in the field in particular, to the extent that during part of this year no qualified quarantine officer has been operating at Port Hedland. The greatest amount of snipping tonnage in Australia passes through this port. It comes from areas where there are materials which are quarantinable and which could carry the types of viruses which would set off diseases which would destroy sections of our primary industry. The port of Fremantle and other Australian ports subsequently fumigate more ships which have passed through Port Hedland than through any other port in Australia. The quarantine record at Port Hedland is abominable, to say the least. I think the quarantine officer is currently suspended. He may be back at work but that is immaterial. He was subjected to direction from clerical administration personnel on whether fumigation of ships was warranted. As I said a moment ago, the number of ships which pass through Port Hedland without being quarantined and which are subsequently fumigated in other Australian ports is extensive. I would say there are too many ships. Too much politics is involved and not enough consideration is given to the problem concerned.

We have been extraordinarily lucky. For instance, a few years ago Argentina suffered an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Its export beef industry was totally destroyed. Our industry faces problems, some of which are in the political area. I point out that material from international flights which pass through Perth airport has for years been dumped on an open tip. I understand that an incinerator has now been put in. This is not something isolated to the period of one government. It has been going on for a long time. If honourable members look at the report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration they will note a reference calling for an independent inquiry into the treatment and handling of quarantine matters in Western Australia. I repeat that, in the first instance, this is not a matter which is the responsibility of the Department of Primary Industry. But I suggest that that Department will be most affected in this situation because these conditions have existed for too long as a result of internal politics in another Department.

I point out that the policy speech of the National Country Party of Australia, issued for the last election, indicated that it believed in the establishment of a maximum security laboratory for research into exotic diseases. Unfortunately, the Government has felt that it can afford to place major sections of our primary industries at risk as a money saving operation. In fact, this year the Government will save an expenditure of less than $10m. This will delay this project for at least 12 months and, most likely, increase the cost of it by the amount the Government has already saved. I think the Government should look at this project as a matter of urgency. Certainly, it should make serious inquiries into the questions surrounding quarantine in Western Australia. This matter has already been the subject of at least one investigation. Quite clearly, the situation is less than satisfactory. Certainly, quarantine inspections of the level which Australian primary industries should be demanding are not being carried out in that State. If they are, then other States, where second port of call fumigations appear to be the norm, must be overzealous. I doubt that that is the case.

I think it is important that the Committee look not at nice words. It is easy to say what a great thing the farming community or any other community is. It is important that the Committee should have before it the realities which face primary industries rather than those things which honourable members would like farmers to think they face or which farmers themselves would like to think they face. The realities are that markets will become increasingly more competitive and costs within Australia will not be reduced. Anyone who suggests that either of those propositions is not true believes in fairies. They are facts of life. At the moment there appears to be agitation, at least within the office of the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia (Mr Anthony) and possibly within the National Country Party itself, to solve what is a long term problem with the short term solution of devaluation. The other problem which I see facing primary industry is what I would describe as the cannibalism technique. This has been developed over a period of years. If one section of the industry starts to decline and if another section has had a good year there is a rush to move into that section of the industry. Thus, that section of the industry is very quickly destroyed or brought into a situation of less than satisfactory returns for the traditional growers. The dairy industry is currently in that situation. I think it is worth while pointing out that not many years ago the present Minister for Primary Industry or the Leader of the National Country Party of Australia- I am not sure who was Minister at the time- asked the Victorian Government to stop expanding its supply of dairy farms in the Heytesbury area. The Minister was told very promptly to go jump in the lake, that while people were prepared to go on farms the Victorian Government would keep putting them on the farms. Up until earlier this year that was still the policy of the Victorian Government although at the other end of the State people were being bought out and commercial forests were being established on dairy farms. A lot of short-sighted policies which are designed to meet an immediate political need are being pursued. After Britain did not get into the Common Market in 1964, for instance, there was encouragement from the National Country Party, both inside and outside this chamber, to people in Victoria to grow pear trees. About 8 years later we had a scheme under which they were paid to pull the trees out again. It was shortsighted and it brought tragedy to a lot of people who were told that both schemes were in their interests. If there is no serious consideration of long term problems, the problems will grow rather than diminish.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-I commend the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) on many of the utterances he has just made. It is a change to see some degree of responsibility coming from the Opposition benches on the matter of rural estimates which we are debating this afternoon. However, the honourable member for Port

Adelaide (Mr Young), who spoke some time ago, seems not to have learned from the mistakes of his Party in office. We cannot differentiate between the state of the economy, the degree of inflation, the increase in costs, the lack of an export competitive position, the huge increase in freights and other matters that affect rural industries, as the honourable member for Port Adelaide attempted to do. It is just not realistic to do so. We cannot look at the economy industry by industry and ask what the Government has done for each industry until we first of all go to the main problem, and the main problem which has put rural industries in the position in which they are today is inflation. Rural industries, which have not got an arbitration commission and which have not got the weight of industrial might behind them, cannot live with high inflation. This Government, supported by people like me, will continue to try to tackle the No. 1 enemy of the future well-being of rural industries- inflation. I will touch on that subject a little later.

Before I get off the general topic, there is much evidence to back up my contention. The last was given at the Senate committee inquiry into the wine industry in Adelaide some weeks ago. Having discussed fully all the problems of the wine industry, questioning revealed that the general view was that the No. 1 enemy was inflation and that if we could control inflation, the wine industry would have some hope of profitably trading in the future. Let us now look at costs. I commend the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) on his graphic description of the decreasing returns that a wide range of rural people are getting today. What is the reason? The fact is that processing costs, abattoir costs, cannery costs, the cost of labour, of raw materials and of fertilisers- all costs- thanks to the government of the last 3 years have risen completely out of control. The major job for this Government in order to overcome the position we have inherited is to attempt to control those costs. Let me put the cost ratio of the honourable member for Darling Downs in a slightly different way. Over the last 3 years, for every unit of price increase that the primary producer has received, costs have gone up five units.

The other terrible, damaging effect that raging inflation and high costs have had is on the competitive position of all exporting rural industries. I shall mention again some figures which I have mentioned before in the House. In the past 3 years in which the Whitlam Government was in office the average wage in America went up by 39 per cent. In this country it went up by 102 per cent. Our cost of production in nearly all areas, including manufacturing industry, is now considerably ahead of the cost of production in America, and this is another problem that we have inherited from the previous Government. Somehow or other these costs have to be controlled if primary industries, other than the mining industry, are ever to be profitable again, on export markets.

We can contend, as honourable members do from time to time, and not only on the other side of the chamber, that we must have more welfare provisions and more care for the aged, that we must have more expenditure on education and a wide range of welfare requirements. But we cannot do so, if the position of the income earning industries of this nation is ruined. We must have a base on which to introduce the proper, decent and sincere feelings that we all manifest in regard to welfare provisions before we can bring them into effect, and one of the first things that this Government has to do is try to remove some of the hindrances, to try to gear rural industries to a totally new situation, because there can be no going back to the cost structure of days of the past, and to try to help these constructive industries, dollar earning industries, to get back on their feet.

Freight charges have almost doubled in 3 years. It is fine to have the Australian National Line giving its employees good conditions. When we take into account weekends, public holidays and what have you, they get about 5 months of the year on holidays. That is marvellous and nobody could wish for people living away from home a better set of conditions, but only if the country can afford them. If the granting of these conditions threatens to cut off the very lifeblood overseas earnings- on which we found all our expenditure in the welfare state, we should look carefully at them.

Let me run through, in the few minutes I have left, some of the things the Labor Government did achieve. It threatened to wreck the wool industry’s floor price scheme but the scheme was saved by Caucus at the last minute. It succeeded in telling farmers they had never had it so good. It took off 3 dairying bounties, scrubbed the superphosphate bounty and cut out the sales tax exemption on carbonated soft drinks thus leaving idle machinery throughout horticultural areas such as the Goulburn Valley. It removed various deductions from taxable income, some of which we have already reintroduced. It generally destroyed the rural confidence of that time. It destroyed our export position. It ruined the brandy industry and put it in a position from which it will probably never recover. But worse still, in the hunt for cheap votes it drove a wedge between rural and city interests, and that will take a long time to overcome. We need in this Parliament more people who will point out that the interests of both sectors are complementary and that one sector cannot exist without giving sympathy to the other.

Some of our policies, and we have 3 years to bring them in, are proving more difficult than we thought they would. However, we are determined to introduce a young farmers’ scheme to help young farmers purchase their own land. The proposal to establish a rural bank, I am glad to say, is showing more promising signs of coming to fruition than it did a few months ago. We have introduced income equalisation deposits which, peculiarly, will help turn small farms into viable farms in the wheat and wool industries now and later on in the beef industry. We intend to tackle death duties in due course. We on the back bench are determined to do this. We intend looking at averaging provisions and preferably apply them to all sections of the community whose incomes fluctuate violently. Already we have looked at welfare provisions. We have for the first time granted the unemployment benefit to those people in rural areas who were affected by the devastation of the last 3 years. Family allowances are helping those on low incomes and new Australians in many horticultural industries.

Finally, no matter how the Government interferes with or subsidises or gives indirect aid to rural industries, these industries will never fully recover economically until inflation and some of the costs I have mentioned are controlled. The Opposition does not seem to understand the gravity of its own actions. I return to where I started: We have the terribly difficult task of trying to get a reasonable proportion of the end price back into the hands of the primary producers.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Transport

Proposed expenditure, $254,721,000.


-A considerable amount of time and investigation could usefully be spent on examining the estimates of the Department of Transport. Transport is becoming one of the great problems of the second half of the twentieth century. The fact that major transport operators are no longer able to guarantee profitability is a matter of serious consequence. The central parts of our major cities cannot really cope with the current levels of traffic flow. There is a lack of adequate transport facilities in our major cities, especially from the outlying districts. The construction of endless miles of freeways will not solve these problems without the total destruction and disorientation of the central areas of cities.

Australia is confronted with greater problems than other countries are because of its small concentrations of population spread over a vast area which must be traversed; but this cannot be done economically. The current situation is that transport is tending to decline in a number of areas because of a lack of profitability on the part of operators and the incapacity of the community to meet the costs of the provision of reasonable transport services. This problem exists not only in the cities but also outside the cities.

We are also losing the ability to service our transport requirements. Railways have reached the position of being bulk carriers and that is probably their most economic function. Coastal shipping is in decline and most likely will continue to decline. I think it is a matter of concern that railways, which should not have the capacity to be competitive with shipping in terms of long haulage bulk carriage between mainland ports, should in fact be more than competitive in some areas. This is something that people involved in the maritime industries ought to be looking at very seriously. It is fair to say that it would be possible for shipping to become more competitive if the Commonwealth shared its involvement in the various parts of the transport system. But I suggest that is a conjecture that has most likely very little substance because immediately Australian involvement moved out of this area we would be completely at the mercy of the shipowners whose reputation throughout the world has never been one of benevolence and the freight charged would likely be the highest the market could bear.

I believe that this Committee, the Government and the Department whose estimates we are considering have to look very seriously at the subject of long term investment in our transport industries in order to make sure that the capacity to move goods between population centres and between points of production and points of usage still exists at a level which will enable the community to continue to use those goods. We are confronted with some problems. The very heavy losses suffered by Qantas Airways Ltd last year must be a matter of concern. I understand that the situation currently is in reverse. But the facts are at any time a price cutting war could take place in respect of international air routes and

Australia would have little influence on such a situation.

The suggestion that one of our domestic carriers might enter the overseas air traffic field, even on a fringe basis in the initial stages, should be looked at with very great suspicion as such a move would reduce our ability to compete in those areas and would reduce the standing of Qantas as an international airline. It would also endanger the structure of both the 2-airline policy and our international operator.

The most pressing problem, and the one which must be tackled, is the incapacity or capacity of our cities to handle the movement of traffic. Traffic is growing at a rate that is far in excess of the capacity of the road systems to handle. The inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney are being inundated with through traffic. The municipalities of those areas must bear the costs brought about by the heavy flow of through traffic which does not create any revenue or satisfaction but in fact destroys the urban environment in which the people in those municipalities live.

A large number of forms of transport are evolving and they should be investigated to determine their suitability for moving large numbers of people from point to point. Bulk carriers in Melbourne- and I think the situation is the same in all major population centres- such as suburban railways and trams are geared to carry traffic to the central point or major city area. There is virtually no co-ordination even between government-owned and operated transport. There is little provision for the movement of traffic across urban areas from the point of residence to the point of employment which, especially in the case of factory workers, tends to be not in the central city areas but off to the fringes of the city areas. A considerable cost will be involved in re-organising the urban transport systems so that those systems can cope with a greater proportion of the demand. I think that we are all sufficiently realistic to know that when people can use their private motor cars they will continue to do so even though the cost to the community is very extreme. The movement of people en masse is a problem that has to be confronted. The pace at which motor vehicles in Melbourne and Sydney travel during peak hours on working days is almost zero, and it will continue to decline, if that is possible. The only form of relief is in inner urban transport planning, the cost of which will be extreme. Up to date, the capacity of the State governments to provide this facility has been very low.

The Department of Transport has a very important community service to carry out. I wish to mention only one other matter, namely the State of Tasmania which is almost totally dependent for its economic viability on the manner in which the Department operates. At the moment, that is under some threat because of reductions in transport and passenger opportunities to that State. Tasmania is extremely dependent. It was promised considerable assistance; it does not look like getting it.

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


– I am pleased that the honourable member for Corio, (Mr Scholes) mentioned the tremendous problems that my State of Tasmania has in the transport field. I am somewhat surprised that he did mention our problems in Tasmania because his Party and his Government- the Whitlam Governmentfailed very dismally in their 3 years in office. The Whitlam Government did absolutely nothing to remove the great economic disadvantages suffered by Tasmania because of its physical separation from the mainland. During those 3 years between 1972 and the end of 1975 there was a great deal of talk by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam), and I might say by former Labor members of this House, but nothing was achieved. What a marked contrast between that lack of effort and interest of the previous Government and the great effort and interest of this present Government, and of the present Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), who is now at the table.

Immediately upon taking over the portfolio the present Minister ordered that Mr Nimmo, the person heading the Commission of Inquiry into Transport Charges to and from Tasmania, should complete his report and issue his recommendations. Within 6 months of the present Government taking office we had that report. Quite properly, the Minister then consulted interested people in Tasmania in particular, and individuals and industries to find out their views on Mr Nimmo ‘s recommendations. Then, quite remarkably, on 1 July the northbound freight equalisation scheme was put into operation. That scheme is unique. It is a complex scheme and contains a great amount of detail. I believe that its implementation by 1 July was a significant achievement by the Government and by the present Minister, and I think the Minister should be praised. A great deal of praise for the scheme has come from the public in Tasmania, from people involved in public life in that State, from industry spokesmen, and indeed from a whole cross section of the Tasmanian community. At this time, I believe that it might be appropriate to mention the great assistance rendered in Tasmania by the Honourable Max Bingham, the present Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania. He had much to do with the initial formulation of the scheme, with his recognised deep concern for Tasmania, his drive and his enthusiasm. I compliment him on his efforts.

In the estimates which are now before the Committee substantial funds- $ 16m- have been allocated for the scheme of which I now speak. The Budget also includes subsidies of $2m for the Empress of Australia passenger service to and from Tasmania and $2. 8m in retrospective payments for losses incurred by the Australian Shipping Commission on the Tasmanian run in 1975-76. This scheme is vital to Tasmania. Already it is providing new opportunities for primary and secondary industry in that State. It will do much to encourage new industry to Tasmania and to provide the State with a sound economic future. Again, I commend the Government and the Minister on this magnificent new scheme.

I take the opportunity to draw the Minister’s attention to some of Mr Nimmo ‘s recommendations which have not yet been implemented. I speak in particular of assistance for people travelling by air between the Bass Strait IslandsKing Island and Flinders Island- and the mainland. The Commission of Inquiry recognised the special problems of the people on those islands and the report contains one of Mr Nimmo ‘s few specific recommendations. In respect of King Island, Mr Nimmo recommended that a subsidy of $7.50 per adult passenger fare between the Island and the mainland should be paid. I stress to the Minister that such assistance is needed. The economy of King Island in particular is in a very bad way at the moment. A further recommendation, not yet implemented, relates to the suggestion for a daylight sea passenger service between the mainland and Tasmania providing a return crossing in 24 hours, with an express cargo service by night. I believe that that suggestion has a great deal of merit and could be of great benefit to the Tasmanian tourist industry. I know that these matters are being looked at by the Minister, but I do support them and trust that something will be done about them in the near future.

I want to touch briefly on another issue which is current in my State- the north-west airports at Wynyard and Devonport. There is a real need to maintain and upgrade these 2 airports to service the north-west coast area of Tasmania. The

Government has undertaken to maintain the airports, which are vital links in the Tasmanian air transport system. Again I mention that Mr Nimmo found expressly in his report that these 2 airports were needed and were essential for the north-west coast. That statement can be found at page 1 86 of his report. I do not believe that the 2 airports are suited to the local ownership plan. Therefore, I do not believe that they should be transferred to local authorities. As I understand it, the plan is used predominantly to transfer ownership of airports serving local community needs to local community authorities, and the airports on the north-west coast do not serve only local community needs. In fact they serve some 12 municipalities on the north-west and west coasts of Tasmania. There is not simply one local government authority with particular concern for these airports but a whole range of different municipalities and different areas. I would not therefore support any suggestion that the airports should be taken over by local authorities. It must be recognised that the people of Tasmania can travel only by sea and air between the mainland and Tasmania, and that in itself gives these airports special status.

I believe that we must also consider the figures relating to passengers travelling by air and using the airports and the movements at the airports. The latest figures available for the 12 months to 31 December 1974 show that the number of passengers using the Wynyard airport in that 12-month period totalled 95 43 1 and the Devonport airport 105 447. Those figures alone indicate that the airports are very important. . Looking at the whole of Australia they rate very highly as airports. I believe that they should be maintained and upgraded and controlled by the Commonwealth Government and not by local authorities. As I said, the Government has undertaken to retain them, and I trust that it will upgrade them. There is a need at the moment for new facilities at the Devonport airport in particular, and I suggest to the Minister that he look very carefully at the submissions made by the Commission in relation to the north-west airports. I know that he has a copy of the submissions.


-In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Transport, I should like to advert to the information provided to the Senate Estimates Committee, which covered revenue as well as proposed expenditure. In response to the comments of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom), I should remind him and the Committee that although he spoke in glowing terms of the present Government’s activities in relation to Tasmania, those activities are the result of schemes put forward by the previous Labor Government. The honourable member needs to be reminded, as does the Parliament, that there was a subsidy scheme in existence for Tasmania many years ago and that the Liberal and National Country Parties, during the period of their administration, abolished that scheme. It was a Labor Government in 1 972 that reintroduced a form of subsidy. It was a Labor Government that appointed the Nimmo committee of inquiry. Despite all the attempts of the Labor Government, it was unable to get the report of that inquiry before the Parliament so that the extended subsidy scheme could be looked at and legislation brought in.

It should be mentioned also that whilst the honourable member claims the support of and gives credit to the State Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania, Mr Bingham, he conveniently neglects to mention that the proposals for the stevedoring industry in Australia that have been advanced by this Government are completely opposed by the Tasmanian Liberal Party. Mr Bingham has been very forthright and has spoken very strongly of his State Liberal Party’s opposition to the proposals for the stevedoring industry. I think in fairness to the stevedoring industry and to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), who is at the table, because of the importance of the stevedoring industry to transport generally, it would be well for him to talk with Mr Bingham about that matter also.

Mr Hodgman:

– What about your crowd jacking up freight rates by 50 per cent?


– The honourable member will have his chance to speak later. As I told him the other night, he would be a good addition to a zoo. People would pay money to see him. I note also that the first monthly payment under the new subsidy scheme for the month of July is just over $7,500. I can understand that that is very early because the accounts should be paid before the claims can be made. However, it is a beginning. I was suprised by the smallness of the subsidy. I was surprised by the question asked by the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher) in the chamber a few weeks ago when he sought protection from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) for New South Wales apple growers against the inroads of Tasmanian apple growers. This is a spin-off result. The Tasmanian members of the Government ought to get together with the New South Wales members to sort out the position. The first point I make about the estimates for the Department of Transport is that there is little time in 10 minutes to try to look at the pages of information available on the Department of Transport which points up the total inadequacy of this kind of system.

Mr Nixon:

– You have wasted nearly half of your time already.


– I am keeping something for the Minister. The particular point I want to bring before him is the subject of Connair Pty Ltd. He has been very forthright in his blunderbuss approach to negotiations or any talk about Connair. Yesterday he put out a Press release. I ask him in his reply to clarify the last sentence of it. Having talked about negotiations taking place over a tentative basis of compromise, he says:

In that event, talks would continue with a view to maintaining essential air services in the Northern Territory and minimising employment opportunities for the pilots and other staff employed by the company.

