30th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with great sadness that I inform the House that Ivor Greenwood, Senator for Victoria, died this morning. Ivor Greenwood’s death is a tragedy that has made a heavy impact on all members of this Parliament. Ivor Greenwood was a man of very great ability, at the height of his powers, and with a major contribution still to make to his country. I know that I speak for all members of this House when I express our deepest sympathy to his family, to his wife and his children. These last months have been a terrible period for them all. They have our deepest regrets, sympathy and understanding.
All of us who knew Ivor Greenwood respected him as a man of integrity and high principle. He was a man who sought unswervingly to do what he believed to be right. He could always be relied upon to state his views strongly and openly. He was a most valuable contributor to debates in the Parliament and in the Cabinet. Ivor Greenwood was a man of courage. Even if some view he adopted was unpopular, he refused to be deflected from his stand if he believed an important point of principle was involved. Throughout his life Ivor Greenwood pursued all his interests with intensity and with purpose.
Ivor Greenwood was bom in Melbourne in 1 926. His early schooling was at Hartwell State School and Mont Albert Central. He won a scholarship to Scotch College for the last 4 years of his secondary education. Later at Melbourne University he combined a study of law with an active interest in politics. Perceptive in politics from an early age, he joined the Liberal Club and became its President in 1947 at the age of twenty-one. Two years later he became President of the University’s Students Representative Council. His career in the law was also a distinguished one. He first became associate to Sir Frank Kitto in the High Court, and later to Sir Owen Dixon. He was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1951.
From then on, he pursued his 2 interests- the law and politics- with significant achievement in both. The year after his admission to the Bar he became a member of the Victorian Liberal Executive serving there from 1952 to 1966 when he became Vice-President of the Liberal Party in Victoria. While his legal career progressed, principally in equity and commercial cases, he entered vigorously into the affairs of the profession and became secretary to the Law Council of Australia- a position he held from 1963 to 1968. In 1969 he took silk. Ivor Greenwood always had a genuine interest in helping younger members of the Liberal Party to improve their understanding of and effectiveness in politics. I know that his interest was greatly appreciated by them.
Ivor Greenwood entered the Senate in 1968. He was elected in 1969, and re-elected in 1970, 1974 and 1975. His great ability was rapidly recognised. He became Minister for Health in 1971 and Attorney-General in 1971-72. During the Liberal Party’s period in Opposition from 1972 to 1975, Ivor Greenwood was one of those who worked hard to equip the Party with the policies it needed to return to government. He became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in 1972. After the Liberal Party returned to government he became Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. He undertook his new portfolio with enthusiasm, dedication and great vigour. Throughout his life Ivor Greenwood had a consuming passion for justice. He was dedicated to the rule of law because he believed that it was only the law that protected the weak from the powerful. He believed that the law and regard for the law were the greatest safeguard of liberty, of the freedoms of people. He was profoundly disturbed whenever he believed that the law was being flouted or that the law was being denied.
Ivor Greenwood was a man who obtained great respect from his colleagues. His was a life that “stood courageously for principles of justice and fairness for everyone. His death is a great loss to the Parliament and to the nation. Mr Speaker, I move:
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death, this day, of Senator the Honourable Ivor John Greenwood, Queen’s Counsel, Senator for the State of Victoria from 1968, a Minister of the Crown from 1971 to 1972 and from’ 1 975 to 1 976, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1 972 to 1 973 and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1975 to 1976; places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I support the motion that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has moved. I first knew Ivor Greenwood as Honorary Secretary of the Law Council of Australia. I was able to observe and admire his work in organising the 1963, 1965 and 1967 legal conventions. The Prime Minister has paid proper tribute to his career and his prospects as a lawyer. In this Parliament, of course, we knew him principally as a politician. He early distinguished himself. When Senator Gorton became Prime Minister, he was appointed to replace him in the Senate. Within 3 years he became a Minister. He rose high in his own Party. Senator Greenwood expressed strong feelings; he aroused strong feelings. He was an effective, a lucid, an intense exponent and antagonist. He was fearless in expressing a point of view. One knew where he stood. He was generally considered to be a very conservative man. On political issues that would be a description which he would accept and of which he would be proud. I merely want to recall on this occasion that there were many issues in which he took a very liberal attitude. The referendum to endorse the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the moves to take homosexual practices out of the purview of the criminal law, his reforms in cases of irretrievable breakdowns of marriage were issues where he was not seeking popular support but where he fearlessly, lucidly, effectively expressed his point of view. Accordingly, both those who ordinarily supported him and those who ordinarily opposed him respected him.
He became Attorney-General again in the caretaker Government in November. In December he became the first Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I confess that at the time I had some misgivings about the appointment. I came to applaud it.
The last time I was for any length of time in his company was on 12 March last. He opened the Bunbury-Curran Creek bridge linking the electorates of Macarthur and Werriwa. It was a project for which my Government had obtained funds from the Parliament. On that occasion and on the subsequent tour of the Macarthur Development Authority area he convinced me of his capacity to appreciate and to support projects for the benefit of the people living in the outer parts of our great metropolitan areas. His disablement and his death can be lamented wholeheartedly by members of both sides in both Houses. I know that all honourable members will support the expression of sympathy to his widow, a most gracious and cultured person, and to his son and daughter.
– On behalf of the Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Anthony) and members of the National Country Party I should like to join in and support the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). We remember and respect Ivor Greenwood as a lawyer, as a parliamentarian, as a Minister and as a friend. Most of all we remember Ivor as a man. He was a man who, probably more than most, epitomised the fact that in the pragmatism of day to day politics there tends to be an erosion of the image of the personality and principles of the individual. Ivor on many occasions spoke in forums on matters of high principle and expressed a philosophy which is held by members from both sides of this House, I suggest, but perhaps few could express it as lucidly.
He entered the House having been very active in the Liberal Party in Victoria. He came from a working class home. I understand that his father was a boilermaker with the Victorian Railways. He entered Scotch College, to which he won a bursary for the last 4 years of secondary schooling. He prided himself on his adherence to and affiliation with principles and ideas from the moment that he left school. He wrote in one article contributed to the Age shortly after he entered Parliament:
The most important thing in this world is the individual soul.
But it is in other expressions of his philosophy that perhaps we will best remember Ivor. He described the moratorium campaign in May 1 970 as a dangerous futility. He said:
If the doctrine of ability to disobey a law is associated with the circumstances of mass demonstrations and disruptions, this is an invitation for people in the mass to ignore the law. This is an area where a mass without any law- or without respect for law- becomes a mob. Therein lies danger, not only for innocent people ‘s rights, but for democracy itself.
In speaking to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia on 15 October 1971 he spoke of freedom, of the freedom to practise. He said to the audience:
It is a freedom which I know you value and it is a freedom which is ingrained in the approach of most Australians to their vocation or employment. Australians desire to be free to accept or withdraw from a particular employment, to change their jobs if the opportunity or the need arises, to join a union or to be free not to join a union, to strike or not to strike in pursuit of legitimate industrial ends and, above all, for an employee to regard his own personality and citizenship as the equal of his employer.
In another manifestation of that philosophy, which he adhered to and expressed so eloquently, on 17 September 1971 he said:
It is unquestioned, in my mind, that whatever be the difficulties for government in getting its policies and the justification for them across to the public the preservation of the access to the means of criticism is a superior consideration.
Perhaps best of all, the expression of his attitude to freedom and his attitude to the rights and wrongs of society appears in a paper he delivered on the role of dissent in a free society, again in September 1971 when, as Attorney-General for the Commonwealth, he said:
But in a free society individual freedoms belong to all and not to the few. The exercise of the power to dissent should never be allowed where it operates to deny the equal rights of others.
To Lola, to his son and his daughter, on behalf of myself, my Leader and members of the National Country Party I should like to extend my deepest personal sympathy. The last 6 months have been more trying, I suspect, for Lola and his family than anyone can well describe.
-I knew the late Senator Ivor Greenwood for a long time. Having witnessed his achievements as a back bench member of Parliament, I appointed him Minister for Health in March 1971. In August 1971 I appointed him Attorney-General and he continued in that office until my Government was defeated at the election in 1972. 1 found him to be a remarkable man. First as Minister for Health he performed a task that was becoming increasingly onerous and difficult. He performed it with merit and, I believe, with a great degree of success. He kept down the charges that otherwise would have been payable to some members of the medical profession. But his greatness lay in his work as the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. Not only did he look at all the legislation that came forward and advise his colleagues about it but also, no matter what sort of measure it was or what sort of problem was being debated in the Parliament or by the Cabinet, he was always willing and able to give his version- it always was a very worthwhile versionas to what should be done, the problems that were involved and how they could be solved. He was committed to the cause of freedom- in particular, to the freedom of the individual.
In the whole of my association with members of this Parliament I have known of no one as dedicated to a cause he chose to fight for as was Ivor Greenwood. Not only was he of tremendous help in those dying days of my own Government in 1971 and 1972, but also most people will remember him because of the contribution he made as shadow Attorney-General when the coalition was in Opposition. Many will remember, too, that many of the amendments made in those days to Government legislation- memorable and really worthwhile legislation- were due to the dedication, work and effort of Ivor Greenwood. In times of trouble there was no greater friend than he. In times of stress of work when it was necessary to get special assistance to do a job, he did it without argument and he did it quickly and to perfection. Above all, he was as charming and sensitive a person as it is possible to imagine. Those who knew him as well as I did, including you Mr Speaker, regarded him as a very good and worthwhile companion. He was one whom I was and most other people were always willing to welcome whenever the opportunity arose to join him or to have him join us.
I join the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in expressing my sympathy and very deep regret to his wife and children. They are a wonderful, loving family and they deserve the respect of all of us.
-! wish to support the motion of condolence. I had the privilege of leading the first parliamentary delegation to the People’s Republic of China in 1973. Ivor Greenwood was a senior member of that delegation. As has been said in this place on many occasions, he was a most strong and energetic opponent. In politics many things are said that are often misinterpreted, but in the international sphere it is important that Australians speak with integrity as one voice. During that visit to China Ivor Greenwood and I, together with other members of the delegation, had many serious lengthy discussions with the leaders of the Chinese people. At all times Ivor Greenwood was an outstanding supporter of the Australian point of view and Australia’s political philosophy. He was a credit to Australia and was loved by the Chinese. I am certain that he will be sadly missed by this Parliament. I should like to extend my sympathy to his widow and family.
– I rise to associate myself with the motion of condolence that has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and supported by honourable members on both sides of the House. Ivor Greenwood was a very close personal friend of mine over many years since we grew up in the Young Liberal Movement in Victoria. I believe that at the national level he made a unique contribution, initially as a back bench member of the Senate and then, of course, as a Minister in the former Liberal-Country Party Government before the end of 1972. A very great contribution was made by Ivor as the Deputy Leader of the coalition Parties in the Senate during the period in Opposition and, of course, over the months leading up to his heart attack, as a senior member of the present Cabinet. In every way he was a most distinguished member of this Parliament. But today I should like to think of Ivor Greenwood not as a senator but as I believe he would have wanted himself to be thought of, as a great family man with the greatest of affection for the family institution and for his own family. Nothing pleased Ivor more than to return from a hectic week in the Federal Parliament and to see his children whom he had not seen for so long and was not able to be with because of his ministerial responsibilities over the period that he was in government.
As other honourable members have said, Ivor Greenwood at all times was a man who spoke his mind without fear or favour. His attributes were unquestioned loyalty, a towering integrity and a great sense of courage. I was in contact with him, particularly since the 1972 period when I was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and he occupied the position of Deputy Leader in the Senate. I can only say that his advice at all times was objective; it was always frank and forthcoming. I think it could be said that one of the major characteristics of Ivor Greenwood was that he was at all times a team man. I cannot recall a conversation with him in which in any way he sought to advantage himself personally. He above all in the Parliament never lobbied for personal support. He was never one to be involved in back room discussions or in any kind of political in-fighting. I think that stamped the man for what he was. He was a great man and a fine family man. As has been mentioned, he had a very deep commitment to the principles of democracy and individual freedom. Perhaps I could quote what he said in May 1 975:
Yet one must recognise, if we want to maintain the liberal type of democracy which most of us have experienced and enjoyed, that there must be an allowance, a tolerance, for the dissemination of views to which one takes exception … I accept the proposition that if an idea is so bad that some people want to proscribe it, there must be better ideas which, if the ideas are sound and are of greater intrinsic value, will prevail.
