House of Representatives
7 December 1976

30th Parliament · 1st Session

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

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

Australian Broadcasting Commission

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

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

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Garrick, Mr Jacobi, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Les McMahon, Mr Morris and Mr Wallis.

Petitions received.

Symphony Orchestras in Australia

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 deeply concerned at the threat to the continuation of symphony orchestras throughout Australia posed by theIAC and Green reports.

We believe that the Government should not allow the symphony orchestras of Australia to be reduced in any way at all.

Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation and growth of our symphony orchestras, thereby ensuring that the quality of lifeof the people of this country shall be maintained.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr MacKellar, Mr Connolly, Mr Dobie, Mr Haslem and Mr Charles Jones.

Petitions received.

Budget 1976-77

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Budget, despite the government’s earlier rhetoric about defence threats to Australia, continues to hold the size of the armed services at present levels; and the Budget, despite all the above, still cannot be expected to reduce Australia’s annual inflation rate below twelve per cent;

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the 1976 Budget be redrafted to provide for economic recovery within the guide-lines laid down by the Australian Labor Government’s1975 Budget

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

Petitions received.


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

That, although we accept the verdict of the Australian people in the 1975 election, we do not accept the right of a Governor-General to dismiss 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 Charles Jones and Mr Les McMahon.

Petitions received.

Telephone Services

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

That the lack of telephone services in the town and surrounding rural area at night and on Saturday afternoon and Sunday is a matter of great concern.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to provide night and weekend facilities to subscribers in the Town of Popanyinning and surrounding rural area in the State of Western Australia.

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

Petition received.

Australian Broadcasting Commission

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 by the fact that the onset of daylight saving time in the southern States makes it impossible for many people in Queensland to hear certain current affairs programs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government require the Australian Broadcasting Commission to make appropriate adjustments to its programming so as to allow such programs to be more widely heard in Queensland.

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

Petition received.

Broadcasting Council

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 representation of the consumer, the listening public, community groups be included in the membership of the proposed Broadcasting Council.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byDr Cass.

Petition received.

Nature Reserves in the Australian Capital Territory

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

That in response to the National Capital Development Commission proposals for urban development of the foothills of Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura we wish to make it known that we are opposed to any urban development of these foothills beyond that which already exists, for the following reasons.

  1. The foothills are important to Canberra as a city with an outstanding international reputation for promoting balance between urban development and the preservation of environments which complement that development, a balance which would be lost if urban development is permitted to extend any higher on the foothills.
  2. The area is of significant scenic value as an integral pan of the Walter Burley Griffin Canberra plan, a plan which has been adopted by Canberra’s citizens and which embodies the concept of a garden city; the natural bushland of the foothills being a vital element of that concept.
  3. Having this unique woodland area in the centre of the National Capital provides a readily accessible facility which enables people to identify with what remains of their bushland heritage.
  4. The foothill woodlands have considerable educational value in their flora, fauna, geology and geography in close proximity to students of diverse age in the formal and informal education process. This value will increase as Canberra ‘s population increases.
  5. The foothills have recreational value to a wide range of people for trail walks, school outings, children’s recreation and development, leisurely walks for more elderly residents, for fitness and training exercises, for orienteering and for relaxation and retreat from the pressures of urban life. This recreational value will increase particularly if areas in old Canberra as it now exists are developed to house a larger population.
  6. The foothills remain one of the best surviving examples of Eucalyptus melliodora and Eucalyptus blakelyi woodland.
  7. The foothills and the mountain together form an environment which sustains special members of Australia’s fauna, the grey kangaroo and swamp wallaby, which can be frequently observed grazing on the foothills. The area is in practice an open fauna reserve in the heart of the National Capital.
  8. Canberra residents and local residents in particular have come to appreciate the foothills as a permanent element in the landscape of their city. Local residents in particular have made investments and lifelong decisions on the basis of the permanence of the bushland which exists at this time on the foothills.
  9. The foothills are a unique and irreplaceable property asset to the community as a whole, an asset which should not be transferred to a very small minority as would occur if urban development is permitted.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government recognise the recreational, educational and environmental value to the Canberra community and to the National Capital of the bushland of the Mount Ainslie, Mount Majura area of which the foothills form a vital and integral part and that the Government takes measures to ensure that there is no residential, commercial, roadway or other urban infrastructural development beyond that which already exists on these foothills and that the Government takes measures to ensure the preservation of this area as a nature reserve for the benefit of the present and future generations. by Mr Fry.

Petition received.

Australian Capital Territory Mental Health Ordinance

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively showeth.

We, the undersigned, including the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, believe that the Mental Health Ordinance proposed for the Australian Capital Territory contains various clauses which should be reviewed immediately. These clauses include:

Definitions of mental disorder/illness which are vague enough to allow a psychiatrist to exert arbitrary judgment on who is or is not actually ill. The section dealing with control of standards of treatment could be employed to stop faith healers, naturopaths, lay counsellors and others who play a very important part in society. The section authorising police and ambulance officers to enter any dwelling to seize any person is a breach of privacy. The section dealing with compulsory treatment of minors should be amended as it makes it simple for a psychiatrist to commit or treat minors without parental consent.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this Ordinance be reviewed and submissions be requested from interested groups so as to ensure that the Ordinance when finally drafted does protect the interests of psychiatric patients.

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

Petition received.

South Africa

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 recent outbreak of racial riots and killings in South Africa.

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

  1. 1 ) Call upon the South African Government to eliminate apartheid and racial discrimination;
  2. Withdraw the Australian Trade Commissioners from South Africa in accordance with the UN resolution 3411G(December 1975).

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

Petition received.


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

  1. That the use of uranium as a source of energy is currently unacceptable as it presents problems including radioactive waste, military implications and environmental degradation.
  2. That there can, at present, be no assurances that radioactive materials exported for peaceful purposes will not be used in the production of nuclear weapons.
  3. That there is not, as yet, any known safe method of disposing of radioactive wastes, nor is there likely to be.
  4. That the export of uranium from Australia is internationally irresponsible and is not, in the long term, of benefit to Australia.
  5. That the export of uranium from Australia discourages importing countries from investing research and development funds in finding viable alternatives.
  6. That only the overdeveloped industrial nations will benefit from Australian uranium and the gap between these countries and the energy-starved third world will increase yet further.
  7. That the securing of land rights by Australian Aborigines, promised by successive governments, is prejudiced by uranium mining.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government will immediately cease the mining and prohibit the export of uranium until perfectly safe methods of final disposal for radioactive wastes have been guaranteed; will greatly increase expenditure on research into safe, clean and inexhaustible sources of energy; and will aid underdeveloped countries in their efforts to secure a fair share of the world ‘s energy resources, while at the same time honouring its obligations to the future of humanity.

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

Petition received.

Symphony Orchestra in Newcastle

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, the humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Hunter Valley Region respectfully showeth:

The lack of a resident professional symphony orchestra in Newcastle and surrounding areas, with consequent denial to the citizens of adequate provision of concerts, opera, ballet, school concerts, teaching of various orchestral instruments and career opportunities for young musicians.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament give due and early consideration to the provision of funds, in association with the N.S.W. State Government, Local Governments and the community of this region, for the establishment and maintenance of the Hunter Symphony Orchestra, consisting initially of 40 players, located in Newcastle and serving the cultural needs of the 500 000 inhabitants of the region, in accordance with the proposal and budget submitted to the Industries Assistance Commission.

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

Petition received.

Aboriginal Land Rights

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

That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976, does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should:

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

    1. The removal of all powers to pass Lands Right legislation which the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has been granted; an in particular, its control over (i) sacred sites; (ii) entry permits to Aboriginal Lands; (iii) seas adjoining AboriginalLand and the fishing rights of non-Aborigines within two kilometres of Aboriginal Land; (iv) the right of Aborigines to freely enter pastoral stations; (v) the control of wildlife.
    2. The control by Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
    3. The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s power to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines.
    4. The restoration of all powers vested in Land Councils and the Land Commissioner in the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) 1975 Bill.
    5. A provision that any Government decision to override Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest be itself reviewed by both Houses of Parliament.
    6. A provision that land-owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they so wish.
    7. The removal of artificial barriers to traditional lands such as are imposed by the Territory borders on the Pitjantara, Pintubi, Wonkanguru and other tribes.

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

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– I inform the House that this morning the former Department of the Treasury was abolished and a new Department of the Treasury and a new Department of Finance were created. The Honourable Phillip Lynch was appointed as Treasurer to administer the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Finance. The functions of the new Departments will be as indicated in my statement to the House on 18 November except that the general and life insurance functions will now be a responsibility of the Treasury. Senator Cotton will continue to represent the Treasurer in the Senate.

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The Tariff


-I give notice that at the next day of sitting I shall move:

That this House instructs the Government that, under the present circumstances, there should be no tinkering with the tariff.

Income Tax

Mr Kevin Cairns:

-I give notice that at the next day of sitting I shall move:

That, acknowledging that the increase of the income tax burden since 1 972 has been totally disastrous, and noting the stated intention of the Government to promote taxation reform of which tax indexation is the first instalment, this House is of the opinion that such reform should embrace the following considerations:

Income taxation should be adequate to serve the revenue needs of government and that the increased total in tax revenue should be related only to the increase in the number of taxpayers, productivity and incomes in real terms;

2 ) It should be fair as between persons and households;

3 ) Marginal rates of tax should be reduced as suggested by the Asprey report and that the maximum marginal rate should be reduced towards 50 per cent as conditions allow;

To recognise the importance of tax concessions in promoting incentive and investment but not so as to make their principal value to the taxpayer dependent on the tax forgone;

5 ) The contribution of the rebate system in acknowledging that people placed equally should be treated equally and that many income earners especially those on the lower tax scales fail to claim adequately for concessions;

That where rebates are transferred to social welfare payments the transfer compensates for the value of the rebates for each taxpayer or the household supported by the taxpayer,

The effects of taxation and proposed changes in tax rates upon real disposable incomes should be acknowledged by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission;

And that alterations in the taxation system should seek to abide by these principles whether or not they are accomplished at the one time.

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– I ask the Minister for Health the following question: Is the ophthalmological expedition under Professor Fred Hollows still moving among Aboriginal communities, engaging in treatment of their eye diseases? If the expedition is continuing, is it receiving the cooperation of State governments in relation to access to Aboriginal communities and has it the support of State health departments?

Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– As far as I know, Professor Fred Hollows and his team of ophthalmologists are continuing their task force operation. They certainly have our authority to continue. I do not know whether they are presently working but, as the honourable member knows, I had a meeting recently with Professor Fred Hollows and discussed with him some of the longer term problems that the task force will face next year in carrying out its work. We are making sure that the various State governments and the health departments in those States co-operate. I have asked my Department to be responsible for coordinating the work with the various State governments so that there is no misunderstanding between the State authorities and the task force. I would like to take the opportunity to say that we have received excellent co-operation from the Minister for Defence and from the Army, which has brought into the northern part of South Australia mobile theatre and a mobile unit to assist the task force in carrying out surgical work in the field. I think that great credit must go to Professor Hollows and those associated with the task force for the work that they are doing. It could well set a pattern of health care delivery to Aborigines living in remote areas of Australia and also to white people living in difficult circumstances and suffering from ill health in remote areas of Australia.

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-Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that many business suppliers have advised their retail outlets that as from 29 November, only one day after devaluation, all goods would be increased in cost by 20 per cent? Can the Government take any action to halt this rip-off of consumers? Do small business people or their customers have any powers of recourse if they are aware of price increases obviously not related to the effects of devaluation upon imports?

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

-I have had brought to my attention some instances of people being concerned that this has occurred. I should like to make it very clear that, as the Prime Minister indicated immediately after devaluation, the Government would be extremely concerned if any re-sellers or importers were to take advantage of devaluation for the purposes of any unreasonable mark-ups. I think it has to be recognised that in circumstances such as this it is totally impossible and beyond the power of governments to prevent completely this type of thing from happening. We have taken some action in relation to the Prices Justification Tribunal. As I indicated last night, I conferred with the Chairman of the PJT yesterday afternoon. The Tribunal had been specifically requested to scrutinise carefully any price notifications which seek an adjustment on account of devaluatoin

In the statement I made I also reminded companies that the Tribunal’s power is not limited to a scrutiny of notifications but that also section 16 of the Prices Justification Act gives it the power to investigate a price increase made by a company, whether or not that company is required to notify price increases. I mention also, particularly in respect of small business, that consumers who feel that unjustified price increases have been made should report those complaints and concerns to their local consumer affairs bureau. The machinery in this area at a State level is quite extensive and I believe that consumers who have a worry that unreasonable price mark-ups are occurring in the small business area should take advantage of that facility and should made thencomplaints to that quarter.

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– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that $ 1,000m flowed back into this country during the S working days of last week since devaluation, these funds inevitably being speculative funds? With the multiplier effect of inflows into the banking system being up to five-fold, with no changes to statutory reserve deposits, does this not mean an increase in the volume of money of up to $5,000m last week? Does this explain the 2 per cent up-valuation announced today? May we expect variations to our currency values each time there is a major inflow or outflow? How are the changes to our currency being calculated? Is the old basket being maintained? Will the Treasurer help to overcome the terrible uncertainty about these currency matters which pervades the community?


– I am happy to have the opportunity to answer the Dorothy Dix speech which has just been made by the honourable gentleman. It is characteristic of the honourable gentleman and those who sit with him that he should seek to create a scare in the market place at the present time. I simply want to say to the honourable gentleman that any suggestion of $1, 000m flowing into the country during the days of last week is a matter of manic speculation and is without foundation. It is not the custom of a Treasurer in this House responsibly to give daily reports on the flow of foreign capital into Australia. I should have thought the honourable gentleman would have understood that. Of course I receive those figures. The honourable gentleman is very much aware that they come out on a periodic basis through the Reserve Bank. I believe that the provision of that information best rests with the officers of the Reserve Bank. As for the change which has been made, I am sure that the honourable gentleman is aware of the statement issued this morning by Mr Harry Knight, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. For the information of the House, I seek leave to incorporate the document in Hansard.


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

The document read as follows-

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The average trade-weighted exchange rate of the Aus-, tralian dollar has been adjusted as from the opening of business today.

The effect of the variation is to reduce the extent of the devaluation since Friday 26 November from 1714 per cent to 15 V4 percent.

This operational adjustment follows consideration of the exchange rate by the group of three officials designated in the Treasurer’s statement of 28 November.

The change is the first of ‘ more frequent and smaller shifts in the relationship of the Australian dollar to the ‘basket’ of currencies’.

The intention is for such shifts to take place when the assessment of all relevent economic factors indicates a need for movement in the level of the exchange rate, thus permitting the use of the exchange rate as a more flexible element amongst the available arms of economic policy.

Reserve Bank of Australia SYDNEY 7 December 1976

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Methods of ‘pegging’ the exchange rate

Past arrangements are listed below:

To December 1971-a fixed link between Australian currency and sterling.

To September 1974- a fixed link between Australian currency and the U.S. dollar. (The value of the $A was constant in relation to the currency to which it was pegged, but varied in relationship to other currencies which were not similarly pegged.)

Since September 1974- a link to movements in the average value of a ‘basket’ of currencies weighted in proportion to each country ‘s trade with Australia. (The rate for the $A has varied in relation to all other currencies, but has on average remained constant for lengthy periods.)

Comment- The fixed link between the Australian dollar and another foreign currency offered some advantages in the period prior to 1971; par values were very much the norm and exchange rates remained relatively stable in that period.

With the general move away from fixed par values to floating, a link to a single currency became less satisfactory. From December 1971 to September 1974 the U.S. dollar fluctuated, at times substantially, against other important currencies. Because of its fixed link, the Australian dollar fluctuated against other currencies to the same extent, moving with the U.S. dollar irrespective of trends in the Australian economy.

Linking the Australian dollar to a trade weighted ‘basket’ of currencies meant that its value tended to vary from day to day against all currencies, including the $US However, because of the averaging effect, the fluctuations against other individual currencies tended to be less extreme than with a fixed link to a single currency. Nevertheless, in the period from 25 September 1974 to 26 November 1976, the rate for the Australian dollar fluctuated under the ‘basket’ regime from about $A1 = U.S.$1.22 to U.S. $1.37; there were also substantial fluctuations in the rates between the $A and other currencies. These fluctuations reflected the effect of changing relationships between overseas currencies working through the trade-weighted ‘basket’. The did not reflect the policy needs of Australia ‘s own economy.

The working of the trade-weighted ‘basket’of currencies

Since September 1974, the weighted average exchange rate for Australia has been calculated by averaging the movements in exchange rates for the currencies of countries which account for virtually all of Australia’s trade.

The relative importance of each of these countries in the basket is assessed by reference to our trade with them, i.e., exports and imports combined. For this reason, such exchange rate arrangements are often referred to as a (constant) trade-weighted exchange rate regime.

In practice, the averaging system used operates by calculating each day a rate for the Australian dollar in terms of the US. dollar. This is only a matter of convenience. Exactly the same result would be produced by using any other currency or, for that matter, the SDR as the numerator in the exercise.

To take a hypothetical example: Suppose Australia ‘s trade is limited to three countries in the following proportions:

Japan- 40 per cent

U.K.-30 per cent

U.S.A.-30 per cent

On day 1 the exchange rates for the currencies of these countries are: $US 1 - Yen 290;£ 0.66; $US 1 .

On the same day $A1=$US1.2500.

On day 2 the rates are: $US1 =Yen 300;£0.65; $US1.

In these circumstances, how is the trade-weighted value of the $A kept constant?

If no adjustment were made, the trade-weighted value of the Australian dollar would change. The extent of the change, relative to the value of day 1, would be:

In other words, if no adjustment was made, the Australian dollar would on average be worth . 93 per cent more on day 2 than on day 1. To offset this, and to keep the trade-weighted average rate at the same level as on day 1, would require a depreciation as follows:

By adopting this rate on day 2, the trade-weighted average value is kept constant.

The rate for the Australian dollar against the Yen and the £ sterling would vary as follows:

Day 1-$A1 = Yen 362.5; =£0.8250.

Day 2-$A 1 = Yen 37 1 . 6; = £0.8050.

In essence, fuller calculations of this kind have been done each day since end September 1974. The net result of these calculations and the consequent setting of the value of the $A was to leave constant between 25 September 1974 and 26 November 1976 the trade-weighted exchange rate of the Australian dollar.

On 29 November 1976, in addition to the change in the value of the Australian dollar needed to adjust it to the fluctuations in other currencies, a further downward adjustment of 17.5 per cent was made to give effect to the devaluation.

Arrangements in force from 29 November 1976:

On a day-to-day basis, the $A remains pegged to the existing trade-weighted basket of currencies; this aspect of the exchange rate regime remains unchanged.

The change that was made from 29 November affects the method of shifting the value of the $A in relation to the basket’.

The arrangements previously existing comprised a fixed link (a ‘peg’) to the ‘basket’of currencies. (Average value of $A constant, rates for individual currencies varying day by day.)

In contrast to this system is an arrangement which has been adopted by some other countries known as a ‘float’, in terms of which there is no fixed link either to an individual currency, or to a ‘basket’. (The average value of the currency can vary from day to day, and rates for individual currencies can also vary day by day. )

The arrangements now adopted in Australia retain the principle of the link to the trade-weighted ‘ basket ‘ of currencies, but it is intended that the link will be varied from time to time as necessary, in a flexible way, but without going so far as to ‘float’. Unless a deliberate decision is taken to vary the link to the ‘basket’, the average value of the $A will remain unchanged (but rates for individual currencies will continue to fluctuate daily).

As decisions are taken from time to time to change the value of the $A in relation to the ‘basket’ (as has been done today) a further factor of flexibility will enter the determination of the exchange value of the $A. The degree of variability will however be less than in the case of a ‘floating’ currency.

Extract from statement by Treasurer of 28 November 1976:

The Treasurer said that as well as the initial change in the exchange rate to a new level ($A1 =$US1.0174) which would give effect to the devaluation, a changed pattern of management of the exchange rate would henceforth be adopted.

The changed arrangements would comprise a variable link to a trade-weighted’ basket ‘of currencies.

The Australian dollar had since September 1974 remained pegged in a fixed relationship to the average of a trade-weighted ‘basket’ of currencies.

The pegging of the rate for lengthy periods was now discontinued; the level of the exchange rate in relation to the basket’ of currencies will be kept under review, and the Government would, in effect, be adopting a flexibility administered rate, somewhat along the lines of a managed float.

When the assessment of all relevant economic factors indicated a need for movement in the level of the exchange rate, this would take place by means of more frequent and smaller shifts in the relationship of the Australian dollar to the ‘basket’of currencies.

The Treasurer will be responsible for these arrangements.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank, with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, would comprise the group which keeps the level of the exchange rate under review.

The Treasurer said that the arrangement was an appropriate response to the changing nature of economic conditions abroad and of Australia’s international trading relationships; the arrangement was designed to avoid the building-up for the future of expectations of major shifts at long intervals in the exchange rate.

The changed system would permit the use of the exchange rate, by means of changes upwards or downwards in the rate as appropriate, as a more flexible element amongst the available arms of economic policy. ‘

Reserve Bank of Australia SYDNEY 7 December 1976


– As for the details of the change itself, I should have thought that they would be understood by the honourable gentleman, if he has regard for what was said last Sunday evening. However, I will seek to explain it to him and I will take a little time, having regard for the nature of the question. Hitherto, management of the exchange rate has been directed to maintaining for lengthy periods a fixed relationship between the Australian dollar and the trade weighted basket of currencies. Under this regime the rate for the dollar tended to vary from day to day against individual currencies, including the United States dollar but it took no account of developments in our balance of payments, nor in the domestic economy nor, specifically, of economic factors. Under the new pattern of management of the exchange rate, a trade weighted average rate will continue to be computed daily on the same basis as previously. However, the exchange rate will no longer necessarily be pegged, on a fixed relationship to the basket of currencies. Instead, as the Government has made clear, it will be kept under review and varied, as appropriate, in the overall context of management of the economy with emphasis upon economic factors.

This new pattern of management of the exchange rate will enable more frequent, more timely and smaller adjustments to be made to the rate. It is appropriate to the changing nature of the world economy and to Australia’s international trade relationships. It is designed to avoid a build-up in expectations of major changes at longer intervals in the rate. It will permit the use of the exchange rate, as appropriate, as a more flexible arm of policy and, of course, will require little or no institutional changes. It is a further step in the development of the Australian foreign exchange system. A close watch will, of course, be maintained on the manner in which affairs develop from this point. I should say in explanation to the House that the management committee, which consists of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the Secretary to the Treasury and the permanent head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet met in Sydney on this matter on Monday morning. The Governor of the Reserve Bank reported to me the recommendation of that committee yesterday afternoon and the recommendation put by the committee was adopted by the Government. This led to the statement this morning of the Governor of the Reserve Bank.

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-Has the Minister for Transport been informed of statements made during the Tasmanian election campaign by the Premier of Tasmania to the effect that if his Government is re-elected it will challenge the two airlines agreement in the High Court of Australia? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report in last Saturday’s Australian that a mainland company had contributed large sums of money to the Australian Labor Party in support of the challenge to the two airlines agreement, with the intention of establishing a third national domestic airline? Can the Minister inform this House whether there was any official communication on this important subject between Mr Neilson and himself prior to the opening of the Tasmanian election campaign?

Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

-I must confess at the outset that I am somewhat amazed to learn that the two airlines agreement has become an issue in the Tasmanian election and that it has been made an issue on the initiative of the Tasmanian Premier. In the almost 12 months that I have been Minister for Transport I am not aware that I have received even one communication from the Premier of Tasmania expressing any concern whatsoever with the two airlines agreement or any aspect of it. I will double check after question time to see whether or not he has written any letter, perhaps to the Prime Minister or to myself, but I am almost sure that he has not. I view with very serious concern the fact that in the dying hours of the election campaign, he now wants to make the two airlines agreement an issue, concurrent with the story that money is being made available to the Australian Labor Party in Tasmania to fight the campaign and also apparently to assist a fight against the two airlines agreement at some time after the election.

I will be concerned to know what Mr Neilson ‘s views are about the two airlines agreement. I will be concerned to learn what mainland company is supporting Mr Neilson in this campaign with a view to challenging the two airlines agreement. I will be concerned to learn the real implications of Mr Neilson accepting such money if such money has been available to him. I repeat that as far as I am aware there has been absolutely no communication from Mr Neilson on this matter in the past 12 months. I am staggered that Mr Neilson should fall for the 3-card trick in accepting funds from a mainlander who may well want to challenge the two airlines agreement. The fact is that the two airlines agreement has provided a very stable service to Tasmania over the years. Very few of the complaints I get about airlines into Tasmania rest on the two airlines agreement itself.

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– My question which is directed to the Treasurer refers to the Government’s latest exercise in exchange rate yo-yo. Does the 2 per cent revaluation not mean that the original decision to devalue by 17Vi per cent was excessive? If not, will the Treasurer explain to the House why a revaluation has now become necessary only 9 days after a devaluation? Will the Treasurer also give the House an assurance that the currency will not be further revalued or devalued before the weather changes?


-That is a fairly typical question from the honourable gentleman. I think it does not bode well for the honourable gentleman to be expressing criticism of the Governor of the Reserve Bank in this House. As for the honourable gentleman’s assertion that the 17te per cent devaluation was too much- I think this is the nub of the question which is before the House- I say to him that he completely misconceives the position. The Government changed the rate to meet a substantial situation that had emerged. The matter is in the past, but the facts are clearly a matter of public record and I do not need to repeat them here. We also changed the system so that we could adapt flexibly to future needs instead of having new pressures on the exchange rate building up again. I hope from what has been said both by the Governor and by myself that that is clear.

The group of officials which as I mentioned to the House a few moments ago was appointed to watch the exchange rate position concluded that the turnabout in the situation has been such that within a period of 10 days there should be an initial adjustment of the exchange rate in terms of the new flexible system. That change has been in the direction of an appreciation. To make a change was something we expected and something for which we provided in the initial arrangements. That the situation has so improved that the first change is a small appreciation is I think a development which ought to be welcomed on both sides of the House. The decision announced today is a reflection of the original decision. For the honourable gentleman to ask me to speculate on future movements is as irresponsible as the general context in which the question was framed.

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Mr Gillard proceeding to address a question to the Acting Minister for National Resources-


– Order! The honourable member is giving far too much information. I call upon him to ask his question.

Mr Gillard continuing to address his question to the Acting Minister for National Resources-


– Order! I will give the honourable gentleman one more opportunity to ask his question. He has already given too much information. I call upon him to ask his question.

Mr Gillard continuing to address his question to the Acting Minister for National Resources-


– Order! The honourable gentleman is out of order.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. The Treasurer will recall his recent visit to Europe and the visits of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Investment Review Board to preach the virtues of the investment potential of Australia in an endeavour to attract foreign investment capital. Given that new foreign investment is held off in anticipation of a change in the parity of the Australian dollar, how does the Treasurer now propose to deal with what must result in an absolute torrent of overseas funds into Australia? Does the Treasurer plan to use the variable deposit scheme or other schemes as an inhibitor to massive inflow of funds? If so, how does he reconcile the imposition of such a scheme with the attractive invitations he issued to foreign companies?


– It is true that, during a visit recendy to Western Europe, I emphasised that Australia needed overseas capital and that overseas capital was welcome in this country- unlike the ideologies of the honourable gentleman and his confreres. An important objective of devaluation was to encourage resumption of the inflow of long-term investment capital that will underwrite and support the process of economic recovery. As I have pointed out in a number of previous statements, much of this inflow was delayed, as I think the honourable gentleman inferred, because of uncertainty about the exchange rate. As a result of decisive action on the exchange rate, the Government expects that there will be a welcome pick up in overseas capital coming into Australia. I emphasised that it will be long-term investment capital coming into Australia for purposes which are quite proper and which are welcomed by us.

I have noted some comments about the possibility of a significant inflow of short-term speculative capital. I remind the honourable gentlman and the House that the embargo on funds with a term of 6 months or less must remain in force. Nevertheless, as I have said, the external position will be monitored closely, including developments in capital inflow. The Government has a number of arms of policy which can be brought to bear on that question as soon as action is required. Of course, the Government is concerned to ensure- I think this was the final point raised by the honourable gentleman- that the objectives of monetary policy are not compromised by developments in the external field.

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– I ask the Prime Minister: Does the Government have as one of its major objectives the encouragement and expansion of the manufacturing industries of Australia? Is it a fact that manufacturing industries provide many jobs and also provide jobs for many people other than those actually employed in those industries? Is it a fact that manufacturing industries are struggling desperately with high costs mainly because of the absurd wage levels in Australia compared with the rest of the world? Will one of the side effects of devaluation unfortunately mean increased costs of imported raw materials and plant for some manufacturing industries, thus offsetting many of the incidental extra tariff protections through devaluation?


-Order! I call upon the honourable gentleman to ask his question.


– Will the Government exercise extreme caution in reaching any decision to cut any tariffs? Will any affected industries be given the chance to be heard and to state their case before any decisions are implemented?


– The general policy of the Government Parties, which was announced before the last election, is that there would not be tariff reductions of the kind that were made across the board by the previous Administration, which began the great damage, amongst other policies, to manufacturing industries. That action began the export of tens of thousands of jobs offshore and was a significant contributor to the increasing and much too high unemployment level in this country. We have had a situation in manufacturing industry in which about 100 000 jobs have been lost as a result of reduced competitiveness and moves off shore. In a period in which Australian wage levels rose by 130 per cent, in the United States wage levels rose by 53 per cent and in West Germany they rose by about 70 per cent. The policies remain but across the board moves are not part of the Government’s policy.

It also has been said that if there is room for the Government to move in reducing tariffs in areas that do not take a competitive advantage away from Australian industry then the Government will be able to do that. I would expect my colleague the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs to be able to make a definitive statement on these particular matters later today. I would add that the Government has a great concern for a profitable and efficient manufacturing industry in Australia. Unless there is a profitable and efficient manufacturing industry in Australia we will not get back to what most people in this Parliament would regard as proper and acceptable levels of employment in Australia. I would believe that all those in support of manufacturing industries, and especially those who are representative or claim to be representative of the trade union movement, would support the Government’s moves in that direction.

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-I direct my question to the Treasurer. Does he remember stating on a number of occasions that the level of consumption in the economy was too low for the health of the economy because the savings ratio was too high? Specifically, does he recall stating in statement No. 2 of the Budget that ‘inflation and inflationary expectations . . . caused consumers to save more, and spend less, or current incomes.’? In view of the fact that the devaluation recently announced will lead to some rather fierce increases in the rate of inflation in the country, if his assumptions about household savings ratios being affected by inflation are correct can we expect that the savings ratio will further increase and consumption become even more severely contracted? If this is so what sort of measures has he in mind to offset it in the interests of a healthier economy?


-The growth of 4 per cent that was put down in the Budget estimates was in fact, as I think I made perfectly clear to the House, not a strong growth but it was consistent with the approach towards a sustained recovery. The honourable gentleman should consider the elements which went to make up that 4 per cent. First he would recognise that a good deal of the growth will come in stocks. The sharp stock decline of last year should turn round to stability or even to a modest increase. Apart from that factor, of course, in relation to the 4 per cent of non farm output, the honourable gentleman, not that he mentioned it here, obviously would know the impact of the external situation. I am referring specifically to exports. If he aggregates both of those and then asks me about the question of private demand against the background of 4 per cent, I must say to the honourable gentleman that the increase in final demand on an underlying trend upward month by month may be no more than 0.2 per cent or 0.3 per cent. If the honourable gentleman is simply seeking from me an earnest of where the demand comes from, if he thinks about devaluation and considers the position specifically then obviously the reference to the export sector must leave a compelling impact on him. He conveniently overlooks the application of that.

So far as stocks are concerned, as the Prime Minister has just made very clear to this House, devaluation will provide very real incentives for people to get moving and to invest. Of course, that is behind the flow of development capital to this country. When the honourable gentleman understands the investment procedures he will know that as people invest they will, of course, go out and spend on machinery, plant and equipment. That will flow through the general area of private demand and consumerism. As for the question of the savings ratio, which has been falling, as the honourable gentleman would understand, as the profit ratio has been increasing, this reflects again the Government’s success. In summary, I am saying to the honourable gentleman that devaluation will be helpful because of the encouragement that it will provide to a number of basic industries.

Mr Hayden:

- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. In view of the fact that the answer bore no relation to the question, can I provide an answer for the Treasurer?


-There is no substance in the point of order.

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Mr Donald Cameron:

– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen reports that some State governments are contemplating banning a Christian religious group called the Children of God? Does the Minister agree that an incredibly dangerous precedent is set when a government commences passing judgments on any religious group, Christian or non-Christian? Will the Minister assure the House that this type of legislation will not be introduced in the Commonwealth Territories? Will the Minister advise the House whether it is constitutional for State governments to move against religious groups?


-Before I call upon the AttorneyGeneral to answer, it seems to me that there are questions of fact to be answered and that there is also an invitation to announce policy. It is a matter for the Attorney-General whether he will respond to the policy part of the question.


-I think I have previously referred to this matter in the House. I indicated that I would take the matter to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. I think I have since indicated that the Committee was not of a mind to take up the matter. A further matter that I have indicated is that the question will be kept under review by me to see whether any protection can be given to young people particularly who are taken by advantage in relation to this sort of activity. I have already indicated that a delicate question is involved as to the religious freedom that to some extent is enshrined in our Constitution. Therefore, any government would have to be very careful, when introducing legislation in this area, to ensure that religious freedom was not tampered with. To that extent I must agree with the honourable member that any government that is thinking of moving in this area needs to be very cautious. On the other hand, one cannot overlook the fact that many parents in this country are continuously concerned about their young. I simply regard it as a matter that we, as administrators and legislators, ought to keep under review. At the moment there is no intention on my part to recommend any specific provisions to amend the law in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory in this regard.

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-I direct a question to the Treasurer. Will the splitting of Treasury automatically lead to a more efficient handling of the economy, or is the decision to split Treasury just a move to get square with Treasury for the Cabinet leak regarding the Prime Minister’s attitude to devaluation, as reported by Kenneth Davidson in the Melbourne Age of 10 November?


– Frankly, the question is beneath contempt. I regret that the honourable gentleman has sought to raise what has been a basic decision by government on a very important area of substance and has sought to align that with what he referred to as an alleged leak. The fact is simply this: Administrative structures are not sacred. They must be responsive to the needs and objectives of one’s particular operation. This matter came before the Prime Minister and me when the first Ministry was announced. We decided at that stage to do nothing about it. I might say to the honourable gentleman that he and his colleagues at dmes waxed eloquent about the need to change the structures of Treasury, but in their usual bungling manner they did nothing about it. This Government talked about the need to change the structure of the Federal Treasury and we acted- and we acted decisively. I have every confidence that that change will work well and will meet the objectives of government.

In the first place the creation of a new Department of Finance will enable more concentrated and specialised attention to the financial management area of government. I think particularly of expenditure control and review procedures, and associated activities including forward estimating and program analysis. Secondly, the removal of these expenditure control functions from Treasury will relieve pressures from that direction on senior officers in Treasury and enable concentration on matters of economic and financial policies that in fact will remain with them. Thirdly, as I think both the Prime Minister and myself have emphasised in recent days, the creation of a new department and its concentration on the expenditure control and related functions will broaden and strengthen the channels of advice on economic issues available to the Government. The decision was taken by the Government after a full examination of appropriate options available here and abroad. It is in some ways a reflection of the Canadian system, but it is not a Chinese copy of it. I believe that the system will work well.

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– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. How many secret ballots for union elections have been conducted under the Government’s new secret ballot legislation? How many of these ballots have been conducted free of charge by the Commonwealth Electoral Office? Does the Prime Minister consider that this legislation will lead to a reduction in industrial disruptions by minority controlled unions?


– I have given some information to the House concerning this matter. On 23 September this year I indicated that in 1974 about 20 elections were conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Office under the then legislation for union elections but that by the same time this year 39 elections had already been held and 77 were in hand, making a total of 1 16. At the end of November 1 12 elections had been completed under the new legislation conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Office and 49 were on hand, making a total of 161 elections.

These figures show plainly that a very large number of trade unions are opting to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Government’s legislation to have their elections conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Office, in which case they are paid for by the Commonwealth. I believe that over time the legislation will come to have an impact on the management of trade union affairs. I think it is worth noting that a number of people have asked whether we can make arrangements to ensure that a forewarning is given of when union elections are to be held. The people who have made that request have been wanting to fight the militant extreme left groups in the trade union movement who I believe do not represent the great bulk of their constituents. Regulations are being drafted so that there will be a requirement on trade unions to place on notification with the Industrial Registrar when their elections are due.

It ought also to be noted that this legislation does not apply to trade unions only. It is legislation that applies also to all organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In that case the legislation does not involve trade unions only but it involves also employer organisations. It is quite plain that a very large number of trade unions are using this legislation and the opportunities provided by it and are liking it. It is also plain from the objections that are coming from the other side of the House in respect of this particular matter that members of the Opposition wish to deny trade unionists the opportunity for secret postal ballots in which they can vote without fear or favour without any possibility of bullying by a few union officials.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question. Is it a fact that when the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission for the first time sought to purchase a property- it was at Archer River in Cape York Peninsulaand the consent of the Queensland Lands Minister was sought, the application was referred to the Queensland Cabinet and, after 5 months delay, was refused? Is it also a fact that when the vendor asked the Queensland Minister why he had refused his consent he was told that he should talk to Comalco Ltd which might have to acquire land like this which was close to Weipa? I ask: Does the Government support the action of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission in purchasing properties for the benefit of Aboriginals? If so, has the Minister protested to the Queensland Government about this frustration of its policy? I also ask the Minister whether a decision has yet been made on the report of the working party of last July on the problems of Aboriginal unemployment, including the impact of unemployment benefit payments on Aboriginal communities.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

-It is a fact that the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission sought to purchase a property at Archer River. That property is governed by the laws of Queensland and the consent of the Queensland Minister for Lands, Forestry, National Parks and Wildlife Service is required in order to allow the transfer of title. When the application for transfer was lodged it was rejected. The Land Fund Commission, I believe, has had correspondence with the Minister concerned. I also have written to the Minister inquiring the reason why the application for transfer of title was refused. I have not yet received an answer but I assure the honourable gentleman that I will be following this matter up because I regard it as of considerable importance not only to the operations of the Land Fund Commission but also to the Aboriginals on whose behalf the property was to be purchased. As to the other matter referred to by the honourable gentleman, that is, the working party on employment amongst Aboriginals, I have before me at the present time a draft proposal with regard to the conversion of unemployment benefits within communities into work project payments, if I can summarise it in that way. I also have before me a draft proposal prepared by the Department of my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations on the general question of Aboriginal employment throughout Australia.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to an article appearing in today’s Press stating that a large tonnage of beef had been sold to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Does this sale indicate a change in the demand for beef and mutton? Can beef producers of Australia expect an improved demand for their cattle in the year 1977?

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

– The announcement this morning that another sale to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had been contracted is a very worthwhile and much needed boost to the beef industry. It is not only a question of quantity although it is true that since July Russia has emerged throughout the world as a major meat buyer. She has purchased some 54 500 tonnes of beef and 14 000 tonnes of mutton from Australia alone. In addition, I understand that she has purchased a fairly significant quantity of mutton from New Zealand and has been making some inquiries of Argentina. So, there has been quite a broad spread of demand instituted into a market which had been very flat. This gives some promise of the recovery which the honourable gentleman foreshadowed.

I turn to the other significant factor in this matter. I think only the expected gross returns from the sale have been announced publicly. It does seem that this sale has certainly provided for Australian producers some of the expected return from devaluation which, in the beef industry, it had been anticipated might not have been passed on to producers to the degree to which they and the Government would have liked.

If it is true, as the newspaper reports and the published statements of the private exporter who has negotiated this sale suggest, the price payable in this particular order will give promise not only of improved returns to Russia, which is significantly an opportunity purchaser, but also similarly to the United States of America and to Japan. At the moment a negotiation is going on with the United States Administration, presided over by the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, which is most important in relation to the opportunity for access of Australian beef during 1977. If there is, as would seem, a greater demand from these occasional opportunity purchasers, the prospects for the whole of the beef industry during 1977 would seem to be significantly brighter than they were. Coming at a time when the beef industry’s prospects had been so flat, this is a very worthwhile symptom of some generally improved conditions which may prevail throughout 1977.

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– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I ask: Will the housing and consumer durable industries be affected by the Reserve Bank’s attempts to isolate the export sector from interest rate increases? What effects will this have on employment in these industries? What effect will the necessary interest rate rises in these sectors have on the consumer price index and subsequent wage pressures?


– I believe that devaluation will have a beneficial impact on the industries concerned. As I have made perfectly clear before, the results of devaluation will be mixed in a series of industries but overall I believe it will have a beneficial impact. I remind the honourable member of what my colleague the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development said recently. The honourable gentleman should be the first to be aware that recently there has been a very strong flow of finance into the housing industry. I will not take the time of the House to go through all the indicators, but if the honourable gentleman speaks to the authorities he will find that that strong flow of finance into the housing industry has in some areas been leading to an unsustainable position because of the pressure which it has been placing upon prices, and upon land prices in particular. I assure the honourable gentleman and the House that the decision to devalue and the monetary measures that the Government has taken will not interfere with an adequate flow of finance into the housing industry. We have made that perfectly clear. As I have said, the rates on official securities have been established. The rates on the savings bond have been established. As the honourable gentleman knows, it is a marginal movement from 9.8 per cent to 10 per cent. In some quarters the Government has been criticised because, in the view of some people, that movement is insufficient. I say to the honourable gentleman in relation to the savings bond and the bond market generally -

Mr Uren:

– But you know that it will go higher.