I ask the Minister to specify whether that means he will do his very best to get rid of as many pilots as possible and to reduce the service as much as he can.

Mr Nixon:

– Can I correct that? That has been corrected publicly. It was ‘ maximised ‘.


– I am sorry. The Minister says he has tried to correct it. I can only read from information submitted to me.

Mr Nixon:

– It has been re-published.


– I have not received a copy of it. I happen to be a member of the public and I have been asked this question by a member of the Press. What does the Minister mean? In addition, in the 16 years since Connair has been in operation, over $8.2m -

Mr Nixon:

– How many years?


– The subsidy has been paid for 16 years. Including the provision for this year it totals $8.2m. I think a lot more information needs to come before the Parliament in respect of the operation of the company. I ask honourable members to look at the evidence submitted before the Senate Estimates Committee C last week when the estimates for the Department of Transport were examined to see how difficult it is to get information about actual operations. Many of the questions were neatly side-stepped. A great deal of public money has been paid to Connair. Now, as the pilots put it, the proprietors can take a unilateral decision. I would like to ask the Minister to reflect upon this and to clarify the situation as to whether the proprietors or the management can take a unilateral decision to close down the operation without reference to government and without reference to the people who are served by that airline.

Mr King:

– Do you want to close them down?


– I am urging the opposite. I say that the company has a public responsibility because of the large input of public funds and that it would be improper if the company could take a unilateral decision in that respect.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


-Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to the Minister’s Press release of 1 1 October wherein he referred to minimising employment opportunities for pilots and other staff of Connair. I want to draw his attention to the report of the Australian Financial Review of today’s date where that same information is repeated. Whilst the Minister may claim that there is some correction, I again put to him that he ought to clarify for the people of the Northern Territory whether he intends to reduce the range of services provided by Connair, whether he intends to reduce the number of services, and whether there is to be an extension of service, a maintenance of service or a reduction in the number of pilots.

Speaking to the Connair question, I mentioned earlier that $8.2m had been paid in subsidy to Connair since 1961-62. Item 08 of subdivision 3 of division 655 of the estimates for the Department of Transport refers to retrospective grants of subsidy in respect of Connair for the years 1974-75 of $50,000 and for 1975-76 of $83,000. I should like the Minister to give some explanation to the Committee of what I see as a most unusual practice. I have no knowledge of a subsidy in the past being granted on a retrospective basis going back 2 years. No information was put to Parliament even though Parliament was sitting at the time and no publicity has been given to it in any of the statements by the Minister, unusual as the item is. It is tucked away on page 40 of the estimates. If one takes the $133,000 provided there and the $550,000 provided to Connair as subsidy in the current year and the $298,000 provided to Connair under subdivision 5 of division 957 as loan, the total for this yeareven though the financial year is different, the calendar year is the same- is $981,300. That is almost $lm. Yet we have a situation where, because of the Minister’s blunderbus approach to industrial relations, the airline threatens unilaterally to close down the service. It should be borne in mind that there is a substantial public loan to the company and that in the years since 1961-62, $8.2m will have been paid to the company. I think it is something that bears public examination. I know that an interdepartmental committee is looking at it and I hope that the Minister will elaborate on the information to which I have referred.

I should now like to refer to the starring requirements covered in Budget Paper No. 4 which provides for a reduction of 340 in the staff of the Civil Aviation Division. Whilst the Minister has told me in reply to a question on notice that the reduction is by wastage and has to do with the non-replacement of non-essential positions, I think honourable members would benefit from a definition of a ‘non-essential position’ and of an ‘essential position’. If one looks at the numbers of staff for each of the divisions of the Department of Transport, we find that overall it is projected that there will be a 3 per cent reduction in average staffing in the coming year. In respect of civil aviation operations the reduction is 4. 1 per cent. I should like to tie that figure in with the information the Minister has given me on the causal factors of aircraft accidents in general aviation. It is very interesting to note that, of the 1464 causal factors in the last 5 years to 1975, 250 relate to airframe factors, power plant factors or other airworthiness factors. I put to the Committee that there is serious ground for diquiet at to what this Government is doing in the airworthiness division of the Department. I have raised this matter before. I have said that during the June quarter two out of the three positions dealing with airworthiness directives were not filled. The Minister has not responded to the comment I made at that time. I should like him to respond later this evening, in particular in relation to those items which I have just mentioned. They are covered under Question No. 1 172 of the House of Representatives Hansard.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-In speaking on the estimates for the Department of Transport, I particularly wish to commend the Government’s provision of $64,600,000 for urban public transport projects. This is nearly twice last year’s allocation of $34,096,000. It represents a massive increase in real terms. It is a generous allocation when we consider that the overall transport allocation was only able to be increased marginally because of the Government’s attention to reducing the deficit it inherited from the previous Labor Government.

Urban public transport must be given increased attention to contribute to the quality of people’s lives. This is particularly so in the rapidly growing outer suburbs such as Reynella,

Morphett Vale, Christies Beach, Hackham and Port Noarlunga south of Adelaide in the Kingston electorate. The Government’s generous allocation in this sphere shows that it does care about people.

In our society the motor car is and will remain the dominant and a necessary form of transport. Some would seek to destroy the use of motor cars completely. I refer to a recent article in the Arena magazine entitled ‘The Transport Trap’ by a Mr Don Atkinson. He advocated the replacement of the motor car by public transport so as to destroy private enterprise in the form of motor vehicle manufacturing and thereby bring about the establishment of socialism. I am sure that the workers at Chrysler Australia Ltd would not appreciate having their jobs destroyed by the implementation of such ideological nonsense. It is an ideology which Mr Atkinson no doubt shares with members of the Labor Party. Such a policy is foolish in economic terms and ignores the real value of the motor car as a useful form of transport. However, it needs to be recognised that the motor car is not adequate to serve everyone ‘s transport needs. Half the population of Australia do not even have licences and therefore are totally precluded from access to the freedom which a motor car provides.

Increasing traffic congestion in peak periods makes the motor car less viable as a form of transport for commuting to work, particularly to the central business districts of our capital cities. The increasing costs of motoring both in terms of capital cost and in terms of day to day running costs is also another factor which mitigates against the viability of the motor car as a universally satisfactory form of transport. Of course day to day running costs will become worse as Australian oil supplies continue to be depleted.

Hence there is a need to encourage the development of adequate public transport faculties. This is implied in the Government’s generous allocation of funds to the States. This encouragement should be undertaken in a positive way. There is a need to look at the movement pattern needs of people. It is time for new thinking and new ideas in the public transport sphere. There is a need to look for new alternatives. This is preferable to a policy of deliberately downgrading the viability and mobility of motor car users and thereby forcing travellers on to inadequate public transport systems. This system has failed in the past and it will continue to fail unless a new approach is taken. - Adelaide has a unique opportunity to initiate change in this sphere. By comparison with other major cities it has a small population and geographic area which needs to be serviced by public transport. Therefore it would be less costly to implement adequate new schemes. Adelaide is also not yet experiencing the severe traffic problems of Sydney and Melbourne. Hence there is a chance to act before it is too late. However, I repeat: If public transport is adequately to serve the needs of people, we need to look at new concepts. It is no good providing more of the same such as more big buses even if we make them more trendy by fitting air conditioning.

In the suburbs of the Noarlunga region which I mentioned earlier and which are located in the Kingston electorate, poor transport facilities considerably reduce the quality of life for the people living there. The economic depression which we suffered under Labor meant that job opportunities in that local area have not kept pace with the rapid population growth. Many people therefore have to commute long distances to work. That is not too bad if they work in the city centre of Adelaide. But to travel anywhere else they have to go into Adelaide and then travel out again to their respective suburb. Therefore, there is one significant need and that is to reduce the convergence of public transport systems on the Adelaide city centre. It is important to establish cross suburban transport routes. These need to be based on a detailed study of movement patterns.

It is equally important to serve the needs of housewives and children. They also need an adequate public transport system to serve them within their local area. Fulfilment of their needs requires facilities to provide access to shopping, medical care and schools within their local area. There is also a need for feeder transport to the points of departure of transport out of the local area to Adelaide or elsewhere. Also, for such a feeder service to operate efficiently there will be a need for transport interchanges to be provided and located at these major points of departure.

It should be noted that the bicycle is making a comeback as a form of tansport over relatively short distances, yet there is no provision on trains or other forms of public transport for the carriage of bicycles. Such a provision would allow the use of bicycles to and from a train or other form of transport at each end of the journey. This, of course, would greatly increase the mobility of commuters. As an adjunct to this, consideration also needs to be given to the provision of cycling tracks in many areas.

In serving the needs of people who are dependent on public transport the question of extending the hours of operation of public transport should be considered urgently. This is particularly so if public transport is to be an adequate alternative to the motor car. This may in turn require a more flexible approach by transport workers and their union leadership to working conditions. If extended operating hours, which would be required to provide greater flexibility of public transport, are going to be effective, they would need to avoid being cost prohibitive. This may require an easing of penalty wage loadings or perhaps the employment of part time staff to make such a system viable. Hence, overall there is a serious need for an integrated and complementary public transport system to serve the needs of the people adequately.

The very generous allocation of $64,600,000 by the Commonwealth Government to the States -nearly doubling last year’s allocation- gives the States the resources to get on with the job. It represents two-thirds of the costs of approved urban public transport projects. It is important that the States should use these funds wisely in initiating worthwhile projects. There must be good management and rigorous evaluation of the cost effectiveness of projects. Steps should also be taken to ensure that there is adequate and improved productivity from existing services and a maximum use of existing capital facilities. In this way buses which may be idle during off-peak periods could be used to provide the inter-suburb and local transport services which I mentioned earlier. It is to these details that State governments should apply themselves.

I also look forward to continued Commonwealth Government involvement in the sphere of urban public transport. Continued funds should be available to the States for this important sphere, whether on the basis of tied grants or, as the federalism policy is implemented, on an untied grants basis. The Commonwealth also has the resources to undertake research and development, and to provide encouragement and innovative ideas which may be adopted by more than one State. I particularly hope that this role continues to benefit the increasing number of people in the major cities of Australia who are dependent on public’transport to a very great degree for their mobility.


– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Transport, one of the things which concern me is the way in which the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) is allowing the Department of Transport to be run down. In the very short time in which he has been the Minister for Transport we have seen the way in which the allocation for public transport has been frozen, and I will deal with that at greater length when the relevant legislation comes before this chamber. We have also seen the way in which the establishment of a road safety and standards authority has been thrown over and the way in which the Government has not proceeded with the setting up of the Inter-State Commission to investigate the transport requirements of this country. It will be remembered that we accepted an amendment from the present Minister for Transport when the legislation to set up that commission was being debated. If ever a country needs an Inter-State Commission, particularly one concerned with transport requirements, it is this country with the length of our railways, sea lanes, roadways and airways, and the associated problems. The thing which really concerns me is that the Minister for Transport who is supposed to be a senior member of the Government- he is a Cabinet Minister- is allowing his Department to become a second rate Department as it was prior to 1972. 1 hear an honourable member on the Government side protesting that he is a good Minister. He may be a good Minister, but he is making a hell of a mess of transport, and that is what we are discussing here tonight. We are not discussing Peter Nixon; we are discussing the question of transport.

One of the initiatives which we were on the verge of introducing- in fact, a Cabinet submission on this matter had been presented- was the setting up of a transport accident investigation authority. It is a project which I consider to be of major importance. It was the next major project which we were going to undertake. It is something in which the whole transport industry is interested. Over recent years there has been public comment on the issue of conflict of interest arising from the responsibility of the Department of Transport, on the one hand, for the regulation of transport, including safety, and for the provision of facilities and services and, on the other hand, for the conduct of certain safety investigations. At present several divisions of the Department of Transport are responsible for devising and/or applying transport safety standards, particularly in the air and marine fields. There is also a separate air safety investigation branch for investigating all aircraft accidents and air safety incidents. At present this branch acts under the delegation of the powers and responsibilities conferred upon the Secretary of the Department of Transport in the Air Navigation Regulations and reports directly to the Secretary.

Where an aircraft accident has been investigated by the Department and the Minister considers it desirable in the public interest, he may appoint a board of accident inquiry to inquire into the causes of the accident and other specified matters.

One can refer briefly to some of the accidents that have occurred in the aircraft industry over recent years. There was the Ansett Viscount which crashed at Port Hedland. There was no public inquiry into that crash. There was the Winton accident in respect of which there was a public inquiry. There was the confusion and the antagonism within the aircraft industry concerning the incident involving a Pan Am Boeing 707 at Sydney. There was the incident involving a Pan Am Boeing 747 when the late Sir Donald Anderson took to task the captain of the Boeing 747 about the ILS system. We must not forget the incident involving a TAA Boeing 727 and a Canadian Pacific DC8. All of these incidents should have been the subject of inquiry, of deep and detailed investigation by an authority in a position to make such an inquiry.

Departmental investigations are made into accidents and hazards concerning ships, and through the Navigation Act the Minister is empowered to appoint investigators for this purpose. Also he can refer occurrences to courts of marine inquiry for public investigation when he thinks this is necessary. However, there is no separate branch to carry out investigations which are made by officers of the Department whose normal duties are concerned with the setting or application of marine safety standards. Once again in the field of shipping one has only to refer very briefly to the Noongah inquiry. It was a most unsatisfactory inquiry and a most unsatisfactory situation. The same thing could be said about the Sedco Helen disaster, the Atlas dredge, the Blythe Star and the fire on the Amanda Miller which destroyed the ship whilst it was on the slipway. Just recently there was the incident involving the Cellana in Sydney Harbour. That matter is at present under inquiry and I cannot say anything more about it.

I turn to the railways. In the Australian National Railways accident investigations are usually made by the heads of branches involved acting either singly or jointly as may be necessary. In this way the authority examines its own accidents and there are no distinct institutional arrangements for handling such work. However, when accidents involve the loss of life the Minister may appoint a board of inquiry with powers similar to those of a royal commission. Turning to roads, there are virtually no investigations conducted by the Department of Transport in respect of road accidents. However, there are provisions in the Constitution which would authorise legislation to confer on an authority power to investigate a wide range of road transport accidents which could be held to come within the jurisdiction of the Australian Government. One has only to refer to the bus fatality in the Snowy Mountains region and to draw attention to the fact that an expert group on road safety in its report of September 1972 recognised the value of in-depth investigations of particular accidents or causes of accidents. That inquiry was initiated by the present Government. There is any amount of evidence to support the establishment of the sort of inquiry or tribunal to which I am referring.

I propose that the responsibility for the investigation of accidents and some other hazardous occurrences in all modes of transport should be brought together under a single independent authority that reports directly to the Minister for Transport. I am not saying this in any disparaging terms to the Secretary of the Department, for whom I have the greatest respect. I appointed him to that position and I think that he is one of the best Permanent Heads in the Commonwealth Public Service. I congratulate the Minister for Transport for retaining him. I believe that the requirement for such an authority to report directly to the Minister would lead to the most efficient use of the technical and other resources available and also would be compatible with the integration of the Australian Government’s involvement in the planning, development and regulation of transport. In the United States of America the National Transport Safety Board was set up for a similar purpose in 1967. It is virtually independent of the Department of Transport. Furthermore, the Canadian Government has indicated that it is likewise going to set up such an authority. When I was in the United States of America in 1975 I had reason to confer with Mr Coleman, the Secretary of the Department of Transport, who assured me that, even though it was not his Administration’s decision, it was most satisfied with the way in which the Board is working and that he would highly recommend it to any government.

Such a transport accident investigation authority could be responsible for investigating all aircraft accidents as well as marine, road and rail accidents which fall within the Australian Government’s jurisdiction. It could also investigate other safety occurrences referred to it by the Minister for Transport. The authority could take over the accident investigation work currently carried out within the Department and the Australian National Railways. It could report on the investigations it carries out and be able to make such recommendations to the Minister as it deems appropriate to avoid accidents in the future. The major aim of this proposal is to make the process of investigation independent of the Department of Transport and kindred bodies.

The authority could be empowered to conduct investigations in public and could be required to do so when requested by the Minister. That would avoid the need to set up individual independent boards or courts of inquiry for each occurrence, as happens under the existing legislation, and would ensure that staff experienced in public inquiries into transport matters is continually available. Furthermore, if this authority were established and became operative I should hope that the States would be prepared to refer some of their transport accidents to it for investigation. I am really setting out to try to achieve a means of getting away from the position in which one is appealing from Caesar to Caesar and in which Caesar is investigating Caesar.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


– I was most interested in the comments made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I have taken it to be part of the new policy of the Australian Labor Party that some sort of investigatory body should be established within the Commonwealth sphere to investigate transport accidents. It is an interesting concept, but we have seen such interesting concepts have their ramifications in many other areas. The spread of the Commonwealth into the transport area over the 3 years of Labor Government was anathema to those persons who have had regard for planning and for rationality within the sections of the transport industry.

The Committee is now debating the estimates concerning the transport industry. It is of particular interest to me to note that the expenditure on transport constitutes 20 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product. It is essential to develop and maintain an efficient and economic transport system which meets the requirements of the commercial sector and which serves to assist Australia’s economic well-being. In those circumstances imaginative and effective ideas are needed to cater for both the great percentage of the population living in coastal cities and the requirements of the numerous and dispersed inland centres of population.

The transport industry is one of the most important industries in Australia. It either adds to or detracts from not only our domestic product but also our international product and the wellbeing of our country. The total funding for transport has grown over the last few years. We have seen it grow still further in this Budget. In 1974-75 it was $4 18m and in 1975-76 it was $494m. This year-1976-77-it is to be $5 18m. The grants and assistance to the States and local government- indeed, in relation to national projects- have grown in a manner that is commensurate with the importance that this Government and the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) place upon transport. The roads section of the transport allocations in this Budget deals with subjects as widely diverse as national highways and rural roads. The general roads grant has been increased this year from $ 1 36m to $ 1 40m.

One of the previous speakers- I believe it was the honourable member for Kingston (Mr Chapman)- mentioned urban public transport. There has been a very great and important total growth for this aspect from $45m to $64m this year. I think that is an indication of this Government’s contention that urban public transport is one of the most important areas to which the Government could devote its mind. It is interesting to note in respect of the allocations to the States that New South Wales will receive an increase in its assistance from $ 14m to $29m. The assistance given to New South Wales this year has actually doubled. I commend the Minister for providing for that.

It no longer should be the cry of the Premier of New South Wales or the Minister for Transport in that State that the Federal Government is not concerned about urban public transport. They have no excuses for declining any longer to make important, advantageous improvements to the urban public transport system of the State. Since the change of Government in New South Wales we have seen no plans for improvement of the urban public transport system, whether it be by way of railways, buses or other method of public transport. I would like to pay tribute to the previous Premier of New South Wales for his ability to convince the Federal Government of the importance of public transport. However, public transport is one section and one section only of a very large and important area. These estimates cover such diverse items as shipping, aviation and rail transport. The expenditure on all the areas of importance as assessed by the Government and the Minister has been increased in this year’s Budget.

One subject that I would like to bring to the Government’s attention is the importance of the private transport sector. Whether it be in matters of road haulage, private buses, shipping or any other area of private transport, I think that the care and attention which can be devoted to the encouragement of the private sector to do more and to take up some of the leeway and some of the slack which is being demanded by governments at the moment would be an enterprise and an objective that would be applauded by many people within the nation. I would like to point to some of the savings that may be made by such a way of doing things.

It has come to my notice that the New South Wales Government is placing greater and greater emphasis upon day labour in its construction programs. Should this policy be pursued recklessly, as I fear that it may be, the ultimate benefit to the people of New South Wales- the employment situation, the welfare of many employees within the State- will be greatly damaged by that Government’s policy. I think that the capacity for governments to be more effective and to improve their management is illustrated best by the fact that if all the hospitals in New South Wales were to be cleaned by private contractors there would be a saving of $39m. I think that if we were to extend that sort of concept to government contracts, if we had contracts which were firm but which did not show favouritism, contracts which demanded delivery of service and considered the well-being of the people they were meant to serve, contracts that were thoughtfully designed and thoughtfully let, we would see in many sections of the community a growth in the capacity of government to provide those services which the public so strongly demands.

The honourable member for Newcastle, the previous Minister for Transport, had words to say about the Interstate Commission. I think the Commission was one of the most disastrous episodes of the Labor Government. I know that his intention in regard to transport was sincere but the Bill dealing with the Commission was not drafted in such a way that it was restricted to transport. It covered many areas of commerce and transport between States. It was the sort of proposal that could have controlled completely all travel, commerce and business with Australia.

