30th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
The Acting Clerk- Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That many pensioners who are holders of the Pensioners Health Benefit Card have suffered undue hardship as inmates of private nursing homes because the Federal Government subsidy was insufficient to meet the charges as laid down.
Many pensioners whose spouse was an inmate of the private nursing homes suffered poverty in an endeavour to sustain their partner while in the nursing home.
Only in rare cases was the statutory minimum patient contribution as laid down adhered to.
That the telephone was a matter of life and death to many pensioners, but because of the cost of installation of the telephone many are unable to afford the installation.
That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on and are forced to pay high rents, are in many cases living in extreme poverty.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair, Mr Gillard, Mr Howard, Mr Lies McMahon and Mr Stewart.
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 because television and radio:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government will amend the Broadcasting and Television Act in relation to both national and commercial broadcasters to legislate:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bradfield and Mr Eric Robinson.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or pan of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from Federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Graham and Mr Martin.
To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to-
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson and Mr MacKenzie.
To the Speaker, and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shows that- whatever our ideology, in the sight of God we, as a nation are politically, economically and spiritually sick and in need of healing.
We, the undersigned, are Christians, and as such, recognise the Bible as the word of God, and in 2 Chronicles 7: 14, we are told “If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in the House assembled will designate a Sunday of your choosing as a “National Day of Prayer for the Healing of Our Nation” and have the day and date of this event published in the daily press.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of Australia do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government will permit Mr Ignazio Salemi to remain in Australia as a resident.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
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 believe that Australia’s constitution is undemocratic and should be replaced by a democratic constitution. This new constitution should be drafted at a representative, directly elected people’s convention following extensive public debate, and then put to a referendum of the people. The petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Parliament, as a matter of urgency, will help to promote such public debate and will arrange for the holding of such a people’s convention and referendum.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
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:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that no self regulation is implemented and Mr Gyngell be dismissed as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr MacKellar.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled, the humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia showeth:
That the Chaner of the United Nations clearly precludes it from interference in the domestic affairs of a country or from obstructing the free transmission of news and information between individuals and between nations.
That the United Nations, in apparent illegality, has imposed many restrictions and sanctions upon Rhodesia which has been remarkably free from the bloodshed and turmoil of Northern and Central African lands, even to the extent now of actively encouraging armed conflict against the legally elected Government of Rhodesia.
Lord Graham as Minister of External Affairs and Defence has said: ‘International Communism is our enemy. All this talk of political advancement and majority rule is no more than a smokescreen in the early skirmishes of an assault upon the whole of Africa. … It is even difficult to see this enemy because it is not merely attacking us, but on a broad front is attacking the whole world order, its standards, its law and order, its moralities, its churches, its patriotisms, its philosophies, and even much of its learning . . . ‘
That Communist Chinese infiltration in much of Africa over many years, and Cuban communist troops reported to number 25,000 are dominating nearby Angola, and possess modern missiles et cetera.
It is urgent that Mozambique, now under communist domination and which has a common border with Rhodesia, does not receive any further aid from the Commonwealth Government of Australia, which has benefited mainly, the terrorist guerilla movements that are responsible for the deaths of many Rhodesian people.
It is urgent for the Australian people to determine for themselves, the actual facts of the Rhodesian struggles.
It is urgent that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled, will observe common justice and proper humanity by inviting only authorised representatives of the present Government of Rhodesia to Australia, to do what they have been deprived to do previously, present their case fully and publicly so that this can be examined and tested, without interference, and so that the eventual impact on Australia’s own security and defence alliances can be gauged with better accuracy.
Your petitioners request urgent action to be taken immediately.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Thomson.
To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens (students, parents, teachers) of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the decision by the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of non-State tertiary institutions is in total conflict with stated Government education policy.
The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State Government education systems.
At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to a serious worsening of the current employment situation, particularly school leavers.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrViner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Wentworth.
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
The Department of Social Security current means test allows those over 2 1 years of age to earn $6 per week in addition to unemployment benefits, and those under 21 $3 per week. Amounts earned in excess of these levels result in a loss in benefit of $ 1 for every additional dollar earned.
This policy discourages the unemployed from engaging in part time or casual work. Also this may mean that existing or potential opportunities for part time work will not be taken up at a time when unemployment is a major social problem.
We believe that this policy is having a particularly unfortunate effect on young school leavers who are being denied valuable work experience and training so important for their entry into the work force.
Your petitioners humbly pray that this House request the Honourable Minister for Social Security to give effect to the recommendation of the recent Myers report on unemployment benefits and allow those receiving unemployment benefits to earn up to $20 per week, before their unemployment benefit is reduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Yates.
– I address a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It relates to child abductions. The Minister will recall that I raised this matter with him last May and he undertook to set up an interdepartmental committee of inquiry. He will further recall my lengthy submissions urging a number of recommendations on legislative reforms. Can the Minister now advise the House whether the committee has completed its findings? If so, what are its recommendations? When can we expect them to be implemented? Finally, he will recall that last month I requested an urgent investigation by himself and the Attorney-General into the alleged illegal activities of an organisation with the title Fathers Organisation for Revolutionary Custody Entitlement. Can he advise the House of the results of his investigations and the activities of this organisation?
-It is correct that the honourable member has been questioning and making representations to me over a lengthy period of time. At all times he has taken a constructive interest in this very difficult area. I have been spending time on the matter, as have some of my colleagues. To put the matter into perspective let me say that since 1972 fewer than 40 cases of child abduction have been referred to my Department. However, these figures give no real indication of the size of the problem but unless they are reported it cannot be measured. The removal of children from Australia by one parent without the consent of the other is, of course, illegal. What is not widely known is that certain steps can be taken to prevent children being removed illegally. If a parent considers that his or her partner may remove a child without his or her consent he or she should fill in an inquiry form at a passport office. This will at least help to prevent travel documents being provided for the child until a court order can be obtained. Inquirers are counselled to this effect at the passport office. When a court order is obtained the parent should have a lawyer notify all carriers that to remove the child would be a contravention of section 63 of the Migration Act.
Unfortunately however-I think this is implicit in the honourable member’s question- there are other ways in which these preventative measures can be bypassed, and it would not be helpful to give them further publicity by referring to them here. As the honourable member has indicated, an interdepartmental committee has been studying the matter and it has recommended, among other things, the amendment of legislation and a further examination of other measures since a complete legislative remedy has not yet been devised. The Family Law Act, and questions of citizenship, dual nationality and passport issue are all involved. Therefore passport control is only one element of a major legal problem. Other aspects concern the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Minister for Administrative Services and the Attorney-General. However, I propose to put amendments to the Passports Act to the Government for early consideration. These will provide at least a partial solution to the problem of child abduction. The matter will unquestionably require continuing study.
The honourable member referred to the Fathers Organisation for Revolutionary Custody Entitlement. All reports concerning that organisation have been placed in the hands of the Commonwealth Police. As I understand it, despite its investigations, which included interviews with the reporter from the Sunday Independent who wrote the original story and interviewed a member of the Senate, it has been unable to discover anyone who admits to being a member of the organisation or anyone who has first hand knowledge of it However, I understand that the Attorney-General’s Department has received no complaints of child abductions being carried out by any such organisation.
– Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations confirm that the latest figures relating to industrial disputation show that in the first six months of this calendar year Australia had the lowest number of industrial disputes and working days lost during this decade? In view of these statistics will the Minister advise the House whether he is satisfied that this level of industrial disputation indicates that there is a minimum degree of political and economic subversion going on in this country?
– In the first six months of this year the officially published statistics of the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the lowest amount of time lost through industrial disputes for approximately 10 years. That contrasts very markedly with the situation under the previous Government when both time lost and wages lost through industrial disputation reached record levels. To a major extent the figures now reflect the sound policies of the present Government. In particular we have not followed the example of our predecessors. We have not encouraged unions to pursue extravagant wage claims which the economy could not possibly sustain.
The Australian industrial system and its legal framework are excellent and no direct action in pursuit of claims is necessary. Certainly the Government will not be coerced by irresponsible union muscle and it will not hesitate to introduce legislation, as it has already done, if and when it is necessary. The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission expressed concern at the high level of disputation when it was hearing recent national wage cases. We also believe that this level is too high. What people have to appreciate is that statistics do not tell the whole story. Many disputes have little effect on statistics although they cause very serious dislocation to business and disruption to the community. As examples of that latter type of dispute, I instance the air traffic controllers strike and the fuel tankers dispute in Victoria. Neither of them would have had a significant effect on statistics as printed but they caused enormous disruption to the community.
Other disputes totally disregard the wage indexation guidelines of the Commission. They seriously affect industrial production. They affect business confidence and our overseas trade. As examples of those sorts of disputes I instance the building industry disputes currently taking place in Victoria, disputes in the Pilbara which disrupted our trade to Japan, bans by the Seamen’s Union of Australia involving claims for crewing of ships engaged in overseas trade and strikes in Queensland abattoirs which again have threatened the fulfilling of contracts and, in one instance at least, closed a works and put hundreds of people out of a job. By engaging in these sorts of disputes unionists show a total lack of concern for the effects on the community and on fellow workers.
In summary, statistics alone tell nothing of the relative cost to the country and to employment opportunities. We must go beyond the figures and look at the facts. The Government will continue to condemn irresponsible and unwarranted action of this kind as an attack on the Australian community.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and relates to his statement at the weekend that the rate of increase of the implicit deflator for gross domestic product was 9.2 per cent during 1 976-77. Has he noted that Budget Statement No. 2 explicitly states that the rate of growth of the implicit deflator for gross non-farm product calculated at annual rates rose sharply from 8.9 per cent in the second half of 1976 to 13.1 per cent in the first half of 1977? Has he also noted that all the other implicit deflators show the same sharp increase in the rate of growth in the first half of 1977? I therefore ask: Does he consider that these figures published by the Treasurer accurately reflect the rate of inflation?
– The Treasurer’s Speech and Budget Statement No. 2, of course, were accurate. The figures used over the weekend also are completely accurate concerning the underlying rate of inflation. The honourable gentleman likes very much to be able to use the consumer price index with the Medibank component in it to try to demonstrate the rate of inflation. But he knows quite well that that is a false analogy and a false use of that index. He also knows quite well that, if the Medibank element is taken out of the consumer price index, we get to an annual rate of inflation which is consistent with figures of the implicit price deflator which I indicated over the weekend. Both those figures indicated that inflation had come down over the course of the year by six or seven points. One may recall that at the worst in the Labor years the rate of inflation reached a level of 18 per cent or 19 per cent in particular half-years. What we have achieved is a very marked improvement since then.
It is also worth noting some of the other elements of the honourable gentleman’s statements on Monday Conference. In Perth the Leader of the Opposition said that he had learnt something, that he had been struck by economic responsibility, that he was going to reform and was going to be a good boy in the future. It was not a long time after that that the Opposition said, not as a Budget proposal, that it would just spend $800m more with one particular objective. Implicit in everything that the Leader of the Opposition said about our Budget was that the Opposition would spend more funds on every item of government expenditure. That was obviously confirmed on Monday Conference a couple of nights ago. I think people can understand that the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party have learnt nothing. If the Opposition had the power it would move Australia into high spending and high inflation days again. Everything that the Leader of the Opposition has said has pointed very much in that direction. Since he was good enough to ask me a question, may I ask him if he had a happy morning?
– I refer the Minister for Defence to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech in which the Treasurer stated that defence expenditure for 1977-78 would represent a one per cent growth in real terms. Is the Minister aware of the criticism in the Press and by the shadow Minister for Defence that this is mythical and patently false? Will the Minister explain the basis of the Defence estimates for 1977-78 to clear this matter up once and for all?
– I will do my best. I regret that the honourable member for Oxley is not with us; I understand he is ill. I wish him a speedy recovery. I hope he will soon be back with us. If I can take the House into my confidence, may I tell the House that the honourable member for Oxley and I went to the same school. Fortunately we did not go to the same school together; that would have been too much for the school. The honourable member for Oxley has always had trouble with sums. He once sat for an examination in mental arithmetic and got 7 and a half marks out of 100.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will confine himself to the substance of the question and not make a personal attack upon another member of the House.
– The honourable member for Oxley- I hope that this does not stir him too much- has charged that there has been a 4 per cent cut in real prices in defence expenditure for this year. That is the charge. I say it is a false charge. The Treasurer has said that there will be a one per cent real increase this year. The facts are simple, even simple enough to be understood by the honourable member for Oxley. Last year $2,1 82m was spent on defence. That amount was expressed in December 1976 prices. That amount expressed in May 1977 prices would represent $2,320m. I hope that is clear.
– Why did you pick on May?
– Because that is the month in which the Estimates are drawn up.
– Oh, come on!
– Yes it is.
– What index are you using?
– I am not using the index which the honourable member uses because that would be grossly misleading. The Treasurer has stated that $2,343m will be spent on defence this year.
– Are you using the implicit price deflator?
-Your hyphen is showing. That is a $23m increase. The sum of $23m expressed as a percentage of $2,320m is a one per cent increase. The last thing I say is this: Four of the 7Vi marks that the honourable member for Oxley got for mental arithmetic he got by accident.
-I preface my question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, by referring to his electoral talk on 1 8 September in which he said:
During our 2 1 months in office, the Government exercised the greatest possible restraint in its own spending. Because of this I believe we have now reached a responsible expenditure base.
Does this statement mean that the Government is to increase government expenditure on such items as $20m for the beef industry and $100m for an unemployment relief scheme? Would such an increase in expenditure cause the deficit to increase? Would this be an indication of another reversal of government policy?
– It is not surprising that the honourable gentleman has asked a question which basically was asked and answered yesterday. As a result of our 20 months in office and of 20 months restraint in government spending, we have put Australia on a responsible fiscal base and brought reality back into the expenditures of the Commonwealth Government. It is interesting to note that continuously the pressure from the Opposition is for the Government to get off that responsible base and to spend wildly and extravagantly again, and every time that the Leader of the Opposition makes a speech he promises to spend more funds. The more publicity he gets for that the better we will like it because he certainly will not be trusted by the people with the management of Australia’s economic affairs. We have been able to reduce the deficit by half a billion dollars for the second successive year and have fulfilled to a major extent our election commitment to achieve a transfer of real resources from the public sector to the private sector. We have done this through tax indexation and tax concessions for the corporate sector, and this year we have introduced the most far reaching personal tax reforms that have ever been introduced in Australia- much more far reaching than reforms introduced in many other countries. This has been possible only because of restraint in expenditure, restraint in expenditure which the Opposition so detests. It detests such restraint because it wants to have control over people’s lives and does not want to give people the opportunity of having a greater part of their income under their own control. Obviously getting back on a responsible expenditure base makes it possible for the Government when necessary to meet the needs of industries in difficult circumstances.
-I ask the Minister for Overseas trade whether he met Mr Otto Lang, the Canadian Minister responsible for the Candian Wheat Board, during his visit to Australia this week. Was the question of a new international wheat agreement discussed and, if so, what was the outcome of those talks?