– The honourable gentleman is behaving in his usual irresponsible way. I was saying that that movement has ended. I made it clear in the House yesterday that no movement in bank administered interest rates is in contemplation.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I ask: When Her Majesty the Queen decides who shall be her representative as Governor of an Australian State is she acting in her capacity as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or in her capacity as Queen of Australia? Does the Statute of

Westminster affect this position? When she is acting as Queen of Australia, are her appropriate advisers the Australian Government or the British Government?


-As I understand the position, the States traditionally have communicated with the Palace through the British Government;, that has been their decision and that hitherto has been their wish. It would be the view of this Government that the appropriate means of communication with the Palace is the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. If the State governments wish to seek changes in their arrangements which would enable them to converse with the Palace through the Commonwealth Government I shall be only too delighted to assist those State governments.


-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat for a moment. The honourable member for Oxley has continued to interject throughout question time. I ask him to cease doing so.


– In case the last part of my answer was missed, I repeat that if the State governments wish to change the present arrangements whereby they approach the Palace through the British Government, and wish to use the Australian Government as the means of communication with the Palace, this Government will be only too delighted to assist the State governments.

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-I address my question to the Treasurer and direct his attention to the statement that was made last weekend by the Minister for Primary Industry to meat producers at Rockhampton assuring them that they would be suitably cushioned against the inevitable increases in interest rates flowing from recent devaluation decisions. Has similar action been taken through the Reserve Bank or has an indication been given that similar protection will be given to the mining sector and to the manufacturing sector of the economy. If so, on what justification has this been done? Can the home builders, the home purchasers, the consumers and the ordinary retailers- the ordinary businessmen- be assured of similar protection? Will the Treasurer also give us the benefit of knowing the arrangements, if any, that have been made to cushion exporters and importers against the vacillations that will occur from time to time in the exchange rates?


– The honourable gentleman is a little slow in catching up with these matters. I think that if I refer him to yesterday’s Hansard he will be suitably encouraged with the statement that he finds there, which indicates that at the present time there is no increase in bank administered rates. No increase is contemplated. So I do not find myself in a position where I want to respond to the hypothesis or the ramblings of the honourable gentleman. There are no secret deals. I saw a reference to that in the Press this morning, but I repeat again that the interest rate changes have taken place, the bank has acted in the market place in conjunction with me, and no bank administered rate changes are contemplated.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present a report by the Priorities Review Staff- as it was- on the Borrie report. The Priorities Review Staff was asked by the previous Prime Minister to examine the assumptions and implications of the first report of the National Population Inquiry- the Borrie report. The views formed by the Priorities Review Staff are set out in this report. I emphasise that they are the views of the Priorities Review Staff.

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Minister for Defence · Moreton · LP

– Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903 1 present the annual report on the Royal Military College of Australia covering the period from 1 February 1975 to 31 January 1976.

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Minister for Transport · Gippsland · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the accident investigation report of the Department of Transport Air Safety Investigation Branch relating to the incident near Cairns Airport, Queensland, on 23 October 1975 involving a Hawker Siddeley Heron aircraft registered VH-CLS. Due to the limited number available reference copies of this report have been placed in the Bills and Papers Office of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Library.

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-Mr Speaker, I ask leave of the House to present the report of the Australian Branch Delegation to the Twentysecond Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Mauritius during September 1976 and to make a statement in connection with that report.


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


– I now present the report of the Twenty-second Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Mauritius in September last. The Conference was attended by delegates, secretaries and official branch observers from 86 branches, representing some 9000 parliamentarians, and by observers from associated organisations, including the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Australia was represented by 6 delegates from the Commonwealth Branch and one delegate from each of the States and the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth delegates were Senator D. B. Scott, the leader of the delegation and myself as deputy leader; Senator J. I. Melzer; Mr K. L. Fry, MP; Mr S. E. Calder, MP, and Mr M. H. Bungey, MP. Senator G. S. Davidson, the Australasian regional councillor, also attended and Mr D. M. Blake, V.R.D., the First Clerk-Assistant of the House of Representatives, was the secretary. The Conference was opened by His Excellency, the Acting Governor-General of Mauritius in an impressive ceremony in the Mahatma Ghandi Institute. The Conference was conducted in both plenary session debates and in panel discussions. All members of the delegation took part in both sessions, as indicated in the report. The 14 items of the Conference agenda were under 4 main headings: International Affairs, Economic Problems, Social Problems and Parliamentary Institutions. The first heading concentrated mainly upon developments in the Indian Ocean and in southern Africa. Although these were burning issues to a large number of delegates, particularly those from the littoral states, they were debated in a spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding usually associated with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The positions of most countries in the area are fairly well known to members of this Parliament and they were firmly held.

There was a good deal of common ground in the discussion of economic problems and I commend this debate to members of the House, particularly in respect of the stabilisation of commodity prices and the disposal of surplus food stocks; alternative methods of providing professional and technical educational aid and joint ventures and transfers of technology in respect of co-operation in industrial development. Discussions on social problems concentrated on the protection of the environment, the control or elimination of pollution and the need for international co-operation in these matters; the growth in population, unemployment and urban poverty and a pressing need in some of the less developed countries to arrest or even reverse the drift to the cities. In the last respect it amounted to a plea for decentralisation and the provision of better amenities to raise the quality of life in rural areas. There was a general awareness that the parliamentary institution is under some threat from socio-economic pressure groups and from socio-political extremists; from a too centralised bureaucracy; from a too rigid party system and from too much inconsequential legislation. It was recognised that the main aim, for want of a better term, was for economic democracy and it was agreed that this must be advanced but that in the process the freedoms of democracy should never be sacrificed.

The verbatim report of the discussions will be issued by the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The summary report of the discussions is included in our report. Copies of the report have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and are available from the Bills and Papers Office. In conclusion, I should like to acknowledge the debt of the delegation to the secretariat of the host branch, led by Mr Guy d’Espaignet, the Clerk of the Parliament in Mauritius; to the General Council secretariat, who organised the Conference; to the Legislative Research Service of the Parliamentary Library, which provided the delegation with an excellent background brief; to the secretary to the delegation, Mr D. M. Blake, V.R.D., for being such a good secretary; to the Foreign Minister, who made available His Excellency Mr Truelove, who is based in Dar-es-Salaam and who was a superb host of the delegation. We saw him much of the time in Mauritius. In briefing the delegation, he advised us what was happening in that part of the world, in accordance with his responsibilities to the Department of Foreign Affairs and to the Government of Australia. I should also like to pay tribute to the Government for its generosity in providing funds to enable members of the delegation to extend their travel in order to gain the maximum value for their trip abroad, as a result of which I was able to purchase this Mauritian suit.

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Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

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-Assent to the following Bills reported:

States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill (No. 2) 1976. Appropriation ( Urban Public Transport) Bill 1 976. Income Tax Laws Amendment (Royalties) Bill 1976. Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1976.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


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

The ad hoc economic policies of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.

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

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


-The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) have destroyed any credibility they may have had as economic managers. For an inadequate, naive and simplistic policy obsessively concerned with just one economic aim, a policy which led to massive and disastrous devaluation, they have now substituted virtually no policy at all; or are we to revalue back to 17 1/2 per cent in dribs and drabs at 2 per cent a time? Is this what will happen in the name of a viable policy? I might add that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer also treat this Parliament with utter disdain. Today is no exception. I mentioned in a speech that I made last week on the economy that they do not come into this Parliament and defend their measures. Neither of them are here to defend the grave claims made against them in this debate on a matter of public importance. Instead we have the most junior member of the Ministry and a back bencher, neither of whom were involved in any way in the decision making. They may be able to articulate better than the Prime Minister and the Treasurer about what has occurred but they are not responsible for it.

I take this opportunity to state again that for 10 months now, as Shadow Treasurer, I have been seeking to debate economic policy with the Treasurer in the media- on television and radio- but on no occasion has he fronted. Instead, we get people like the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) or today, the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee). Let me outline some of the inconsistencies, some of the reasons why this Government now has no credibility and some of the examples of how it has left chaos and uncertainty in the country in failing to specify clear and consistent economic policies. I quote first from the Budget Speech of the Treasurer which reads:

We have made our first priority the absolute necessity to combat inflation.

This was the constant refrain of all Government economic spokesmen until 10 days ago.

Mr Shipton:

– That is right.


-How can any honourable member say that it is right now when the Government has completely thrown out that policy. The Prime Minister said on 15 November: - ‘We intend to be unrelenting in our anti-inflation policy’. He also said on that day: ‘Getting back to a fully satisfactory basis of economic policy won’t be possible until inflation is beaten’. Mr Lynch said in his Budget Speech that reducing the rate of inflation was the central aim of the Government. Let me quote him further:

Not merely because of the direct hardships that inflation obviously brings, because unless we can break inflation we shall not succeed in restoring full employment.

The obsessive pursuit of this single aim was used by the Government as justification for imposing enormous costs on the community. A universal and simple health insurance scheme was destroyed. Spending on housing and on decentralising urban services was slashed. A deliberate policy of retarding economic recovery was pursued. By reducing real government outlays- in other words government spending in real terms has been reduced, a policy unique to Australia amongst member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmentunemployment was increased and maintained at historically high levels, alienating and demeaning scores of thousands of youths entering the workforce for the first time and humiliating tens of thousands of established wage earners. Investment was discouraged and structural distortions introduced to the economy which will take years to correct. All this was done in the name of reducing the rate of inflation. Even before the devaluation the anti-inflation policy was not consistently pursued.

The Medibank levy will add in the order of 2 per cent to the annual rate of growth of prices. The effectiveness of the Prices Justification Tribunal is being severely curtailed by changes to its legislation. Indirect tax cuts which could have reduced another couple of per cent from the rate of growth of prices were not introduced. On 28 November, after constant categoric and even contemptuous denials, the Government devalued by the largest amount in living memory, or should we say that the Prime Minister devalued. Not a single person has denied that this devaluation will contribute substantially to inflation. The inane comments of the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton) and the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield), who are seeking to interject, will not change that one iota. Devaluation will add markedly to inflation and there is no responsible commentator who would gainsay that. Published estimates of the addition to the rate of growth of prices vary from 2 per cent or 3 per cent a year to 10 per cent a year. A conservative estimate cannot realistically be less than 3 per cent or 4 per cent a year.

Mr Bradfield:

-That is quite right.


– I am glad that the honourable member for Barton says that this is quite right. Of course this will add to inflation. Honourable members should compare this with the extraordinary pressure from the Government for the introduction of plateau wage indexation, which at the most will contribute only 0.8 per cent to a lowering in rate of growth of prices.

For short term sectional reasons the Prime Minister and the Treasurer by devaluation have made a decision which more completely undermines their previous aims than could any other possible policy. They have fuelled inflationary expectations- the principal driving force behind price growth- and by refusing to examine the implications of their decision or to set alternative policies for controlling inflation they have set no limits to the growth of inflationary expectations. The Government says that it will control inflationary effects of devaluation by preventing price increases flowing on to wage earners through indexation. This claim is not credible. The Liberal and National Country Parties rejected powers over wages and incomes by opposing the referendum 2 years ago. There would be massive community opposition to the abolition of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Yet there are still hints that this is to be done. Despite the utterly reasonable and understandable policies of the trade union movement the Government continues to set the stage for vicious confrontation. The Government does not have the will or the goodwill to come to reasonable terms with the wage and salary earners of our country. I understand that further announcements coming from the party meetings of today will do nothing more than exacerbate the relationships with the trade union movement. Some selective tariff cuts could dampen the inflationary effects of devaluation. But the Government is vacillating. The devaluation has resulted in about an 80 per cent increase in the average rate of protection. Yet immediately after the announcement the Prime Minister declared that there would be no reductions in the tariffs to offset the inflationary effects.

More recently the Treasurer and other Ministers have said that the possibility of tariff cuts is under consideration. The principal point is that this issue was not thought through when devaluation was being discussed by Cabinet. The devaluation decision was not part of an integrated package of economic policies. The massive devaluation was a reversal of policies without the effects on the other arms of economic policy being thoroughly explored as they should have been by good economic managers of this country. The same is true of monetary policy. The Treasurer said that devaluation was forced on the Government by a host of other enemies of the State yet, he says, the benefits of devaluation will be enormous. He quotes the possibility of an inflow of investment funds of up to $7 billion. If even a small portion of that amount of capital flowed into Australia, how could the Government cope with the increase in the money supply without stringent restrictions on the availability of credit and a sharp increase in interest rates? We have already seen some of these increases in interest rates. Does anybody believe that we have seen the end to increases in interest rates if anything like the $7 billion of funds comes into this country? Of course they do not.

What about the multiplier effect of this massive flow into the banking system? In a question I asked today I showed that the multiplier effect could be five-fold. Of course something has to be done with regard to variable deposit ratios, statutory reserve deposits, or a combination of the two. What do we have? We have no policy at all. We have a vacuum. All we have is dribs and drabs of upvaluation of currency- this time 2 per cent. The Government’s attitude looks more like a denial of the logic of what is happening than a realistic appraisal of the consequences of devaluation and of ways of coping with those consequences. It is rhetoric rather than rigorous analysis.

In the Budget the Government described a rough monetary target for a growth of 10 per cent to 12 per cent in the volume of money over the course of 1976-77. Although such targets can never be more than tentative, the Treasurer has continued to state that this remains his target for the money supply. This target is now clearly impossible, given the acceleration and the rate of inflation which inevitably follows devaluation. Even his chosen advisers like Professor Hogan and Professor Snape say it is impossible, if I read correctly the article by Tony Thomas in the Age of today. Yet no alternative indication of the expected rate of growth of M3 has been forthcoming, and this has left all branches of the capital market in a state of severe uncertainty about the constraints that will be placed on the rate of growth of money supply and therefore on the monetary conditions in which they will be working during the rest of the financial year.

Money market operators are bitter. They had trusted the Government in its statements of its strong intention to reduce inflation and had designed their policies accordingly. Now they have been betrayed. With their resentment goes the hope of proper management of Government loans and of proper and adequate funding of the money supply in this country. All Government theories about recovery have been abandoned. The year began with the assertion that investment was the key to economic recovery, but when it became clear that businessmen were rational profit maximisers who would respond to the level of effective demand the Government switched to looking for a consumer led recovery. In the absence of any sign of improvement in retail sales- in the most recent months there is an absolute decline in retail sales- the Government appears to have switched to looking for recovery led by foreign investment and exports. This is an inadequate approach also. Enormous concessions to foreign investors lead to continuing growth in the proportion of the mining industry, in particular, which is owned outside Australia. Unnecessarily generous concessions are being offered to mining companies. On the other hand, the Government is turning to the hope of an export led recovery at a time when economic growth in the rest of the world is faltering. In fact, the rate of growth overseas is slowing down sharply and is causing grave concern in the financial and industrial centres of the world. On Friday, the Prime Minister said that devaluation would permit manufacturers to increase production so enabling them to contain costs. He said: ‘They have a great responsibility to do so’.

This is utterly naive. It is the Government’s responsibility to create the conditions which make it possible for manufacturers to contain costs.

To top it all off, we had today’s announcement of a 2 per cent revaluation. If ever there was a confirmation of the blunder of the devaluation announced a week last Sunday, this is it. Let no one be misled into believing that this is a reasonable result of the managed float. It is nothing of the sort. Such a 2 per cent change so soon is extraordinary. It will create more uncertainty in financial circles in Australia. It has brought enormous windfall profits to speculators. It is no substitute for other necessary monetary and fiscal measures, as I have already indicated. The only ray of hope on the horizon is that there appears to be now a de facto recognition by the Government of what the Opposition has been saying all along- that is, that the Government must attack inflation and unemployment together rather than simply concentrate on inflation. Both aims are important and both can be tackled together. However, by its devaluation decision, the Government has made such an attack even more difficult because inflation has been exacerbated and the effects on employment are likely to be small. There will not be any great increase in employment in Australia.

Australia desperately needs rigorous and enlightened economic management, free from doctrinaire obsessions, with reductions in the public sector outlays and attacks on trade unions. The intention of this debate is to draw attention to this lack of leadership. For the sake of Australia, I hope that the Government, with its advisers, can quickly work out a comprehensive and detailed set of economic policies so that all sections of the Australian community can plan effectively. Indeed, planning for such a recovery is desperately needed. I do not believe that this can now happen under this Prime Minister and this Treasurer. The disarray on the Government back benches in the last week leads me to the conclusion that Government members are demoralised and bewildered, and understandably so. There is only one thing that Government supporters can do for Australia. Presumably, for their own skins, they will not want an election so they must put a stop to the ad hockery and to the inconsistency. They must speak out for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Australians. They must act for the millions whose living standards have been cut in the past year. They must get rid of these men- the Prime Minister and the Treasurer- who have led us into this mess.

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

Minister for Productivity · Balaclava · LP

– It will disappoint the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) to know that members of the Government backbench are not in disarray and their morale is not destroyed. In fact they have been exercising a most commendable independence of mind in expressing constructive nuances on the economic strategy of the Government. This is a healthy attitude. It is to be encouraged. It is always encouraged by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). These constructive comments have been in marked contrast to the number of negative comments which have come not only from the Opposition in this chamber but also from certain people in public positions. The important point is to examine the serious economic situation which still confronts Australia and to try to examine the strategy which has been adopted consistently by the Government. I refute any suggestion as made by the honourable member for Adelaide, that the Government is embarking upon a course of confrontation with the trade union movement. This is not so. There is no solution for anyone in confrontation.

I refute also the allegation that the control of inflation is no longer the main task facing the Government and that the Government has departed from its strategy of curbing inflation. Inflation has been reduced. Employment opportunities will increase and the level of unemployment will decrease. The important point is that the Budget strategy, which was announced in August, is consistent with the economic policy adopted by the Government from the beginning of the year and is still the thrust of the Government ‘s economic strategy. The only departure from that strategy is in relation to devaluation. I shall come to that in a moment. The honourable member for Adelaide remarked on the absence of the Treasurer in the House during this debate. I shall refer substantially to remarks made by the Treasurer so that his absence will not be felt in terms of substantial discussion.

I direct the attention of honourable members to the Budget strategy which was the core of the Government’s policy and still is the core of the Government’s policy. I should like to refer to my own summation of that strategy on 7 September this year at page 763 of Hansard. I stated: the Budget strategy has S basic principles. These may be stated as being; making the reduction in the rate of inflation the essential aim of government policy for the time being; restraining government spending in order to allow the private sector to expand and create jobs in the medium term; restricting government taxation revenue in order to encourage further wage restraint and improve both business profitability and confidence, reducing the size of the deficit in order to moderate increases in the money supply; and continuing to implement selective social programs based on recommendations of the Henderson report on poverty and on a philosophy of assisting the most disadvantaged and assisting others to help themselves more effectively.

That, in a nutshell, is the economic policy of the Government which has not been departed from in any way. There is no way that it can be said that we have adopted ad hoc economic measures. Those 5 basic principles have been adhered to by the Government. It is still our concern to have as our first target the control of inflation. What has occurred has been an un-sought devaluation- a devaluation which has positive impacts that have been ignored. Most attention has been focused on the inevitable unfortunate impact which comes from any across the board measure. I turn to the Treasurer’s own statement of 28 November in which he announced the decision to devalue. The statement reads:

The changed system would permit the use of the exchange rate, by means of changes upwards or downwards in the rate as appropriate, as a more flexible element amongst the available arms of economic policy.

The Government has been forced to devalue, Mr Lynch said, because of the deterioration that had occurred over recent years in Australia’s underlying external situation, as a result of the higher increase in wage costs than in our major trading partners and the continuing loss of reserves.

The Treasurer went on in that statement to explain that the Government, although it knew that the exchange rate was overvalued compared with other currencies, nonetheless sought to obtain the necessary discipline within the Australian community in order to reduce inflation and to create more job opportunities. When this action became inevitable, for reasons set out clearly in that statement by the Treasurer, the Government could adopt no course other than to devalue. I repeat: That course does not depart from the S principles contained in the Budget strategy and the earlier statement of economic policy which has governed the policies of this Government. Page 4 of the Press release issued by the Treasurer on 28 November states:

This decline in reserves had continued despite the additional monetary measures announced on 7 November and had left official reserves at 26 November at around $2, 100m, sufficient to cover less than three months’ imports.

It is worth interposing that when Labor came to office reserves stood at a record level of $4.6 billion. The Treasurer went on to say:

Added to that the Government faced the prospect of an even greater rate of outflow around the end of December/early January period.

The Treasurer in that extract of 28 November stated further

There would also be a close monitoring of the volume of lending by the various financial institutions to ensure that the growth in lending came back from recent excessive and unsustainable levels to a pace consistent with the sound development of the economy.

I quoted that to refute the suggestion that the policies are ad hoc and that for some reason there is a vacuum of policies. It is perfectly clear to anyone who really wishes to look at the matter objectively that all arms of policy to which the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have referred over recent days are being monitored constantly so that steps can be taken to control any aspect of policy which appears to be putting further pressure on inflation. The various terms of pessimism which have been mentioned by other speakers only talk down the economy and do not improve it.

Seeing that reference has been made to the fact that the Treasurer is not here I want to again quote something which needs to be repeated. I quote from a statement made by the Treasurer in this House on 30 November in which he said:

Suggestions that the Government’s economic strategy has failed are without foundation; what has not been possible is the continuation of efforts to hold the exchange rate. It has not been possible because of the obvious limitations in the extent to which reliance can be placed on any single instrument of economic policy. Let me repeat: Assertions that the Government’s economic strategy has not worked neglect the achievements that are the result of that strategy. The rate of inflation has moderated in each quarter since the S.6 per cent increase in prices recorded in the December quarter of last year. Prices increased 3 per cent in the March quarter, 2.S per cent in the June quarter and 2.2 per cent in the September quarter. Figures published recently shows that Australia’s rate of inflation is now broadly in line with the OECD average. Industrial production has firmed since July. Activity in the housing sector remains buoyant. Registrations of new passenger vehicles have recovered to more normal levels, following the sharp decline in July and August due to the introduction of more stringent emission control standards. The weakening in the labour market has been largely arrested over the course of the September quarter.

I think that statement is a matter of which the House should again take note. It shows the consistent nature of Government policy and the achievements of that policy, bearing in mind the constant stress by the Prime Minister that it is a long haul and that a slow recovery is what the Government is aiming for. It will be a slow sure recovery; it will not be a yo-yo such as the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) implied at question time today.

I quote another extract from the Treasurer’s speech on 30 November. He said:

The fact is that, faced with the rundown in reserves, there were only 2 alternatives; the options put to the Government by its advisers were devaluation or borrowing on official account, of the order of $1 billion, to shore up the reserves position. In these circumstances the Government could have allowed the situation to drift on and attempted to arrange further borrowings overseas to finance what would inevitably have been further outflows of private capital. The announcement of large additional borrowings, m a situation where our underlying external situation remained out of line with our competitors, would have had perverse effects, leading to an escalating increase in the rate of loss of reserves. Such a loss, together with any additional borrowings the Government had been able to undertake would have involved enormous costs to the authorities in the event that we were forced to make an exchange adjustment

I want to quote one more extract from that speech but in the course of doing so let me remind the House that we would have had to borrow at least another $1 billion from international sources and this, in the estimate of the Treasurer, would only have bridged the situation temporarily. It would not have averted speculation, it would not have averted capital outflow, it would not have preserved jobs and it would have led to an eventual decision about devaluation. It was with reluctance but with wisdom that the Government took its decision to devalue. Towards the end of that speech on 30 November in this House the Treasurer said:

The devaluation will restore the long run growth prospects for this sector -

That is the mining sector- and increase annual export returns significantly- perhaps by approaching half a billion dollars. The devaluation wilalso go a long way towards offsetting the effect of excessive wage increases on costs of manufacturing and service industries such as tourism, enhancing their competitive ability. The removal of uncertainty about the exchange rate will restore investor confidence.

What Australia requires most of all is investment. Our scarcest commodity is capital. We have seen, even in 1973 and 1974 when we had record increases in wages, further squirreling and further saving by wage earners. People who talk of a consumer led recovery have not found the means whereby we can unlock people’s savings. We recognise that we need investment in Australia. We have a situation where because of speculation about our over valued dollar money was not coming into Australia- on the contrary money was going out of Australia- and investment was not taking place in manufacturing industry, the industry which provides employment and in which the greatest unemployment has occurred. Export potential unquestionably will be increased as a result of the devaluation decision and will lead to further investment and more jobs.

Much has been said about the trade unions. It is fair to say that the rank and file of the trade unions have recognised that if those who are currently in employment can minimise their wage demands then those who are unemployed will have a greater chance of gaining a job. Real wage increases in fact can really come only when we have a substantial increase in productivity. We do not seek to improve productivity merely by improvements in technology alone, nor by managerial decisions alone. Nor do we seek to improve it by decisions of the rank and file regarding their systems of work and their contributions. We seek to do it by mutual cooperation, a recognition that there is mutual self interest in improving our efficiency and reducing our costs of production- that is improving our productivity.

It has been the decision of the Government to look at the long term productivity prospects in parallel with the economic strategy begun from the day the Government came into office. That is a strategy aimed at a medium term recovery. No one suggested it was to be a short term panacea, a short term recovery. That economic strategy has continued unabated. There is nothing ad hoc about it as suggested by this discussion. The estimates of an inflationary impact concerning devaluation cannot be quantified. One has to ask the Opposition whether it seriously looks at the alternative to devaluation. If it seriously looks at that it would realise that the economic situation of Australia would be infinitely worse over the next few months than it will be as a result of the decision to devalue.

I can only stress again that the Government is constantly monitoring all the arms of policy and will adjust them according to need. The problem of this across-the-board measure was very much the result of a series of across-the-board measures taken by the Labor Government- upward valuations, across-the-board expenditure, inflation which had an across-the-board effect and tariff cuts which were of an across-the-board nature. We have reduced speculation, reduced capital outflow, increased capital inflow, increased investment prospects and industries have ceased going offshore. We have increased the employment position as a result. We can compete with imports, we can have higher exports. We can gradually get ourselves back to the standard of living which all Australians seek if they have the patience and the restraint to live with the Government’s strategies.


-The matter of public importance the Opposition raises today concerns ‘the ad hoc economic policies of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.’ Frankly, the Opposition resents the presence of the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) and the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards) to defend the actions of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). Two shadow Ministers concerned with economics raise a matter in the House- an attack upon the Prime Minister and the Treasurer- yet we get a junior Minister, one who has been in the Cabinet for 4 weeks, in here to defend the Government on 2 consecutive days while the Prime Minister and the Treasurer hide in their offices downstairs. It is not good enough. It is not good enough particularly for a government which has absolutely distinguished itself by a total lack of consistency in economic policy.

We raise the question of ad hockery because that is the very essence of this Government’s present policy. When it came to power it smashed the Labor Government’s Budget. It rejected the concept of a consumer led recovery. Now we are in this position: We have no consumer led recovery and savings banks deposits are climbing. We have no investment led recovery and investment in Australian manufacturing industry is dropping all the time, as the Minister for Productivity well knows. The investment allowance has had no effect whatsoever and now the anti-inflation policy has failed.

Just a day or so ago I asked the Treasurer in this House a question about import prices affecting domestic prices and he had to admit that there would be an increase in domestic prices. In other words, there will be an increase in inflation. So the Government has nothing running for it in terms of a coherent economic policy. Yet when we raise this matter in the House we get the Minister for Productivity and the honourable member for Berowra here to defend the Government. I say that is not good enough from a Government which is very much under attack and under a cloud in this country. Look at the kind of headlines it is getting. The editorial in today’s Australian Financial Review is headed ‘Down Mexico Way’. That is the way the Press regards the manner in which this Government is governing Australia. Let me quote the last 2 sentences:

Mr Fraser stated in the 1975 election that it could take a full 3 years to restore the economy after the Whitlam years. A year later the scenario for recovery is even worse.

It is even worse after a year. Yet the Prime Minister and the Treasurer cannot come into the House to defend their policies. All this is the doing of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer- a demented idealogue and his subservient deputy; the great economic managers, we were told; these great men of business! What now is the fall-back strategy for the economic recovery of Australia? Bash the unions, pressure organised labour and hold down wages, in desperation, to save themselves at the next election.

Let us examine their latest atrocity, the 1716 per cent devaluation, because that is the rock on which their economic policy perishes. When introducing the Budget last August the Treasurer said that the Australian dollar was over-valued. If that is not trailing your coat, I do not know what is. At the Cabinet meeting which discussed devaluation, only Senator Cotton, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the Treasurer were in favour of holding the line on the dollar. Even the Prime Minister was not in favour of it. And who would believe the assurances of the Treasurer to the House and to the nation when everybody knows that the Prime Minister and two-thirds of the Cabinet were in favour of a devaluation? If we get down to the nitty-gritty, Mr Fraser was probably Davidson’s leak because Mr Fraser wanted the devaluation. Let us look at today’s Inside Canberra. On the last page this passage appears:

One of the Prime Minister’s senior advisers told Inside Canberra this week the Government had no plans for tariff reductions. He said tariff reductions would not be practical at this stage because of the possibility of a significant upward revaluation of the dollar in the near future.

That revaluation of the Australian dollar was announced today. It was revalued by 2 per cent. That story is in Inside Canberra, which would have been printed a couple of days ago. The information came from the Prime Minister’s office. So the blame can be laid on the Prime Minister who always was a leak and who always will be a leak in any government in which he serves, even if it is his own.

Let us look at the situation in respect of the reality of devaluation. Look at the reserves in 1 973. They were $4.2 billion- excessive. What were they on 26 November? They were $2.1 billionnot dangerously low. In fact there was a strong and improving balance of payments, showing a $629m surplus in the first 4 months of this financial year. So if one talks about the basic strength of the currency or about it being over-valued, as the Treasurer did, there is the answer. Obviously it was not over-valued. There was a trade surplus. That meant that there was a responsibility on the Government to manage the invisibles- to manage the deficit. It could have done so in a number of ways. It failed to do so. It allowed speculative outflow and did not check it. As the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) pointed out not long ago, one of the reasons we had the speculative outflow was that the Government, in its stupidity, allowed companies to hold what would otherwise have been the quarterly income tax collections. Companies were awash with money. They had money to burn. They put it out in speculation. It was the money which left Australia which finally forced this situation.

We ask: Why were there not prohibitions on the export of money? Why was there not more scrutiny by the Reserve Bank under the Foreign Exchange Regulations of the reasons why companies wanted to take out money? Why were there not prohibitions on the repatriation of profit, or the variable deposit scheme in reverse? The reason was that the Prime Minister was in favour of devaluation and was prepared to do anything to get it. These companies have been rewarded with a 1714 per cent devaluation and a huge capital gain. Where is the consistency? The issue is the Treasurer’s role. What is the Treasurer’s role? He said that he would go to Cabinet and fight for the Treasury line against devaluation. He walks in, leaving Sir Frederick Wheeler and Mr Knight outside the meeting. The Secretary of the Treasury and the Governor of the Reserve Bank were not even invited. The Treasurer presents the figures to the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister says: ‘Yes. We must have a devaluation’, and the Treasurer, cops it sweet. There was no argument. Who set the figure of 17V4 per cent? The Treasury would not have a bar of it because Sir Frederick was locked out of the discussions. Mr Knight would not have a bar of it. So the Government foolishly set its own figure of 17 1/2 per cent. Now it has had to climb down today by 2 per cent because it had made the figure so high. All of this happened because of the pigheadedness of the Prime Minister and because of the lack of any coherent economic strategy.

I get back to the Treasurer’s role. At this moment he is totally discredited. Everything he said in the House has been discredited. He has no coherent economic policy. I quote what he said in December last year.

Businessmen, consumers and members of the community generally can now look forward to stable, responsible and honest government under the coalition parties. In doing so, they can take heart also from the fact that the incoming Government has a clear and positive economic strategy to carry through.

That was said by Mr Lynch last December. Nonsenseabsolute, arrant nonsense, because there is now no policy. The Treasurer is discredited. The only honourable course available to him is to resign. That must be being put to him by his back bench. We on this side of the House demand his resignation. We call for his resignation. He has misled not only the Parliament but also the nation.

These 2 Ministers, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, are obsessed with big projects. They think foreign investment will save the day for them. It will take four or five years to get big projects off the line. They will mean nothing in terms of Australian economic recovery. All the tripping around the world that the Treasurer did, inviting foreign capital here, has to be squeezed off by the mechanisms, to which he referred at question time, of the Reserve Bank, because if foreign inflow comes into this country and if the Government believes it has to manage the money supply rigorously it will have to close down all lending available to the Australian community for housing and for all other things such as general manufacturing and all the areas where there is employment. If the Government accepts and does not regulate the inflow of foreign capital there can be no recovery. There will be no consumer confidence and therefore there will be no long term recovery.

The whole issue is this: The Government has practised absolute ad hockery. It is now talking about cushioning primary industry against the excesses of interest rates. It is now talking about cushioning the export sector, manufacturing, the mining industry and the rest. What about all the other people who do not get cushioned?

Mr Uren:

– The housing sector.


– The housing sector, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. What about the small people who cannot afford another Ite per cent increase in interest rates? Already a budding society charges 1 LS per cent. What does the Government want to charge the people? Does it want to charge them 13 per cent on a housing loan in Australia? The Utah Development Co. pegged up $ 135m today. It got let off the coal export levy earlier this year. It has been given the increment of a devaluation. Now it wants to be protected from interest rates, for God’s sake! It is absolute ad hockery. The 2 guilty men are the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. They should have been here today to answer the charge against them. They failed to appear. They sent in a junior Minister, who is not even a member of the Cabinet, and the honourable member for Berowra who cannot answer the charge.

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


-The insincerity and opportunism of the Labor Opposition in bringing forward this matter are beyond belief. For months honourable members opposite have brought forward economic matters as matters of public importance for discussion in this House. They have cried that the mix of policy which we then had meant that the economy was on a disaster course. I know because I responded for the Government in these debates on a number of occasions. Now that there has been a change in the mix they tell us we are still on a disaster course and the Government’s economic policies are in disarray. I say that is opportunism and is insincere. The matter of public importance proposed for discussion refers to the policies of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, but the policies are the policies of the Government. They are said to be ad hoc. The Government’s strategy is said to be in disarray. This is not so. I will not waste my time attempting to answer Opposition speakers point by point. Rather I will set out systematically the Government’s economic policy.

That policy is to achieve for this country lasting-I stress ‘lasting’- economic recovery, restored growth and thrust, and full employment. That is and always has been the overriding and dominant aim of the Government. To achieve this we have focused on the importance of beating inflation because inflation is a principal, if not the main cause, of unemployment. We have done this by attempting to rein in government spending, to get the deficit in the public accounts under control and also to implement an incomes policy.

But that has not been the only thrust of our policy. We sought by containing inflation indirectly- I stress, indirectly- to promote recovery and greater employment. But we also had measures designed directly- I stress, directly- to encourage thrust and investment which are at the centre of restoring employment. Let us remember that it is today’s investment that creates the permanent jobs of tomorrow. Consequently, far from doing things to discourage investment, as the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) said a moment ago, we implemented the 40 per cent investment allowance and other measures. So there was a mix of policy to combat inflation, and thereby indirectly to promote recovery and employment, and to foster investment and increased employment directly by the 40 per cent investment allowance and other measures.

There has been a change in that mix but not the overall strategy because of changing circumstances. The principal circumstance to which I want to draw attention is the increasing perception both at home and abroad of the very serious deterioration in this country’s international competitiveness. The most insidious and potentially destructive legacy that this Government inherited from the previous Government was this significant deterioration in our economic competitiveness. This has proved a very great drag on the capacity of export and import competing industries to invest and to increase their activities and employment opportunities. As we know there has been an increasing movement of manufacturing activities offshore because of their lack of international competitiveness. Also manufacturing firms have increasingly become importers, and all at the cost of jobs in Australia. As I have said, there has been an increasing perception of this trend not only here but also overseas.

A report in the Australian Financial Review of 30 November referred to the calculations that had been carried out in a company in Americathis was done in many companies in America- in an attempt to quantify the deterioration in competitiveness. The report stated that the company’s calculations put the decline in Australian competitiveness over the past 3 years at between 12 and 14 per cent. In these circumstances not only was a change in the mix of policy all but inevitable but also it was a proper adaptation to that changing circumstance. The benefit to Australians will be increased investment and increased employment opportunities.

With the devaluation of the Australian dollar the competitiveness of export and import competing industries is restored. It is not denied that devaluation means that inflation will not get down as quickly as it would otherwise. Nevertheless, our resolve to beat inflation is as strong as ever. Our efforts to do this will involve, among other things, selective tariff changes, and renewed efforts in the area of prices and incomes. That means resolute action by this Government to prevent undue price rises and profiteering and an effort to restrain the futile process of price increases following wage increases and wage increases chasing prices.

The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) a moment ago said that what will happen is that there will be an onslaught against the unions, that we will resort to bashing the unions. It has always been an essential part of our total inflation policy to rein in this futile process to which I have referred. I believe that a majority of the Australian people recognise and support that view. In 1974-75 real wages- not money wagesincreased by the order of 12 per cent. As Bob Hawke himself put it, that meant three or four years of normal growth in wages rolled into one year. That was the biggest factor contributing to the deterioration in the competitive situation which has brought on this change; it was the biggest factor contributing to an increase of 200 000 people unemployed. Now there has to be a breathing space. I believe that the majority of the Australian people recognise that. In pursuing this objective we have done various things to cushion the impact on the lower income groups. I am sure that other Australians will recognise the need for restraint.

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

page 3382


Approval of Work -Public Works Committee Act

Minister for Construction · Boothby · LP

– I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Consolidation into Bankstown of the Bankstown and Lidcombe Government Aircraft Plants operated by Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd.

The proposal involves the provision of additional facilities at the existing Bankstown plant to enable the transfer of all aircraft engine and helicopter transmission overhaul and repair operations and some machine shop operations now being undertaken at Lidcombe. Both plants are operated by Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $7.1m.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, in recommending the construction of these works, concluded that:

  1. There is a continuing defence requirement for an aircraft repair and overhaul facility in the Sydney area;
  2. This requirement can be met most efficiently by the consolidation at Bankstown of the Bankstown and Lidcombe government aircraft plants;
  3. The Committee is satisfied that the present role of the Bankstown airport will continue through to the early 1 990s.

Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.


-The Bankstown airport is in the electorate of Blaxland and I am interested and have taken an interest in the consolidation of the Hawker de

Havilland Australia Pty Ltd plant. The history, briefly, is that the Lidcombe plant is owned by the Government and leased by Hawker de Havilland. It was an ex-wartime plant. In the interests of economies the Government has decided to merge the 2 plants at a cost of $7m. I do not cavil at that because this move will improve the competitiveness of Hawker de Havilland in the aircraft industry. Most of the material coming from Lidcombe to Bankstown is of a manufacturing or service nature. It should not add a significant amount of air traffic to the Bankstown airport.

However, on that point I am very concerned because last year air traffic movements at Bankstown numbered 302 000. It is now the busiest airport in Australia. There has been no positive plan on the part of any federal or State government, up until now, to establish another general aviation facility on the north side of Sydney. Unless there is some relief at Bankstown someone will be killed. There were S deaths 2 years ago. The air traffic must increase as it is the only inner city outlet for light aircraft traffic besides the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. Much of its fight traffic is coming to Bankstown. The expansion of the Cessna Aircraft Company, the Piper Aircraft Australia facilities for assembly and now Hawker de Havilland is just adding to the infrastructure of industry around the airport. It has flying schools. More and more people are going there. Air safety is an urgent matter which has been forgotten by successive governments. The problem must soon be rectified.

The flight patterns at Bankstown airport pass over 6 schools. The result will be that deaths must occur with the traffic demands at this level. So, I urge the Government to look favourably at establishing a new general aviation facility on the north side of Sydney, where 45 per cent of Bankstown ‘s traffic comes from, in the interests of providing facilities for people in that area who fly and also in the interests of safety and of giving some relief from noise to the people of the Bankstown community. I do not oppose the consolidation of the Lidcombe plant because basically it is a manufacturing facility. But I would not like to see consolidation involving Hawker de Havilland become the vehicle by which Bankstown gets additional traffic.


– I am very glad to have the opportunity to support this motion for the consolidation or rationalisation, as it has been known, of 2 segments of the defence aircraft industry in the metropolitan area of Sydney. This consolidation has been foreshadowed for many years. As a former Minister with an interest in this area, I know that this was an important part of the proposed rationalisation and increased workload schemes being considered in 1971 and 1972. The rationalisation proposals go back a good deal earlier. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), who has just spoken, has for some years displayed a considerable interest in this area. I make bold to suggest that he has displayed an interest in defence, and aircraft in particular, quite apart from the needs of his constituents. Unfortunately, this rationalisation has been delayed far too long. It is many years overdue.

I must say that I believe a former Minister for Defence, the Honourable Lance Barnard, did all that he could in 1973 to hasten the rationalisation. Unfortunately, he was stopped in the Australian Labor Party Cabinet of that day. I do not say that the matter was treated by former Liberal-Country Party Governments with the high degree of urgency due to it. While welcoming the proposal and supporting all the reasons given by the Minister for Construction and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence (Mr McLeay) who moved the motion, I draw attention to these delays which have taken place and what I believe is the unfortunate downgrading in priority over many years of the defence aircraft industry. No doubt, if this country is ever in a position of requiring defence and military aircraft production capacity, there will be great complaints about this Government not spending the time and proceeding with such matters urgently. But the truth is, that in general the public is not very interested in this area either. As has been said in the report which came from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Works, there is a need for some defence aircraft capacity in the metropolitan area of Sydney. It will certainly be much more efficient and, one hopes in the long term, cost saving to move machine tools from Lidcombe where no airport is located to Bankstown a distance of some miles where one is located.