The inter-relationship of types of transport is something to which I think the Government needs to turn its mind. Ships dock in ports which basically are controlled by State governments. The States are responsible for the design of those ports, but then, in one way and another, the goods brought into the country find their way to the consumers. On the other end of the operation, our exports may be damaged seriously by the possibility of delays and poor design of the operation involved in getting those exports from farm to ship or from factory to ship. It seems that there is great scope for thoughtful integration of programs associated with the different modes of transport, particularly in the handling of freight. The Bureau of Transport Economics and the Bureau of Roads, if amalgamated as is proposed by the Government, could well be an important factor in design and in advising State governments. They could participate in a sensible way; not in a way which seeks to control the activity of State and local governments but in the provision of information to those authorities about the most economic way of moving freights and providing transport services.

We are an exporting nation and our capacity to stay alive on world markets may well depend on our capacity within the transport area. The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) would well know that it is most important, if we are to stay competitive, that our transport system be efficient, well designed and related to all modes. Transport by rail, road and ship must be readily convertible, one to the other, so that there is maximum benefit for the producer or the consumer. I commend the Government on its Budget.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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

Mr Les Johnson:

-The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) is regarded far and wide as being strong on rhetoric and very short on ideas. He presides over what is fast becoming a disaster area. The many heads of transport referred to by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) are deteriorating. I want to refer to a deteriorating scene- the road scene in Australia. Under the National Road Act the Commonwealth and State governments are required to co-operate to develop a system of national highways. This program, as mutually approved, is to qualify for total funding by the Commonwealth. The national highway system totals some 16 000 kilometers and comprises the most direct road links between adjacent mainland capital cities. It also covers the highways linking Brisbane and Cairns and Hobart with Burnie. The Minister has told me in correspondence that some 70 per cent of the system requires construction or reconstruction and that it will take some 10 years to bring the existing system to suitable standards. Judging by the way things are going I think he has been very conservative in his estimate. A period of 30 years probably would be closer to the mark.

In the light of this critical situation the Bureau of Roads, in its Report on Roads in Australia 1975, has recommended that the declared system of roads should not be extended at this time. Of course it knows that it ought to be extended but it realises that in view of the limited finance which the Government is prepared to make available for roads it is quite useless to propose extending the system. Even the Minister for Transport would concede that most of our major highways need upgrading. This certainly applies to the Hume Highway, the Princes Highway and the Pacific Highway which can only be regarded as national disgraces.

On 30 September last the Australian Automobile Association recommended that an additional $130m be injected into roads this financial year. The President of the Association, Mr M. A. K. Thompson, claimed that such expenditure would yield benefits in the vicinity of 4 times that expenditure, that the program would significantly reduce unemployment and that State and local governments are to stand down roadworkers because of the lack of funds. We already have seen some evidence of that. He also claimed that rural communities with pockets of unemployment would be assisted and that a stimulated road construction program would generate activity in many basic industries. He instanced in particular the bitumen industry, the blue metal and quarrying industry, the heavy machinery industry, the cement and steel reinforcement industries as being likely to benefit. It sounds like a good case to me. Additionally, there would be a major requirement for roadside furniture as he put it- the hardware necessary for safety and dividing rails, signs, light posts, lighting fixtures, wiring and the countless items that go into making a modern road.

The additional amount of $130m which Mr Thompson asked for was the difference between the Government’s reduced allocation and the amount recommended by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. In its report the Bureau proposed 5-year expenditure program of $2,988m until 1980-81 and contended that this program would yield net benefits of $ 1 1 ,6 10m or 3.9 times its cost. It was also estimated that $775m would be saved in accident costs, $3,630m would be saved in occupant travel time in commercial vehicles and $4,045m would be saved in vehicle operating costs. Obviously those figures represent a sensible and impressive case put forward not by politicians or someone with a partisan axe to grind but by experts who know about the road system and who are considering the needs of the travelling and commuting public in Australia.

The Government’s increase in 1976-77 was not $ 130m as proposed but a niggardly, pathetic and inadequate increase of $35. 8m. That increase is hardly sufficient to take account of the inflationary trend. Regrettably, the Minister, with characteristic short-sightedness has offhandedly dismissed the proposal on the dubious contention that the program would be inflationary. In other words, inflation is being used as an excuse to curtail public initiative in the area of road construction and development. Meanwhile the Government talks about the need for productivity. It seems to think that we have to produce motor cars but producing roads does not come within the same area of consideration when thinking about productivity. Why, in my area we have a toll road. If people are prepared to pay for a road, as they do, in such instances to produce a road is as much a contribution to productivity as it is to produce a motor car. If the Government wants to deal with inflation by increasing productivity the Minister ought to abandon his prejudice towards developing Australia ‘s road system.

Amongst the most neglected road systems in Australia is the complex used for coal exports. In the area north, south and west of Wollongong and Port Kembla coal trucks monopolise the system throughout the rural, residential and commercial areas. The South Coast Conservation Society estimates that some 700 coal trucks a day bear coal over the roads for export through Port Kembla. Trucks come in to the Camden coal washery from Lithgow, Singleton and other places as massive truck movements serve the collieries stretching through the northern suburbs of Wollongong, which area I represent.

The Council of the City of Wollongong, individuals and organisations have been loud in their condemnation of the anguish and nuisance which these massive trucks cause to residents and motorists and the appalling damage done to the roads system in that area. Over the last year federal revenue has benefited to the tune of some $30m derived from the coal export duty. Of course, there is other revenue as well but the $30m from the coal export duty in respect of Port Kembla is a result of the throughput of 5 million tonnes of export coal with the imposition of the duty of $6 per tonne. In addition, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd uses about 5 million tonnes of coal a year in its Port Kembla steelworks. None of this revenue has been allocated either to the upgrading of coal roads or to the development of a relevant rail network to carry coal for export.

The Wollongong rail system is a working museum of delightful antiquity. Nowhere else is there such a need for modern rollingstock and loading and unloading facilities. Yet it remains the most inadequate and outmoded transport system in the entire country. Nothing has happened. There has been an effective curtailment of public expenditure on roads and other transport systems of Australia while this Government has prevailed. It escapes every sense of responsibility and all logic that in these circumstances the Government has now decided to phase out the coal export duty which could be used to facilitate the transport of coal. The duty on high quality coal is to be reduced from $6 to $4.50 per tonne and on other coal it is to be reduced from $2 to $ 1.50 at a cost of $37m in a full year. The industry can afford to pay the coal export duty. That duty should be channelled directly into the development of export roads. Virtually no roads in this great export region have been designated under the legislation relating to export roads. I commend the Minister to consider that instead of wiping out the duty on coal he should take positive steps in the Cabinet room to give the people of the Wollongong-Port Kembla region a fair go with some reasonable degree of safety by using some of that money to develop the WollongongPort Kembla road system.

Wide Bay

-In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Transport I shall first comment on the remarks of the exMinister for Transport and honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) regarding the recommendation that a transport accident investigation body should be established. I have no doubt that the honourable member is well motivated in his suggestion. But after listening to the detailing of a number of tragic and unfortunate aircraft accidents I am moved to feel that many people who have occasion to work in the industry or who utilise the facilities of the industry may have some apprehension as to their security and wellbeing. I suggest that we need not so much a body to establish why accidents happen but to establish some machinery to ensure that they do not happen.

Mr Charles Jones:

– Did I not say that?


– I ask the honourable member to wait a moment. The Australian aviation industry has a record second to none in this field. There is a most efficient organisation designed to ensure the wellbeing of all those who travel. This applies particularly to the aviation industry. There is a system of air navigation orders and aeronautical information circulars which should ensure that no aircraft takes to the air unless it is in an airworthy condition. Tragically, in the main the accidents which occur are the result of pilot error. The manipulative skill attached to flying an aircraft is easily determined but the quality of airmanship is a much more intangible thing. Making the decision when to turn back or when to press on and when to persist with an approach for landing should be done in accordance with the criteria as laid down by the aviation authorities or transport group authorities and, if properly adhered to, should ensure that an aircraft will not meet with misadventure.

The honourable member referred to 2 accidents. To the best of my recollection there is no mystery about them as the causes of the accidents were determined. In the case of the Viscount aircraft which tragically crashed at Winton, it is my best recollection that the accident occurred because a fire broke out in the wing and destroyed the mainspar. This was occasioned by a piece of ancillary equipment which had not been serviced as it should have been and as the air navigation orders required it to be. It set up a localised fire which spread and burnt out the mainspar.

Mr Charles Jones:

– What about the helicopter that went down in Bass Strait?


– That accident should not have occurred. The honourable member referred to the accident between a Boeing 727 aircraft and a Canadian aircraft. They collided while the 727 was in the process of taking off and the Canadian aircraft was taxi-ing. To the best of my recollection it was established that the pilot in command of the Canadian aircraft had blundered in his taxi-ing pattern simply because the runway taxiing procedures had been changed since he was last at the airport. He stumbled on to a taxiway notwithstanding that the correct clearance had been given to him. Relying on his past experience on that airfield he proceeded on the wrong taxiway. There is no mystery about these accidents. In that respect the establishment of a transport accident investigation body will serve no useful purpose. Certainly, while it would be handy to have that body for retrospective guidance, it involves further expenditure and a further burden on the resources of Australia. It falls back on to the Government to make judgments in this matter in light of all the pressing considerations for other demands. When we consider that 25 per cent of our Budget goes to health and welfare and that another $2,000m goes to education- all these areas are pressing, probably quite rightly, for more and more Government expenditure- we must be conscious of some responsibility for austerity or certainly there must be a lack of extravagance in doing ail that we would like to do.

The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) put a case which is not unfamiliar to all of us. He suggested that the expenditure of another $130m would be a bargain. He detailed how we would gain. But this presupposes that we have the capacity in the first place to fund the bargain. Anybody who has gone to Singapore or Hong Kong knows how one can go broke buying bargains. Certainly, this would be a bargain but we have to outlay the money in the first place to recoup the benefit in time. Again, it comes back to household budgetary considerations which concern any government. The estimates for the Department of Transport involve an amount of $254,72 1,000. This is not to be confused with the $433.5m which has been made available to the States for roads in the year 1976-77. This is provided for in another portion of the Budget. If I remember correctly the figure in the Budget for transport and communications is in the vicinity of $ 1200m. The amount is substantial. Administrative costs are quite significant. Out of that amount of about $254m the sum of $132,800,000 is to be provided for salaries and payments in the nature of salary. There is varied expenditure. The amount for postage, telegrams and telephone services is $4,400,000; for fuel, light and power it is $5,600,000; and for meteorological services it is $9,582,000. This gives some idea of the massive costs involved in maintaining a very worthwhile service to the community. It is also significant that there is a subsidy of $60,800,000 to meet the operating losses of the Australian National Railways. Honourable members will recall statements made here and protests lodged against the action of the previous Administration in taking over the responsibility for the Tasmanian Railways and for the non-metropolitan railways in South Australia. This, no doubt, was a remarkable coup for the governments of those States. But the inescapable fact is that now the Commonwealth Government is required to fund that amount of $60,800,000 which is a further imposition on the taxpayers of Australia. This expenditure accommodates some political ambitions of the leaders of those 2 States and of their Federal colleagues of that time.

One matter which has occasioned concern to many people and which relates to local government authorities is the foreshadowed abolition of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Its expenditure is reduced in this appropriation to $1,288,000 from $1,837,000. Great apprehension is expressed by these people, who have a particular interest in this type of funding, as to their fate following the abolition of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. There seems to be a misconception that as well as following its charter to determine the needs of Australia for roads, the Bureau must also determine the level of funding to be provided by the Government. It is not impugning the Bureau of Roads if the Government provides less than the Bureau recommends. The 2 activities are quite divorced. The Bureau has the responsibility to establish need; the Government has the responsibility to determine the capacity of the country to fund that need.

I am sure that the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) having demonstrated his concern for road and other transport requirements of this country would have been delighted to fund in excess of the recommendations of the Bureau of Roads. However, it would have been irresponsible management of the nation’s affairs had he done so. We are persuaded by the Minister, and there is no need to doubt his assurance, that the activities of the Bureau of Roads can be well accommodated by the Bureau of Transport Economics and his Department to ensure that with the facilities and knowledge they have the same result can be achieved and economy will be effected in the process.

There is little doubt from the level of funding of local government and from the assurances given to local government that the Commonwealth Government has its best interests at heart and that the future of local government under our federalism policy is assured. The added bonus in that respect is that this policy gives accountability to all people engaged in the 3 tiers of Government. We have, of course, been required to lift air navigation charges by 15 per cent with variations applying to international aircraft depending on whether they terminate their nights on the coast of Australia or proceed beyond it. No government likes to increase charges, particularly in an industry which has had a difficult job for a period of time. It is true that this Liberal-National Country Party Government when previously in office subscribed to a policy of 80 per cent recovery of charges in the aviation industry. However, it had the sensitivity and responsibility to adjust its thinking to meet the requirements of the industry when it was particularly hard pressed. This is in distinct contrast to the previous Administration which foreshadowed increases of 400 per cent had it remained in office. In some isolated cases in industries there were increases of up to 1300 per cent. This Government has always demonstrated its sensitivity to the requirements of transport in this country and I am sure that it will always apply itself in the manner which in the past has brought considerable acclaim.


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


-The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) will recall that I have raised the question of his disastrous rail policies on repeated occasions. I raised it again 3 months ago. He will recall that last May the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) announced that an independent inquiry was to be held into the Adelaide-Crystal Brook standardisation project and into the Tasmanian railway system. The evidence then pointed to the fact that the Government was searching for any excuse to run away from its legal obligation to provide a national railway system.

Mr Morris:

– He said that.


-He did. That belief has been reinforced by the Minister’s recent actions. When announcing the appointment of the committee of inquiry on 20 May the Treasurer said that the Committee was to report on the matter within 2 months. I have asked repeatedly about it, and 4’A months later the committee still has not been formed. In the Budget provision was made only for already committed works on the Adelaide-Crystal Brook project, and in his news release on the Budget, the Minister for Transport had this to say:

For the time being expenditure would be restricted to these works, but depending on the outcome of the previously announced inquiry into this project, additional funds could be made available later in the financial year.

No doubt the Minister’s choice of the phrase later in the financial year’ rather than ‘later this year’ was no accident. He certainly is not going to lay himself open to charges of indecent haste. That is pretty obvious. The Minister also failed to include in his statement that the previously announced inquiry he had referred to had not been set up, nor did he give any reasons for the delay. Subsequently, in reply to a question on 25 August, the Minister said that the delay resulted from difficulty in securing the services of people whom the Government wanted to appoint to the committee of inquiry. I find it impossible to believe that it would take 4 months to find competent people to appoint to the committee. To understand the real reasons for the Government’s actions one has only to look at its record since taking office. It is clear that the Government uses committees of inquiry to cut back, delay or demolish programs of the previous Government. The Hay Committee is a classic example. It was instigated in the hope that it would find evidence of widespread waste and extravagance in expenditure on Aboriginal Affairs. The Committee found little evidence of it, as leaks to newspapers have suggested. Similarly, we have had the Bland Committee, the Medibank Review Committee and others, all used as instruments to disguise or justify Government cut-backs.

The committee of inquiry into the Crystal Brook railway project has already pardy fulfilled its function, without even having been formed, by delaying progress for over 4 months. Not that delays on this project are anything new to this Government, the Government already has had over 20 years experience in that. It ought to be remembered that the original concept of the standardisation of Australian railway gauges was a vision of the Chifley Labor Government. It not only acted constructively towards its implementation but also laid down the foundationsthe factual and necessary data- by setting up what I understand was the first and only national inquiry into rail standardisation. That inquiry was headed by Sir Harold Clapp and the report was presented to this Parliament in 1945. The Chifley Labor Government went further when it entered into an agreement for the implementation of rail standardisation in South Australia. This agreement was signed in October 1 949. An article in the Adelaide Advertiser of 2 1 October 1949 had this to say about that agreement:

The agreement is substantially the same as that drawn up under the previous joint Commonwealth-State arrangement, except that the financial provisions are changed the estimated Commonwealth share is £ 17m to be spent over a minimum of 8 years. The agreement guarantees the conversion of most of the South Australian railway system to the standard 4 foot 8½ inches gauge and the completion of North-South line.

Five days later the Advertiser reported comments made by the then South Australian Tory Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, in these terms:

The Government proposed to push ahead with the project in the near future, but that did not mean that all types of the work would be undertaken straight away. He could not see why an early start could not be made with earth works.

That was in 1949. The project then was to commence within 12 months. The Liberal-Country Party Government had a splendid record from 1949 to 1972. Governments in South Australia, irrespective of their political colour, have pressed for the standardisation of the Adelaide- Port

Pirie railway since 1949, yet Adelaide remains the last capital city still to be connected with the other capital cities by a standard gauge railway link. The Tory Federal Government was not persuaded to take any action on this matter until the late 1960s when it finally commissioned Maunsell and Partners to act as consulting engineers for an inquiry into this project. The Minister and I know all about that. He would not accept anything other than the Maunsell and Partners Report. The Minister said that on no fewer than 6 occasions. As I recall most vividly he claimed in this House that it was the only firm competent to undertake the survey. Is it not remarkable? We are now back to square one. We need another inquiry.

I again challenge the Minister, and I have done so before, to deny that on 22 February this year the South Australian Minister for Transport called on him at his office in this building to discuss finance for the Adelaide-Crystal Brook rail project. At that stage the Minister was attempting to curtail the provision of $2.7m which had been committed for the standardisation project. The South Australian Minister received an unqualified assurance from the Commonwealth Minister that the project would proceed along the lines contained in the Maunsell report and the agreement ratified by both Parliaments. The Minister has remained silent ever since and I would appreciate a comment on that later. When he now delays for 4 months the formation of this committee it is more compulsive evidence that his real motives are to cripple the project. Not only are the Government’s tactics in this matter dishonest and negligent, but they are also causing unnecessary problems for South Australia. State authorities are unsure whether they should keep their engineering teams planning the project or relocate them on other duties. The longer the Minister fiddles, the more problems he creates.

Whilst the Government’s handling of the Crystal Brook to Adelaide standardisation project deserves the strongest condemnation, its whole philosophy towards transport is shown in the Budget to be as regressive as it was 3 decades ago. The Government refuses to recognise that the problems facing road and rail systems in Australia are in fact caused by undercapitalisation. Australia’s major highways are generally little better than sealed bullock tracks. The combination of heavy vehicles and antiquated roads results in high maintenance costs for our major highways as well as high road tolls.

Australia’s railway systems suffer a similar problem. Railway tracks are are often too steep, too winding, too light and therefore too slow and too uneconomic. How can the railways provide an adequate economic service with inadequate and in many cases worn out hardware? This Government’s solution is to downgrade the railways by reducing capital expenditure and closing down lines. It is a simple philosophy and a very effective one. Finance for capital works on the Australian National Railway is $36. lm in this year’s Budget, compared with $5 1.9m in the 1975-76 Budget.

Mr Charles Jones:

– That was when we had a Labor Government.


-Exactly. Although the Minister for Transport seems unaware of them, there are compelling reasons why the Federal Government must assume its responsibility for the railways. Only the Federal Government can provide the injection of capital needed to bring the State railways systems into the twentieth century. Only by allocating the capital outlays necessary can road and rail transport in Australia be brought up to date with the rest of the advanced world. The tragedy of the present policy is that future generations will pay heavily for the short-sighted economies and neglect of this and the preceding Tory governments.

Minister for Transport · Gippsland · LP

– A number of honourable members have taken part in the debate tonight. Some contributions have been quite excellent, thoughtful and constructive. Others have been less excellent and quite destructive. I think that the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris), who is the shadow Minister for Transport, needs to watch his position on the front bench of the Opposition because the performance he put up tonight certainly must call into question his capacity to handle the task. While the Opposition has able back benchers such as the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) and the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi), who was at least constructive and thoughtful in his approach, quite clearly the honourable member for Shortland will need to improve his performance as shadow Minister for Transport if he is to retain the support of those who sit behind him. The back bench of the Opposition also includes the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who as an ex-Minister for Transport knows a little about transport. It must be very hard for the honourable member to suffer the blunderings and mistakes of the front bench of the Opposition.

Having said that, and not wanting to be political, let me comment on the contributions that were made. The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom), who was the second speaker in the debate, made a very thoughtful contribution. I am pleased that he has recognised the strength of the freight equalisation scheme and the importance it has been to Tasmania. It is quite extraordinary to think- and the honourable member for Braddon carefully pointed this outthat the present Opposition when in government made promises to help Tasmania in respect of its freight problems but in fact failed to produce the goods. It took a change of government to bring about a real tackling of the problems that Tasmania faces. I have taken on board the questions that the honourable member raised about the King Island air subsidy and other matters that were raised by the Nimmo Commission. As the honourable member pointed out, these matters are under study and announcements will be made at the appropriate time.