It was the custom of Ivor Greenwood on many occasions to return late to the Canberra Rex Hotel where we had many conversations at very early hours of the morning. It was on one of those occasions that he was stricken by his heart attack. Since that, period I have had the opportunity to call on him many times in hospital. I must say that I shall always remember the last occasion on which I was with him when there was a reflection of recognition but also the tragedy of incapacity to be able to articulate and to communicate. We have lost a colleague, Mr Speaker, and I have lost a very deep and long-time personal friend. It is something that I think I shall never forget. I extend to Lola Greenwood and their 2 children, John and Deidre, my deepest personal sympathy.
– I want to speak today not so much of the Ivor Greenwood that we all knew in recent years here but of the Ivor Greenwood that most honourable members would not remember. I first met him when I was an ex-service rehabilitation student attending the University of Melbourne. I used to watch this fresh faced young man going around putting up notices about Liberal Party meetings. I watched him chair meetings, often very hostile meetings attended by left wing students. I used to watch him competently control those meetings, get his message across and enable his guest speaker to be heard. I came to admire the man even though at that time I was not involved in politics because I was concerned that the first thing I had to do was to pass my examinations. But I soon found that I could no longer stay out of that political area. We became very great friends when he was President of the Liberal Club at the University of Melbourne. I can remember trips to Wilson’s Promontory and various places like that where we camped out. We formed a very fine friendship during that period. We saw him become President of the Students’ Representative Council at Melbourne University. I served on that Council as Secretary and, when he finished his university course, I finally succeeded him as President. Once again we had a very close relationship. As the years went on, through Liberal Party circles and here in Parliament, that friendship continued over 30 years. Today I feel that I have lost a very fine friend of many, many years. I also think that Australia has lost a very great son. He was, as the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has said, a man of great courage.
– I should like to say a word about Ivor Greenwood, who was my constituent and my friend. His illness seemed such a cruel and unnecessary agony for his magnificent wife, Lola, and for his family and friends. But there was something about his illness which summed up a lot of his life, for he died fighting for his life, however thin its thread, as in his life he fought for those things which he believed made life worthwhile, however thin their thread might have been in popular estimation. He did not seek to be popular. He was little interested in image. He stirred people up because he stood for things. He stood for things because he had beliefs and values and because he had courage. He won, I believe, the ultimate accolade of public liferespect. In a world where few are remembered long, we will remember him. We will remember him for his integrity, his intelligence, his ideals, his mixed feelings of pain and pleasure at being so misunderstood in the popular image.
I remember the huge and boyish enthusiasm he found for his new and, on the face of it, unlikely portfolio of Environment, Housing and Community Development. He quickly decided that in moving from the area of AttorneyGeneral to Environment, Housing and Community Development he had not, in fact, moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. He announced that now he would show all those people who had thought of him as a stuffy lawyer that he was a greenie too. We will remember him for the great warmth of his private personality, which would surprise those who knew only his somewhat austere public image, and for the strong emotions which were so easily overlooked in Ivor Greenwood. We will remember the way he strode around this place with such determination, the set of his shoulders, the head held high, the wry smile. We will remember his dedication to his work in the public interest, a dedication which, as we now so tragically know, cost him so dearly. We think of his superb wife who meant so much to him. We will remember him as an Australian who would stand up, even if he had to stand utterly alone, for his beliefs. We will remember him as a great Australian.
-It is difficult to describe the sense of personal loss which I feel at the passing of Ivor Greenwood. I served on his personal staff from 1971 to 1972 when he was responsible for the portfolios of Health and Attorney-General. I also saw much of his work in the Liberal Party organisation, particularly during his period as Vice-President before he entered the Senate. I say, as one who was very close to him particularly in those 2 years on his personal staff, that I did not agree with all the views which he held but I always admired his commitment to his principles. As has already been said, publicly he was a stern, an uncompromising figure. Privately, those of us who knew him well knew him as an open minded person with a deep appreciation and interest in the views of others. He had a firm commitment to the principle of law. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has already commented, he expressed his views in the 1951 Communist Party dissolution referendum in a way which opposed the principle that was then being advanced and which led him into conflict with many people in his own Party. He subsequently became President of the Young Liberal Movement in Victoria. I am advised by some of the older hands in the Party that at the time there were cries of horror at the thought of this young radical being made President of the Young Liberal Movement in Victoria.
We have seen many examples of the way in which he stood for his principles and the way in which, despite his public image, in a private sense he pursued the rights and liberties of the individual. I recall one incident, when I was working with him late at night in his office, of a young man and his wife coming to Parliament House looking for a lawyer who could witness a document that they had to sign and lodge with a particular departmental office in Canberra by 12 noon the next day. They were told somewhere down the road that about the only place they could find a lawyer in Canberra at that time of night was Parliament House because Parliament House was full of lawyers. The only lawyer working in Parliament House that night, it seemed, was the Attorney-General himself I met the young couple in Kings Hall and ushered them into the Attorney’s office. The Attorney, on reading this form, did what most good lawyers do- he went back to the statute to see that they did have to fill in that sort of form. He discovered some errors in the way in which the form was made out. He corrected them and initialled the corrections before signing the form. Subsequently he gave instructions to his departmental head to ensure that the form was redrafted in accordance with the statute. He spent some time in a busy schedule attending to that personal matter, something that was of importance to someone who came for assistance.
I also recall one occasion of which I cannot speak in great detail because it was a matter of a private conversation between him and me. He was concerned about the way in which he thought a particular Cabinet decision was going. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) might not know how close he came to losing his Attorney-General on that occasion. Fortunately the Cabinet made the right decision at the last moment. I am quite sure that the strong principles which Ivor Greenwood held and expressed would have been carried through to their logical conclusion on that occasion had the decision not been in accordance with those principles.
Despite the views which Ivor Greenwood often expressed publicly, those of us who discussed matters with him privately often knew of the doubts and qualifications that he had about particular issues. Quite often he discussed matters with his friends at great length, involving us in the role of devil’s advocate to try to knock down ideas and to put up other ideas. At the end of a long discussion he would come to a view that perhaps this was the right course of action, not without qualification in his own mind, but on balance and that this was the view he should take or the Government should take. Publicly he would bring to bear all of his powers as an advocate to express and espouse that view. Perhaps it was one of his faults that very rarely would he allow himself to express some of the doubts and qualifications he felt about many of the views he was expressing so firmly and so unequivocally in a public sense.
So I have a great appreciation of the time that I spent with Ivor Greenwood and a great respect for his ability, for his integrity and for the contribution that he made to this Parliament and to the nation. I join with other honourable members in expressing my condolences to his widow Lola and to his children John and Deidre.
– As all honourable members know, I follow Ivor Greenwood as Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. In administering that Department I have discovered two things, firstly, the immense amount of work that Ivor Greenwood did in taking 4 disparate departments and welding them into a cohesive single unit, and secondly, that he initiated several policy reviews that will lay the foundations of future important government programs and policies. In these things I know that he won the respect of the officers of this Department; he certainly made my task that much easier. I know that Ivor Greenwood’s contribution to this Government and to this Parliament will be sadly missed. I join with the Prime Minister and other honourable members in extending my sympathy to his widow and family.
I should like to associate myself with the remarks that have been made. I think that everything which could be said about Ivor Greenwood has been said. Of course, he had a very long association with the law. He was Associate to Sir Frank Kitto and then to Sir Owen Dixon. From 1963 to 1968 he was Secretary of the Law Council. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1969 and Attorney-General in 1971. That was the period when I met him. If I may say so, there are many things which pass between the First and Second Law Officers which do not pass between other people. Confidences are shared, attitudes discussed, and people’s personal problems in relation to matters such as the criminal law and the like are discussed. Attitudes to the law are discussed. During that period I came to know Ivor Greenwood very well. I came to admire him and his deep sense of principle. If there is anything that marks a man it is his integrity in the sense that he stands up for what he believes in, and Ivor Greenwood did just that.
One of the things we did together was to write a paper on the rights of witnesses before parliamentary committees. That was an appropriate document for Ivor Greenwood to share in because in it much will be found about the rights of individuals. As we wrote that paper, something of the man came out in a very distinct sense. May I also say that during his period as AttorneyGeneral he had a very close relationship with his officers. It would be remiss of me if I did not speak about that very close relationship between the officers of his Department and himself. They all appreciated him, they all looked up to him, and if a Minister has that sort of respect from his Department that is all he can want. I share very personally in the remarks that have been made and in the deep sense of loss that we have all suffered today.
-Mr Speaker, it may not be generally known, but the late Senator Ivor Greenwood had a very deep and abiding affection for the State of Tasmania and for the people of Tasmania. From the time of his election as a Victorian senator we in Tasmania felt that he adopted us. His very frequent visits to our State amply demonstrated to us his genuine affection for us and his commitment to the advancement and welfare of our State. I know I speak for all my fellow Tasmanian members of this House when I say that he quickly earned our admiration and respect and completely won our affection. He will be missed particularly by the Young Liberal Movement in Tasmania, to which body he gave so generously of his talents and his support. Above all, he loved the unique beauty of the Tasmanian environment. I was with him in his office barely 20 minutes before he suffered his collapse. He talked then with enthusiastic anticipation of the planned visit with his wife and children to Hobart the following week and of the trip that we had planned for him to the magnificent South West National Park. This was not merely a Minister performing the duties of his portfolio but also a man with a great love for the environment and the natural beauty of Australia. Today a distinguished life has ended, closing the career of an eminent lawyer and parliamentarian, a defender of freedom and a fighter for the truth. We in Tasmania feel with great sadness today that we have lost a very true friend.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.
Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon-Prime Minister)- Mr Speaker, may I suggest that as a mark of respect to the memory of Ivor Greenwood, the sitting be suspended until 8 p.m.
– I am sure that the course suggested by the Prime Minister will meet with the approval of the House. As a mark of respect to the late Senator, the sitting is suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 2.56 to 8 p.m.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Keating, Mr Morris and Mr Antony Whitlam.
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.
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 Morris and Mr Antony Whitlam.
Quarantine on Imported Cheeses
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the citizens of Sydney in the State of New South Wales respectfully showeth: That the importation of cheese from countries other than Canada, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America be permitted free of the requirement to hold such imported cheese in quarantine for 120 days prior to its release for sale to and/or consumption by the people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Your Petitioners believe that the beforementioned quarantine has been imposed by the Honourable Member for Gwydir on the following ground, namely that research carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture (referred to by the Honourable Member as the Plum Island Centre) has established that foot and mouth disease viruses survive in suspect varieties of cheese for an unspecified period of time and that it would therefore be ‘plainly irresponsible not to take positive action now in response to a demonstrated risk no matter how small’ (per the Honourable Member for Gwydir in his letter to The Sydney Morning Herald published on the 2 1 st April 1 976 ).
Your Petitioners respectfully submit that it is implicit in the ground set forth by the Honourable Member that:
Your Petitioners while appreciating that the Honourable Member is concerned to avoid taking a ‘minimal risk’ in order to prevent a ‘major economic disaster which would inevitably follow the introduction of the disease’ (see Sydney Morning Herald- 21st April 1976) respectfully submit that the proposed quarantine would deprive the Australian people from access to a staple food enjoyed by the preponderance of the countries comprising the Western civilisation but would not nearly succeed in preventing minimal risks of virus penetration for the following reasons:
Your Petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will take steps to withdraw any proposed regulation or repeal any regulation made under the Customs Act having the effect of imposing a quarantine on imported cheeses;
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrEllicott.
To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That many Australians are concerned at the announced decision by the Commonwealth Government to reduce the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance Vote by $21,000,000 and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency.
We, your petitioners, do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Eric Robinson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned students and associates of Melbourne University respectfully request:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Cass.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That the undersigned persons believe that:
The $300 limit on income tax deductibility in respect of personal residential land and water rates is unrealistic and is a discriminatory income tax penalty.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take steps to see that the aforesaid limitation is removed entirely or substantially increased.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully urge that:
There be continuing and expanding support for child care of all forms, with particular emphasis on the needs of children whose parents either work or are furthering their education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Edwards.
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.
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 SO 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.
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 are concerned about the future of the Australian Assistance Plan.
That we request that the Commonwealth Government support the Australian Assistance Plan by providing for legislation and finance for the plan on a national basis.