Furthermore, the buildings and machinery at Lidcombe are old. All logic is in favour of the rationalisation. One can only wonder how it is that it has taken the national parliament and national governments so many years to get this process into motion. If I might be permitted, I express an element of despair and exasperation in this debate. As for the main matter referred to by the honourable member for Blaxland, the capacity at Bankstown is a problem but I do not believe it is a matter which should influence us at all in a consideration of this change because there is already an existing defence capacity at Bankstown. Everything is in favour of consolidating the machine shop which exists at Lidcombe with something which will be more worth while. Hopefully the day is not too far off when we will see an expansion and rationalisation in the wider sense of the term throughout the whole defence aircraft industry in Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3384


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

Second Reading

AttorneyGeneral · Wentworth · LP

-I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to make certain amendments to the Foreign Proceedings (Prohibition of Certain Evidence) Act 1976. The House will recall that this Act was passed as a matter of urgency on 18 November 1976 because proceedings were then pending in the Supreme Court of New South Wales to take evidence for the purpose of proceedings in a court of the United States of America. In the course of the debate in this chamber and in another place, attention was directed to some aspects of the Bill which appeared to deserve further consideration. At the time there was a need for the Bill to be passed into law without delay, but in the other place my colleague, Senator Durack, indicated with my approval that the Government would give close consideration as soon as possible to the matters that had been raised and introduce an amending Bill to correct any deficiencies.

The Government has now been able to give the matter further consideration and has concluded that the amendments provided for in the present Bill are desirable. The principal change provided for in the Bill is the abolition of sub-section (2) of section 4 of the Act. This subsection provides that the validity of an order of the Attorney-General is not to be subject to challenge in any court. The argument has been advanced that provisions of this kind are not generally desirable and should be confined to those situations where they are really necessary. In the context of the present Bill the Government has concluded that this provision is not strictly necessary and its repeal is accordingly provided for by the present Bill. The Government has concluded moreover that the Parliament should be able to disallow an order made by the

Attorney-General in the same way as it would be able to act if the orders were made by regulation. The Bill accordingly provides for an order to be tabled and to be subject to disallowance by either House in accordance with the procedure under the Acts Interpretation Act which applies to regulations.

There are 2 grounds provided in section 4 upon which the Attorney-General may act in making an order under section 5. One is that a foreign tribunal is exercising jurisdiction in a manner that is contrary to international law or comity; the other is that an order is desirable to protect the national interest. Logically, an order made on the first of these grounds should be confined in its operation to the particular foreign tribunal that is breaching international law or comity. As this is not the position under the existing Act the Bill provides for it to be so. Different considerations apply, of course, where an order is made on the ground of national interest. In such a case it is appropriate that the order should apply to all foreign tribunals and not be confined to any particular tribunal. That is now the position under the Act.

Another matter that was the subject of comment when the legislation was being debated by the Senate related to the definition of a foreign tribunal. Doubts were raised as to whether this definition might cover the Privy Council. In view of those doubts the Bill provides for an express provision to make the position clear. Under this provision ‘foreign tribunal’ is not to include the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the exercise of jurisdiction in respect of appeals from any court in Australia. Two other amendments to ensure the legal effectiveness of the legislation are proposed. One avoids a distinction under the existing Act between an order that has been served and one that has been deemed to be served. The other provides that where a person is prohibited from making evidence available to a tribunal in Australia, the tribunal is not to be able to require a person to act in contravention of the order. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 3384


Second Reading

WentworthAttorney.General · LP

– I move:

This Bill will provide machinery to protect the large number of historic shipwrecks and relics on the continental shelf of Australia. It also provides controls for the recovery of such wrecks and relics and for their disposition. In particular, the Bill makes provision for the protection of the old Dutch shipwrecks and relics covered by the 1972 agreement between the Australian and Netherlands Governments. Under this agreement the Commonwealth has accepted responsibilities in relation to the Dutch East India Company vessels that were wrecked on or off the coast of Western Australia. There is at present no specific Commonwealth legislation on historic shipwrecks, although some control is possible under the Navigation Act. Western Australia does have legislation, but the validity of this legislation has been contested before the High Court. The decision which may resolve the matter is awaited. The Government believes that the Commonwealth has the necessary constitutional powers to legislate in this area and considers that it should introduce appropriate Commonwealth legislation into the Parliament during the current sittings. Should the relevant High Court judgment be handed down in the meantime, the Bill will be reviewed in the light of that judgment.

I am sure that all Australians will agree that there is an urgent need for effective legislation in this field. The Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections has pointed out that a wealth of historical material lies beneath the waters off the Australian coast. More than 500 shipwrecks have already been located and identified, and about 1500 more ships are known to have been wrecked around the coastline. These ships are an important part of Australia ‘s heritage and a vital part of its history. Many were involved in the early exploration of this region. They reflect European man’s early contact with Australia. Many were involved in the carriage of migrants to this land. Many were involved in the vital cargo trade that was first Australia’s lifeline and later essential to its growth and ultimate prosperity. For the historian their contents provide valuable guidance to the habits and customs of the period. For every Australian they are a reminder of the courage, initiative and skill of our pioneer sailors.

The Government shares the Pigott Committee’s view that these shipwrecks must be protectedfrom acts of outright vandalism, from indiscriminate looting, from impetuous souveniring and accidental damage or destruction. Already future research in marine archaeology has been severely impaired because of the many shipwrecks which have been damaged, by accident or design, in the last 2 decades. I am sure most of those who take part in the increasingly popular sport of diving in search of shipwrecks are aware of the need to respect and preserve these memories of our past. But there have been cases when shipwrecks of immense historical interest have been wantonly destroyed. In other cases well meaning souvenir hunters have been unaware that, following exposure to seawater, metals become unstable and require expensive and lengthy conservation treatment. As a result, !>eople acting in the best of faith have deprived future generations of relics of great historical value. I stress that the Government is particularly appreciative of the major role being played by Western Australia in preserving that part of Australia’s history represented by shipwrecks lying off the Western Australian coast. The Western Australian Museum, through its Fremantle Branch and associated conservation laboratory, leads Australia in marine archaeology and the preservation of historic shipwrecks.

A principal purpose of the Bill is to provide for the continuance on a sound legal basis of the existing high level of co-operation between Commonwealth agencies and such State institutions as the Western Australian Museum. The Bill therefore contains provisions that will allow agreements to be entered into between the Commonwealth and the States relating to implementation and enforcement of the legislation. These include provisions enabling the Minister to delegate his powers for these and other purposes. Such agreements would enable States to continue and expand their efforts to preserve Australia’s maritime heritage under secure national legislation. At the same time, the Commonwealth will be able to act in the national interest when this becomes necessary.

I turn now to the main provisions of the Bill. Under the Bill, the Minister for Administrative Services is authorised to declare as historic shipwrecks or historic articles the remains of ships or items from them that are of historic significance. These then become subject to the protective provisions of the Bill. Under these provisions persons finding or having possession of such items are required to notify the Minister. The Minister is then empowered to give directions as to how the items are to be dealt with, and he may also issue permits for the exploration or recovery of shipwrecks and relics subject to such conditions as are considered appropriate. The area surrounding a declared wreck or article may be declared a protected zone and this will permit controls to be applied to any activity that may occur in the area.

In its report, the Pigott Committee pointed out that any legislative action should be accompanied by compilation of detailed wreck records. The Government endorses this suggestion. As a result, the Bill provides that a register, to be known as the Register of Historic Shipwrecks, will be maintained. This register will be open to public inspection. I believe all Australians will welcome this move to protect, preserve and record important aspects of Australia’s early days. Maintenance of the register will not only assist in preserving these shipwrecks, it should also provide a valuable guide to those who wish to see, but not interfere with, the relics of our past for themselves.

I would point out that one of the major aims of this legislation is the preservation of our links with our past history. As I mentioned previously, perhaps fewer than one-quarter of the known wrecks have been located. While protecting these wrecks, the Government is also anxious to ensure that exploration and discovery is not inhibited or prevented. Even on a recreational basis, the process of exploration is a costly one. As well, many of these vessels contain valuable cargo. To reduce temptation while at the same time encouraging exploration, the Bill provides for the payment of a reward for the discovery of hitherto unlocated historic shipwrecks. The amount of the reward will not be contained in the legislation, but will be determined from time to time, according to the relative money values of the day and the importance of the discovery. The aim of this reward provision is to encourage exploration and discovery without offering incentives to pillaging. By way of illustration, the money value of the coins found on the Dutch shipwrecks off the Western Australian coast amount to many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would be unfair and unreal to deny totally any prospective discoverer some reward for his effort.

Dutch shipwrecks, which are mentioned in the 1972 agreement between the Netherlands and Australia concerning old Dutch shipwrecks, are automatically brought within the protective provisions of the Bill without the need for prior declaration by the Minister. The agreement and a list of known such vessels and their locations are presented in schedules to the Bill. Further shipwrecks will be placed on the register as appropriate. I wish to express my thanks to the Western Australian authorities for the advice that has been given to the Commonwealth while this legislation has been under preparation. This has ensured that difficulties that might otherwise have arisen have been avoided and that legislation able to meet the needs of the States has been produced.

Before concluding I wish to foreshadow 3 amendments I propose to move to the Bill that arise from points made during the debate on the Bill in another place and from further consideration of the Bill by the Government. The first relates to clause 9 of the Bill. It has been suggested that, as the clause stands, a person who, quite innocently and legally, has in his possession an article that comes within the protection of the legislation may be prosecuted for failing to notify the Minister that he has that article, despite the fact that he did not know that the article is, in fact, a protected one. My colleague, the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers), has considered this matter and has agreed that it would be reasonable to provide a defence to a charge brought in such circumstances, and an amendment to achieve this will be moved at the appropriate time.

The second matter relates to clause 17 of the Bill. Sub-clause (2) of that clause sets up a defence for a person who fails to give the required notice with regard to the discovery of a wreck. It makes it a defence against a prosecution if the person charged can prove that someone else has given the necessary notice. It has been suggested that it should also be a defence if a person has reasonable grounds for believing that the necessary notice has already been given. The Minister for Administrative Services has also accepted this point and an amendment to cover it will be moved at a later stage.

Finally, the Government has given further consideration to the terms of clause 23 of the Bill. It is now proposed to spell out expressly that self- incrimination constitutes a reasonable excuse for the purposes of sub-clause (5), thus confirming that this is a defence to a prosecution for failing to comply with a requirement to answer a question under sub-clause (1). This reflects the Government’s concern to ensure that civil liberties are clearly accorded proper recognition by Commonwealth legislation.

I believe that this proposed legislation will adequately serve the purpose of protecting an important part of Australia’s national heritage and I commend it to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Cass) adjourned.

page 3386


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 6 December.

Clauses 1 and 2- by leave- taken together and agreed to.

Clause 3 (Interpretation).


-Depending upon what happens later, this clause may need to be amended.

Clause postponed.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause S (Establishment of Tribunal).


– I move:

After proposed section 10, sub-section (4), insert the following sub-section:

*(4A) A person who immediately before the commencing day held office as a full-time or pan-time member of the Board for a term expiring after that day shall be appointed as a member of the Tribunal and shall hold office for a term equivalent to the remainder of the term to which he would have been entitled but for the provisions of this Act. ‘.

This amendment would make this legislation consistent with an amendment that the Government has moved to legislation dealing with the appointment of commissioners to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Our view is that, whatever the purpose behind the Government’s legislation may be, if it is not to be seen to be simply aimed at getting at people who have been appointed to statutory bodies for a statutory period, the present occupants of these positionsnamely, the Commissioners or members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board- should be permitted to see out their terms of appointment. We are not suggesting that they should be given an extension or that they should be reappointed after their present term expires. But, consistent with what we think is a fairly fundamental principle, that is, that no government should be seen to be sacking appointees to statutory authorities, we thought that this amendment should be moved.

We are not arguing against the abolition of the present Australian Broadcasting Control Board; we are not begging a fight on that. We concede that the proposed Australian Broadcasting Tribunal would be a reasonable body. It is going to be quasi-judicial body, as the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) mentioned in his second reading speech. Nevertheless, it will perform the most fundamental duties that are now encompassed within the responsibilities of the present Australian Broadcasting Control Board. So, to avoid the suggestion that the whole purpose of the exercise in abolishing the Control Board is simply to get at those office holders, we propose that they should be appointed to the new Tribunal, not for the full term as specified in the Bill for office holders, but for the balance of the term they would have had as members of the Control Board.

As I understand it, that would mean that only two of the present office holders appointed by the Labor Government would continue in office; that pretty well straight away- in fact, from 1 January- the present government would have a majority because, due to the normal efflux of time and the normal periods of appointment, 2 vacancies will occur irrespective of the legislation. There is already one person who was appointed by the present Government. That would mean that from 1 January three out of the present 5 office holders will have been appointed by the present Government. So honourable members could not say that the Tribunal would be suffering from having been stacked, as has been claimed in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board- and I dispute that claim.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– Marius Webb does not.


– We are not talking about the Australian Broadcasting Commission; we are talking about the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, a different body. It is quite clear that from 1 January, no matter what happens, it will not be possible to claim that the Tribunal is burdened by a majority of people appointed by the previous Labor Government. That will be mathematically impossible. I am trying to impress upon the Government the point that it should not be seen to be breaking a convention which provides that, by and large, statutory office holders see out their terms of office; that they are not cut off in mid-stream by incoming governments. True, the Government is changing its broadcasting and television legislation and hence is changing the name of the Act, but this could be seen as simply a device to achieve the purpose of sacking somebody who was appointed by the Labor Government. For those reasons we have moved the amendment to clause 5.


-I regard this as a very serious matter, as I regarded the previous proposal that all the Commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission were to be sacked. A very great danger in this sort of legislation is that we will politicise broadcasting, which is exactly what the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has claimed he does not want to do. I am pleased to see that the Government has decided not to go ahead with the sacking of the ABC Commissioners. But once the practice is started of sacking commissions and setting up new bodies, or of sacking all those appointed by. a Labor government or by a Liberal-National Country Party government, then that part of government becomes politicised.

We would create a situation whereby automatically when there was a change of government there would be wholesale sackingsmembers of all statutory bodies, committees and commissions who were appointed by the previous government would be fired. This could be done by sacking them and setting up a new body. The result is the same. Once we start to bring that practice into government- it is a very dangerous practice- we will have a situation such as the one that exists in the United States of America whereby when a new government takes over it brings in all its Democrats, Republicans and so on, and the reverse happens when the other party wins. We do not want that to happen in Australia. I believe that the fact that it does not happen in Australia is one of the strengths of our system. I hope that in this case the Government will change its mind about this Tribunal, as apparently it has done about the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The Government rejects the amendment. It is not a question of concern or speculation that the Government wants to have ‘its nominees’ on this particular Tribunal. The Tribunal will be quite different from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It will be an entirely new body. As honourable members will know, 2 members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will retire at the end of December this year anyhow. I do not rule out that people who have served on the Control Board might be invited to serve on the Tribunal. The Tribunal will not have part time members; it will have associate members. I see no relationship, in principle, to the comparison with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. We want to have associate members with specific knowledge about problems which will be tackled by the new Tribunal. I reject any suggestion that there is any attempt at political interference. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is being disbanded. This is an entirely new body. The Government cannot accept the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6.

Section 16 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted:

    1. ( 1 ) The functions of the Tribunal are to perform the duties and to exercise the powers imposed or conferred upon it by other provisions of this Act and, in addition-
    1. to determine the standards to be observed by licensees in respect of broadcasting or televising of programs;
    2. to determine the conditions subject to which advertisements may be broadcast or televised by licensees; and
    3. to determine the hours during which programs are to be or may be broadcast or televised by licensees, and include such other functions in relation to broadcasting stations and television stations as are prescribed.’
Mr Eric Robinson:

– I move:

In proposed section 16(l)(c),omit’aretobeor’

I have received some submissions to the effect that some people are concerned that the addition of these words may be too restrictive. The Government therefore moves for their deletion.

Amendment agreed to.


-I move:

After paragraph (c) of proposed sub-section 16(1) insert the following paragraph:

to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programs are provided by commercial broadcasting stationand commercial television stations in the best interests of the general public.’

This is always a fairly delicate situation with regard to the operation of these stations. This clause already gives the Tribunal the power to determine standards and the conditions under which advertisements may be broadcast or televised and to determine hours. With the power such as the commercial media has, there must also be a great deal of responsibility. It is suggested that there should be a self-regulatory type of mechanism with regard to the types of ! urograms. I have had occasion over the years to look at this problem of self-regulation in other areas, including the area of advertising, where ethics are laid down. One concerns the Press, where there is now a Press Council. I, like many people I talk to in the community, have grave doubts concerning this self-regulatory type of mechanism. In fact, a tribunal which determines these other conditions should also have some regard to the types of program that are being broadcast or televised over these stations. They should present a comprehensive picture.

One of the problems that we have in Australia is the overwhelming control of the media by a few groups. It is often stated that apart from the ABC, the Australian media is effectively controlled by 4 companies- the Herald and Weekly Times, Fairfax and Sons, News Limited and Consolidated Press. I do not think that in any other country in the world is there such a concentration of the mass media in such a circumscribed area. When we look at these adequate and comprehensive programs, we must also have some regard to the question of what is happening concerning the question of local content in these programs. Approximately 37 per cent of the programs on commercial television are made in Australia. Both the United Kingdom and the United States have a local content component of at least 85 per cent. I appreciate that their facilities for doing so are much greater than ours. They have a much greater viewing audience so that there is a possibility of getting this higher percentage. But I believe, in requesting comprehensive programs, that we should also be asking that there be more than 37 per cent local content. It has been stated in this House many times before, with regard to these programs, that an hour-long American drama costs $400,000 to produce. The same type of program can be produced in Australia for $40,000 but the American programs are imported for about $5,000.

If the Tribunal, amongst its responsibilities, can use its influence in this way, it will be to the benefit of the community generally. In addition, some concern has been expressed within the community that the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations and the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters believe that in many ways the ABC should not compete with the commercial stations. They believe that only a section of what is available should be left in the ABC area. If this attitude prevails, along with the financial cuts that have been made, we will suffer very much in the area of noncommercial radio and television. At the moment the newsroom of the ABC in Melbourne is on the 15th floor of Marland House at 570 Bourke Street. It is in the position of having antiquated equipment and with staff going down the drain. It is quite inadequate as a newsroom and it is unable to give the coverage that we expect to receive from the ABC. The Labor Party is not alone in asking that regard be given to the types of programs that are exhibited on commercial radio. A public meeting was recently held in Melbourne concerning this matter. It passed the following resolution with regard to the fundamental principles of Australian broadcasting:

This meeting, in the interests of ensuring that the greatest community benefit is achieved as a result of the current debate on Australian broadcasting, urges all participants to pay due regard to the following fundamental matters:

That the commercial sector be required to programme a significant and expanding proportion of all types of Australian productions so that our broadcasting truly reflects Australian society and culture and utilises the talents of Australians to the maximum extent.

The amendment goes further than that. It deals with other areas but I believe that there are worthwhile objectives. I do not suggest that power be given to the Tribunal to use the big axe m the commercial area but that it should have a general responsibility to see that there is adequate and comprehensive programming by the commercial stations in the best interests of the general public and not just programming which is necessarily financially rewarding. I did not have the opportunity to speak during the second reading debate on the Bill and so I feel somewhat restricted. Therefore, I shall speak to this clause which, in dealing with the powers of the Tribunal, mentions standards, conditions and hours. Now, this amendment deals with the type of programming that should be undertaken. But it seems to me that it is an indication of how hastily this legislation has been prepared that there are so many other factors that should have been the subject of public debate before the matter was brought before the Parliament. There are matters in the Green report- now a public report although the result of a private inquiry- which would better have been publicly debated before the legislation was brought forward. Parliament should have been allowed to make a decision before the Bill was introduced.

I refer now to the further responsibilities of the commercial stations in regard to the Tribunal. I think we should realise that commercial stations in this area have great privilege in being able to run their services. While self-regulation has been talked about, I have to admit that I have far more confidence in the responsibility residing with Parliament than with a few entrepreneurs in the private sphere. I urge the Committee to consider seriously giving this further responsibility to the Tribunal.


-I am rather surprised that this amendment comes from the Labor Party, particularly when the honourable member for Maribyrnong is leading for the Labor Party in this debate. This clause virtually allows the most stringent censorship of our television screens. I know what the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) is driving at on the question of standards. I sympathise with him. But I am rather persuaded to the view of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) that we ought at least to give the private commercial interests and the Australian Broadcasting Commission a chance to be selfregulatory in the question of standards. They are the experts and they, I think, know what the public wants. They can assess what the public wants. If commercial interests assess wrongly their ratings go down. A self-regulatory process is already m the system.

The honourable member for Scullin suggested that the ultimate arbiter on this matter should be Parliament. God forbid that we should have politicians determining television standards and what is in the best interests of the public. I wonder, with great respect, whether this amendment has been thought out very clearly. Let me quote the words of the amendment. They call for a subjective judgment. The amendment, which refers to the Tribunal, reads: to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programs-

What the hell do ‘adequate’ and ‘comprehensive’ mean? The amendment continues: are provided by commercial broadcasting stations and commercial television stations in the best interests-

Can somebody tell me what that means? Does that mean that the best interests are served by putting on television a whole host of religious programs? If so, what religion? Should we be preaching for chastity before marriage or nonchastity before marriage? Should we say that the best interests of the people lies with cowboy and Indian shows? The more one discusses this the more absurd the situation becomes. The last part of the amendment is classic. It reads: of the general public.

Politicians, I think, spend most of their lives trying to search for that very elusive person, the general public. Who is he? Where is he? Are the honourable member for Scullin and the honourable for Maribyrnong saying that, with a show such as Alvin Purple- I raised this matter in the House previously- which extraordinarily grabs 33 per cent of the viewer ratings, somebody can say that it is not adequate and that it is not comprehensive. From reports I have heard, certain scenes are very comprehensive, but I was never privileged to watch any of them. Will anybody say that Alvin Purple is not in the best interests of the general public? The amendment seeks a very subjective judgment. It smacks of censorship. For that reason alone I would oppose it.

The honourable member for Scullin did not deal to any great extent with an area about which I am deeply concerned, that is, the self regulatory functions of local content. I hope I do not misquote the Minister, but I understood him to say that the Government has made no decisions on this and that this is one of the things that the Government will ask the Tribunal to look at. I would not want to pre-empt the considerations of the Tribunal about whether commercial stations should determine their own local content. I agree with the honourable member for Scullin that here is an area where Parliament ought to step in and give some direction or indication to the Tribunal. I am completely persuaded that our national and commercial television should contain ample local content. I hope I am not mistaking the position, but I understand that all the licensees promised, when they got their licences, that they would include at least50 per cent local content in their programs. I am informed that last year- I think it is worse this year- local content was down to 36 per cent. That 36 per cent local content included things such as the news, weather reports, sporting fixtures, sporting replays, Moomba parades and so on which certainly -

Mr Jull:

– Those programs use a lot of staff too.


-Agreed. I thank my friend for the interjection. I was about to say that these local content programs are certainly good. Perhaps I should be more specific and say that I would like to see the preservation of drama and the usage of local talent such as actors, writers and directors. I propose to cite some figures given to me. I do not vouch for their veracity. They were given to me by the Actors and Announcers’ Equity Association of Australia and I put them on record. Whether they are believed or not does not matter. If somebody can assail these figures as being untruthful it would be useful to the debate.

In 1974, 6000 actors and 15 000 others were employed in drama- that is, serials and other series. The number dropped in 1975 from 6000 actors to 4000 actors and from 15 000 others to 9000 others. In the same period local content dropped from 44 per cent to 37 per cent. Ongoing drama production dropped from 421 weeks of production in 1974 to 269 weeks in 1975. I am not blaming the commercial television stations. People involved with the commercial television stations, thank goodness, are very responsible and able businessmen. The commercial television stations are all public companies. They have shareholders. Of course they are impelled to maximise their profits. They are not in the business of idealism, altruism, or nationalism. I believe that we in Australia are very fortunate with the calibre of our productions and television stations. If we gave them laissez-faire, of course they would buy the Kojak series.

Mr Cohen:

– You don’t like Kojak? He is the only one who is any good.


– It is my favourite program. I think it is fantastic. Why should it not be? It costs $400,000 an episode to produce and our commercial television stations can buy it for something like $5,000. I am told that it would cost $50,000 to produce a comparable Australian program. If I were the managing director of a commercial television station I would go for Kojak rather than the Australian production. But it is important that we maintain the good Australian productions. I think that a nation has to have an ability to look at itself, to laugh at itself and to be critical of itself. We might all cast aspersions on Number 96, The Box and Alvin Purple which are produced here- they do not capture my fancy- but at least in these programs an Australian can see himself mirrored. One of the problems about Australia and Australians is that we do not laugh at ourselves enough and we do not fully see ourselves as we really are.

Dr Cass:

– Ludicrous.


-I think it is important and I think it is basic. This is all I propose to say about the matter When the Tribunal examines the selfregulatory functions concerning content, I would be very distressed if that was left entirely to the commercial television stations.


– I was surprised at the comments of the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp). He expressed surprise at the comments of the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass). We are all being surprised by one another. I happen to remember that, when the honourable member for Hotham was the Minister for Customs and Excise in a previous Government, he led the way in liberalising censorship. At that time he had great difficulty in defining the phrase acceptable community standards’. The same criticism that is now being made could well have been levelled at him at that time. I agree with his comment that the amendment moved by the Opposition is vague. But this aspect was vague at the time when he was a Minister. The phrase ‘acceptable community standards’ was difficult to define then and it is difficult to define in an amendment of this kind because it is a vague concept.

I think all honourable members know what we want to see in this Act. We want to see certain standards maintained and an attempt to lift the standards of television and the media. I do not think we should apologise for taking that attitude. I notice that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) is smiling. Perhaps he is not smiling at me. Is it wrong to say that we should be slaves to the rating system? We have all turned on commercial radio and television, particularly radio, and have flicked from station to station. We find one station after another pushing out the same sort of program, whether it be in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne.

I like listening to a certain percentage of popular music. I can tolerate even a little of Bay City Rollers. The point is that there is another listening audience. All honourable members will be aware that the eight or ten commercial radio stations in each city are aiming at that particular rating which gives them the percentage of the market which enables them to obtain advertising and make profits. The difficulty is that those stations are aiming their programs at 5 1 per cent of the listening audience. Those who want something different-who, in the case of radio want more current affairs and talk-back programs and, in the case of television, want more current affairs programs, serious music, ballet and so on-miss out because those programs do not get good ratings.

I would be opposed to any words that would enable any suggestion of censorship to be read into our amendment. I do not think that we can define in exact terms what we seek. It is the same sort of problem that the honourable member for Hotham had when he was the Minister and talked about ‘acceptable community standards’ about 5 years ago when he did such a good job of liberalising censorship in Australia. He had that problem as would any government. A problem which concerns me- it is not connected directly with the debate today because we are now getting down to a bit of the nitty- gritty- is the public debate which has taken place during the past few weeks about broadcasting. Almost all the debate has been about the ABC and criticisms of it.

Mr King:

– The ABC has been criticising the legislation.


– The ABC quite rightly has been criticising the legislation because it has a great fear of what this Government has in mind. Government back benchers in the last few days seem to me to have come to their senses. I am not surprised that the ABC and the Opposition are fearful of what the Government has in mind after the vicious attacks that were made upon the ABC by the Government’s spokesman, when it was in Opposition, the present Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon), who did not stop trying to label ABC staff as a bunch of left wing radicals, ‘pinkoes’, ‘commies’ and other abusive terms.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– Hear, hear!


-Do not interject; go back to getting girls to jump out of cakes. We do not want the poor man’s Hugh Hefner displaying his wisdom. The problem that concerns me is that the Liberal and National Country Parties have hated the ABC for as long as I can recall. They have never stopped abusing it. They have never stopped trying to denigrate the ABC and accusing it of left wing bias. That is why I am sceptical of the sudden change of heart displayed by the Government. I propose to speak to a number of other amendments but I did want to make the point that somebody has to oversee the standards of radio and television and must attempt to lift the standards just a little; hopefully, the cultural level of programs will be lifted too. That might smack of elitism, perhaps it does. I do not think we need to apologise for it. We do not apologise for it in our education system. We do not apologise for it in a range of other areas. I do not see why we should apologise for it in our attempt to improve the quality of the media in Australia.


– I will keep my comments on this clause brief. We are dealing with the establishment of the Broadcasting Tribunal in this clause. I think this is one of the better parts of the legislation. Apart from the fact that the Tribunal will be issuing licences, it also has responsibility to determine such matters as Australian content. If we are perfectly frank and perfectly honest with ourselves, our history in regard to legislating about Australian television program content is an absolute disaster. If we have only 37 per cent Australian content on the air at the moment we have nobody to blame but ourselves and the bureaucrats who meddle with the system.

We did have a percentage system. It was very easy for commercial television stations to fiddle that system. It was easy for a station to increase its percentage as it could put on cheap programs. There were many ways and means of getting around that system. We saw another attempt to increase Australian content in programs when the Department of the Media was established. It introduced the points system which, quite frankly, was absolutely catastrophic. If Australian content has dropped to that 37 per cent we can refer to that points system and blame the low percentage on it. That system was completely and utterly unworkable.

I agree with some of the comments of the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp). I thought that some of the points he made were very good. Who are we to arbitrate on the tastes and the requirements of the Australian population? We have tried it. We tried it with the points system. We tried it in the area of children’s programs which I mentioned in a speech earlier when the guidelines for commercial television stations were set down. Some expensive children’s programs were made but nobody watched them. What is the point in making such programs if they are not accepted by the community. It is time that we brought together those involved in the industry including the general public, members of Actors Equity and others in the area to sort out the whole problem. The Broadcasting Tribunal could take such steps. I believe that this is what is meant by selfregulation. It is an opportunity for the whole community to come together, to examine the problems that exist in Australia and to make some constructive suggestions. The industry could then investigate ways of improving the system.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) made reference to what he described as hysteria on this side of the Committee. He said that Government supporters had a feeling that the Australian Labor Party had made the ABC its front. Of course, we are dealing with the Broadcasting Tribunal so proposed by this clause. The. honourable member for Robertson ran off the rails for a moment. I should like to correct his comments. He referred to Government members regarding the ABC as an ALP front. For the sake of the honourable member for Robertson I should like to relate to the House the words uttered at a conference by Mr Marius Webb on 28 November 1975 when he referred to the ABC commissioners. His comments have caused some concern on this side of the Committee in recent times. He said:

The Commissioners are now all Labor appointees of Connie Benn, Richard Harding, Hackett, Lashwood, Smith and Harris and Jacobsen are all pretty much on side-

He adds:

You cultivate Harding a bit? Yes he is good. He walks around the corridors handing out ‘Shame Fraser, Shame’ buttons but other than that . . . and so it goes on. If the honourable member for Robertson sat down one day and read this transcript of the address given by Marius Webb a year ago, he would learn-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Order! I am not sure but I think the honourable member is talking about the Commission and not the Tribunal. This clause does not deal with the Commission. Will the honourable member tie his remarks to the Tribunal?

Mr Donald Cameron:

- Mr Deputy Chairman, you allowed the honourable member for Robertson to talk about the Commission. I was only correcting what he said because later his remarks will be forgotten and lost. I was saying that the Commission was a cesspool of people with Labor leanings. I will not go so far as to say that its members were ‘commos’ and ‘radicals’. I want to speak to the clause we are supposed to be dealing with and which relates to the Tribunal. I would like the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to explain to the Committee how he can guarantee that the Tribunal will be responsive to community needs. I note that proposed new section 16(1) (b) contains the words ‘to determine the conditions subject to which advertisements may be broadcast or televised by licensees’. In recent weeks there has been growing concern in this country about the quality and effect of advertisements shown during what might be described as children’s hours, that part of the day set aside for viewing by children. Children are frequently used in the advertisements and the advertisements are frequently directed towards children. We know that television advertising is very expensive and no advertiser is likely to outlay huge sums of money to produce an advertisement unless he is convinced that it is going to bring about a profitable return. It would therefore seem that advertisements directed towards children pay handsome dividends. One honourable member remarks that it is pretty cheap acting and that is so but there again the expenditure of large sums of money does not always guarantee the best result, as we saw with the previous Labor Government.

Returning to the point regarding children being used as actors and being the focal point of advertisements, I believe there is a growing awareness in the community of what is happening in this area. The yapping and the barking have started in Sydney and Melbourne. I come from Queensland and I was speaking of this matter there. Queensland is always ahead of most of the other States and I believe this awakening came from Queensland in the first place. As this awareness grows relating to the damage that can be done in this area I wonder how we can be sure that the Tribunal will be responsive to public needs. I want the Minister specifically to assure me and other honourable members in the chamber who I know are vitally interested in this matter how it is proposed that there will be a response.


– I would like to comment on some of the remarks by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) who talked about our amendment proposing powers of censorship. I do not think that is so. The terminology used is the same as the phrases already incorporated in the present Act covering the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and it was never seen to be censorial. I must concede that the Green report said this of those words: . . broad expressions of purpose such as these are open to various interpretations in the course of implementation, and do little to ensure that the programming output of the system meets the needs of the various sectors or groups within our society.

Amen. I happen to agree with that, sadly. The honourable member also said that the commercials assess what the public needs and there is no need for the Tribunal to do it. But then in commenting on what the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) said he said that, for goodness sake, putting it in and leaving it to the parliamentarians would mean that they would make subjective judgments. Well, for goodness sake, if the commercials make judgments are they not subjective also, backed by the advertising revenue pressure to make sure that whatever is put on gets the largest audience irrespective of taste and so on? But then someone interjects and says ‘commercial’ as if commercial is somehow sacrosanct; that commercials are really going to give what is wanted and needed. In fact that is the claim that is often made; that we should give the commercials complete freedom and then we shall get what we want because a lot of people look at these programs. Does the honourable member for Hotham look at them? My bet is that if we give the commercials complete freedom that will be the end of quality Australian production, in the sense of expensive production, because that, sadly, is usually what it means. We will get a lot of cheap Australian productions, I am sure, but it will be the end of quality production. We will not get the comprehensive programming that we think we deserve. Those are the sort of vague words that we are trying to put in to suggest what we imply. Who says so? Not Cass. Read what was said by the Pilkington Committee in its report in the United Kingdom in 1962. That is the sort of thing that has been going on. There have been these regular inquiries into broadcasting in England. They nearly always come up with the same sorts of observations. Let me quote what that Committee said about British commercial television:

No-one can say he is giving the public what it wants, unless the public knows the whole range of possibilities which television can offer and, from this range chooses what it wants to see . . . what the public wants and what it has a right to get is the freedom to choose from the widest possible range of program matter. Anything less than this is deprivation.

That is my view and that is the view of the Labor Party. That was our feeling when we saw this legislation. There was no indication given of what we think the community deserves. Again I quote from the Green report where it speaks about the commercial sector. It states: . . in addition to directing their efforts to the presentation of the relatively stereotyped styles of programs which are known to attract high numbers of viewers and listeners, it is most desirable that the commercial sector should at the same time attempt to introduce a measure of innovation and experimentation in programs catering to more sizeable, if not mass, audiences.

I agree with that statement. Does the honourable member for Hotham really seriously suggest that given this absolute freedom that is what the commercial sector would do? In fact the honourable member commented that he was surprised at me. I too am surprised at myself for this. I have supported this amendment only because there is nothing else in the legislation that gives any hint that anything will be done to ensure that the commercials do abide by what the community expects time after time. The honourable member should look at his own Government’s reports. He . need not look at anything we have commissioned. Way back in the days of the Vincent Committee- and now we have the Green report -everyone said that the Australian community deserved quality programs which would help to establish an Australian identity. No one has stopped the commercial sector doing it but it still has not done it. My guess is that it still will not do it.

Mr Chipp:

– The commercial sector has done a fair job.


– If the honourable member thinks that it has done a fair job he should expunge his entire speech from the record because I thought he was having a shot at the commercials. Never mind, perhaps I misunderstood his speech. Let us get back to the argument. Something should be done and I do not think that this is the best way to do it. When I was Minister for the Media I was talking about lifting restrictions and restraints, about stopping trying to tell commercial stations what they ought to do. But this entailed providing alternatives so that if they did not do it someone else could, and what is more, would.

I accept that it is still possible, theoretically, for the Tribunal to fulfil this requirement. I think at one stage the honourable member for Hotham mentioned that the Government ought to give directions to the Tribunal. I think that was an unnecessary comment. In fact, if the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) is sincere in what he says, he is going to invite the Tribunal to have a public hearing. If the Tribunal behaves in any reasonable fashion as a body conducting a public hearing the Minister does not have to give it any directions. The directions will be given by the public when the public makes representations. So in this one I am on the side of the Minister. In any case, if the Tribunal comes to decisions which people do not like, and if, with our proposed amendment, it came to decisions which people did not like, then, and this is something which is omitted from the legislation, the legislation should have included in it the powers for decisions of the Tribunal to be referred to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. If people do not like them I think that would be a reasonable precaution. The Government ought to look into that matter but perhaps not here. When this Bill gets to the Senate the Government might think about the possibility of this, or think about it when it is considering its amending legislation. I do not think that any sort of tribunal should be immune from challenge. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal could in my view deal with overcensorious dispensations by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.

If the Government is honest and if the Tribunal behaves in the way in which it should, I concede that there is a possibility of it enforcing in a very honest way, and without being censorious, the Australian requirements. There is no question about that; no speaker has said: ‘We do not want it’. The power which the Control Board never had is the power to have public hearings for renewals of licences. If the Government allows the Tribunal to have public hearings for renewals, if the Tribunal invites the community to express its views and if the community says: We do not think it has been good enough’, if the Government then has the guts to back the Tribunal when it says that the licence should not be renewed I will commend the Government for its actions. But bear in mind that there is now nothing in the legislation which indicates that this is to happen. The licensees may well use that as an excuse for not complying, saying: ‘There is nothing in the Act which says that we should ‘. If they do, then I think a mistake has been made. That is why we have moved the amendment. The Tribunal may well suggest that inadequate licensees should not have their licences reviewed. I think the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) mentioned that all existing licensees promised Australian content but not one of them has lived up to that promise, as far as I know.

If the Tribunal does not renew the licence, what happens to all the equipment? Sadly, we have the wrong system in this country. The licensee not only produces programs but also owns all the hardware. It costs a lot of money. What is to be done with it? Will the Government buy it from him? Will it subsidise someone to buy the equipment? That is a difficulty which I do not think the Government has looked into. It would be better if all the hardware were owned by the community. All stations are broadcasting over public air waves. The air waves are socialised everywhere in the world and there is no reason why the actual transmitters should not be also. It is the control that is important. The control should be in the hands of the licensee. I am not denying that the licensee should have complete control of what goes over the air waves. If the Tribunal reaches the stage at which it feels that a particular licensee should no longer have the right to operate because he has not fulfilled the requirements, the Government is in a bind, in our present situation, where there is an enormous amount of capital involved. My answer would be to suggest that we should take over, maybe gradually, or buy out the licensees, and in some way provide the actual technical facilities. The licensee has complete freedom to put what he likes over the air waves. That is the system, more or less, in the United Kingdom, so it is not a communist plot. It is done there for commercial television. The facility is owned by the Government, but the private operators provide the programs. They are completely free to provide whatever they like.


– I did not get a guernsey during the second reading debate, and this is the first time that I have ever spoken twice in the Committee stage of a BUI. There is one point which I did not have time to make previously. I would, say unashamedly to the Tribunal that the Parliament- because the Green report asked this Parliament to debate the issueshould give the Tribunal guidelines in 2 areas. That is why I have some sympathy for the Labor amendment, but I do not think it answers the problem. I have spoken about the first matterlocal content. I think it would be a disaster if the fantastic achievements we have already made in local talent, drama, acting, writing and scripting were to go down the drain.

The only other point I make is that guidelines should be given to the Tribunal concerning children’s programs. The only reason I am speaking today is that I am stupid enough, I suppose, to believe that the Tribunal, when it meets, will read the report of the parliamentary debate. It might be of use to members of the Tribunal to see what some members of Parliament said. Again I do not blame the commercial telecasters but I do not know whether any member of this

House has seen the so-called children’s programs shown during children’s hours. They are not children’s programs. Without blaming the commercial broadcasting companies let us look at their rationale. They are in the business to sell advertising time. It is a fact that a tot aged three, four or five does not have too much purchasing power. When my kids were that age they did not have much, I can tell the Committee that.

Mr Cohen:

– Their old man was mean.