The honourable member referred to the Wynyard and Devonport airports. He pointed out the importance to Tasmania and to northern Tasmania in particular, of these 2 airports. He made a plea that the airports not be taken in under the local ownership plan. Of course, no decision has been taken on this, but I ought to point out that the primary purpose of the local ownership plan is to try to make better use of resources. Let me explain it this way: If a person employed at an airport does not have full time work, he can sometimes be better employed if he is employed by the local authority and used also on other functions. A number of jobs to be done at an airport might be cleaned up in two or three weeks and the person employed for this purpose might be idle for another two or three weeks. The purpose of the local government ownership plan is to make better use of resources. Of course, the local government authorities are not left without funds for either capital works in this case or for maintenance. The Commonwealth provides a dollar for dollar subsidy for the works that the authorities undertake. I think that honourable members have been told before that we are now investigating those aerodromes that are outside the local government plan to see what ought to be done about them and whether there are special circumstances in relation to those aerodromes that are not yet members of the local government plan. So we will also hear more about that at a later date.

The honourable member for Shortland referred to Connair Pty Ltd. It is quite clear that he does not know the first thing about the subject. It is quite clear also that he has been relying on leaks, or ‘discussions’ I suppose might be a better expression- half baked discussions- that he has had with a member of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots whom everyone in this House would know about, particularly his political leanings. The honourable member has not done very well. I think he ought to go back, get on the telephone and try to get himself better informed. In the first instance the honourable member does not understand the basis of the subsidy that has been paid for Connair. He has asked me for an explanation. He could go to the previous Minister and get a quite responsible explanation just on the facts of the agreement in respect of Connair. He could go to the Parliamentary Library and read the history books. It is quite simple. For example, he does not know why an extra $50,000 was paid to the end of 30 September 1975 which is the end of Connair ‘s financial year. He was questioning the payment as though this Government has given it some handout. That is how ill-informed the honourable member is.

Mr Baillieu:

– Charlie will not tell him.


-You ought to go to Charlie, ask him and get a few facts so as he gets to understand the principles behind the agreement in respect of the subsidy. He does not understand why an extra $100,000 subsidy was paid to 30 September 1976. Again he could at least have gone to Charlie and asked him. Charlie might tell him.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

-Order! I suggest that the Minister refer to the honourable member for Newcastle in the correct way.


– He ought to go to the honourable member for Newcastle and ask him and get a few facts. The history of these matters is so old that it is a terrible thing when I have to come into this place as Minister and educate the shadow Minister on these basic facts. But I do not propose to do so. Let the honourable member for Shortland go to the honourable member for Newcastle or to the Library and do his own research work.

The honourable member for Shortland puts ridiculous questions to me. He spent half of his time complaining bitterly about some Press release. I tried to explain to him across the table that there had been a genuine mistake made in the typing of the release. Extraordinarily enough the typing error was not picked up even by Captain Smithwell who was the President of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and who approved the Press release. I did not issue the Press release until it had been approved by the Federation. A word in the release was typed incorrectly and the honourable member for Shortland spent half of his speech complaining about that mistake. The only newspaper that did not print the correction was the Australian Financial Review, and I am not surprised at that. I know that there are a lot of disappointed people behind the honourable member for Shortland. I was watching their faces when the honourable member spoke as shadow Minister. I know that a number of people thought they could do a lot better on the front bench on that issue than the honourable member for Shortland.

The honourable member also raised the question of airworthiness and made the very brave statement that most air accidents are caused by engine failures and the like, as though he had found a new truism that had not existed before. He went on to point out in a somewhat unsubtle way that it was his belief that the engine failures were due to a lack of airworthiness. I have tried to point out to him before that I do not want to dignify those sorts of stupid remarks by answering them. The fact is that there have been no cases of aeroplanes going into the air which are not airworthy. They go through the fundamental and proper procedures to obtain their airworthiness certificates. All general aviationTransAustralia Airlines, Ansett and other airlines throughout Australia- go through the proper procedures. I do not think that the honourable member for Shortland does civil aviation any service at all by making wild allegations that are not factual, and I would suggest to him that he should do a little bit more homework on that subject as well. Mr Chairman, I have been asked if I would be seated at this point to allow the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) to make some comments. I will continue my remarks after the honourable member for Grey has finished.


-I wish to make a few remarks on the estimates for the Department of Transport. Like the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi), I am concerned about the railway systems, and particularly about the Alice Springs-Tarcoola railway. In a statement made last May by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), he said that the Government was looking at economies that could be effected in that railway. Apparently a committee has been set up to study those economies. The result of those inquiries is not yet known, but it would be a retrograde step if any economies were effected which downgraded the standards of the railway. Not very long ago I had the opportunity of examining that railway and watching the operations and the laying of the track, which is of a high standard. It is an allwelded heavy rail track, tied to concrete sleepers and heavily ballasted. It is a first class track, and I hope that any economies which are made do not reduce the standard of the track. My personal view is that if any cuts have to be made it would be better to slow down the job and ensure that the standard is maintained. Any lowering of the standard would possibly mean greater costs later on. I imagine that the heavy track which is there at the present time is for the possible exploitation of the Lake Phillipson coal fields, which are 80 to 100 kilometers up the track. Certainly it is a first class job, thanks to the former Minister for Transport, who initially agreed that it should proceed.

One other matter dealing with railways on which I hope the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) will comment is the arrangement with South Australia for the transfer of the South Australian country lines. I know that discussions have been going on and that a couple of matters relating to the transfer of employees still have to be sorted out. Most of the employees with whom I come into contact who are members of the old South Australian Railways do not know what the future holds for them. I hope that agreement can soon be reached on these outstanding matters so that the transfer can take place. I know that there are problems with such things as superannuation and compensation. Commonwealth compensation does not match the South Australian system, and in relation to superannuation, there are advantages and disadvantages under both systems. I hope that these things can be ironed out and the agreement put into effect at the earliest possible date.

On the question of highways, the week before last I had the opportunity of attending the opening of the Eyre Highway. The Minister claimed that the highway was built as a result of his report. It may have come from a report of his, but the legislation which brought the national highways program into operation was introduced by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). The road is still not completed and there is still some further sealing to be done, when it will be bitumen right through. Now that that job is almost completed, I hope that further consideration will be given to the Stuart Highway, which I know has been the subject of an inquiry because of the route which it will take. It is a fact that the present route is probably longer than it needs to be and I know that an inquiry is being conducted. I trust that once the Eyre Highway is completed the Stuart

Highway will be contructed in the same expeditious way as that highway was constructed once the national roads program was put into operation. There is one other matter which does intrigue me. I imagine that the route between Port Augusta and Pimba, at the head of the Woomera Rocket Range, will not be altered in any way, but there is still 50 kilometers of roadway between Port Augusta and Pimba that is unsealed. It is a very rough track. I go over it quite often and honourable members can take my word for the fact that it is rough. I cannot understand why that 50 kilometers of track cannot be sealed when at least 1 10 to 1 15 kilometers of the highway has been done.

In the few minutes I have left I should like to refer to an article in the Advertiser of 9 October referring to the question of shipbuilding. The Premiers of South Australia, of course, has been very concerned about the effect on Whyalla of the closure of the shipyards there. According to this newspaper report, he has made some modified submissions to the Government, and perhaps I could refer to them. The report states:

  1. . the South Australian Government cannot accept the validity of the arguments presented by the IAC in its report.

It says acceptance of the modified S.A. proposals would have many benefits and assist the Commonwealth in its economic policies by

Preventing the needless creation of about 8000 unemployed with the associated social and economic problems;

Saving a potential outflow of $60m to $ 1 00m each year on overseas ship purchase.

Assisting decentralised industries to become viable.

The report goes on further:

The Government’s -

That is the South Australian Government- modified proposals in the submission are:

Import restrictions should remain, with approval to import new ships depending on the local industry’s ability to produce the vessel.

The rate of decrease in the subsidy to be slowed, with the subsidy to be cut to 30 per cent only by 1 980.

For all vessels with keels laid after December 31, 1977, the State and Federal governments to make dollarfordollar payments to meet the difference between the aftersubsidy price and overseas prices.

The Commonwealth to establish a special fund for lending to ship operators with lower rates of interest

The States to offer capital investment grants on a one dollar for four dollars basis for capital expenditure in upgrading the yards.

Unless the yards improve productivity by 15 per cent to the end of 1980, the yard should be deregistered and no longer eligible for assistance.

A clause to ensure that shipbuilders do not take advantage of their protected position.

The article goes on:

The submission criticises the IAC claim that there is no prospect of reducing the disadvantages of the two Australian shipyards.

It says the IAC has used the worst performances of Whyalla and Newcastle as a general yardstick for the industry.

I certainly hope that the Government will give greater consideration to what has been put, not only by the Premier of South Australia but also by the Premier of New South Wales, in an effort to maintain the 2 shipyards. I should like to comment on that part of the report which states that the Industries Assistance Commission has used the worst performances of Whyalla and Newcastle as a general yardstick for the industry. First of all, the worst performances of Whyalla and Newcastle can be attributed to the fact that the industries in both those places are hopelessly out of date when compared with the most modern yards overseas. Recently the Newcastle Herald sent a correspondent to Japan, who sent back articles on the Japanese shipyards. Those articles demonstrate the problems of our own yards with their lack of modern equipment, smaller cranes and so on, and indicate the reason why the industry here cannot compete. I feel that too much emphasis has been placed on the question of industrial relations. There are times when industrial relations in shipyards have not been good. But over the last 2 years I do not think that that claim can be directed at either the Whyalla or Newcastle shipyards.

Some quite odd figures have emerged from time to time on the amount of time lost through industrial disputes and so forth at these yards. I know that when I checked with the South Australian Department of Labor and Industry, I was able to correct the claims of a Government member about the number of disputes at the Whyalla yard. The figures that he gave were completely wrong. He said that last year 12 ^ per cent of all available working time was lost due to industrial disputes. When I checked the figure, I found that it was less than 1 per cent. The case was the same in relation to the previous year. It was a much lower figure than the one he cited. Some completely wrong statements have been made about industrial relations in shipyards. In fact, I think that the question of industrial relations has become a way of justifying the decision that has been taken to build ships overseas.

Apart from this, it takes two to tango in any industrial operation. I have had a close association with many people who have worked with Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and know the type of industrial policy that the company adopts. It adopts a closed door policy. In my relations with industry, I have always found that if the employer keeps the door open, if there is something wrong in the shipyard, the workshop or on the shop floor, the employee knows he can go through that door to discuss the problems and things run much more harmoniously. But I am afraid that is not the case when we talk about the situation with BHP at the Whyalla yard. The company has a closed door policy. It does not recognise the senior trade union organisations in the town. All the decisions are made in Melbourne. It is not possible for local people who feel that they may be prepared to concede something to be in a position to do so.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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

Northern Territory

– I will not take up much of the time of the Committee. There seems to be some misunderstanding about the list of speakers in the debate tonight. I notice that a speaker from the Australian Labor Party side started this debate and the previous speaker was from the Labor Party side, so I imagine that I, as a member of the National Country Party, have a right to speak. I will not take the time of the Committee to discuss the rail situation, the roads or the shipping situation in the Northern Territory because r have taken up these matters with the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) before. But I would like to say something about the situation of Connair Pty Ltd and the misunderstanding that appears to have taken place with the would-be shadow Minister for Transport or the would-be representative for transport on the Labor side, the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris). Let me put the position this way: The Northern Territory is being held to ransom by the -

Mr Charles Jones:

– Are you a director of Connair?


– I am not a director of Connair, nor have I been a director of Connair since I have been in this place for the last 10 years. Right?

Mr Charles Jones:

– Let us get it out into the open.


-AU right. But who would not be a director of Connair if he had built the aerodromes by hand, if he had flown 1000 hours a year for Connair and been -

Mr Charles Jones:

– Give us the facts.


– Of course, these are the facts. Prior to entering this place, I resigned as a director of Connair because I knew that members of the Labor Party would try to use my occupancy of that position against me. I would like to point out a few facts in considering the Connair situation. The Northern Territory is being held to ransom by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. The Federation imagines that it will achieve its ends, for its own purpose, by attacking Connair. Its actions have broken Connair. It would break any airline to have its aircraft on the ground for a fortnight, whether the airline was Ansett Airlines of Australia, Trans- Australia Airlines, Qantas Airways Ltd or Connair Pty Ltd. The Federation of Air Pilots must have known that. All I am saying as a Territorian is that we do not think very much of the action that the Federation has taken. If the deal falls through, the lack of transport in the outback of the Northern Territory to places like Numbulwar and Roper River, will be due fairly and squarely to the actions of the Federation. The Federation knows that. Somehow or other- I do not know how- it managed to convince the pilots of Connair that it was in their interests to go on strike. I put it here and now that they have rendered a tremendous disservice to the outback of the Northern Territory and Australia by doing what they are doing.

Minister for Transport · Gippsland · LP

– I will take up immediately the question raised by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), which I think is a very serious one. Of course, he is quite right in what he said. The Australian Federation of Air Pilots without doubt is using the pilots of Connair Pty Ltd not to increase the pay rates in the simple way that the pilots think but for the Federation’s own malevolent ends. There is no doubt about this. This emerged quite clearly from the discussions that have been held over a period. I am totally satisfied that the Federation, from its approach to the question when it has held discussions with the pilots in the Northern Territory and from conversations I have had with pilots, has no ends in view other than to use the Connair pilots as whipping boys when it takes on the major airlines later this year.

I take up the point raised by the honourable member for the Northern Territory: It will be a tragedy if the pilots of the Northern Territory fall for this trick and do not realise what they are doing. They are jeopardising their jobs and jeopardising transport throughout the Northern Territory. I hope that the pilots in the Northern Territory will tumble to the fact that they are being used in such a malevolent fashion, will go back to work and will apply through the proper arbitration channels for a pay increase in the normal fashion. I am in great sympathy with the member for the Northern Territory on that point. I might have more to say about that again after I have heard officially from the Australian Federation of Air Pilots as to how conversations went today. Captain Smithwell was to fly to Alice Springs today to take up the question with the pilots of the Northern Territory. Let us wait to see what his official reply is on the matter.

The honourable member for Kingston (Mr Chapman) earlier in the debate made a very thoughtful contribution. He has recognised quite clearly the problems that face the State governments and the Federal Government in finding satisfactory means of providing public transport in the cities. As he pointed out, most people working in the cities today work across the fixed main Une traffic. They no longer work down the main line traffic. In other words, the fixed rail traffic- either trams or trains- does not suit the majority of commuters in Adelaide and in other cities. The honourable member has been very astute in pointing out the problem that exists in Adelaide and I thank him for his contribution.

The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) raised the question of the Transport Accident Investigation Bureau being an independent body. This matter has had some coverage over a number of years. His complaint is that he thinks Caesar is looking at Caesar. Let me say that in my time as Minister, and I think in the honourable member’s time as Minister, I am not aware of any challenge to the integrity of those who have been investigating any accident, nor am I aware of any blemish being laid at the door of those who have been investigating any accidents. I do not think we ought to start with the presumption that there has been any challenge to integrity. I notice that the honourable member for Newcastle agrees with that.

Mr Charles Jones:

– That is correct.


– The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) has noted the increase in urban public transport finances, particularly in New South Wales. I was pleased to hear that on tonight’s news broadcast the Minister for Transport in New South Wales was able to announce a new program for the purchase of buses, rolling stock, passenger train carriages and engines. I did not hear the Minister for Transport in New South Wales pay any compliment to the Commonwealth for the increased funds made available to make that program possible. But I suppose that is politics. It is sad, but true. The fact is, as the honourable member for Mitchell rightly pointed out, that the program in New South Wales comes about largely because of the generosity of this Federal Government.

The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) has taken me to task because I will not make funds available for the declaration of export roads in Wollongong. I ought to point out to him that at the moment the initiative for this does not lie at my door. I have written to the Minister for Transport in New South Wales notifying him that I am prepared to declare certain roads as export roads if he so wishes. He has not responded to that invitation. I can only assume that he does not want to have these roads declared export roads. I shall have to wait to find out.

The honourable member has also raised the question of why we do not make available funds from the export levy on coal. That levy was raised by the Labor Government during the past 2 or 3 years for road construction in the Wollongong area. I think the honourable member said that something like $30m worth of coal goes out of the port there and that some of the levy that is raised on that coal ought to be put into roads. The honourable member of course was a Minister in a government that introduced that particular levy. He was a Minister in a government that did not bother to do what he is now proposing. That proposal sounds passing strange coming from his lips. As usual, the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar) made a very sensible contribution. The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) has taken me to task again because of the slowness with which I am announcing the appointment of a committee on the Adelaide to Crystal Brook railway. I apologise to him once again and again I ask him to be patient with me.

Mr Jacobi:

– Patient !


– I have some difficulty in regard to this matter. I am really trying to overcome the problem. If the honourable member waits patiently a little longer I will be able to inform him of the personnel on the committee. He will be very pleased with it, I am sure. But as to the allegation that the Government is not proceeding with the standardisation, that of course is not correct. It is proposed that there will be a standard gauge rail from Crystal Brook to Adelaide. It is simply a matter of whether the standards proposed at the moment are too high or not too high. It has been suggested by some of those who are expert in railway matters that the standards proposed and the standards being used are too high and that savings of some millions of dollars could be made if the standardisation were carried out in another way. I am not going to make a judgment on that. I have asked a certain person to chair a committee and to tell me whether or not that is true. In the meantime, money has been made available for contracts that have been let so that the work can proceed.

The honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) raised the thorny old question of the takeover of the South Australian railways. He knows that I have said many times that I am not pleased with the takeover. I think the previous Minister for Transport was done in the eye very badly by his Prime Minister on the deal. The Commonwealth fared very badly in that deal. But of course honourable members opposite had not been used to dealing with matters of this nature either before they came into to Parliament or when they were in Government, so I suppose we ought to expect them to handle the matters like amateurs. With regard to the arrangements, the honourable member for Grey will be pleased to know that I am meeting the South Austraiian Minister for Transport, I think on Thursday of this week, to see whether we cannot resolve the matter. A meeting time has been fixed and I hope we will be able to resolve the outstanding matter. I thank those honourable members who have been able to make a contribution to the debate.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Education

Proposed expenditure, $380,005,000.

Smith · Kingsford

– In the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) the impression was created quite strongly that there was substantial real growth in monetary allocations to education. At that stage- it goes back as far as May last- everybody in the Parliament assumed that it was going to be real growth in both monetary and actual terms. As the spokesman in this chamber for the Opposition, I am somewhat concerned to look at what it really means. The question we always faced when we introduced our education program was opposition on the basis that no real emphasis ought to be given to the needs concept as against the equality concept of money. Honourable members might recall that when the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was Opposition spokesman for education in this chamber he opposed the Education Commission Bill that we introduced and which had as a basis the needs concept. It was only because of the support of the National Country Party in the Senate that we were able to establish the concept of an independent commission able to evaluate the needs of education in the schools as they apply in the technical field and the advanced college field. I give credit to the previous government which had already established a Universities Commission.

However the figures in the Budget reveal that there have been some reductions and in fact no growth at all. If we look specifically at the actual figures as outlined in the Budget we will see that there has been a reduction, for example, in the monetary allocation to Aborigines. The Budget shows that this reduction amounts to $6.1m. There is also a reduction in the allocation for migrant education of $ 10.7m. There has also been a reduction of $l.lm in the allocation for the isolated children’s allowance. I want to pay tribute here to the fact that the Opposition spokesman on education, the former Minister for Education, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) had a great dedication to people who suffered from the handicap of isolation, whether they were of migrant status or Aboriginal status, and to education generally. A great deal of hard work went into guaranteeing that there was to be no real reduction in terms. I now suggest to honourable members that the Treasurer should have another look at his Budget. He has already done so with regard to assistance to students. We approve the fact that he was able to find a further $26m between 17 August and last week on a budgetary basis. That is somewhat mystifying when we think that as recently as 1 7 August one would know in monetary terms what was to be given to the students. But we do not see any similar increase to all those other aspects of education. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard some details of what I deem to be a reduction. The document has already been shown to the appropriate spokesman for the Government.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

The document read as follows-

Mr McLean:

– There was not a $ 10m cut in migrant education.


-While it has been said that there was no reduction, let us make it very clear that Statement No. 3 in the Budget Papers states with regard to migrant education:

Funds are provided to government and non-government school authorities for special language teaching equipment, for salaries of special teachers and for the initial special instruction of refugee children. In 1975-76 $10m was spent on child migrant education under the Immigration (Education) Act 1971 in the six months period to 31 December 1975; from January 1976, however, the child migrant education program has been financed from general recurrent grants administered by the Schools Commission.