– I was very fortunate to have discussions yesterday with Mr Otto Lang. It was a continuation of discussions which I had with him earlier this year on the possibility of a new international wheat agreement. As the honourable member would be aware, the present International Wheat Agreement expires next year, and as there is a substantial world build up of stocks, particularly in the United States of America and Canada, and increasing stocks in Europe and the Soviet Union there are great fears about the pressure being applied on the market by these stocks. Fortunately, the Australian situation is not one of anxiety. Our carry over from the previous season is relatively small and we seem to be able to market our potential production at the moment.
However, the international situation will bear heavily on prices and needs to be watched closely. So the exporting nations have been consulting together, largely under the auspices of the International Wheat Council, to arrive at a new arrangement, and there is a new concept now being developed of quarantining reserve stocks when prices fall below a certain level and releasing these stocks when prices increase. This is a new approach to the problem of stabilising the world market. It involves action on stocks when the world market price indicators move across low and high levels between certain trigger points. These discussions have reached a fairly advanced stage. There will be meetings in Canada next week and in London in a few months. It is thought that it may be possible to reconvene a full meeting between exporter and importer countries early next year in the hope of bringing about a new agreement.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. He will remember that in the Budget, defence expenditure, in nominal terms, is shown as increasing by 7.4 per cent this financial year. He will remember that the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech that this is a real increase of 1 per cent. I ask: Has the Minister seen that in answer to a subsequent question on notice the Treasurer has now said that the deflator for defence expenditure is expected to be somewhat greater than 6.4 per cent? Does this mean that real defence spending will grow by somewhat less than 1 per cent? If so, will there be any increase in real defence spending this year?
– Far be it from me to wrestle with the problem of tutoring the honourable gentleman in the matter of economics. But in calculating implicit price deflators one takes not current prices, but out-turn figures.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. If it becomes necessary or desirable to expand the existing government overseas borrowing program, will the Government do so?
-The Government most certainly will do so.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question on the same matter. Has he noted that the Minister representing the Treasurer in the Senate yesterday asserted in response to a question without notice that overseas borrowing programs are related to the size of the deficit? Was this statement a serious error by the Minister, since overseas borrowings do not appear as part of government outlays and therefore do not contribute to the size of the deficit?
– I am sure that my colleague would have been referring to the fact that nearly every major important element of economic policy has a significant relationship to other elements.
– Is the Minister for Construction aware of reports claiming that an all State survey indicates that building projects worth $500m are in jeopardy because of union disruption? As the report was attributed to the Minister, is he prepared to table the results of the survey, indicate which projects are in jeopardy, and most importantly, advise what options are open to the Government to stop the disruption?
– I thank the honourable member for the question and assure him that I will be very pleased to table the survey which is supplementary to the one which was tabled in the Parliament two or three weeks ago. The survey lists the value of each project- in excess of 80 around the Commonwealth-and lists the number of peak jobs available on each project. It makes no assessment of the cost of industrial disputation. One of the reasons is that the private sector is really frightened to tell us what industrial disputation costs. I was speaking to a builder from Sydney just a few days ago and he said that he had an interrupted concrete pour which cost him $12,500. He asked me not to mention his name. In fact, he was a little concerned that I should even mention the State from which he came because builders are concerned about retaliation from unions such as the Australian Builders Labourers Federation.
We have two examples which we have costed within my Department. They are Commonwealth jobs. In South Australia the value of the project was in excess of $lm and the loss to the taxpayer as a result of industrial disputationthis time by the Builders Labourers Federationwas in excess of $40,000. We have another example of this situation in Brisbane. I am not sure whether this occurred within the electorate of the honourable member for Bowman, but if not, it was quite close to it. He will know the project. I refer to the Woolloongabba Telephone Exchange.
– In my electorate.
– Apparently it is in the electorate of Griffith. In this case the contractor went into liquidation a couple of years ago and the Department of Construction took over the project management. The estimated cost of that project was $ 10m. We have found that the additional cost to the taxpayer as a direct result of industrial disputation by the Builders Labourers Federation alone is $2m, which gives the House and the people of Australia some idea of what the activities of this union and of some others like it are costing the country.
There are various options open to the Government. We could seek deregistration of the union; we could interfere in individual disputes which are affecting our own projects; or we could take direct action similar to that taken by the Victorian Government and close down all Commonwealth projects. We hope that none of these actions will be necessary, but we do hope that someone in the Builders Labourers Federation -
– You have done a fair bit of that in your cutback in public works programs.
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition continues to interject. I wonder why he does not exercise some of his influence on some of his friends in that union and get them to lay off the industry, let the members of the union go back to work and give the building industry an opportunity to get back on its feet. I hope it will not be necessary to take any of the actions I mentioned but they are the options available to us. I table the report, Mr Speaker.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Did the Australian Ambassador to the European Economic Community, Dr J. W. C. Cumes as reported in the Age, send a report to the Government stating that any attempts to sell uranium oxide in Europe before 1985 would be counterproductive? Do other reports to the Government show that the potential demand for uranium oxide in the mid-1980s in Europe- which is the earliest market- is now down 30 per cent on the levels expected when the Fox report was published last year? In view of these facts, does the Government expect the price of uranium oxide to fall heavily by the time Australian mines come into production in the early 1 980s? Will the Government now reconsider its stance on uranium and allow a proper debate and time for safeguard development against nonproliferation and waste disposal to be developed before uranium mining is allowed to proceed?
-The honourable gentleman should know that many European countries are short of power for peaceful purposes. Many of them have power programs which are based on the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Many of them hold the view that they will need such power if their factories are to operate and if their homes are to be heated and lit. For a country such as Australia, which is rich in resources, to deny resources to other countries would be a very serious step indeed. A delegation was in this Parliament yesterday from a country where the need for nuclear power for peaceful purposes would be very greatly and very seriously recognised.
Some of the earlier estimates of the need for uranium for these purposes were to a degree over-optimistic. But having said that, there is still a need for Australian resources. When I was in Europe one of the first things the countries wished to discuss with me was the position that the Government might ultimately take in relation to the sale and supply of uranium. In those discussions the Government’s attitude towards safeguards and proliferation was emphasised. It was also emphasised that this position would not be weakened merely to try to gain a commercial sale. I think that is very much accepted by countries overseas.
The honourable gentleman has given me an opportunity to make a point which came out yesterday and which is very much related to this matter. The International Atomic Energy Agency does believe that technology exists for the proper disposal of wastes. In a report by Des Power from London in an AM broadcast this morning, the transcript of which is headed ‘International Atomic Energy authority spokesman says technology exists for safe nuclear waste disposal’, the following question was asked:
Do you think the Australian Prime Minister is right then in claiming that there are sufficient methods of disposal of atomic waste?
The answer from Bill Lennenann was in these terms:
Yes. Yes. I believe he is right. We certainly can say that we have a technology to do this.
So the program went on. It is true that at the end of it the spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency made a point when he was asked: Is it proven? Is it 100 per cent? Can you be absolutely certain? Very honestly and very bluntly Bill Lennenann said:
Nobody can say something 100 per cent. Any man who says something is sure for 100 per cent is ridiculous. Life is not like that.
That is a very plain, straight and honest statement. At the same time he affirmed that the technology is available and that the disposal of waste in geological formations has been tried in salt mines in Germany. Quite clearly the International Atomic Energy Agency does not believe that the development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes should be held up while further work is done in relation to the matter of waste. If the Leader of the Opposition meant what he said on the television program Monday Conference he would take the word of the International Atomic Energy Agency. But, of course, we know how long the Leader of the Opposition will stick with his view.
-I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: What is the value of Australia’s remaining a member of the United Nations in view of that body’s apparent alignment with the communist world? What can Australia do to resist policies of the United Nations moulded by what a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Scali described as the ‘tyranny of the majority’ which threatens the right of the individual country by acting to appease the communist bloc? Would Australia’s financial contribution to the United Nations be better spent in overcoming poverty right here in Australia?
-It would hardly come as any surprise to the honourable member if I answered in terms which indicated that Australia remains firmly committed to membership of the United Nations and to the purposes and the principles of the United Nations as spelt out in its charter. I detected in correspondence to newspapers thoughts that would be akin to the message within the question that the honourable member poses. Quite frankly, I would like to take the opportunity of putting those sorts of thoughts down.
The importance and the value of the United Nations derives from its comprehensiveness. It is the only international meeting place at which virtually all countries are represented. Despite its imperfections- and there is no doubt that those exist- its comprehensiveness ensures its indispensability. The growth and the change in the United Nations over the years have reflected, for better or for worse, the growth and the change that have occurred in the world. Beyond that, the United Nations provides Australia’s only means at the present moment of consistent and ready contact with close on half the countries of the world.
In terms of the need for access, the United Nations is of great benefit to us and to other countries. It is important, I believe, that Australia works to ensure that the United Nations authority and effectiveness is improved. The results of debate will not always please everybody within the General Assembly or the Security Council. However, I believe that the need for debate is generally recognised. It is not always possible for Australia’s views to be fully reflected in the United Nations decisions, but that is not something from which we should run away. Decisions are taken by a majority, and in many instances there is a ready made majority. I would hesitate to describe that, as is implicit in the question, as something that is always at the disposal of the communist countries. The numbers in the United Nations point rather to Third World or developing country predominance. But whatever the nature of the majority, the rights of the individual members remain protected by the charter’s emphasis on individual national sovereignty.
We have before us at the moment a matter to which I referred yesterday and which might call that aspect into question. But only in very special Security Council cases are the United Nations decisions binding on member States. However, they are binding on occasions. In the Security Council there is a further protection of the veto power which may be exercised by the United States of America, the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom and China.
Finally, just before I sum up, I shall deal with the last part of the honourable senator’s question which related to Australia’s contribution to the United Nations. That is, after all, an international obligation which I belive Australia should continue to accept. There is also the consideration that much of the contribution is in the form of assistance to developing countries, and the work of United Nations agencies is indispensable and is well known. So frustration and annoyance should neither blind us tc the effectiveness of the United Nations nor lead us to a conclusion that we should cease to belong to it morally, intellectually, politically, strategically, realistically- I will run out of adverbs soon; someone will have to supply me with a copy of Roget in a moment. It would be an act of utter folly to subscribe to thoughts which are based on all forms of misconception which primarily, it seems to me, are motivated by short term emotional issues either of frustration or annoyance.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In reply to the honorable member for Blaxland, he said that our uranium will be used for peaceful purposes. I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the third recommendation of the first Fox report which states:
The nuclear power industry is unintentionally contributing to an increased risk of nuclear war. This is the most serious hazard associated with the industry.
Would the Prime Minister agree that our uranium could be used for the spread of nuclear weapons and that there are no known adequate safeguards available in the world against the spread of nuclear weapons?
-Other parts of the Fox reports also state that one of the main elements in the Australian Government’s decision should be the result that will flow from that decision in relation to nuclear proliferation. I think it is well known and accepted that the safeguards that this Government has announced are as tight as or tighter than those accepted by any other country in the world. It has also been announced that we will be consulting other supplier or potential supplier countries to put ourselves in the position of supplier countries reinforcing each other if there were any breach or if there were thought to be a breach detected in relation to these matters.
If Australia had made a decision not to export, quite clearly Australia’s influence in the world brums on these matters would have been nil. We would have no voice to strengthen safeguards. There are some plain facts of life that the honourable gentleman seems utterly unable to comprehend. The nuclear power industry for peaceful purposes does exist. There will be increasing moves towards the introduction of nuclear power for peaceful purposes. If Australia does not supply, the cost of fuel will be greater. If Australia does not supply, certainly a voice for sense and sanity against proliferation of nuclear weapons would be removed from world forums. If that is the result that the honourable gentleman really wants, it is certainly a very odd one indeed.
Many parts of the Fox reports indicated that the hazards associated with various aspects of the operations were not such as to cause Australia to make a decision not to mine or export uranium. The report made it plain that the decision was to export now or at a future time, but the main elements should be decided on the basis of the judgment made in relation to proliferation. The Government has made that judgment and has made its reasons plain. Indeed there was even momentarily support from the Leader of the Opposition, because on Monday Conference he made it perfectly plain that he believed the one outstanding issue was the issue of waste. Now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has reverted to the other problem of proliferation. So we have the Leader of the Opposition having one policy, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition having another, the sometime party maybe having another, and the President of the Australian Labor Party, being the cleverest of all, as we know he is- he would be modest and admit it- having at least two or three policies.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. He would be aware of certain undertakings given during the 1975 election campaign to nurses in the Australian Capital Territory concerning the composition of the Capital Territory Health Commission. Can the Minister inform the House whether any decision has been made on the appointment of a full time commissioner with nursing qualifications to the Capital Territory Health Commission?
– I am constantly reminded by the honourable member of the pre-election policy in regard to the Capital Territory Health Commission and the composition of that body. The Government recently announced the two newly appointed full time members of the Capital Territory Health Commission, namely Mr Russell Boardman and the Deputy Commissioner, Dr Cumming Thorn. The Government has also resolved to appoint a third full time member of the Commission with a nursing background. We will be proceeding to make that appointment in the very near future.
-My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. It concerns the disposal of nuclear waste or, as he puts it, ‘nooclear’ waste. Does he agree with the evidence given on behalf of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to Senate Estimates Committee A last week that the disposal of nuclear waste by processing on an industrial basis has not been economic to date and that the actual carrying out of disposal on a commercial basis has not been attempted because it has not been economic and is not economic even today. Has he noted the evidence given on the same occasion in answer to questions by one of his own followers that the Atomic Energy Commission is not now sufficiently well represented overseas to keep in touch with developments around the world and has expressed great concern about its staff levels whicn have been imposed by his Government? Submissions on this have been put forward. In respect of that evidence what steps have been taken to restore the Atomic Energy Commission’s representation overses to an adequate basis?
-The honourable gentleman can be assured that the Atomic Energy Commission maintains very close liaison on the matters under discussion by the House and is as well informed as it is possible to be. The Leader of the Opposition manages to confuse the question of nuclear waste disposal on a number of issues. He has ignored the difference between high level liquid waste from reprocessing plants and the solid spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power reactors and also the difference between commercial nuclear wastes and military wastes. There is a great deal of difference. Military wastes are different in both composition and, obviously, origin. They are not related to the use of uranium to produce electricity in commercial nuclear power stations. There have been practical demonstrations of high level waste management arising from reprocessing of spent commercial nuclear fuel. For ultimate waste disposal the process comprises two steps: Firstly the solidification and vitrification of the liquid wastes arising from reprocessing of spent nuclear power station fuel; and secondly disposal of the vitrified solids in deep geological formations.
Vitrification technology is being practised in France and the United Kingdom. This is the point that the Leader of the Opposition seeks constantly to deny. The French plant presently operating had produced by 1973 12 tonnes of glass corresponding to the reprocessing of 800 tonnes of natural uranium gas reactor fuel. To say that this plant is not commercial belies the fact that its capacity is SO per cent of the new French commercial plant planned to commence operation this year. In other words, it is a very large experiment operating at SO per cent of the level of the planned commercial plant. I would have thought that would demonstrate very clearly the statements of the Atomic Energy Commission that the technology does exist, that it is applied, and that it has operated on a trial basis but on a very large trial basis indeed.