– I have not the business acumen or the wealthy background of the honourable member for Robertson. One of 2 things happens on the commercial broadcasting channel. It changes the program to cater for sub-moronic adults who then watch children’s programs. Although they are sub-moronic adults they have money. They buy corn flakes or whatever it is that is being advertised. The alternative is something even more insidious. Some advertisers during children’s hours twist their advertising to meet the mental level of the viewing child aged four, five or six, and say that if the child does not buy a certain kind of food or toy its mummy does not love it. That is a fairly immoral way of advertising over the air waves. If the Labor Party had directed its attention to that aspect I would have had a lot more sympathy with it. In the hope that the Tribunal reads these speeches, I ask it to give some consideration to the question of children’s programs.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The Government cannot accept the amendment. I do not want to go over the ground traversed by a number of Government members. I assure the Committee that the Tribunal will be interested in reading the comments made during this debate. I listened very carefully to the discussion on this amendment. Some points made by Opposition spokesmen I will certainly take into account and discuss with the Tribunal. I would like the Committee to be quite clear that the first job of the Tribunal will be to have a public inquiry into standards and into the concept of self-regulation. The Government has not accepted the concept of self-regulation. We believe it is desirable if an industry or a profession can achieve a great degree of self- discipline or selfregulation. Standards will be set. Let me assure the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) that included in those standards will be advertising standards. Certainly the question of Australian content raised by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) is a very significant one and one about which the Tribunal will need to be concerned in the national interest.

I am aware of a very real concern in the community to maintain the capacity which we have achieved in recent years in the various areas of drama, theatre and, generally, contribution to Australian content in entertainment. I assure the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), that the Government’s policy, while it is not in this Bill, will be that when the legislation comes in next year all decisions of the Tribunal will be subject to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I believe that is absolutely necessary.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7.

After section 22 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: 22a. ( 1 ) Where an inquiry is held by 2 or more members and those members are divided in opinion as to the recommendations to be made on any matter-

  1. if there is a majority of the one opinion- the recommendation shall be in accordance with the opinion of the majority; or
  2. in any other case- the recommendation shall be in accordance with the opinion of the member presiding at the inquiry, but the opinion or opinions of the member or members disagreeing with the recommendation shall be set out in the report relating to the inquiry.

    1. In sub-section (1), ‘member’ includes an associate member.’.

– I move: at the end of proposed sub-section 22A. ( 1 ) add: which shall be published and tabled in the Parliament’.

We are happy with this clause which indicates how the Tribunal will function, how it will vote and how there will be minority as well as majority opinions expressed. But as it stands it just says: but the opinion or opinions of the member of members disagreeing with the recommendation shall be set out in the report relating to the inquiry.

But we could not find anywhere in this Bill any indication of what happens to the report, even the majority report. So we are simply suggesting that we add at the end of the clause: which shall be published and tabled in the Parliament.

I presume that is what is going to happen- at least, I would be surprised if it does not happen. I do not see why the Government cannot say it in the legislation. I would not have thought, particularly if the Tribunal is to have the public hearing about which we just heard, that the Tribunal would just write its report and leave it at that. I presume that the Minister will table the report in the Parliament and that it will be published. The clause as it stands is terribly innocuous. There is nothing left-wing cryptocommunist about our amendment. I am making a simple request that the Minister do somehing that I am sure that he had in mind. I would think that it is something that the draftsman overlooked. I would have thought that someone has to know what the hell is tobe done with the report.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The Government cannot accept the amendment although I would like to assure the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) that it is the thrust of the Green report, my submission to the Government and the Government’s decision that these reports be made public. This can be done on an administrative basis and we see no need for it to be embodied in the legislation.


-The Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) having replied I would briefly like to make a plea, in addition to that made by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), with regard to this amendment. I believe the amendment is a sensible one. I will accept the assurance of the Minister that it is intended to make the reports public. But in the parliamentary sense this is not always a satisfactory procedure for reports of tribunals of this nature which are conducting inquiries and which may, as is indicated by this clause, have varying opinions.

I suppose that we as parliamentarians are expected to keep an eye on what happens in respect of these sort of statutory bodies and that we should be able to discuss what is contained in their reports. It is rather more difficult for us to do this if a report is not published and tabled in the Parliament. I think the Minister should consider the suggestion that it is not a bad general principle that these sort of reports should actually come to the Parliament where they are tabled. The majority of reports tabled in this Parliament, of course, will go quietly by, as they always do, in our office in and out trays. But at least we will have the opportunity to note them and to bring them forward for discussion in a much easier manner. It may be that eventually the Parliament will reach the stage of maturity where reports that are required to be tabled will all be effectively examined by members of the House through a proper committee system.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I listened very carefully to the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) and I will take his comments into account when we are looking at further amendments to the legislation next year. But we are not in a position to accept the amendment now.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9.

Sections 31, 32 and 33 of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted:- “31.(1) The Commission shall consist of-

  1. 6 Commissioners, comprising, in respect of each State, a person ordinarily resident in that State; and
  2. 3 other Commissioners. “(2 ) At least 2 of the Commissioners shall be women.
Mr Eric Robinson:

– I move:

In proposed section 31(1)(b), omit ‘3’, substitute ‘not fewer than 3 nor more than 5 ‘.

This amendment is designed to allow the Commission to consist of no less than nine and no more than eleven. The original decision of the Government was that we would maintain the Commission at the same strength. But we are desirous, and indeed this is in the legislation, that each State will be represented by at least one Commissioner and that there will be 2 women on the Commission. When we considered the situation it was quite clear, bearing in mind the size of the representation from the State of New South Wales particularly, that it would not be possible to achieve this representation and to allow all the present commissioners to continue in office until at least the expiration of their appointed term. This amendment will allow the appointment of a representative from Tasmania, a representative from South Australia, which are not represented on the Commission at the present time, plus another woman, without in any way interfering with the term of office of the current commissioners.

Amendment agreed to.


-Mr Deputy Chairman, I seek leave to move two amendments together.

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


– I move:

In proposed section 31(1), at the end of proposed paragraph (b) add the following words: “of whom one shall be the elected representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff”.

Omit proposed sub-section(2).

One of the initiatives of the Labor Government of which I am proud was its success in starting in a small way to get worker participation and worker involvement in the running of at least one government organisation, namely, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This was a small and very tentative step towards something about which I think we shall be hearing more in the years to come. Mr Marius Webb was elected by the ABC staff as its representative on the ABC. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr Webb- I do not know him- but I had the pleasure of watching him the other night talking to Mr Malone on the television programme State of the Nation. I was most impressed with him. He struck me as a very articulate and intelligent human being who appears to be doing his job of representing the staff of the ABC extremely well. People to whom I have spoken have found him to be a delightful person, a person with some radical views in some areas, but a person who is doing what the ABC staff wants.

I am absolutely staggered that provision for a staff elected commissioner is not to be included in this legislation. Surely the Government can tolerate one commissioner to represent the staff out of eleven ABC commissioners. If the Government does not accept an amendment of this nature, very clearly any advocacy its members have for worker participation and worker involvement is just a bad joke. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) when talking about the general trends in industrial relations said that we want to have communications with the unions. The very first time the Government has an opportunity to enshrine in legislation this principle, which has been working in practice, it does not do so.

Mr McVeigh:

– Do you think the farmers would be the ones interested in culture?


– The honourable member interjects and mentions farmers. My experience of this Government is that farmers are represented on almost every board imaginable. We are now talking about ABC staff and worker participation. I understand that Mr Marius Webb is to be allowed to remain on the Commission. The Government has had second thoughts about sacking him. As I was saying, it is tragic that the Government has not taken this opportunity to appoint as one out of eleven people a permanent member of the ABC.

I want to turn to the question of the number of women on the Commission. Frankly this is the most outrageous proposal in the whole legislation. The number of women on the Commission was to be two. It is now, according to the Government-

Dr Cass:

– No, it was one.


-It was one. It was then to be two; it is now to be not less than three.

Dr Cass:

– No, it is two. You are reading the wrong line.


-Well, there are so many different amendments. The point is that it is not a question of whether there should be one, 2, 3 or 5 women; the number of women has been specified. This is sexism; it is tokenism at its best. It is male chauvinism at its worst. For some reason the Government has written in the number of women who should be allowed on the Commission. Is it any wonder that the younger women of today tear their hair out when they see this sort of sexism in legislation. The honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Thomson) finds this amusing. I hope he can find time to explain to the women of Leichhardt how it is amusing. If the honourable member cannot see this situation, I am sorry, as there is no hope for him. The situation is exactly as I have described it. It is sexism.

I do not mind if there are 1 1 women on the Commission or if there is none. The object of the exercise is that women on merit should be able to serve on this Commission. I am sure that there are plenty of women who have that merit. But if we specify a number, whether it is 2, 3 or 5, quite clearly that is the minimum number. What will happen is that two out of eleven members to be appointed will be women. That will be the minimum. The Government has done its bit to show that it is interested in women’s affairs and women’s involvement. Good Lord, cannot the Government see that! Why should there be any mention of the number of women at all? What we want is a society in which women are getting the opportunity to advance and to take an equal place with men. They have been denied this right for so many years. I hope the Government will change its mind in relation to this clause and tear it out. Honestly, the Government is leaving itself wide open to be kicked in the pants.


-The Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), who is at the table, will be relieved to know that I rise to support the Government and oppose the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr

Cohen). I think the concepts which were put forward by the honourable member in respect of worker participation are rather inadequate. I suggest to the Committee that, to write into the legislation at this stage a provision which requires a representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Staffs Association to be appointed as a Commissioner, is, at the very least, premature and probably runs counter to a proper concept of the role of the Commissioners. Let me discuss very briefly concepts of worker participation. That phrase has been bandied about a lot. It refers to a number of things, according to the ideas which people have. The first idea which is often meant by worker participation is some sort of financial participation in the enterprise such as a staff shareholding in a company or a profit sharing arrangement. The best known example of staff shareholding in Australia, I suppose, is Fletcher Jones and Staff Pty Ltd where staff shareholding is part of the structure of the company. Of course, financial participation does not apply to public corporations or commissions such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

The second idea which is often meant by worker participation is representation on boards of directors or commissions. There are a number of disadvantages to be considered in this form of representation, as well as a number of advantages. But let me point to some of the problems. One problem is that representation on a commission or a board of directors by, say, an elected representative of the staff or employees of an organisation can mean mere tokenism. The commission or company can ensure that it has one representative of the staff as a director. It appoints 8 other people in a manner which 6 ensures that the one representative of the staff is outvoted eight to one every time. This does not necessarily mean a great deal in terms of real participation by the staff of an organisation in the decision making process of that organisation.

Another problem which sometimes arises is one of conflict of interests between the role which a person has to play as a member of the commission and his role as a representative of the staff. Let me point to a commission which is within the Minister’s portfolio and which I think provides a very good example of this situation. I refer to the Postal Commission. A member of that Commission is Mr George Slater. I know he is an appointed member and was not elected by the staff. But in a sense he is a representative of the union concerned because he is the general secretary-treasurer of the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union. Mr Slater was in the interesting position of being a member of the Commission at the time of the Medibank strike. As a member of the Commission I presume that he, with his fellow commissioners, expected employees of the Commission to turn up for work on the day of the declared Medibank strike. Post Offices were kept open in order to receive anyone who cared to turn up for work. But as an official of the union he had some responsibility for the action which the union subsequently took in disciplining members of the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union who in fact turned up for work in breach of the decision of the Federal Executive of that union that there should be a strike on that day. So Mr Slater had this rather impossible conflict of interests. I suggest that this is one of the problems that has to be resolved about formal staff representation on commissions of this nature.

The other point I make about representation on boards and commissions concerns the role commissioners are expected to play. By and large, ABC commissioners do not represent outside bodies. It seems to me that the present staff elected commissioner is the only person who is, in some sense, responsible to an outside constituency to whom he reports. The General Manager of the ABC, Mr Talbot Duckmanton, is not a member of the Commission. He has to walk out of Commission meetings, which he is usually allowed to attend, when the Commission decides that there is something too confidential for the General Manager to hear. But the representative of the staff is able to sit in the Commission. So, that is one problem, I ask: If we have commissioners who are in some sense representative of outside bodies, do we have an elected representative of the consumers- Auntie ‘s Nieces and Nephews or whatever organisation we might have? Do we have a representative of the management, such as the General Manager? Do we have a representative of government in a formal sense who formally reports to government?

We have seen how the present incumbent, the elected staff representative, in fact reports to his constituency. The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) earlier read out excerpts of a public report which that representative made lining up the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’ on the Commission, as far as he was concerned. So I believe an important matter of principle has to be determined here. Are members of the Commission to be appointed to represent some outside body or are they to be people appointed in their own right because of the expertise they have developed in various areas and perhaps representative of a broad range of interests, not necessarily of a specific group.

My objection to the legislation in its initial form was that it seemed that it required some people to be removed from the present Commission. I believe that people ought to be allowed to serve out their existing terms. That was something on which I had a strong view. Nonetheless I think it would be a mistake to write into the legislation a provision requiring a staff elected representative on the Commission. This Government very clearly is not against union representation on various boards and commissions.

Mr Donald Cameron:

- Sir John Egerton.


- Sir John Egerton is in such a position. Mr Hawke is on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. No one suggests that he goes out of the Reserve Bank board meetings and reports to the executive or the congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions on what has transpired at those Board meetings. I think that honourable members on both sides of the Committee would be horrified if confidential matters, discussed on the Reserve Bank board, were reported outside in that way. There is a great deal of merit in ensuring that there are suitable trade union representatives on various government boards and commissions. I suggest that writing into the legislation the provision in the form which has been suggested in the amendment is not the best way to go about it.

The third thing that is meant by many people when they talk of worker participation is the idea of job enrichment, job enlargement and consultation throughout the whole of an organisation. I suggest to the Committee that the Government’s legislation makes provision for a very substantial move in the direction of worker participation. The legislation provides for the setting up of a joint consultative committee which would bring together representatives of the Commission and of officers and full time employees of the Commission. If ABC staff members are genuinely concerned about having a real say in the affairs of the Commission it would be to their advantage to ensure that they make the most vigorous representations possible on the structure of this consultative committee and the way in which information from all sections of the ABC staff will be fed into it. In that way every section of the staff- the administrative, technical, creative and artistic staff- can make sure that at the appropriate level of the organisation they are able to have their say and to inject some element into the decision making processes of the ABC.


– I would like to support the amendments moved by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). This clause is a terribly strange mixture. If we look at the description of the commissioners in a generic way we find a genus geographic, that is that there must be one commissioner from each State; a genus female, that is that there must be 2 women; and then a genus others, which I suppose can mean anything. It is a very strange mixture If one had to specify the strangest amendment I suppose it would be that which proposes that a commissioner should be elected from amongst the staff. There is an increasing tendency towards worker participation in organisations. The Parliament of Europe has discussed this matter and has referred it to those parliaments which are interested in it. There has een very wide ranging discussion on the subject throughout the world. Here we have that situation within the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission, despite what honourable members are reading out about opinions and so on, with what happened with Marius Webb. It is not provided for in the Act.

I forget whether it was the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) or his predecessor as Minister for the Media who proposed that the ABC staff should have an election to nominate a Commissioner. The honourable member for Maribyrnong has given me a note which he received after making his speech in the second reading stage. The note is from the ABC Staff Association in Sydney. It points out that Marius Webb is not a Staff Association representative but represents ABC staff. He was elected from more than 30 candidates from all the ABC unions. So there were at least 30 nominations, including such prominent people as Richard Carleton, who is very well known to honourable members. That illustrates the intense interest that was taken in that election. There was a recent staff meeting of 2000 ABC employees who reconfirmed their commitment to a staff-elected commissioner. At the election 3649 staff members voted, which is more than half of the total staff. From what I have heard from honourable members opposite, they would say that this was unheard of participation for a union-type election in Australia. There is no doubt that the members of the staff feel very strongly about this commissioner. Mention was made of Mr Duckmanton not being able to attend. He ought to stand to see whether he can be elected by the staff. After all, there were 30 nominations last time. Why should he not be one of them?

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– Before the suspension of the sitting in supporting the Opposition’s amendments to clause 9 I commented on the strange generic origins of the Commissioners listed in this clause. I spoke to that Opposition amendment which deals with the appointment of an elected representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff and pointed out that, while there had not been previous provision for this, it had been something that a previous Minister had allowed. I pointed out the response that had been received from the staff and their interest in this appointment. I do not think I need go on further with that subject.

The other amendment deals with the inclusion in the clause of the words: ‘At least 2 of the Commissioners shall be women’. I think this is a most surprising part of the clause. Why do we not state that at least two of the commissioners shall be men, or whatever? To make this particular specification would seem to be a hangover from a bygone age. The fact that in the past we have had only one woman commissioner is no argument for showing our generosity by increasing the number to two. In fact, there is no reason why all the commissioners should not be women under certain circumstances. After all, surely judgment should be made on their suitability for the position on the Commission- on their particular abilities.

The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Baillieu) and I serve on the State Advisory Committee of the ABC in Victoria. I should think that the membership of that Advisory Committee would be about half and half, male and female. I can assure honourable members that although advisory committees are pretty toothless tigers some quite interesting discussion goes on at their meetings. In many ways the female members of the Committee are ahead of many of the men who serve on it in their attitudes to standards and types of programs and in a real understanding of how the Commission should function. So I think it is most unfortunate that these words have been included in the clause. I think that discretion should be used and women should not be mentioned specifically in this way. Why should not all the commissioners be women? If the sex of the commissioners is to be specified, we had better say as well that at least two shall be men.

I have some doubts about the provision in this clause concerning representation from each State. I know that it is probably included because some of the smaller States might feel that they might become neglected. But I think what we should be looking for are commissioners with a real interest in and knowledge of the field, who are willing to put forward their views irrespective of the geographical area from which they come or, indeed, irrespective of their sex. In rebutting the argument for a staff representative, some mention was made of the Joint Consultative Committee. Most of these consultative committees tend to become toothless tigers. I do not accept that they are any substitute for the worker or staff participation that we would get with a commissioner elected from the staff of the ABC. I know there is a lot of public interest in this matter. I urge the Government to give serious consideration to those amendments which the Opposition has put forward.


– I have been somewhat surprised to hear the various comments made by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) and, latterly, by the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins). I am absolutely staggered at the thought that the honourable member for Scullin is querying the appointment of 2 women to the Australian Broadcasting Commission under the provisions of clause 9 of this Bill

Mr Scholes:

– That is not what he is doing.

Dr Jenkins:

– That is a misrepresentation.


– It is not altogether misrepresentation because, after all, if honourable members recall, the honourable member for Scullin did interject when I was speaking on this very subject yesterday. The reason I query this is that it would appear to me that members of the Opposition want to have it both ways: they do not want to upset the women of Australia but they do not want to see provisions concerning their representation on the Commission included in the BUI. In the form of an interjection yesterday the honourable member for Scullin said: ‘At least how many men?’ My reply on that occasion was that the representation could be such that there would be no men if we could find sufficient suitable women for the position. So I am a little puzzled as to just where the Opposition stands on the appointment of women members to the Commission. I compliment the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) and the Government for making absolutely certain that there will be at least 2 women members on the Commission.

I want now to refer to another matter mentioned by the honourable member for Maribyrnong in his speech during the second reading debate on this Bill. At page 33 1 1 of Hansard he is recorded as having said:

  1. . when the vacancy occurred I was not able to find someone from Tasmania at the time . . .

It seems very strange to me that the Minister for the Media of the day could not find a suitable person in all of Tasmania. Perhaps he might care to elaborate on this. After all, m some ways it does not matter who is appointed. But this legislation points out very clearly that at least one member shall be appointed from each State. I should have thought that irrespective of whether it had to be a woman or a man he would have been able to find at least one from Tasmania.

A great deal of comment has been made, both during the second reading debate yesterday and the debate in the Committee stage today, in relation to a certain appointment, that being the appointment of a staff member. I do not want to harp on this particular issue; I think I said enough about it yesterday. Perhaps the Minister might care to make a comment at the conclusion of the Committee stage in relation to clause 9 as it relates to the actual position of this staff member, commonly known as Marius Webb. As I said yesterday and as I repeat today, at no stage has the Minister said that this man will be removed from office.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Speculation.


– As the Minister said, it is speculation. People have simply supposed that because the legislation is being altered he is the man that is to go. This proves to me that a certain amount of guilt is attached to this appointment. In other words, the Opposition believes that its man is not sufficiently capable of being able to hold the position, so logically he will be the one to go. I am not saying that that is the case. Members of the Opposition are saying it.

Mr Jull:

– What does Marius Webb do with the ABC now?


– I do not know what he does with the ABC, but if he is a member of the Commission and a staff appointment I take it that he has 2 positions.

Mr Jull:

– I think he has.


-The honourable member for Bowman says that he thinks he has 2 positions. I should like the Minister to answer this question. Has Marius Webb 2 positions? If so, does he receive 2 salaries?

Mr Cass:

– Come off it.


– The honourable member for Maribyrnong does not like that. I am asking a question: Does he receive 2 salaries? My colleagues on the Government side say: ‘Of course he does’. I suppose that is fair. But it is rather strange that the real policy of the Opposition has always been to ensure that a person does not hold 2 jobs. Here is one occasion on which it breaks down. The real purpose of my rising to speak to this particular clause of the Bill is in relation to the recommendation contained in paragraph 364 of the Green report which states:

In addition, the Act does not provide for any maximum retiring age for Commissioners, and it would seem desirable that some maximum retirement age should be introduced. As the role of the Commissioner is part-time, the Inquiry believes that a maximum retiring age of 70 should be prescribed in the legislation. The Inquiry also believes that the maximum period of membership should be 10 years . . .

Mr Stewart:

– You would not be in the House.


– I certainly have a long time to go before I reach the retiring age. I think that the same would apply to all Government members. I cannot be so sure of honourable members opposite.

Mr Martyr:

– You are saying that because they use walking sticks.


– There is the odd one who uses a walking stick. I invite the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to comment, if he so desires, on whether he will give due consideration to paragraph 364 of the Green report which deals with the retiring age. I think it is common knowledge today, particularly in such areas as the ABC, that youth prevails. There is no doubt that, at 70 years of age one is getting on.

The only other comment I make on that point is that I do not altogether go along with the Green report when it recommends that the maximum membership time should be 10 years. There are plenty of people, perhaps of my vintage, who could be appointed to the Commission, serve for more than 10 years and certainly be well and truly under 70 years of age. Perhaps that might answer the earlier interjection of the honourable member for Lang. I think that a maximum of 10 years service to the Commission is perhaps a little miserly. I believe that if a man or a woman is appointed to the Commission at well under 60 years of age, he or she should not automatically have to retire after serving for 10 years. I go along with the recommendation of retirement at 70 years and I hope that the Minister might give some indication as to whether he would consider introducing it, not necessarily in this legislation but on some future occasion. The other 2 points on which the Minister might comment are whether he has somebody in mind to represent Tasmania, because I think this is a terribly important point, and whether the staff member of the Commission does receive 2 salaries- as a Commissioner, on the one hand, and as a staff member on the other.


– I am concerned about 2 aspects of this legislation. The honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) made a rather strange speech. It is fairly common knowledge that one of the major aims and especially one of the major demands of the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was the removal of the staff commissioner. Earlier this evening the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) made certain remarks about the lack of parallel with the Postal Commission and the Telecommunications Commission which have trade union representation.

Mr Falconer:

– I did not mention Telecom.


-The honourable member mentioned the secretary of one union by name. I am concerned about this remark because I feel that with the already dubious record of this Government in that area, this may foreshadow a move at some time in the future to have those members of those Commissions replaced. I would like an assurance from the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) on this matter because I believe that those staff members have been a valuable addition to those Commissions and have helped, not hindered, industrial relations, even if their appointment may have created difficulties. If we do not appoint people to commissions because their appointment may create difficulties concerning some conflict of interest, there are very few people indeed who could be appointed to anything. For instance, any person who is likely to use the banking system for any purpose could not be appointed to the Board of the Reserve Bank because there must be at some time a conflict of interest. I suggest that what is required is experience and competence to do the job.

Mr Sullivan:

– That was lacking.


-The honourable member is neither experienced enough nor competent enough to judge. The fact of the matter is that to attack a particular commissioner, not because he may not be able to do the job, but because of his derivation, is quite improper. I think the judgment must be made on whether a person can do the job. The honourable member for Wimmera talks about whether a person receives 2 salaries. Those people who are farmers and are appointed to the Commission are paid a salary; those people who are businessmen who are appointed to the Commission are paid a salary. I see no reason why another person appointed to the Commission in similar circumstances should not be paid the same amount. You cannot make fish of one and fowl of the other. The Minister himself is paid a salary as a member of Parliament. He is also paid a salary as a Minister. That is a two-salary situation; one is derived from the other.

I make one other point: The honourable member for Wimmera totally misrepresented the remarks of both the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) and the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) relating to the appointment of women to the Commission. The argument is not that women should not be appointed. Honourable members on the other side do not have a very good record in that regard but it is hoped that that will change. The argument is that women should be appointed on their merits and not purely because 2 positions must be filled by women. That is the argument. They should be eligible to be appointed to boards and commissions and they should not require the protection of having a maximum and minimum situation written into the legislation. I hope that the Minister will not bow to any pressure which may be exerted on him to interfere with what I think is a satisfactory relationship on the boards of the Postal and Telecommunication Commissions. I hope that when judgments are made on the relative merits of the commissioners of the ABC, that the merits of their performance and not their derivation is what is judged.


– I oppose the amendment but in doing so I want to make it quite clear- and I think it is well known in this place and outside- that I have fought and worked for the last 2 months to retain on the Australian Broadcasting Commission the duly elected commissioner elected by a vote of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association. I do not believe there is any inconsistency in opposing the amendment put forward by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) tonight and in taking the stand which I have taken in respect of the other matter. I want to point out, with respect, that the honourable member for Maribyrnong and his Government had 3 years in which to write this into the legislation, had they so chosen to do. The fact that they did not does not mean that in 1 976 or 1 977 it would not be appropriate to write some sort of amendment into the legislation. But I cannot support it tonight and the principal reason is that as a result of the decision of the Government and the announcement of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), the particular commissioner will be remaining in office until 1978. Also, if the role and position of one commissioner is to be prescribed or specifically defined, it is a matter of logic that others will say: Why do you not set down criteria in respect of other commissioners? I wish to place on record in this debate that I and this Government are totally committed to the absolute independence of the ABC. I feel I am entitled to make that statement because not only has the Minister made a similar statement on a number of occasions but also the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has done so on a number of occasions. It was actually demonstrated to the nation on 2 occasions last week. I draw attention to those 2 occasions because I believe that Parliament should take note of what occurred.

The first occasion was the public contretemps between the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Commission. I say frankly that nothing but good has come out of that public difference of opinion. The Prime Minister expressed a view, as he was entitled to do, with respect to the cut backs to the ABC. The Chairman of the Commission responded by saying that he would not be prepared to see the Australian Broadcasting Commission subject to any political interference.

We saw on the ABC television news on Thursday night- no doubt it is kept on videotape- the Chairman of the Commission protesting against political comment by the Prime Minister of Australia. The Prime Minister is on record as saying: ‘Quite right. The public will now realise that we are in fact not exerting political pressure ‘.’ I believe even the honourable member for Maribyrnong would take comfort from the fact that when public confrontation of that nature occurs there can no longer be any doubt that this Government will not seek to interfere politically with the ABC and will not seek to impose its will upon the ABC. The Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, with the support of every single commissioner, and no doubt the staff and management of the ABC, will not tolerate political interference. Let us put an end to the nonsense that in some way the Fraser Government is seeking to impose its political will on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. For as long as I have the honour to be a member of this Parliament, and after, I will oppose any political interference to the ABC, whether it comes from the Liberal side of politics or from the Labor side of politics. I believe that the overwhelming majority of Australians want to see an ABC which is independent and free from political control.

The second matter to which I want to refer briefly is the question which surrounds clause 9 and the amendment moved to it by the honourable member for Maribyrnong. Clause 9 concerns the continuation in office of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association commissioner. I want to say frankly that I regard it as less than just that the Press saw fit to report the change of decision on that part of the Government last week as a backdown. I want to say publicly that I am proud to be a supporter of a government which is prepared to reconsider its position and in particular is prepared to pay some attention to the opinions expressed by its back benchers. From 1972 to 1975 Australia had a goverment which never paid attention to the opinions of its back benchers. I want to say that rather than being a backdown, the announcement by the Minister on Friday of last week represented on behalf of the Government an acceptance of a broad consensus from the back bench and from the community. I reflect on no Minister when I say it does not matter whether the Liberal Party or the Labor Party is in power that many backbenchers are closer to the people and more in touch with public opinion than are many Ministers.

I say with respect to the Minister that never have I had an opportunity to deal with a Minister who is more willing to meet, more willing to discuss and more willing to debate questions of Government policy which come before the Parliament. If I were a member of the ABC staff I would say ‘Thank Heaven’ that the ABC has a Minister of the calibre of the present Minister. I say this because he has shown over the last few weeks under the glare of national publicity that he is a man who is prepared to talk, listen and come up with a compromise solution. As I said earlier I have fought for the retention of Marius Webb. I do not even know him. I have never spoken one word to him, but he is the duly elected representative of the ABC Staff Association. In all this period the Minister has been prepared to receive deputations and views from inside this Parliament and outside this Parliament at all hours of the day and night. I can say, without reflecting on any other Minister-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Order! I remind the honourable member for Denison that the amendment under debate does not really concern the Minister.


-Thank you, sir. I take the point. I will return to the amendment. I just wanted to make the point, before moving to my last remarks on the clause, that the Minister in my opinion has handled this matter absolutely magnificently.

Without in any way being disrespectful to the honourable member for Maribyrnong, let me remind the Parliament, the nation and the State of Tasmania that when a vacancy occurred on the Commission during the term of the Whitlam Government a Tasmanian was to be appointed. I say, with no disrespect to my Victorian colleagues, that a Tasmanian was not appointed; a lady from Victoria was appointed. With the greatest respect to the lady concerned I think it was unfortunate that a Tasmanian was left off the Commission and still remains left off. Like the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) who asked the Minister to give some indication about Tasmanian representation, I think it is fair to say that the Minister has made it quite clear that a Tasmanian representative will be appointed to the Commission very shortly and a Tasmanian will remain on that Commission for as long as this Government is in office. I hope that in the long distant future when the Government changes the new Government agrees with the principle that there will never be an Australian Broadcasting Commission without a Tasmanian or, I hope, without a South Australian.

For those reasons I have to oppose the amendment. I ask the Minister to give some consideration to an amendment being introduced within the next 12 months to give some form of representation to the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the Commission. It need not necessarily be a separately elected commissioner. It could be an office bearer. With those remarks I commend the Minister, as I believe he should be commended for the job he has done in respect of this legislation. I wish it every success. I hope the Government now will be recognised by the people of Australia as not wishing to indulge in any political interference whatsoever with the ABC.

Wide Bay

-I rise to speak to this clause because of the demonstration of outraged indignation by speakers from the Opposition who are particularly aggrieved at the presumption of this Government contained in proposed new section 31(2) which reads:

At least 2 of the Commissioners shall be women.

It is a pretty notion that in this day and age man and woman should have achieved equality. I guess there would not be a member in this House who would challenge the proposition that that should be so. The fact of the matter is that that is not a situation which has been achieved; it is a goal in prospect. The essential difference between the present Administration and the former government is that whereas the former pursued its ambitions with flamboyant enthusiasm, this Administration has kept its feet on the ground.

This Administration realises that through traditional and habitual inclinations people are inclined to overlook the qualifications and talents of the female. History has proven quite clearly that there is no dearth of women of capability, but the instinctive inclination is to overlook them. Proposed new sub-section 31(2) is not a condescending accommodation of woman’s aspirations but is a very practical device to ensure that when people address themselves to electing commissioners they do not by oversight miss the essential qualifications of women for appointment to the Commission. Rather than denigrating the role of the female the proposed subsection ensures that people are required to take pause and to consider the undeniable qualifications of women for the job. There are to be at least 2 women commissioners. The proposed sub-section does not necessarily preclude the possibility that all commissioners will be women. It is a very practical approach to the problem and realises that in their zeal the people concerned with the appointment of an efficient Commission might out of traditional practice overlook the unquestioned merit of the women candidates for the position.

The other point I want to make relates to the role of the staff appointment to the Commission. Quite clearly this question aggrieves the Opposition. The operative word is ‘representative’. There is clear evidence to suggest that by the fragmentation of votes from a multiplicity of candidates for such an election it is possible that the successful candidate would not represent the staff fully. This is a position which could in ali certainty exist today. What more logical form of maintaining rapport between the Tribunal and the staff is there than free ranging contact and communication over all phases of the industry activity? That is preferable to restricting contact through the avenue of one representative who may or may not adequately represent the views of the staff?

I am convinced that this Bill fully accommodates the desirable features of a tribunal and that there is no emasculation of the opportunities of staff representation within the Commission. Staff will achieve involvement in management practices not by one great leap which brings the workforce onto the management board but by a gradual process of the acceptance of the philosophy of the independence of that body. I suggest that there has not been a more urgent need for us to adopt the process of gradualism than is evident here. The illustration of Sir John Egerton was mentioned earlier tonight. As Jack Egerton, he was just another union spokesman whose merits were left to the judgment of those who observed his behaviour at the time. He was appointed to a board. He gained a taste of management. He developed an appreciation of the responsibilities of management. His behaviour and his status become more statesmanlike, so much so, that eventually he disqualified himself as an acceptable unit of the trade union movement. So, we must advance gradually here. We must ensure that there is a valid and viable rapport between the proposed Tribunal and the ABC staff. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that this gaol can be achieved by the appointment of one person. I strongly suggest- I express a total conviction in this respect- that the clauses of this Bill fully accommodate a realistic ambition to achieve what is desirable in terms of staff representation.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The 2 amendments moved by the Opposition are not acceptable to the Government. I will make one or two observations. If this principle was so important, I wonder why, in the 3 years of the Labor Administration, the then Minister did not see fit to introduce an amendment to the Bill which would have created such a situation. What happened was that a vacancy occurred and the Minister at that time decided to invite the staff to see whether they would like to elect a person who would then be appointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I understand that Mr Webb, who was elected, is paid as a commissioner and as a staff member of the ABC.

That is not really the key issue. The key issue is: What does the Opposition mean by worker participation? Worker participation does not equate with an elective system amongst employees to go on boards or commissions. If we take that to its fullest extent, if any party embraces that principle, it virtually says to all the large companies and corporations throughout Australia that it believes that the best way of managing their affairs on behalf of their shareholders and on behalf of the Australian community is to implement such a system. What the Liberal and National Country Parties mean by worker participation is somewhat deeper and broader than that. We want to achieve a true relationship between board and commission and between management and staff. What we are looking to and what this Bill includes is formal consultative machinery which will be set up so that all the components that make up the ABCall the various organisations, Actors Equity, senior officers, staff and so on- will be able to come together with management and with commissions for the common purpose of uniting the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the 6800 people it employs for its own benefit and for the benefit of the Australian community.

Surely it will be much more desirable and much more valuable to have a large group of people involved in creating the best circumstances under which the Commission can discharge its charter to the Australian community. An elective system to put one single commissioner on the ABC is not necessarily the best way to do that. We have not decided what our attitude is. We will wait arid see. When Mr Webb’s term of office expires we will then judge the situation upon the experience that the benefits of that single position has created and look to the benefits of the consultative machinery that we are creating.

I think that the Opposition is drawing a long bow about the appointment of 2 women to the Commission. All we are simply saying is that we believe it is necessary and desirable- bearing in mind the social impact, the educational impact and the concern for children in society- that at least two of the 9 people be women. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) invited me to give an assurance to the House about the Postal Commission and the Telecommunications Commission. Those Commissions are not the subject of debate tonight and I am not prepared to give any assurance in relation to them. Those Commissions have been in operation for 18 months. The Government is looking closely to see whether what has happened in the overall administration of those 2 large and substantial Commissions proves to be beneficial. I thought that the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) demonstrated a lack of acceptance of Tasmania when he admitted that he, as a Minister, was unable to find amongst half a million Tasmanians one single person with the qualifications necessary to serve on the ABC. Within a matter of days, it will be demonstrated that this Government is able to find a distinguished Tasmanian who will serve not only as a Tasmanian but indeed as an Australian in contributing to the ABC.

The honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) invited me to make comment on the question of the retiring age for commissioners and their tenure of office. This matter has been brought to the Government’s attention by the Green report. It suggests that the retiring age should be seventy and that the tenure of office should be no longer than 10 years. That provision is not embodied in the Bill. It is something that can be looked at administratively. I think, by and large, that concept is attractive to the Government. It is desirable to have people who have experience on the Commission for some time but it is also desirable to have new people coming in with fresh ideas and initiatives. The fact that we will be able to stage the appointments of commissioners for a period of up to 5 years, will enable us to have a combination of experience and of new people coming in to contribute new ideas. The Government rejects as unnecessary the amendment moved by the Opposition in relation to a staff elected commissioner. It believes it should not be part of the legislation. The Government regrets that the Labor Party should be opposed to the Government specifying that at least two out of 9 people on the Commission ought to be women.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Proposed new clause 10a.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I move:

After clause 10, insert the following new clause: “ 10a. Section 39 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (2) the words ‘four Commissioners shall form a quorum’ and substituting the words ‘a quorum is constituted by a majority of the Commissioners for the time being holding office. ‘. ‘.

This is a machinery clause and I hope that it is acceptable to the Opposition.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Clauses 1 1 and 12- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 13.

After Part IV of the Principal Act the following Part is inserted:- “Part IVA-The Public Broadcasting Service and the Public Television Service “ 1 1 lA. ( 1) Subject to this Act, the Minister may, on payment of the prescribed fee, grant to a person a licence to operate a broadcasting station or television station for one or more of the following purposes, as specified in the licence:-

  1. to provide services for people within a specified area;
  2. b ) to provide programs of a specified nature;
  3. to provide programs for a specified purpose. “(2) A public broadcasting licence or public television licence shall not be granted except to a corporation formed within the limits of the Commonwealth or a Territory, not being a corporation the objects of which include the acquisition of profit or gain for the benefit of its individual members. “(3) A public broadcasting licence or public television licence may be granted on such conditions, and in accordance with such form, as the Minister determines. “(4) It is a condition of a licence granted under this Part that the broadcasting station or television station, as the case may be, is to be operated only for the purpose or purposes specified in the licence in accordance with sub-section ( 1 ). “(5) The establishment, erection, maintenance and use of a public broadcasting station or public television station in pursuance of a licence under this Part shall be deemed not to be a contravention of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1 905 or of the regulations under that Act. “IIIB. Subject to section 1 1 1a, the other provisions of this Act apply, with such exceptions and subject to such modifications and adaptions as are prescribed, in relation to public broadcasting stations, public television stations, public broadcasting station licences, public television station licences and the holders of such licences as they apply in relation to commercial broadcasting stations, commercial television stations, licences for such stations and the holders of such licences.”.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Before the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) moves his first amendment to this clause, might I ask the Committee if it wishes to deal with the 3 amendments together?

Dr Cass:

– They could be dealt with together.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Does the Minister for Post and Telecommunications agree with that course?

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Yes.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I will allow that course to be followed.


– I move:

Omit proposed sub-section 1 11 a. (1), substitute the following proposed sub-section: “( I ) Subject to this Act, the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Tribunal and upon payment of the prescribed free, grant a person a licence to operate a broadcasting station or television station. “.

At the end of proposed sub-section 1 1 1a. (3) add: “in accordance with the recommendations of the Tribunal”.

Omit proposed sub-section 1 1 1 a. (4).

I shall briefly explain these proposals. Referring to the first amendment, as the clause now stands the Minister decides entirely on his own judgment, as the proposed section reads, to issue licences to public broadcasters. There is nothing in this clause to suggest that he takes advice from anybody. We accept the proposition that the Tribunal be set up and we are simply seeking to amend this clause to indicate that the Minister, in relation to public broadcasting stations, will act on the recommendation of the Tribunal, and then there shall be the payment of the fee and so on. That is the first point about our amendment. I think it is perfectly consistent, if I dare suggest this, with an amendment which the Minister is proposing to move to this clause. He proposes inserting an additional section to ensure that whatever happens under this legislation there will be public inquiries? Is that correct?

Mr Eric Robinson:

– That is right.


– Since the Minister is saying that, why not show that he will be acting on recommendations from those inquiries? That is the sole point of the exercise. We are not suggesting anything that the Government is not itself seeking. The way the legislation is drawn at the moment it looks as though the Minister could act without taking any notice of or even necessarily holding an inquiry. I quite concede, by the Minister’s proposed amendment, that there will be an inquiry so why not say that licences will be issued on the recommendation of the Tribunal? After all, that is what the Government is going to do for the commercial operators. There is nothing sinful in the suggestion. In fact it is a damn good idea. The Government is trying to get away from politicising the whole business. That is why it is proposing the Tribunal and why it is proposing that it should give advice in that way for commercial broadcasters. Why not do the same for public broadcasters? The Government then would not expose itself to any possible criticism of acting politically. I suggest this for the Government’s own protection. In a way I do not mind if the Government leaves it out because then it lays itself open to unnecessary criticism. Bad luck to it.

I am putting this as a positive and constructive proposal. If the Minister does this, I do not think he needs the other part of that section which we are suggesting should be omitted. There is no point saying that licences will be issued for a whole string of specific purposes which are laid down in this legislation because that is what the Tribunal will be doing. The Tribunal will be inquiring into the need and it will be suggesting the sorts of conditions which should be imposed. Once again the Government is covered and it does not look as though it is applying political pressure. It will have a quasi-judicial independent Tribunal providing it with all the advice it needs and giving it the restrictions it might want to oppose. The Government does not have to do it so why expose itself to the suggestion that it is being political? If we were administering this Act we would not want that sort of odium either, so why put the potential for it in the Act? It is superfluous to the Government’s needs and that is why we suggest this be omitted.