That we feel this way, because the Australian Assistance Plan is making it possible for citizens to help themselves, especially those who need help the most, such as invalid, the inarticulate, and others, as evidenced by the work of the Western Adelaide Regional Council for Social Development over the last two years.
That we believe that this represents the best possible use of limited government resources.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Parliament take immediate steps to continue the Australian Assistance Plan as recommended in the report tabled by the Honourable, the Minister for Social Security, Senator Margaret Guilfoyle, in Parliament on 4 March 1 976.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Young.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas Vomer’s white minority government in the Republic of South Africa continues to deny basic human rights to the Africans, Asians and Coloureds who together form the great majority of the South African people;
That whereas the Vorster government has swept aside United Nations demands for an end to Apartheid and for the cessation of armed South African rule over the former United Nations trust territory of Namibia (South West Africa);
That whereas the world is currently witnessing the slaughter of Africans, many of them school children, who are protesting against Apartheid;
Your petitioners therefore must humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take the most urgent steps to:
Implement a total economic boycott of South Africa;
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Young.
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, although we accept the verdict of the Australian people in the 1975 election, we do not accept the right of a Governor-General todismiss a Prime Minister who maintains the confidence of the House of Representatives.
We believe that the continued presence of Sir John Kerr as Governor-General is a cause of division among the Australian people.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will call on Sir John Kerr to resign as Australian Governor-General.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Young.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Government accede to the request of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation to pay a first advance on the 1976-77 wheat crop of $65 per tonne or about $1.80 per bushel? Will the Government make a prompt decision on this matter in order to enable wheatgrowers, many of whom are facing greatly reduced incomes, to plan their financial needs for the next year?
-I am absolutely delighted to know that the Labor Party at long last is concerned about cash flows in the bush. One of the things which has absolutely horrified me so far as the traditional performance of the Australian Labor Party is concerned is that although it presents an occasional concern in this Parliament for the have-nots it has not recognised the new poor in the Australian society. I think of the apple growers in Tasmania, and I look at one of my colleagues from the Huon Valley. I think of the beef growers from central Queensland and I look at a few honourable members from Queensland. Those honourable members, the Prime Minister and I, and others on the Government benches, are concerned about the beef growers. The wheat growers have been a little more fortunate. We have received representations that there should be an increased first payment. This is being considered. We are concerned that there should be adequate cash flows to cater for the problems of everybody in the bush, not just the farmers but the storekeepers, the fellows in the service industries and the whole range of people in country areas. If members of the Labor Party are now going to demonstrate that they are a bit worried about a few people other than themselves all of us will be absolutely delighted.
-The Prime Minister will be aware of the great concern in the community about the Industries Assistance Commission’s draft recommendation for the phasing out of Government support for important areas of the arts. Will the Prime Minister explain his Government ‘s policy and its application in respect of the arts and such matters?
-The Government strongly affirms its support for the arts in virtually all its forms. Honourable members will know that the Government reorganised and strengthened the framework of the Australia Council earlier this year in a way which I believe has been well accepted and generally applauded by the artistic community throughout Australia. The Government is committed not only to the support of individual art but also to the support of the major performing companies in Australiathe opera, ballet and drama. That will be its continuing policy. The Government has this view because art is not something which can be judged merely by harsh economic criteria. I do not know of any country which pursues an adequate artistic talent and performance merely by adopting the user-pays principle. No country with a high performance in the arts has succeeded on that principle. We do not want to kill off one part of Australia- I believe it to be art in all its forms- which is important not just to people who go to the opera but to all Australians. One only has to see the extent to which community an in many areas is spreading throughout the country towns, the villages and the suburbs of the cities to know that art is widely understood and appreciated by hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens. So support will continue.
It ought to be mentioned, of course, that this is a draft report of the Industries Assistance Commission. It is open to those who have a concern for the arts to put their views on the report. Whether that report will be modified in the event, I do not know. It is a draft report and the final report, presumably, will not be available for some time. On the basis of the reference given to the Industries Assistance Commission I am not sure that the Commission really had a great deal of choice. The reference to the Industries Assistance Commission was signed on 6 October 1974. The address- it is an odd address- was Williamsburg. I am not sure whether it was Williamsburg in South Central Colorado, in Arkansas, in Iowa, in East Kansas, in the residential extension of north-west Brooklyn or in Ohio. The choice is Williamsburg in the United States. The then Prime Minister was travelling, no doubt pursuing his own pleasures as he so often did.
-It was not Werriwa?
-He was never there. The essential part of the reference states: . . whether assistance should be accorded the performing arts in Australia and if so what should be the nature and extent of such assistance.
There is no mention in that paragraph of a government policy of national support for the arts, and how that should best be entertained. It just asks whether assistance should be accorded. Having regard to the nature of the reference, I am not sure that one can put all the blame on the Industries Assistance Commission.
- Mr Speaker, I ask that the Prime Minister table the document from which he read so that we can read in full what the then Prime Minister actually said.
-The right honourable gentleman is tabling the paper.
-I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Budget strategy was to encourage massive foreign investment in the mining sector. Is it a fact that foreigners are reluctant to invest at present due to an uncertain future? Is it a fact that this uncertainty is in part caused by large international cash transfers by foreign based firms operating in Australia? If this is the position, what is the Government’s proposed action to overcome the problem?
-The Government has every confidence that its foreign investment policies will work out effectively in practice and that during the period ahead there will be an inflowindeed, a significant inflow- of foreign capital into this country. I might say to the honourable gentleman, who is not aware of the figures, that since this Government came to office the total of new investment in Australia- that is to say, those investments processed through the Foreign Investment Review Board as well as those that have been the subject of announcement by companies or advice to the Government- amounts to about $7 billion. If that is a sign of any lack of confidence in what the Government is doing, I would be very surprised. The fact is that the amount of proposed new investment reflects the confidence of those companies which are now subject to the investment process, and a significant amount of these new investment proposals will, of course, be directed towards the minerals area which the honourable gentleman questioned.
– I address my question to the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that recently several letters have been written to the Editor of the Canberra Times suggesting that this Government is progressively destroying the concept of the community health centre in Canberra? Is this mischievous suggestion correct?
– I thank the honourable member for this question because I am aware of the propaganda that is being bandied about and I am aware of the letters to which he refers. There has been much unfair and ill-informed criticism regarding health centre development in the Australian Capital Territory. New health centres are being constructed at Kambah and in the city itself. A new centre is to start at Weston Creek. The Capital Territory Health Commission is to acquire the Australian Capital Territory Totalisator Agency Board building at Dickson which will provide the facility for a health centre. Hopefully the building will be vacated in late 1977. Centres are planned for Wanniassa, Evatt, Tuggeranong, Charnwood, and so on.
The amount being expended to try to maintain community health centres in the Australian Capital Territory is running into many millions of dollars. Surely this is a firm indication of the intention of the Government to provide this community facility to the people of Canberra. In spite of the staff ceilings that are imposed upon us in this time of economic restraint, there is a clear indication that we will be able to provide sufficient salaried practitioners at the health centres. We have appointed four such people in the last few weeks in Canberra. I want to give an assurance to the honourable member and to the people of Canberra that the rumours and the Press reports to which the honourable member referred are quite incorrect. This Government is maintaining the community health centre program that a former Liberal-Country Party Government initiated in 1 97 1 .
– I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that contracts for the supply of rope for the Royal Australian Navy, previously provided by Australian firms, has been let to sources in Taiwan and other overseas countries?
– I have no precise knowledge of the matter raised by the honourable member. I will give him an undertaking, however, that I will regard his question as being on notice and ensure that he gets a prompt reply. In the meantime may I invite him to reflect on the fact that all Government departments are under a clear obligation to ensure that they endeavour to get the best contractual arrangement consistent with Australian responsibility.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Is the Minister aware of Press reports relating to evidence given to the Prices Justification
Tribunal by the biggest stevedoring company in Australia, which paid directors’ fees amounting to $659,000 to 5 directors in the .1975-76 financial year? Did the Minister originally refer this matter to the Tribunal, and will he detail steps he is taking to overcome the detrimental effect that wharf handling charges are having on importing and exporting costs in this country?
– I am aware that the Prices Justification Tribunal is conducting an inquiry into the stevedoring firm, James Patrick and Company Pty Ltd. The House may remember that on 6 May last in my second reading speech relating to the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Amendment Bill I indicated to the House that, provided the industry could develop a suitable framework which would satisfy the Government that proper restraints could be exercised and an improving climate for industrial relations established, the Government would not continue its declining and limited regulatory role in the industry. Since that time I have been having continuing consultations with all parties in the industry, and I hope te be in a position shortly to make a statement to the House indicating the point which those consultations have reached.
In my statement on 6 May I highlighted the Government’s concern at the costs which could be imposed on the Australian community by this industry. I mentioned specifically that I felt there should be some mechanism for cost surveillance of the industry. I advocated at that time that that matter could be a proper subject for inquiry by both the Prices Justification Tribunal and the Trade Practices Commission. I understand that the Trade Practices Commission is now looking into the question of wharf handling charges and the Prices Justification Tribunal is looking into the case which has been referred to by the honourable member. I am delighted that the action I advocated on 6 May, which has been supported by my colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, has exposed to public gaze some of the costs involved in this industry. That was precisely the objective that the Government had in mind and it may be that as a result of its inquiries into this company the Prices Justification Tribunal will consider extending its inquiries. In any case, whatever comes out of this or any subsequent inquiry will be considered carefully by the Government in relation to any future action proposed for the industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact, as reported, that this month Indonesia has reinforced its armed forces in East Timor?
– With very great respect, if ever there were an exquisitely worded question for the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, I thought that was it.
-Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that only 150 survey forms have been sent to Australian garment manufacturers in relation to an Industries Assistance Commission assessment of the industry? Will the Minister ensure that all garment manufacturers are included in the survey? Finally, is the Minister aware that the forthcoming report from the IAC is of vital interest to the garment and apparel industry in this country?
– I am not aware whether or not the number of inquiry forms to which the honourable gentleman refers has been sent. I shall make inquiries and inform the honourable member of the position. I am aware of the importance of this inquiry to the garment industry in Australia. At this stage, the Industries Assistance Commission report has yet to be presented. Naturally, the concerns that the honourable gentleman has in mind will be taken into account by the Government when it reaches a decision.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In view of the sudden and violent coup d’etat which has resulted in the overthrow of Thailand’s democratically elected Government, is the Minister aware that many Thai students now in Australia are deeply concerned that their lives or safety might be endangered if they were forced to return to Thailand? Will the Minister therefore extend to such students the same considerations as my Government extended to those Vietnamese and Cambodian students who felt -
Honourable members interjecting
-Of course, the Government’s friends perpetrated the coup d’etat. Will the Minister therefore extend to such students the same consideration as my Government extended to those Vietnamese and Cambodian students who felt endangered by the changes of government in their countries last year, that is, will he allow those who are due to return to Thailand after completion of their studies at the end of this year to remain in Australia for the time being?
– I think it is singularly inappropriate for the Leader of the Opposition to raise a question about looking after those people who were concerned about their safety. I remember very clearly the fate of people in the beleaguered city of Saigon just prior to its fall. I remember very clearly the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in relation to people who were in that city and to requests made by people in Australia regarding their relatives, fiancees, husbands, wives and families. I believe that this Government has demonstrated very clearly ever since it came to power a ready response to questions such as the one raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I am not aware of any fears expressed by Thai students in Australia at this stage. I will seek immediately to find out whether such fears have been expressed to departmental officials. In line with the Government’s continuing policy in relation to questions of this nature, we will be looking very closely at any situation which could develop. If there are some cases which come to our attention, I will give them my urgent consideration.
-Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that beef producers who are suffering as a result of rising costs and the closure of export markets, and more recently droughts, are now to face the additional hurdle of United States beef quotas for the rest of 1976? To what extent have the US elections, the high Canadian beef exports to the US or the imports through Puerto Rico from Australia -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now asking the Minister for an opinion about something which he cannot control. The first part of the question was in order. I call upon the Minister for Primary Industry to answer that part of the question.