The practicality of geological disposal of waste has been demonstrated in the salt mines in Germany where medium level wastes are currently being disposed of. Research programs are well in hand in the United States of America and Europe for the identification of high level waste disposal sites in suitable deep geological formations. The critical point that comes from this analysis is the fact that the trial plant in France is operating at 50 per cent of the capacity of the planned commercial plant. Therefore this is not merely some small laboratory experiment; it is a very major operation and one that has demonstrated the techniques very plainly. I am sure that the point being made by the Atomic Energy Commission is well known: There has not been a move from the trial plants to commercial plants before this time because the amount of waste to be disposed of in this way had not required it- and there is no other reason than that.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. It is nice to see the Minister back fit and well. I assure him that my question will not bowl him to leg. Is the Minister aware of the great disparity between the retail price of petrol in Melbourne and that in other areas of Australia? Is the Minister aware of the activities of ACTU-Solo Enterprises Pty Ltd and other price cutting jobbers, more particularly the oil companies involved-Ampol, Total and Esso- who some would say are not acting illegally but who I say are acting immorally? Is the Minister aware of the great concern being expressed within the industry? In view of my comments -
-Order! The honourable gentleman will cease making comments. He will ask his question or I will rule turn out of order.
-Will the Minister give urgent consideration to the formation of a consultative committee comprising the Government, oil companies, consumers and members employed within the industry, in an attempt to straighten out a mess that one can only describe as unfair and un-Australian?
-I thank the honourable member for Franklin for the welcome back. I would also like to take the opportunity of complimenting the honourable member for Franklin on his very real interest in this matter. It would be an understatement to say that the honourable member is vigilant at all time in matters affecting the oil industry. He never ceases to bring to the attention of the responsible Ministers matters of concern in this area. I am aware of the concern that has been expressed in various quarters about the matters raised by the honourable member for Franklin. I assure him that the suggestion that a consultative committee be established is being given active consideration by me. My predecessor in this portfolio, now the Minister for Special Trade Negotiations, gave an undertaking on behalf of the Government that a consultative committee, consisting of represenatives of the various interests in the oil industry and consumer groups, the Government and employer organisations, would be established. Since taking over this portfolio I have been giving consideration to the detail and I hope that in the very near future it will be possible for me to make contact with those special interest groups with a view to putting some firm proposals before them for consideration and with a view to an early establishment of the consultative committee.
– My question which is directed to the Prime Minister deals with nuclear waste. I accept the fact that there is a small reprocessing unit in France. Is the Prime Minister aware that in the United States of America at present 74 million gallons of liquid high-level waste exists, that the three commercial private sector reprocessing plants have closed down and that at present there are no plans for re-opening them because of the economic circumstances? Is he aware that, particularly in the United States, in the private sector the nuclear wast situation is a grave problem?
-Quite obviously, the honourable gentleman has not heard of President Carter’s policies.
– Pursuant to section 42 of the National Gallery Act, I present the annual report of the Australian National Gallery for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Australian Wool Corporation 1976-77.
For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the DirectorGeneral of Health for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 23A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1 9 1 8,I present a copy of the report with a map showing the boundaries of each proposed division by the Distribution Commissioners for Tasmania together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Commissioners.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– Pursuant to section 61 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, I present the report of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Tertiary Education Commission- ‘Recommendations for 1978 ‘ together with the text of a statement by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) relating to this report.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In various newspapers this morning reference was made to a statement I made during the adjournment debate last night. The reports alleged I linked together as coowners of the same establishment Mr Bashir Mohammed Deen and Dr Noel Hall. At no stage during the debate did I say or imply that Dr Noel Hall or Mr Bashir Mohammed Deen were joint owners of the camp which was raided in Brisbane yesterday. Both were cited as separate cases.
Mr Speaker, I was misrepresented in a Queensland Australian Broadcasting Commission news broadcast this morning. The newsreader stated:
Another man -
He was referring to Mr Deen- . . . named in Parliament by Mr Jull also said this morning that he had been wrongly implicated. He said Mr Jull had telephoned him from Canberra to tell him of the error.
Mr Speaker, what happened in fact was that Mr Deen rang me at my hotel at 6.40 a.m. and asked that I contact his bank manager at the National Bank at Wynnum in Queensland and also the Department of Administrative Services in Queensland to say that he was not implicated in or connected with the case. I made no such commitment to Mr Deen. I withdraw nothing I said last night about either case.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the National Energy Advisory Committee entitled ‘Proposals for an Australian Conservation and Energy Program’. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement relating to this report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-The interim report on energy conservation prepared by the National Energy Advisory Committee which I have just presented represents a significant step in the further development of a national energy policy for Australia. The Government is actively moving on this and a number of other fronts to formulate a comprehensive policy, which I believe is a task of great urgency.
In recent years, I have been increasingly concerned about various aspects of Australia’s energy usage, in particular our growing dependence on oil for virtually all our transport and a significant proportion of the energy used in industry, agriculture and commerce. For this reason, I proposed energy conservation as a priority area of study at the Committee’s inaugural meeting in February this year. The Government particularly values the opportunity to receive the independent advice that the establishment of this high level body has provided.
The interim report contains the Committee’s proposals for conservation of energy. These have been framed to create in the first instance a community consciousness of the uncertainties of our energy future and a common will to exercise restraint in energy consumption, especially oil. The ensuing changes in community habits and practices will, of course, take time. The Committee has assessed the major uncertainties for Australia’s future energy supply as the availability and price of oil. The interim report therefore recommends that a national program should be undertaken to conserve energy, especially oil.
The commissioning of the Committee to report on energy conservation is one of two major Government initiatives in this area since I received preliminary advice from the Committee last April. That advice followed President Carter’s energy statement which judged that world oil demand would overhaul supply within 10 years. The Committee emphasised the prospect of increasing dependence on imports and stressed that conservation measures would depend heavily upon incentives through the price mechanism. The Government’s other initiativeon crude oil pricing- announced on 16 August 1977 will provide the necessary basis for these incentives to operate.
The present interim report recommends eight measures for the first stage of a national energy conservation program. The measures are those which the Committee believes are appropriate to Australia’s need and could be introduced in the short term. The Government will give them its close consideration. Many of the recommendations concern areas where the States have the primary governmental responsibility. In some cases State authorities are already active in these areas. These recommendations accordingly call for close co-operation between the Commonwealth and State governments. To that end I propose to have consultations with the State Ministers responsible for energy as soon as practicable.
The interim report lists some other measures which give promise of substantial energy savings, especially in the long term. These are complex matters which impinge on various economic and social aspects of community life and require further close study. The Committee accordingly is continuing to investigate them in consultation with interested public and private bodies and will report to me as it reaches conclusions on these matters. I move:
-The report on conservation of energy in Australia is a welcome document. It is the first positive contribution by the National Energy Advisory Committee that has addressed itself to the problem of Australia’s looming liquid fuel deficiency. One can only comment that the Government, having been elected for just on two years, rather than just tabling documents of this nature should in fact be giving full expression to a national fuel and energy policy. However the Advisory Committee in the report has outlined a number of proposals describing a policy for the conservation of liquid fuels in Australia and the establishment of a national publicity campaign on energy conservation.
I point out to the House that the Australian Labor Party is the only national political party in Australia which has a comprehensive fuel and energy policy. Many of the proposals mentioned in the Advisory Committee’s report are contained in similar form in the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Conference Platform documents adopted at Perth last July. The Opposition sees a great urgency for the formulation of a comprehensive fuel and energy policy to overcome the problems that a dependence upon oil supplying countries may bring to Australia. The report requires study and comment at length and, of course, this should be done in the context of a parliamentary debate.
The Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony) has been kind enough to move ‘that the House take note of the paper’ and such a debate will ensue on another day. I seek leave of the House to continue my remarks on this debate at that time.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure and refusal of the Government to provide for the disclosure of the amount and nature of assistance given by corporations and individuals to political parties and candidates.
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 views of the Opposition on this question and the views of the Labor Party throughout Australia are well known. We believe in very rapid reform of the laws regulating donations to political parties and candidates and the ceilings that should be placed on expenditure by political parties on all political campaigns throughout Australia but specifically to the area where we, as members of the national Parliament, are responsible, namely Federal elections. On 17 August this year Senator Cavanagh, speaking in the Senate, asked Senator Withers, the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources:
Why does the Deputy Prime Minister now believe it is possible that the National Country Party received funds from the Central Intelligence Agency?
The reply to that question was as follows:
No political party can give a categorical denial that it has received funds from a particular source. In the interview referred to, I used the words ‘it is possible’ because it is impossible to say that it is impossible.
That was the reply from the Deputy Prime Minister of this country. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) is well known as a person who does a great deal of fund raising for his Party yet he goes on record in this Parliament as saying that he has no idea of the sources of the funds used by the National Country Party in elections in this country.
In the last week a new element entered the funding of political parties in this country with the report, not yet denied, that the Uranium Forum spokesman, Mr Mackay, visited the headquarters of the Liberal Party and spoke to the Liberal Party director about the availability of funds from the Uranium Producers Forum to the Liberal Party at any future elections at which uranium is an issue. President Nixon was engaged in the Watergate cover-up; this Government is now involving itself m a uranium cover-up. Whilst the Government’s spokesmen stand in this Parliament and outside and say that they have given very serious consideration to the question of uranium, it now comes to light that the basis of that consideration is the extent to which the Uranium Producers Forum is going to donate to the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party continually fights against any reform in this area.
On a number of occasions, when we were in government and since we have been in opposition, we have introduced Bills into this House to bring about the reform required and place a ceiling on the expenditure, and finally asking that a joint committee be set up to investigate the funding of political parties and candidates, as has been done in most other advanced Western countries. In respect of every one of the points that we have put to this Parliament, the Liberal Party and the National Country Party have said it is not necessary.
In order to have an insight into what might be going on in Australia I want to take the Parliament through some of the lessons of other countries to see the corruption that has been practised. The public of this country are being denied knowledge of what is going on in Australia because of the refusal of the Liberal Party and the National Country Party to open up this matter of donations to political parties. The people of Australia are entitled to know who makes donations to political parties. They are entitled to know who makes donations to candidates. While these things remain in confidence, in secret, and no one is able to ascertain accurately who is making the donations, political parties and candidates are going to be continually accused of working for special interests. Here we have the classic example of the Uranium Producers Forum going to the Liberal Party. Is the decision of the Liberal and National Country parties on uranium based on the fact that a substantial financial donation will be made to their campaign funds? Are the Liberal and National Country parties ashamed or afraid to admit that they are to get funds from the Uranium Producers Forum to fight the next election? This allegation has not yet been denied. The Australian people are entitled to know. If the forecasts of the amount of money that will be made from uranium mining in this country are accurate then the size of the cheque which the Uranium Producers Forum could give to the Liberal and National Country parties is unlimited. It could underwrite their entire campaign and no one in
Australia would know about it. We have seen since the 1975 election campaign the enormous escalation of spending in this area. So the Uranium Producers Forum coming to the party is of national interest to everybody, and it is a national scandal to those of us who say that there ought to be reform of these laws.
Throughout the Western world, in Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and the United States of America, laws are being reformed in relation to the election of candidates to the various houses of parliament and in the case of the United States to the Congress. People are saying that a limit has to be put on the amount of money that can be spent in campaigns; a limit has to be placed on individual donations. Let us look at some of the things that have occurred, that could occur here and that perhaps have occurred here but about which we are unaware. Let us go through the Nixon episode in the United States which was one of the reasons for the Congress of the United States giving such special attention to the reform of these laws this year. In 1972 a number of scandals were exposed in relation to donations made to the Nixon Administration for its campaign. There was a new term used during that campaign which undoubtedly people in Australia could adopt, and that was the ‘laundry of election donations’. American Airlines sent its money from a bank in the United States to the Lebanon, back to another bank in the United States and then on to the campaign committee for President Nixon. That was exposed, the company was prosecuted and fined.
The dairy industry in the United States made a contribution of $2m to the Nixon campaign in 1972. A fortnight later Nixon increased the subsidy to the dairy industry, which meant that consumers and taxpayers had to pay an additional $300m to the dairy industry. Obviously Nixon had made his decision against the best advice from the United States Department of Agriculture in favour of a lobby which had made a $2m donation to his campaign funds. Many of the donations for the campaign came from the Philippines, and the same year President Nixon doubled the quota of sugar that was to flow from there to the United States. So decisions can be made for special interests where people are making political donations. How much of this Government’s uranium decision is based on the fact that thousands and thousands of dollars will come from uranium companies into the Liberal and National Country parties coffers? The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said: ‘We made a decision- it is a deliberate courageous decision- that we should adopt world parity for crude oil’. We have seen figures produced from both sides of the House to indicate that EssoBHP will perhaps be advantaged to the extent of $10Om as a result of that decision. Does EssoBHP donate to the Liberal and National Country parties, and if it does how much does it donate?
-The brainchild of the establishment says no. No one has told him anything since his dummy was taken away. The fact is that no one knows so we all are suspicious of it. I quite frankly believe it. If Esso-BHP is going to make $10Om out of the decision of the Government why does the Government not bring about the reform that is necessary in this country so that we know where all the donations are coming from and so that all the companies that are making donations to the Liberal and National Country Parties are exposed for all to see? But the Government will not do it because it is carrying on in exactly the same way as Nixon carried on, and that led to the Watergate affair. There was money from the Philippines, money from American Airlines and money from all over the world to consolidate the position of the then United States Administration. However, the government finally falls, the folly of the government is eventually exposed and reform is brought about as has happened in most other countries.
Let us look at what happened in the United States and the number of companies that were prosecuted in 1973-74. Let us consider how they pleaded when they were exposed for the donations that they had made to the various political parties in that country so that we can understand simply why President Carter is moving so quickly in 1977 to bring about the necessary reform before the next presidential election. We should not forget that the last presidential election had very strict laws on expenditure and there have been investigations in the United States into the amount of donations made and the amount of money spent in the campaign. America was rocked, just as the Australians of the future will be rocked, to find household names, the names of all the major reputable companies, brought into the courts. They all pleaded guilty to having broken the laws of the United States in relation to political donations. In one way or another they all had tried to hide it and say: ‘We did not do it’. But afterwards they pleaded guilty in the courts of America.
American Airlines pleaded guilty on 17 October 1973. The American Ship Building company pleaded guilty in 1974. Ashland Petroleum
Gabon Inc. pleaded guilty. Associated Milk Producers Inc. pleaded guilty. Braniff Airways pleaded guilty. The Carnation Company pleaded guilty. Diamond International Corporation pleaded guilty. Ray Dubrowin, the Vice President of the Greyhound Corporation, pleaded guilty. The Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company pleaded guilty. HMS Electric Corporation pleaded guilty. The LBC and W architecture firm pleaded guilty. National Bi-Products Inc. and the Northrop Corporation both pleaded guilty. I could go on for pages. This is the sort of thing that will occur here unless the companies wake up to themselves. I keep asking the question, and perhaps the Minister who is to reply in the debate can tell us: Why do the Liberal and National Country parties refuse to face up to what is happening in the rest of the world? Why do we not say that there will be a limit upon the amount of money spent by political parties? Is it because there are interest groups at work in this country? We all will be suspected of acting on behalf of interest groups until this information is out in the open. The only way in which the Labor, Liberal or National Country Parties are going to be elected on their merits is when everybody in Australia knows what money they are receiving and where it is coming from.