So the Schools Commission has to find within this context of money money formerly given to migrant education. There is a reduction in real terms on that basis. I wanted to make the point that this Government established guidelines. It did so deliberately on the basis, not on needs. For example, the Universities Commission ,wa& to spend a limited amount of money. It had then to report back to the Government as to how that money was to be spent. There was another factor: The Commission was not entitled to take into consideration automatic cost supplementation. They had to be guided by the fact that there was to be something less than automatic cost supplementation. If honourable members apply that now to the universities’ position, particularly in relation to the statement I have tendered, they will see it is said that by 1979, that is, the end of the biennium we are commencing, the resource allocation for each university student will be 3 per cent less than it was in 1975. They will see that in real terms in the biennium from 1977 to 1979, at December 1975 prices, less will be spent on universities than would have been spent in the triennium, 1976-78. The figure for the period 1976-78 would have been $ 1,780m, and the proposal, on December 1975 prices, for the triennium that we are now commencing is less than that, namely $ 1,698m. One can see the complaint, the justifiable complaint, from the Universities Commission that there will be no real growth. There are new universities, and here I refer, for example, to the Murdoch University in Western Australia. There is no provision there to pick up any increase in intake which must follow this year. There is no supplementary monetary allocation for that. The sum to be provided for capital works is limited to the miserly amount of $30m to $32m, whereas the Universities Commission referred to an expenditure of about $60m.

When one looks at the level of unemployment in the work force, particularly in the building industry, one sees that it would have been good budgeting to suggest that capital expenditure in this area should have been increased. If we can increase the level of student allowances, as we should and as we did, why did we not increase the amount of money provided for capital works programs in the universities? As has been pointed out by the Universities Commission, there will be no new major building commencements in 1977. It makes the point that there will be virtually a reduction in standards. It also points out that the resources provided for a student in 1979 will be less than those provided in 1975.

Turning to the Schools Commission, again there is this concept of guideline domination. We are not looking at needs but are saying that only a certain amount of money will be provided to be spent. What is the result? The Schools Commission said that the 2 per cent real growth in funds for 1977 was really a misnomer. It said:

The 2 per cent real growth in funds for 1977 must be seen’ in relation to the fact that enrolments in the States are estimated to grow by 1.1 1 per cent. It is important to realise that the guidelines cannot be met in full.

The Commission reacts with concern to the information that the Government has decided to ‘. . . replace the existing cost supplementation arrangement by less automatic provisions for unavoidable increases in costs’. Cost supplementation is vital to the continued viability of schools dependent on grants.

While the position in government schools with respect to the targets for recurrent resources is, as indicated above, comparatively brighter than for non-government schools, the seriousness of the problem of providing capital facilities of adequate standard for both government and nongovernment schools cannot be overstated.

The Commission refers to the problems it now has with the guidelines, particularly with regard to capital expenditure, and says:

Thus the allocation in the guidelines of $ 135m for capital facilities for both government and non-government schools in 1977 in some $50m short of a reasonable estimate of the annual amounts required to meet new place requirements and to take significant steps towards reducing the inadequacy of existing facilities.

We are in a climate of massive unemployment, particularly in the building trades, but there is a reduction in what the Commission deems to be reasonable expenditure on a capital basis. Why is it that the Treasurer could not and still cannot provide funds on that basis? If he did so it would create employment. It would be an efficient use of financial resources and it would guarantee a great improvement in the unemployment figures. Most importantly it would help school children. If we look at the schools program we again see a reduction in real terms over the triennium. The sum of $ 1,544m, on December 1975 prices, will be spent, against a figure of $2,070m, on December 1974 prices, which was suggested for the triennium. Again one sees a reduction in terms of education. It is for that reason we suggest that the Minister for Education should get back to the Treasurer and ask him to have another look at his Budget.


– Education is a high priority matter for the Federal Government. In the current financial year an amount equivalent to 9.1 per cent of estimated total Budget outlays is to be spent on education. In money terms that equals $2,204m, an increase of 1 5.3 per cent on last year’s expenditure, and a massive increase from $300m in 1970-71. With this vast sum of money allocated for education, there arises the responsibility to ensure that it is spent effectively, purposefully and discriminately. Are we turning out millions of dunces? Is there an Austraiian education scandal? Has education become the stamping ground of romantics and Utopian socialists who give it pretentious and unrealistic objectives? The responsibility is to see that the money is well spent, that it is being used to achieve desirable and specific educational objectives, and to ensure that at all times the Austraiian taxpayer, the sole contributor of government funds, is getting value for his dollar. I wish to examine broadly our educational spending in terms of these responsibilities. Firstly, the importance of pre-school education cannot, in my view, be underestimated. It has very important social and educational functions at a critical time in the development of the individual. For many children pre-school experience is their first contact with their peer group outside of their own home and family environment. It often provides their first experience with adults other than their own parents and relatives. As well as this important social interaction, preschool education encourages the intellectual and creative development of the child. Often this is extended to cover an informal introduction into reading, writing and numeracy. Pre-schools play a vital role in preparing children for primary school. They are a valuable first step in ensuring the development of each child into an educated and social being. Existing facilities for pre-school education in many parts of Australia are inadequate. The Government recognises this fact, and I commend its present budgetary outlay as an important step to improve the situation. Improvement must be achieved in conjunction with the States. I look forward to the day when every child, irrespective of means, can attend a pre-school centre, a kindergarten. The $74.4m allocated, an increase of $9.4m over last year, and the creation of an office of child care in the Department of Social Security are moves I welcome. Secondly, no one needs to be persuaded that primary schooling is important. We live in a complex industrialised society which requires educated and trained persons to run it and to make it function properly. Even more fundamental than this just to live and successfully socially interact, we are required to possess a certain level of education and sophistication. Primary education must impart the three Rs. They are not obsolete, old-fashioned skills. It is becoming increasingly apparent that primary schools in their preoccupation with the more esoteric side of a child’s development are failing in their job to teach reading, writing and numeracy. I refer to a comment in the Bulletin of 26 June 1976 by Malcolm Hill of the science faculty at the Melbourne University. When commenting on Peter Samuels’ cover story in the Bulletin of 1 5 May of this year he said:

Caring parents, thinking teachers and concerned employers have known Tor years that the so-called progressives have shortchanged our children in the classroom, but lacked the local statistics and documented evidence to refute the educational pundits and theorists, or to convince the deluded young practitioners who follow in their wake. As to the reasons, Samuel’s ‘speculative list’ is as good as any I have read and better than most. Surely the first corrective step must be a speedy reversion to proven methods of teaching the basics of the three Rs, including phonetic spelling, script writing, reading aloud, multiplication tables, yes even chanting . . . the ultimate answer must lie in philosophy.

Mr Baillieu:

-Who said that?


– Malcolm Hill of the science faculty at Melbourne University. We must arrest this disturbing trend and eliminate the situation where children entering high school are incompetent in these basic skills. I have no quarrel with the increased educational emphasis on helping the child to develop to fulfil his or her full potential as a young human being, but a modern member of society has little future if he cannot read, write and count. Have the decision makers in education- for example, the Schools Commission- decided that egalitarianism is the great objective of education, displacing the learning of skills and the dissemination of knowledge? Any budgetary outlay for education must ensure that all children, irrespective of means, can freely and readily avail themselves of this education. Most Australians see that the school ‘s role is to equip their children with the basic skills needed to get jobs and to live in society as it is. Informal teaching styles affect our children’s progress towards these goals. There is no substitute for hard work in acquiring these skills to cope with the challenges ahead. In school teachers we need a middle road approach which takes the best of the old and the best of the new. It is not the proper role of schools to be struggling against society. I applaud the fact that the total expenditure by the Commonwealth Government on schools in 1976-77 is estimated at$763.1m, an increase of $88.1 m or 13 percent over last year.

I now wish to direct my attention to postsecondary education. The combined Federal expenditure on universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical education amounts to $1,30 1.8m or over half the budgetary outlay on education. This is because the Federal Government has greater financial responsibility for those areas of education. However, I do wish to make the point that, given the finite amount of money that the Commonwealth has to spend on education, the more it spends on post-secondary education the less there is available to allocate to the States for pre-school, primary and secondary education. Are we wasting money on post-secondary education and, more particularly, tertiary education? Do Australian universities fail Australia? Knowledge without sense surely is double folly.

Tertiary education is in danger of becoming a sacred cow issue in Australia and, for reasons of self preservation, is resisting all attempts at rationalisation and improvement. We need a new careerism amongst students. This new careerism would be a reaction to the economic realities of a much tightened job market. The Government is aware of this situation and the need to change it and has announced the establishment of a committee of inquiry into education and training. The terms of reference of this committee are clear. One of its major considerations is how post-secondary education as a whole relates to the needs of the individual and to the linkages between education and employment. Students need to take their studies seriously and work hard. The idea of a liberal arts education is losing its validity as new students see university less as an experience in itself and more as a means to an end. The emphasis of the Opposition, as articulated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr

Beazley) is that education must be seen as paramount in its own right, with the secondary consideration being its relations to work and the market place. I, too, believe that education is a prime means for promoting individual self development. However, long hair and existential depression are out. There is emerging a changed sense of goals and possibilities in Australian education.

With respect to primary and secondary education, our responsibility dictates that all students be provided with the essential skills needed for successful and happy functioning in our society. With respect to post-secondary education, our responsibility dictates that graduates are equipped to take their places in the work force. We need new student attitudes of reasonableness, compromise and an eagerness to work within the system. I do not believe postsecondary education to be a right. Neither do I believe it to be a privilege. In the main it is an economic necessity, for many of the positions in our complex, industrialised society require a post-secondary education. Therefore I maintain that any course of full-time post-secondary study should be open on the basis of merit to those who wish to study and train for such qualifications. Government and private enterprise scholarships should be available. I oppose the imposition of any fees and envisage these scholarships as providing a satisfactory living allowance. I do not consider it to be the Government’s role and hence the role of society to finance the higher studies of an individual who has no regard for his employment prospects after graduation or who persists in undertaking a course of study for which there is no employment demand. For those who genuinely wish to pursue tertiary study for purposes of self-development extra to the workplace, I would be in favour of more opportunities and provisions for free part-time and external studies. Those who sincerely seek an education as an end in itself out of a desire to quest for knowledge could have no quarrel with such an arrangement.

Much public money is presently being wasted on areas of post-secondary education, producing a breed of the educated unemployed. That is not value for money either to society at large or to the individuals. Many such persons are over qualified for numerous jobs; yet their competition for jobs forces the minimal level for education required to unrelated and unrealistic levels. I support the Budget estimates, especially with respect to pre-school, primary and second^ary education.

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


-That was an interesting essay from the honourable member for Tangney (Dr Richardson), but I was not quite sure where he stood. On the surface he sounded terribly conservative, but scattered throughout his speech there were some thoughts that gave a hint of some more progressive attitudes. However, he did seem to fall for the current theme that flows from honourable members opposite of using education or any social endeavour as a stalking horse for political point scoring. He mentioned long hairs and existentialism and asked whether we are turning out millions of dunces, over-educated and unemployable people and so on. They are just words. They do not mean -

Dr Richardson:

– What about the literacy and numeracy report?


– I do not care what reports have been written on the subject. They may have been written by people like the honourable member for Tangney. This is an area in which people just spin out phrases without examining the facts of life. The facts of life as that we are in a state of great social and economic change. I take up the point that the honourable member made about pre-school education. As I see the figures there has been a reduction of about $9m in the expenditure on pre-school education. I sympathise with his objectives. He does not want to see university fees imposed and he wants to see pre-school education opportunities expanded. We are on his side in that respect. So I do not think that he is a total loss, although I think that it would be better if he were to get rid of some of the cliches about progressivism and so on and had a look at the system.

I am not sure whether the primary schools are turning out such duds as he thinks they are. So far as I can see there is an enormous range of people with great literacy, competence and fluency, articulate in all sorts of ways, flowing through the education system. On the other hand, one comes upon many people who seem to be reasonably illiterate. They would make good candidates for the Liberal Party of Australia. One wonders why there is that illiteracy. Of course, we are in a mass education society. The Labor Government’s contribution to education was almost to the point of magnificence as a social revolution. We changed the whole priority system of expenditure by this level of government and we launched the Australian Government into the education system in such a way that not even the vandals who sit opposite can make it go backwards. We set out to produce first of all a system of equality. We looked at the whole system.

Mr Baillieu:

– Tell us how you cut the Budget provision for education last year.


-If it were not for the fact that I have only 10 minutes in which to speak I would deal with the honourable member for La Trobe but, frankly, there are more important issues at stake at this moment than his interjections. The Labor Government set priorities in the field of education which I think were essential for the community in which we live. It established a new dimension in education. I instance the innovations program, which was under continuous attack by honourable members opposite.

Education is at the cross-roads. It is no good the honourable member for Tangney or even that exalted personage the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) trying to turn out people as functions in society and saying that there is going to be no room for them unless there is a change in the economic base upon which we work. We are at a stage where society demands more understanding. It is also going to give opportunity for less physical work. So we will be living in a more complex society no matter what we think about it. Therefore we might have to look at getting people accustomed to understanding words such as ‘esoteric’ and so on in the field of education instead of turning them out when they are simply able to handle the three Rs, commendable though that would be. So we have all sorts of considerations before us. What is to be taught? When is it to be taught? Do we continue the education system right through life, as I think is eminently desirable, and make things available continuously to people, irrespective of whether they have missed out or feel that they need to be further educated? I do not know when a person is over educated for his employment. What is wrong with a member of this Parliament or a taxi driver being highly educated and competent to live in the society in which we find ourselves?

I want to spend a few minutes on reminding the House about the continuing deficiencies in the field of education- special education, education buildings and so on. I represent an industrial area of Australia- the suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg in Melbourne- where 120,000 people are concentrated in an area of 1 1 square miles. For the benefit of honourable members opposite I say that they crowd there because they want to be decently represented in this Parliament. The fact is that many of the school grounds there are a disgrace to a community such as our own. Many of the buildings ought to have a bulldozer put into them. A totally new concept in education architecture is needed. What does one do with Moreland High School, which covers 1 *V** acres and which has 700 or 800 children but which has no room for expansion. We have to do something different with the architecture and so on. What does one do about the thousands of children from overseas- the Turkish, Yugoslav and Lebanese children and the children whose natural language is Greek or Italian? We have not done anything. Unfortunately- it is one of my griefs about the 3 years in which we were in government- we could not get any real action in the area which I represent from our education policy. The State Government could find no satisfactory way of removing a school building, of handling the 1000 children for whom that school normally catered, and getting on with the job. Money poured into the system for disadvantaged children of Australia often was disbursed geographically because it could not be handled in the areas where the problem concentrated.

There are a lot of challenges in the system, such as in school management. Victoria is one of those strange places. It has quite a conservative political ethos for most of the time and over most of its area but in some areas it is much more progressive. I must admit that at the moment, and over the last few years, my observations are, and have been, more superficial than they used to be but the Victorian education system is inclined to be more adventurous and progressive in attempting new ideas of school management than the rest of Australia. I want to remind the Committee and the millions of people who have switched on their radios now that they know this debate is on of what education is all about as far as we of the Opposition are concerned. The new federalism of which honourable members on the Government side speak is a threat to a proper education system in Australia. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we talk about the egalitarian base of Australian society, the facts are that there are great inequalities in the educational system in Australia and we will only overcome those by concerted effort in this Parliament. There is no way by which the State governments are going to be able to overcome the deficiencies which people can see spelt out in figures such as those appearing on page 152 of the Grants Commission report. They point out the enormous disparities in expenditure by States. Tasmania spends $137 per head on education, Victoria spends $125, South Australia spends $129, as does Western Australia, but in Queensland the figure is down to $99. So there are enormous disparities in the geography of the Australian education system.

The same applies to economic inequalities. If a person starts from a wealthy home in a wealthy community, particularly a well founded community such as Canberra where the schools have been well-endowed for the best part of half a century, that person is much better off than one who starts in one of the congested areas of Australia in the great cities or out in the bush. So there is a disparity between country and city opportunities, between opportunities in various States and even between various cities. There are also disparities in social differentiations and sex. There are great disadvantages and inequalities in sex. I refer to opportunities for education according to sex in this country. In this report entitled Girls, School and Society it is stated:

Females were 32 per cent of total enrolments over the 3 sectors in 1974. Men outnumbered women by just under 2 to 1 in universities; in the colleges of advanced education 37 per cent of enrolments were male; in technical and further education there were nearly 3 men for every 1 woman.

And so it goes on. The challenge to us is to produce a system whereby the opportunities of living in this continent are equally applied to any citizen, no matter where he or she lives, no matter the social background, the sex or the race. I will not now labour the point about the great inequalities and the discrimination applying to the Aboriginal people for all sorts of reasons. The new federalism threatens the Australian education system and will prejudice any effort to develop a proper and equal Australian educational system.


-I am sure all honourable members were interested to hear the remarks by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) about people crowding into his electorate in order to get decent representation in this Parliament. We all enjoy the sometimes facetious remarks of the honourable member. Perhaps I might just as facetiously point out to him that the reason that people are flocking from the inner suburban electorates like Wills and Melbourne to the outer suburban electorates like Casey and La Trobe is so that they can get even better representation in this Parliament. However I do not expect that the honourable member for Wills will agree with that statement.

I congratulate the Government on seeing fit to increase expenditure on education in a difficult’ budgetary year. This Government came to office when the economy was run down. There was little opportunity for real growth in public expenditure in this Budget yet despite the dire predictions of many people who said that this Government would cut expenditure in this Budget in both real terms and absolute terms, it has seen fit to increase expenditure on education. That is a creditable performance in this difficult year.

I want to refer to some of the problems that need to be dealt with in the Victorian education system because there have been some developments in that State which have been out of line, perhaps, with developments in other States. In Victoria we have had a very marked improvement in teacher/pupil ratios in our schools. In the past 4 years, for example, the Victorian Education Department has taken on one extra teacher for every 2 additional pupils so we now have one of the lowest teacher/pupil ratios in the world. It is the lowest in Australia. That certainly is a creditable performance but it is not without its cost. It has meant that in Victoria there has not been the expenditure on the capital side that one would like to see. I believe from my inspections of schools in Victoria as against schools in other States that many of them do not have the same quality of construction as schools in other States. I believe this is the next priority to be dealt with in terms of overall expenditure in the Victorian education system.

I believe that there has to be some effort to resist the industrial demands made from time to time by teacher unions further to decrease this ratio and to spend more money on more teachers who teach for fewer hours per week. I could point to individual schools and particular classes where there are problems and I do not deny that there will be particular areas where we need to improve the teacher/pupil ratio but overall one of the major problems to be dealt with in terms of overall expenditure is this problem of the capital requirements of the Victorian education system.

The Schools Commission in its report this year pointed to that particular problem. One can see that the problem arises because of the type of growth, the pattern of growth, which has occurred in Victoria. While there will be only 8000 additional children in Victorian schools next February the Victorian Department of Educationothers will be in a similar situation- will have to provide 30 000 new places. There seems to be a remarkable discrepancy- 8000 additional children as against 30 000 new places that will have to be provided. However the reason is the rapid expansion that has taken place in the outer suburban areas in particular, such as the suburbs in the Casey electorate, whereas in many of the more established inner or mid-suburban areas there have been declines in school populations leaving them with some surplus space but we cannot chop a couple of classrooms off one school and simply transport them to another which needs additional classes. Because of the imbalances of growth we have had there has been a great strain on the capital resources of the Victorian education system and I hope that when future allocations are made particular attention will be paid to this problem.

I want to turn to a couple of particular aspects of the estimates for the Department of Education in which I have some interest. I refer in particular to the bilingual education program. While it might not appear to honourable members that the bilingual education program has much application to my electorate I would point out that in my electorate there is the Australian headquarters of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, the academic arm of the Wycliffe bible translators. This organisation is deeply involved in bilingual education programs not only in Australia but throughout the world. I think it is fair to say that it has played an initiating role in developing bilingual education programs in various parts of the world. The need for bilingual education programs in Australia has been recognised in recent years for the Aboriginal population in the Northern Territory in particular but it does have applications in other contexts as well. Of course, the idea behind the bilingual program is that the child who has learnt to speak another tongue- in the case of Australia, a tongue other than English- needs to be taught initially how to read and write in that language before making the jump into the English language. There is great difficulty in making the jump from a spoken language which has no literature immediately into the English language and being able to cope with the English literature involved. If that person can be taught to read and write in his or her own language the emotional and intellectual jump involved in then transferring to the English language is much easier to manage. This is the idea behind the bilingual education programs.

In many cases, as far as Aboriginal communities are concerned, this has meant sending people out to actually put a language on paper in the first instance. Often this has involved moving among tribes in the situation in which they have lived for many years and starting from scratch to develop a literature for a few hundred people who speak that dialect. As a result great advances are being made in the teaching of English in Northern Territory schools. The role which the Summer Institute of Linguistics has played has not been limited to its particular religious attitudes and aims. As a group of people committed to a certain purpose or cause arising out of their religious beliefs they have been more prepared than most other people to commit themselves to spend 2, 3 or 4 years with a particular community in order to commit that language to paper. So it is that many governments throughout the world have seen fit to finance the Summer Institute of Linguistics in its activities in order to provide government agencies with the basic literature on which they can conduct bilingual educational programs.