My second amendment seeks to add words to proposed subsection (3) which reads:

A public broadcasting licence or public television licence may be granted on such conditions, and in accordance with such form as the Minister determines.

We suggest the addition of the words: in accordance with the recommendations of the Tribunal.

I ask the Minister again: Why expose the Government to the charge that it is being political? Why not allow the Tribunal to make recommendations? The Minister does not have to take any notice of them. The final judgment is still left to the Government but at least it will be seen to be taking advice from an impartial quasi judicial body. That is the reason for our proposal.

Finally, we suggest the omission of proposed sub-section (4) which reads:

It is a condition of a licence granted under this Part that the broadcasting station or television station, as the case may be, is to be operated only for the purpose or purposes specified in the licence in accordance with sub-section ( 1 ).

Well, that is obvious. Why say it? Why clutter up the legislation with unnecessary verbiage like that? The station will operate under the conditions of the licence as suggested by the Tribunal and as the Government agrees when the licence is issued. Why does the Government have to say this? The Minister has already declared- he said this earlier in an earlier part of the debate on this Bill when we were discussing amendments- that the Tribunal will be the final arbiter about taste and the performance of the stations. In a way I agree with the Minister as long as he allows it to do it. If the Government is going to allow the Tribunal to do it for the commercial stations why not allow the Tribunal to do the same thing for the public broadcasting stations? Why try to take power unto itself, without any indication of support or advice or anything from the Tribunal, to just arbitrarily set conditions and arbitrarily issue licences? In my view the Government is exposing itself to unnecessary criticism of political control of the public broadcasters.

We proposed these amendments for those reasons. I hope the Minister recognises that they are not a Labor Party line. I am putting them forward as a commonsense approach to clarifying the legislation, to make it perfectly clear that decisions in all these areas are not going to be based on political considerations but on the advice of the Tribunal the Government is setting up and which is to be independent of Government interference and is to give clear unequivocal advice which the Government in any case is always able to accept or reject. We are not suggesting that the Government should be forced. We would not want to be forced either. We should be allowed to have the final say. If we disagree with recommendations of the Tribunal and if the Government disagrees with the recommendations of the Tribunal, which should be public, then we both defend ourselves. The Government has to give reasons and that is perfectly reasonable. That is what we mean by being accountable to the community. For those reasons we propose these amendments.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The Government does not agree to the 3 amendments moved by the Opposition. There is a misunderstanding by the Opposition as to the concept. Certainly in this transitional period the Minister still has the right- the final right- about whether licences are granted or not but the whole thrust and concept of the Government’s legislation is that the right of the Minister to decide whether licences will be accepted or not will lapse. With the new Tribunal and, when we get through this transitional period, with the legislation coming before the Parliament next year, the decision of the Tribunal as to which applicant gets the licence will be final and there will be no ministerial right to reject such a decision.

Dr Cass:

– Will that be for public broadcasters too?

Mr Eric Robinson:

-Yes. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) asked quite clearly whether this will be for public broadcasting. I assure him that exactly the same concept will apply to public broadcasting as to commercial broadcasting. The Government’s attitude is that public broadcasting has a different role from commercial broadcasting. Acceptance of the Opposition ‘s amendments would put the Government and the Tribunal into a situation where public broadcasting in fact could compete directly with commercial broadcasting. That is not the policy of the Government and that is not the recommendation of the Green committee. Public broadcasting has a specific role and therefore the provisions in the Bill to provide services for people within a specified area, to provide programs of a specified nature and a specified purpose, are essential to the thrust of the Government’s policy. Therefore on that basis the amendments are not acceptable because they would change the entire thrust of the Government’s policy. I again assure the honourable member for Maribyrnong and the Committee that we want to treat applicants for licences for public broadcasting in exactly the same way as we would treat applicants for commercial broadcasting.

Amendments negatived.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I move:

Omit proposed section 111b, substitute the following section:- “ ‘ 1 11b. (1) Subject to section 111a, the other provisions of this Act apply, with such exceptions and subject to such modifications and adaptations as are prescribed, in relation to public broadcasting stations, public television stations, public broadcasting station licences, public television station licences, the holders of such licences and the grant, renewal, suspension and revocation of such licences as they apply in relation to commercial broadcasting stations, commercial television stations, licences for such stations, the holders of such licences and the grant, renewal, suspension and revocation of such licences. “(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) enables regulations to be made that would affect the application of any provision of this Act to the extent that it requires the holding of an inquiry.’.”.

This amendment makes it quite clear that the grant, renewal, suspension or revocation of licences rests with the Tribunal. It simply tidies up the thrusts of the Government’s policy which I just announced to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14.

Before section 1 12 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted in Part v:- “ 1 1 lc. ( 1 ) The Minister may, with the approval of the Treasurer, out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose, provide financial assistance to commercial broadcasting stations and commercial television stations for the purpose of ensuring that programs of adequate extent, standard and variety are provided in the areas served by those stations. “(2) Where any financial assistance is provided under sub-section ( 1 ) in any year ending on 30 June, the Minister shall, as soon as practicable after that date, prepare a report setting out particulars of that financial assistance. “(3) The Minister shall cause a copy of a report prepared under sub-section (2) to be laid before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the report has been prepared. “ 1 11e. ( 1) For the purpose of discharging his responsibilities under section 1 11d, the Secretary to the Postal and Telecommunications Department may, subject to any directions of the Minister, make such orders, give such directions and do all such other things as he thinks fit. “(8) A copy of a direction given in writing shall be served personally (or, in the case of a corporation, by leaving it at the registered office of the corporation) or by post on the person required to comply with the direction and thereupon that person shall comply with the direction.

Mr Eric Robinson:

- Mr Deputy Chairman, I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the Committee if I moved both amendments together.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)-Is that course agreeable? There being no objection, that course will be followed.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-I move:

Omit proposed section 111c.

At the end of proposed section111e add the following sub-section: “ ‘ (9) Nothing in this section empowers the Secretary to make orders or give directions relating to matters of program content. “.

The first amendment omits from the Bill proposed section 1 1 lc which enabled, with the approval of the Treasurer, moneys to be appropriated by the Parliament for financial assistance to commercial broadcasting. This was drafted in the Bill. There is no real need for it. My understanding is that no Minister of the previous Administration or of previous Liberal-Country Party administrations acted upon it. Apparently it was an old provision which would have enabled the Government to give specific assistance to small rural stations. As honourable members would know, there is within the Parliament an opportunity to appropriate funds for specific purposes should the need arise. Therefore I have moved the amendment to omit the proposed section.

The second amendment adds a proposed section 1 11e. It is designed to be quite specific because, with the planning coming back to the Department, there is concern that power could be used by a secretary and, indirectly, by a Minister. We have disbanded the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The quasi-judicial powers for licensing have gone to the new Tribunal. Planning, which is akin to policy, has come back to the Department. To make it perfectly clear that secretaries of the Department and Ministers do not interfere with the day-to-day program content of commercial broadcasters, we seek to add the new section. Nothing in it empowers a secretary to make orders or to give directions relating to matters of program content. I think that ought to be acceptable to the Opposition because it makes perfectly clear that there will be no political interference by secretaries or Ministers in commercial broadcasting.


– I congratulate the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) on moving those 2 amendments. It has been of some concern to me that there has been a possibility of political interference, especially as some political parties own radio stations. Let us face the facts. If a government was not quite above board it would be possible for it to make grants to radio stations owned by its political Party. The amendment makes the section clear. As the Minister adequately explained, the new section takes the politics out of the media in that respect also. I ask the Minister whether he would explain proposed section 1 1 1D.( l)(a) which states that it shall be the responsibility of the secretary to the Postal and Telecommunications Department: to ensure the provision of services by broadcasting and television stations in accordance with plans for the development of the, system of broadcasting and television in Australia, being plans from time to time approved by the Minister . . .

Could he give us a brief explanation of the plans of which he is thinking and whether he is quite satisfied that there cannot be any political interference through the back door under the terms of that new section? That really is the only section which still provides a little grey area as far as I am concerned.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Let me assure the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) that whilst the Government is very much in favour, as I believe the Parliament ought to be, of planning being conducted by the Government and the Department, planning of the broadcasting system is a very substantial responsibility. We have believed for some time that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should not have the right to both planning and licensing. So the whole thrust is to divorce the two. It would have been possible to have the planning in the hands of yet another statutory authority. We decided- I believe properly so- that because planning was related and akin to policy it should go back to the Department. Of critical importance to this decision is the need to see that planning in relation to the Broadcasting Council would bring together all sections of the industry- the national, the public and the commercial sectors, the community and the Department. We have yet to discuss that Council. I notice that the Opposition has some amendments on that. The Council should be able to assist, to take initiatives with regard to planning. The honourable member for Bowman is knowledgeable. People who know his background will understand that he has been involved in the industry and is knowledgeable about it. I assure him and the Committee generally that the planning will be on a non-political basis. It is concerned with the system. It is concerned with the air waves, with the spectrum. We would see as essential to planning a co-operation, a liaison and a consultative role with the Broadcasting Council in which all elements of the system would play a part and, we hope, would play a part for the benefit of the entire system.

Amendments agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Progress reported.

page 3410


Ministerial Statement

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– by leave- The Government has reviewed the tariff structure prevailing in Australia consequent upon devaluation of the Australian dollar. As a result of this review, the Government re-affirms that there will not be any general or across the board reduction in tariffs. It has, however, decided upon action in selected areas either to remove temporary assistance or to reduce tariff levels where such reductions will not have adverse effects on local industry. In reaching these decisions the Government has had in mind the difficult competitive position of Australian industry which has developed in recent years due to a combination of escalating domestic costs, exchange rate variations and some ill-considered indiscriminate tariff reductions.

In determining the changes I am about to outline the Government has been particularly concerned to ensure that any undue inflationary effects from the tariff arising from devaluation are eliminated without adversely affecting the improved competitive position attained by Australian industry in consequence of the devaluation. Whilst for the reasons explained in this statement the Government has decided against general tariff adjustments the specific decisions taken and which I shall outline shortly affect approximately $2000m of Australia’s imports and will make a significant contribution towards moderating import price increases following devaluation.

As honourable members will be aware, there were massive increases in wage levels in Australia in 1974 and early 1975 relative to increases in wages taking place in our major trading partners, and, in particular, the United States of America and West Germany. These increases have had the effect of significantly reducing the competitive position of Australian industry. By way of illustration, in the last 6 years wages in Australia’s manufacturing industry increased by 130 per cent compared with 53 per cent in the United States and 70 per cent in West Germany.

In addition to the increases in wage levels in Australia compared to those occurring with our trading partners since December 1971, the value of the Australian dollar had prior to devaluation increased relative to that of the United States dollar, notwithstanding the devaluation by the Labor Government of 12 per cent in September 1974. Further, since December 1972 there has been also the 25 per cent across the board tariff cut of July 1973 and a number of other tariff reductions of considerable importance to particular industries. Taken together all these factors have resulted in a very considerable erosion in the competitive position of manufacturing industry since December 1972.

According to estimates made by the Industries Assistance Commission in its 1975-76 annual report, the general competitiveness of the Australian import-competing sector, which essentially means manufacturing industry- as indicated by movements in a combined index of changes in Australia’s exchange rate, the inflation rate in Australia compared with that in other countries and reductions in tariff protection and other assistance- declined by 17 per cent between 1970-71 and 1975-76. The reduction in competitiveness has had a major effect on employment in manufacturing industry which fell by almost 100 000 between May 1974 and the end of June 1976. This reduction has been compounded by the tendency of some sections of Australian manufacturing industry to move offshore in order to minimise the cost disadvantages involved in local manufacture. Only when viewed against these figures and developments can the notional increase in protection resulting from the recent devaluation of the Australian dollar be seen in its true and correct perspective.

The Government is therefore firmly of the view that any attempt to offset fully the effect of devaluation in improving the competitive position of manufacturing industry by a general compensatory tariff cut would be unwise and very costly to industry confidence. In addition such an approach is not appropriate to a situation where the exchange rate is being administered on a flexible basis. The Australian dollar has already moved upwards since the new exchange rate arrangements were introduced.

Whilst the protective consequences of a partial compensatory tariff cut would be less severe it would nonetheless introduce an element of great uncertainty at a time when industry confidence is so critical to economic recovery. Nevertheless, the Government is concerned that in some areas existing levels of assistance are now more than is necessary to permit industry to be competitive with imports and that a contribution to restraining the rate of inflation can be made by reducing selected areas of assistance.

The Government has therefore decided to remove a number of temporary assistance measures. It is the Government ‘s intention that:

  1. As from to-morrow 8 December 1976, quantitative restrictions on completely built up passenger motor vehicles and tariff quotas on completely knocked down passenger motor vehicles will be removed.
  2. ) The tariff quotas on galvanised steel sheet and the temporary duty on monochrome T.V. receivers and certain related electronic components will be removed as soon as the necessary tariff arrangements can be made.

In relation to motor vehicles circumstances now permit the temporary restrictions to be removed. However, the Government reaffirms its policy that about 80 per cent of the domestic market will be preserved for the local industry.

The Government is also satisfied that the other temporary assistance measures listed above can now be removed. However I should make it clear to the House that temporary assistance measures applying to footwear, clothing, textiles, and domestic appliances, files and rasps, fine papers, plywood and orange juice are not affected by these decisions. It was considered that removal of temporary assistance measures on these products at this stage might lead to a recurrence of disruption.

I would remind honourable members that under the provisions of the Industries Assistance Commission Act no action to remove temporary assistance measures flowing from an interim IAC report can be taken without receiving a final report from the Commission. This restraint does not apply in respect of temporary assistance measures imposed following reports by the Temporary Assistance Authority.

The Government has also decided to act on the IAC’s report for Multilateral Trade Negotiations. This report was commissioned to provide a basis for possible tariff reductions in the context of those negotiations. It was received by the Government in January 1976 and has been under study in departments since then. It provides the basis for a wide range of tariff reductions which will have a cost saving effect. The IAC has stated in this report that, in making recommendations, its approach was not to recommend a reduction in duty if such a reduction appeared likely to have generally adverse effects on local industry. In its report the Commission found that:

  1. 1 ) The British preferential margin could be eliminated by reduction of the general tariff rate for about 700 items.
  2. The British preferential margin could be reduced by reduction of the general tariff rate for about a further 100 items.
  3. Both British preferential and general tariff rates could be eliminated for about another 100 items.

These tariff reductions will be implemented as soon as administratively possible but because of the wide range of tariff items covered, not all changes will be completed until 31 January 1977. Preliminary details of these changes will be available through customs houses as soon as possible. The Government has taken these concessionary measures as part of its economic package in order to modify possible cost increases and emphasises that the reduced rates are provisional. The rates may be confirmed or adjusted in the light of future circumstances.

Honourable members will be aware that the Temporary Assistance Authority machinery is available in the event of any unforeseen disruption caused to local industries as a consequence of these tariff reductions. In total, these changes will affect in excess of 900 tariff items out of a total of about 2,750 items in the Customs Tariff. Imports of goods covered by these proposals total about $ 1,800m. Details of the IAC’s report on the Multilateral Trade Negotiations will be released as soon as copies are available.

The Government also considered the removal of primage duties. Primage duty is a customs duty separate from normal tariffs. It was introduced as a temporary revenue measure in the 1 930s and over the years it has been removed on an item by item basis as opportunities have arisen. Primage still applies to about 350 items in the tariff, generally at rates of either 3 per cent or 7 per cent ad valorem. Primage duty collected in 1975-76 was about $8.5m and it is estimated that total trade subject to primage is in the vicinity of $150m. Some primage duties will be removed as a result of the action now to be taken on the IAC’s MTN report. The Government has decided to refer the remaining primage duties which are not covered by the actions outlined above or already under reference, to the IAC for study and report.

In addition the Government will immediately examine those reports of the IAC currently held, in respect of which no decisions have been taken to determine whether any of those reports should be returned to the IAC for reassessment in the light of devaluation. When this examination has been completed a further statement will be made. The by-law system makes provision for duties to be waived on imported goods for which suitably equivalent goods are not reasonably available from Australian producers. A considerable proportion of Australian imports of capital equipment and producer materials enters under the customs by-law system. The operation of the customs by-law system will help ensure that the price effects of devaluation are not unnecessarily inflated by the tariff.

I would like to point out to honourable members that, through the operation of the customs by-law system and because of the fact that a large number of tariff items provide for duty free entry, in excess of 60 per cent of Australia’s imports enter duty free. In deciding against across the board changes in long term levels of assistance the Government noted that there were a number of areas where tariffs are considerably higher than the general level. As indicated in the Government’s pre-election statements it is the Government’s view that these areas of the tariff should be subject to close and continuing review. The Government, therefore, reaffirms that it will proceed with the tariff review program in accordance with the current timetable. This will ensure that those areas enjoying very high levels of protection will be subject to review. Decisions on tariff review reports will be taken in the light of the improved competitive position of Australian industry resulting from devaluation.

I should make it very clear that the Government would be extremely concerned if any sections of manufacturing industry were to apply the benefits of devaluation towards wage settlements outside indexation principles. If evidence emerges that this is occurring the Government will not hesitate to refer the industries concerned to the IAC for early review and report. This approach will complement the action I have already foreshadowed in respect of surveillance by the Prices Justification Tribunal of any unjustified price increases following devaluation. The Government considers that the devaluation of the Australian dollar combined with the actions I have announced in relation to the tariff should ensure that the competitive position of Australian industry is restored without unnecessarily adding to inflationary pressures in the economy.

I commend the statement to the House. I present the following papen

Tariff Structure Review- Ministerial Statement, 7 December 1976

Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP

– Prior to moving that the House take note of the Paper, I suggest to the House that after we have heard from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) that the debate be adjourned and that we have a cognate debate with the customs tariff legislation which is proposed for discussion tomorrow. On that basis I move:

That the House take note of the paper.

Port Adelaide

-Just one week ago a number of honourable members on this side of the House and one right honourable member on the other side of the House, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr William McMahon), predicted that this decision would have to be taken and taken quickly. This decision obviously should have been made with the decision to devalue. It is not a decision we support but, with the devaluation, any reasonable person would have suggested to the Government that this decision had to be taken, but not in this form. Nevertheless the decision has been taken and it warrants some comment from the Opposition.

The Liberal Government made its grab for power on the basis that it could provide the economic management which Australia needed to meet the problems of inflation and unemployment. It claimed that these problems were the results of mismanagement by the Australian Labor Party Government. These problems which Australia faced in 1974-75 were a reflection of the state of our principal trading partners. These problems are still faced by Australian industry. Where is the Government’s White Paper arising from the Jackson Committee report on manufacturing industry which would show Australian industry the means by which it could arrest its competitive decline?

There can be no doubt that devaluation has removed many manufacturing industries from the grey area of uncertainty which existed prior to the Government’s announcement. As I have stated on many occasions, it was not the sole responsibility of wage and salary earners to accept the burden of getting industry out of its plight. The Government is always keen to name those whom it says are carrying an unfair share of the economic burden. Then the Government mentions the mining companies and great rural interests.

On our side of the House we believe that those, who through government policies have lost thenjobs or the school leavers who have no hope of finding a job, are the people carrying an unfair burden. One might ask: How does this spate of ad hoc economic decision making affect the livelihood of the working people of this country. Devaluation has been exposed as a grossly incorrect economic decision. It is further exposed as such when now, 9 days later, we are debating a further decision on tariffs and revaluation.

The tariff question should have been thought out before devaluation. If devaluation were necessary it should have been announced at the same time to avoid the mass confusion which has arisen. Devaluation, of course, in essence means the following to Australian industry: Substantial increase of protection for Australian industry; those industries using imported materials and components will have to adjust to the cost impact of those imported goods; and exports of manufactured products will become more competitive. Other countries such as the United Kingdom which have recently devalued will still offer strong competition but our industries should compete on more favourable grounds with countries such as Japan and the United States. When one looks at the nominal rate of protection from 1968-69 to 1974-75 and then looks at the impact that devaluation has had upon those rates, one can readily ascertain the gigantic hike in tariffs which takes place following such a massive devaluation.

In 1 968-69 the average rate of tariff was 24 per cent. In 1974-75 it was 17 per cent. To get the same effect as a devaluation of IVA per cent a tariff rate of 17 per cent would have to be increased to 42 per cent. For instance, to use the figures of the relevant Department, a 10 per cent tariff rate following upon the 17& per cent devaluation goes to 33 per cent; 20 per cent goes to 45 per cent; 30 per cent goes to 57V4 per cent; 40 per cent goes to 70 per cent; and 50 per cent goes to 82 per cent. As I have stated previously, the gains are greatest immediately. But there are many factors which could quickly alter that position such as other currency changes, increases in local costs, inflation rates, and policies of countries exporting to Australia. Let us look at local costs. Some industry associations have been opposed to any change to tariffs following devaluation. They see this as a time to adjust and to consolidate. However, the longer cuts are put off the sooner the enormous increase in the cost of our imports will be channelled into the consumer price index. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said that it would be difficult to quantify the change in the CPI following devaluation. However, a jump in the inflation rate of about 5 per cent could be expected during 1 977.

I pose the question to those industries opposed to tariff alterations: Are they prepared to live with an inflation rate of between 16 per cent and 18 per cent and meet their responsibilities in accepting full indexation? To people connected with the trade unions who believe that it is good to hand out additional massive doses of protection, I say that nothing will save their jobs if the inflation rate, coming as a result of devaluation, is not reined in. In selected areas of industry, of course, there were problems of adequate protection. If the Government had had any brains at all this situation would have been recognised months ago. Nine days ago we had devaluation. Today we have selective tariff cuts. Some time in the future we will have the White Paper on manufacturing industry. If this is the sort of Government process, thought up by the Government to build business confidence, I will have to say that business is easily pleased.

In this exercise it is not only the general tariff rate which comes up for discussion. In some industry fields there are quotas and restrictions which apply over roughly 25 per cent of our manufacturing industry. It is inconsistent to say, as the Minister said in his statement:

As from tomorrow, 8 December 1976, quantitative restrictions on completely built up passenger motor vehicles and tariff quotas on completely knocked down passenger motor vehicles will be removed.

Then two paragraphs later he said: the Government reaffirms its policy that about 80 per cent of the domestic markets will be preserved for the local industry.

I wonder how long this decision of the Government will last, in view of the decisions that have been taken by Nissan and Toyata motor companies to become involved in manufacturing in Australia. The second paragaph on page 98 of the Industries Assistance Commission report on passenger motor vehicles says:

The evidence available indicates very high levels of cost disadvantage against Japan and lower levels of disadvantage against the USA and Europe. Cost disadvantages against vehicles produced in Japan, excluding freight to Australia, ranged from about 70 per cent to over 100 per cent on small light cars, between 80 and 85 per cent on large light cars, and approximately 45 per cent on medium cars.

It is obvious from that statement and from the work of the IAC that this is another Government decision that will have to be reversed in 9 days’ time because I do not know how the Government is going to maintain 80 per cent of the local market for local manufacturers and lift the restrictions on the quotas if Nissan and Toyata can effectively stay off-shore and more than compete with the local manufacturing industry without those quotas and restrictions. The first people who will be found on the Government’s doorstep tomorrow will be the industry leaders, the trade unions and Premiers of those States that have those massive industries. They will be telling the Government that this is another decision that has to be reversed. Clearly it is one that has not been thought out by the Government.

I turn now to monochrome television. Will someone from the other side please tell me how this decision will affect the local industry? In cost saving terms, the decision on monochrome television is in keeping with the Government’s recent economic decisions- it is absolutely laughable. Footwear, clothing, textiles and domestic appliances, unaffected by tariff reductions, will add enormously to the cost of living in Australia. Unless people anticipated devaluation- that would not have been difficult- those goods already on the water will cost consumers dearly. Let me repeat that a 35 per cent tariff applying before devaluation now becomes effectively approximately 65 per cent. Some of the industries which I have mentioned are in that category.

I want to refer also to the remarks of the Minister because they are interesting inasmuch as some other policies are concerned. I was very pleased to hear so many honourable members opposite saying ‘hear, hear’ when the Minister announced that the Government would be quick to act on those firms who used the advantages of devaluation to add to any wage settlements other than wage indexation. I wonder whether we are going to see another indexation or wage packet coming from this Government. Let us look at some of the things that have been said. If it had not been said here tonight one would only have had to follow the Government’s recent announcement to realise that the following words should be written into anything the Government has said:

The Government has taken these concessionary measures as part of its economic package in order to modify possible cost increases and emphasises that the reduced rates are provisional.

Then follows the big question mark hanging over all the industries, all of our trading partners and all the people who are involved:

The rates may be confirmed or adjusted in the light of future circumstances.

The Minister told us in his statement that 900 items out of a total of 2750 are affected, and that imports of goods covered by these proposals total about $ 1,800m. That is just a little less than 25 per cent of our total imports. Let us do some quick arithmetic on what this will cost the consumer. The Government should realise that once the increased cost of the other 78 per cent of our imports is channelled into the cost of living in Australia the Government will be facing not only a massive increase in inflation in 1977 but also, unless it accepts wage indexation, major industrial upheaval.

In conclusion I draw the attention of honourable members to that part of the Minister’s statement which said:

I should make it very clear that the Government would be extremely concerned if any sections of manufacturing industry were to apply the benefits of devaluation towards wage settlements outside indexation principles.

I would like some honourable members opposite who have some influence- there do not appear to be any sitting there tonight- to tell me whether the Government will abide by indexation, because in an earlier part of the Minister’s statement he said that one of the things which the Government has done is to carry out this review on the basis of a pre-election promise. It also had a pre-election promise to abide by wage indexation. If the Government is going to thrust all these additional cost burdens on the consumers of Australia and is then going to go to the wage fixing tribunal and say ‘we will not abide by indexation’ it is obviously heading for industrial upheaval which it will not be able to handle. I am pleased to see in this statement that the Government is saying that as long as the wage settlements are on the basis of indexation it will accept them. We should remember that the prediction for the December quarter is for an increase in the vicinity of 5 per cent. So we expect the Government of Australia to go to the wage fixing commission and say: ‘We support wage indexation. We do not want additional advantages ‘ -

Mr Howard:

– You do not understand the principle.


-The Minister says that I do not understand the principle. This Government has had a principle every 12 months to suit its own terms of reference. The fact is that the credibility of the Government has been completely destroyed. No one believes it. The poor Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) had to front up on a television program last night, and no one believed him, because the credibility of the Government has been completely destroyed. We see it here again. The Government says that it will not allow devaluation advantages to add to any spiral of wages. The Opposition supports indexation. We are asking the Government to do the same. Then the

Government says, almost laughingly, that if other action has to be taken on prices it will refer it to the Prices Justification Tribunal. The Prices Justification Tribunal exists in name only, and the Government knows that as well as I do. That was another one of its pre-election promises- to abandon the concept of the Prices Justification Tribunal. So that reference to the Prices Justification Tribunal does not in any way submerge the massive incompetence of this Government in economic management, particularly over the past fortnight.

Time and again it has been exposed, not just by this side of the House but by many of its own side. As one honourable senator on the Government side said today: ‘If Labor had the majority in the Senate it ought to throw the Government out’. This has been a case of massive mismanagement. Here again the Government is telling the motor vehicle industry in particular, the one large industry affected by the statement, that it will not be able to continue -

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

Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.

page 3415


In Committee

Consideration resumed.

Clause 15.

Section 134 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) the following paragraph: (ba) the establishment and constitution of a Broadcasting Council for the purposes of sub-section (2) of section 1 6 and sub-section (2)of section HID;’.


-Supporters of the Government, including the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), have spoken a lot about the Broadcasting Council and all the wondrous things it will do. How it might be set up is mentioned only in this clause. One could hardly describe 5 lines of explanation as a clear indication of how it is going to be set up. In fact, the clause simply states that the Broadcasting and Television Act will enable regulations to be drawn up to establish the Broadcasting Council. I was nearly prompted to contribute to the discussion on the previous amendment moved by the Minister when one of the Government supporters asked about government interference- any government, Liberal or Labor- in the planning of the broadcasting system. The Minister gave assurances, but I shall not go over them.

The point is that we are all being naive. The reality is that any government at any time can interfere with the planning procedures as specified in this Bill or in the Broadcasting and Television Act. It would be quite simple. As the question of political interference has come up, let us stop the humbug. It is possible to interfere with the Australian Broadcasting Commission even without touching the commissioners. It depends for its functioning upon finance. Ultimately the Government has the final say as to what finance it will receive. All the Government has to do is to cut the finance and that is the end of the freedom of any organisation dependent upon finance provided by the Parliament. So let us stop the humbug. I am not saying that the Liberal-National Country Party Government necessarily is going to do this. People can make up their own minds by judging the Government’s performance. I admit that a Labor Government could do exactly the same thing. Whether the previous Labor Government did it or not I shall leave it to people to judge.

We are prepared to take this proposal concerning the Broadcasting Council seriously. It is suggested that it will do all sorts of things; among others, really keep an eye on what sort of planning is done. So let us treat the proposal seriously; let us set up the Broadcasting Council as a proper body. That is the point of the exercise in moving the Opposition’s amendment to this clause. The amendment specifies how the Council should be appointed. I do not want to go into the mechanical aspects of it but I want to deal with the composition of the Council that we are proposing. We have heard rumours- we still do not know for sure whether they are correctfirstly, that there was going to be this lovely Council which had no powers, as far as I could tell, other than to receive details of the Government’s planning proposals. But there it stopped. The Minister’s second reading speech gives no indication of what the Council would do with those plans. I shall leave it to the ordinary Australian to decide what the Council will be told to do with its comments on the plans. But no vehicle exists whereby the Council could indicate to the Government what it really thought. We are suggesting, firstly, that the Council should have reasonable functions, and secondly, we are defining how it ought to be set up. As I recall the Government’s proposal, it was that there should be 2 members from the commercial broadcasters, 2 members from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2 members from the public broadcasters and 2 members from the Post and Telecommunications Department.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– There was to be one independent chairman.


– Yes, my apologies, there was to be an independent chairman also, who presumably was to be the sole representative of the consumers. Rumours also have flown that the Government has been responding to pressures from the commercial sector of broadcasting and that now there will be 4 members selected from the commercial sector, two from the ABC, one from the public broadcasters, one from the Department, and an independent chairman. Our proposal is for a chairman, one representative of commercial radio; one representative of commercial television, 2 representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission- balancing the national sector of broadcasting with the commercial sector- two representatives of the public broadcasting sector. In our view, from what the Government said it expects that sector to hold a significant proportion of representation, so we suggest 2 representatives of that sector to balance the others- one representative of the Australia Council; one representative of the Australian Film and Television School; one representative of the Postal and Telecommunications Department; and one representative of the Schools Commission. In our view, all the members should be part-time except the chairman, who should be full-time.

That at least establishes a council in which the industry does not have a majority. In our view the private sector of broadcasting should not have a majority. In any case, there ought to be substantial representation from people outside the industry- from the important section of the Australian community, the consumer, the people for whom the broadcasting service exists. Hospitals do not exist for the pleasure of doctors or nurses; they exist to treat patients. The banking system does not exist for the pleasure of the bank managers and the people who work in banks; it exists to provide a service to consumers. In like fashion, in our view the broadcasting system should exist for the purpose of providing a service to consumers. So, on a council which is supposed to advise and to communicate with the Government on what should be considered necessary for the service it seems not unreasonable to have a significant proportion of the representation from the consumers. That is our proposal.

As to the functions of the Broadcasting Council, in the Minister’s second reading speechnothing in this legislation indicates what the Council will do- he referred to the fact that plans prepared from time to time in the Department would be referred to the Council for comment. Bully for the Council! What will it do with its comments? Shove them up its jumper? No indication has been given as to it being able to do anything else with its comments. There is no indication that the Government will take any notice of the Council’s comments or even that the comments will be taken and read by the Government. The Minister simply said:

The Council will have the opportunity to debate and record their views on the planning issues involved.

Beautiful! I do not object to the Council’s comments being recorded, but what is going to be done with them? There is no indication that the Department will take the slightest notice of them, or even that the comments will be put to the Department. Our suggestion is that not only should they be put to the Department but also the comments should be tabled in this Parliament so the whole community can know what they are. Our proposals for the functions of the Council, as contained in the amendment which I shall move, are as follows: suggest and consider planning proposals for the introduction, extension or development of broadcasting services;

Suggest’ means that the Council would have a right to make suggestions; in other words, to make up its mind what it thinks should be done in terms of development of the broadcasting service. The proposal continues with the words consider planning proposals’.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Yes, that is right.


-The Minister said: ‘Yes, that is right’, but the Government is not giving the Council that power. It should be honest with the community. The Government is simply saying that the Council will have the power to record its views on planning issues involved which are put to it by the Department. What about allowing the Council to originate some ideas without these proposals being offered to it by the Department? Our next suggestion is: overview the administration of standards as defined in codes of broadcasting practice set out by the industry;

We accept the proposal that the industry should be self-regulating, but let the consumers see whether the industry is living up to its own claimed ideals. We have heard so much from lots of special interest groups about the standards. I could reflect on a lot- the lawyers and doctors included. I suggest it is time that bodies with representation from the consumers had a say in assessing whether these groups are adhering to their self-proclaimed standards. Our next suggestion is as follows: receive and respond to complaints on the administration of standards;

Again, let not these complaints be buried in departments where one never knows what happens. Let a semi-public body like this Broadcasting Council, with representatives from the community as members, consider the complaints. Let justice not only be done, but also let it be seen to be done. At the moment complaints go into the administrative machinery and we all feel that they get lost. The next suggestion is as follows: liaise with the broadcasting industry, the public and other interested parties,

That is sensible and rational. Let us find out what the industry wants, what it feels would be worth while. Let it communicate via the Council with the community at large. Our final suggestion is as follows: assemble industry data relevant to its functions.

That is a clear and sensible proposal. Mr Deputy Chairman, I move:

Omit the clause, substitute the following clause: “15. After section 134 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted:- 135. (1) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be a Council, to be known as the Broadcasting Council, which, subject to this Act, shall have and may exercise the rights, powers, authorities and functions conferred upon it by this Act and shall be charged with and perform the duties and obligations imposed upon it by this Act.

The Council shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property and shall be capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name.

All courts, judges and persons acting judicially shall take judicial notice of the seal of the Council affixed to any document and shall presume that it was duly affixed.

The exercise of the rights, powers, authorities or functions, or the performance of the duties or obligations, of the Council shall not be affected by reason only of there being a vacancy in the office of a member. 136. ( 1 ) The Broadcasting Council shall consist of eleven members, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General, comprising:

a Chairman;

one representative of commercial radio;

c) one representative of commercial television;

two representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission;

two representatives of the public broadcasting sector;

one representative of the Australia Council;

one representative of the Australian Film and Television School;

one representative of the Department of Postal and Telecommunications, and

one representative from the Schools Commission.

All members of the Council shall be appointed as part-time members, except the Chairman, who shall be appointed as a full-time member. 137. The Council shall be empowered to:

suggest and consider planning proposals for the introduction, extension or development of broadcasting services;

overview the administration of standards as defined in codes of broadcasting practice set out by the industry;

receive and respond to complaints on the administration of standards;

liaise with the broadcasting industry, the public and other interested parties, and

assemble industry data relevant to its functions. 138. Terms and conditions of members of the Council shall be as prescribed.’.”.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– The Government rejects the amendment moved by the Opposition. It is quite unnecessary. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass), apparently wants to spell out in great detail what the responsibilities of the Council ought to be, and to add considerably to the proposed representation on the Broadcasting Council. He has not explained satisfactorily to me- not that I want to encourage him to do so- why he wants to have a representative of the Australia Council, of the Australian Film and Television School and of the Schools Commission on the Council.

What I hope the Opposition accepts, as does the industry, is that the Government sees a very real role for this Broadcasting Council. It does not see it to the extent that the Opposition sees it. It certainly does not see it to the extent that there should be additional and added expenditure on a number of part time members and yet another full time member. One full time chairman is, I think, specified in the amendment and no doubt the Opposition will have in mind a secretariat, further growth in the bureaucracy and further growth in expenditure. What the Government looks to in this Council is for representatives of all sectors of the system, whether they be from public or commercial broadcasting, from the department and from the community- certainly by the appointment of an independent chairmanto come together not only to comment upon Government planning and Government decisions but also to initiate their own action and through liaison and, in a consultative and advisory capacity, to be of assistance to the development and conduct of the overall system.

There is no need to have a grand committee to do that. I assure the Opposition that the composition of the board has not yet been finalised. I have indicated that the Government is thinking in terms of 2 members each from public broadcasting, commercial broadcasting and the ABC; 2 from the Department and 1 independent chairman. I see the role of the independent chairman as quite critical in this particular initiative. However, that matter has not been finally resolved other than to say that it is important- and I agree with the honourable member for Maribyrnongthat there is a balance so that the Council reflects the overall view of the industry and of the community. This can be done quite easily by regulation. There is no need for this amendment. It will make the Council larger, more of a burden on the Government and will cause additional expenditure. I cannot see in any way that it would add any additional competence to the administration of broadcasting. The Government therefore rejects the amendment. I repeat that whilst this is not a statutory body and it does not have executive power, the Government sees it as carrying out a vital role in the consultative and advisory process.


– I know that the Minister did not really invite me to make this contribution but I feel impelled to comment. The Opposition has a basically different philosophical approach from that of the Government. The Opposition insists on stating the proposition in its own way and making the point that, in view of the Opposition, the Government is ignoring the crisis in the whole communication industry in most parts of the world. The trouble is, quite reasonably, that the industry has grown up. It is now a multi-million dollar industry. Enormous sums of money pass through its fingers. I might add that it takes a very reasonable profit. But there has not been much concern anywhere in the world about the needs of the consumers. The Government’s proposal for the Broadcasting Council simply will continue that deficiency. The Government has said that it is important to consult the industry. Surely, but what about the 99.99 per cent of the community who are not in the industry and for whom the industry exists? The industry does not exist just to make profits or to make money. It exists to communicate with the community.

The community has a right to have some say about what sort of service it will obtain. For example, there have been recent technological developments in relation to cable television. This has been around for many years. I think people started talking about it in the 1 940s. For a variety of reasons, it has made very slow progress. Just today I read an article from Amenca discussing the problem there. This system could give a lot to the community in terms of communication facilities. In fact, it is almost frightening and therefore it needs to be very carefully considered and controlled. I am not saying that it should be implemented tomorrow, but it needs to be considered carefully. When one analyses this problem, one finds the reason why this new industry has got nowhere. In America people are now becoming discontented and have decided to do something about this matter. The Congress is stepping in, because the bodies which have been advising the American Government up to now have been industry orientated and the industry has not wanted this new intruder because it is seen as a challenge to its own supremacy and a threat to its own financial existence. Never mind the needs of the community. Never mind the advantages that may be obtained for the whole community. That is not what industry is all about.

That is why the Opposition has proposed these additional members which the Government seems to ridicule when it looks at the composition of the Council as we suggest it. The Opposition retains the same number of people from the industry as suggested by the Governmenttwo from the private sector, two from the national sector, that is the ABC, and two from the public. But the Opposition suggests that in addition to those 6 people, it is not unreasonable to have one person from the Australia Council. Why from the Australia Council? The reason is that this communication industry is concerned with culture and with uplifting enterprises- with educating the community about its heritage and its past, about anything related to the areas which, I should have thought, are dealt with and considered by the Australia Council. So why not have someone from the Australia Council? The Opposition also suggests having someone representing the Film and Television School. In a way, of course, the School is part of the industry. I should have thought that television, radio and films are all concerned with each other. At least the School is not buried in the commercial sector. It has been set up by the Government. People from all walks of life seek to enter it. It has academics on its staff. It is a bit apart from the industry. It may be able to give another perspective. It is hardly a foreigner to the area.

The Opposition suggests one representative from the Department. The Government proposes two. The Opposition has suggested one representative so that we can make room for some other people. It is also suggested that there should be one representative from the Schools Commission. Some honourable members on the other side of the chamber, in earlier discussions, were speaking about the Opposition’s ignoring the need for children’s television. It did not and it does not. That is the reason why the Opposition believes the Schools Commission could be represented. There ought to be room for one person specifically from the education area to have some say and to comment on planning in this beautiful Council proposed by the Government. After all, it is not just concerned with making money. It must consider all the other needs. So far, for a variety of reasons- I do not want to attach blame- the fact is that we have inadequate educational television and radio. I am even critical of the ABC as much as it has tried. Perhaps it has not been given enough money. I do not know.

I have heard suggestions that something resembling the Television Workshop in America which produces Sesame Street and which is funded out of public money should be set up. I have heard all sorts of suggestions like this. A broadcasting council along the lines proposed by the Opposition may more realistically be expected to come up with these sorts of proposals. The Government should be honest with itself. A body, consisting mainly of representatives from the industry itself, including the ABC, with one poor individual, the Chairman on his own, is not likely to come up with anything critical of the industry including the ABC. If the Government wants to get a real feeling about what the community might feel about these matters, and what it might aspire to, I think that it has no choice but to institute some sort of body like this to help. It will not be lavish. It will not be very expensive. It will cost perhaps a few thousand dollars for an industry which handles millions of dollars in advertising revenue. The ABC itself receives approximately $ 140m now. I do not know what amount the public broadcasters will be handling. The money required to be spent on a council like this would be peanuts.