If the Government parties accept the money which has been offered to them by the Uranium Producers Forum- I believe it has been offered to them, and what has been printed in the newspapers has not been denied- they will be guilty of acting in a sectional way. If they have accepted money from Esso-BHP again they are guilty of this act and so are the companies because they do not confer with their shareholders about where the money ought to go. Let us look at the make-up in the United States of the sectional interest donations because the pattern of donations in the United States and here differs only in size. It does not differ in respect of the type of sectional interests from where the money comes. In the 1976 elections the major interest group contributors and their contributions were as follows: American Medical profession, $ 1.79m; dairy committees, $ 1.36m; labour unions, $lm; maritime-related unions, $900,000; auto workers, $800,000; coal, oil and natural gas interests, $800,000; National Association of Realtors, $600,000; financial institutions, $500,000; and American dental associations, $400,000.
If the Americans at last have adopted a system under which all donations have to be disclosed, where is the case for Australia continuing to put its head in the sand and saying: ‘We are not going to do it’. Will someone on the other side of the House please tell us why the Government cannot be honest enough to disclose to the people of Australia whose money it is using to get back into office? We saw at the last election in 1975 millions of dollars being paid into the Liberal Party. There was so much money that the Party could not use it all on the campaign. Subsequently the Party has used it to buy buildings, land and such things. It could not use the money given to it in 1975. Where did the money which was given to the Liberal and National Country parties come from? On this occasion the situation is worse because in the national Parliament we are debating a resources tax. My colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) will explain that tax in a few minutes. Honourable members on the Government side will go to the mining and oil interests and say: ‘We are not going to have a resources tax like the Australian Labor Party. If you are going to make political donations you ought to make them to us because we will save you millions of dollars’. That is what Government supporters are saying to the uranium producers to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Esso Exploration, to Mount Isa Mines Ltd and as they have said in the past to the Bank of New South Wales. All these accusations can be made because the Government refuses to adopt any reform in relation to these laws.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, before entering into a debate on this matter of public importance I draw your attention to the comments made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) last night during the adjournment debate. He highlighted the problem facing the Parliament at the moment in relation to matters of public importance. Today the Party concerned has introduced yet another matter of non-public importance. The matter was so well supported and considered to be of such a magnitude of importance that we find five members of the Australian Labor Party in the House to listen to the debate. I think the comments of the honourable member for Mackellar are very apt and should be considered by the Chair. (Quorum formed). It is a pity that the Labor Party has to call a quorum when a matter of public importance introduced by one of its members is being discussed. That indicates the interest of members of the Labor Party in the business at hand.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) calls for the revealing of the source of funds and suggests a ceiling on funds and so on. He, like other members of the Australian Labor Party, has the fond idea that money buys everything and that money wins everything. The honourable members overlook the important factor facing the people of Australia which is that they have the right to vote on performance. That is why we are in government and that is why we will stay here. The honourable member stood and for nearly the whole 1 5 minutes of his speech he talked about what is happening in the United States. He forgets a very important factor. Voting is not compulsory over there. There is no comparison with the system operating in this country.
I shall answer why we will not introduce the type of system which he is looking for. The Liberal and National Country Parties believe in freedom in Australia. That freedom means freedom for people to vote as they wish without fear of penalty or sanction. But the Labor Party proposals would deny that freedom. They would deny to people the right privately to support the party of their choice. People would be looking over their shoulders to ascertain who had money and who had donated to which party. I can imagine what would happen on the shop floor when it was known that a member of a trade union had made a donation to the Liberal Party. He would probably be banned from work. The union would probably impose a black ban. It would mean nothing but political persecution of the worst order.
We have listened to the honourable member for Port Adelaide talk about the great idea he has for divulging funds and talk about what we should do now. What happened during the three years the Labor Party was in office? Why did it not bring up this subject then? Why did it not divulge all the secrets? What about all the funds from the Khemlani loans affair? Let us hear what the Labor Party was going to do with that $4,000m. Then, a little later on, we had the breakfast at Tiffany’s show. Let us talk about that. I know the honourable member for Port Adelaide was hopeful that I would introduce the subject because it further highlights the deficiencies of his temporary leader.
On 4 May 1976 a notice of motion was introduced by the honourable member for Mackellar. When addressing himself to it during a later debate he was so harrassed by honourable members opposite who did not want to hear the truth that the debate was effectively gagged. But the truth came out. A statement was signed by a Mr Fischer of Sydney which quite clearly indicated the events which occurred back in December 1975, which occurred after the
Whitlam Government was dismissed from office and events which involved Mr Hartley, that elegant left wing member of the Labor Party. The events did not involve Bob Hawke, the President of the Labor Party but that lefty trendy Mr Hartley who associated with the Arabs and who decided, with Mr David Combe, that it would be a good idea to arrange a little sneaky loan, something of the order of $2m. This loan was to come from the Arab nation of Iraq. It was then organised for representatives of that country to meet the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) and discuss exactly what was required. The Leader of the Opposition arranged a meeting through the agency of Mr Fischer and letters from Mr Hartley and Mr Combe. So the Leader of the Opposition was to meet delegates from Iraq on a Tuesday.
– Can you prove that?
-We have a signed statement. It has been published. I know why the honourable member who interjected wants to know that. He wants to refresh everybody’s mind how true it is because, after all, he was turfed out of office by his leader who was really responsible for this matter. So do not let us have any false ideas as to why this matter of public importance has been introduced. It has been introduced simply to tip yet another bucket over the Leader of the Opposition. I am sorry that I have to be the bearer of the sad tidings. But let us go back to those eventful couple of days. A meeting was arranged with the Leader of the Opposition for breakfast at 8 o’clock where a large white package was handed over to the Leader of the Opposition in front of witnesses by the Iraqi representatives. Nobody from the Labor Party has yet disclosed what was in the white package. The Labor Party claims that it never received the funds. Perhaps it ought to run an audit on where the money went or what happened to it. But the deal was made on the basis that the Labor Party, in return for this service, would in the future follow a more even-handed policy towards the Arab nations. The Labor Party also agreed to accede to a request from the Iraqi Government to divulge special information about what was going on in the Middle East between the United States, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. The Labor Party was also asked to give an assurance that Mr Hawke would not become Leader of an Australian Labor Party government.
What a deal to enter into! No wonder Mr Hawke was not asked to attend that breakfast. The money, $2m, was raised- I do not think the honourable member for Port Adelaide was around at the time- for the specific purpose of running an election campaign. Yet the honourable member has the hide and audacity to stand in the House and talk about the rights and wrongs of raising funds from some corporations. If there were any truth in what he is sayingthere is not a shadow of truth in it-at least they would be Australian companies which would be involved in Australian political parties. We should not forget that in 1 972 a number of Australian corporations provided funds for the Labor Party which would not want that information disclosed. Mind you, those corporations also gave something to the Liberal Party. But the Labor Party would not want to be in that situation. Mr Whitlam, the present Leader of the Opposition, at the time of receiving this white envelope at that notorious breakfast, went on to say:
I want to thank you very much for this generous help, but I am afraid that due to election pressures I must now leave because I have an appointment with the television station and I am only sorry that I cannot talk to you more. If only you could have stayed in Australia I could have talked to you longer but I must go. I sincerely hope to see you in Baghdad . . .
I do not know whether he was going there on a magic carpet, or how he was going there; the message does not go on to explain. But we do have this complete signed statement. Honourable members opposite might want it to be included in Hansard. I seek leave, Mr Deputy Speaker, to incorporate this statement in Hansard. I am sure that the honourable member for Port Adelaide or one of the other gentlemen on the other side of the House will agree to that incorporation.
-Is leave granted?
-Leave is not granted.
– Leave is not granted. Honourable members opposite know that this statement is factual. When the Labor Party is in opposition it talks about funds. The honourable member for Port Adelaide talks about funds so nicely with his tongue in his cheek. On the one hand he says that they do not want funds, while on the other hand he has a hand in the pockets of corporations and unions and stands over businesses to get the money in any way he possibly can.
– We want it disclosed.
-You would not want disclosed where your union funds go. Why do honourable members opposite not tell us about the time when the Amalgamated Metal Workers
Union provided funds for the Labor Party in 1972? Let us hear about that. That union provided $25,000 to the Labor Party on the basis that if the Labor Party gained power, which it did, no action would be taken against the unions under the existing arbitration rules and regulations. The honourable member for Port Adelaide stands in this House and talks about wheeling and dealing. Members of his Party are the greatest wheelers and dealers ever to have entered this place.
Let me remind the honourable member about a little booklet and a letter which were sent out last year. Some time ago, after the honourable member for Port Adelaide introduced a Bill concerning the limiting of funds for election campaigns, after he had talked about imposing a ceiling on funding for political parties, after saying that there should not be any secrecy and that industries should not provide funds for political parties, the honourable member’s Party sent throughout the country a letter seeking funds from corporations. It employed a consultant, a Mr Charles Wright. His job was to approach business to seek funds. The booklet included with the letter contained comments taken from speeches made by the now Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). One of the gems of those comments was:
I think you will find that whatever our opponents or the Press may say, my Party is well aware of the business community and sympathetic to them.
After three years in government they had the gall to say that they had respect for the business community. The comment continued:
Labor has always seen the need for a healthy private sector -
That is another joke; it must have been in the joke book of the year. The comment went on: working in harmony with democratic governments and an enlightened trade union movement.
The last part of the comment is probably the only true remark in it. The Labor Party wants to talk about the disclosure of campaign funds- about assistance given by corporations and individuals -and raises it as a matter of public importance. I again refer back to 1972 when the Labor Party harassed its members. In 1974 and 1975, how many members of the trade union movement were forced to subscribe extra money to assist the Labor Party in its campaign funds? The shop stewards stood at the pay counter window as the workers came out and said: ‘Rightoh, you put in so much’. All this has been quoted and never denied by the Labor Party.
The Labor Party itself relies a lot on the funds it receives from the trade union movement.
Every financial member of the trade union movement is subscribing to the Labor Party, whether he votes for that Party or not. The Opposition speakers talk about democracy, about reasonable attitudes towards party funds and about raising funds in a proper and respectable manner. There is no way in the world that the Opposition has any wish to provide a proper system of organising funds; Its members are only bleating now because they are in Opposition.
I repeat what I said earlier, namely, that funds are not the be all and end all of politics. There is also performance. It is a pity that the Opposition does not start to perform. It is a pity that it does not come out with some coherent and decent policies that might encourage people to vote for it. While its members carry on in the negative way in which they are behaving at the momentincluding the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Antony Whitlam), who is attempting to interject- it will not matter whether it has all the funds in the world; it will never make office. They should start to wake up to the name of the game, that is, performance. They have not performed since they went into office in 1972. Ever since for them it has been a dismal downhill run of failure. They are only continuing that now. I am sorry to say that the Government cannot sup- port any of the propositions put forward by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. I am sure that is much to his surprise!
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for Mackellar does not have the call. He will resume his seat.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, under standing order 399 I move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended -
-Order! The honourable member for Mackellar cannot move for the suspension of Standing Orders. He has not been called to speak.
– I rise to support the terms of the matter of public importance proposed today by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) and to restate the very important principle contained in it:
The failure and refusal of the Government to provide for the disclosure of the amount and nature of assistance given by corporations and individuals to political parties and candidates.
What is requested is a full disclosure of campaign contributions to major political parties by way of a change to the Electoral Act. The previous speaker, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier), quite improperly implied that when we in the Labor Party when in government did nothing about this particular issue. In fact, we made three attempts, by way of a new piece of legislation, to provide for the declaration of contributions to campaign funds for major political parties and for a limitation of election expenses so that, the whole election campaign and political process in Australia did not get out of hand, as we have seen happening in the United States of America. But of course the present Liberal-National Country Party coalition defeated that legislation in the Senate, although it passed through the House of Representatives. The Government supporters are not prepared now to disclose the source of their campaign funds in 1974 and 1975 or in a future election.
We on this side of the House believe it is imperative, if clear honesty and integrity are to return to Australian politics, that campaign contributions should be made public so that the public know what influences bear upon the policy making functions of a political party. Take for instance the number of decisions which this Government has made in the past few months which affect just a handful of companies in such a way as to return to those companies huge amounts of money. It is reasonable for people on this side of the House and for the public to assume that these companies will make substantial contributions to the funds of the Liberal and National Country parties.
– They have previously.
– They have previously and they will again. The investment allowance, involving $800m, was restored as soon as the Government came to office. Last week the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony) came into the House with a special statement indicating that the North- West Shelf producers- that is, EssoBHP, Cal-Asiatic and BP-would be given the benefits of a two-year extension of the investment allowance. As well as that, it was stated that there would be deductability for subscriptions to mining companies, that is, that companies within those groups which wanted to subscribe moneys to companies which were subsidiaries of those companies which were exploring for oil and gas would be given deductions for those subscriptions. This means an enormous amount of money to this particular project and to those particular companies. Does any honourable member suggest that if Tony Eggleton or anyone else in the Liberal Party, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), or the Minister for National Resources, were to ring these companies and seek a contribution for campaign funds they would be refused? Of course they would not. Of course, the magnitude of these benefits are such that the funding from these companies would be massive.
To take a more disgraceful example, let us look at the coal export duty levy. That levy was imposed by the Labor Government on coking coal produced and certain grades of steaming coal. In its first year of operation it raised $ 1 12m. If the extent of the levy had not been interfered with, this year it would have raised $160m. The levy was cynically phased out by the Government so that in the first year of the phase out, with a drop of $1.50 per ton on the $6 a ton levy, the companies concerned made a bonus of $33m. One company alone, Utah, made $ 17.5m out of that one measure in that first year and this year will make about $20m out of it. So in two years Australia’s most profitable company has made $3 7m expressly as a result of a government decision. Is anyone on the opposite side of the House suggesting that that company will not respond in kind to the coffers of the LiberalNational Country Parties during an election campaign? Of course it will. When one considers that a compaign can be run on $5m or $6m, it if reasonable to assume that these companies will fund virtually the whole campaign.
Let us take another express decision of the Government. I refer to the decision to increase the price of indigenous crude oil. As a result of that decision the consuming public will pay $150m to a handful of oil producing companies in Australia. The major one, Esso-BHP which is operating in Bass Strait, will receive $109m of the $150m. Sure, it pays tax on $109m, but the residual after tax is $53m. Are honourable members opposite suggesting that that company will not pay some of the $53m over to their party funds? Of course it will. That is why it is able to buy you any time it wants a change in policy. You are up for sale. You are up for grabs and it buys you with regularity. That is what we are complaining about; you are making decisions based on motives other than those which are expressly concerned with the national interest. You always consider your own interests.