I can only applaud this move and hope that the good relationships which the Summer Institute of Linguistics has developed with the Department of Education and with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs will continue to grow and develop because there is mutual benefit in a cooperative relationship of this kind. I believe we can do a great deal more to apply the principle of bilingual education to many schools in the community other than the Aboriginal communities of Australia. In schools where there is a high migrant content the idea of a bilingual program has a great deal of merit. It seems to me, from my own inquiries, that in many instances a teacher coming out of a teachers college and who has more than one language- say a person of Greek background who has both Greek and English- is not likely to be posted to a school with a high concentration of Greek migrants. It seems that such teachers are posted anywhere but to a school with a concentration of Greek migrants. I believe there would be great advantages in ensuring that teachers with these skills are put into schools where they can be used to explain to school children in their own language the concepts involved which the education system is trying to impart. This would enable children to make the jump to the English language.

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


-The honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) spoke of Victoria’s capital expenditure on education. He described how the ability of the Victorian Government to construct educational buildings was being reduced because, more than almost anybody else on earth, the Government had sought to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio. I would say that a more significant reason is that Victoria has the Victorian Department of Public Works to construct its schools. Let me give the honourable gentleman a simple illustration. I shall not call them educational reformists but there appear to be a number of young gentlemen who believe the best thing to do to Victorian schools is to burn them. Victoria has suffered terribly from fire bugs. One of them burnt down the Princes Hill High school. Mr Thompson, the Victorian Minister of Education, in a moment of inadvertence said: ‘We will rebuild that school in 2 years’. The head of the Department of Public Works said: ‘No, you will not. It takes 5 years to build a high school’.

Because Mr Thompson had publicly committed himself, for once he was allowed to go outside the system. He happened to use a building consultant, Mr Evan Walker, who later became a Labor Party candidate but who is a world expert on the construction of schools. The school was built in less than 2 years. Money was returned to the Victorian Government and the school received an architectural prize. I should say that in school buildings the dollar goes a shorter distance in Victoria than in any other State. In point of fact, in the construction of schools the record of the Victorian Government for its Educational Department buildings as compared with independent schools is quite disgraceful. The Commonwealth dollar invested in libraries for both government and non-government schools went far further in non-government schools because of the rigidity of the Victorian capital system. The other thing was a complete tragedy in what were the record grants given for the construction of technical schools. In the triennium $46m was provided for the construction of technical schools. Of this amount $7m was unspent. The 3 States which could not spend their money were New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In the greater grants for capital in the last year of complete expenditure which I remember as Minister, for every 10 Commonwealth dollars spent on New South Wales technical education buildings there was one State dollar. For every 4 Commonwealth dollars spent in Victoria on technical education buildings there was one State dollar. In South Australia, for every one Commonwealth dollar there were 4 State dollars spent. South Australia actually used the Commonwealth grants as an addendum. The other States used the grant as a substitution. I think that was a real tragedy.

The honourable member for Tangney (Dr Richardson) made a number of allusions which I need to comment upon. Neither the writers of the Bulletin, the honourable member for Tangney nor anybody else knows objectively whether standards of literacy and numeracy in Australia are advancing or receding. The United Kingdom carried out exact tests on 1 1 -year olds in 1948. These tests were repeated just before the Plowden report in 1965. The English reading age of 11 -year olds advanced by 17 months in that time. Since then they have apparently stood still. That is a tragedy because there are greater demands on the child skills today than there were in the past. If one had a reading age of 9 in 1949 one could read the London Daily Mirror. But even the London Daily Mirror required a reading age of 13 in 1974. Similarly, all the newspapers of the United Kingdom have advanced. In 1 949, 10 per cent of jobs in the United Kingdom could be held by a person who could simply sign his name. More recently, only 4 per cent of jobs could be held by such people. A person who died last year had filled in seventeen times as many forms as one who died in 1945. So clearly there are greater social demands upon one’s capacity to read.

The honourable member for Tangney spoke about pre-school education. When the Australian Labor Party came to power it had the rather ambitious aim of spreading in 6 years preschool education on the Canberra level throughout Australia. I think it would take at least twelve. One thing we did was to try to get preschool teachers. They received no tertiary allowance when we came to power. We put them onto tertiary allowance without means test. They were the only tertiary students who did not face the means test. That test has now been restored. Whether that is justified or not, it will not have the tendency to accelerate the recruitment of preschool teachers. The honourable member for Tangney apparently has an illusion about the Schools Commission. He thinks that its job is to see about reading, literature and numeracy standards in schools. The Commission does not administer schools. There are the State and private structures of schools. They state their needs. The Schools Commission recommends on those needs. The Commission does not go into the school room to determine teaching methods or decide whether what is being done is good. Then the honourable gentleman seemed to speak with some hostility about expenditure on tertiary and post-secondary education because it reduced the expenditure on primary and secondary education. If the Commonwealth fully assumes the burden of tertiary education, surely the honourable gentleman recognises that it releases State funds. If the State Government of Western Australia no longer has to finance the University of Western Australia or the Murdoch University does it then not have funds it can spend in some other area? Obviously it has: So the honourable gentleman ‘s point was quite false.

The only question I would like to ask concerns the triennium. When the previous Government could not face the tremendous recommendations of the Technical and Further Education Commission, which recommended a quintupling of capital expenditure, and the recommendations of the Commission on Advanced Education, which recommended a doubling, we suspended the triennium for a year with the intention of restoring it. We intended to restore the triennium, not to replace it with a new concept. The intimations that were made by honourable gentlemen opposite were to the effect that they would restore the triennium. Everybody would have assumed that they were talking about the triennium of the past.

The triennium that we inherited when we came into power was one in which we determined expenditure- I will talk of universities only- over 3 years. We adjusted it so that there would be an indexation. The triennium for universities comprised expenditure of $1,0 16m, as left by our predecessors. We brought in indexation to allow for increased building and other costs, and the result was an additional $300m which had to be found. Indexation started in 1974 and applied to all the commissions. It was fair enough to assume that when this Government said that it would restore indexation after its year’s suspension that that was what it was talking about, but then we began to hear that indexation did not encourage economy and now we have what is called the rolling triennium.

There are 2 sorts of rollers- rolling stones that gather no moss and the snowball that rolls and greatly accumulates. I am sorry to say that the rolling triennium is obviously not the snowball that rolls and greatly accumulates because the rolling triennium is simply an annual fixation of what is to be received. It is adjusted each year. It is not the triennium which the Government said it would restore. It is not the old triennium of the past and it is not our triennium which was this Government’s earlier concept plus indexation. It is in fact the annual fixing of expenditure for the commissions and it is precisely the same as the triennium which was suspended, the triennium which we introduced when we could not face the enormous increases in expenditure that were recommended and we asked for a second set of recommendations. I hope that the Government will restore the triennium, at least its own, so that the commissions will know where they stand over the 3 years. I am afraid also that in a period of inflation, if the Government is to do anything effective it will need to restore indexation as well.


– It is clear that the Government placed education in a high priority in the recent Budget, and this is as it should be. The Commonwealth Government’s expenditure on education in 1976-77 is estimated at $2,204m, an increase of 15.3 per cent compared with 1975-76. In addition, the decision to replace the previous fixed triennial funding system for major education programssuspended by the Labor Government in 1975- with a system of 3-year rolling programs from the beginning of 1977 is an excellent one. It means that there will be a review at the end of each year, and this will provide the Government with greater flexibility in budgetary formulation whilst retaining a reasonable framework for the education commissions and institutions. It enables education programs to respond more quickly to changing community needs and authorities to plan guidelines a year or two ahead.

The decision of the Commonwealth Government to set up a federal inquiry into education and training, announced recently by the Government, is also to be commended, especially as it covers both secondary and tertiary fields. Such an inquiry should be as broadly based as possible and should reflect the expectations and the needs of the whole community. In view of the growing problem of unemployed school leavers and some graduate unemployment, it is imperative that such an inquiry probe into all aspects of education and the relationship of training programs to employment and manpower needs. It should look at whether the education system of today is relevant to the employment needs of the many young people who are now finding themselves jobless.

Approximately 60 000 of last year’s school leavers have been unable to find jobs, and in August of this year 103 000 people under 2 1 were out of work. This problem, I believe, is related in part to the relative lack of skills and experience of young people leaving school. It points to an obvious need for secondary schools to broaden their concepts of educational needs and to introduce vocationally oriented skills at lower levels into more school curriculums. This would be valuable for those students less academically inclined than their fellows. Those academically inclined students will win their way through the increasingly high quota cut-off points to courses at tertiary institutions whilst the others will join the work force with some basic vocational skills related to the needs of that work force. The Work Experience Act 1 974 should be extended, for it does give students the opportunity to join the work force for short periods and provides them with some insight and some skills which they would not have previously gained.

The introduction of the higher qualifying certificate by some independent schools is a step in the right direction. The higher qualifying certificate course, as proposed by one of the large girls’ schools in Melbourne, has such subjects as business English, business mathematics, introduction to accounting, introduction to commercial and legal studies, and behavioural studies. If a student passes this HQC it leads him or her into the second year of a Certificate of Business Studies course at an agreed Advanced College of Education. Should the student fail this HQC then he or she is still better equipped to find a job with such vocationally oriented subjects.

In the statement by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) on the guidelines for triennial reports of education commissions and other measures dated 20 May 1976, he pointed out that tertiary institutions should be looking at some form of rationalisation both within thenown institutions and between institutions, and face the reality that some re-structuring or even phasing out of duplicated courses must occur. With the unemployment rate among university graduates at5.l per cent at 30 April 1975, that is those students who completed in the previous year, and among Colleges of Advanced Education graduates at 6.4 per cent for the same period, it is clear that such rationalisation should be given careful consideration.

It is important that employers should also accept some responsibility for the difficulties facing school leavers. The transition from education to the work force is difficult, no matter what the educational preparation may be, and the Monash University Careers and Appointments Office commented on 27 August in its publication Careers Weekly that it has noticed a declining willingness and ability on the part of employers to provide the training needed to achieve this transition. It is noticeable also that there has been an enormous decline in apprenticeship opportunities for the young. The recent Government announcement of a subsidy of $58 per week will, it is hoped, help and encourage employers to employ the young. I commend the Government for this action and trust that employers generally will accept this responsibility and play their part in this effort. I believe in the area of teacher education there is also a need for a review. The Minister stated on 20 May 1976 that clearly the maximum has been reached in the level of enrolments for intending teachers.

Consideration interrupted.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 18 February 1976 I shall report progress.

Progress reported.

page 1777



-I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr Sinclair:

– I require that the question be put forthwith.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 1777


In Committee

Consideration resumed.


-The Department of Education will not be able to place all its studentship holders in employment as teachers this year, whilst next year the situation will be far worse, and many teachers will be actively seeking employment, throught necessity, in fields totally unrelated to their training. This again emphasises the need for academic institutions to readjust their course structures and rationalise their resources. The impact of the fall in the Australian birth rate and the drastically lowered migrant intakes, the latter the result of Labor Government policies, will move progressively through the educational system and there will be a decline in the number of students enrolling in schools in the 1980s. This will exacerbate the present situation. From now on then the Minister rightly states that any proposals for substantial capital expenditure in this area should be subjected to a rigorous rationalisation and justification both on the Government’s part and by the tertiary institutions themselves.

I turn now to an area which interests me particularlythat of migrant education. It appears that the program under the adult migrant education scheme will be limited to the maintenance of the present number of teachers and the present number of migrants enrolled in the courses. The Australian Population and Immigration Council survey showed that 66 per cent of Greek migrants cited the English language as the biggest problem they faced; 55 per cent of Yugoslavs said that it was their biggest problem, whilst a recent survey of Italian migrants claimed that it worried them also. These figures show the need for greater assistance, and I am disappointed that tins area did not receive an increase in funding.

In my electorate of Deakin, I plan to embark upon a recruiting drive for volunteers for the Department of Education’s home tutor scheme. Many organisations take part in this Department of Education scheme, and I believe that it is all important now to stress the need for more volunteers in this area. Such assistance to the nonEnglish speaking migrant is extremely vital, particularly as it applies to migrant women who are isolated in their homes. Time does not permit me to expand further on this important field. The Government in the context of economic restraint has done a great deal in the field of education by providing money and assistance for each level of education in 1977. I believe it is to be congratulated.

Progress reported.

page 1778


Refugees from IndoChinaUnemploymentTelephones Public ServiceBroadcasting and Television

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I wish to raise a matter concerning refugees in Thailand from Indo-Chinese countries. Last week I asked a question of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar).

Mr Shipton:

– It was a good question.


– Yes, it was a good question and the Minister gave me a good answer too. In it he indicated or at least strongly hinted that the Government was considering bringing in another group of refugees from the refugee camps in Thailand. He said: the Government is concerned about its responsibilities in relation to refugee applications. These nominations are being gathered together. I am hopeful that in the not too distant future we will be in a position to make a further announcement in relation to additional refugees, particularly from the Indo-China area.

The Minister in his answer quite properly pointed to the problem involved in sending people into the refugee camps in isolated areas of Thailand in order to conduct the necessary interviews and the health screening tests. He indicated that it was not possible to treat the nominations of these people in quite the way one would treat the nominations of people who were within easy reach of an Australian embassy in another country which had a more orderly system.

I believe that Australia has a great responsibility to make a special effort to bring out greater numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees. A number have come into Australia already. Some of these people have passed through the Eastbridge Hostel in my electorate. I can assure the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Government generally that they have proved to be extemely good migrants. They have settled in exceptionally well. I have spoken to the staff of the local Mitcham High School, which is the school that takes most of the children at the hostel who are of secondary school age. The staff reports that compared with most other migrant groups these school children are showing an exceptional ability to settle in and adapt to Austraiian cultural patterns despite the fact that one might think that they come from a rather different cultural background and that this might hamper them in their integration into the Australian community. In fact, that does not seem to be so.

I would simply make the point that whatever the rights and wrongs of Australia ‘s participation in the Vietnam war- and that can be argued at great length in this Parliament- I believe that no one in this Parliament should argue that Australia does not have a great moral responsibility to take additional numbers of these people from their refugee camps in Thailand. We cannot expect that the Thai Government will look after their interests to the maximum extent. There are troubles in Thailand already. In recent days we have read in the newspapers about the civil disturbances that have occurred in that country. Therefore I believe that we ought to take steps at the earliest opportunity, before there are any further civil problems which might hamper entry into Thailand and the remote areas in which the refugee camps are situated, to send a team of migration officers and health officers into these areas in order to bring out further numbers of people. I have in mind in particular the relatives of people who are already in Australia, people who have passed through Eastbridge and no doubt through other hostels as well. I have in mind people who have lost track of relatives, some of whom they last saw when Saigon airport was closed and have not heard of since. In many cases they at least have the information that their relatives escaped to Thailand. I have been passing on to the Minister the names and the last known addresses of many such people who have been brought to my attention by constituents and by Indo-Chinese migrants staying at the Eastbridge Hostel. I know that the Minister is considering those nominations together with all of the nominations he is receiving from all sources.

Again I would simply try to urge as strongly as I can that the Government should take note of the plight of these people and recognise the particular responsibility that Australia has to them despite the problems that we have in some respects in settling people into Australia and problems of unemployment. Despite all of those problems, we have a responsibility to the people of the Indo-Chinese countries.


-My concern and the concern of all sincere responsible members of this House should be directed to the tragic human problem of unemployment. With that thought in mind, I rise to speak briefly about the future of the footwear industry, which was heavily publicised in today’s Press. The Industries Assistance Commission is hearing final evidence this week, following the publication of its draft report on its inquiry into the footwear industry. Furthermore, the draft report of an inquiry into the clothing industry is expected towards the end of the year. I am most concerned that if the recommendations contained in the draft report of the IAC are approved there will be a substantial phasing down of the industry over the next 6 years. Industry executives estimate that the IAC’s recommendations would mean that under 20 per cent of the current employment in the industry would remain after only 6 years. The IAC’s plan for elimination of labour-intensive industries by substantial reductions in levels of protection would undoubtedly lead to substantial increases in unemployment. It is estimated that over 200 000 persons are either directly or indirectly associated with the footwear and clothing industries, and most of these would become unemployed if the Government approved the IAC’s recommendations.

I am disturbed at the allegation by the footwear industry that the IAC is publishing misleading information and that it rejected previous evidence submitted to it. A submission presented by the industry to the IAC at yesterday’s hearing in Canberra stated:

Despite efforts on the part of the industry to broaden the traditional stance of the Commission in relation to the level of assistance afforded industry, such arguments were ignored.

Additionally, the industry attempted to point out to the Commission the magnitude of selected community costs associated with reallocation of resources. Again, such arguments were ignored.

The Footwear Council therefore considers that unless the Commission amends its discussion on these matters, the advice given to the Government will not be balanced.

The Footwear Council also wishes to register with the Commission a protest in the strongest terms possible, regarding the assessment of a $200m net subsidy equivalent resulting from the industry’s first request.

I believe that widespread adverse Press publicity was given to this erroneous information when the first draft report was issued. The industry’s assessment of the net subsidy equivalent is $35m. Returning to the footwear industry’s submission, it continued:

The IAC draft report recommends a plan designed to further rationalise the footwear industry when under current conditions it is steadily reducing to an unknown size and structure. This has occurred despite receipt by the Commission of evidence pointing out deteriorating operating conditions and labour wastage.

The Commission’s draft recommendations will lead to an accelerated dismantling of the industry which will produce confusion and hardship for consumers, employees, investors, importers, retailers and Government at a time when Government is attempting to instil confidence in the economy.

The industry’s submission to the IAC echoes the complaints received from a broad range of secondary industry concerning the destructive approach of the Industries Assistance Commission. I urge the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs to assess carefully future Industries Assistance Commission reports for the social impact of their restructuring proposals and elements of bias that may be injected by the Chairman and his band of armchair theorists.


– I wish the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) luck in his campaign against the employment export agency called the Industries Assistance Commission.

Mr Viner:

– It was appointed by the Labor Government.


-The same as the Tariff Board. I want to speak about a matter which is of concern and which I think should be investigated. I refer to the rip-off of the public which is about to take place with the introduction of push-button telephones into the Telecom system. These phones are said to be a technological change.

Mr Abel:

– Will you get one?


-At the price that is going to be charged, no. They are about to be introduced in Adelaide and will be marketed in Australia as an advance. It is intended that an additional rental of the order of $24 per annum will be charged for these phones. There will be a connection charge of something of the order of $50 and an additional charge for connection of $20, making a total in the first year of about $ 100 to have one of these phones fitted into a house. The phones operate with exactly the same wiring as an existing telephone and where a changeover is required it involves taking out one screw where there are not multiple plugs in the house and where there are multiple plugs the person concerned could take a new handset home and take the old one back to the marketing section of Telecom with no cost to anyone. It is purely and simply a matter of using a technological advance to take down telephone subscribers.

I suggest that charges which are to be made for a changeover, which is of no technical substance whatsoever, are excessive. The additional rental of $24 a year for the unit is also excessive. I suggest to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) that he take up the matter with Telecom and ask for the reasons for charging these connection fees and the additional rental, which are excessive. No additional exchange facilities are required. This is a charge for what is really only a fad. More than likely the telephones are an advance on existing telephones and it is likely to be an advantage to a lot of people to have a phone which is easier to dial. Most people who use telephones fairly regularly, especially since the introduction of the Ericsson system, find that the number of wrong numbers dialled is on the increase. I understand that the new system is simpler and therefore will reduce costs, especially for people whose eyesight is failing.

Mr Sullivan:

-It may sound funny, but if you are dialling a local number and you get an interstate number and it takes a few minutes to wake up to what is going on, you are in trouble. You have to pay for it whether it was a mistake or not. The point I make is that members of the public who may wish to have this facility should be able to have it at reasonable cost. It is not reasonable to charge something like $70 to change a telephone in a house which could be done in 2 minutes. It requires no wiring, no exchange faculties and no other technical equipment or installation. To add to that an extra rental charge of $24 a year is a rip-off of the worst order. I do not think it is good marketing and I think Telecom ought to be asked to review it.


-I wish to raise a matter concerning employment in the area which I happen to represent. I have been misrepresented in my local newspaper, not through any fault of the editor but through the statements of a Mr Rob Jolley, who said that I am prepared to misrepresent unemployment statistics in an attempt to gain short-term political capital. Could anybody imagine that I would do such a dreadful thing? Everybody realises that this speech would not have been necessary if, earlier today, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Schples) had allowed my Press statement to be incorporated in Hansard. Now I have to delay the House to.defend myself against an attack by a person connected with pre-selection for the division of Holt. We on this side understand the expressions ‘sour grapes’ and ‘sour chickens’. I did not use any statistics at all, so Mr Jolley is absolutely wrong. I suggested that in general in the Dandenong, Cranbourne, Berwick and Pakenham areas there were people actually looking for jobs, and that is a good thing too. There were also a number of vacancies that had not been filled. I happened to be making remarks that I had seen directors of industry, teachers, students and also the employment officers in the Commonwealth Employment Service concerning the serious situation. Mr Jolley makes up his own figures but I have to use the CES figures.