– There are very real problems in Australia’s opportunities to sell primary produce to our principal export markets. The Government has endeavoured in various ways to offset disabilities of imports against quotas, import bans and other restraints on agricultural trade. Indeed, in its various international forums the present Australian Government, far more than its predecessor, has tried to assert that there is an absolute necessity for an adequate opportunity for agricultural produce to be accepted across trade boundaries without the restraints that are imposed in some other commodities. In respect of beef, I know that there have been suggestions that in some way Australia’s hands are not quite clean. This is arrant nonsense. The position is that at the time the voluntary restraints were negotiated, and subsequently executed with the United States, there was a discussion as to the extent to which that part of Australia’s trade which would be negotiated during the subsequent period- that is, at the beginning of 1976; the trade throughout this calendar year- through Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and other free trade zones should be included within those voluntary restraints. At the request of the United States negotiating authorities, Mayaguez was officially excluded. As a result the voluntary restraints were negotiated at a level which was acceptable to the United States administration and to Australia. Australia has complied completely with the restraints that were negotiated at that time.
Those exports- some 23 thousand tonnes it is true- that have gone to Mayaguez have been in accordance with the law of the United States. Indeed it is of interest that about 2 months ago the President himself opened on the West Coast a new free trade zone that was developed by Mr Paul Mariani, a man who has some Australian association. At that time President Ford not only indicated that he supported the concept of free trade zones but suggested that it was a very good way in which American labour could be used to upgrade the value of a raw material imported into that country. Australia’s imports into the United States have been totally in accord with the voluntary restraints.
The present position has been caused only by the degree to which there has been a significant increase of imports from Canada. Canada is a country which, according to the formula, has not been within the voluntary restraints negotiated between the countries. There is a 2-way trade between Canada and the United States, which is not uncommon to countries that have a common border. The 64 million pounds of beef that it was assessed would flow from Canada into the United States at this stage seems to have approximated 100 million pounds. That, more than any other factor, has led to the application of quotas by the United States.
I can assure the honourable member that the Australian Government has a very real concern about the effect of this application of quotas on the Australian beef industry. We believe that, in spite of the application of quotas, Australia’s position is such that we will still be able to ship a significant part of that expected residual quota into the United States during the balance of this year. We believe that within the United States the American customer, who after all is the person for whose satisfaction Australian beef is significantly being imported, is not only pleased with the quality and character of the Australian product but because of those imports is also able to buy his meat at lower prices than would otherwise be the case. In no way is Australia responsible for the application of quotas with which we are now forced to comply. We hope that in the product of that decision Australia’s beef producers in particular will not be prejudicially affected
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, is the same as the question asked by the honourable member for Bonython of the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact, as reported, that Indonesia has reinforced its armed forces in East Timor this month?
– This is quite fascinating. Yesterday we had a debate in this House which was obviously initiated by the left wing of the trade union movement. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition again seeks to assert his interest in a cause which at the moment happens to be apparently supported by the Left. We on this side of the Parliament are worried about the people of East Timor. For that reason we have seen fit to negotiate with the Government of Indonesia to ensure that real Australian help can go through the Indonesian Red Cross to those people. We will preserve that attitude of solicitude for the people of Indonesia and East Timor. In no way are the actions taken by Indonesia our concern other than the way in which that country cares for the well-being of the people of East Timor. To that end not only have we provided help through the Indonesian Red Cross, but the Prime Minister has also initiated negotiations to see in what way help might be provided to enable some sort of reconciliation of families or reinvolvement of families either from Timor to Australia or, if they so request, from Australia to Timor. It is in that area that Australia’s predominant diplomatic effort will be preserved and maintained.
– I rise to a point of order. The question was quite explicit. The Minister has not even referred to the subject of it. I think the standing order concerning relevance of answers to questions should be applied to the Minister.
-There is no point of order.
– I ask the Attorney-General a question regarding human rights. Is the Attorney-General aware of complaints by many concerned citizens alleging that teenagers and persons in their early twenties have been induced to join certain religious sects and have, under the guise of exercising freedom of worship actually had their freedom severely restricted and in some cases have actually suffered serious physical and psychological harm? If so, is the Attorney-General in a position to take action regarding such complaints?
– It is a fact that I have been concerned about this matter. Since last April the honourable member for Balaclava has indicated to me a number of instances where various sects of this description have been involved in the lives of young people. There are of course organisations called the Children of God, the Moonies, the Bubba Free John Movement, Hare Krishna, and the Universal Brotherhood, and others. I have received numbers of complaints and I believe other members in the Parliament have received complaints that young people have been brainwashed, indoctrinated, and physically abused by these organisations. One complainant has said that a sect had used fasting, fatigue, tension and fear as inducements to its followers to stay in the organisation and if possible to contribute money to its leaders. It might be observed, of course, that some political parties do that. Quite seriously, this matter is of grave concern because of the widespread complaints.
Obviously we are all concerned about the need to preserve freedom of religion. That is a very precious right that all Australians share, even though in a sense it is not enshrined in our Constitution. On the other hand there may be a point- this is the matter I have been concerned with- that under the guise of religious freedom and the exercise of religious rights young people are subjected to all sorts of things that brainwash and indoctrinate them in a way that is an intrusion into human rights. All I can say to the honourable gentleman is this: This week at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General I will be raising the matter with a view to seeing whether there is anything that we as law officers can do to inquire into this matter and whether the law can intrude. It may be that we will come up with the answer that we cannot intrude. It is a matter that deserves consideration.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Did the communique he signed with
President Suharto at the conclusion of his visit to Indonesia state that 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? If so, why did he fail to agree to the proposal which was supported by Indonesia that the Indian Ocean be declared a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality?
– We certainly did agree to the proposition that South East Asia ought to be free of great power rivalry. This is of great concern to the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations and is principally the reason why they support a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality in relation to their own area. That is an objective which the Australian Government and, to give it its credit, the previous Australian Government, I believe, have strongly supported. We have supported the reality of life m the Indian Ocean. Since 1968 Russian sailing days have built up significantly until now when Russian sailing days number about three times the United States sailing days. That hardly would seem to be a situation of balance. We have also said that we would want balance at the lowest possible level and under those circumstances, which are I think in practical terms recognised by many people, while the communique reaffirmed Indonesia’s support for the neutral area in the Indian Ocean at the same time it recognised reality and said that pending the achievement of that objective there ought to be balance, but obviously balance at the lowest possible level. I believe that that is a significant affirmation on behalf of the President of Indonesia, recognising the reality of world politics in that area.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The announcement by the Minister last week of the increased underwriting support by the Commonwealth Government for butter and cheese for the 6 months to 31 December has been warmly received by the dairy industry. Was the continuation and level of the underwriting discussed at the Australian Agricultural Council meeting held in Sydney last Friday? If so, was it decided to continue both the Federal/State skim milk powder and casein support measures and the federal only butter and cheese underwriting to the end of June 1977, and at what level?
– I appreciate the honourable gentleman’s concern at the very serious plight of dairy farmers right across Australia, but particularly in the manufacturing sector. This sector has suffered not only because of drought but also because of the downturn in markets. The general question of underwriting of the dairy industry and its products was therefore a matter of concern not only to the Government and in respect of the announcement last week but was also discussed at the Agricultural Council meeting last Friday. In the discussions, which were predominantly around the recommendations contained in the Industries Assistance Commission/Crawford report on future marketing arrangements for the dairy industry, the difficulties in coming to a conclusion on each of the 3 commended stages of changes in marketing arrangements was accepted. In that light the fact that underwriting has been provided only to 3 1 December 1976 came to our notice and it was agreed between each of the governments that it might well be necessary that some underwriting arrangement be continued after that period. At this stage no decision has been taken by any of the participating governments, either Commonwealth or State, as to what arrangement should apply after 1 January.
However, the dairy industry can be assured that the Federal Government is worried about the marketing difficulties which it faces, about the downturn in incomes not only for dairy farmers but also for all those associated with the dairy industry, and that the same sympathetic approach that this Government is prepared to adopt to people who are affected in those circumstances will be maintained.
I take this opportunity to correct 2 words that I might have used in my response to the last question addressed to me. In answering the question asked of me by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I might have used the words ‘is not concerned’ in relation to Indonesia’s actions in East Timor. A more correct expression would have been, ‘It is not within Australia’s capacity to determine’. It was in that context that I used the phrase and it was with that intent that I expressed it.
-I ask the Prime Minister As the Government’s stated policy towards the situation in Timor had 4 parts, and as the part relating to humanitarian aid has been altered, will the Prime Minister tell the House what are the remaining elements of the present policies towards Timor? Will he also say whether in recent talks with the Indonesian President he raised the question of the murders of 5 Australian newsmen at Balibo and the present whereabouts of the missing Australian journalist Roger East?
-The last part of the honourable gentleman’s question has been handled by my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs who has followed through all the available knowledge that we were able to get in discussions with the Australian Journalists Association. I think that he did have some discussion with the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs in Indonesia about Roger East. The Government has not been able to get additional information in relation to the other matters raised by the honourable member. The Minister, as I understand, is in the position of having discussed with the Australian Journalists Association all the information which has come to the Government. I hope that the honourable gentleman can read because if he can I suggest that he read -
– Do not be so insulting. Can you read? You are acting like an idiot. I asked you a courteous question.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will resume his seat.
– I hope that the gentleman can read because if he can I think he would be able to read the statements by my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs, especially the statement of 4 March, which was very clear in its expression. I have nothing to add to that. But I would like to say that yesterday the Leader of the Opposition changed his mind again, within but four or five hours, in relation to Indonesia. During the debate, as recorded on page 1720 of Hansard, he said that the policy that this Government had pursued was never applicable, but when he was pressed on This Day Tonight last night to state what his policy was he, of course, could not because he had kept it from his Ministry and he had kept it from his Caucus.
– You would not go on TDT.
-The honourable gentleman is remarkably sensitive tonight. He does not like being reminded of what he has done in relation to these matters.
-He would not go on TDT.
-Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman is remarkably sensitive and I wonder why. We know quite well that he never told his Cabinet. Senator Gietzelt has said that he never told his Cabinet- his Ministry. Obviously he never told his Caucus the policies that he was pursuing. Therefore he is in somewhat of a dilemma. The evidence against him is overwhelming in relation to the policy that he was in fact pursuing. He said in 1720 -
Opposition members- Ha, ha!
– … on page 1720 that the policy was not applicable. The honourable gentleman is as up to date as 1720.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– The Portuguese had scarcely established control by then -
-The Leader of the Opposition will remain silent. The question that was asked was a highly charged political one and the answer -
– He is highly charged.
-The honourable member for Melbourne will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw.
-I warn him that if he interjects again while I am addressing the House I will deal with him forthwith. This question is naturally a highly charged political question. The honourable member for Paterson and the honourable member for the Northern Territory, who are conducting a conversation, will remain silent. I want the discussion of this issue, which is of great importance to the Australian nation, to be heard as it ought properly to be heard and it will not be heard in that way while there are continual interjections or while there is false laughter about a statement made by any person. I call upon the right honourable gentleman to answer the question.
-Mr Speaker, in the Parliament yesterday the Leader of the Opposition said that the policy was never applicable, implying that he was opposing the policy as enunciated by the Foreign Minister earlier this year. When he was pressed on This Day Tonight to state a policy he would not do so for some time but, when pressed further, he said: ‘Oh well, what they have said is reasonable enough’. That is the nearest that the honourable gentleman has ever come to having a public policy in relation to this whole issue. The only other thing that wants noting in relation to this matter is that part of what has been involved in the antics of the Opposition over the last few days and weeks is a cover-up for its Leader because its Deputy Leader, who now runs policy on this issue, pursues policies vastly different from those that the Leader of the Opposition pursued at an earlier time. As this House knows, we have on record the evidence of a person who worked in the then Prime Minister’s Department about what he had done.
-Mr Speaker, may I put a question to the Attorney-General concerning the Constitution? May I ask, with your leave, a question without notice of the Attorney-General?
-Order! The honourable member does not require my leave to do so after I have called him. I call upon the honourable member for Holt to proceed to ask his question.
– I am grateful. I ask the following question of the Attorney-General on constitutional matters: What precedents have been recorded- and when- of Justices of the High Court of Australia having advised the Crown of the reserve powers?