We have talked in this place about the resources tax. Why has the Government all of a sudden said: ‘Yes, we are considering a resources tax on the oil industry and maybe the uranium industry but definitely not the coal industry’. The coal industry is the most profitable single industry in Australia. The largest number of high flying companies is to be found in the coal industry. They are the ones which have shown enormous increases in the rate of profitability. I am not talking about a modest rate of profitability on large investment funds but about huge rates of profit. The North Queensland coal producers are earning about 38 per cent interest on invested funds. They can afford to pay and pay well. The Government intends to introduce a resources tax, but you are going to exempt this industry from the tax. On what basis is the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) exempting the coal industry when they are prepared to tax the oil production industry and the future uranium industry? Clearly the reason is that the coal industry is the single most lucrative source of campaign funds for their parties. They ought to be ashamed of that situation being maintained. But worse than that is the fact that you hide it and are not prepared to make a disclosure to the public of your real interest in these matters.
You had a hide to bring in a statement on uranium. The Fox Commission said that uranium should be developed on a sequential basis. The Commission has the good sense to know that there was no real market for uranium, that two uranium mines in Australia spewing out 3,000 tons of produce a year onto the world market would depress prices and destroy what was already a fragile market. Just today mention was made at question time about your own representative to the European Economic Community saying that the demand of the European Economic Community for uranium had fallen. Why then did you reject the proposals of the Fox Commission for the development of uranium on a sequential basis simply because you want Pancontinental to have access to Australian uranium? You want that company, which has a paid up capital of $400,000 -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I do not want to interrupt the honourable member. This is not an easy matter to debate, but I think it would be wise if the honourable gentleman addressed the Chair rather than saying: ‘You do this and you do that’.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, you were engaged in a conversation practically thoughout the length of the debate. Rather than disturb you I addressed my remarks to honourable members opposite.
– In my position, I could still hear what the honourable member for Blaxland was saying. I was able to hear the honourable member for Blaxland using the word ‘you’.
– Why did the Government not embark upon a policy of sequential development? Obviously Pancontinental is to be given access to the loot. Is anybody suggesting that now that that company is not playing politics with the Government, it is not down in Canberra all the time working out the political strategy? It is no longer involved in industry; it is tied up with the political future of the Government and, of course, will pay heavily to Government funds. It has made no bones about it.
Just last week a photograph of Mr Eggleton appeared on the front page of the Australian Financial Review. The ensuing article was headed: ‘Uranium Producers Offer to the Government: Another Resource Tax Lobby Push’. Mr Mackay, the Chairman of the Uranium Producers Forum, had the gall to suggest to a journalist at lunch at The Lobby opposite this House that he was going to meet the Secretary of the Liberal Party to see in what way his organisation could offer the Liberal Party and the National Country Party assistance during an election campaign. What kind of assistance do honourable members think that organisation will give them? Will it be badges or stickers? It will give them money. It will give them the wherewithal to fight a political campaign in Australia. But Government supporters chide us on this side of the House by saying that the unions make contributions to our campaign funds. Yes, they do, but such contributions are generally made public on television. The Amalgamated Metal Workers Union made its contribution on television. Honourable members opposite can inspect the balance sheet of that union to see the contributions that are made. But try to inspect the books of Utah or Esso or any of the other companies; no mention will be made of campaign contributions. They will all be buried under current expenses. The parties opposite should make a clear declaration in relation to their sources of funds.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) seems to have an obsession with companies that make a profit. The word ‘obsession’ seems to be the in word today. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) also has an obsession about public declarations being made in relation to funds which are given to political parties. The present system has served Australia well over the years, and it will continue to serve it well. The red herrings that members of the Labor Party want to draw across the trail indicate only that they have not anything worth while in the way of a policy on which they can base a criticism of the Government. They must bring on for debate such old things as that which the honourable member for Port Adelaide has been rehashing for years on end. He has never gained any benefit from it, and he never will. So they never learn.
He has raised today as a matter of public importance the matter of assistance given by corporations and individuals to political parties and candidates. He has done so not really so that the Parliament and the people of Australia will benefit from that knowledge but so that the Labor Party can look into its own affairs, because it has been excluded from receiving such funds quite often. The loans affair and the commissions attached to the loans affair were pretty good examples of that. Perhaps the Labor Party might be better employed on looking at the questions of where the commissions on those loans intended to go. Was the Labor Party going to benefit from them or were individuals going to benefit? Where were the commissions intended to go? That is the sort of matter that might be worth ventilating.
The sort of proposal contained in this matter of public importance has been raised before. It makes it very clear to Australians that the Labor Party is determined to destroy people’s privacy. That is what it wants to do. Eventually it wants to turn Australia into a one party country. That is the Labor Party’s aim. If this proposition were accepted members of the Labor Party would learn some of the things that go on inside their own Party. They would know of the commitments their own people are making behind their backs. So one probably can understand why they would want such a proposal introduced.
The Labor Party has harped constantly on this issue, as I have mentioned. It suggests to me that this is not an honest move but that it is aimed at providing a means for revenge. The sort of philosophy contained in this matter of public importance was rejected overwhelmingly by the Australian people because it is a proposal which was put forward before the last elections. The people had an opportunity to decide whether they wanted a Labor government with the sort of proposal which it espouses today.
I say to those members of the Labor Party who have spoken in this debate that as a senior member of the Australian Country Party, as it used to be known in Queensland for many years, I know only too well that the finances raised for our Party have been gathered by means of comparatively small donations, by party branches in electorates making small levies and by the running of functions. It is from those sources that the main part of our funds come, if honourable members opposite want to know. I know that from personal experience, and honourable members opposite cannot deny it. They are only guessing when they suggest that our funds come from multinational corporations and all the other people that they label. It is a guess that they are making. They hope that they will get some publicity from that guess. They have been rejected already by the Australian people.
If the Opposition wants a little further information on that matter, in my electorate of Maranoa money for electoral purposes has always been obtained from inside the electorate. Money has been given to our head office as well. There are no multinational corporations in that area. This statement applies to practically all the well organised electorates which are held by members of my party. I have no doubt the same situation applies in the Liberal Party as well.
-The little people give it.
– The little people give it. The Opposition wants to expose them. Why?
– I cannot hear you.
-He cannot hear me. He cannot hear the message of the Australian people either. That is one thing which the Opposition did not want to hear. Assistance is given by our organisation to candidates who do not have the same degree of organisation in their electorates, certainly, but that money is being raised by the organisation. We are raising it now in Queensland. That is the State which I know well. That is the situation which applies there. We are having fun trying to get the money we require to run an election. Do not make any mistake about that. We do not have an open sesame to any multinational company to ask it for funds. Those companies do not give away money as easily as that.
– Or the trade unions.
– Or the trade unions.
-Or the trade unions, as my friends from Wimmera and Darling Downs said. One could query why the Labor Party wants this information. Does it want to intimidate the people who give contributions to any party other than the Labor Party? It is not renowned for condemning intimidation in other fields. The Labor Party might feel that intimidation could be effectively applied in the political arena. It does not do anything about condemning intimidation in any area at all. It has never done so and is not likely to do so. Having that background, is not it reasonable to assume that perhaps the Labor Party would like to apply intimidation to smaller people who, of their own volition, give funds to the political party of their choice? Surely every person in this country has the right to support the political party of his choice. Surely he does not have to blazon it everywhere, to be criticised and condemned by other people who think he should not have done so.
I think the Labor Party has not clearly thought out all the problems that would arise from this proposal. Does it feel that the inequities created by this legislation would affect all other parties and not it? The honourable member for Port Adelaide should have had more insight into these problems than he has demonstrated today. He has been engaged in organising a political party. He should know better. He should know the problems that would flow from this proposal. It is well known that this Government is not automatically opposed to the principle of some form of disclosure. These proposals need to be clearly and thoroughly thought out. The Labor Party is too impatient in these matters. Its attitude, its impatience and its half thought-out measures have already cost Australia dearly. After almost a century of democratic vote recording the Labor Party would, in one stroke, remove the secrecy from the ballot box. It seems that the Labor Party is totally ignoring the provision already in the Commonwealth Electoral Act which requires candidates, political parties, bodies such as trade unions, associations and persons who have expended sums in connection with an election to file a return on expenditure.
The legislation which the Labor Party is promoting strikes at the very core of the democratic nature of the Australian people. We do not mind the Labor Party having a close look at its leaders ‘ cheque books if it wants to, but it has the hide to want a law to be passed which would enable it to look at everybody else’s cheque books. This seems very contradictory, when it cannot even get a glimpse of its own leaders’ cheque books. I refer to the loans affair. The legislation is well on the road to denying to the Australian people freedom of speech and freedom on private matters. The legislation will effectively expose individual support for a particular political party.
Is this really what the Labor Party wants? How will it use this information? That is the question. That is the point that worries me.
What happens to the levies paid to unions? The Labor Party is quite happy about the compulsory acquisition of funds through union dues from people who are very strongly opposed to it. Those people have never tried to get this very great wrong rectified. They have taken no part in that at all. The Labor Party collects these funds from the unions. People must contribute to the unions. Very many people in the unions who do not express publicly their objection do object. There should be a regulation which provides that union funds which are acquired compulsorily should be used for union purposes and that funds which would be devoted to political parties should be on a voluntary contribution basis.
If members of the Labor Party do not agree with that proposal let them say so. Let them say that they are not prepared to support that proposal. That would be a democratic way of doing things. That is what the honourable member for Port Adelaide and the honourable member for Blaxland should be doing, instead of trying to draw attention to this matter. They think they can make a few headlines by bringing up this matter again. They are trying to draw the attention of the people away from the very poor record that the Labor Party had in government. When they were in government they did everything they could, as they are trying to do today, to suggest that no company should make a profit. They are suggesting that profit is a dirty word. They forget that 75 per cent of the jobs of Australian people come from private enterprise. Unless we have profits we do not have jobs. That was the economic approach that the Labor Party adopted. The sound economy that it inherited when it came into power was wrecked. That is what caused the great rise in inflation and the great rise in unemployment, and the flow on from that mismanagement of the Australian economy still continues.
Let them look at what the Labor Party is doing. Let them look particularly at how it gets funds from compulsory contributions to unions. The unionists have no say as to where those funds go. The executives have a say. They decide where the funds will go. The individuals must contribute. There have been some instances in which people have been criticised for saying that they did not want to contribute.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion ( by Mr Lionel Bowen) agreed to:
That Government Business be called on.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the moving of a motion to allow for the incorporation in Hansard of the statement of Mr Fischer referred to by the honourable member for Bendigo in his recent speech.
Sir, you may remember that in the course of the debate on the matter of public importance the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) asked for leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement by Mr Fischer. Leave was refused by members of the Opposition.
– I take a point of order. I seek your guidance, Mr Deputy Speaker. As the honourable member for Mackellar has moved his motion, at what point is a seconder required before the debate can proceed?
-The motion can be seconded when the honourable member for Mackellar has completed his remarks.
-The motion is in writing and will be seconded.
– I take another point of order. I again seek your explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker. Are not the forms of the House such that when the suspension of Standing Orders is moved the Chair calls for a seconder of the motion before debate, other than the formal notification of the motion, proceeds?
-No. An honourable member has the right to move a motion such as this and speak to it, and then the motion would be seconded. I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
Motion (by Mr Morris) put:
That the honourable member for Mackellar be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-The honourable member for Mackellar ‘s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
-I second the amendment because it is very important On page 7, Gough Whitlam said he was short of $lm.
Motion (by Mr Morris) put:
That the honourable member for La Trobe be not further heard.
The House divided. ( Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-I rise to oppose the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders because the forms of the House have not been followed. It is absolutely incredible that this Government, with so much business to conduct, can suspend the business to allow an erratic intrusion into that business by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth).
Motion ( by Mr Bourchier ) put-
That the question be now put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Wentworth’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
-Matters have been incorporated previously in Hansard. Ultimately the decision about whether a matter is incorporated in Hansard falls within the responsibility of Mr Speaker and the Government Printer. I would imagine that the documents referred to would be looked at by Mr Speaker and the Government Printer to determine the practicability of their incorporation in Hansard. That is a technical matter and Mr Speaker will make the decision.
– Can I have an answer to the first part of my question: Is it a precedent?
-No, not so far as I can remember. We have a motion relating to the incorporation of material and as far as the Acting Clerk and I can recall that is the current position.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this incorporation will be by order of the House. I am asking whether this sets a precedent. If it does, will you or Mr Speaker make a report to the House at some future time?
– In answer to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Melbourne, the incorporation of material in Hansard on any occasion is subject to the proviso that the decision on the technical aspects of such incorporation is always in the hands of Mr Speaker and the Government Printer.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the fact that the matter you are talking about is the subject of a motion in this House. I take it that until such time as the motion is moved it is quite improper to give any decision.
-There is an element of correctness in the point of order raised by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith. On the other hand the question asked by the honourable member for Melbourne related to a precedent being set by the House in approving an incorporation. The House actually is in the process of determining the motion for that incorporation. In the circumstances, therefore, I think that the point of order raised by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith does not relate to the question asked by the honourable member for Melbourne. The result of the division is ayes 70, noes 24, and therefore the question is resolved in the affirmative.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I move -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask you to rule on the authenticity of the document which is the subject of a motion for incorporation in Hansard. I would like a decision from the Chair on that question about the statement before this debate proceeds. The Opposition has not been shown the document. Its members have no idea who wrote it, where it comes from, how it is made up or what is involved in it. We require a ruling from you on the authenticity of this document before the debate proceeds so that we know what we are debating.
– On a point of order -
-Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will wait until I reply to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. I think that at this stage any guarantee as to the authenticity of the document must be left to the honourable member who is moving the motion. Even if I saw the document at this stage I would not be prepared to guarantee its authenticity or otherwise. Therefore I would suggest that at this moment the honourable member for Mackellar would be required to vouch for the authenticity of the document. Afterwards, the question of its incorporation would remain with Mr Speaker.
– I move:
That the statement by Mr Fischer which has been referred to by the -
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a further point of order. I make the point that the substantive motion now proposed to be moved relates to an action proposed by another honourable member, not the mover of the substantive motion. It is quite improper, in fact it is incredible that the honourable member could now move a motion relating to the action of another honourable member who took no positive action in regard to this matter. If you look at the motion it is to the effect that the House incorporate a statement referred to by another honourable member. We have no idea what is in the statement and the honourable member who had the statement did not take any action himself.
– I did request that it be incorporated in Hansard.
– The honourable member for Bendigo is the person referred to in the motion and he took no action to have the matter incorporated.
-The point of order raised by the honourable member for KingsfordSmith is not relevant. The honourable member for Mackellar has the right to move such a motion in accordance with the procedure followed in this House to this point of time. The House has agreed to the suspension of Standing Orders in accordance with a motion moved by the honourable member for Mackellar. I point out to the honourable member for KingsfordSmith that the point he took previously about whether a ruling could be given because an event had not happened is before us at this moment. The House has not yet agreed to the incorporation of the material in Hansard. It has only agreed that a motion be moved to incorporate the material. In those circumstances I think the honourable member for Mackellar has every right to move this motion.
That the Deputy Speaker’s ruling be dissented from.
Mr Deputy Speaker, your ruling was that a member of this House could move a substantive motion seeking to have incorporated in Hansard a document that had been referred to by another member.
– Why are you frightened of it?