Perhaps in making this proposal I am making a rod for my own back, come the day when the Opposition maybe in government and I am the Minister for the Media again. This is a body that could cost me a lot of pain too because it would be telling me what to do. However, I think it should be accepted. I am sick and tired of the humbug about community participation. I am sick and tired of the politicians being dragged screaming into the twentieth century. Let us give the public a chance to tell us what it thinks. Then we may be encouraged to be a bit more adventurous and give it what it needs. For these reasons I persist in moving this amendment. If the Minister feels he cannot accept it- from his performance I know that he is not likely to- I ask him at least not to dismiss it out of hand. Perhaps the Government will come up with more definitive legislation next year. We feel quite genuinely that this is not a Labor Party proposal; it is a community proposal. For that reason we certainly wish to persist with it.


– I support the Government in its opposition to the Labor Party’s amendment. Whilst I fully appreciate the sincerity of the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) in trying to widen the scope of the Broadcasting Council I think one must remember that the line has to be drawn somewhere. I will not take very long. I am concerned that if we increase the number of members on the Council from the possible nine as announced by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to the eleven as proposed by way of amendment by the Opposition we could go on indefinitely changing the Council’s numbers. I think that the honourable member for Maribyrnong would possibly agree with me: If you are in doubt you can always increase; but it is very difficult to reduce. Therefore I suggest to him that he should not pursue his amendment. If we include such organisations as the Australian Schools Commission, the Australian Postal Commission, the Australian Telecommunications Commission and the Australian Film and Television School, why not perhaps include viewers? It would not matter whether they were from the metropolitan areas or the country areas of different states or whether they watched this television station or that television station. We could go on indefinitely. I certainly go along with the Minister in rejecting this amendment.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I listened very intently to the remarks of the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass). I say to him that I was not ridiculing the suggestion that he put up nor do I wish in any way to bury such a council in the commercial sector. That would be very undesirable. I cannot see the need to spell out in legislative form the representation which the Labor Party may have. Perhaps we may want to be flexible and look at the possibility of having more representatives from the community. I concede to the honourable member for Maribyrnong that he has a valid point. It is something that we can look at. We cannot accept the amendment. I would not want to spell out in legislative form the representatives to come from the Australian Council and other organisations. This might imply that the Broadcasting Council has some say in programming content. Let me assure the honourable member that this is an area which is consultative. There is no need for us to be rigid about it. The flexibility will be covered by regulation. I will take into account the comments made by the honourable member.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17.

  1. 16) A person holding office as a Commissioner immediately before the commencing day ceases so to hold office on that day, but is eligible for re-appointment, including appointment under section 1 8 of this Act, as a Commissioner in accordance with the Principal Act as amended by this Act.
Mr Eric Robinson:

Omit sub-clause (16), substitute the following sub-clauses: “(16) A person who, immediately before the commencing day, held office as a Commissioner, as the Chairman of the Commission or as the Vice-Chairman of the Commission for a term expiring after that day continues, subject to section 37 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, to hold office for the remainder of that term. “( 1 6A) On or as soon as practicable after the commencing day, the Governor-General may, in respect of a State, by writing under his hand, declare that a specified person referred to in sub-section (16) who is ordinarily resident in that State is to be deemed to be a Commissioner appointed in respect of that State by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 31 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act and to have been ordinarily resident in that State at the time of his appointment and, for the purposes of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, the person specified in the declaration shall be deemed to be a Commissioner so appointed and to have been so resident”.

The Government is concerned firstly about ensuring the position and continuation in office of commissioners and, secondly, that it will be able to deem certain commissioners to be commissioners appointed in respect of States. When this Bill is enacted we will be able to specify certain commissioners from each State. It is really a machinery matter flowing on from the basic thrust of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Remainder of Bill and postponed clause 3- by leave- taken as a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report- by leave- adopted.

Third Reading

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

page 3421


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 18 November, on motion by Mr Eric Robinson:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

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

page 3421


Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 18 November, on motion by Mr Eric Robinson:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

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

page 3421


Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.

page 3421


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 2 December, on motion by Mr Sinclair:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


-The States Grants (Rural Adjustment) Bill 1976 is a significant piece of legislation, in fact too significant to be brought down in the dying stages of the session. Both the public and the rural industry, which is becoming disenchanted with the coalition Government, should have been given a greater opportunity to study and debate this Bill. The Opposition welcomes the Government’s belated action on the Industries Assistance Commission’s rural reconstruction report of January 1976, a report which was originally commissioned by the Labor Government in April 1974.

The Opposition supports in principle the attempts which have been made in this Bill to rationalise this particular form of assistance to the rural sector. We consider the amalgamation of previous industry orientated reconstruction schemes into one rural adjustment scheme covering all farmers in the rural sector as desirable and we support the expansion of the provisions of the scheme to include farm improvement carry-on finance and household support, and an increase in the amount being made available to individual applicants for rehabilitation purposes. However, it is not what the Government has achieved in this Bill, but what it has omitted to do, which causes concern to the Opposition. The Government appears to have passed up a unique opportunity to construct a viable and consistent adjustment assistance policy tailored to the long term adjustment needs of the rural sector, and to provide the necessary administrative machinery to ensure that this form of assistance is effective, and can itself adapt to the changing needs of the rural community.

The questions raised by this Bill in its present form relate directly to how the Government views the whole issue of assistance to the rural sector and its sincerity in constructing policies which will have a lasting and beneficial impact on the long term viability of agriculture in Australia. For the Opposition it is not so much a question of whether you assist, but how you assist the rural section. We are concerned that the advances which have been made in adopting several recommendations of the IAC rural reconstruction report could be diminished because the Government has only gone half way, only done the bare minimum, in establishing adjustment assistance as a preferred means of assistance to the rural sector.

It is on the question of assistance philosophy that the Opposition differs from the Government and differs markedly. The issue of rural adjustment assistance and the role it is to play in future agricultural policy in Australia must be viewed against the significant changes which have occurred in its structure of the rural sector since the war, and the sector’s ability in a social and economic sense to respond autonomously to changes in its economic environment. There has been a sharp decline in the number of male farmers plus unpaid male family labour, from 240 000in 1952-53 to an estimated 183 000 in 1975-76. Those figures are provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. There has been considerable product diversification in agriculture with increases in the average size of farms and the level of output, while a decline in the number of farms. Productivity growth has largely been due to the inflow of capital into agriculture and the substitution of capital and purchased inputs for labour. Population living in rural areas has declined in an overall sense. As costs for the farmer have risen dramatically and the price obtained for his or her output has not grown proportionately, the importance of off-farm employment as a source of income has increased.

The factors which have contributed to this structural change in the rural sector need to be understood adequately if Government is to respond to them with well considered and relevant assistance measures. Changing patterns of domestic and international demand for the output of the rural sector, and prices obtained for that output, can exert quite severe pressures on the structure of the rural sector; the rate of domestic and international inflation also is a factor. The increasing availability of new farm technology; the general level of economic activity at home and abroad; the ravages of drought and storm, the exchange rate fluctuations- we have seen plenty of that in the last few days- and the actions of Government in various fields, all constitute pressures on the internal structure of the rural sector. Industry structures do not grow overnight. They develop over periods in response to various pressures and policies of government.

It has been the ill conceived ‘subsidy and concession’ mentality, if one likes or assistance measures pursued over a long period by successive Liberal-National Country Party Governments, which have encouraged the formation of an industry structure in agriculture today with the capacity to produce far in excess of the capacity of the domestic and international market to consume.

The recent devaluation of the Australian dollar is another example of how this Government has attempted to dress up long term losses in the guise of short term gain to the rural community. The questions the Opposition poses are these: Has the Country Party so called, explained to the rural community why the income effects of the devaluation will only benefit some farmers and not others, or how the increase in freight rates will erode the devaluation gain to some industries in the rural sector? Will the Liberal Party explain and justify to the rural producer why he will be called upon to pay higher prices for many of his manufactured and imported inputs because of the massive levels of effective protection now protecting manufacturing projects, or why the farmer must once again face the prospect of a long term squeeze through costs, which will inevitably flow from this devaluation? As late as this evening on the question of costs, the Government introduced a statement on tariffs which failed to do anything effectively with the reduction in the overall protection which has now been accorded by way of tariffs flowing from the effects of devaluation.

It has been estimated that on the importation of tractors alone this could lead to an extra cost of at least $30m a year, in addition to the cost of importing harvesters, balers, other farm equipment and chemicals consumed by the rural sector. Fuel prices also are expected to rise by 3c to 4c a gallon because of devaluation. Has the mouthpiece of various sectors explained to the rural community that if the expected large export earnings of the small number of predominantly overseas owned mining companies materialises, and the need to revalue arises because the balance of payments moves into a surplus situation, that many of the short term gains to the rural sector of devaluation will be eroded and eroded seriously? The present coalition Government promised rural producers domestic economic stability and responsible economic management. All it has delivered is the long term prospect of economic instability, a continued squeeze on income through rising domestic costs, and increasing pressures for structural adjustment in the long term. It is these factors which have made the development of an efficiently administered and effective structural adjustment policy, tailored to the special long term adjustment needs of the rural community, a matter of urgency.

Considering this Bill in detail the Opposition supports the various additional provisions such as farm improvement carry-on finance and household support, contained in the legislation. The Opposition considers farm improvement is an important area where Government participation in providing assistance can improve the productivity and mobility of on-farm resources, especially where the commercial credit market is unwilling or unable to supply credit for adjustment purposes.

An important factor which has contributed to productivity growth in the rural sector has been the inflow of capital, and the gradual substitution of capital inputs for labour. Developments in farm technology and escalating labour costs will increase the importance of capital to future farm production.

It was the Labor Party in government which first recognised the value and the need for this type of assistance when it allocated moneys under its Dairy Adjustment Program to assist viable dairy farmers finance technological improvements such as conversion to bulk milk vats.

Mr Lloyd:

– And brought about the skim milk powder surplus?


– The skim milk powder surplus is a world surplus- caused by the same kind of useless, senseless ideology as the National Country Party supports.

Mr Lloyd:

– And you encouraged it.


– The internal policies of the European Economic Community countries fostered an over-supply in skim milk powder as the honourable member well knows. The EEC released that on the market and destroyed the international industry. On a smaller scale, the National Country Party does the same thing.

Mr Lloyd:

– If you knew all of this, why did you encourage that situation to develop?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Murray restrains himself from interjecting. He will be speaking on this Bill at a later stage and I suggest he keep his comments to himself until then. I call the honourable member for Blaxland.


-The provision for carry-on finance in the new scheme is also a welcome addition. There are factors which, from time to time, lead to financial difficulties for a farmer, which are completely outside his control, such as the actions of foreign governments in operating restrictive quotas on beef as has occurred in Japan and the United States of America. In these critical periods the farmer often has difficulty in raising carry-on finance from existing commercial sources at interest rates which do not prejudice his long term viability. Carry-on finance may be desirable in these circumstances to avoid the long term economic costs of unnecessary resource movements out of the industry where the need exists to hold resources in that industry in the short term.

The welfare measures announced under the household support provision also receive the support of the Opposition. Having seen more than 2000 farmers on the dole in its time of tenure or office, the Government is duty bound to provide suitable welfare proposals to maintain the income of farmers who are judged to be nonviable, up to the level of unemployment benefit prevailing in the community at large. We do question however, whether the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has given consideration to instructing that the recipients of household support be referred to the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and the Department of Social Security, to alert such recipients to alternative opportunities available outside the rural sector. The Opposition supports also the increase in the rehabilitation loan from $3,000 to $5,000.

Our criticism of the Government’s current approach to rural adjustment as contained in this Bill, as I said earlier, relates not to what has been done, but to what has not been achieved by the legislation in its present form. The Opposition concentrates its criticism in four main areas: The first is the lack of a concrete commitment to adequate review provisions in the Bill.

The Opposition intends to move an amendment to the motion for the second reading and to move amendments in the Committee stage. Those amendments, if carried, would overcome much of our objection to the deficiency of the legislation. Secondly, the Bill makes only fleeting reference to special assistance to selected industries, and total ignorance of the needs for area adjustment measures. Thirdly, no indication is given by the Government that it intends expanding the counselling services provided by State extension services. Fourthly the Opposition seeks clarification from the Government that the commercial emphasis of rural adjustment assistance has in fact been strengthened through the interest rate on which these funds will be made available to individual applicants.

I referred earlier to the second reading amendment which we proposed to move. It states:

  1. . while not opposing the provisions of the Bill the House is concerned that the proposed agreement is restricted to land based primary industries.

In other words matters like fisheries are not mentioned in the legislation yet there are 16 000 fishermen in Australia with a combined income of about $100m. This is a significant part of primary industry which is not mentioned in the legislation. In the Committee stages we will be moving an amendment to the Schedule of the Bill, to add a new Part 8 headed ‘National Rural Adjustment Board’. This amendment will provide for the establishment of a national rural adjustment board. The composition of the board will be an executive chairman, 2 part-time members drawn from rural industry, and 2 members drawn from the States’ rural reconstruction authorities and selected on a rotational basis for a term of no more than 2 years. This, of course, is referred to in the Industries Assistance Commission report.

The IAC rural reconstruction report was quite specific in its comments on the need for some form of administrative machinery at the national level to co-ordinate, evaluate and plan rural adjustment assistance. In making such a proposal the Commission has left no doubt about the importance it feels this form of assistance should play in future agricultural policy. There is a need to provide a more effective monitor to evaluate the progress of reconstruction clients, to research the effects of the scheme so it can be adapted to changing adjustment needs, and to monitor the administration of the scheme at the State level in the interest of equitable and consistent treatment for all farmers. Frequent reviews are also necessary to assist the factors first mentioned. The IAC report states that without precluding special meetings between the Australian Government and the States, there be at least two official meetings a year in all State authorities. The Opposition regards regular reviews as essential to maintain reasonable flexibility and effectiveness of the scheme.

The second area where the Opposition considers the Bill is deficient is its ignorance of the proper need for area oriented adjustment measures. A severe market downturn may occur in a rural industry on which the economic prosperity of a particular region may depend, thus creating problems of adjustment which go far beyond the farm gate. This occurs especially where long term prospects in that industry are not encouraging.

The existence of an administrative machinery at the national level could prove useful in identifying the need for specific adjustment measures, and in formulating special areas assistance policy in close consultation with the State authorities concerned. No indication has been given by the Minister on how the Government proposes to approach this important aspect of adjustment policy.

The IAC report stated the need for adequate counselling services for both viable and nonviable producers- but it is not mentioned in the Bill. The Commission also considered that existing State extension services and appropriate Commonwealth departments be expanded to cater for the counselling needs of farm families. There appears to be no provision made by the Government to advise rural producers of the new provisions of the scheme, to extend the facilities of State extension services to assist and advise applicants in filing applications, or to provide follow-up advice on management to farmers remaining in the industry.

For those assessed as non-viable a need exists to ensure that those people are adequately counselled on alternatives outside of farm production to give them some future other than in agriculture. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics found that inadequate counselling was a major factor in the scant use of the rehabilitation provisions under the old rural reconstruction scheme. What is the point of having these schemes if people are not adequately counselled about them. The Labor Party in government placed particular emphasis on this aspect of adjustment assistance, with special purpose allocations to broaden the scope of State extension services to include farm management advice.

With regard to the rates of interest on which loans are made available to rural producers under Part A provisions of the scheme, the Opposition is still concerned that concessions are being built into the notion of farm viability through the present scheme. The Labor Party acknowledges that in setting target percentages for the various Part A provisions the Government has moved to ensure that a more consistent approach will be taken by the States in allocating moneys, thereby reducing inequities and inconsistencies in the treatment of farmers between States. However, the IAC was most explicit in recommendation5 of its report when it stated that ‘the long term bond rate be the basic rate of interest for loans made for rural adjustment’. For the sceptics, the reference for this is page 79 of the report.

The Opposition notes that the Government has made loans to the States under the relevant provisions of the scheme at 7 per cent, considerably below the long term bond rate at the moment and, of course, nothing like what it will be below the bond rate when interest rates blow their brains out following the Government’s devaluation decision. We seek clarification from the Minister as to the rate of interest likely to be charged reconstruction applicants by the State authorities for adjustment finance, and whether this rate is likely to be substantially below the long term bond rate.

The Opposition is also concerned that too much flexibility in the administration of the scheme at the State level may lead to inequitable treatment of farmers between the States. It should be noted that considerable discretion is given each State authority in fixing the rate of loan repayment and in administering particular loans so that flexibility should permit the relevant authority to suspend repayments or reduce them in the first years of the applicant’s adjustment.

In summary, the Opposition’s attitude to the issue of structural adjustment assistance is clear. The Labor Party acknowledges the capacity of the rural sector to adjust autonomously to changes in its economic environment. However, it is apparent that there are factors which have inhibited the adjustment process, resulting in considerable economic and social cost to the individuals affected and to the community as a whole. These factors, of course, include the mobility of some rural capital, the limited availability of jobs in rural areas off the farm, and a natural reluctance and, in some cases, inability to relocate. The Labor Party takes the view that where the costs associated with structural adjustment are excessive, the Government has the responsibility to use its resources to facilitate the process of structural change. We prefer this type of assistance to the myriad of ad hoc subsidies and concessions which have typified the policy of our opponents. I particularly mention the good old National Country Party which, over a period of time, has encouraged people to move into various sectors of agricultural activity and has fostered over-production. With a change in the world market and the domestic market such people have found themselves on uneconomic farms- farms which were not viable. Finally we found that they had a welfare problem on their hands. This is what comes of a shabby approach to farm policy simply in support of electoral aims and endeavours or, to put it in its crudest form, policies for votes.

Rural industry is confronting Government policy makers with difficult choices. However, the alternatives available are clear. At the national level we can continue to pursue protectionist policies which only aggravate the problems we intend to solve in the sectors or we can adopt the constructive approach of the Labor party which is to formulate long term restructuring policies which will eventually reduce this sector’s dependence on protective forms of assistance. The Labor Party’s goal is to pursue policies which will improve the productivity and mobility of rural resources, and to secure long term growth and efficiency in the rural sector.

In our opinion, the Government has given inadequate consideration to developing adjustment assistance as an important tool of agricultural policy. It continues to pursue policies which are not in the long term interest of the sector, and for its neglect in this important area of policy it stands well and truly condemned. Mr Deputy Speaker, I move:

That all words after ‘that’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: while not opposing the provisions of the Bill the House is concerned that the proposed agreement is restricted to land-based primary industries. ‘

As I indicated earlier, we will move a substantial amendment in the Committee stage.


-Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Fry:

– I second the amendment.


– It was rather surprising to hear the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) assert that this Bill should not have been introduced in this session of Parliament The alternative is to delay the introduction of it for a further 2 months. That would hardly benefit the rural industry. As I think has been already conceded by the Opposition, the States Grants (Rural Adjustment) Act is a significant piece of legislation. It will be welcomed by the farming industry as a rationalisation of rural adjustment in that it unites 3 separate schemes- the rural reconstruction scheme, the dairy adjustment program and the carry-on scheme for beef producers. However, the Bill introduces a new concept, and that is household support assistance. Part 7 of the Schedule to the Agreement contained in the Bill states that the purpose of household support is:

To provide assistance for up to one year to non-viable farmers having insufficient resources to meet living expenses and who are in need of assistance to alleviate conditions of personal and family hardship while the farmer considers whether to adjust out of farming.

It is upon this form of assistance that I wish to concentrate my remarks. Why should the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia introduce this new concept of household support? On a number of occasions I have referred in this House to the depressed state of the dairy and beef sectors of rural industry in Australia, in 8 articular in the McMillan electorate of Victoria, in 13 January 1976 the Industries Assistance Commission issued a report on rural reconstruction. Part of that report was devoted to household support. The IAC stated:

Farm families can adopt a number of different adjustment strategies in order to stay on the farm under the pressure of declining net farm income. These include off-farm work, drawing on savings, or accepting lower incomes and living standards.

The IAC then gave an example of the first option-off-farm work. In quoting statistics prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in a report on a survey of rejected debt reconstruction applicants in 1975 it was shown that 42 per cent of Tasmanians who had been rejected for debt reconstruction were working off the farm. A more recent survey this year, to which I have previously referred in this House, that of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in Victoria in a survey of farmers in central Gippsland, showed that 65 per cent of farm families find it necessary to seek work away from the farm for at least one member of the family. This social effect on the family is best demonstrated by quoting a number of examples which are contained in that report. These are separate individual examples from each family which figured in the survey. One said:

The worst feature of the moment is fact that while I’m out milking and my wife is working, who looks after the 3 young children until the wife gets home?

Another said:

My wife is almost full-time farm worker. This farm employed 3 men50 hours per week. Present employee is down to 40 hours. The children have to help quite a lot.

I quote a third example:

Our son has been working on the farm for 4 years but with the economic problem he has had to find work away and it means that his work has to be done by the younger children still at school. Also I have had to find work to support my family over these winter months. Before this we were able to run our farm as a paying concern but not now with such prices.

A fourth quotation is:

Without my wife’s wages I could not afford to work on the farm.

Again I quote:

My son has for the last 2 years been running the farm on shares but owing to the price and the season we cannot make it pay and are both out working at the moment; needless to say our farm is being neglected.

Another quote is:

My father should not be doing heavy work as he recently suffered a heart attack, but because we cannot afford to employ anyone he is forced to do too much.

These are quotations from farmers, the people who are the basis of statistics which we so often quote in this House. I give another example:

I have 6 children, I have been unable to work my property because of a disability for 8 years. Wages paid have reduced my finances. My son was working for me but has had to seek other employment. I have 3 children under 14 years. Our position is desperate and causing a rundown in my wife’s health.

The final example which I quote is this:

I am working away from farm, coming home only at weekends as there are few jobs available which I have been seeking for 3 months. My wife and family are milking, etc., as our income is at least $3,500 down and with student children, 18, 16 and 10 years, find it hard to make ends meet on a farm of150 acres milking 85 cows with low butterfat prices.

It may be of benefit in this debate to state why it is necessary even to consider the introduction of a household support system. I refer further to Bureau of Agricultural Economics statistics. On a per-farm basis, estimated income as at June 1 976 for the 1976-77 year was $7,750 in money terms and $3,6 1 1 in real terms. The Bureau released further figures showing the net farm income as a return for capital invested, management and labour, in 1974-75 at $9,672 net income per annum and $9,194 net income in 1975-76. Those figures drop to $6,545 projected net income for the current financial year. The decline in farm income has been grossly affected by lack of marketing opportunities overseas,. Equally significant were the rapidly rising farm costs. The worst year in the past 3 years was 1974-75, when farm wages rose by 37 per cent, fertiliser prices by 130.8 per cent and interest rates by 62.7 per cent.

The dairy farmer’s economic position in the past 12 months has been savagely hit. The proportion of all dairy farmers without income- I emphasise ‘without income ‘-has been estimated by the BAE to have increased from 15 per cent to 44 per cent between 1973-74 and 1975-76.I predict that the percentage would have increased again this year if one took actual farm income as the base, without reference to off-farm income received by the farmer or a member of his family. The IAC September 1976 report on dairy industry marketing arrangements summarises the current position of the dairy farmer in the following terms:

Dairy farmers, in common with all other members of the community, have been adversely affected by inflation. In particular, dairy farmers supplying manufacturing milk have been severely affected because the returns for processed dairy products exported have declined in real terms. Recently, farm costs have risen rapidly as a result of inflation and have been a major factor in causing the substantial decline in average net farm income which has occurred over the past 2 years.

The financial status of the beef farmer is no better. In fact, the beef farmer has been in crisis for not less than 2 years. Mr Ronald Anderson, writing in the Age on Friday last, 3 December, referred to an internal report prepared for the Australian National Cattlemen’s Council in the following terms:

At today’s beef prices, almost two-thirds of Australia’s 50 383 producers dependent chiefly on beef have net cast incomes of less than $5,000 a year and are not viable.

And even if beef prices doubled, more than 12 000 beef raisers, or 43 per cent of those earning more than half of their farm incomes from beef, would remain non-viable.

Debate interrupted.

page 3426


Department of Social Security: Migrant Community Services Branch-Education-Nuclear Waste- Canberra

Community Involvement Programs -East Timor- Questions Upon Notice

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

That the House do now adjourn.


-I rise in this adjournment debate to draw to the attention of the House the proposed demise of the Migrant Community Services Branch of the Department of Social Security. The Department of Social Security has recently conducted a staff utilisation review of its social welfare division. That division has been decimated by the Government’s abandonment of the Australian assistance plan and the remnants of the Social Welfare Commission, and further changes are mooted. By far the largest element of the division is the Migrant Community Services Branch, which contains over 40 officers working in the specialised area of post-arrival services for migrants.

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is not possible to overrate the importance which the Migrant Community Services Branch has in fact, and in the eyes of migrant people. The Migrant Community Services Branch is the real’ ethnic affairs’ branch of the Public Service. By contrast with this 40- strong branch in the Department of Social Security, the ‘ethnic affairs’ unit of the so-called Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs consists of a letterhead and about three or four officers rushing around getting in each other’s way. This is a farce. All the rubbish that was contained in the Liberal and National Country Parties’ propaganda leading up to the election of 1 975 led people up the garden path. I repeat that what we got was a letterhead and three or four officers.

The future of the Migrant Community Services Branch is a matter of some importance. Yet, incredibly, the staff utilisation review of the Social Welfare Division of the Department of Social Security is in the process of recommending that the branch be disbanded and absorbed into a new structure not recognising a specifically migrant oriented branch. It is my opinion that this would be a most retrograde step, and I am very pleased to see that at least one Minister agrees with me, although there seems to be some difference of opinion. As tomorrow’s Hansard will show, Senator Guilfoyle, in answer to a question from Senator Mulvihill in another place, today expressed her unqualified opinion that an identifiable migrant-oriented welfare service needs to be maintained. Let us now hope that she acts on that belief, and that the Migrant Community Services Branch will be allowed to remain, and to remain at its current strength. This is, after all, the only identifiable branch of the Commonwealth Public Service which is currently able to develop specific programs for the migrant community.

I would like to know why this change has been proposed in the first place. I can think of no reason for it, unless migrant welfare is deemed a less important consideration than minor administrative convenience. If this is the reason, we are faced with a classic instance of self-justifying bureaucracy- bureaucracy moving under its own impetus and acting in accordance with its own internalised priorities. We well know the zeal with which this Government is wont to do battle with what it deems to be rampant bureaucracy. One hopes it will tackle this instance with the same enthusiasm. Or perhaps the matter is more subtle. Senator Guilfoyle disclaimed any knowledge in the Senate today of the review into the Migrant Community Services Branch. Is this really a ploy to take migrant welfare out of that Department without the Minister’s knowledge, so that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, with its four or five relevant officers, can establish a monopoly over ethnic affairs? If so, who is behind this little exercise in empirebuilding the Minister, or over-zealous officers in his Department?

If the recommendations of the staff utilisation review are followed, migrants will lose their most valuable channel to the Public Service. Such a course of action would serve further to confuse migrants and the Public Service as to just who is responsible for ethnic affairs in this countrySocial Security or Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Perhaps the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr Mackellar), who represents the Minister for Social Security in this place, could enlighten us one of these days instead of leading migrants up the garden path and placing them in a situation where they have to rely on a letterhead and four or five officers to look after their needs in this country.


– I would like to continue on from where I left off last week on the subject of literacy and numeracy in schools. This is a matter about which the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury) and I are taking some sort of interest.

Mr Groom:

– You are concerned?


– Yes, we are continuing to take an interest because we are concerned. This week’s Bulletin contains a letter, part of which states:

Any observer of the educational scene in Australia, indeed any parent with a number of children who passed through the State educational system within the last 10 years, knows very well that literacy and numeracy have been progressively de-emphasised and diluted by the inclusion of numerous laudable-sounding but vague and often meaningless aims’.

That letter was written by a gentleman or perhaps a lady from the University of Sydney. On the other side of the continent-in my local electorate, in fact- Anne Matheson writing in the Swan Express stated:

I am damned if I know what to make of the primary school teachers right now. They work less hours than most people in the workforce, get many more weeks off on full pay than the average worker but still they are not satisfied and still the standards are not as good as they should be.

I would also like to read a small quotation from Sir Mark Oliphant with whom I have not had much agreement about many things in recent years. He said:

In the case of education you just cannot educate anybody who hasn’t got the basic principles of the three Rs thoroughly drilled into them. And if they don’t want to learn, it ‘s got to be pushed into them.

That leads me to what is the fundamental problem. It seems to me that one of the root causes of these problems is the lack of discipline in the classroom and, unfortunately, in the home. There are too many young teachers graduating who have neither the ability nor, apparently, the will to instil discipline in pupils. Too much emphasis is placed on the irresponsible rights of the individual. The idea that each individual has a responsibility to society and to those in the classroom with him does not rate highly in the list of priorities in teacher training. Nor does it appear to be in the list of virtues instilled into children by many teachers, or by many parents at home.

Everyone who has any contact with schooling- I do not call it education, which is a lifelong process, but schooling- can cite shattering instances of illiteracy and total inability to express oneself amongst young people who are gaining what should be the benefits of an extended, expensive schooling. I recently saw some school essays that displayed an incoherence and lack of spelling ability that shocked me, for the children concerned were destined for high school next year. One of my constituents, a visiting teacher in a state school, gave me this telling experience. From essays about a recent visit the class had made, she noted that two salient points among many others had been remembered by the whole class. On inquiring why the first had been remembered, she was told by the class, almost to the child: ‘Because you wrote it on the board and made us learn it’. On the second, the answer was even more enlightening: ‘When you told us this, everyone had to be quiet and we heard you, so we remembered ‘.

With classrooms where quiet attentiveness while a teacher teaches is a rarity, what hope have children of having fundamentals like good spelling, basic numeracy, and simply reading ability instilled into their young minds? Earlier this year, Mr John Penrose left his job as a lecturer at Adelaide College of Advanced Education because he believed Australia was being ruined by this lack of discipline, and that it was our schools and educational establishments where that disrespect for authority begins. It is not hard to agree with him.

It is time this country began to realise that certain moral and ethical standards must be accepted and insisted upon in our schools if schooling is to have a positive influence for good or even to be reasonably successful. Today I honestly wonder whether we are getting anything like our money’s worth out of what we spend on schooling. If honourable members have ever listened- as I have often have- to children discussing their teachers respect are those who will not stand for any rubbish, who insist on attentiveness in class and on a standard of disciplined behaviour. The teachers the children laugh at and ridicule are the ones who demand no respect from their pupils. They do not get it.

Mr Groom:

– What did the honourable member for Holt say the other night?


– I am not interested in what the honourable member said as I do not have much time left. This lack of discipline extends, I am afraid, into too many homes as well as well into the school. Many good teachers who really try to maintain discipline in the classroom find themselves thwarted by parents who simply do not care or by others who consciously resent any attempt by the teacher to shape their child in some civilised measure.


– I refer to the recent revelations about the dumping of nuclear waste material at Maralinga in South Australia. I argue that the facts, as they have been reported, indicate that some very serious questions need to be answered. Therefore, I call upon the Government to appoint a royal commission to inquire into 2 matters: Firstly, any possible infringement of Australia’s sovereignty which occurred as a result of the alleged actions of the British

Government and, secondly, the health and environmental questions raised by these allegations. There has been a great deal of confusion about these matters. The then Minister for Supply chose to infer in his answers to questions on 13 and 14 September 1972 that the nuclear wastes in question were radio active debris associated with British atomic weapons testing in the 1950s. But recent allegations provide a new dimension to this question.

Mr Avon Hudson who worked at Maralinga during the 1960s has claimed that, in the early 1 960s, the British Government was secretly using the Maralinga atomic test site as a burial ground for waste from nuclear power stations. Mr Hudson stated during an Australian Broadcasting Commission interview on 3 December that he was engaged in digging holes and placing in them containers of radio active waste after which the holes were filled with sand. Mr Hudson stated that on one of these containers he read the words ‘ex-Calder Hall’. Calder Hall was one of the first commercial nuclear power reactors to come on tap in Britain. It was commissioned in 1956. There is evidence to suggest that Mr Hudson’s story is true. For instance, the waste, if it were dumped then, could not have been from the debris resulting from the atomic test program in the 1950s. The last test at Maralinga was carried out on 9 October 1957. Yet these reports suggest that radio active waste was buried at least 3 years after the last atomic tests. This indicates that the waste cannot have been debris.

It should also be emphasised that the treatment of these wastes as described by Mr Hudson indicates that they were high level wastes. This is further evidence that nuclear power station waste was involved. This is because in atomospheric nuclear tests high level wastes cannot be recovered. So, these wastes must have been from spent nuclear fuel. But this is not all. Mr Hudson also claims that Bristol Britannia aircraft came from England and that the waste was buried near the airstrip. This is a further indication that Mr Hudson’s story is true and that its implications for Australian sovereignty is serious. During this period the Royal Air Force strategic transport group flew Bristol Britannia aircraft. These aircraft had sufficient range to fly direct to Maralinga from Singapore, thus evading any security. That the wastes were buried hastily and at night indicates that this action was not undertaken with the approval of the Australian Government.

I am aware of certain other information concerning these matters. It appears that further work was done scraping up soil and putting it into concrete after the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) gave his answers in 1972. Also, we have been informed that a bomb or material from a bomb which failed to detonate has been buried at Maralinga. I have been told also that the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council has been prevented, by a lack of funds, from studying the existing and future radiation hazards caused in the area by the improper storage of these wastes. These claims and the evidence supporting them are extremely serious. They imply that previous conservative governments have not safeguarded Australia’s sovereignty. Also, the extreme danger of high level nuclear wastes to our environment means that these allegations and claims require a royal commission or, at least, a judicial inquiry.

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


-I was very pleased to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) bring to the attention of Parliament what may or may not be a problem concerning the disposal of nuclear waste. I did not rise tonight to talk about that matter, but I think what he has said brings to the attention of the House the very sane policy of the Government, of which I am a member, of ensuring that the whole matter of nuclear power and uranium is looked at very carefully and also in ensuring that the problem of the disposal of waste is carefully considered before the Government makes its final decision.

Mr Armitage:

-Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I think the honourable member is misstating the position as far as the Government’s policy in relation to this matter is concerned.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! There is no substance in the point of order.


-This evening I shall talk about the community involvement program which was launched by the National Capital Development Commission on 3 December. The NCDC has announced moves to involve the Canberra community in decision making processes on 4 major issues. The Commission, as honourable members well know, is an independent body with very wide ranging powers in relation to the planning of the national capital. The 4 issues which it wishes to raise with the community include: The potential use of undeveloped land in inner Canberra; possible options to change the policies on redevelopment; amendments to the Commission’s design and siting policy; and public comment on changes to the present front fence policy. The Commission is asking the community to discuss these matters and to bring its views to the Commission. The Commission has given the community until March of next year to do so.

I find that these proposals raise important questions in relation to the future planning of the Australian Capital Territory and particularly in relation to Canberra which is the national capital. The NCDC, having such wide powers is in a position if it likes to use those powers, of almost being able to do as it likes without asking the community for its comments. The NCDC will have to take a position in the Canberra community as we move towards more responsibility for the Legislative Assembly. I think it is important at this stage to canvass, in relation to the sorts of policies which the NCDC has, just what might happen if local government in Canberra is given greater authority.

I suggest that there are 2 major problems in the planning of Canberra. The first problem relates to general issues such as the development of undeveloped land in inner Canberra. This is an issue which settles upon all people of Canberra. The second issue which the NCDC raises within its program relates to design and siting policies which could involve adding a second storey onto a house, adding a flat onto a house and that sort of activity. Such matters affect people who live adjacent to houses or areas where those planning proposals are to take place. I suggest that it is most important that the NCDC has determined and clarified its powers in relation to what it can do. I suggest that it is most important not only that the NCDC should feel that it can discuss such matters with the Canberra community but also that the law should require such discussions. It should give every citizen in Canberra the right to appeal against decisions of the NCDC.

I suggest that proper planning appeals tribunals be established in the Australian Capital Territory so that the general community, when faced with a wide ranging planning change, can appeal. I refer to such a planning change as the development of the slopes of Mount Ainslie. Also I think that the people of Canberra should have the right to appeal in relation to developments adjacent to their properties to a tribunal which would be completely impartial and which would be expert. These things should be looked at carefully before the Australian Capital Territory receives a wider measure of local government. The NCDC should continue to be independent. It has done a wonderful job for Canberra. Most people would agree that it has built a national capital which is second to none. But it is important that it has some -

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


– I remind the House that today is the anniversary of the brutal invasion of East Timor by the forces of Indonesia. It is now 12 months since that invasion. At least 60 000 innocent Timorese people have been killed. This information comes from Indonesian sources. The latest information we have from church sources in Indonesia is that the figure may be as high as 100 000 casualties. Recently a report was tabled in this House concerning casualties in Lebanon. They were described as horrific. I tell the House that the number of casualties in Timor is at least five or six times as great as the number in Lebanon. So how can we describe the Timorese situation? Let us look at the present position in East Timor, 12 months after the invasion. Our latest information, again from Indonesian sources, is that the Indonesians control only 20 per cent of the area of East Timor. They have established a legacy of hatred between the people of Timor and the Indonesian people. The people of Timor continue to suffer great hardships and privation. They have always had a high infant mortality rate, of around 50 per cent. Now that people are isolated in the hinterland the rate would be much greater. They have extremely poor health and nutrition. They receive no humanitarian aid from any source.

Twelve months after the expedition of aggression which set out to create stability in East Timor, we find an area of instability which is likely to continue indefinitely. What has been the role of the Australian Government and the Australian people? I suggest that it has been one of continuing appeasement of the Indonesian aggression. The situation has now been reached where Indonesia is dictating the policy of the Australian Government. I support that statement with 3 examples-the recent refusal of a visa to enter Austrafia for Mr Lobato, the cutting off of Telecom messages from Timor and the abstention from the vote criticising Indonesia ‘s action.

Fretilin heroism and the heroism of the Timorese people, their courage and the fine example of their leaders in defying 30 000 Indonesian regular soldiers has won the admiration of liberation movements throughout the world. The dedication of the Fretilin leaders outside Timor has also ensured that the issue has been kept alive in the United Nations and in other world forums, despite the efforts of Indonesia to keep the truth from the world. Those efforts included the brutal murder of Australian journalists. The Indonesian Government stands condemned for its brutal aggression against a small and virtually unarmed neighbour. It stands condemned for its blatant disregard for the UN resolution to withdraw and to allow the Timorese people the fundamental right of self-determination. It stands condemned for its failure to allow the independent International Red Cross access to that country. We, as Australians, stand condemned for deserting our loyal wartime comrades in their hour of need, for our abject appeasement of Indonesian attacks and for our failure to stand up for the right of the Timorese people to an act of self-determination. So today, in remembering the brutal invasion of Timor by Indonesia, we should also remember it as a day of national shame when the Australian Government sold out its friends in Timor and turned its back on one of the most brutal acts of aggression in modern history.


– I must say that I am fascinated and overjoyed by the degree of interest which members of the Opposition are showing in what is happening in our nation. I evidence this by the number of questions upon notice that have been submitted in the last 4 days by the Opposition. I believe that it is an interesting comment on the determination and enthusiasm of some members of the Opposition to find out the realities- for the first time, presumably, for some of them-of what is going on in our nation. I point out to the House that in the period from 1 December to 6 December no fewer than 78 questions have been put on notice by honourable gentlemen opposite. ( Quorum formed)

I was congratulating Opposition members on their determination to learn a little by putting 78 questions upon notice in the last 4 days. Lest the House feels that this shows an overwhelming desire by the bulk of the Opposition to learn a thing or two, I assure honourable members that this is not the case. I point out to the Opposition that it costs a fair amount of money for the Government to provide replies to questions. It is a reckless and wanton waste of money for them to put on notice questions which clearly could be resolved by a simple letter or telephone call. I would say, if I could say over the babble of the rabble opposite -


– Order! The House will come to order.


– I congratulate the various sections of the Opposition which have apparently discovered a great desire for knowledge.

Mr Armitage:

– Patrick Partners?


-There is a great desire for knowledge even by the honourable member for rent-a-mouth. Whilst I am prepared to commend the desire for knowledge, the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) has put 1 8 questions upon notice in the last 4 days, the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) is obviously so short of information that he requires details in matters relating to 18 questions, the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon) requires 1 1 answers, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) needs nine and the honourable member for Werriwa- I cannot remember his name, he is one of the day before yesterday’s men- requires answers to 10 questions.


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

Mr Les McMahon:

-A telegram on a matter of urgency was sent to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle). It read as follows:

An urgent deputation with State member in the electorate ofSydney -


-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10.30 tomorrow morning.

House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.

page 3432


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

European Market for Australian Agriculture (Question No. 963)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Does he consider that his Department has provided an adequate investigative and reporting service on the effect of the European drought on market prospects for Australian agriculture.
  2. How was this information gained and disseminated to the farmers of Australia.
  3. What is his attitude to the criticism of many rural organisation leaders that Australia has been badly served in this matter when compared with the service provided by New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. 1 ) to (3) Yes. The European drought has been taken into account as one of the many factors bearing on market prospects in the work of the Department of Primary Industry and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and reported in the normal way, for example through Bureau publications and material made available by the Department. Because it ranks as a single factor in a total and very complex set of conditions related to market opportunities, no specific papers on the drought have been issued and I would not have expected this. It may be of interest to the Honourable Member that no criticism of the kind referred to in the question has been expressed to me or to my Department by any rural organisation leader.