– In a sense this is an academic question. A couple of weeks ago the Australian Labor Party set up a committee and apparently that committee has said that there was nothing improper in a Justice of the High Court advising the Governor-General. However, the honourable member for Holt has been very persistent and he deserves an answer. All honourable members know that in 1914 there was a double dissolution and that in connection with it the Chief Justice of the day, Sir Samuel Griffith, advised the Governor-General. In effect, he said that the Governor-General had an independent discretion that he had to exercise. I want to recall a few instances with which honourable members would be familiar. I think we can say that the greatest Labor Judge of this century was Mr Justice Evatt. By the way, I think honourable members opposite would also agree that he was Labor’s greatest Foreign Minister of this century. He was so impressed by the need not to advise about the reserve powers of the Crown when a justice of the court that he produced a book of 324 pages on the subject. In 1939 Mr Justice Evatt, while still a Judge of the High Court, wrote an article for the Canadian Bar Review in which he said:
So far as Australia is concerned, a long course of practice tends to negative the proposition that the Governor-General of the Commonwealth or the Governor of a State is a mere automaton in the hands of Ministers who have lost, or are about to lose, the supponof Parliament.
Towards the end of this article he said-
– Tell us about your cousin.
– Speak up, I have not yet got to the real precedents. This is what he said at the end of that article:
The fact that Lord Novar called in aid two ‘outside’, though very distinguished, authorities on constitutional practice illustrates the difficulties-
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Attorney-General has invited the Opposition to debate this question. If he wishes to debate it he should make a statement so that it can be debated.
– There is no substance to the point of order. However I remind the AttorneyGeneral
– He is giving an opinion.
-The honourable member for Port Adelaide, by continually interjecting, is skating very close to the discipline of the Chair. I remind the Attorney-General that this is the time for questions without notice. I call upon him not to lengthen his answer.
– It is a very short quotation and I have just one other. I will not be very long. He said:
The fact that Lord Novar called in aid two ‘outside’, though very distinguished, authorities on constitutional practice illustrates the difficulties confronting a King’s representative who is not himself expert in a very difficult topic. Because of the lack of certainty in these matters, Dominion Governors have frequently felt themselves at liberty to adopt a similar course.
So there is another precedent from Mr Justice Evatt, a High Court Judge- a Labor Judge. That is not the end of the matter. If honourable members opposite will be silent- I want everybody to hear this next statement- I want to read from that august newspaper the Age at the time of the double dissolution in March 1 95 1. It stated:
Senior Labor members admitted frankly they considered Mr Menzies’ legislation providing for secret ballots for the election of trade union officials, and on strike action, had been rushed down for electioneering purposes. They were confident that on the present issue Mr McKell would be obliged to go beyond the usual practice of accepting his Ministry’s advice and consult the Chief Justice of the High Court (Sir John Latham) whether the Senate’s action on the bank bill provided legal grounds for a double dissolution.
Now, who could want a better precedent than that.
Government supporters interjecting-
– Order! The noise from the Government benches is quite intolerable.
– I ask that the document from which the Attorney-General quoted be tabled.
-Did the honourable gentleman read from the document?
-I was going to ask for leave to table the document. May I table the document?
-The honourable gentleman does not need leave. The document is tabled.
-Could the document be incorporated in Hansard!
Government supporters interjecting-
-Order! The noise from the right of the Chair is too loud. If I have to take action against honourable members on the Government side I shall do so. The AttorneyGeneral has asked for leave to incorporate the document in Hansard. Is leave granted?
-Leave is not granted.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. As the Minister for Defence told the Opposition Whip that his question was one for the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and as the latter failed to answer the question when I put it to him, I now ask the Prime Minister: Has Indonesia reinforced and strengthened its military forces in East Timor as is publicly reported?
-The Opposition is doing everything it possibly can to prevent the Government carrying out its policy to see that aid gets through to those who need it. It has opposed the policy of providing aid through the Indonesian Red Cross. It has opposed the suggestion of talks with Indonesian officials concerning refugees and family reunion. This is part of the policy of the Opposition to prevent aid being given to those who need it. If the Opposition is not concerned about people who need assistance, honourable members on this side of the House are.
– Pursuant to section 28 of the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924 I present the annual report of the Dried Fruits Control Board for the year ended 30 June 1 976.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report prepared by a steering committee comprising membership from the Commonwealth Department of Transport, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and the South Australian Highways Department entitled: National Highway Linking Adelaide and DarwinPort Augusta to the Northern Territory Border.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim report of the Industries Assistance Commission on high alloy steels, dated 10 June 1976.
For the information of honourable members I present the annual report and financial accounts of the Fawnmac Group for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the year ended 30 June 1 976.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976.
Television Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill 1976.
-I have received advice from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that he has nominated Mr Baume to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr Bungey.
-by leave-I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Austria, Belgium, the European Communities, the European Parliament, Council of Europe, Federal Republic of Germany, Poland and the German Democratic Republic, between 9 and 28 June 1975, in substitution for the report presented on 3 June 1976.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr
Keating) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, 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, when the last election campaign was on -
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.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Blaxland moving a motion relating to 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.
-Has the honourable gentleman got the motion in writing?
– I have, Mr Speaker. On the second successive occasion, the Government has sought to gag debate on a matter of public importance concerning its failure to establish a durable trade relationship with the United States. The imposition of import quotas by the Government of the United States-
Motion ( by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the honourable member be not further heard.
-The question is, that the honourable member be not further heard. Before I put this motion to the House, I remind honourable members that two or three weeks ago the House found itself in a position where neither the Government nor the Opposition was prepared to understand that the business of the House must go forward. I am not prepared to see a repetition of that event. I will now put the question that the honourable member be not further heard, and I indicate to the House that I will take some other form of action if the matter continues with action and reaction.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker-
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– But the point of order, Mr Speaker-
-The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– On a point of order-
– I ask the honourable gentleman to resume his seat. What I have in mind is that there should be some discussion between that Leader of the House and the manager of business for the Opposition so that the House can proceed with important national affairs.
That the honourable member for Blaxland be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Yes, Mr Speaker, I second the motion. I am surprised that the Government is trying to avoid debate on a matter upon which the national Parliament should have expressed an opinion. I am certain the reason for this is the Minister’s bungling in Canada.
- Mr Speaker, I move:
– The motion has been seconded by the honourable member for Corio. The Leader of the House has moved that the honourable member for Corio be not further heard. He is entitled to do that under the Standing Orders. I will put the question to the House: That the honourable member for Corio be not further heard. Those of that opinion say ‘aye’, to the contrary ‘no’. I think that a division is required. Ring the bells.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The concern of the honourable member for Blaxland that such a matter of public importance cannot be put forward a third time is a matter on which I have to decide. I will make a decision if and when such a matter of public importance is put forward. Since finishing question time we have had divisions. Under the Standing Orders any honourable member can move for the suspension of Standing Orders. Under standing order 91, 25 minutes only is allowed for debate. That time elapsed about 6 minutes ago. I want this House to share with me a concern for the dignity of the House when conducting its business of great national affairs. I ask the Leader of the House and the honourable member for
Corio- to whom I gave indulgence after he indicated to me that he sought my indulgence- to see whether they can reach an arrangement. I am sure they will be able to do so in the light of the recitation of the circumstances.
That the Standing Orders be suspended.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Hunt, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is consequential upon the changes to the Social Services Act 1947 and the Repatriation Act 1920 proposed in the Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 and the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976, which are presently before this House. The primary purpose of the Bill is to vary the means test for pensioner health benefits provided for in the National Health Act so that it will remain in accord with the means test for ‘fringe benefits’ to be applied to pensioners under the Social Services Act. This will be achieved by amending the definition of ‘pensioner’ in the Act.
The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) announced in his Budget Speech that an ‘income test’ would replace the existing ‘means as assessed’ test, which combined property and income in assessing the means of an applicant for the pension. The Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) announced that a corresponding change would be made to the special eligibility test applying to the issue of pensioner health benefits cards. The Bill provides for this change. The opportunity is being taken to up-date the definition of ‘dependant’ in relation to a ‘pensioner’ to bring it more closely into line with corresponding definitions in the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act. The new definition removes the upper limit of 2 1 years on the age of a student dependant, a condition which was not imposed under those other Acts. In addition, it extends the definition to include the children of de facto spouses and removes the existing requirement that, where a Social Services Act pensioner is involved made facto relationship, that relationship must have existed for 3 years before the de facto partner would be recognised as a dependant.
The Bill provides for the preservation of the eligibility of those people who qualified as pensioners or dependants under present criteria, but may not otherwise qualify under the new provisions. It is expected that the implementation of the measures will, by extending eligibility both for pensioners and their dependants, cost $1.8m in a full year for pharmaceutical benefits. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Hunt, and read a first time,
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As with the National Health Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, the second reading of which I moved a short time ago, this Bill is also consequential upon the changes proposed in the Social Services Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976 and the Repatriation Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976, which are presently before this House. The Bill provides for the definitions of ‘eligible pensioner’ and ‘dependant’, in relation to an eligible pensioner, to be the same as those proposed for pensioner’ and ‘dependant’, in relation to a pensioner, in the National Health Bill. This will preserve parity of means test provisions with those in the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act. The Bill also provides for the preservation of the eligibility of those people who qualified as pensioners or dependants under present criteria, but may not otherwise qualify under the new provisions. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 12 October. Second Schedule.
Department of Education
Proposed expenditure, $380,005,000.
– I welcome the opportunity to say a few words on the estimates for the Department of Education. It is unfortunate that sometimes the consideration of a particular section of the Estimates is interrupted. I trust that honourable members will take the trouble to read the lucid comments that were made last night by my colleagues the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) and, of course, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), but in particular the honourable member for Fremantle who answered some of the matters that had been raised. It would be inappropriate if we did not pay a tribute to an honourable member who, as Minister for Education between 1972 and 1975, saw the interest of this Parliament in education rise to a level of real meaning and real worth in the community. I think he will be remembered for many long years in the history of education in Australia.
Having said that, I turn to an examination of the amount available in the estimates for the Department of Education. Some statements have been made about this amount representing some type of real growth. I am afraid that it is impossible to accept that any real growth is contained in these estimates. As a member of the Opposition, the most generous thing that I can say about the estimates for the Department of Education is that we have come to a standstill in relation to education finance. I suppose that there is something to be grateful for in that respect as so many other worthwhile programs have more than come to a standstill- they have been deeply slashed.
It is unfortunate that the standstill in relation to education will not allow many of the initiatives that were taken to be developed. It is unfortunate that this Government has scrapped cost indexation and thereby placed in jeopardy the viability of the programs of many schools and education institutions. Cost indexation did give them some certainty as to what would be available. The abandoning of that, associated with this so-called rolling triennium, is to be deplored. From the outset the Schools Commission established priorities for schools on the basis of need. I regret that it is very difficult to see in the program presented by this Government an indication that it is prepared to preserve and adopt those priorities based on needs. It is unfortunate that one gets the impression from statements emanating from the Government side of the chamber that the Government is definitely committed to a system of per capita grants to all schools, regardless of need. A warning must be sounded about this for it would be deplorable if this sort of system were adopted and programs for disadvantaged schools and in so many other areas could not be maintained.
There are some other artificial factors in the education estimates. For example, in the field of migrant education it is noticeable that the child migrant education scheme has been absorbed into the School’s Commission program and that this effectively reduces the suggested real growth in the schools’ program. In this area I note that whilst the funds for adult migrant education are up from $8.2m to $9.Im, this will maintain the adult migrant education program but will have no real regard to need. If one has any doubts about the need one has only to consider the telephone interpreter service. I am not criticising that service. If one looks at the number of calls for the whole of Australia relating to the major languages we see that the figures were as follows: Spanish, 12 555; Yugoslav, 11 332; Greek, 11139; Italian, 9596; English- surprisingly-6791; Turkish, 6580; and all others, 17 479. Whilst the telephone interpreter service for people facing emergencies is an excellent program, it does indicate the inadequacy of our migrant education program. One regrets that in these estimates there is no indication of development in that area.
Referring now to the reports of various commissions, if these have been considered by honourable members they must note that the reports were prepared within the financial straitjackets which were applied earlier this year. They were prepared within the financial limits and this deprived the commissions of the power to recommend what really needed to be done. I think the commissions took a courageous stand on many of these factors. They indicated that the funds made available were not going to meet the school needs. The Schools Commission pointed out that even when the Government claimed a 2 per cent real growth in the amount, it had to be seen in the context of an expected 1.1 per cent boost in enrolments. I think the Commission made it quite clear that it could not maintain standards with the finance it was being given. Another important factor it raised was that the Government was cutting back on the capital works program at a time when the climate and capacity for economic construction was more favourable than at any time in the previous 3 years. That point is most important in view of the unemployment that exists and the lapse in the building industry.