I would like on behalf of all my electors to thank the officers of the CES in both Dandenong and in Springvale. I visited them. I visited the staff and the managers of the offices. They have done excellent work in trying to help everybody in my own electorate. I have been trying to encourage companies to increase their numbers of apprentices. I have also encouraged them to take on additional industrial trainees. Even the manager of a CES office has commented that the unemployment figures showed a marked improvement for the area, but like myself he appealed to employers to take on young school leavers at the end of this year. If the honourable member for Sydney who is seeking to interject can contain himself for a moment he might learn something that will benefit his electorate.

Mr Les McMahon:

– Why do you not come to the electorate of Sydney?


– If the honourable member wants to worry about Sydney, I will give him an old Sydney saying.


-Order! The honourable member for Sydney will cease interjecting.


-Besides the manager of the CES office in Dandenong I attribute the falling unemployment to the close relationship between the Victorian and Commonwealth governments. I also say right now that the Victorian Government will do all it can to defeat inflation and reduce unemployment. I add something perfectly simple. If this Budget and all it contains is good enough to be accepted by the Labor Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran, and the Labor Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, it should be good enough for the Labor Party in Victoria; but no, it will have none of it. It is trying to invent unemployment figures of its own. I believe in a good old Sydney saying concerning my dear friend Mr Jolley from Narrewarren. I simply say: Never bash the monkey if you happen to hate the tune of the old organ grinder himself.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– Thank you for giving me the call, Mr Speaker. It will be a jolly good speech too. I wish to take up tonight the cause of a man whose political philosophies, I believe, to be different from my own in that he agreed to take up the position of permanent head of the Department of the Prime Minister during the previous Administration. I do not take up his cause alone but also the cause of his secretary which concerns me. Those of us who have read the newspapers lately will have seen articles which state that Australian Public Service Association (Fourth Division Officers) has made an approach to the Public Service Board to stop a Miss Elaine Miller travelling with Mr Menadue to Japan when he takes up his appointment as Australia’s Ambassador to that country. This Government has regarded him as a suitable appointee to the position. I believe that a businessman or a public servant and a secretary can be like a team. A good secretary can be like a man’s right hand. A good secretary can be like a good wife. A man can feel as though he is in a 6 foot rubber dinghy without oars in mid Pacific ocean without her. I wish to defend the concept of a man in his position being able to take with him that integral part of his office and of his efficiency, that which has made him what he is- his secretary. I have personally seen excellent and competent Public Service stenographers. But I have seen others who have been highly graded by the Public Service who would not hold down jobs as invoice typists in private industry. The protests of the Fourth Division of the Public Service Association is petty. Regrettably unionism in this country has for far too long thrust upon us and perpetuated a degree of mediocrity that causes sub-standards. If Mr Menadue feels that his secretary is a vital part of his set-up, he should be allowed to take her with him to Tokyo. Mr Speaker, since you have held your present position you have been regarded by honourable members from both sides of this House as displaying a great degree of fairness to all sides. I ask you -

Mr Charles Jones:

– Like hell!

Mr Donald Cameron:

-We did not hear that.

Mr Hodgman:

– Withdraw.

Mr Charles Jones:

– You should be locked in a zoo.

Mr Donald Cameron:

-The honourable member for Newcastle would be at home with the monkeys, that is for sure. Mr Speaker, I ask that you take a personal interest in this case to ensure that fairness prevails.


-This evening I refer to the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-73. It is an archaic Act. In 1942, 35 years ago, we heard that certain sections of the Act had been adopted from the Canadian system. They provided that the broadcasting of political speeches should not be made after the Wednesday prior to an election. That was to prevent anyone jumping in at the eleventh hour and buying up all the advertising dmes of the stations. That is utter garbage. I call on the Government to take steps as soon as practicable and possible to remove this iniquity from the law. It is ridiculous that, during the course of a by-election, a State election in another State or whatever it may be, 48-hours before the time of that election there is no radio or television broadcast of electoral material. It is ridiculous that last week political material emanating from the nation’s capital of Canberra for broadcast in New South Wales had to be sieved by the Press Gallery because there was a by-election in The Hills.

Next weekend we have the same ridiculous situation. There is to be a by-election in Brisbane and there can be no political comment. I suggest here and now that the Government take urgent steps to amend section 1 16 of the Act so that political news and commentary, including a full range of election material, may be televised or broadcast until midnight on the day preceding the polling day- that is, midnight of the Friday preceding the election. Although the Act as it now stands is supposed to provide exemption for political news and that commentary not connected with the particular election can continue, the fact is that the system does not work. I have already mentioned what happened last weekend. That the exemptions in the Act did not work is made perfectly clear by the fact that journalists working in the Press Gallery of this Parliament and the management of television and radio stations they represent felt inhibited. As I said at the outset, this Act is archaic. Surely, no one in this House- indeed I would not suggest anyone outside it- would have the gall to suggest that Australia’s electors might be confused or unfairly swayed in an election if this ridiculous ban were removed. I trust that the Green Paper into broadcasting will contain a recommendation that will support the measures that I have enunciated here this evening. Thank you for your indulgence, Mr Speaker.


-Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 1783


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Natural Disaster Assistance (Question No. 1119)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) In the Federal-State understanding on natural disaster assistance, is there automatic inclusion of the various forms of aid after a flood, fire, drought, etc., if they are part of an approved list.
  2. If so, what items are on the list.
  3. If not, does approval have to be given by the Commonwealth Government each year for every form of accepted aid; if so, what is the procedure for approval.
  4. Does the State Government usually make the request to the Commonwealth Government.
  5. When was the closing date for requests for specific forms of assistance for 1975-76, and when will it be for 1976-77.
  6. Is the base amount a State must spend before being eligible for Commonwealth assistance allowed to be the total for assistance for different forms of natural disasters or must each type exceed a base figure.
  7. Did the Victorian Government request the inclusion of drought aid in 1975-76; if so, when was the request made.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. Details of the arrangements under which the Commonwealth assists the States with expenditures on natural disaster relief and restoration measures are set out in pages 95-7 of Budget Paper No. 7, Payments to or for the States and Local Government Authorities 1976-77. As noted there, the particular relief and restoration measures for which Commonwealth support is provided in respect of various disasters are agreed between the Commonwealth and the States on a disaster by disaster basis having regard to the particular circumstances applying.
  2. The main measures which have been supported by the Commonwealth in respect of disasters in previous years are set out on page 96 of the Budget document referred to above. In respect of the current drought, the Commonwealth has also offered to support State expenditures on schemes of compensation payments to primary pi Queers for the slaughter of helpless and unsaleable cattle in drought stricken areas and assistance to local authorities in those areas for the slaughter and disposal of afflicted cattle and sheep.
  3. 3 ) See answer to ( 1 ). Commonwealth offers of support of State expenditures on various relief and restoration measures in respect of particular disasters often extend over more than one financial year. However, the particular measures to be supported have to be renegotiated for each separate disaster. State requests for, and notifications of approvals of, the particular measures to be extended Commonwealth support, are conveyed on a Prime Minister to Premier basis.
  4. The initiative in the formulation and selection of particular measures to be submitted for Commonwealth support in respect of individual disasters has rested almost entirely with the State concerned, reflecting the States’ Constitutional responsibilities in this area as well as the priorities of the individual States with regard to particular situations.
  5. No specific closing dates have been set. However, it is usual practice for a State to advise the Commonwealth before introduction of any particular measure for which it is to seek Commonwealth support under the natural disaster assistance arrangements.
  6. As set out in the reference cited above, Commonwealth support of expenditures on agreed relief and restoration measures (other than the immediate relief of personal hardship and distress) extends only to ‘ major’ disasters; that is, disasters necessitating expenditures on such measures in excess of one-tenth of the States’ annual base amount. (Victoria’s base amount for this purpose is $3. 5m and thus the minimum expenditure figure for a disaster to be regarded as major’ is $350,000.) For this purpose expenditures on agreed measures over more than one financial year are taken into account in assessing whether a disaster is to be regarded as ‘major’ or not.
  7. Requests for Commonwealth support, under the natural disaster assistance arrangements, of expenditures on various relief measures in respect of the current drought have been received from Victoria dated 28 April, 21 May, 2 August and 7 September 1976.

Vietnam- Application for Membership of the United Nations (Question No. 1128)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. Has Vietnam applied for membership of the United Nations.
  2. What, if any, is the expressed attitude of the governments of the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos and Burma towards Vietnam’s membership.
  3. What is the attitude of the United States Government towards the proposed membership of Vietnam in the United Nations.
  4. Has the Australian Government’s attitude on this specific question been conveyed to the United States Government.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Regarding the attitudes of the countries referred to in the honourable member’s in question, the attention of the honourable member is drawn to the voting record on resolution 3366 (XXX) of the 30th United Nations General Assembly of 19 September 1975 (the text of which is available in the Parliamentary Library) in support of the admission of both the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of South Vietnam, to membership in the United Nations, when countries referred to by the honourable member voted in favour. We have no information to suggest that those countries may vote differently this year.
  3. On 14 September 1976 the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr William Scranton, announced that he had been directed to use his veto at the Security Council to prevent Vietnam’s admission to membership in the United Nations if a request for admission were put to the vote.
  4. I refer the Leader of the Opposition to the Minister’s answer to his previous question without notice on the same subject in House of Representatives on 14 September 1976 (Hansard page 966).

Commonwealth Bank: Mail Holding Service (Question No. 1138)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that overseas branches of the Commonwealth Bank charge a fee for holding mail for customers.
  2. Is this fee charged for a minimum 12 months period irrespective of the length of time the customer will be using the service.
  3. If so, does this constitute an imposition on short term visitors who may pay $5.40 for a year’s service irrespective of their usage.
Mr Lynch:

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

The Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation hasinformed me as follows:

1 ) Branches of the Commonwealth Banks in London provide a service whereby mail for customers can be addressed care of the bank. Mail will be held for collection or by arrangement be redirected to another address. The following charges are currently applied: £E5 (plus value added tax applicable at the time) for the first 1 2 months or part thereof; and £E2.50 (plus value added tax) for each subsequent six months or part thereof.

2 ) Yes. See answer to ( 1 ) above.

3 ) The charges made only partly offset the cost of provid ing the customer mail service and are broadly in line with the charges applied by other Australian banks in London. Arrangements for charging for the service on a flat rate basis are designed to reflect the overhead cost of providing the service, even for a short period. Customers using the facilities over an extended period obtain the benefit of continued service without additional charge within the first 12 months.

Railway Inquiries (Question No. 1 147)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. Who have been appointed to the independent committees of inquiry into the Adelaide-Crystal Brook railway project, the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway project and the Tasmanian railway system announced by the Treasurer on 20 May 1976.
  2. When were they appointed.
  3. What are their terms of reference.
  4. When will they report.
Mr Nixon:

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

Adelaide to Crystal Brook Railway Project

  1. and (2) The review committee to inquire into the Adelaide to Crystal Brook railway project has yet to be established.
  2. It would be inappropriate for me to announce the terms of reference until the committee is appointed.
  3. Within two months of establishment of review committee.

Tarcoola to Alice Springs Railway Project

  1. 1 ) The review into construction standards and costs of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Railway is being undertaken by officers of Australian National Railways and my Department with assistance from the Bureau of Transport Economics.
  2. June 1976.
  3. To examine the proposed construction standards and costs of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway project in the light of projected traffic and proposed maintenance and operating costs and procedures, and to report on the options available to minimise the overall costs.

To report on the rolling stock and equipment proposed for the operation of the new line taking account of rolling stock and equipment that could be made available from within ANR ‘s current resources or by conversion.

To report on the optimal timing for construction of the line taking into account the current costs of operating the Central Australia Railway from Marree to Alice Springs.

To report on such other matters in relation to the Tarcoola to Alice Springs project as directed by the Minister. The Review Committee to report on matters that they consider warrant further investigation in this regard.

The report to be forwarded to the Minister within two months of the establishment of the committee.

  1. I expect the report of the committee in the very near future.

Tasmanian Railway System

  1. and (2) I announced on 13 September 1976 that Dr Stewart Joy would chair a three man committee and commence the enquiry on that day. He will be assisted by an engineer from my Department and an economist from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.
  2. To examine and report on the Tasmanian rail system and the options that are available from an economic point of view, including the possibility of a transfer of traffic to road.

The report should have regard to the provisions of the transfer Agreement and enabling legislation, the contractual commitments of the railways and the social implications of the recommended option.

To recommend the optimal timing of the suggested option.

The report to be presented to the Minister for Transport within two months of the establishment of the review team.

  1. I expect to have a report from the committee by midNovember.

Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health (Question No. 1149)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Who are the members of the Task Force that has been set up to examine welfare services and community based programs in the health/welfare/community development area.
  2. When were they appointed.
  3. What are the terms of reference of the Task Force.
  4. When will it report.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. 1 ) As the Acting Prime Minister announced in his press statement of 23 July when releasing details on the establishment, including the Terms of Reference, of the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health, the members of the Task Force are:

    1. Mr P. H. Bailey, O.B.E., Chairman (in recent times a member of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration and Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet).
    2. Mr J. D. Rimes (formerly Chairman of the New South Wales Health Commission, and office-holder in several voluntary organisations).
    3. Mr £. S. lightly (First Assistant Commissioner, Commonwealth Public Service Board).
  2. As from 23 July 1976.
  3. 3 ) The Terms of Reference are as follows:

    1. Against the background of the Government’s Federalism policy and its concern at the proliferation and overlap of Commonwealth services and programs in the health, welfare and community development fields, the Task Force shall examine and report on-
    2. the identification of particular services and programs, currently being undertaken by the Commonwealth, in the health, welfare and community development fields, which could be better delivered by a State, local government or voluntary agency and the administration of which could be transferred to the States;
    3. the possibilities for elimination of individual programs and consolidation into broader based programs in a manner which enables more efficient and economic delivery whether by the Commonwealth or the States, and the establishment of appropriate consultative arrangements with the States, local government and voluntary agencies on future policy planning, administration and service delivery in the health, welfare and community development fields;
    4. the possibility of achieving better co-ordination and avoiding overlap by more specific definitions of programs, eligible projects and eligible organisations, having in mind that coordination could be effected at the State and local government level without Commonwealth involvement; and
    5. the continuing machinery which should be established to co-ordinate social policy development at the Commonwealth level.
    1. The Task Force shall-

    2. include in its consideration available analyses and recommendations arising from other inquiries including the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, the Administrative Review Committee, and the Committee on Care of the Aged and the Infirm; and
    3. take account of views expressed by consumer groups and voluntary agencies, noting the Government’s support of the concept of maximum realistic community participation in health/welfare programs funded by the Commonwealth.
    1. The Task Force should present an interim report by 31 October 1976.
  4. See (3) (iii) above.

Pensioners: Age Groups (Question No. 1166)

Mr Neil:

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

  1. 1 ) How many pensioners are aged 70 years or more.
  2. How many pensioners aged (a) 65 years, (b) 66 years, (c) 67 years, (d) 68 years, (e) 69 years and (f) 70 years are receiving (i) a full pension, (ii) part pension and (iii) another pension or benefit in addition to the Old Age Pension.
  3. In respect of part (2) (iii), what are the categories of other pensions or benefits received.
  4. How many persons aged (a) 65 years, (b) 66 years, (c) 67 years, (d) 68 years, (e) 69 years and (f) 70 years are not in receipt of a pension.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

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

  1. At 30 June 1976, 719 500 social security pensioners were aged 70 years or more.
  2. The answer to Question (2) (i) and (2) (ii)is provided in the table below:
  1. (iii) and (3) The information requested is not available by single year age groups. However, it is estimated that, at 30 June 1976, some 3400 social security pensioners aged 65-69 years, were receiving additional pension for children, and 600 were receiving guardian’s allowance. It is not known how many pensioners aged 65-69 years were also receiving such payments as supplementary assistance, family allowances and payments from the Department of Repatriation.
  2. ) The estimated numbers of persons aged 65 to 70 years, qualified by residence, and not in receipt of pension, at 30 June 1976, are as follows:

    1. 65years-38 100
    2. 66years-30 100
    3. 67years-25 200
    4. 68years-20 100
    5. 69 years- 18 200
    6. f) 70 years- Negligible.

Soviet Shipping Line (Question No. 1169)

Mr Hodges:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice

  1. 1 ) Is a Soviet shipping line, known as FESCO, transporting Queensland beef to Japan.
  2. If so, (a) are FESCO’s shipping charges cheaper than its competitors and (b) has its operations affected the economic viability of Australian shipping companies.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes; but I understand that on its first 6 completed northbound sailings, FESCO has carried less than150 tonnes of frozen beef in total from Townsville to Japan.
  2. (a) Yes; FESCO’s freight rate for frozen beef is approximately15 per cent below the current liner shipping Conference scheduled rate.

    1. No.

Aircraft Accidents (Question No. 1172)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. How many accidents involving general aviation aircraft have occurred in Australia in each of the last 5 years.
  2. How many of these accidents were attributed officially to (a) pilot error, (b) medical reasons, (c) technical defects and (d) unknown causes.
  3. Of those accidents attributable to pilot error, on which occasions were medical services, including aviation pathology, utilised in the investigation to examine the possibility that a physical condition was the basic reason for the error.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. The number of accidents involving general aviation aircraft in Australia in each of the last five years is
  1. The factors which, after investigation, are determined as having contributed to the circumstances leading to accidents are not classified in the manner used in the honourable member’s question. The term ‘pilot error’ is inappropriate to the air safety investigation process where the objective is the enhancement of safety and not the allocation of blame. For the five years 197 1-1 975 there were 1464 broad causal factors assigned in respect of the 103 1 accidents as follows:

In 10 of the accidents pilot medical factors were assessed as being involved. In 49 of the accidents there was insufficient evidence to permit the determination of precise causal factors.

  1. In all accident investigations, the possibility that a physical condition may have contributed to the circumstances leading to the accident is examined and medical services are used to assist as required. Additionally, in all accidents involving serious injury, a medical crash injury report is obtained and in all fatal accidents a post-mortem examination with biochemical tests is conducted by aviation pathologists.

Townsville Airport (Question No. 1192)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. Did he tell me in answer to question No. 933 (Hansard, 21 September 1976, page 1272) relating to the Bureau of Transport Economics’ report on proposals to develop Townsville Airport, that the report is presently being printed by the Australian Government Publishing Service.
  2. Will he undertake to table the report.
  3. How many copies of the report has his Department ordered from the Australian Government Publishing Service.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. ) The report was tabled on 23 September 1 976.
  3. 750 copies.

Housing for Holland Family in Dublin (Question No. 1197)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Was approximately $26,000 spent by the Australian Government because it took the Overseas Property Bureau more than a year to find a suitable residence for a Foreign Affairs officer and his family.
  2. Is it usual for officers to be placed in expensive hotels for long periods when they are transferred overseas.
  3. Will he ensure that similar wastage is eliminated in the future.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) Total hotel accommodation expenses and per diem allowance for the Holland family from 1 September 1974, when they arrived in Dublin, to 24 September 1975, when they moved into a house, amounted to$A26,547. However, because of the difficulties in obtaining permanent accommodation, Mr Holland’s approved settling-in period was extended by the Public Service Board to 16 March 1975, from the normal maximum settling-in period for officers posted to Dublin of ten weeks. Expenditure incurred without specific regulatory authority approval covering the period 17 March to 24 September 1975 amounted to $A 13,687. During the period in excess of Mr Holland ‘s approved settling in period, and before, the Embassy, acting upon instructions from the Department of Foreign Affairs, sought suitable alternative short-term accommodation for the Holland family. Unfortunately this search was unsuccessful. The delay in providing long-term accommodation in this case was not, however, because of an extended search for a suitable residence. A property for the Hollands’ use was purchased early in 1975, but because of a series of unforseen delays could not be made available for occupation before September 1 975.
  2. The standard of hotel accommodation used by all officers of the Department throughout the world for settling-in purposes is determined by the Public Service Board.
  3. The circumstances of this case were unusual and unforseen, but the way it dragged on was unfortunate and regrettable. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has instructed officers of the Department to monitor closely expenditure of this kind in the future to ensure that incidents of this nature do not happen again.