Auditor-General’s Report 1975-76 (Question No. 1195)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Is the extensive number of examples of wastage and discrepancy, brought to light in the Report of the AuditorGeneral for 1975-76, a result of Public Service mismanagement, or, as has been suggested, illegal management.
  2. Will he take action to ensure that misappropriation will be eliminated.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. and (2) The examples of wastage and discrepancy referred to in the Auditor-General’s Report were due to a variety of factors. The number of criticisms contained in the 1975-76 Report does not necessarily mean that there has been a significant deterioration in departmental accounting standards. The honourable member’s attention is drawn to Section 3 of the Auditor-General’s Report (page 143) under the heading ‘Summaries of Audit Observations and Results of Audit Representations ‘, viz-

Over the years it has proved practicable to settle many of these queries, particularly those of a minor nature, at operational levels. This has contributed materially not only to the maintenance of a generally satisfactory standard of accounting but also to improvements in departmental accounting practice. Generally any remedial action required by departments is taken without undue delay’.

It may be helpful if I add that there is in fact a continuing liaison between the Auditor-General’s Office and departments. I have already indicated what happens at the operating level. Where there is a more serious departure or a failure to correct a minor deviation within a reasonable time, the Auditor-General’s Office writes formally to the department concerned and the department is bound to advise the Auditor-General’s Office that the matter has been rectified or what progress is being made to do so. The final step is inclusion of the matter in the Auditor-General ‘s Report.

The elimination of waste and inefficiency in the Commonwealth Public Service is a constant aim. To this end, the Treasury has followed its normal practice and initiated follow-up action in relation to various criticisms and significant observations made in the Auditor-General’s Report. Quite apart from the role of the Auditor-General, the Treasurer has responsibility for ensuring that Treasury Regulations and Directions provide for sound accounting procedures. Where it is established that these are defective, appropriate action is taken to amend them.

The Public Service Board has a continuing responsibility under the Publice Service Act for the efficiency and economy of the Public Service and, in accordance with its statutory responsibilities, takes such action as is necessary as a result of the Auditor-General’s Report or as a result of its own observations. Specifically the Public Service Board is about to conduct an efficiency review of the internal audit function in the Service. The objectives will be to determine the effectiveness of the function and whether the internal audit concept needs to be redefined in terms of the requirements of management, having regard to the changes in management systems and techniques which have taken place in recent years. The review has the support of the Auditor-General.

The review will be carried out by an interdepartmental team led by a management consultant from outside the Public Service. The team will examine the internal audit operations of five departments, which have more than half the total internal audit positions in the Service, and which provide a fair sample of various work situations.

Road Accident Statistics (Question No. 1232)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

Has he consulted with the Treasurer with a view to implementing the recommendation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety that the Insurance Commission be asked to obtain relevant information from insurance companies in order to assist in the collation of statistics on road traffic accidents.

Mr Nixon:

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

As the Expert Group on Road Safety also stated in its report of October 1975, insurance offices collect much useful statistical information and there is increasing willingness on the part of insurance companies to make data available for road safety research.

My Department is aware of deficiencies in present road safety statistics and will continue to consider the contribution which can be made by insurance companies.

However, the Insurance Commission has no authority under its Act to require insurers to supply these data and such a request would sot be connected with the administration of the Act. In light of this no approach has been made to the Treasurer for the Commission to obtain road safety data.

Canned Fruit: Exports to Europe (Question No. 1243)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What recent action has been taken by him or his Department to have the very high European Economic Community tariff on canned fruit reduced?
  2. What action is contemplated?
  3. Is there a greater possibility of a tariff reduction with canned fruit than with most of the other Australian agricultural exports to the EEC?
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) The problem of the high duties imposed by the EEC on imports of canned fruit has been receiving the continuous attention of the Department of Overseas Trade, particularly since the United Kingdom, Australia’s largest single market for canned fruit, decided to enter the EEC. Every opportunity has been taken in discussions with the EEC and the Governments of its Member States to pursue this question. The duty was the subject of discussion in five rounds of consultations held with EEC and British authorities between April 1972 and May 1974 concerning the effects of British entry to the Community on Australia’s trade. Canned fruit was also one of the items for which Australia sought tariff concessions as compensation for the effect of EEC enlargement on our trade in negotiations under Article XXIV: 6 of the GATT. As a result of these negotiations, the EEC reduced its duties on canned pears by 2 per cent from 1 January 1975.
  2. Australia and the European Economic Community are signatories to the Tokyo Declaration of December 1973 which commits participating countries to engage in negotiations aimed at further liberalising tariff and non-tariff barriers in world trade. In the context of these negotiations, which are scheduled to conclude in 1977, Australia has made it clear that we regard reductions in agricultural trade barriers by our trading partners as an essential quid pro quo for any concessions by Australia. The high rates of duty on canned fruits in the EEC are certainly trade barriers which Australia will be seeking to have reduced within this round of multilateral trade negotiations.
  3. Canned fruit is one of the few major agricultural products covered by the Common Agricultural Policy of the EEC for which the main form of protection is a fixed rate of duty. As noted above, a modest reduction in the duty on canned pears has already been achieved. However, Australia regards the duties on canned fruit as still very high especially as the EEC is only about 30 per cent self-sufficient in most of these items. Australia’s trade negotiators will be giving emphasis to this point in the Geneva negotiations. The EEC canned fruit industry does not, in Australia’s view, need the degree of protection which it presently enjoys.

Aboriginal Medical Service (Question No. 1290)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that the cut from $230,000 in 1975-76 to $ 1 90,000 in 1 976-77 for the budget of the Medical Service in Redfern means that they cannot continue to give service to Aborigines at the present level?
  2. If so, how will it be possible for the Service to undertake the necessary improvements in premises and services that are so badly needed, under these circumstances?
Mr Viner:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) No. The Aboriginal Medical Service received grants totalling $172,498 in 1975-76 as a contribution towards the operating costs of its Redfern Clinic. Additional funds were also provided to cover the cost of a field trip to Wilcannia ($5,288) and as a contribution towards the cost of renovating the AMS new premises ($50,000). My Department has tentatively allocated a sum of $ 1 90,000 to the AMS for 1976-77. This amount will allow the AMS to maintain its existing services and purchase some additional medical equipment. Further discussions are proceeding with AMS as to their funding requirements this financial year.

Pricing of Bauxite and Alumina (Question No. 1294)

Mr Hurford:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. What formula has been worked out by the International Bauxite Association for the pricing of bauxite and” alumina for discussion at the next Council meeting of the Association?
  2. What are the implications for Australia of this approach?
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) Pricing policy and the question of securing fair and reasonable returns from the exploitation, processing and marketing of bauxite and alumina for the economic and social development of member countries have been under active consideration within the Association for some time. No decision on a universally acceptable formula has yet been taken.
  2. 2 ) See answer to ( 1 ) above.

Levy on Bauxite (Question No. 1302)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Which member countries of the International Bauxite Association impose a production levy on bauxite?
  2. Has the Australian Government studied the purpose of the levy; if so, does it intend to emulate the action already taken by other bauxite-producing countries, of compelling the multinational corporations, which now share a joint monopoly over alumina and aluminium production, to make a greater financial contribution to the Australian people for the benefits they derive from their exclusive rights to exploit Australian bauxite resources?
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1) To the best of my knowledge the following member countries impose a production levy on bauxite: the Dominican Republic, Guinea, Haiti, Jamaica and Surinam.
  2. Yes, we have studied the purpose of the levy, which is intended to help secure what those Governments regard as a reasonable Government take. In Australia, this function is performed by our taxation system; mining companies are subject to company income tax, royalties, payroll and other taxes.

Valuation of Gifts Presented to Ministers (Question No. 1334)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the value of gifts received by (a) Ministers and (b) their wives in the period since 1 1 November 1975.
  2. Which of these gifts has subsequently been purchased by the Minister, and for what amount.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. and (2) On 5 November 1975 I stated publicly that under any future Liberal/National Country Party Government, significant gifts to Ministers or their families received because of the Minister’s position would be declared to the Government and valued.

Those procedures were put into operation. The value of gifts of significance when determined, is conveyed to Ministers who may purchase them at that value or may surrender them to the Government.

As to the details of gifts received and their values, I propose to follow the practice adopted by my predecessor on 6 November 1 975 (Hansard p. 29 1 1 ) and by Sir Robert Menzies on 10 March 1960 (Hansard p. 182).

Aid to Pre-Schools (Question No. 1350)

Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. 1 ) What amounts of aid were provided for pre-schools in each of the years 1969-70 to 1975-76.
  2. What amount is appropriated for 1976-77.
  3. What sum was paid to each pre-school in each of the years 1969-70 to 1975-76.
  4. What amount is to be paid to each pre-school during 1976-77.
  5. Which of these pre-schools provide (a) full day care, (b) full day holiday programs, (c) part day holiday programs and (d) non-five daycare.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. Commonwealth assistance for non-profit pre-schools generally in the States commenced in April 1974 but with effect from January of that year. The amounts provided as recurrent assistance under the Interim Pre-School Program and under the Children’s Services Program in the years 1973/74 to 1975/76 are set out in the table below. Funds provided through the Commonwealth Department of Education for pre-school services in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for special pre-school services for aboriginals are not included.
  1. ) Funds have not been separately sought in the 1 976-77 appropriations for grants for pre-school services. Of the $73.3m provided in appropriation Nos. 1 and 2 (1976-77) for the Children’s Services Program it is estimated that $38.5m will be expended from these appropriations on recurrent assistance for pre-school services.
  2. and (4) Responsibility for the disbursement of Commonwealth grants to pre-schools rests with the relevant authorities in each State. A detailed breakdown of the application of Commonwealth recurrent assistance to each of the more than 3000 pre-school centres is not available at the Commonwealth level.

The basis of Commonwealth recurrent assistance has varied since the commencement of that assistance in 1974. Until 31 December 1975 Commonwealth assistance was directed, in the main, towards the difference between State f rants at December 1973 levels and the award salaries of taff working with children in the one year before school entry. Pre-schools built with Commonwealth capital grants received 100 per cent of the award salaries of agreed staff. As from 1 January 1976, recurrent assistance for pre-schools has been made in line with agreements reached with the States during 1975 on the basis of 75 per cent of the award salaries of agreed staff subject to progress towards the extension and integration of the services offered by the pre-schools. Recurrent funding for pre-schools will, from 1 January 1977, be in the form of fixed lump sum grants to each State for disbursement by each State.

  1. States are responsible for the licensing and regulation of pre-schools and pre-school services, except those in the Territories. The Commonwealth does not have details of the range of Services operated by each pre-school.

For the most part, pre-schools operate during school hours and school terms, and provide developmental services for children in the year or two before they reach school entry age. Children normally attend for 3-5 half day sessions each week. Children attending pre-school are cared for by the pre-school during the time they are in attendance, and in this way pre-schools may contribute to child care needs of families.

Some pre-schools include provision for children to attend on an extended sessional basis, while a small but growing number of pre-schools operate a full day care service in association with the sessional pre-school service. Similarly, some pre-schools are used for outside school hours care, including holiday care programs.

Australian Sports Institute Study Group (Question No. 1355)

Mr Les Johnson:

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

  1. What action has been taken to implement the recommendations of the Australian Sports Institute study group which reported to the Parliament in November 1 975.
  2. In particular, what action has been taken to implement those recommendations relating to the establishment of ( a ) a national system of coaching accreditation- recommendation 5 (b) a system of multi-level coaching courses- recommendation 6 and (c) professional training in sports coaching in association with tertiary education institutions- recommendation 7.
Mr Newman:
Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development · BASS, TASMANIA · LP

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

  1. The report is a comprehensive and well presented document on the problems of sport in Australia. It reflects a great amount of study and research by the study group and also raises many implications, not only for governments at all levels, but for sporting bodies, tertiary institutions and schools.

Implementation of the report’s recommendations can not proceed until these views have been collated and considered.

Copies of the report have been sent to national and State sporting associations, individuals prominent in sport, tertiary institutions and professional bodies such as the Australian Sports Medicine Federation. Each has been asked to comment on the report for sport as a whole, and for their particular area of interest.

In addition the report has been discussed at the Recreation Ministers’ Council with the result that State Government authorities with a responsibility for sport are presently evaluating it.

  1. (a), (b), (c) Recommendations S, 6, 7 will be considered along with all other recommendations. However, I recognise in these three recommendations elements that suggest they could be implemented without necessarily requiring the foundation of a Sports Institute.

Funds for Aboriginal Affairs (Question No. 1396)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1) Is the recent monetary boost in respect of Aboriginal Affairs still $8m short of the $33m slashed from the allocation in the 1 976-77 Budget; if so, why.
  2. Is it a fact that funds have still not been allocated for health programs.
  3. 3 ) Is any of the money slashed from capital works such as schools and health clinics, likely to be restored.
  4. How is it envisaged that the nutritional and health problems of our Aborigines can be tackled under such circumstances.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. Yes. The reduction is related to the Government’s assessment based on reviews carried out by the Hay Inquiry and by my Department but this has been partly offset by an increase of approximately $1.5m in Student Allowances in Aboriginal Scholarship Schemes.
  2. No. The 1976-77 allocation for Health is:

Individual allocations within these amounts have been approved and are currently being advised to relevant organisations and Departments.

  1. There has been no overall slashing of capital works, but lower priority for funding has been given to major capital projects, which provide less immediate benefits. In general, small scale capital projects, such as pre-schools and health clinics, have been given higher priority. It is proposed to maintain a continuous review of programs as they progress with a view to providing additional funds where this appears justified.
  2. It is not envisaged that there will be any deleterious effects on nutritional and health programs providing immediate benefits and in fact special attention has been paid to ensuring the maintenance of such projects at least at their existing level.

Passenger and Visitor Services at Tullamarine Airport (Question No. 1430)

Mr Hamer:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the dissatisfaction at the apparent over-charging for passenger and visitor services at Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne.
  2. What is (a) the cost of administering and (b) the income from the parking facility at the Airport.
  3. With regard to the shops and services, e.g. restaurants, garage (a) how are the occupiers selected for these monopolies or near-monopolies, ( b ) how often are the leases reviewed and (c) what control has he over charges and standards of service.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes. In the past representations have been made to me from time to time by various members of the public suggesting prices for goods and services in some instances are high. The operating costs of the businesses, however are also high, particularly labour. Concession prices are not permitted to exceed those applied in similar premises in the City of Melbourne.
  2. (a) Melbourne Airport public car park total costs in 1975-76 were $500,684.

    1. Income from the public car parking at Melbourne Airport amounted to $1,355,703 in 1975-76.
  3. (a) Operators of businesses on airports are selected following invitation of public tenders. A tender is accepted following consideration of offer, financial standing, experience and general acceptability to conduct the business in question.

    1. This depends on the type of facility, the length of the lease and the capital involvement. Long term concessions are generally reviewed triennially.
    2. The leases or trading authorities contain provisions that the businesses must be conducted to the satisfaction of the Secretary. There is also a required relationship to city prices but this is difficult to control because of the variety of city establishments.

Maintenance and Married Women’s Property Legislation (Question No. 1432)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

Does the Government propose to introduce legislation to rationalise the old maintenance and married women’s property legislation in force in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, and to consolidate it in the Family Law An.

Mr Ellicott:

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

Following the High Court’s decision in Russell v. Russell on the Family Law Act, the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General considered the question of uniform State and Territory legislation in the areas of matrimonial property and also maintenance and custody of children to the extent not covered by the Family Law Act.

The proposal for uniform matrimonial property legislation was referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission for a report, and that uniform legislation on maintenance and custody of children outside the Family Law Act was referred to the Family Law Council, which has now been established and is due to hold its first meeting later this month.

A review is being undertaken of the Maintenance Ordinance of the A.C.T. to see what portions should be repealed as having been superseded by the Family Law Act, and what amendments have to be made to give the Family Court of Australia jurisdiction under the remaining provisions. However, it may be desirable to defer any amendments to this Ordinance, and any substantive amendments to the Married Women ‘s Property Legislation of the ACT, pending the receipt of the reports referred to above.

A review of the corresponding legislation in the Northern Territory will be undertaken and any necessary amendments will be prepared in consultation with the appropriate Executive Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Married Women’s Property Act (Question No. 1433)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

Is any review contemplated of the Married Women’s Property Act 1 898 (N.S.W.) which is still in force in the Australian Capital Territory and has only been subject to minor amendments.

Mr Ellicott:

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

Instructions have been given for the drafting of formal amendments to the Married Women’s Property Act 1901 of New South Wales as it applies in the Australian Capital Territory. These instructions were given following the report of the Law Reform Commission of the Australian Capital Territory on New South Wales Acts in force in the Australian Capital Territory. A substantive review of this Act as it applies to the Territory will be undertaken, if necessary, when the Queensland Law Reform Commission furnishes its report to the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General on proposed uniform State and Territory legislation on matrimonial property (as to which, see answer to Question No. 1432).

Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health (Question No. 1472)

Mr Stewart:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) When is the Task Force into health, welfare and community based programs to submit its report.
  2. Will the report be made public.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. 1 ) I am advised that the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health is working towards presenting its first report before the end of the year.
  2. 2 ) No decision has yet been made regarding publication.

Australian Sports Council (Question No. 1473)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. 1 ) Has the Australian Sports Council been re-established.
  2. If so, what are the names and backgrounds of the persons appointed.
  3. What are the duties and responsibilities of the new Council.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The Australian Sports Council has not been re-established, nor has it been disbanded. While membership of the first Sports Council expired on 30 September 1975 it was never formally dismissed and hence new appointments have not been made.

As part of the Commonwealth Government’s review into health, welfare and community development programs, including sport, I reconvened members of the former Sports Council Tor a meeting in Melbourne on 16 August 1976. The Council provided me with advice on the future role for the Commonwealth Government in sports development.

Amateur Sporting Organisations (Question No. 1475)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. 1 ) Has any money been made available to any amateur sporting organisation for any purpose during 1 976-77.
  2. If so (a) what organisations received assistance and ( b ) for what purpose did they receive assistance.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. Yes, $5280 has been made available during 1976-77 to honour commitments entered into by the previous Government for events held prior to 3 1 December 1976.
  2. (a) and (b) An administrative subsidy to the Amateur Boxing Union for its National Senior Championships; A fares subsidy to the Australian Casting Association for the assembly of the Australian team for the World Casting Championships in Taree, New South Wales; Administrative subsidies to the Australian Volleyball Federation for various Championships; and a fares subsidy for attendance at an international conference.

Confederation of Australian Sport (Question No. 1476)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. Is there an organisation known as the Confederation of Australian Sport.
  2. If so, (a) when was it established, (b) who are its chief proponents, (c) how many meetings has it held, (d) what organisations were officially represented at any meetings, (e) was the Government officially represented at any meeting and ( f) what is the intent of the organisation.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. (a) The Confederation was formed at a meeting of interested National Sporting Associations held in Melbourne on 3 November 1976.

    1. Earlier this year, at the initiative of the sports associations themselves, meetings were held in both Sydney and Melbourne to consider a number of issues involved in sports development in Australia. These meetings emphasised the absence in this country of one body which is representative of Australian sport. As a result, each meeting elected 3 representatives to form a protem committee which was to consider ways and means of establishing a Confederation of Australian Sport and then to convene a further meeting to discuss the matter. This was the meeting held on 3 November 1976.
    2. The meeting on 3 November 1 976 was the first
    3. I understand that representatives of approximately 63 national sporting associations attended the meeting, 52 of whom had paid an affiliation fee. A comprehensive list of these associations has not yet been made available by the Confederation.
    4. I attended the meeting and spoke to the gathering, and I was accompanied by officers of my Department.
    5. The following list of objectives of the Confederation is taken from the proforma constitution:
    1. To promote the physical, intellectual, and moral development of the people of Australia through participation in sport.
    2. To act as a forum for the exchange of members’ views.
    3. To act as a liaison with government agencies and to bring before governments and government agencies such recommendations as are approved by the Confederation.
    4. To represent its members and sport generally in its relations to government at all levels and to use its best endeavours to organise sports participants and spectators to assist in convincing government that it has a duty and obligation:
    5. a ) to assist fitness, sport and recreation generally;

    6. to ensure the provision of adequate physical facilities for sports participants and spectators;
    7. to help negate the disadvantages to Australian sport of Australian geographical isolation and distance from countries of similar competitive standards.
    1. To sponsor support and /or generally assist in the formation and progress of an Olympic Foundation and to assist the Olympic Foundation and the Commonwealth Games organising committee in attaining their objectives.
    2. To support and correlate the administration and efforts of sports governing bodies in Australia and to advance the development of the administration of sport and physical recreation.
    3. To stimulate interest in sport and to encourage and support multi-sport competition in Australia.
    4. To encourage and support the development of recreational education and technical facilities to increase participation in sport in Australia, and to encourage development of national and international competitive excellence, and the development of technical advisory services.
    5. To establish technical criteria for national multi-sport Games and to recommend locations in which such Games are to be held.
    6. To engage in and provide assistance to sport in raising the necessary funds to support and develop programs, facilities and technical services and generally to further the objectives of the Confederation.
    7. To encourge and support expansion and increased scientific knowledge to sports in Australia.

Projects under Transport (Planning and Research) Act (Question No.1486)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. What projects funded under the Transport (Planning and Research) Act 1974 have now been completed.
  2. When does he anticipate the publication of the reports of these projects.
  3. What was (a) the total cost of each project (b) the Federal Government’s share of the cost of each project and (c) the respective State Government’s share of the cost of each project.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Projects which were assisted under the Transport (Planning and Research) Act 1974 and were completed prior to 3 1 December 1 973 are included in the Report of progress on projects under the Act which I tabled in the Parliament on 24 August 1976. A report of progress on projects to 30 June 1976 is currently in preparation and will indicate projects completed to that date. This should be available early in 1977.
  2. Reports on completed projects are being progressively received and their existence is publicised in the Report of Progress mentioned above. Publication of reports by the Commonwealth is not intended and release to other than Commonwealth Authorities is at the discretion of the State agency as indicated in the progress reports.
  3. The approved project allocation for each project is given in the Report of Progress. Commonwealth assistance on each project is two-thirds of the actual cost to the limit of the approved allocation with the State meeting the balance.

Proceedings to Protect the Environment: Legal Aid (Question No. 1526)

Mr Lionel Bowen:

asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) To what groups or individuals and in what proceedings seeking to protect the environment has assistance been given by the Australian Legal Aid Office since 1 1 November 1975.
  2. To what groups or individuals and in what proceedings seeking to proect the environment has assistance been refused by the Australian Legal Aid Office since 1 1 November 1975.
  3. To what groups or individuals and in what proceedings seeking to protect the environmnet was assistance given by the Australian Legal Aid Office prior to 1 1 November 1975.
Mr Ellicott:

– As I have stated previously in reply to the honourable member’s questions relating to the grant of financial assistance, I do not think it appropriate to make public information about particular applicants for legal aid who are entitled to expect that information supplied would be kept confidential. I would be prepared to make the information available to the honourable member, if he wishes, on a confidential basis. I can, however, supply the following information:

  1. I am informed by my Department that since 11 November 1975 financial assistance has been given by the Australian Legal Aid Office in the following 10 instances:

    1. to a conservation group invited to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into Moreton Island which was set up by the Queensland Government;
    2. to a society as relator which was granted the fiat of 2 State Attorneys-General to pursue Supreme Court action for a declaration that mining leases being operated within a recreation reserve had been issued invalidly;
    3. to a group of individuals for Supreme Court proceedings to establish whether a City Council holds certain land in trust for public recreational purposes thereby preventing the Council from selling the land for commercial development;
    4. to a conservation group to object in a Mining Warden’s Court to the grant of mining leases in an area which had been recommended for a National Park Reserve;
    5. to a conservation association to obtain counsel’s opinion on whether discharge of sewage into a river by a sewerage authority can be restrained.
    6. to a conservation trust for an appeal to the High Court in relation to the prevention of prospecting within a rare wilderness area;
    7. to an environmental association to appeal to a State Planning Authority against consent given for the construction of radio masts in an area which is a scenic backdrop to a capital city;
    8. to three conservation groups to be represented by counsel at the final stages of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry;
    9. to a conservation group to object in a Mining Warden’s Court to applications for mining leases within a proposed National Park area.
  2. I am informed by my Department that after 11 November 1975 financial assistance was refused by the Australian Legal Aid Office in the following 3 instances:

    1. to a conservation group to pursue action in the High Court of Australia to ensure that procedures under the Environmental Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 were fully implemented. However, the group was informed that the refusal would be reviewed if it obtained a considered opinion from senior counsel on the prospects of success of the proposed action.
    2. to a group concerned to preserve an Island on the Great Barrier Reef from development as an extensive tourist project. The group appeared to be able to raise sufficient funds to obtain counsel ‘s opinion and it was informed that its application would be reviewed in the light of counsel’s opinion if obtained.
    3. to an individual to pursue an action for damages against a City Council for destruction to plants and growth on her property used for scientific studies. The matter was regarded as not qualifying for assistance in terms of the national interest involved.
  3. I am informed by the Department that prior to 11 November 1 975 financial assistance was given by the ALAO in the following 1 8 instances: -

    1. to a group of individuals to contest in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory construction of the communications tower on Black Mountain;
    2. to a citizens’ committee to appeal to a Local Government Court against permission granted to a company to mine clay and produce clay products without the imposition of adequate conditions to prevent pollution, in a major catchment area;
    3. to a conservation organisation to oppose, firstly, in a Mining Wardens Court applications for sandmining leases, secondly, to pursue Supreme Court proceedings to a writ of mandamus to require the Mining Warden to hold a proper hearing; and thirdly, when the writ was refused, to appeal successfully to the High Court of Australia;
    4. d ) to a conservation group to appeal to a Local Government Court against a local government council acting without authority in granting approval for cement works to be constructed on the shores of a city ‘s river;
    5. to two conservation groups to be legally represented before a State Commission of Inquiry which exonerated them from any dishonesty in having collected funds for the purpose of setting up a trust to preserve caves containing Aboriginal art regarded as part of the national estate.
    6. to a conservation group to object in a Mining War dens Court against mining leases issued over land which it claimed, in the public interest, should be included in a proposed National Park;
    7. to a conservation group to object in a Mining Wardens Court to applications by a company for total exemption from labour conditions on mining leases within a proposed National Park;
    8. to an association as respondents to a Supreme Court appeal from a decision of a Local Government Court which had upheld the Association’s objections to rezoning approvals given by a City Council;
    9. to a group to object in a Mining Wardens Court to applications by a company for mining leases which threatened underground water supplies to a rural community;
    10. ) to a conservation group to obtain legal opinion on the prospects of a successful challenge to the proposed construction of oil pipelines through parks and recreation areas;
    11. to an individual representing the public interest to pursue Supreme Court proceedings aimed at curtailing quarrying activities in an area adjacent to a national park;
    12. to two conservation groups to appeal to a Town Planning Appeals Tribunal to obtain resiting of proposed sewerage works which threatened sea pollution at Westernport near Flinders Naval Base, Victoria;
    13. to a conservation group to obtain counsel’s opinion on whether a local authority was exceeding its powers in its dredging activities associated with a creek, preparatory to piping the creek, through a scarce remaining pocket of natural vegetation in the Mornington Peninsula;
    14. to a conservation group to appeal to a Town Planning Appeals Tribunal against the grant of a permit for sand extraction likely to cause pollution of streams and loss of land for a public open park;
    15. to a conservation group as appellants to the Full Court of a Supreme Court from a decision which had reversed the findings of a Mining Warden in relation to prospecting in a rare wilderness area;
    16. to an association to oppose the appeal of a developer to an interim Planning Appeals Board against a City Council’s refusal to permit high density housing on scenic slopes at the approaches of a capital city;
    17. to two conservation groups to enable them to object to a Metropolitan Regional Planning Authority against proposed extensions to a motor freeway along the foreshores of a city’s river;
    18. to a conservation group to be legally represented before the Commission of Inquiry into Fraser Island.

Rationalisation of National Railways Services (Question No. 1528)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What will be the effect on Australian National Railways employees as a result of the rationalisation of passenger train services on lines operated by the Railways.
  2. In particular, what will be the effect on the Railways dining car crews stationed at Port Pirie.
Mr Nixon:

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

Australian National Railways have advised that at a meeting of the Commissioners of the Railways of Australia it was agreed to rationalise the East/West passenger services in order to reduce the very high costs applicable to these services. Daily passenger services will continue to operate between Port Pirie and Perth. These will comprise four single consist ‘Indian Pacific’ and three single consist ‘TransAustralian’ services per week. In previous years some passenger services have operated at comparatively low occupancy rates resulting in poor staff usage. The proposed rationalisation of services made possible by decreased passenger demand will affect only on-train staff, that is, dining and sleeping car crews stationed at Port Pirie. The effect on these employees will be that overtime will be reduced, and in some cases will disappear. No employees will be retrenched.

Captain Cook’s Landing Place at Kurnell (Question No. 1533)

Mr Les Johnson:

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

Has the Australian Government ever contributed financial assistance in respect of the maintenance and development of Captain Cook’s landing place and environs at Kurnell, New South Wales; if so what are the details.

Mr Newman:

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

The Commonwealth Government made a grant of $6,000 to the Sutherland Shire Council under the National Estate Program in 1 974-75 for the 1 50 acre area known as the Boat Harbour Reserve which is adjacent to the Captain Cook’s Landing Place Historic Site at Kurnell.

The object of the project was to protect the area in order to encourage existing vegetation, and recolonisation of eroded areas and the re-establishment of native trees and grasses; and to preserve Aboriginal artifacts and middens in the area.

Train Services to and from Canberra (Question No. 1551)

Mr Fry:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1) Is the Government considering the inauguration of an express train service between Canberra and Sydney which will operate each morning from Canberra at 7 a.m.
  2. Has Ansett Transport Industries, which operates a bus service to Sydney each morning, made representations to the Government to prevent the introduction of such a service.
  3. Is it proposed to reintroduce the direct train service between Canberra and Melbourne which was dropped in 1974 during a fuel shortage.
  4. Is it proposed to revive the joint passenger car project for use on Commonwealth and State Railways.
  5. Have any States approached the Commonwealth with a view to acquisition of their country railway operations by the Commonwealth.
  6. Do passengers from Canberra, joining the Southern Aurora at Goulburn, and travelling to Melbourne also have to pay the full fare from Sydney to Melbourne as well as the Canberra to Goulburn fare.
  7. Does the Australian National Railways Commission propose to accept credit cards as does the Victorian State Railways.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) and (3) The provision of rail passenger services from Canberra is the responsibility of the Public Transport Commission of New South Wales. The possibility of improving these services has been considered by a sub-committee of the Railway Group of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. I understand a report has been prepared which is currently being considered by the New South Wales Minister for Transport and Highways.
  2. No.
  3. The future of the Australian Urban Passenger Train project is at present under consideration by the Government. However, the AUPT is being considered only for urban use and is not intended for use on country rail services.
  4. The Commonwealth has acquired the Tasmanian and non-metropolitan South Australian Railways with effect from 1 July 1975. The present Government has not been approached by other States with a view of acquisition of their country railway operations by the Commonwealth.
  5. Yes. However, passengers may travel on the ‘Spirit of Progress’ at the normal Canberra to Melbourne fare plus sleeping berth charge if applicable.
  6. The Australian National Railways Commission is currently introducing ‘ Bankcard ‘.

Bicycle Freeways (Question No. 1562)

Mr Hodges:

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

  1. 1 ) Has his Department made any investigations into the viability of establishing extensive bicycle freeways in major Australian cities.
  2. Has any request been received from the States for information on, or funding of, bicycle freeways.
  3. Is there any city, other than Canberra, which has these sorts of facilities.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) No. My Department, after consultation with the Department of Transport, has encouraged the appropriate authorities responsible for urban and transport planning in the major dues to carry out such investigations.
  2. Yes. My Department, by being kept informed of current investigations, has passed on information to interested authorities on request. Under the provisions of the Roads Grants Act 1974, ‘roads’ are defined to include cycle paths, and become eligible for Commonwealth funding; the States have been informed of this.
  3. Yes. To my knowledge, Perth and Adelaide have constructed a limited number of cycle paths, and these two cities, together with Melbourne, currently have plans under consideration by the appropriate Government authority.

Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Bill (Question No. 1563)

Mr Wentworth:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

Prior to the debate upon the Aboriginal Land (Northern Territory) Bill 1976, will he supply for the information of Members, (a) maps showing the lands described in the Schedule to the Bill, and the position of these lands in the Northern Territory, (b) maps showing all mining interests, including applications, leases, licences and exploration or other permits, which exist in the lands in the Schedule or which could have any force by revival or otherwise if the Bill becomes law in its present form and (c) brief descriptions of all mining interests included in paragraph (b).

Mr Viner:

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

  1. This has already been answered in the affirmative, in my reply to the honourable member’s earlier question (No. 1219, Hansard 18 November 1976, page 2928).
  2. and (c) Maps relating to Mining Leases, Exploration Licences etc. are held by the Mines Branch of the Department of the Northern Terrotory in Darwin, and the Minister for the Northern Territory may be able to make these available. My Department is seeking to obtain copies of the relevant maps but it may not be possible to obtain copies from Darwin before the conclusion of debate in the House.

Official Establishments (Question No. 1572)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) If, as he told me on 4 November 1976 (Hansard, page 2427), he does not propose to depart from the principle that the costs of operating the 4 official establishments should be regarded as a total charge against the annual Budget appropriation, why did he give the separate cost of 2 of them on 24 March 1976 (Hansard, page 936).
  2. Which distinguished overseas guests have stayed at Kirribilli House in 1976, and on which dates did each of them stay there.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. 1 ) I refer the honourable member to the answer I gave to Question No. 226 on 8 April 1976 (Hansard, page 1363).

Monsieur B. Destremau, French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs- 2, 4 February 1976.

Dr K. Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations-8,10 February 1976.

Air Commodore the Hon. T. F. Gill, New Zealand Minister of Immigration and Minister for Health- 17-20 February 1976.

Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Mountbatten of Burma-22-28 February 1976.

Mr Chang Yie joon, Minister for Commerce and Industry in the Republic of Korea- 1 9-20 March 1 976.

Professor R. Barre, French Minister for Foreign Trade-14-15 April 1976.

The Hon. J. R. M. Mancham, Prime Minister of the Seychelles Islands-26-27 April 1976.

The Hon. P. Keuneman, Minister for Housing and Construction, Sri Lanka-28 May 1976.

The Hon. G. A. Henry, Minister for Finance, Cook Islands-7,9July 1976.

Professor Chattopadhyaya, Indian Minister of Commerce 3 August 1976.

The Hon. A. J. MacEachen, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs- 4 September 1976.

The Hon. Per Kleppe, Norwegian Minister for Finance-20, 24 September 1976.

Mr H. J. Witteveen, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund-10 October 1976.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore- 17-18 October 1976.

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Prime Minister of Fiji- 25-26 October 1976.

Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health (Question No. 1587)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

When did the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health present its interim report and to whom (Hansard, 12 October 1976, page 1784 and 1 1 November 1976, page 2594).

Mr Malcom Fraser:
Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

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

I am advised that the Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health is working towards presenting me with its first report before the end of the year.

Capital Territory Weights and Measures Ordinance (Question No. 1613)

Mr Fry:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

  1. Has a new Weights and Measures Ordinance been under consideration since 1967.
  2. If so, when will the new Ordinance by ready.
  3. Is there only one superintendent and one inspector to police the existing Weights and Measures Ordinance, the same number as 10 years ago, despite an increase in population since then.
  4. Can he say whether the average world figure for weights and measures inspectors is one per 45 000 population.
  5. When will additional inspectors be appointed for the A.C.T.
  6. Has a new Weights and Measures Laboratory incorporating special test areas for tankers, flow metres and LPG systems been recommended.
  7. If so, when will this new laboratory be in operation.
Mr Staley:
Minister for the Capital Territory · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) Substantial alterations were made to the Ordinance by amendment No. 19 of 1973. When amendments which are currently being drafted are introduced early in 1977 the Weights and Measures Ordinance will reflect policy which has been developed and it should require no further amendments for some years.
  2. and (5) The present establishment is a superintendent and two inspectors. One inspector recently moved to the Northern Territory on promotion and a recommendation for the appointment of his replacement has been made to the Public Service Board. The creation of other positions of inspector has to be considered in the context of current staff ceilings.
  3. Authoritative information is not available.
  4. and (7) Yes. The construction of a new laboratory and associated facilities has been given Priority A in the Department ‘s request to the NCDC for new works in financialyear 1977-78. Subject to the availability of funds to the Commission it is expected that the new laboratory will be in operation in the latter half of that financial year.

United Nations: Declaration on Human Settlements (Question No. 1607)

Dr Klugman:

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

  1. What was the text of the Declaration of Principles at the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat, in Vancouver, Canada.
  2. Was it approved by 89 to15, with 10 abstentions.
  3. Which countries were in each category.
  4. Did Australia explain its vote; if so what was the explanation.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) Declaration of Principles

Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, 1976

Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements

Aware that the Conference was convened following recommendation of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly, particularly resolution 3128 (XXVIII) by which the nations of the world expressed their concern over the extremely serious condition of human settlements, particularly that which prevails in developing countries.

Recognising that international co-operation, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, has to be developed and strengthened in order to provide solutions for world problems and to create an international community based on equity, justice and solidarity,

Recalling the decisions of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, as well as the recommendations of the World Population Conference, the United Nations World Food Conference, the Second General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the World Conference of the International Women’s Year; the Declaration and program of Action adopted by the sixth special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States that establish the basis of the New International Economic Order,

Noting that the condition of human settlements largely determines the quality of life, the improvement of which is a prerequisite for the full satisfaction of basic needs, such as employment, housing, health services, education and recreation,

Recognising that the problems of human settlements are not isolated from the social and economic development of countries and that they cannot be set apart from existing unjust international economic relations,

Being deeply concerned with the increasing difficulties facing the world in satisfying the basic needs and aspirations of peoples consistent with principles of human dignity,

Recognising that the circumstances of life for vast numbers of people in human settlements are unacceptable, particularly in developing countries, and that, unless positive and concrete action is taken at national and international levels to find and implement solutions, these conditions are likely to be further aggravated, as a result of:

Inequitable economic growth, reflected in the wide disparities in wealth which now exist between countries and between human beings and which condemn millions of people to a life of poverty, without satisfying the basic requirements for food, education, health services, shelter, environmental hygiene, water and energy;

Social, economic, ecological and environmental deterioration which are exemplified at the national and international levels by inequalities in living conditions, social segregation, racial discrimination, acute unemployment, illiteracy, disease and poverty, the breakdown of social relationships and traditional cultural values and the increasing degradation of life-supporting resources of air, water and land;

World population growth trends which indicate that numbers of mankind in the next 25 years would double, thereby more than doubling the need for food, shelter and all other requirements for life and human dignity which are at the present inadequately met;

Uncontrolled urbanisation and consequent conditions of overcrowding, pollution, deterioration and psychological tensions in metropolitan regions;

Rural backwardness which compels a large majority of mankind to live at the lowest standards of living and contribute to uncontrolled urban growth;

Rural dispersion exemplified by small scattered settlements and isolated homesteads which inhibit the provision of infrastructure and services, particularly those relating to water, health and education;

Involuntary migration, politically, racially, and economically motivated, relocation and expulsion of people from their national homeland,

Recognising also that the establishment of a just and equitable world economic order through necessary changes in the areas of international trade, monetary systems, industrialisation, transfer of resources, transfer of technology, and the consumption of world resources, is essential for socioeconomic development and improvement of human settlement, particularly in developing countries,

Recognising further that these problems pose a formidable challenge to human understanding, imagination, ingenuity and resolve, and that new priorities to promote the qualitative dimensions to economic development, as well as a new political commitment to find solutions resulting in the practical implementation of the New International Economic Order, become imperative:

  1. Opportunities and Solutions

    1. Mankind must not be daunted by the scale of the task ahead. There is need for awareness of and responsibility for increased activity of the national Governments and international community, aimed at mobilisation of economic resources, institutional changes and international solidarity by:
    1. Adopting bold, meaningful and effective human settlement policies and spatial planning strategies realistically adapted to local conditions;
    2. Creating more livable, attractive and efficient settlements which recognise human scale, the heritage and culture of people and the special needs of disadvantaged groups especially children, women and the infirm m order to ensure the provision of health, services, education, food and employment within a framework of social justice;
    3. Creating possibilities for effective participation by all people in the planning, building and management of their human settlements;
    4. Developing innovative approaches in formulating and implementing settlement programs through more appropriate use of science and technology and adequate national and international financing;
    5. Utilising the most effective means of communications for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of human settlements;
    6. Strengthening bonds of international co-operation both regionally and globally;
    7. Creating economic opportunities conducive to full employment where, under healthy, safe conditions, women and men will be fairly compensated for their labour in monetary, health and other personal benefits.