On a previous occasion I referred to the Technical and Further Education Commission report and the availability of skilled workers. I do not intend to say any more about what is going to happen in that area. However, I would like to comment on disadvantaged schools because there is a lot of fear in many areas about the disadvantaged schools’ program. It will not be sufficient just to maintain it at the present level because so many programs have indicated the potential and the value of what will come out of it. I find it disturbing- the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) touched on this matter last night- that stories about illiterate students are being used to question the value of education outlays and even to question the value of the State school system. The honourable member for Fremantle pointed out the answer when he asked what was the level of literacy. However, even with these startling stories, literacy has not been greatly improved in recent years.
I am the representative of an electorate in the Preston region in Victoria where, of the 35 high schools, ten are declared disadvantaged. Of the 19 technical schools, five are similarly categorised and 53 of the 140 primary schools are also similarly categorised. I have had representations from many other schools, such as the Preston Primary School, where a high proportion of the students are of ethnic origin. I believe that a lot more thought must be given not just to keeping the disadvantaged schools program at a certain level but also to developing it because of the benefit that arises from it.
-This discussion on the estimates for the Department of Education proves that there is real concern on both sides of the House about education. It plays a vital part in the Australian ethos. It is always good to participate in a debate where there is real concern and where party politics play no part. I want to use a few minutes of the time allotted to me in this debate to correct some of the statements that unfortunately found their way into the Press concerning this Government’s funding of education. It is pertinent to point out that there has been a real increase of 15.3 per cent over last year. The total amount is $2,204m. Surely this proves conclusively that the FraserAnthony coalition Government places education very high indeed in the Budget priorities.
– Last year the Labor Government cut the education budget.
– That is true, but I do not want to canvass that matter. I believe we must endeavour to be positive. I am sure the honourable member agrees with me. In addition to increasing real money spending on education, this Government has encouraged people interested and concerned about education by restoring triennial planning. It has provided a blueprint so that people with a place in education can face the future with some confidence. It is to be regretted that minimum expenditure levels have been set for the years 1978 and 1979, but the Government has given the encouragement to people to plan.
It is interesting to note that funding of universities, colleges of advanced education and schools shows a 2 per cent real growth in money terms when compared with last year. The area of technical and further education, on which many honourable members have commented, has seen a 5 per cent real growth rate. To my mind the most important thing that has happened in the education field during the last 3 years has been the announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that he is setting up a comprehensive board of inquiry to investigate education in Australia. I fully support accountability, as it were, in education in these days when the traditional pre-eminence of universities in tertiary education is being questioned- and well it might be questioned. I hope that the proposed committeeI understand the personnel of it will be announced later in the week- will be able to make its findings available in a much shorter time than did the previous committee, the Martin Committee. It took 10 years. It was set up to inquire into tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia. It took that Committee 3 years to print the first 2 volumes of its report and a further 12 months to print the last volume. I hope that the proposed committee can come up with positive recommendations in a much shorter time, possibly an even shorter time than the programmed 1 8 months.
Education cannot be treated in a vacuum. It is part of the whole Australian way of life. I hope that we do not merely increase education funding to overcome unemployment. To me it is paramount, as an exercise in accountability, that students must do courses which lead them somewhere. It is of no good for them to get a first, second or third degree at a university and then come out well-dressed men or women with nowhere to go. In this debate I do not want to criticise what the previous Government did. I believe that it gave many worthwhile initiatives in education. This is shown by the actions of the first Treasurer in the Whitlam Government, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), and the then Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in the first Budget. I compliment them on the moneys they made available for education. For far too long education had been the poor relation of Austraiian Government initiative. The time has come when we must ask: ‘Is the community getting value for the money it is spending on education? Could the money be better spent somewhere else? Is it being appropriately spent?’ These are issues on which we must decide.
I hope that many outstanding matters will be looked at, particularly in the area of pre-school education. Are we spending too much money on tertiary education and not sufficient in the preschool area. The Braggett study in Newcastle indicated that children who have the advantage of going to pre-schools out-perform non-attenders at pre-school. It is appropriate to make a special plea for money for pre-schools in country areas. I do not want to get involved in the argument of comparing child care centres with pre-schools. But quite obviously child care centres do not have as great an attraction for people who live in country areas. Usually no work is available but people do require pre-schools. At the present time in my State of Queensland the State Government does not provide transport for children who wish to attend pre-schools. I suggest that it would be a good initiative if funds were made available to transport country children who desire to attend pre-school.
The previous speaker, the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins), commented on literacy, as did other speakers in the debate. Remedial teaching was mentioned. It is not available as a matter of course in country areas: We have many examples of dedicated parents who, at their own expense and on their own initiative and with great self-sacrifice of energy and time, transport their children to the nearest large centre of population to allow those children to have remedial teaching. I hope that some concession can be extended to people such as those who live in the vast area of Maranoa and who have to travel up to 80, 90 or 100 miles each way once or twice a week to obtain the advantage of remedial or resource teaching. Surely, in justice, some money should be allocated to help those parents to transport their children. We have noted the pre-eminence of university-type education. This must be questioned. The colleges of advanced education are more vocation oriented. They fit people for positions in life. I regret to note that there has been some disadvantage as far as academic salaries are concerned for people in colleges of advanced education. That is to be deplored. They are not the second grade cousin of universities. They are equal partners with universities in the education system.
– Hear, hear.
-I am glad that the honourable member for Bendigo comes in with his interjection fully supporting the point of view that staffs of colleges of advanced education are entitled to academic salaries equal to the salaries paid to university staffs. Colleges of advanced education are playing a vital part in providing education in living as well as in how to earn a living. It is good to see that their influence has spread to country areas. Let us encourage the good professors and lecturers to leave the big cities and to come out to the decentralised areas of the colleges of advanced education. We want to stop the wastage of money but we also want to stop the wastage of lives caused by inappropriate courses. Courses in colleges of advanced education are tailored to suit the modern era. I instanced previously technical and further education. It is to be regretted that a system has developed which cannot be watered down or broken down in any way and that is the block release system which has disadvantages as far as apprentices in country areas are concerned. It is all right in the city but a bush carpenter who puts on an apprentice finds that he cannot do without that apprentice for a given number of weeks a year but he can do without him for half a day a week or a day a fortnight. The whole school system in Australia needs a reappraisal. It is true to say that any school system helps some children, but no system helps all children.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to speak on the estimates for the Department of Education. The comments, particularly from honourable members opposite, on the estimates for the Department’s expenditure show what has been rather common in the approach of the Opposition to the Budget in relation to so many departments, and that is a failure to read either the Budget Speech or the papers which accompany the Budget. There have been so many examples where the Opposition has said that there have been cuts in education or in a particular section of education as to display plain ignorance of what is comprehended within the Budget. As a number of newspapers have observed, the fact of the matter is that expenditure on education overall was up by 15.3 per cent to $2.204m. I draw the attention of honourable members to the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in which he set out quite plainly the facts concerning overall expenditure on education. As the Treasurer pointed out, the Government provided for increases in real levels of expenditure and restored triennial programs on a rolling basis. This is quite the contrary to what the previous Labor Administration did in its last year in office.
Nevertheless honourable members opposite, including the former Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), have the gall to get up and criticise the present Government. As the Treasurer has said, we have restored education to a high priority area. I could give a number of examples of what I said earlier in relation to where the Opposition has simply failed to read either the Budget Speech or the Budget Papers in order to see what has happened to funding.
I mention briefly migrant education funding. What the Opposition failed to do was to observe that there had been a transfer of funds from one department to another. Although the Opposition so frequently spoke of a cut- I think $10m was referred to- it failed to see that overall expenditure for migrant education has been maintained. It has merely been carried through different departments.
– That is an effective reduction of 1 2 per cent to 1 4 per cent.
-I would not have thought that it was an effective reduction if broadly the same amount of money is spent but through different areas of Government administration. The same sort of thing is done by the Opposition in respect of child migrant education. The figures show that $2 1.81m was spent through the Schools Commission program and through the Department of Education in 1975-76 in recurrent expenditure. This year $23m is to be spent by way of a different appropriation through the Schools Commission and the Department of Education. This is an increase of roughly $1.1 9m in this financial year.
Comment could be made on expenditure under the Schools Commission program. This is one area certainly where the Opposition simply cannot point the bone. In 1976 the then Labour Administration appropriated only $465m against a recommendation by the Schools Commission of $650m. So one wonders really how serious the Opposition is when it claims that it has a priority in the area of education.
Another matter mentioned by some speakers in this debate was the isolated children’s allowance. Along with student allowances, this is an area where the previous Labor Administration flatly refused to consider an increase, the rates having remained unchanged since, I think, 1972. The Government in its Budget considerations earlier this year determined that it would review those allowances in order to bring them more into line with cost of living increases. It was said back in August that a review would be carried out in order that announcements could be made to the Parliament in October. This is precisely what the Government did. My colleague, the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) in another place, made his announcements across the broad area of student allowances and indicated that about $50m more would be provided through the student allowances programs in tertiary education, secondary education and Aboriginal education. This is an increase of no mean proportions in comparison with the flat refusal of the previous Labor Administration to even consider an increase. I could go on pointing out error after error in the basic consideration of the Opposition of the estimates of the Department of Education. But there is no need for me to elaborate on that because the facts speak for themselves.
In conclusion I refer to a matter which was raised by the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) in a question to me on 7 October and again during this debate on the Estimates. He asked why, if the Government was so prepared to increase student allowances and to find the money for that in the Treasury, it was not prepared to find extra money for capital works programs for tertiary education as recommended by the Universities Commission. I draw the attention of the honourable member to the fact that total expenditure on tertiary education in 1977 will represent some $960m compared with $92 7m in 1976, an increase of $33m approved by this Liberal-National-Country Party Administration. While the Universities Commission has not been able to propose any major capital works in 1977 within the $30m available, the colleges of advanced education which are projected to experience a larger increase in enrolments than universities in 1977, will receive $69m in 1977 for capital expenditure. In other words, the Government fixes a priority on colleges of advanced education because of the increased enrolments expected in 1977. At the same time it is providing the universities with an increase of some $33m to cover recurrent expenditure. Those are the figures.
While the Government cannot agree to the recommendation of the Universities Commission in respect of capital works in this financial year, nevertheless we have fixed a priority which the then Minister, the honourable member for Fremantle, in the previous Labor Administration was not prepared to do, namely, to increase student allowances to meet rises in the cost of living and the increased requirements of colleges of advanced education to cover increased enrolments in 1977. 1 suggest to members of the Opposition that the next time they enter a debate on education estimates they read the Budget Speech of the Treasurer and the Budget Papers much more carefully than they have on this occasion.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Mr ELLICOTT (Wentworth AttorneyGeneral) I suggest that the order for the consideration of the proposed expenditures agreed to by the Committee on 22 September be varied by next considering the proposed expenditure for the Attorney-General ‘s Department.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Is the suggestion of the Attorney-General agreed to? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Proposed expenditure, $54,617,000.
Motion (by Mr Ellicott) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I would like to discuss tonight relations between unions and management, the need for a greater intake of migrant workers in the Australian work force and the communication gap that exists between those groups. As the Speaker of this House stated last weekend:
We have to discuss differences of opinion around the table also before direct action or confrontation takes place.
But not all members of the Government believe that employees and unionists should have a say in their livelihood and future employment. In September last when the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) used his speech at the opening of the new Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd steelmill to threaten action against unions, no doubt he delighted the company executives and industrialists who were present. The day before, Sir Eric Willis, the Leader of the State Opposition, told the New South Wales Parliament that the answer to the State’s petrol dispute was government action to force the strikers back to work. Many of the anti-union elements in the community would applaud that tool. But they have been taken for a ride by the Liberal leaders. The Prime Minister is not serious about the idea and has no intention of doing anything. Sir Eric Willis never did anything of that kind when he had the opportunity as Premier of the State of New South Wales.
One trade union secretary who did speak out was Mr Joe Thompson, the State Secretary of the Vehicle Builders’ Union in New South Wales. In a recent series of papers and speeches he has tackled the anti-union arguments head on. Again and again employers have argued that at the bottom of Australia’s economic problems is the fact that we are pricing ourselves out of the world market and our manufacturing is in the doldrums because our wage rates are too high. As Thompson pointed out recently in a paper to a management audience, that is just not the case. According to Thompson, the Japanese worker enjoys wages and fringe benefits far in excess of anything enjoyed by the Australian worker. The Japanese workers’ advantage lies in modern technology and their massive home market. That is only one example. There are many thousands of other similar cases.