-I am not frightened of anything. I am talking about the rules of the House and that is what it is all about. At this stage we have the ridiculous situation where any one of us can get up, wave any number of papers and ask that they be incorporated in Hansard. If leave is not granted and no further action is taken by the member in control of the document, sometime later some other member, as has happened in this case, can move a substantive motion seeking to incorporate in Hansard a document which is unknown to him, an unidentified document purporting to be the document referred to by the other member. My point is that in my hand now I could have a number of scurrilous letters about you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I could seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard and leave properly could be refused. But the ridiculous thing is that then one of my colleagues could move a substantive motion seeking that those letters be incorporated without he or any other member of the House having even looked at them. A number of Standing Orders control the sort of material which is admissible in Hansard. For instance, such material should not be derogatory of any member of this House, and that is made clear by Standing Order 76 which states:
All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Here we are discussing a document, prepared by somebody, which could contain the most outrageous accusations. There is no suggestion that it is an original document. So it could well be a fabricated copy. If the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier), who happens also to be the Government Whip, was confident about the accuracy of the document we could have discussed its incorporation in Hansard on that basis but to allow the elderly gentleman from Mackellar to move a motion seeking the suspension of standing orders to have a document, referred to in a speech by the honourable member for Bendigo, incorporated in Hansard is far too vague and far too dangerous because of the unknown contents of the document. The Standing Orders control you to this extent, Mr Deputy Speaker. I submit that it is quite improper to allow any document referred to by another member in these circumstances to be incorporated in Hansard. Perhaps it would have been better if the honourable member for Bendigo had said: ‘I wish to have incorporated in Hansard a statement made by Mr Fischer. I have it here’. However, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in his motion said that he wished to have incorporated in Hansard a document referred to by another member in the course of his speech. That could mean any one of a number of documents mentioned at any time by that member. There is no control over the contents of the document. If the honourable member for Mackellar had wanted to move that a document which contained outrageous propositions that he himself -
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-! second the motion. It is one thing for the House to follow the idiosyncrasies of the honourable member for Mackellar; it is another thing for those idiosyncrasies to be given the full support of the Government and for a Cabinet meeting to break up.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the honourable member for Port Adelaide be not further heard.
– Here is another convention being broken.
– Another convention is being broken.
-Order! The honourable for Port Adelaide will resume his seat.
-The Government has nothing else to talk about.
-Order! The question is that the honourable member for Port Adelaide be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Deputy Speaker’s ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-The position is that a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders has been carried. The nature of the motion was to allow the honourable member for Mackellar to move that a statement made by a person named Fischer and referred to by the honourable member for Bendigo be incorporated in Hansard. I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
-I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw to your attention Standing Order 76 which reads:
All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
I ask you to rule that until you have seen the document, which it is proposed to incorporate in Hansard and which, incidentally, we have not seen, and until you are able yourself to determine whether or not Standing Order 76 is being complied with in this case, the motion should be adjourned.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order, the reason being that the House has carried a motion suspending so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the honourable member from moving a motion. The honourable gentleman now has the call to move his motion.
– I move dissent from your ruling, Mr Speaker.
-The honourable gentleman cannot move dissent until I have given the ruling. I have not completed the ruling yet. He will resume his seat. The honourable member for Mackellar is entitled to move his motion, but it will be necessary for me to see the document, not for the purpose of establishing its authenticity but merely for the purpose of having it identified so that we know what it is that is being proposed to be incorporated in Hansard.
- Mr Speaker, I move dissent from your ruling.
-There is no opportunity for the honourable member to do that yet; he may be able to do so later. He should retain his patience for a moment. I draw to the attention of the honourable member for Mackellar the fact that the document which he has produced is very long and that the motion that he moves, even if it is passed, will be subject to my own personal decision as to whether the full text of the document, in view of the size of it, can be incorporated in Hansard. Within that limitation, the honourable gentleman is entitled to move his motion.
– I have so moved.
- Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the document which you have in front of you. It is not an original document; it is comprised of photocopied pieces of paper. We all know that it is possible to falsify a document in the process of copying it. I raise as a point of order whether this House can accept for incorporation into Hansard a photocopied document m relation to which the honourable member for Mackellar has vouched for the authenticity.
-The point that the honourable member for Newcastle puts is a point that goes to argument and not to the substance. The substance is that what has been produced as a document is quite clearly on its face not an original document But the honourable gentleman is not deprived from moving his motion in relation to this document. The reason I obtained possession of it was so that I could examine it and ascertain whether it is the document about which we are speaking. The motion in itself does not go anywhere towards the matter of authenticity of the document, either as to it being an authentic copy or as to the truth of what it contains. It is merely a document which the honourable gentleman has moved be incorporated in Hansard. The honourable gentleman has so moved.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. The motion referred not only to ‘the statement’ but also ‘the statement . . . referred to by the honourable member for Bendigo’. We have no knowledge of which document the honourable member for Bendigo had in his hand when he was referring to it. I submit that the honourable member for Mackellar had no such knowledge either. He has now introduced a document which purports to be the document referred to by another honourable member. So it would have to comply not only with all the other requirements that you have mentioned, Mr Speaker, but also the indentification requirement.
-I think the point made by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith has some substance. I therefore call upon the honourable member for Bendigo to look at this document to see whether it is the document to which he referred.
The document having been handed to the honourable member for Bendigo-
- Mr Speaker, this is the document to which I referred.
– You looked at only one page. How would you know?
– I happen to know the document because I have read it thoroughly.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker.
-Before I call the honourable member for Shortland I should make it clear to the House that the Chair is in the hands of the House. The motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders read:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the moving of a motion to allow for the incorporation in Hansard of the statement of Mr Fischer referred to by the honourable member for Bendigo in his recent speech.
They are the terms of the motion. The House has voted on the motion to suspend Standing Orders. The Speaker necessarily is in the hands of the House on the motion that it has carried.
-I take a point of order. My point of order goes to the veracity of the honourable member for Mackellar in submitting the document. I appreciate your ruling, Mr Speaker, that you are in the hands of the House. The question has been raised as to the authenticity of the document. I submit that there are special circumstances in this case that relate directly to the past behaviour of the honourable member for Mackellar in matters of this nature.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not now raising a point of order. He is arguing the issue.
– I do not wish to argue. I draw your attention to a previous incident in this House, on 25 October 1972, when the honourable member for Mackellar tabled photostat copies of documents which purported to be authentic and which were found by the Supreme Court to be false. The honourable member had to apologise publicly.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not raising a point of order that is relevant to the matter. I call the honourable member for La Trobe.
– I second the motion.
– I take a point of order. It relates to a question that I asked the Deputy Speaker when this matter was first raised in the Parliament. My question was whether this procedure is a precedent. A document referred to in a speech by one honourable member is taken up by another honourable member, and then the onus is on you, Mr Speaker, at some later time- the matter having been raised when you were not in the chair, and not in a position to verify the authenticity of the original document. With all due respect to the honourable member for Mackellar- you would know this, Mr Speaker- I submit he could have had in his hand a copy of the Women’s Weekly. If this procedure is to be adopted it is open to all the skullduggery in which people may want to indulge. I put this to you: It is a dangerous precedent.
-The honourable gentleman has made his point. I understand the point completely. Let me make this clear to the House. The House has not voted on the authenticity of the document. The House has voted on a motion which would permit the honourable member for Mackellar to move a motion to have incorporated in Hansard a document. If the motion is carried the document may be incorporated in Hansard, depending on my decision following discussion with the Government Printer. Even if the motion is passed and the document is incorporated in Hansard, it will not in any way add to or subtract from the authenticity of the document as a document or of what the document purports to say.
-Mr Speaker, there is one part of my point of order that you have not answered.
-Is this as to precedent?
– Not only as to precedent, but do you have to be satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that the document which you now have in your hand was the document to which the honourable member for Bendigo was addressing himself during his speech?
-The level of proof to which the honourable gentleman refers is a criminal level of proof. That is not what is required in this House. What is required in this House- I have always adopted this practice- is that if a member is asked to verify anything which he has claimed and he does so, I unhesitatingly accept his word. A matter was raised by the honourable member for Melbourne as to whether this is a precedent. I know of no precedent. I would not regard any action taken now as committing in any way a future House to a similar course of action or preventing the House in future from taking a similar course of action.
– I have a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not seeking your guidance; I am seeking some explanation of the situation. You said that it would be your choice whether this document would be included in Hansard.
– It is not choice; it is a duty that devolves on me.
– Your duty. There are grounds for excluding it, not only on its length and size but also on its content. Something in the document may be libellous. You know that if the document were incorporated in Hansard that would permit the newspapers to print anything that appeared in it. They could print it under privilege.
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I have asked him to resume his seat because this matter is claiming the attention of most members, but some others are conducting conversations which are detracting from my capacity to concentrate on what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is putting. I ask that silence be maintained.
– As you know of no other precedent and because of the seriousness of the matterthere could be in this document libellous matters which, once included in Hansard, would give the Press the right to print them under privilege-I ask you, before you make your decision as to whether it should be included in Hansard, if there is in the document anything that may damage an honourable member in any way, either directly or indirectly, it should not be included in Hansard, thus setting a precedent.
-Let me make it clear that when I said that there was no precedent I was answering the specific point of the honourable member for Melbourne relating to a motion which refers to a document quoted by another honourable member. There are, of course, precedents where a person has asked for leave to include material in Hansard, that leave has been refused and Standing Orders have been suspended to enable the material to be included in Hansard. It is quite established that the House has done that before. The specific point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that once the material is incorporated it will have the protection of privilege of Parliament. I am very well aware of what the honourable gentleman puts, and I am bound by the rules of Parliament. I do not have the discretion to refuse on that ground. I have the discretion to refuse, only on the grounds of size and inconvenience, to incorporate in Hansard a document.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– I want to take a point of order.
– As soon as that question is moved I must put it immediately without debate. I am reminded by the Acting Clerk that, although the motion has been moved and seconded, in dealing with points of order I did not actually propose the question. Therefore the motion that the question be now put cannot be moved until I put the question from the chair. I will hear the point of order of the honourable member for Port Adelaide before proposing the question.
– My point of order is in the form of a question to you, Mr Speaker. Both Mr Deputy Speaker and yourself have been in the chair during the proceedings. I was in charge of this side of the House when this dispute arose. I ask: Is it a convention of this House for people wishing to incorporate material in Hansard to show it to the opposing party and to seek leave privately before the matter is incorporated? Are you aware that this matter was not shown to the Opposition when it was asked to be incorporated in Hansard?
– It is a practice for a person wishing to incorporate material in Hansard to have discussions with the other side, where possible. It is not an invariable practice, and it is not always done. The question is:
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
That the question be now put. Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion for the incorporation of the document in Hansard be agreed to.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)
In divisionMr Clyde Cameron- Mr Speaker, I ask whether the Press will be permitted to publish this document before it appears in Hansard tomorrow morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.S9 to 8 p.m.
-I present the Fifteenth Report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave-adopted.
Debate resumed from IS September, on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $30.3 lm to the States for upgrading urban public transport under the terms of the Urban Public Transport Agreement. The period to be covered is 1977-78. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. The second and, I suspect, the last Lynch Budget provides an allocation of $51m to the States for urban public transport projects. This means that the remaining $20.69m will come from existing appropriations. That is, nearly half the money allocated for urban public transport in this year s Budget will have been allocated in previous years.
Honourable members will recall that when we debated last year the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill which provided for $20m in terms of last year’s Budget, I pointed out that the entries shown in Budget Paper No. 4, which was one of the Budget documents, differed from the information provided in the second reading speech of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). At that time I said that the $20m being appropriated under that Bill would not be used for the year 1976-77, and that in fact the funds to be expended in 1976-77 would be drawn from existing appropriations. At the time I asked the Minister to clarify the issue but he did not see tit to do so.’
I draw the attention of the House to page 38 of Budget Paper No. 4 for 1977-78 where again the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Act 1976 is shown as the source of funds to be used in the current year. What in fact happened in the past financial year is that the funds that were expended were drawn from the appropriations that existed and a balance of $690,672 was left. It is worth noting for the information of the House that the $51 m for urban public transport mentioned by the Minister in his second reading speech will be made up as follows: $690,672 will be drawn from the balance of the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Act 1974, $20m will come from the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Act 1976 and $30.3 lm will come from this Bill if in fact the money is spent. I just say, in conclusion on that point, that, as I said at the time, irrespective of what the Minister said in his second reading speech the Treasury would determine from what sources and in what manner the funds would be expended, and that is in fact what occurred.
The allocation of $51m this year reveals just how false the Fraser Government’s selfacclaimed interest in public transport is and the declining priority accorded to public transport services by this Government. A pittance of $5m is provided for new projects. This relatively paltry amount for new projects is the first allocation for new urban public transport projects made in nearly two years of Fraserism. The Minister for Transport admits in his second reading speech that this is ‘a relatively minor amount’. He then goes on to reveal the priority accorded to urban public transport by his Government when he states that the allocation ‘is a clear indication of the commitment this Government has to ensure urban public transport services are upgraded’. The scant amount is a clear indication that the Fraser Government has little commitment to urban public transport.
There is little doubt that if this corrupt, conservative Government had not been locked into continuing expenditure under the terms of the Labor Government’s urban public transport legislation no funds would have been provided during its period in government to alleviate urban public transport problems. This year of the $51m allocated $ 18.27m is provided to continue work on projects approved by the Whitlam Government. An amount of $27. 73m is allocated to meet the cost increases on approved projects. That is, more than half the amount provided in the Lynch Budget will go towards compensating for the loss of value in the dollar as a result of this Government’s incompetence and inability to deal with inflation. The policy put forward by the Liberal and National Country Parties at the 1975 election in respect of public transport stated:
A Liberal-Country Party Government will assist the States to modernise their public transport systems.
However, the funds provided in the second Lynch Budget for urban public transport represent a cut of $7.4m in cash terms and a fall of 25 per cent in real terms over actual expenditure for 1976-77. There then is the evidence of the strength of this Government’s commitment to urban public transport. The abysmal amount provided for urban public transport will do little in the reasonably near future to assist State governments to remedy the chronic deficiencies that exist in public transport systems in our major cities. It will do little to provide a public transport service for those areas of our cities that do not have access to public transport services. It will do little for the young, the old, the handicapped and the poor who have to use whatever form of public transport service is available.
This Government needs to be reminded that people living in urban sectors of our major metropolitan areas are captives of congested roads and deteriorating or non-existent transport services which impair personal mobility thus limiting access to job opportunities, cultural and recreational facilities. The Government has consistently pursued a policy over decades of driving a wedge between country dwellers and urban dwellers for cheap political purposes. It has sought to show urban dwellers as being pampered and as having access to all the better facilities of urban life. The fact is that many urban dwellers, because of the lack of adequate and /or reasonably priced transport services, experience a loneliness far greater than that or the country dweller. There is no loneliness greater than that of the big city when one does not have access to communication and transport that one can afford. The quality of urban public transport services then is a major determinant in the life style of millions of urban Australians.