    8. In meeting this challenge, human settlements must be seen as an instrument and object of development. The goals of settlement policies are inseparable from the goals of every sector of social and economic life. The solutions to the problems of human settlements must therefore be conceived as an integral part of the development process of individual nations and the world community.
    1. With these opportunities and considerations in mind, and being agreed on the necessity of finding common principles that will guide Governments and the world community in solving the problems of human settlements, the Conference proclaims the following general principles and guidelines for action.
    2. General Principles
    3. The improvement of the quality of life of human beings is the first and most important objective of every human settlement policy. These policies must facilitate the rapid and continuous improvement in the quality of life of all people, beginning with the satisfaction of the basic needs of food, shelter, clean water, employment, health, education, training, social security without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, ideology, national or social origin or other cause, in a frame of freedom, dignity and social justice.
    4. In striving to achieve this objective, priority must be given to the needs of the most disadvantaged people.
    5. Economic development should lead to the satisfaction of human needs and is a necessary means towards achieving a better quality of life, provided that it contributes to a more equitable distribution of its benefits among people and nations. In this context particular attention should be paid to the accelerated transition in developing countries from primary development to secondary development activities, and particularly to industrial development.
    6. Human dignity and the exercise of free choice consistent with over-all public welfare are basic rights which must be assured in every society. It is therefore the duty of all people and Governments to join the struggle against any form of colonialism, foreign aggression and occupation, domination, apartheid and all forms of racism and racial discrimination referred to in the resolutions as adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
    7. The establishment of settlements in territories occupied by force is illegal. It is condemned by the international community. However, action still remains to be taken against the establishment of such settlements.
    8. The right of free movement and the right of each individual to choose the place of settlement within the domain of his own country should be recognised and safeguarded.
    9. Every State has the sovereign and inalienable right to choose its economic system, as well as its political, social and cultural systems, in accordance with the will of its people, without interference, coercion or external threat of any kind.
    10. Every State has the right to exercise full and permanent sovereignty over its wealth, natural resources and economic activities, adopting the necessary measures for the planning and management of its resources, providing for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the environment.
    11. Every country should have the right to be a sovereign inheritor of its own cultural values created throughout its history, and has the duty to preserve them as an integral part of the cultural heritage of mankind.
    12. Land is one of the fundamental elements in human settlements. Every State has the right to take the necessary steps to maintain under public control the use, possession, disposal and reservation of land. Every State has the right to plan and regulate use of land, which is one of its most important resources, in such a way that the growth of population centres both urban and rural are based on a comprehensive land use plan. Such measures must assure the attainment of basic goals of social and economic reform for every country, in conformity with its national and land tenure system and legislation.
      1. The nations must avoid the pollution of the biosphere and the oceans and should join in the effort to end irrational exploitation of all environmental resources, whether nonrenewable or renewable in the long term. The environment is the common heritage of mankind and its protection is the responsibility of the whole international community. All acts by nations and people should therefore be inspired by a deep respect for the protection of the environmental resources upon which life itself depends.
    13. The waste and misuse of resources in war and armaments should be prevented. All countries should make a firm commitment to promote general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, in particular in the field of nuclear disarmament Part of the resources thus released should be utilised so as to achieve a better quality of life for humanity and particularly the peoples of developing countries.
    14. All persons have the right and the duty to participate, individually and collectively in the elaboration and implementation of policies and programmes of their human settlements.
    15. To achieve universal progress in the quality of life, a fair and balanced structure of the economic relations between States has to be promoted. It is therefore essential to implement urgently the New International Economic Order, based on the Declaration and Programme of Action approved by the General Assembly in its sixth special session, and on the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.
    16. The highest priority should be placed on the rehabilitation of expelled and homeless people who have been displaced by natural or man-made catastrophes, and especially by the act of foreign aggression. In the latter case, all countries have the duty to fully co-operate in order to guarantee that the parties involved allow the return of displaced persons to their homes and to give them the right to possess and enjoy their properties and belongings without interference.

    17. Historical settlements, monuments and other items of national heritage, including religious heritage, should be safeguarded against any acts of aggression or abuse by the occupying Power.
      1. Every State has the sovereign right to rule and exercise effective control over foreign investments, including the transnational corporations- within its national jurisdiction, which affect directly or indirectly the human settlements programs.
    18. All countries, particularly developing countries, must create conditions which make possible the full integration of women and youth in political, economic and social activities, particularly in the planning and implementation of human settlement proposals and in all the associated activities, on the basis of equal rights, in order to achieve an efficient and full utilisation of available human resources, bearing in mind that women constitute half of the world population.
    19. International co-operation is an objective and a common duty of all States, and necessary efforts must therefore be made to accelerate the social and economic development of developing countries, within the framework of favourable external conditions, which are compatible with their needs and aspirations and which contains the due respect for the sovereign equality of all States.
    1. Guidelines for Action
    2. It is recommended that Governments and international organisations should make every effort to take urgent action as set out in the following guidelines:
    3. It is the responsibility of Governments to prepare spatial strategy plans and adopt human settlement policies to guide the socio-economic development efforts. Such policies must be an essential component of an over-all development strategy, linking and harmonising them with policies on industrialisation, agriculture, social welfare, and environmental and cultural preservation so that each supports the other in a progressive improvement in wellbeing of all mankind.
    4. A human settlement policy must seek harmonious integration or co-ordination of a wide variety of components, including, for example, population growth and distribution, employment, shelter, land use, infrastructure and services. Governments must create mechanisms and institutions to develop and implement such a policy.
    5. It is of paramount importance that national and international efforts give priority to improving the rural habitat. In this context, efforts should be made towards the reduction of disparities between rural and urban areas, as needed between regions and within urban areas themselves, for a harmonious development of human settlements.
    6. The demographic, natural and economic characteristics of many countries, require policies on growth and distribution of population, land tenure and localisation of productive activities to ensure orderly processes of urbanisation and arrange for rational occupation of rural space.
    7. Human settlement policies and programmes should define and strive for progressive minimum standards for an acceptable quality of life. These standards will vary within and between countries, as well as over periods of time, and therefore must be subject to change in accordance with conditions and possibilities. Some standards are most appropriately defined in quantitative terms, thus providing precisely defined targets at the local and national levels. Others must be qualitative, with their achievement subject to felt need. At the same time, social justice and a fair sharing of resources demand the discouragement of excessive consumption.
    8. Attention must also be drawn to the detrimental effects of transposing standards and criteria that can only be adopted by minorities and could heighten inequalities, the misuse of resources and the social, cultural and ecological deterioration of the developing countries.

    9. Adequate shelter and services are a basic human right which place an obligation on Governments to ensure their attainment by all people, beginning with direct assistance to the least advantaged through guided programs of self-help and community action. Governments should endeavour to remove all impediments hindering attainments of these goals. Of special importance is the elimination of social and racial segregation, inter alia, through the creation of better balanced communities, which blend different social groups, occupation, housing and amenities.
    10. Health is an essential element in the development of the individual and one of the goals of human settlement policies should be to improve environmental health conditions and basic health services.
    11. Basic human dignity is the right of people, individually and collectively, to participate directly in shaping the policies and programs affecting their lives. The process of choosing and carrying out a given course of action for human settlement improvement should be designed expressly to fulfil that right. Effective human settlement policies require a continuous co-operative relationship between a Government and its people at all levels. It is recommended that national Governments promote programs that will encourage and assist local authorities to participate to a greater extent in national development.
      1. Since a genuine human settlement policy requires the effective participation of the entire population, recourse must therefore be made at all times to technical arrangements permitting the use of all human resources, both skilled and unskilled. The equal participation of women must be guaranteed. These goals must be associated with a global training program to facilitate the introduction and use the technologies that maximise productive employment
    12. International and national institutions should promote and institute education programs and courses in the subject of human settlements’.
    13. Land is an essential element in development of both urban and rural settlements. The use and tenure of land should be subject to public control because of its limited supply through appropriate measures and legislation including agrarian reform policies- as an essential basis for integrated rural development- that will facilitate the transfer of economic resources to the agricultural sector and the promotion of the agro-industrial effort, so as to improve the integration and organisation of human settlements, in accordance with national development plans and programs. The increase in the value of land as a result of public decision and investment should be recaptured for the benefit of society as a whole. Governments should also ensure that prime agricultural land is destined to its most vital use.
    14. Human settlements are characterised by significant disparities in living standards and opportunities. Harmonious development of human settlements requires the reduction of disparities between rural and urban areas, between regions and within regions themselves. Governments should adopt policies which aim at decreasing the differences between living standards and opportunities in urban and nonurban areas. Such policies at the national level should be supplemented by policies designed to reduce disparities between countries within the framework of the New International Economic Order.
    15. In achieving the socio-economic and environmental objectives of the development of human settlements, high priority should be given to the actual design and physical planning processes which have as their main tasks the synthesis of various planning approaches and the transformation of broad and general goals into specific design solutions. The sensitive and comprehensive design methodologies related to the particular circumstances of time and space, and based on consideration of the human scale should be pursued and encouraged.
    16. The design of human settlements should aim at providing a living environment in which identities of individuals, families and societies are preserved and adequate means for maintaining privacy, the possibility of face-to-face interactions and public participation in the decision-making process are provided.
      1. A human settlement is more than a grouping of people, shelter and work places. Diversity in the characteristics of human settlements reflecting cultural and aesthetic values must be respected and encouraged and areas of historical, religious or archaelogical importance and nature areas of special interest preserved for posterity. Places of worship, especially in areas of expanding human settlements, should be provided and recognised in order to satisfy the spiritual and religious needs of different groups in accordance with freedom of religious expression.
      1. Governments and the international community should facilitate the transfer of relevent technology and experience and should encourage and assist the creation of endogenous technology better suited to the socio-cultural characteristics and pattern of population by means of bilateral or multilateral agreements having regard to the sovereignity and intersof the participating States. The knowledge and experience accumulated on the subject of human settlements should be available to all countries. Reasearch and academic institutions should contribute more fully to this effort by giving greater attention to human settlements problems.
    17. Access should be granted, on more favourable terms, to modern technology, which should be adapted, as necessary, to the specific economic, social and ecological conditions and the the different stages of development of the developing countries. Efforts must be made to ensure that the commercial practices governing the transfer of technology are adapted to the needs of the developing countries and to ensure that buyers ‘ rights are not abused.
    18. International, technical and financial co-operation by the developed countries with the developing countries must be conducted on the basis of respect for national sovereignty and national development plans and programs and designed to solve problems relating to projects, under human settlement programs, aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the inhabitants.
    19. Due attention should be given to implementation of conservation and recycling technologies.
    20. In the planning and management of human settlements, Governments should take into consideration all pertinent recommendations on human settlements planning which have emerged from earlier conferences dealing with the quality of life and development problems which affect it, starting with the high global priority represented by the transformation of the economic order at the national and international levels (sixth and seventh special sessions), the environmental impact of human settlements (Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment), the housing and sanitary ramifications of population growth (World Population Conference, Bucharest), rural development and the need to increase food supply (World Food Conference, Rome) and the effect on women of housing and urban development (International Women’s Conference, Mexico City).
    21. While planning new human settlements or restructuring existing ones, a high priority should be given to the promotion of optimal and creative conditions of human coexistence. This implies the creation of a well-structured urban space on a human scale, the close interconnexion of the different urban functions, the relief of urban man from intolerable psychological tensions due to overcrowding and chaos, the creation of chances of human encounters and the elimination of urban concepts leading to human isolation.
    22. Guided by the foregoing principles, the international community must exercise its responsibility to support national efforts to meet the human settlements challenges facing them. Since resources of Governments are inadequate to meet all needs, the international community should provide the necessary financial and technical assistance, evolve appropriate institutional arrangements and seek new effective ways to promote them. In the meantime, assistance to developing countries must at least reach the percentage targets set in the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade.
    1. Yes.

In favour Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Democratic Yemen, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, German Democratic Republic, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Holy See, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Republic, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Zambia.

Against: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany (Federal Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.

Abstaining: Austria, Colombia, Fiji, Honduras, Japan, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

  1. Yes; the text of the explanation was as follows:

Mr Chairman, like others the Australian Delegation regrets very much the circumstances which compelled us to vote against the Declaration. My Delegation contains people who have worked with their international colleagues for a long time in preparation for this Conference, seeking among other things, a Declaration to which all countries could subscribe. The Delegation also contains a number of senior professional men in the field of human settlement problems, whose satisfaction with their technical work in Committees II and III has had to be tempered by the work in Committee I.

At the Conference I think I can claim that we have continued our efforts, going to considerable lengths of time and energy seeking a compromise to try and reach some consensus. But this proved impossible, with a stage being reached where we were informed that no further negotiation was available to us.

Like others our principal concern was over Art. 4 Part II with its apparent effort to maintain the link between racism and zionism and the endorsing of the definition of racism contained in UNGA Resolution 3379. Australia’s position against racism and racialism is well known; so, Mr Chairman, is our position on Resolution 3379.

Mr Chairman there were other points on which we hoped negotiation would ease our problems- but these would not have caused us to vote against the Declaration as a whole.

At the same time I feel bound to say that the very amount of time obliged to be spent on a very small number of items served to diffuse and divert time which, in our opinion, should more properly have been spent on the specialist matters before this Conference. We support fully the intent of these technical paragraphs, as contained in the Declaration but would respectfully say that had our energies been more directed to them, the whole document would have been brought to a greater degree of precision, clarity, credibility and consequent world wide acceptability.

Sydney Airport: Aircraft Movements (Question No. 1595)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What was the total number of aircraft movements at Sydney Airport during October 1 976.
  2. How many of the movements were jet passenger aircraft.
  3. How many of the movements in part (2) were (a) takeoffs and (b) landings.
  4. How many of the takeoffs in part (3) were (a) to the north, (b) to the south, (c) to the east and (d) to the west
  5. How many of the landings in part (3) were (a) from the north, (b) from the south, (c) from the east and (d) from the west.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 13 405.
  2. (a) 3260, (b) 3249.
  3. (a) 1 10, (b) 2490, (c) 28 1, (d) 379.
  4. (a) 1385, (b) 405, (c) 438, (d) 1021.

Sydney Airport: Aircraft Movements (Question No. 1596)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. How many passenger movements have there been from Sydney Airport in each year since 1 970.
  2. How many of them were (a) internal and (b) international movements.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Statistics of total revenue passenger movements at Sydney Airport are as follows:

Aircraft Operated by Australian Airlines (Question No. 1594)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What different types of aircraft have been operated by major Australian airlines in each year since 1 970.
  2. How many of each type has each airline operated in each year since 1970.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) The following table shows the various aircraft operated by Australian airlines by type in each of the years 1970 to 1976. The fleet strengths are those existing at 30 June of each year.

Project to Employ Aboriginals (Question No. 1531)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What special works projects to provide employment for Aboriginals are currently being carried out in the Electoral Division of Grey.
  2. What other projects is it anticipated will be commenced during the remainder of 1 976-77.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. 1 ) Special Work Projects commenced so far for 1976-77 in the electoral division of Grey are shown below:
  1. Other possible projects to be commenced in this financial year are currently being assessed for programming purposes, following the recent injection of additional Special Work Projects funds for the South Australian Program in 1976-77.

Research Grants for the Handicapped (Question No. 1405)

Mr E G Whitlam:

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

  1. 1 ) Which organisations applied to the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped for research grants in 1975-76.
  2. What was the nature of the proposed research project in each case.
  3. On what dates were any of these applications approved, and for what amount
  4. What is the anticipated completion date of each approved research project.
  5. What is the total value of research projects to be funded by the Council in 1976-77.
Mr Hunt:

-The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: (1), (2) and (3)-

  1. The completion date of each approved research project is 30 April 1977.
  2. As these projects will be carried out in 1976-77, the question of future funds for similar research projects will be determined in the preparation of the 1 977-78 Budget following examination of the findings of the projects listed above.

Minister for Transport: Visit to New Zealand (Question No. 1140)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What was the purpose of his visit to New Zealand from 28 April to 3 May 1 976.
  2. What are the names, classifications and salaries of each member of the party who accompanied him.
  3. ) What are the names of the places visited.
  4. What official consultations were undertaken.
  5. What was the cost for each member of the parry for; (a) travel both between Australia and New Zealand and within New Zealand; (b) accommodation, and (c) other incidentals,
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) The visit to New Zealand was to attend a meeting of the South Pacific Regional Shipping Council and separately to have discussions on Fiji/Australia civil aviation arrangements with Mr E. Beddoes, Fijian Minister for Communications.
  2. Mrs P. J. Nixon

Mr J. H. Rowland, First Assistant Secretary, Sea Transport Policy Division, Department of Transport $27,716

Mr K. W. Thompson, Assistant Secretary, International Policy Division, Department of Transport $23,246

Ms M. Slater, Personal Secretary $9,482

  1. 3 ) All meetings and consultations took place in Auckland on 29-30 April 1976. Over the subsequent weekend in company with Mrs Nixon and my personal secretary, I visited the Bay of Islands. This visit was as a guest of and at the expense of the New Zealand Government.
  2. Meeting of the South Pacific Regional Shipping Council was held on 29 April and discussions with Mr Beddoes on 30 April. In addition, I held unscheduled discussions with His Excellency President Hammer de Roburt, of Nauru.
  3. 5 ) Minister for Transport and Mrs Nixon

Area Improvement Program (Question No. 1541)

Mr Armitage:

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

  1. Did he state in correspondence dated 2 November 1976 that full details of the Area Improvement Program for the year 1975-76 are still in the process of being compiled; if so, what are the causes of this inordinate delay, keeping in mind that I refer to last financial year’s program.
  2. Is he now in a position to give me the precise details of this program insofar as the Electoral Division of Chifley is concerned.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes. It has been the practice to compile List of projects approved for each region, for publication. Last year this practice was discontinued. A list has been compiled on Mr Armitage ‘s request. There has been no ‘inordinate ‘ delay.
  2. The following projects fall within the Electoral Division of Chifley:

Former Prime Ministers: Privileges and Benefits (Question No. 854)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:

  1. What are the privileges and benefit payments available to former Australian Prime Ministers still living who (a) have retired from the Parliament and (b) are still serving in the Parliament, and will the Minister identify the beneficiary in each case.
  2. Will the Minister supply similar details in relation to the wives or widows of former Prime Ministers.
Mr Street:
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

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

  1. 1 ) and (2 ) Under the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948 a Prime Minister may qualify, in the same way as other members of Parliament, for a parliamentary retiring allowance which becomes payable on retirement from the Parliament. His service as a Prime Minister may have qualified him also for a ministerial or a prime ministerial retiring allowance.

It is not the practice for details relating to individual contributors under the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act to be made public The following former Prime Ministers and widows of former Prime Ministers are in receipt of retiring allowances under the Act:

Lady Fadden

Rt Hon. J. G.Gorton

The Hon. Dame Enid Lyons

Rt Hon. Sir John McEwen

Rt Hon. Sir Robert Menzies

Lady Jean Page

In addition, ex-gratia payments related to the parliamentary retiring allowances are paid by my Department to the Rt Hon. F. M. Forde and the Hon. Dame Enid Lyons.

Details of the privileges of former Prime Ministers are as follows:

  1. a ) Former Prime Ministers no longer in the Parliament

Sir Robert Menzies

Granted under Holt Government in 1 966: office accommodation in Melbourne, including furniture, equipment and facilities normally associated with such an office overseas fares met officially for self and wife in respect of visits abroad on occasions connected with his former office staff of- one Private Secretary one Steno-Secretary Grade 1 (unoccupied) unrestricted use of an official car with regular driver in Victoria, plus part-time medical orderly assistance to enable Sir Robert to use this facility.* Access to pool car transport elsewhere use of official cars at overseas posts on particular occasions of significance associated with the visit

Granted under Whitlam Government in 1974: access to official cars for Dame Pattie Menzies

Sir John McEwen

Granted under the Gorton Government in 1 970: office accommodation in Melbourne including furniture, equipment and facilities normally associated with such an office unrestricted use of an official car with regular driver in Victoria and access to pool transport elsewhere retention of Federal Member trunk telephone authority card (not valid for phonograms) access to official cars at Australian overseas posts staff of- one Private Secretary

Mr J. G.Gorton

Commitment made under McMahon Government in 1971, implemented under Fraser Government in 1 976: office accommodation in Canberra including furniture, equipment and facilities normally associated with such an office unrestricted use of an official car with regular driver in the A.C.T. and access to pool transport elsewhere retention of Federal Member trunk telephone authority card (not valid for phonograms) access to official cars at Australian overseas posts staffof- one Private Secretary

Mr F.M. Forde

Granted under Holt Government in 1 967: official car transport to attend functions to which he is invited because of his former office as Prime Minister

Granted under Whitlam Government in 1 975: part-time secretarial assistance- for up to two mornings a week- to help with correspondence.

  1. Former Prime Minister still in Parliament

Mr W. McMahon

Granted under Whitlam Government in 1 972: in addition to private member’s travel entitlement in Australia, may be accompanied by wife at official expense unrestricted use of an official car with regular driver for self and wife in Sydney, with access to pool car transport elsewhere for self and wife postage, and official telephone at residence, for official purposes staff of- one Private Secretary one Steno-secretary, Grade 1 one Assistant Private Secretary office accommodation in Sydney, including furniture, equipment and facilities normally associated with such an office.

Granted under Whitlam Government in 1 973: official telephone at two residences for official purposes.

The widow of a former Prime Minister may use Commonwealth cars to attend functions to which she has been invited because of her position as widow of a former Prime Minister. At present Dame Zara Bate, Lady Fadden, the Hon. Dame Enid Lyons and Lady Page have this entitlement

Pensions: Means Test and Taxation (Question No. 1165)

Mr Neil:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the cost to the Government of the abolition of the means test in respect of persons over the age of 70 years.
  2. What would be the cost to the Government if the age limit were to be reduced to (a) 69 years, (b) 68 years, (c) 67 years, (d) 66 years and (e) 65 years.
  3. What additional revenue is accrued by the Government due to the previous Government’s decision to make age pensions subject to income tax.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. Insufficient information is available about the income distribution of the means-test-free pensioners to estimate accurately the current cost of the abolition of the means test in respect of these pensioners. Means-test-free pensioners are not required to supply information relating to income unless they apply for additional benefits. Nevertheless, the Department of Social Security has advised that the current annual cost, based on November 1976 rates, is probably within the range of $280-300m.
  2. The Department of Social Security has advised that the estimated annual cost of reducing the age limit for means-test-free pensions is as follows:

The cost shown above is based on the estimated number of persons and pensioners at the end of December 1976. The cost shown is the ‘gross ‘ cost, Le. it does not take into account the increase in taxation collections that would result.

  1. Preliminary statistics for the 1975-76 income year indicate that the income tax for that year attributable to taxation of age and service pensions is an amount in excess of $50m.

Repatriation: Toose Report (Question No. 1357)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice:

Which recommendations of the Toose report on the repatriation system have not been implemented’

Mr Newman:

– The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The honourable member is referred to the statement I made in the Senate on 22 September 1976 (Hansard, page 840).

The recommendations in the Toose Report have not been implemented because they require detailed consideration and evaluation. My Department is proceeding with this complex task, taking into consideration the views of ex-service organisations, many of which take issue with major recommendations in the Report.

As I said in my statement of 22 September, the Government’s decisions on the Report will be announced progressively as they are taken.

Loans under Defence Service Homes Act (Question No. 1402)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What expenditure has been incurred and what repayments have been made under the Defence Service Homes Act since its inception.
  2. 2 ) What is the present waiting period for loans.
  3. 3 ) What is the average loan.
  4. What is the average period of repayment.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. Since the inception of the Defence Service Homes Scheme to 30 June 1976, total capital expenditure was $ 1,920.4m and total repayments of principal and interest $ 1,482.2m.
  2. Eleven months in respect of the purchase of new or existing homes. There is no waiting period for the construction of new homes.
  3. The average loan granted during the 1975-76 financial year was $12,4 14.
  4. Loans currently being granted normally provide for a repayment term, by equal instalments, over a period of 32 years. In practice many purchasers and borrowers discharge their liability ahead of time. During the 1975-76 financial year there were 9422 liabilities discharged, averaging a repayment period of 14 years and 2 months.

Government Purchases of Leyland Cars (Question No. 1453)


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services:

  1. 1 ) Did the Whitiam Labor Government purchase over 900 P76 Leyland motor cars from Leyland Australia Limited during 1975;
  2. If so, was a number of these vehicles auctioned in Melbourne some weeks ago, and were they sold for $350 each;
  3. 3 ) If so, what was the loss on the sale of these vehicles.
Mr Street:

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

  1. 1 ) The Labor Government purchased 339 P76 Leyland motor cars in 1975 in connection with the decision by Leyland Australia to reduce its manufacturing activities in Australia;
  2. and (3) In the last 12 months one P76 Leyland motor car was auctioned on behalf of the Commonwealth Government by the Commonwealth Disposals Authority in Melbourne. The vehicle realised $300. It was disposed of due to accident damage and was without engine or transmission.

Employment in the Textiles, Apparel and Footwear Industries (Question No. 1465)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. How many employees in the (a) textile, (b) apparel and (c) footwear manufacturing industries have lost their jobs since March 1974.
  2. How many of these employees in each industry were (a) male and (b) female.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) The Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes data in respect of wage and salary earners employed in various industries. The changes in employment in the textiles, apparel and footwear industries, are set out below:
  2. The sex composition of the decrease in civilian employment was as follows:

Any discrepancies are due to rounding.

Australian Tourist Commission (Question No. 1467)

Mr Stewart:

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

  1. 1 ) Has the Australian Tourist Commission had little success in convincing State Governments and travel/tourist industry groups to match, dollar for dollar, the Commonwealth ‘s future contribution to the Commission of $ 1 .5m.
  2. If so, what is the sense of maintaining any longer an organisation which, on a budget of $3m in 1976, has insufficient funds to carry out an effective and efficient promotional role.
Mr Howard:

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

  1. 1 ) In deciding on a Budget allocation of $3m for the Australian Tourist Commission in 1976-77, the Government concluded that it would be appropriate for the States and the travel industry, who benefit directly from the activities of the Commission, to contribute up to Sl.Sm of this allocation. Approaches were made by me direct to the States and the travel industry but whilst they each expressed support for the work of the Australian Tourist Commission, they declined to contribute to its funding.
  2. In line with other authorities whose activities have been curtailed because of current economic conditions, the Australian Tourist Commission is carrying out its responsibilities for the promotion of Australia overseas as a tourist destination as effectively as it can. I am sure the honourable member will agree with me it is recognised both in Australia and overseas that the Tourist Commission undertakes its tasks with a high degree of professional efficiency.

Service Pension Statistics (Question No. 1539)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans ‘ Affairs, upon notice:

What proportion of eligible males aged (a) 60, (b) 61, (c) 62, (d) 63 and (e) 64 years apply for the service pension.

Mr Newman:

– The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

Information on the proportion of eligible males who are in the categories listed and apply for the service pension is not available.

There are an estimated 91 200 veterans aged 60-64 who served in a theatre of war and may thus be eligible to receive a service pension, subject to an income test. At 30 June 1976, 28 000 veterans aged 60-64 years were receiving a service pension. This is 3 1 per cent of the estimated figure of 9 1 200 surviving veterans.

The following are the approximate numbers, by age, of those eligible veterans who are currently in receipt of a service pension:

Woomera Rocket Range (Question No. 1582)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

In view of the phasing down of operations at the Woomera Rocket Range and the examination of alternate uses for that area, what progress has been made in the implementing of earlier statements that the area was being examined for possible use as a training area for armoured formations of the Australian Army.

Mr Killen:

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

Each Arm of the Defence Force is interested in using the facilities at Woomera but no final decisions have yet been made.

In the main, consideration is being given to using the area for evaluating weapons systems and for field exercises, including the use of armoured vehicles and air support

National Association of Australian and State Road Authorities (Question No. 1598)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice:

  1. What is the function of the National Association of Australian and State Road Authorities.
  2. 2 ) How are its activities funded.
  3. What funds have been made available to the Association in each of the last five financial years.
Mr McLeay:

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

  1. 1 ) The function of the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities primarily is to promote among Member Authorities uniformity in road design and operational aspects, and improvement in road construction and maintenance practices. It publishes Manuals, Guides, Policies and Standards.
  2. Association costs are apportioned between the Member Authorities.
  3. Contributions by the Commonwealth through the Department of Construction towards the operational expenses of the Association ‘s Secretariat have been-

National Association of Australian and State Road Authorities (Question No. 1599)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice:

  1. Is the Australian Government represented on the National Association of Australian and State Road Authorities.
  2. If so, what are the names, classifications and employing agencies of the representatives.
  3. ) Do they attend ali meetings of the Association.
  4. What role do they fulfil at the meetings.
Mr McLeay:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. G. Warwick Smith, Secretary, Department of Construction.
  3. Yes.
  4. As the Commonwealth Government’s design and construction authority for roads and pavements.

Fawnmac Group of Companies (Question No. 1601)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Further to question No. 23, how much has been or is to be paid to the vendor of the Fawnmac group of companies as his share of the 1 975-76 profit, and who is the vendor.
  2. Will this be the final purchase payment, and will any director receive any additional payment relative to the financial performance of the company.
  3. Is Mr Hemming the Manager and the Chairman of Directors; if so, what salary and other allowances does he receive in either of these positions.
  4. What is the total payment made by the Government to Mr Hemming in capital, salary, allowance, profit share, etc., in the acquisition and administration of the group of companies.
  5. What is the contractual arrangement between Mr Hemming and the Fawnmac group and the Government
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) $ 160,094-paid on 8 September 1976. The vendor was Fawnmac Industries Pty Ltd (name subsequently changed to Unitus Consolidated Pty Ltd).
  2. The payment of $160,094 was the final payment for the purchase. No additional amount, other than normal salaries and directors fees, is payable to any director.
  3. , (4) and (5) Mr Hemming retired from employment with the companies, and from the Board of Directors, in October 1976.

Fawnmac Group of Companies (Question No. 1603)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Was the recommendation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants followed in determining the depreciation of buildings and net profit for Croydon Investments Pty Ltd, one of the Fawnmac group of companies; if not, why not.
  2. Will the recommendation be adhered to this financial year.
  3. Does Croydon Investments Pty Ltd have shares in Barker House Pty Ltd; if so, why.
  4. What is the purpose of this company, and who are the major shareholders.
  5. Are any of the directors of the Fawnmac group shareholders and/or directors of Barker House Pty Ltd.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) No. The group continued its long standing practice of calculating depreciation at rates allowed by the Taxation Office which does not allow depreciation on buildings.
  2. This matter will be considered when the accounts for 1 976-77 are being prepared.
  3. and (4) Barker House Pty Ltd owns the premises, known as Barker House, from which the Fawnmac group operates in Sydney. Croydon Investments Pty Ltd is the beneficial owner of the shares in Barker House Pty Ltd. This is a long standing arrangement which was entered into before the Commonwealth acquired the shares in the Fawnmac group.
  4. All of the Directors of Barker House Pty Ltd are directors of the other Fawnmac companies.

Permanent Armed Forces: Strength (Question No. 1611)

Mr Les McMahon:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Has the strength of the permanent Armed Forces of Australia fallen for the third successive month and are enlistments declining.
  2. Did he, and other Ministers, repeatedly claim during and after the 1975 election campaign that recruitment to, and re-enlistment in, the Defence Services would increase if a Liberal-Country Party Government was returned.
  3. If so, why have these predictions come unstuck, and what action is being taken to maintain our Defence Forces at a satisfactory strength.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. (2) and (3) Monthly strength variations of -43, -1, -66 and +27 since June 1976 are too small to be meaningful. As recruiting is seasonal it is expected that strengths will decline in periods of low recruiting- such as the latter part of the year.

The results of recruiting efforts during 1976 have been quite satisfactory. Total enlistments in the Permanent Defence Force for the six months ending October 1976 numbered 3927, an increase of 236, or 6.4 per cent, on enlistments for the same period in 1975. Similarly re-engagement rates are continuing at satisfactory levels.

It is expected that with the intakes planned for January 1977 the Defence Forces should reach their target strengths for June 1977.

Defence Service Homes Projects (Questions No. 1401)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What land is held in each State for Defence Service Homes projects.
  2. In each development (a) what area is held, (b) what was the value at time of purchase and (c) what is the present value.
Mr Newman:

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

The following figures represent raw land holdings and developed estates near or within the principal metropolitan areas. There are also a number of allotments scattered through the rural areas of Western Australia and some in Queensland, whose individual values are relatively insignificant; they are not separately listed but are included within the total land holdings of the Corporation.

Where estates have been developed and some lots allocated, the areas shown are the portions which the Corporation still retains.

Much of the land has been held for several years and the listed purchase values are the amounts paid for the original quantity at the date of acquisition. As it is the Corporation’s normal policy to value land only prior to purchase and at the time of development completion, many of the listed present values are estimates of the present holdings rather than known market values.



Administration of Commonwealth Government Departments (Question No. 904)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1) Can a person who is not a member of the Executive Council be commissioned by the Governor-General to administer an Australian Government Department.
  2. Can a member of the Executive Council who has not been commissioned to administer a particular Department exercise any constitutional rights to personally override an administrative act by the Executive Councillor commissioned by the Governor-General to administer that Department.
  3. Can the Secretary of a Department constitutionally direct an officer of his Department to disobey a constitutionally lawful request or instruction from the Executive Councillor commissioned by the Governor-General to administer that Department
  4. Has he personally known of any case where the Secretary of a Department has directly or indirectly sought to prevent an officer of his Department from giving advice or information to, or of carrying out a constitutionally lawful instruction of, a member of the Executive Council commissioned by the Governor-General to administer that Department.
  5. If so, was the secretarial action referred to in part (4) constitutionally valid; if not, will he take steps to amend the Public Service Act in such a way as to remove those sections that purport to give a member of the Australian Public Service authority to circumvent directly, or indirectly, any of the powers of administration belonging to the Executive Councillor commissioned to administer a Department.
  6. Has his attention been drawn to the opinion submitted to the Coombs’ Commission by the Solicitor-General concerning the constitutional authority of Ministers vis-a-vis their departmental secretaries.
  7. 7 ) Will he table that opinion.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. to (5) I am advised that the answer to this question would involve an expression of legal opinion. Questions have arisen over the years regarding the respective roles of Minister and Permanent Head of a Department. It can reasonably be expected that questions of this kind will be satisfactorily resolved by the Minister concerned with his Permanent Head. The recommendations of the Royal Commission on Government Administration have some relevance for this general subject and in that connection the Government will be considering whether any amendment of the Public Service Act is desirable.
  2. and (7) These questions appear to refer to the opinion given by the Solicitor-General on 20 June 1 975 in connection with proposed overseas loan raisings by the previous Government. That opinion was tabled in the House on 9 July 1975 (Hansard, page 3582).

Price of Beer in Victoria (Question No. 1257)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

Before he answered my question without notice on 22 September 1976 (Hansard, page 1284) had he considered the extent to which existing Federal legislation would prevail over any Victorian legislative or administrative action which purported to fix a minimum price for beer.

Mr Ellicott:

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

Prior to answering the honourable member’s question of 22 September I had seen Press reports about possible Victorian legislation to fix a minimum price for beer and I had given preliminary consideration to whether Federal legislation would be inconsistent with and invalidate legislation of this character. I had not however seen a copy of any proposed legislation. The honourable member’s question of 22 September was of course directed to State legislative or administrative acts purporting to fix a minimum price for commodities which for the purposes of considering inconsistency is materially different from State legislative acts purporting to fix a minimum price for beer.

Qantas Boeing 747 Aircraft (Question No. 1372)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) On how many occasions have Qantas Boeing 747 aircraft suffered engine failure since their purchase.
  2. What were the dates of those failures, and what were the causes.
  3. How many cycles had the engines operated since new and since overhaul in each case.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Qantas Boeing 747 aircraft have suffered 47 engine failures since their purchase up to the end of June 1976. The criterion for assessment as an engine failure is one also used overseas and is an in-flight shut-down which on subsequent investigation was considered to be attributable to the failure or damage of a component part of the basic engine.
  2. The dates of those failures, the total engine hours and the attributable cause in each case are as follows:
  1. Engine hours are listed in part (2). Cycles are not readily available for these failures but may be estimated using an approximate relation of 3.6 hours per cycle. Cycles since overhaul are not applicable because the engine is not overhauled in the normal sense but rather each module of the engine is subject to specified maintenance at particular periods.

Canberra Day Care Centres (Question No. 1417)

Mr Fry:

asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Does his Department propose to cut trained teaching staff at the Civic and Manuka occasional day care centres by 50 percent.
  2. If so, is this cut in the best interests of A.C.T. children.
Mr Staley:

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

  1. 1 ) The Department of the Capital Territory has been reviewing the establishment of occasional care centres. One proposal being examined would reorganise the staffing of the centres to provide improved management and operation. This would require the substitution of an administrative position at each centre for the Teacher-in-Charge position which is very largely concerned with administrative duties.
  2. Any changes made in the staffing at occasional care centres will be based primarily on the interests of A.C.T. children and their parents.

Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong (Question No. 1448)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What is the present stage of the Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong.
  2. What progress will be made during 1976-77 and what progress is proposed or hoped for in 1 977-78.
Mr Adermann:
Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP

– The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:

  1. ) The situation is that although the Government is convinced of the need for this laboratory it is not possible, in the light of the present constraints on expenditure, to provide funds for the commencement of works in the current financial year.
  2. However, it is hoped that the special team established to undertake design work for the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory will be able to continue with this work until the design and tender documents are complete. The position will be reviewed again during this year.

Launching of Australian Ships in Sweden (Question No. 1481)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Did he state in answer to my question No. 1019 (Hansard, 5 October 1976, page 1530) that the gifts presented to the launching ladies who officiated at the recent launchings of two Australian ships in Sweden were being valued in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  2. ) If so, has the valuation of the gifts been completed.
  3. If so, what is the valuation of the (a) Gotaverken gift and (b) Blohm and Voss gift.
  4. What is the present location of (a) the Gotaverken brooch and (b) the Blohm and Voss bracelet.
  5. What action has been taken to implement the Prime Minister’s election promise that gifts in excess of $ 100 must be paid for by the recipient.
  6. Was each launching lady, i.e. Mrs Nixon and Mrs Anthony, asked to nominate the nature of the gift each received.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. and (5) The Prime Minister’s election promise was implemented by the payment to the receiver of Public Moneys of $150 for the Blohm and Voss gift, and $1,230 for the Gotaverken gift.
  4. In the hands of the recipients.
  5. No.

Public Servants on Prime Minister’s Overseas Visits (Question No. 1510)

Mr Jones:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have public servants from departments other than his own accompanied him on his visits overseas.
  2. If so, who were they, and from which departments did they come.
  3. What was the cost of (a) fares, (b) allowances and (c) accommodation to each department for each visit.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. to (3) See my answer to Question No. 878 (Senate Hansard, 6 December 1976, pages 2679-81.)

Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (Question No. 1536)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What committees function under the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.
  2. When were they established.
Mr Ellicott:

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

  1. and (2) I am informed that the names of the committees and the dates of their establishment are as follows:

Uniform Crime Statistics Committee-July, 1973.

Commercial Arbitration Committee- February, 1974.

Computers Committee- July 1975.

Armed Robbery Committee- July 1975.

Administration of Justice Committee- July 1 975.

Credit Laws Committee-July 1 975.

In addition, the Parliamentary Counsel’s Committee operates in conjunction with the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.

Rural Processing Co-operatives (Question No. 1573)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact that rural processing co-operatives, such as dairy factories, are not able to obtain sufficient capital for plant modernisation, etc., and therefore they are disadvantaged relative to proprietary factories.
  2. Is this disadvantage compounded at the present time by the poverty of the farmer shareholders, traditional suppliers of capital.
  3. If so, what steps are being taken to remove this disadvantage, and to provide co-operatives with similar provisions for borrowing to those existing in most western nations
  4. Can he ensure that the Rural Bank includes a section for rural co-operatives, and that this sections sets realistic limits and terms for co-operatives.
Mr Sinclair:

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

  1. and (2) Whilst my Department does not maintain detailed information about the relative availability of capital to rural processing co-operatives and proprietary factories, present conditions in parts of the rural sector may well affect the capacity of fanner shareholders to increase investment in co-operatives.
  2. and (4) L-NCP policy envisages the Rural Bank as an institution to improve the credit situation of individual farm enterprises rather than as a facility related to the capital needs of corporate manufacturers or processors. Proposals being developed at this stage are therefore directed to giving farmers satisfactory access to capital for reasonable periods. The position of rural processing co-operatives may benefit indirectly from provision of this facility for individuals.

Tarcoola-Alice Springs Railway (Question No. 1581)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Have all the bridge spans required for the TarcoolaAlice Springs Railway been manufactured in the Australian National Railways workshops at Port Augusta.
  2. If so, will he give an assurance that bridge spans for this major railway project will continue to be manufactured in those workshops in the future.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) To date all steel bridge spans requited for the Tarcoola to Alice Springs Railway have been manufactured in the ANR workshops at Port Augusta.
  2. No decision has yet been made on whether all steel bridge spans required for the project will be manufactured at Port Augusta.

Currency Regulations: Alleged Breaches (Question No. 1590)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

Did the case in which there were some facts to support a prosecution for breach of the Currency Regulations but in which it was decided not to proceed (Hansard, 10 November 1976, page 25 19) involve (a) Mr Spann or (b) Mr Fancher.

Mr Ellicott:

– I do not think it is in the interests of justice to disclose publicly facts relating to specific cases where alleged breaches of the law are involved.

Secret Commissions Act (Question No. 1733)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is any legislation proposed to amend the Secret Commissions Act to ensure that no activity similar to that engaged in by the Lockheed Corporation occurs in Australia.
  2. Is it proposed to introduce uniform Commonwealth and State legislation regulating and prohibiting bribes and secret commissions such as occurred in the Lockheed case.
Mr Ellicott:

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

  1. As I indicated in Parliament on 1 December 1976 nothing in documents’ received by my Department from the United States Department of Justice in connexion with the Lockheed Corporation matter suggests any breach of law or other impropriety by any person. Further, I am unaware of any evidence indicating the receipt by persons in Australia of bribes or secret commissions from the Lockheed Corporation. However, in May last to ensure such a situation will not arise in Australia and as a part of a general review of such legislation, I asked my Department to review the Secret Commissions Act 1 905. That review is continuing.
  2. ) As far as I am aware there is no such proposal.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 December 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.