There is another widespread myth which says that Australian unions are strike happy and that this is the cause of our mediocre industrial performance. For 25 years the Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Ltd operated its Zetland plant in Sydney. In that quarter of a century only 16 hours were lost in strikes. Facts like that, of course, never grab the headlines. But at least there is now a union leader who has taken the effort to point them out to the public. Recently in New South Wales a Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner, Mr Jack Heffernan, handed down a judgment in an industrial dispute. His decision was given in four different languages. That is a big breakthrough and shows that at last people are beginning to recognise that Australia has a multi-racial work force. A greater proportion of the Australian work force was born overseas than that of any other country except Israel. Forty per cent of our work force is foreign born, but in the steel and automobile industries at least 80 per cent of the work force are migrants. So in a great many companies operating in the metal, textile, electrical and building industries British and Australian workers are a small minority-only one in seven or one in eight.
Most workers have a foreign language as their native tongue. It is easy for people in management to speak glibly about improved communications with their workers leading to fewer strikes and rosier industrial relations, but our postwar migration program has given us a massive communication problem. Migrant workers are hard pressed to understand information on their awards or safety matters. Migrant workers with problems are reluctant to see a shop steward and spell out their difficulties in broken English. Union stop-work meetings leave much of the work force confused about what is going on.
Those are the real problems in Australian industry, and a Commissioner who is prepared to hand down a judgment not only in English but also in the language of much of the work force is very welcome. As Mr Speaker has said in this House, what we say we should practise. Employer, employee, new settler and politician- we are all Australians with one goal, a better place to live in and a share of the national wealth for our children and their children and for the future of our country.
-The Industries Assistance Commission report on Government assistance to the performing arts has been described as having an effect like a hungry cat let loose in a cage of canaries. Certainly it has caused widespread consternation among nearly all involved in the performing arts. The Government members arts committee has considered this report and believes that its adoption by the Government would be disastrous. The IAC has asked nearly all the right questions about the arts and deduced nearly all the wrong answers. It has tried to quantify the unquantifiable and assumed that what it could not quantify did not exist. That is not entirely the fault of the IAC. The arts are not an industry and should never have been referred to the Industries Assistance Commission by the then Prime Minister. It was a downright silly inquiry, as the Financial Review put it. The difficulty for the IAC is that it is bound by its Act to base its inquiries almost exclusively on economic criteria. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the relevant section of the Act.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
( 1 ) In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living, and, in particular, to the desire of the Australian Government to-
-I thank the House. This has led the IAC in some absurd directions. The report reads like a satire or, as someone has said, like the script for a Norman Gunston show. There are so many absurdities that it is hard to know where to begin or end. For instance, using its economic approach, the Commission has urged that support should be given to performing arts which attract large audiences and withdrawn from the rest. That is absurd. Pop culture, by its nature, is self-supporting though probably ephemeral. Higher forms of art will only ever be appreciated by a minority.
Our task is to see that this elite is one of knowledge and appreciation, not of wealth. The Commission’s suggestion to treble seat prices at the opera, for instance, would create just the wrong sort of elite, assuming the companies survive, which is unlikely. The Commission sees no distinction between a live performance and a television or radio performance. It does not seem to understand at all the complex interaction, and sometimes direct involvement, between performers and audience. A live play is not the same as a television or radio play and never will be. The Commission seems to think that everything can be solved by increased use of radio and television. Certainly we should increase the use- of those media for remote areas in particular. They may be second best but they are better than nothing. But the Commission’s idea of withdrawal of support from performing arts companies, coupled with its recommendation for unrestricted entry of overseas recordings, would be devastating. Our companies could not conceivably compete with heavily subsidised imports, so even the IAC’s constructive suggestions would be destructive.
Of course, there are some good suggestions in the report. There is much inefficiency in arts administration, as the IAC justly pointed out. We must pursue excellence in arts administration as well as in arts performances. Of course, we have to ensure that we do not create dinosaurs, companies which somehow attract all the grants and stamp out competition and true innovation. We should widen the arts experience in schools so that we can increase the number who have a chance to understand and appreciate the higher art forms. It is also true that we must widen our base of support for the arts, presumably through tax concessions. The Fraser Government has already taken action to investigate both of those latter suggestions. The rest of the IAC’s recommendations would convert Australia into a cultural desert, an ocker paradise, in the name of economic rationality. I believe that this report should be recognised as being the result of a very foolish reference by the previous Prime Minister. Although it may stir up some useful discussion, I think it should be noted as a curiosity and ignored by the Government.
– I did not rise to respond to the reflection on me by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). I am not going to indulge myself by criticising the draft of the Industries Assistance Commission report on assistance to the performing am, certainly not in its present form. I am not going to indulge myself by criticising it. I made the reference to the IAC because J. C. Williamsons wanted assistance. The commercial theatre had never previously received assistance. It is my strong view that anybody seeking assistance at the taxpayers’ expense should make out a case for it publicly, and governments can then determine the matter. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard part of paragraph 3.6.3 of the report, which gives the history of the reference.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows- 3.6.3 Assistance to commercial theatre
This inquiry originated from representations by commercial theatre organisations for Commonwealth Government assistance. According to the Australia Council it received a number of applications from commercial theatre organisations for assistance. The Council said that it was inclined to feel that general assistance might be warranted to commercial managements and because of this a reference to the Commission was sought The Council said that the Commission seemed a more appropriate organisation than it for analysing the requirements of the commercial industry and the merits of claims for assistance.
– I rose to speak in view of the answer given this evening by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) to a question I asked him, particularly in the context of having asked him another question on the same subject 6 days ago. Once again the Government has demonstrated its callous indifference to the plight of Asian students affected by violent changes of regime in their home country. The question that I asked the Minister tonight sought to elicit from him an assurance that Thai students who feel endangered by the coup d’etat in Bangkok will not be forcibly repatriated. The terms of my question cast no reflections upon the Government. They should have produced no offence. In fact, the Minister could have responded in a serious and bipartisan fashion. Instead, his answer was captious and provocative, cheap and nasty. Towards the end of his answer, it dawned upon him that there was perhaps a real humanitarian problem involved and he undertook to make inquiries from his Department as to whether any Thai students were concerned about having to return to a country where last week more than 60 of their colleagues at Thammasat University were butchered by police. He maintained that he had not heard of any concern expressed by Thai students in Australia. He sounded surprised at the very suggestion that Thai students might be worried by the turmoil and bloodshed in their country a mere 6 days after every major newspaper in Australia carried front page photographs of students in Bangkok being lynched, beaten, shot and burned.
If his own perceptions are so imperfect, he might at least have been expected to have been advised that Thai students have been quoted on television and in the newspapers in this country voicing their fears about the change of regime. They have telephoned my office and I find it hard to believe they have not also contacted his office or his Department. His air of wounded innocence tonight was all the more reprehensible because 6 days ago I asked him a related question on the subject of the coup in Thailand. It concerned the Government’s attitude to potential refugees. He refused to answer that part of my question which dealt with the Thai refugee problem. Twice in one week he has refused to acknowledge that a serious humanitarian problem faces the Australian Government as a result of the Thai putsch.
The Government’s record on this entire question is deplorable. The sole reference by the Government to this major upheaval in Thailand -one of our closest neighbours, one of the few democratically elected governments in Asia, and formerly an ally of the Liberal-Country Party Government in the Vietnam War- the only reference by this Government has been a facetious question by the member for Kennedy to the Minister for Defence designed to elicit a crude and tasteless joke at the expense of the people of Thailand. Let me now contrast this shameful performance with the record of my Government when faced with a similar situation concerning students from Vietnam and Cambodia last year. On 3 April I announced that students from those 2 countries would be allowed to defer their return home. On 2 May, we announced that a special fund had been established to provide living allowances for Vietnamese and Cambodian tertiary students in Australia. The allowances operated separately from the tertiary education assistance scheme. On 1 1 November, the Minister for Labor and Immigration in the elected Government, Senator James McClelland, announced that government sponsored students from Vietnam and Cambodia were eligible for resident status whether or not they had completed their studies- a significant departure from previous practice. Our record was marked by understanding, compassion and action. The Fraser Government’s record is one of ignorance, insensitivity and indifference.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Most people have welcomed initiatives by producer organisations and by the Commonwealth and State governments to improve the situation in the beef industry, an industry that has been in a crisis situation for some 2 years. This crisis has had the effect of making all sections of the meat industry look more realistically at its situation. Complacency, engendered by good years and high prices of previous years, has given way to concern and to the vigorous questioning of old and accepted ways, particularly in processing and marketing. There has been a reduction in the grazing industry on the everyday expenditure items. There has been a drastic reduction in the industry’s labour force. This reduction in the labour force will be a permanent loss to the rural industry and future generations of Australians will lose as a result of the present rundown.
There has also been a substantial reduction in capital expenditure in the grazing industry. This deferment of capital works will further contribute to this rundown in the industry. Most activity has been from the producers in forming new organisations and strengthening others and in submissions for stabilising and marketing schemes. The proposed restructuring of the Australian Meat Board has been the result of pressure born out of the desperate position in which the producers have found themselves in having their product sold substantially under cost. Recovery will not take place immediately. Eventually, it will depend largely in the forces of demand, particularly of our export markets.
There are, however, other difficulties just as real to the survival of the industry that need immediate attention until adequate market prices are achieved. High on this list of priorities are interest rates. Capital debts incurred some years ago which could be serviced from the then profitable industry were contracted at much reduced interest rates- some as low as 6 per cent. The rise in these rates to their present level and the reduced prices which have produced loss situations have had the effect of seeing an increased capital debt which is now well out of proportion to the value of properties. In many cases, this increased debt cannot be serviced if the industry returns to only a moderate state of prosperity. Rates of interest on these types of loans range form 9% per cent to 1 114 per cent except for those loans of an emergency nature for droughts, floods and things of that nature. The extension of time for redemption of some of these debts, while appreciated and necessary, is not the answer if interest rates continue unabated at their present level. Producers who can see their debt structure progressively increase because of the influence of interest have been reduced in the majority of cases to situations of frustration, abject despondency and resentment.
Assitance is required urgently. The Commonwealth should give a lead through its own Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia to rebating the interest to those levels at which the loans were originally negotiated to the beef producers. Hopefully, the rest of the lending institutions would follow this lead. As I mentioned earlier, the situation is desperate and the solution is urgently required. Secondly, the extension of unemployment relief conditions does not go sufficiently far, penalising those producers who are obliged to stay on their properties as compared with others who are able to leave them. Now that such relief payments are taxable, a case could be sustained to extend household relief and support in cases of real need, particularly where producers are forced to live on properties without income, not only to maintain the property but also to retain the security of their properties not always for themselves but in some cases for their banker-landlords.
Fuel price equalisation, dropped by the Labor Government and as yet not revived by this Government, has added a further increase not only on direct costs but also on every item with a freight component. The previous Administration adequately demonstrated its complete disregard for the rural industry. This Government, by the re-introduction of the scheme, could demonstrate its confidence in and sympathy with the beef industry. Successful decentralisation requires incentives such as these. Even on a restrictive basis to ensure that fuel price equalisation applies only to rural industry and is not available to other and more prosperous industries, this would be an act to display the Government ‘s sympathy. I speak with the authority of knowing what is currently happening in the brigalow area of central Queensland. The circumstances of the people there are examples of rural poverty. They face a daily existence with fewer chances than their fellow Australians protected by government support from pensions, relief and tariffs. It goes further than the brigalow country. Those beef properties which cannot diversify are in the same position. The plight is universal- no liquidity, dwindling security and lessening hope. It is imperative that if the grazing industry is to survive urgent action be taken in respect of each of these matters.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to draw a matter to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Ellicott). On 28 September 1976 a young widow whose husband had been killed in a motor accident on 6 September 197S came to me and told me her story. Shortly after the death of her husband, she placed the matter of the estate in the hands of the branch office of a solicitor at Pendle Hill. Her late husband had died intestate. Since placing the matter in the hands of the solicitor, the widow has received 3 lettersone dated 24 November 1975, another one dated 26 November 1975 and a third one dated 1 7 December 1 975. Despite frequent phone calls from her, no further action has been taken. On 1 8 August this year the widow wrote to the solicitor and said:
As this matter is now causing me considerable mental strain and frustration, I would be very pleased if you would let me know quickly if the matter is reaching finality. If no action has been taken, would I be better served if I was to relieve you of this responsibility by engaging someone else who may not be as busy.