The Sydney public transport system carries 80 per cent of the work force in the Sydney central business district. But this area represents only 20 per cent of the total work force in the Sydney region. Increasingly the real challenge is in providing public transport services which service both the central business district traveller and the inter-urban commuter. Changes in the approach to public transport services are required to cope with the increasing number of cross-suburban trips resulting from the rising numbers of employment opportunities and other services being created at locations away from the central city area. Poor land use planning in the past has contributed to the difficulties faced by public transport authorities today. Land development decisions in the past were in too many cases made on the basis of what profits could be made from the land development process without regard to the provision of effective transport and communication services. The resultant deficiencies are then left to be remedied by governments and the public purse.
As a nation we have, in consultation with the States, to find the solutions to public transport problems created by lack of planning and lack of bresight in the past. For the future there should be a collective approach on the part of the three levels of government- national, State and local i;government-to consult and ensure that by good and use planning and full utilisation of existing public investment in transport we can avoid the types of problems and deficiencies that have arisen in the past.
I turn now to the increasing importance of energy consumption in transport and the decline in real terms- I mentioned the 25 per cent reduction in 1976- of finance provided for urban public transport by this Government. This decline in Federal funds must be seen against the background of the Fraser Government’s decision to raise the price of petrol by 1 lc a gallon. Almost 27 per cent of our national energy consumption goes to the transport sector. Over 88 per cent of direct transport energy is supplied by petroleum products. Use of the pricing mechanism to conserve energy supplies assumes that users have alternative transport means available. This is a false assumption, as many Australians are using private motor cars because they must. Increased petrol prices will mean for them a reduction in real disposable income.
The changes in energy pricing announced in the Budget will yield the Treasury an extra $180m this financial year. The Government’s action in increasing petrol prices could be understood to some extent if a major share of that additional revenue were to be spent on the creation and upgrading of urban public transport services, thus reducing the need to use private motor cars. However, as I mentioned earlier, this Bill provides a miserable pittance of $5m for new projects. That is less than 3 per cent of the increase in additional revenue that will come from the increase of 1 lc per gallon in the price of petrol. Bearing in mind the determined and successful efforts of the Leader of the National Country Party, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony), over the past three years to heavily increase petrol prices, one can understand why less than 3 per cent of that additional revenue is going to the area to which it ought to be directed. Much more than 3 per cent should have been directed to improving and upgrading urban transport services. We have no indication from this Government to date that any of the balance of the $ 1 80m to be collected from the increase in petrol prices is to be applied to public transport.
Adequate funding for urban public transport is an urgent task. It is not something that can be deferred or delayed any longer. Governments cannot simply increase the cost of the operation of motor cars and the ownership of motor cars in the expectation that this action will discourage the use of private cars without providing alternatives to the private motor car. The Deputy Prime Minister has admitted in this chamber that the demand for petroleum products is more or less price inelastic. In other words, relatively large movements in the price of petrol will have little effect on the demand for petrol or petroleum products.
The rapid expansion of urban areas since the Second World War has greatly contributed to the reliance on the private car and consequently has meant higher transport energy usage. A 1 975 study prepared by the Bureau of Transport Economics stated: . . . recent trends in urbanisation have contributed to higher transport energy usage by encouraging reliance on the private car and an increase in average trip lengths.
It is evident from the study that petrol prices would have to rise considerably to change existing use patterns. Major, price rises would be required to cause a significant alteration in the use of cars. A true energy conservation program needs to recognise the interrelationships of public transport services, the use of the private car and energy conservation procedures. For example, an overseas study into the efficiency of energy use of common transport modes found that diesel-powered buses are the most energy efficient. Mr Louis Fouvy of the Victorian Ministry of Transport has indicated some of the ways in which economies could be achieved in transport energy usage. These include the design and maximum use of transport services and vehicles which make efficient use of energy. One example which I just mentioned is diesel buses. Secondly, he mentioned the adoption of land use development policies which minimise transport requirements or the development of low energy means of communication to replace and so minimise the need for travel and transport. In this instance I am referring to technology such as the proposed videophones. Instead of a family travelling by car from Newcastle to Sydney to visit relatives they could ring them on the videophone and see them as they spoke to them. The third means suggested by Mr Fouvy is something which ought to be given greater priority. It ought to be taken into consideration in assessing where we are going and planning for urban public transport in the future.
Clearly, the quality and availability of urban public transport services will have an important role to play in any responsible national energy conservation plan. It is regrettable that the Government, in providing for a reduction in real terms in urban public transport funds, is abandoning urban public transport services as an essential part of energy conservation plans. Its petrol price increase of 1 lc per gallon will provide a windfall gain of $109m for the oil companies and $180m for consolidated revenue and thus help pay for the VIP trips to the opera, the $9,000 dinner set and the international safaris undertaken every 1 1 weeks by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
– Look who is talking!
-The Opposition has sought to assess and identify the full cost of these international safaris undertaken at the taxpayers’ expense but to date the Government has successfully managed to conceal it amongst the estimates of the various departments. This cost ought to be shown in total when questions are placed on notice seeking the true cost of these international safaris. I mention those points only as a side reference to highlight the priorities shown .by this Government. On the one hand the Government will get increased revenue from the motorist; on the other hand the motorist will pay more and get less. If the urban public transport traveller uses a taxi he will pay more in fares but will get less in terms of expansion and improvement in the quality of urban public transport.
Expansion of public investment in urban public transport systems would have provided a much needed stimulus to employment opportunities. Not only would the injection of funds into the State urban systems have generated employment through the purchase of equipment for urban systems but also the improved public transport systems available would have given better access to job opportunities. This is a problem which has emerged when we have been trying to help people who are unemployed as a result of this Government’s policies. I refer to the inadequacy of reasonably priced transport to get to the few jobs that may be available.
The point I am trying to stress is that urban public transport expenditure provides a means whereby the Government can improve the quality of life in our urban and outer suburban areas while at the same time it can provide a much needed stimulus to the economy, particularly to heavy manufacturing industry which manufactures rolling stock, rail cars and locomotives. In this respect I have noticed that honourable members from Queensland who support this Government, particularly those from the Brisbane area, have been very quiet about the declining employment available in the heavy manufacturing industries in Brisbane, particularly those industries that in the past produced some of the finest rolling stock and locomotives constructed for use in Australia and for export. Employment could have been generated in the field of the manufacture of rolling stock as well as in the electrification of urban railway lines. There would have been a substantial multiplier effect from increased expenditure in those areas.
The Minister for Transport pointed out in his second reading speech that substantial Australian Government funds were involved in providing urban public transport infrastructure through public investment in airport and port facilities and urban roads. In 1974 the then Minister for Transport, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), foreshadowed the introduction of legislation designed to bring urban public transport and road transport under one Bill. We have no demonstrated interest on the part of the Fraser Government in the interdependence of these urban transport services. I presume that a little later we will be discussing a roads Bill. In fact both this legislation and the roads legislation could have been combined and ought to have been combined. Certainly they ought to have been considered at the one time. The allocation of resources and the utilisation of existing public investment, and the direction and quantity of future public investment, in all types of urban transport services ought to be considered at the one time and not considered piecemeal or in an ad hoc fashion as is happening under the present Government. This is a signal of the return to the ad hockery of the past.
No moves have been made by the Government to consider airport and port facilities in the light of existing urban public transport services. Under the Fraser Government, reviews of aviation are kept secret and separate from other transport systems, particularly from the Parliament. No indication is given of the degree of inter-relationship and of the potential demand in the future for additional transport services. Anybody concerned with transport, anybody concerned with travelling, anybody who is a consumer of transport services, is very well aware of the close relationship of transport to and from airports and to and from railway stations. These services cannot operate in isolation and governments should not be considering their roles in isolation. Any public investment ought to take into account the inter-relation of those different activities. By doing that we will get a maximum efficiency in the use of the taxpayers’ dollar. We have heard from the other side of the House a great deal about the taxpayer’s dollar but we see very little evidence of efficient utilisation of the funds which the taxpayer so readily provides to this Government.
The Government’s inquiry into federal transport undertakings was segregated from other transport sectors. One of our major domestic airlines which generates demand for transport to and from airports and which is competitive with other government transport undertakings and suppliers to transport undertakings is being examined in the seclusion of a secret committee. We also have an inquiry into overseas airlines at the same time and by the same people, as well as an investigation of our Railways Commission and of our shipping line. All four activities are related and are all part of the public transport scene. Additionally, the operations of private companies providing taxi and private bus services have to be taken into consideration. It was for those reasons that between 1972 and 1975 the Labor Government was moving towards the preparation of an integrated transport budget so that all the factors involved could be brought under consideration and looked at in the one picture, then fitted together to provide a maximum in the quality of services and a maximum in the efficient manner in which the dollar is spent. Under this Government the moves towards co-ordination of transport services in Australia have been reversed by the introduction of this Bill. Each mode of transport will continue to be considered in isolation of other transport functions. A recent gallup poll revealed that inadequate public transport services and traffic congestion were the major causes of local dissatisfaction among Australians living in both rural and suburban areas. In 1974 the Bureau of Roads provided comparative figures on the costs of running private motor vehicles and public transport systems for both passenger and freight traffic. The Bureau stated that the purchase of motor vehicles, the cost of their operation, the cost of road maintenance and capital investment represented a total cost of $4,220m. The total cost of the operation of trams, buses and trains and capital investment was $1,1 85m. These are direct costs and do not include indirect costs of road accidents or the cost of traffic policing and management.
The impact which transport costs have on the household budget of the average family is shown in figures provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on household expenditure. These are actual costs and not percentages but they give a clear indication of the greater impact which transport costs have on the low income family compared with the high income family. A household with two adults and one child with an income of under $80 weekly spends $16.37 per week on transport costs, that is passenger movement and the transport input in the cost of commodities. The same sized family with an income of $340 per week spends $38.42 per week. So the high income family, which receives more than four times the income of the low income family, spends on transport only a little more than twice that spent by the low income family. Now let us consider a household with two adults and two children with an income of under $80 per week. It pays $21.95 per week in transport costs. However, the same sized family with an income of more than $340 per week pays $34.16 per week, an increase of a little over 50 per cent in the transport cost component although this family has an income more than four times that of the family with an income of under $80 per week.
The need for immediate improvements in our urban public transport system has never been more critical. If we are to avoid the impending transport crisis of the next decade it is vital that our urban public transport investment program begun in 1973 be restored. In summary I remind the House that whilst the Opposition does not oppose the Bill it emphasises that the Bill is proof of this Government’s abandonment of the important role of urban public transport in energy conservation and the life style and opportunity of persons who depend upon urban public transport.
-Before proceeding to discuss the Bill I wish to make a comment or two on the remarks of the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) who quite predictably attacked the Government’s measures on urban public transport. He had the termerity to accuse the Government of involuntarily funding this operation simply to continue programs which had been conceived and initiated by the previous Labor Administration. In fact the record will show that on 19 July 197 1 the Australian Transport Advisory Council, the State governments on the recommendations of the present Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) who was then holding that portfolio, decided to request the Bureau of Transport Economics to prepare a report on the needs for a capital investment program in urban public transport. This report was subsequently submitted to the Australian Transport Advisory Council in July 1972, and it was the McMahon Government which made a commitment in regard to federal expenditure on urban public transport. Therefore it was quite mischievous of the honourable member for Shortland to try to mislead the House into believing that we are involuntarily committed to continuing a Labor program.
To describe the $5m for new projects as being a paltry amount is equally unfair. It is significant that the $5m is one of the very few appropriations for new expenditures in this Budget. The Minister has admitted with his inimitable candour that the appropriations would fall short of the ambitions of those who had a direct responsibility in areas such as urban public transport, but implicit in the remarks of the honourable member for Shortland was an inference that the cornucopia which served the previous Administration and its extravagant ambitions would continue to flow. Many of the remarks of the honourable member about urban public transport were relevant but seemed to presup- pose that this matter can be dealt with in iso- l ation. Of course, it cannot. The funds available for urban public transport along with the involvement of any government depends entirely upon the viability of the nation’s economy, and there is no area of government administration which can be indemnified against the restraints forced upon the Government to restore the economy to a state which all Australians would endorse. In that respect the previous Administration has a good deal to answer for in terms of the restrictions that must apply if this Government is to meet the quite proper ambitions of those city dwellers who wish to be afforded some relief from the vicissitudes with which they are afflicted in public transport.
The Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill 1977, which involves a total Commonwealth Budget allocation for 1977-78 of $51m, acknowledges the continuing awareness of this Government that this is an urgent problem which requires the constant attention and the best services of this Government, subject to the overall economic viability of this country. The money is allocated under a CommonwealthState agreement under which the Commonwealth provides two-thirds of the cost of approved capital works projects aimed at improving the quality, capacity, frequency and efficiency of public transport systems in the State capital cities. The excess of $ 1 8m is to be used for the continuation of approved urban public transport improvement and almost $28m has been allocated to meet cost escalations. In addition, the amount of $5m to which I previously referred has been included for new projects. This is the first allocation of Commonwealth funds for new works in this area since the 1974-75 Budget.
It may or may not be necessary for me to remind the House that the previous Administration brought down the 1974-75 Budget, and it is rather conspicuous that in that Budget for reasons which that Administration may properly been able to advance there was no funding for new projects in urban transport. While the allocation may fall short of the ambitions of those who have direct responsibility for urban public tranport, this area of responsibility is no more exempt from the financial restrictions placed on the Government than is any other area. This, of course, does not imply a mechanical dissecting of the total resource without due regard to the pressing priorities as they identify themselves.
This advances the proposition that if the Labor Opposition determines that a disproportionate share of the nation’s resources should be expended on urban public transport or in any other area it may care to nominate, it would be required simultaneously to indicate which area should surrender expenditure presently accorded to it. It is axiomatic that the cake is just so big and it is simply a matter of determining how large the slices will be and to whom they might be apportioned. It is nonsense to suggest to the House or to the country at large that we can argue, as the Opposition argues, that regardless of the economic consequences we should be obliged to make money available to meet the possibly quite proper ambitions of those who have an interest in specific areas.
It is of supreme importance that public transport be attractive to the public. It must be seen as an attractive alternative to the private motor vehicle. Pollution from exhaust emission, crowded roads and the present situation regarding the supplies and costs of finite fuels all point to the necessity of making greater use of public transport resources. That raises the question of whether the nation can continue to tolerate the extravagant use of finite fuel as evidenced by multi-lanes of sole occupant vehicles. We should not slavishly adhere to the notion that public transport can be dealt with in isolation. Its role must continually be monitored to the needs of changing patterns. Thought is required to establish whether social patterns should be warped to accommodate the realities attaching to any nation’s inability to deploy its resources indiscriminately.
The Commonwealth Government is also involved in urban transport problems such as the provision of and access to airports and ports and in providing financial assistance for urban roads. This, of course, has an impact on the totality of servicing the urban transport requirements of the cities. When I mentioned that we might have to warp attitudes to meet our capacity to service urban transport requirements it struck me as fairly significant that in Singapore some success has been achieved by the Government, not in denying the private citizen the right to acquire a high powered or large vehicle but in applying registration charges and the like at such a level that people are deterred, to some extent, from investing in such a high capacity vehicle. People are not denied the opportunity of purchasing a vehicle but the circumstances I have outlined make a substantial difference to the number of vehicles which may use the available road space. This is an area which this Government and this society may in due time have to consider. For the same reason, in Singapore, within a prescribed perimeter of the centre of the city, between prescribed hours it is not possible to move freely into the heart of the city unless one pays a toll at delineated points. Whilst this may appear as some intrusion on private liberty, the fact remains that whilst we may aspire to certain conditions we can only legitimately address ourselves to the achievement of those ambitions within our means.