Macquarie House (Question No. 1201)

Mr Bourchier:

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

  1. 1 ) Is Macquarie House only SO per cent occupied.
  2. How many (a) single rooms, (b) double rooms, (c) rooms with an en suite and (d) fully self-contained flats are available at the hostel.
  3. What are the tariffs for the various types of accommodation.
  4. How many vacancies of each type are there at the present time.
Mr Newman:
Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development · BASS, TASMANIA · LP

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

  1. 1 ) Total capacity of Macquarie House is S67. At 27 September 1976 there were 309 residents.
  2. (a) 491 single rooms, (b) 38 twin rooms, (c) nil, (d) nil for guests. (There are three managerial flats of one bedroom).
  3. Macquarie is a bed and breakfast establishment for Government employees. The weekly tariffs for permanent guests are $29.15 in a single room and $26.25 in a shared room. The weekly rates for casual guests are $65 in a single room and $50 in a shared room.
  4. (a) 190 rooms, (b) 34 rooms, (c) not applicable, (d) not applicable.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Expenditure (Question No. 862)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. What was the total expenditure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year 1975-76.
  2. What portion of this expenditure was used for (a) the purchase of overseas program material and (b) administration.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. The total expenditure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year 1 975-76 was $ 1 40,60 1 ,32 1 .
  2. (a): Of the amount mentioned in part (1) above $2,536,455 was used for the purchase of overseas program material.
  3. (b):The total General Overhead Expenditure for 1975-76 was $27,348,874.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: New Delhi Correspondent (Question No. 896)

Mr Chipp:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) With reference to the recent press reports alleging that rigid and oppressive censorship laws have been introduced in India, preventing foreign correspondents from reporting freely on the political and social situation, is the ABC’s New Delhi correspondent subject to these laws.
  2. Has the Commission been given any guarantee by the Indian Government that its correspondent can report freely on political activities in India.
  3. 3 ) How many stories has the correspondent filed since the censorship restrictions were imposed.
  4. Is there any intention by the Commission to withdraw its correspondent from India.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. No. The Indian Government has not given such a guarantee to any news organisation. In practice, however, the ABC correspondent has been able to report without his copy being subjected to pre-transmission censorship and he has been able to travel around India and speak to Opposition Party leaders.
  3. Two hundred and sixty-two.
  4. No. The ABC is however keeping the position under review. So far the ABC correspondent has been able to provide independent and objective reports. It should be mentioned that many major news organisations are still operating in India, including Reuters, United Press International, Associated Press, Agence France Presse and the American Broadcasting Company.

Shipbuilding (Question No. 926)

Mr Morris:

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

What shipbuilding financial concessions and allowances are available in Japan to Australian companies which have ships constructed in that country?

Mr Howard:

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

Financial concessions and allowances are a matter for commercial negotiation between shipowner and shipbuilder and are not available in relation to specific ships.

Japan is a signatory to the OECD ‘Understanding on Export Credits for Ships’ which states that ‘for any contract relating to any new ship to be negotiated from 1 July 1974 onwards, Governments participating in this Understanding agree to abolish existing official facilities and to introduce no new official facilities and export credits for ships on terms which provide

1 ) a maximum duration exceeding 7 years from delivery and repayment other than by equal instalments at regular intervals of normally six months and a maximum of 12 months;

payment by delivery of less than 30 per cent of contract price;

3 ) an interest rate of less than 8 per cent net of all charges

New South Wales Building Industry (Question No. 946)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact that the deep crisis in which the New South Wales building industry finds itself seems certain to worsen because of the recent Budget cutbacks in Government spending.
  2. As the total work force on N.S.W. building sites fell from 58 506 in March 1971 to 38 502 in March 1976, and as there is an increasing shortage of apprentices undergoing training, will action be taken to expand Government spending in this area.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) The Government does not expect recent Budget cutbacks in Government spending will worsen the recession in the N.S.W. building industry.

Adequate funds are available to support higher levels of both residential and non-residential building in N.S.W. Indeed on the residential side, commencements moved up strongly in the June quarter, and recent approvals figures suggest a maintenance of higher volume in the September quarter. There are also signs of improvement in nonresidential activity- though I should add that the Government is looking for further improvement in the months ahead.

The very high rate of inflation experienced in Australia in recent years has been an important factor in the downturn in the building and construction industry and, of course, in the economy generally. Since assuming office, the Government has directed its policies to reducing inflation in an effort to lay the foundation for a sustainable recovery in economic activity, including building and construction. As those policies take effect, and there are some signs already of that, the level of activity in the economy, including the building and construction industry, can be expected to improve.

Quarantine Regulations: Cheese (Question No. 976)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) When will the Quarantine Regulations be invoked for certain types of cheese from countries where foot and mouth disease is prevalent.
  2. Is it now over a year since the Department was first alerted to this disease risk to our livestock industries; if so, why has there been this inordinate delay.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. Quarantine Proclamation No. 88a and the amendments to the Quarantine (Animals) Regulations came into operation on 28 September 1 976.
  2. In the time which has elapsed since the Department was first alerted to the disease risk from cheese it has been necessary, inter alia, to undertake a careful assessment of the research findings which indicated the need for quarantine control, to develop a control framework which would provide adequate protection at a minimum level consistent with safety, and to arrange for the drafting of all necessary legislation. The time taken to undertake these sequential tasks was unavoidable.

Cocos Island: Quarantine Station (Question No. 978)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is the offshore animal quarantine station to be established on Cocos Island.
  2. If so, why has there not been discussion with the ruler of Cocos on the provision of the station, as indicated in the answer to question No. 749.
  3. Does this indicate that the station will be established without his approval.
  4. What is preventing action by the Government on this important project.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. No decision has been made regarding the establishment or location of an off-shore animal quarantine station.
  2. See (1) above.
  3. No.
  4. Current action is necessarily limited to an in-depth study of the proposal including a detailed examination of all financial implications.

Housing Loans Insurance (Question No. 980)

Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. 1 ) What is the total value of loans insured by the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation.
  2. What are the Corporation’s (a) liabilities, (b) assets and (c) reserves.
  3. What premium rates apply to the (a) Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and (b) Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation.
  4. Does the Government have any plans to reduce premium rates or to utilise reserves to assist low income housing programs.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) At 30 June 1 976, the face value of insurance contracts issued by Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and not advised as cancelled was $2, 540m.
  2. At 30 June 1976, the Corporation’s assets and liabilities each amounted to $23. lm. At that date, the general reserve was $ 12.7m. Further details will be available when the Corporation’s Annual Report, with Financial Statements, for the year ended 30 June 1976 is presented.
  3. (a) The premium rates charged by Housing Loans Insurance Corporation for its standard insurance, Le. full term cover for reducible loans, are as follows:

Other rates apply to other classes of business. Full details are given in the Corporation ‘s Annual Report.

  1. The premium rates charged by Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation of Australia Ltd for home-ownership loans are, except for minor variations, the same as those charged by Housing Loans Insurance Corporation.

    1. No. Under the Housing Loans Insurance Act, premium rates are determined by the Corporation. The Act provides that funds not immediately required for the purposes of the Corporation may be invested by it only in fixed deposits with banks, Commonwealth securities and loans to official dealers in the short term money market.

Dental Therapists (Question No. 986)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. At what location were training facilities for dental therapists being supported by Australian Government grants at (a) 30 June 1975 and (b) 30 June 1976.
  2. How many trainee dental therapists were enrolled at these institutions on those dates.
  3. At what location were training facilities for dental therapists under construction at 30 June 1 976.
  4. What was the estimated date of completion in each case.
  5. What amount will be paid to each of the States for construction of training facilities for dental therapists in 1976-77.
  6. At what locations will new training facilities for dental therapists be constructed or established in 1976-77.
  7. How many trainee dental therapists will these institutions accommodate upon completion.
  8. How many dental therapists would be required to provide a free dental service to all primary school children.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) (a) At 30 June 1975, dental therapy training schools in the following locations were supported by Commonwealth Government grants:

New South Wales- Newcastle, Westmead and Sylvania

Queensland-Kangaroo Point, Stafford, Holland Park

South Australia- Hindmarsh Square (Adelaide) and Somerton Park

Western Australia- Mount Henry

Tasmania- Hobart and

  1. At 30 June 1976:

New South Wales- Newcastle, Westmead, Sylvania and Shellharbour

Victoria- St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Queensland- Stafford, Holland Park, Yeronga and Townsville

South Australia- Hindmarsh Square (Adelaide) and Somerton Park

Western Australia- Mount Henry and Warwick

Tasmania- Hobart.

  1. 30June 1975-404; 30 June 1976-540.
  2. No training schools were under construction at 30 June 1976.
  3. See (3) above.
  4. $544,500 has been provided for final construction costs of dental therapy training schools at St Kilda, Victoria ($40,500), Townsville, Queensland ($225,000), Mount Henry, Western Australia ($99,000) and initial costs of hostel facilities for students attending the Shellharbour, New South Wales dental therapy training school ($ 1 80,000).
  5. Decisions have not been taken concerning additional dental therapy schools to be commenced in 1976-77. The requirement for new dental therapy schools is currently being reviewed.
  6. See (6) above.
  7. Approximately 2300.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Western Australian Advisory Board (Question No. 1007)

Mr McLean:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Who, at present, are the members of the Western Australian Advisory Board of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
  2. When does the term of office of each member expire.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. Members of the 1976 Committee are: Mr P. CarterChairman, Mr J. Tozer, MLC, Bishop B. MacDonald, Mrs J. Vershuer, Mr R. McMullan, Mr H. J. Gastrin, Mr A. Neeme, Mr R. A. Smith, Dr K. G. P. Tregonning, Mrs E. Underwood, Mr G. Burke, Mrs D. Waite and Professor G. Bolton.

One member- Mr J. M. Berinson, resigned on 9 July 1 976.

  1. There is no fixed term of office. Generally members are invited to serve on the Committee for a period of three years.

The Chronically 111 (Question No. 1045)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1) Has he any plans to assist those people in the community who are chronically ill and need private hospital care.
  2. Will he consider the possibility of providing help to pensioners in such a position.
  3. Should pensioners continue to take out, or consider taking out, private medical insurance to cover themselves for such a contingency.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. and (2) The revised health insurance arrangements operating from 1 October 1976 ensure that everyone who insures under the basic hospital benefits table, which all registered hospital benefits organisations are required to operate, is, inter alia, covered against the public (recognised) hospital charge of $40 a day for shared room accommodation at all times regardless of the nature or duration of illness. That is, exclusion rules which would otherwise deny or limit benefits because of a pre-existing illness or chronic ailment will be prohibited under the basic table.

People insured in the basic hospital benefits table and choosing to receive their hospital treatment in private hospitals will have cover for $56 a day. This amount includes $ 16 a day Commonwealth benefit which is paid direct to private hospitals and deducted from the hospital account This is an increase of $10 a day over the maximum benefits currently payable.

The matter of payment of additional hospital benefits from supplementary tables operated by registered hospital benefits organisations (in addition to the basic hospital benefits table) will be a matter for them and any exclusions on limitations they wish to invoke in accordance with their rules such as maximum days of benefit, chronic ailments and pre-existing illnesses. That is, organisations may deny these additional benefits if their rules so provide, which is no different from the present position.

  1. 3 ) Eligible pensioners receive their medical benefits cover of at least 85 per cent of the Schedule fees from Standard Medibank without payment of the Health Insurance Levy. Where the doctor accepts the 85 per cent benefit as full payment, they receive all medical treatment free of personal cost. In these circumstances there is no need for the eligible pensioner to take out private medical insurance as the same benefits would be payable by Standard Medibank. If, however, they wish to be insured for shared ward hospital accommodation with the choice of their own doctor the basic hospital benefits table referred to above will be available at a Commonwealth subsidised contribution rate of $1.30 (single) or $2.60 (family) per week without need to take out private medical insurance.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Control of Programs (Question No. 1050)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications upon notice:

  1. Was the ABC current affairs program ‘This Day Tonight’ ordered to drop the story on alleged atrocities by Australian troops in Vietnam, after airing it on 5 August, 1976.
  2. Has radio station2JJ been ordered to curb political comment.
  3. Did instructions to the ABC to desist from announcing details of future demonstrations against the GovernorGeneral come from the Government.
  4. Does he regard the ABC as free from Government interference in the nature and depth of political comment.
  5. Is there a strong under-current of dissatisfaction and disquiet amongst ABC staff at present.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

  1. No.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. Yes.
  5. I am not aware of any such under-curent among staff members of the Commission.

Natural Disasters: Administrative Arrangements (Question No. 1052)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1) In view of Australia’s susceptibility to many types of natural disasters and the numerous Government and semiGovernment departments involved in coping with natural disasters, will the Government consider following the lead of the United Kingdom by placing the responsibility for natural national disasters under the authority of one Federal Minister.
  2. Has he received any representations on this matter from interested bodies.
  3. What Federal and State Government departments or authorities are involved in dealing with natural disasters.
  4. What action has the Government taken to ease administrative hitches and improve communications between these authorities.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. 1 ) and (4) Under the Federal system of Government in Australia, the State Governments play a leading role in planning to cope with natural disasters and in disaster relief operations. However, the Commonwealth provides financial support towards expenditure on agreed relief and restoration measures, negotiated between the Prime Minister and the relevant Premier, under the provisions of an agreed set of arrangements. The Natural Disasters Organisation (an established Division within the Department of Defence) is responsible for co-ordination of Commonwealth Government assistance in natural disasters or civil emergency situations. It develops plans to cope with natural disasters in Commonwealth Territories and special areas; and provides assistance to the States (through relevant State organisations) in strengthening their capacity to cope with natural disasters. Assistance includes the provision of emergency equipment, reimbursement of salaries for permanent staffs at regional levels, subsidies for various purposes, preparation of training handbooks and training of State volunteers and professional members at the National Emergency Services College. It would be inappropriate in view of the effectiveness of these arrangements, and the Government’s commitment to federalism, to attempt to centralise the responsibility for natural disasters in one Commonwealth agency.
  2. I am not aware of any representations to me on this matter.
  3. Federal departments and authorities

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Department of the Treasury

Natural Disasters Organisation (Department of Defence)

Other Departments as necessary

State Departments and Authorities

Premier’s Department

State Treasury

State Emergency Services

Other State Departments as necessary.

Regulation of Corporations (Question No. 1065)

Mr Jacobi:

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

  1. 1 ) As New South Wales possibly proposes to withdraw from the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission, does the Government propose to (a) re-introduce the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill and (b) introduce national legislation to regulate corporations as was proposed by the previous Government.
  2. Do the Associates of Stock Exchanges wish the Government to establish a National Corporations and Securities Industry Commission.
  3. How many representations have been received by the Government requesting re-introduction of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill.
Mr Howard:

– The following information is provided in answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) I am currently discussing with the States proposals by this Government for a co-operative scheme between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to company law and the regulation of the securities industry. This scheme, if accepted, would achieve legislative uniformity throughout Australia and provide for the necessary degree of national regulation whilst at the same time preserving existing administrative structures at a State level. Until those discussions have been concluded it is neither appropriate nor possible to make detailed comments on the Government’s legislative intentions in these areas.
  2. Submissions made by the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges to the Senate Select Committee inquiring into the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill demonstrated that the Exchanges had serious reservations about many aspects of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill which was introduced in 197S and which provided for the establishment of a Corporations and Exchange Commission. I have discussed with representatives of several Australian stock exchanges the Government’s proposals for co-operative action in relation to company law and the regulation of the securities industry. These proposals would include the establishment by the Commonwealth of a National Corporations and Securities Commission. The Government’s proposals have been publicly supported by the Chairman of the AASE and the Chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange.
  3. No representations requesting re-introduction of the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 have been brought to my attention.

Lockheed Electra L188 Aircraft (Question No. 1077)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Did he tell me in answer to question No. 35 (Hansard, 17 March 1976, page 767) that the costs of Lockheed Electra LI 88 aircraft purchased by TAA and delivered on the dates shown, were as follows:

    1. 24 June 1959, $ 1.946m, (b) 19 July 1959, $ 1.954m, and (c) 19 August 1960,$2,039m.
  2. Has his attention been drawn to the answer to a question on notice given by the Minister for Civil Aviation on 15 March 1962 (Hansard, pages 938-9) that the costs of the Electras purchased by TAA were $3. 1 72m each for the first 2 aircraft and $2.568m for the third aircraft.
  3. If so, what are the reasons for differences in the information he has supplied and that supplied by his predecessor in 1962.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. The figures quoted by my predecessor in March 1962 included also the costs of aircraft spares and ground equipment whereas the figures supplied by me in answer to your question on 17 March 1976 did not include these costs.

Australian National Railways (Question No. 1101)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What amounts have been paid by way of compensation to employees of Australian National Railways for loss of hearing.
  2. What amounts have been paid to employees for the supply of hearing aids.
Mr Nixon:

-The answer to the member’s questions is:

  1. Since payments commenced in 1966-67, a total of $139,681.86 has been paid by Australian National Railways to employees suffering loss of hearing as a result of their employment with the Railways.
  2. During that period, the cost of supplying hearing aids to those employees where such aids were considered necessary was $1,1 17.32.

Immigration from Lebanon (Question No. 1115)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Did an Australian citizen of Lebanese origin, presently in Lebanon, seek to have his sister accompany him to Australia because of his inability to travel alone due to medical reasons.
  2. Was the application supported by a brother of the applicant who lives in Australia.
  3. Did he refuse the application; if so, is it considered that the girl constituted a threat to Australia.
  4. Did his refusal deny an Australian citizen the opportunity of returning to Australia.

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

  1. 1 ) There is no trace of an application by an Australian resident to seek to have his sister accompany him on his return to Australia because of his medical condition.

The individual case referred to is presumably one involving the question of the entry to Australia of the parents, two single brothers aged 40 and 35 and the single sister aged 24 of a resident of Australia whose other brother is an Australian citizen residing with them in Lebanon.

  1. The family members mentioned are the subjects of nominations lodged in Australia by a brother of the Australian citizen.
  2. The individual nomination for the sister was not accepted by the Department’s Regional Office in Victoria in March 1 976 as she was not then within the classes eligible for entry to Australia. The sponsor did not claim that hardship existed as a result of the situation in the Lebanon. There was never any suggestion of a threat to Australia and this factor had no bearing on the decision taken.
  3. Following the statement of 23 September 1976 concerning the Government’s review of immigration policy relating to persons normally resident in Lebanon, all members of the family are now eligible for migrant entry subject to their completion of normal health and character requirements. The appropriate Australian posts overseas are being suitably informed.

Government Carpet Contracts (Question No. 1116)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have tenders for the supply of carpet to his Department been finalised.
  2. If so, is the contract to be let to an Australian manufacturer.
  3. If the contract is not to be let to an Australian manufacturer, what was the price difference between the tender accepted and the lowest tender by an Australian manufacturer.
  4. What is the quantity of carpet involved.
Mr McLeay:

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

  1. 1 ) One tender for supply of broadloom carpet to the Department for a period of two years has been accepted.

Tenders for supply of axminister carpet for a two year period and tenders for supply of broadloom carpet for the Campbell Park Offices, A.C.T., are not yet finalised.

  1. The period contract for broadloom carpet has been let to an Australian manufacturer namely United Carpet Mills PtyLtd.
  2. See (2) above.
  3. Tenders were invited for quantities of carpet as follows:

    1. For Campbell Park Offices 3 and 4, A.C.T. Approximately 20 000 square metres of Tufted Broadloom
    2. For period contracts for supply to Government Establishments

Estimated requirements- 12 months Tufted Broadloom (366 cm)- 18 000 lin. metres

Axminister (69cm)- 8500 lin. metres.

Capital Cities: Population Shifts (Question No. 1117)

Mr Scholes:

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

  1. 1 ) Have projections been made of population shifts to the capital cities inthe next 5 years;
  2. If so, in what age groups are the main movements expected.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. The attached table presents the information as requested for the period 1975 to 1980.

The projection assumes that the age-specific internal migration rates, which applied in the 1966-7 1 period, continue throughout the 1970s The other assumptions on which the projection is based are footnoted in the table.

The projection derived on the basis of these assumptions shows that population shifts to the capital cities as a whole occur in the age groups 10 to 14, 15 to 19, 20 to 24, 40 to 44 and 45 to 49. Further, the dominant movement of inmigrants occurs in the age groups 15 to 19 (60 per cent of total inflow) and 20 to 24 ( 1 8 per cent of total inflow).

Notwithstanding these general observations the pattern of in-migration varies from capital city to capital city.

Sydney and Melbourne experience their main net inmigration for the age groups 15 to 19 and 20 to 24, but do not attract the 40 to 49 age group, and in fact lose population in most other age groups.

Brisbane and Perth register in-migration in most age groups, which could reflect the growth of the Queensland and Western Australian economies. Both Brisbane and Perth lose population from among those groups aged in their twenties.

Adelaide and Hobart both gain from in-migration in the age groups 10 to 14 and 15 to 19. Smaller net gains occur in the age groups 50 and over for Adelaide and 65 and over for Hobart.

There have been significant changes since 1971 in the levels of in-migration and out-migration to the individual capital cities. These changes can only be partially taken into account in the projections. The tabulation of the 1976 Census data on internal migration will assist in analysing post- 1971 changes.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.