She received no reply to that letter. So she then went to another solicitor. He wrote to the offending solicitor on 16 September 1976 by certified mail. He had received no reply by 28 September. He reported to the widow as follows:
I confirm telephoning L. B. Clayton & Co., Solicitors, of Wentworthville, Mrs Claffey, on the 28th instant and asking when could I receive the estate papers. She commented that she had not got around to it and made no assurances as to when she would. Mrs Claffey also stated that she had to prepare her statement of costs and fees owing to the firm for work done on your behalf.
The widow came to me on the same day. On that same day I rang Mr Clayton at his Auburn office.
He had no file with him. He promised he would make inquiries and ring back. I waited until Friday, 1 October, but had no contact from him up to that stage. So I rang him. He told me that the papers would be sent to the new solicitor next week.
I contacted the new solicitor on Monday, the 11th, and I contacted him again today. Still no papers have been received by me. The widow is reporting the matter to the Law Society. I raise the subject here to emphasise that I, as well as the client, are far from satisfied with the handling of this matter by L. B. Clayton and Co., solicitors, of Auburn and Pendle Hill. I wonder how many solicitors throughout the country are neglecting their clients’ matters as much as this company has done.
– I draw the attention of the House to the recent Pacific Ocean cruise of the Russian liner Fedor Shalyapin, carrying a large number of Australian and New Zealand passengers which left Sydney on or about 12 September last and which returned on 1 October. The itinerary included the Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, Suva, Tonga and Auckland. I shall say more at a later date and give facts to substantiate the Russian rip-off being perpetrated on good, decent, hardworking Australians snared aboard this ship by one of the most blatant and deceitful advertising campaigns ever to be perpetrated on the public and designed to trap the unwary into parting with hard-earned cash on fraudulent promises of a life of luxury over the period of the voyage.
I should like to tell the House of 2 most disturbing incidences involving the rendezvous in the dead of night between this liner and 2 vessels in the Pacific on its return voyage. This ship is registered in Vladivostok and comes out here under charter flying the Russian flag with a hammer and sickle displayed prominently on the funnel. On the return passage, when approximately one day out of New Zealand in the Pacific and at approximately midnight, another vessel was sighted by passengers approaching the Fedor Shalyapin. This dimly-lit ship hove to some distance away. As the cruise ship drew near its engines were stopped and its lights turned off with the exception of navigation lights. Lifeboats were lowered into a choppy sea and were eventually seen to pull away in the direction of the other vessel until they disappeared into the darkness. My constituents inform me that not only were the lifeboats carrying men but huge containers were seen to be loaded into them. They could have contained anyone or anything. To say that the passengers were alarmed would be an understatement, bearing in mind that some of them were quite elderly and justifiably apprehensive. After an interval of time the lifeboats returned to the mother ship and were hauled back on board, less most of the original occupants and all the containers. The engines of the cruise ship were restarted and both vessels parted company in mid-ocean.
I ask: What was the nature of this clandestine operation and why was it taking place in most suspicious circumstances? I hope no one would think me so naive as to believe that it was merely a transfer of crew, considering that it took place in dead of night out in the Pacific Ocean and only one day’s steaming from New Zealand. At approximately 3 o’clock the same morning, a crashing and banging noise was heard to come from the side of the ship- to the mental anguish of passengers- and this time a submarine was sighted close by. At this early hour few passengers were up and about but those who were quickly passed on this intelligence to others. Because of darkness and poor visibility the exact nature of what transpired was not able to be ascertained with any clarity or certainty.
The observations of the passengers, as I have outlined, call for an immediate explanation from the Russian authorities and the Sydney-based shipping line responsible for its charter in Australian waters. I shall be taking this matter up as a matter of urgency with my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). I am gravely disturbed by these happenings, especially in view of recent reports that Russian spy ships are tracking the biggest Allied fleet ever assembled in this part of the world since World War II.
-In this morning’s Australian there is an article dealing with the South Australian Parliament. It states:
The Liberal Opposition Leader in South Australia ‘s Legislative Council, Mr Degaris, yesterday threatened to block supply to the Dunstan Government and force an election.
He told the Upper House, where the Opposition has 1 1 seats to the Government’s 10, there was a case for exerting pressure on the passage of the State’s Budget because of the proposed gerrymander under an electoral redistribution.
The article continues:
Mr Dunstan last night warned the Opposition he would not hesitate to call an election.
The Liberals last year were stupid, but if they want to use their majority, obtained in the Upper House by a hangover from the past, we will accommodate them. ‘
The Liberals tried it last year and lost. During the course of the debate here in the last few weeks 2 words in particular have been used One was ‘Playmander’ and the other was ‘Donnymander’. Perhaps we can have a look at those 2 words. The word ‘Playmander’ refers to the gerrymander which was carried out by Sir Thomas Playford for so many years in South Australia. It allowed him to govern with a minority most of the time. Perhaps we can look at some of the legislation he introduced. I shall quote some of the provisions in the Electoral Districts (Redivision) Act 1954. First of all, we have to realise that in South Australia two-thirds of the population lives in Adelaide and one-third lives in the country, and this has been the case for quite some time. I shall just quote a few of the provisions contained in the Act passed by Sir Thomas Playford in 1954. Section 5.(1) of the Act states:
Subject as hereinafter mentioned, the Commission shall-
re-divide the metropolitan area into thirteen approximately equal Assembly districts; and
Going back to what I said earlier the metropolitan area is where two-thirds of the population live-
This is where one-third of the people live. That is the way in which the gerrymander was carried out in South Australia.
The Act went a bit further than that. Section 6.( 1 ) states:
The Commission shall also re-divide the State into five Council districts. Each Council district shall consist of two or more whole Assembly districts.
They are the Legislative Council districts. Section 6.(2) states:
In making the redivision under this section, the Commission shall provide for two Council districts in the metropolitan area,
That is where two-third of the people live - and three in the country areas -
Where one-third of the people live- and shall as far as practicable retain the existing boundaries of Council districts.
That is the Playmander that was referred to here a few weeks ago and which enabled the Liberal Party to remain in office in South Australia for so many years. Steele Hall did introduce a redistribution in 1968. It certainly was not perfect but at least it did adjust some of the imbalance that had existed for so many years.
Let us look at what the South Australian Liberals are referring to as a Donnymander. As honourable members know the Premier of South Australia introduced legislation for a redistribution not so long ago. Section 77 (2) of the Constitution Act 1934-1975 states:
In this section-electoral quota’ means the nearest integral number obtained by dividing the total number of electors for the House of Assembly (as at the relevant date) by the number of electoral districts into which the State is to be divided as at the first polling day for which the order is to be effective.
That is the closest to one vote one value that we have struck in Australia before. The section goes on: permissible tolerance’ means a tolerance of ten per centum:
Then it goes on to mention other matters.
-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted.
– I require the debate to be extended. Earlier this evening at question time the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) asked me about Thai students in Australia who might be concerned for their safety in that they might be required to return to Thailand as a result of the military intervention in that country. In my response to the question of the Leader of the Opposition I undertook to find out as quickly as I could whether such fears had been expressed to my Department by Thai students presently in Australia as he had suggested. That question was asked at about 8.30 this evening and it has not been possible for a full search to be made within my Department. As recently as 10.50 this evening I was informed that to the best of the Department’s knowledge no individual or group requests have been received from Thai students in Australia in relation to fears for their safety. This does not mean, of course, that those students in Australia do not have some fears for their safety but in fact my response this evening was correct. The Department is not aware at this stage of any individual or group requests.
I make it demonstrably clear to everybody that Thai students and others still studying in Australia with some time to go before the completion of their studies obviously are not required to go home. If the students are successful in their studies, under the normal policy applying they can seek residence status in Australia and m line with normal policy their requests would be considered at that stage. Even if the students have not successfully completed their studies in Australiain other words, if they have been unsuccessful or have dropped out- they are not precluded from seeking permission to remain in Australia as permanent residents. Again, in line with normal policy the requests would be considered. However, I guess the gravamen of the approach of the Leader of the Opposition to this matter is that some blanket approval should be given to those students from Thailand who are uncertain about their future in that country, or who may fear for their lives should they be forced to return to that country.
I believe it has been demonstrated quite clearly by myself as the responsible Minister, and by this Government since we came to office, that we have a compassionate approach in relation to the reuniting of families. I believe that our approach in assisting refugees has demonstrated quite clearly that we are aware of humanitarian and compassionate situations. I can assure any of the Thai students in Australia who fear for their safety should they return to Thailand, or be forced to return to Thailand, that their application to remain in Australia will be treated with the utmost sympathy. I make that absolutely clear. I believe that it did not do the Leader of the Opposition any credit to use the descriptions that he did in regard to the policies pursued by this Government or to the way in which I, as the Minister, have administered the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. We will continue to approach the questions sympathetically and with understanding.
-The debate having concluded, the House stands adjourned until 10.30 tomorrow morning.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Taxation Office is aware of the inconvenience that the shortage of forms caused at the post offices concerned.
asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The survey revealed that 82 700 persons looking for work in May 1976 had experienced, during the previous twelve months, periods of unemployment totalling six months or more. The number of persons who, in May 1976, had at that date been unemployed for six months or more was 34 400 or 2 1.9 per cent of all persons unemployed at that time. I refer here to data obtained from the ABS publication- The
Labour Force, May 1976 (Preliminary) (Reference No. 6.32).
It is also necessary to distinguish between permanently unemployable people and those other persons who have been experiencing long periods of unemployment over the course of the recession. This latter group can be expected to find employment as economic recovery proceeds.
As to the former category, I note that the Report of the Commission of Inquiry Into Poverty (the Henderson Report) concluded, on the basis of a study of longer term unemployed persons, that a significant proportion of these were permanently not available for employment’ for reasons such as poor state of health, social and psychological problems, etc. The Report went on to recommend a number of measures directed towards assisting these persons. These and other recommendations of the Henderson Report are being considered by the Income Security Review Group which is progressively reporting to the Government.
The Government also announced at the same time several other changes to the NEAT system designed to improve its operation and enable more people to undertake training. These changes involve increased subsidies to employers in respect of in-plant trainees, and increased livingawayfromhome allowances for eligible trainees. The other changes allow full-time trainees in formal courses to increase their earnings from employment without affecting their allowances, and provide increased opportunities for part-time training under NEAT. The Government will continue to use the NEAT system in a flexible way to meet labour market problems as they arise and to which training offers a solution.
The suggested re-introduction of something like the RED Scheme would necessarily involve higher Government spending which would add to the Budget deficit and increase inflationary pressures. The Government’s overall economic strategy is firmly based on reducing inflation and restoring confidence in the private sector- which employs 3 out of 4 Australian workers- as the necessary condition for lasting economic recovery and a return to full employment.
asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government decided, in framing the 1976-77 Budget, that the Commission should repay advances of $3m drawn in 1975-76 and that no provision would be made in the Budget for borrowings in 1976-77 or for the partial reimbursement of losses incurred in the conveyance of registered publications. As a consequence, the Commission will meet all operating expenses and fund 100 per cent of capital expenditure in 1 976-77 from its own resources.
This decision was taken in the light of the Commission’s trading surplus for 1975-76 and was reflected in the determination of the application of that surplus which I have made under Section 79 of the Act. Reference to this determination was made in the ‘Service and Business Outlook for 1976-77’ which I tabled recently in the Parliament, and details will be included in the Commission ‘s Annual Report.
Universities: Capital Works
– Further to my answer to the question without notice by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith on 7 October, my colleague the Minister for Education has asked me to draw to his attention the fact that total expenditure on tertiary education in 1977 will represent some $960m compared with $927m in 1976. While the Universities Commission has not been able to propose any major capital works in 1977 within the $30m available, the colleges of advanced education, which are projected to experience a larger increase in enrolments in 1977 than universities, will receive $69m in 1977 for capital expenditure.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have assumed that the question does not refer to religious celebrants or State Officials. The honourable member might also care to refer to my reply to Question No. 634, which appeared in Hansard on 4.6.76, page 3 103.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1976/19761013_reps_30_hor101/>.