This is an oustanding characteristic of this Government. It endeavours to meet the requirements of its people, mindful at all times that it cannot take them out of an area of economic responsibility, that we must establish the viability of our economy. From our earnings, as distinct from further depleting the capital reserve established by our forbears, who, with a degree of resignation and fortitude, worked on the premise that there was dignity in labour and that that labour should attract its own rewards, we gave a capacity to this country which the previous Administration was able to exploit in the extreme. The Labor Government went on a spending spree. Many of its programs were laudably conceived but that Government showed a total disregard for the capacity continually to fund them.
In urban public transport there are some ambitious and free thinking plans to relieve the problem. But it is disturbing to realise that many people who promote these projects seem totally insensitive to the fact that their plans could call for an expenditure of thousands of millions of dollars in each capital city. Whilst that may be desirable, it is beyond the bounds of feasibility. We cannot spend beyond our capacity.
– It is a pity you do not feel the same way about rural programs. There is no limit on them, is there?
– Whilst governments have some modest latitude to float to one side or the other of that parameter, eventually circumstances will bring them back to the grim reality that we cannot spend beyond our means. This Government has demonstrated in its appropriation that it recognises its continuing commitment to the improvement of urban transport. It also recognises that to attribute a disproportionate share of our resources to that area and to neglect those other activities which contribute towards maintaining economic viability will, in the end, betray everybody. I hear interjections which challenge the propriety of this action by implying a bias towards non-metropolitan areas. I think all Australians recognise at this stage that there is no future for Australians in sectors; there is only a future for all Australians together. If the Opposition wishes to delude itself into believing that it can isolate itself from these realities, in the end we will see our cities in total chaos.
There is only one true source of wealth and that is from the good earth. Anything else we can process, kick into shape and give a coat of paint but we have produced no true wealth at all. We have processed it and stimulated the money supply, but in this day and age we are still dependent on what the good earth will yield. We must establish a balance between meeting the proper requirements of the people of the cities and those in rural Australia. I speak with all the authority of one who was city born and bred until I discovered, in 1950 as an ex-serviceman, that there was a greater Australia outside. I appreciate, as a consequence, that there are urgent requirements both in the city and in rural Australia. These represent the true Australia.
The fact of the matter is that payments to the States under the terms of the urban public transport agreement to the end of 1976-77 totalled $ 137.3m. The proposed expenditure in 1977-78 is $51m. As I have mentioned, that includes $27.7m to meet the Commonwealth’s share of cost escalation. Now, $51m as a proportion of $ 137.3m which has been funded from the inception of the scheme in 1974-75 clearly indicates that there is definitely a demonstration of responsibility on the part of the Government towards its commitment for urban public transport. It is a mischief for the Opposition to suggest that this Government is trying to ease itself out of its responsibility. On the contrary, the hope for the cities of this nation, along with the rural areas and the provincial areas rests in the wisdom and acumen of this Government. The States have accepted with enthusiasm the $5m advanced for new projects, as distinct from the assertion of the honourable member for Shortland that this is a paltry amount. The States have unanimously indicated that they will elect to apply these funds to rolling stock, which is their most urgent requirement. There is no reason whatsoever to give any credence to the assertion of the Opposition that this Government is derelict in its responsibility.
I mentioned earlier the multi-lanes of sole occupant vehicles. Today it was more than a happy coincidence that the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony) introduced into the House the interim report on energy conservation which was prepared by the National Energy Advisory Committee. That interim report contained the Committee’s proposals for the conservation of energy. The report stated that these proposals had been framed to create in the first instance a community consciousness of the uncertainties of our energy future and a common will to exercise restraint in energy consumption, especially of oil.
The ensuing changes in community habits and practices will, of course, take time. Time is the essence of the whole operation. The operation revolves around the question of just how long Australians can delude themselves into believing that they can get something for nothing. We have a total resource potential now. It is the responsibility of this Government, as it would be of any other government, to determine the priority to be given to the application of that resource. If the Opposition insists upon increased expenditures in one area or another it has a responsibility to indicate what expenditure on other areas it would be prepared to surrender, because there is not way of making the cake larger than our resources will permit. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– I was interested in the contribution by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar). It even amused the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). All the garbage that was spread over the chamber by the honourable member made even the Minister of his own Party laugh because of the bunkum that was doled out. The honourable member for Wide Bay said that in 1974-75 the Labor Government made no allocation for public transport.
– For new projects.
-Begging the honourable member’s pardon, that is not true. In the 1974-75 program the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Act 1974 approved expenditure on new projects for all the States totalling $27.85m. The total expenditure was $66.1 lm, but $27.85m was the amount allocated that year.
-The honourable member should look at the legislation. He need not take my word for it. He should look at the facts of the matter. The honourable member for Wide Bay made mention of the amounts of money being made available for urban public transport in the cities. Just last week $lOOm was made available in tax concessions for rural producers. Do we want to go into the details of the superphosphate bounty legislation, which provided $100m, the nitrogenous fertilisers bounty and the concessions to the wool industry? Do we want to go on about all of those concessions? Of course, we on this side of the House have no strong objection to these measures but we do believe that there has to be a reasonable sharing of the wealth of this country and that it should not be concentrated on the rabbits’ corner occupied by National Country Party members.
Let us return to the Bill. The Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill provides funds amounting to $51m. Once again I take the honourable member for Wide Bay to task. Would he please do his homework and state facts when he comes into this place. He said that $5 lm was being made available for urban public transport. The fact is that $ 18.27m of this amount represents a previous appropriation from when the Labor Government was in office. An amount of $2.42m is carried over from last year.
– You quoted that in your figures.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for the Northern Territory will cease interjecting.
-I do not need his aid, Mr Deputy Speaker. He is not worrying me. The cost increase on approved projects was $25.3 lm. These figures, together with the amount of $5m for new projects this year, total $5 lm. So I ask the honourable member to do his homework. We can compare these figures with the work undertaken by the Labor Government in two years. In two sets of programs it allocated $ 138.2m. The States’ matching grants totalled $69m.
Let us look at the record in urban public transport of the Minister for Transport. When he was a Minister in the previous Liberal-Country Party Government prior to the Labor Party coming into office in December 1972, the State Ministers for Transport had to jump up and down on him- they had to belt the daylights out of him- at Australian Transport Advisory Council meetings to have a study undertaken. Finally the study was undertaken and the results were presented to the ATAC meeting in June 1972. The McMahon Government, in which government also the Minister was Minister for Transport, should have done something about the results of that study but it did not. These are the facts of the matter. Honourable members will remember that during the 1972 general election the present Minister for Transport was screaming that the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) should be imprisoned because he had a copy of the report of that study. He was going to have the Leader of the Opposition slapped into gaol.
– I would have, too.
-I thank the Minister for his admission. That shows what the cockies will do.
– History proved me right with Khemlani and the Iraqi loans affair. He would have been better in gaol in 1975.
-History proved us right. We provided $138m in two years to upgrade urban public transport. We got on with the job. That was more than honourable members opposite have done in government. We made agreements with the States on other major rail projects. We were able to put some sense and balance into transport.
Let us return to considering the $5m allocated this year for new projects. The Minister for Transport gave me a list of the funds requested by the States for new projects in urban public transport in 1977. These figures will make honourable members laugh. New South Wales requested $55.75m; Victoria requested $53.86m, Queensland requested $8.77m; South Australia requested $24.97m; Western Australia requested $6.92m and Tasmania requested $2.41m- a total of $ 152.68m. What was the magnificent sum they received? It was $5m. That is not bad going, is it? The Minister talks about what this Government is going to do for urban public transport but it is allocating $5m when it has been requested to allocate $152m. It is absolute peanuts and the Minister knows it.
Another matter of concern is the manner in which these funds are being distributed amongst the States. I as a New South Welshman express my strongest objection to the paltry $600,000 that is being given to New South Wales, the largest State in Australia as far as population and urban public transport requirements are concerned. Victoria is being allocated $2m- $ lm for suburban trains and $lm for trams; Queensland is being allocated $60,000 for electric rail cars and $940,000 for buses; South Australia is being allocated $lm for buses; Western Australia is being allocated $300,000 for buses; and Tasmania is being allocated $100,000 for buses. New South Wales has the largest travelling public of the States yet it is being allocated the paltry sum of $600,000 out of a paltry, miserly allocation of$5m.
– You are enjoying yourself.
-Of course I am. The Minister should hang his head in shame because of the paltry amount that his Government has been prepared to make available. The honourable member for Wide Bay was critical of the fact that in one year the Labor Government did not provide funds for urban public transport. It is true that we did not provide funds for urban public transport in 1975-76. But the honourable member went on to criticise our expenditure on other matters of great social importance. I ask him to make up his mind. Either we should provide funds or we should not. He wants to have it both ways. He wants to criticise us when we do not provide funds and still criticise us when we do. Like the torn cat, he squeals when he is getting it and squeals when he is not.
What concerns me is this Government’s series of disjointed alleged policies. For example, on page 23 of his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), in relation to the Government’s crude oil policy, said:
Without significant new discoveries in the next few years, indigenous crude oil would fall from meeting about 70 per cent of total Australian demand to about 30 per cent by 1985.
We cannot afford a pricing policy that flies in the face of all energy conservation principles by condoning excessive consumption of our scarce presently known supplies of crude.
We are moving to produce an appropriate energy pricing structure.
I wish that the Government would move towards producing an energy conserving transport policy- one which will meet the needs and the requirements of the people of this country. Urban public transport is one area in which this country can cut back on the amount of money that is being spent on road construction and the like. Let us compare the paltry amount of money that is provided for urban public transport with the mammoth, the huge, sums of money that are being provided, first of all, for roads. This year the allocation is to be $475m; last year it was $433m; the year before that it was $442m. Yet all the Government can find this year is a paltry $5m for new projects. If we could get people off the roads we could conserve resources; we could cut back on the need to build some of the major roads that are being built in cities today. I thank the honourable member for Wide Bay for nodding his acknowledgement of the point.
This world cannot afford the luxury of continuing to spend money and to use its fuel resources at the rate that it is doing those things at the present time. This country which has huge supplies of coal should be using that coal to generate electricity and using that as our energy source to provide the energy required for our railway system. If the need arose, we could even extend our public transport system to include electrically driven buses or cable cars, or something of that type. The people who are interested in transport throughout the world should provide the means whereby we can substitute public transport in our cities for the motor car, because we cannot afford the luxury of building expressways, demolishing buildings, and building roads at the rate at which countries have been doing so over the years.
Los Angeles has a terrific, magnificent system of freeways, according to the road engineers. My God, I hope that I am never placed in the situation of having to live in that city. The planners have realised their mistakes of yesteryear. They have tried to set up urban public transport groups for the purpose of restoring public transport systems which they so foolishly demolished years ago. They got rid of their railways and their rail tracks and replaced them with these concrete jungles which are so prevalent today. We do not want to fall for that trap. If we are to be successful in moving the people in this country, particularly those in the cities, from their place of residence to their place of employment or their place of entertainment, there is really only one way by which to do it, and that is by means of public transport. We have to provide the type of transport that is required.
The Government should be bringing to the attention of motorists the real cost of motor transport. After all, when a person buys a motor car, he has a capital investment in it. He does not see in its true light the money that he pays out for registration, third party insurance and comprehensive insurance. Both in the area of the private motor car and the commercial vehicle, I would like to see the Government lump together the road maintenance tax and all of those taxes into the petrol tax or the fuel tax so that when the owner of the family car sits behind his wheel on his way to work or on his way to some entertainment he knows the real cost he is paying at that moment to drive that motor vehicle. He then would not get the false impression that it is costing him only half as much to drive his private car to work as it would if he were to go by public transport. If all of those taxes- and they are taxes- were lumped together into the petrol tax, the price of petrol would go up for certain, but in that circumstance the motorist would be able to know the true cost of running his motor car and might not be so concerned about the prestige of owning a motor car, which is one of the major reasons why so many people own motor cars today. I hope that we can look to the Minister for Transport to do something through the Australian Transport Advisory Council with his State colleagues in that direction. That sort of move was under consideration a couple of years ago. What happened to that proposal, I do not know.
Let me come back to public transport. The Government has no firm policy on public transport. If the Labor Government had not been defeated, we would not be debating a Bill on urban public transport at the moment and the next Bill for debate would not have been a roads Bill. Those Bills would have been lumped together. There would have been an overall transport policy. We would have obtained the advice of the Inter-State Commission, the Bureau of Transport Economics and the Bureau of Roads. Now that those last two mentioned bodies have been amalgamated, I hope that the Parliament can now be given more realistic policies on roads instead of the one-sided, lop-sided policies that the Bureau of Roads has put together over the years. Its policies were completely and totally road oriented instead of being policies on transport, which is what this country requires.
I come back to the matter of urban public transport. One of the things that disappoints me is the fact that this Government had made no real attempt to give the sort of leadership in the field of public transport that has got to be provided for people. If it wants to get the motorist out of his motor car and if it wants to reduce the demand for expressways through the cities and if it wants to reduce pollution and all that goes with it, it has to provide a reasonable alternative. The only reasonable alternative is to have fast, comfortable urban public transport, whether it be based on the train or the bus. That can be done. Other cities throughout the world have been able to double the speed at which thentrains travel. At the present time Australian urban passenger trains travel at about half the speed at which urban trains travel in overseas countries. If the trains were able to travel faster we could move people from point A to point B much more quickly. We have to give them what they want; namely, comfortable and fast travel. It will not cost any more.
It was made clear from the studies that were carried out on the standard urban passenger train, according to almost half a million people who inspected the model that went on display in all the capital cities of Australia, with the exception of Hobart, that there was strong public support for it. Those Ministers who were not prepared to play politics, such as the former Minister for Transport in the previous New South Wales Liberal Government, could see the merits in it, and they gave it their support. The same could be said of the late Minister for Transport in Queensland; he gave it his support. The people from Victoria wanted to play politics over the whole matter- principally State politics-and they were critical of it. We were able to establish that that sort of public transport would attract public support. That also applies in relation to uses. There is no question about the situation that would develop if we could get a standard train or a standard bus. The manufacturers have said to me time and time again: ‘Give us a standard bus, give us a standard train, and we can save thousands of dollars in their construction’. If we can provide a decent, comfortable type of public transport, it will help solve the public transport problems in Australia. It will help to reduce the demand by motorists for roads. It will help to reduce the pollution which follows from that.
One thing that has always interested me in relation to transport is the type of carriages to be provided. A few years ago I took the opportunity to travel overseas to inspect various types of new experimental transport facilities; namely, the personal rapid transport systems. I went to Nancy in France as a guest of the Nancy City Council. If ever a city had all of the ingredients for a satisfactory type of personal rapid transport, it was that city. But I note that even at this time it has not gone on with the discussions which it was having at that time with the manufacturer and the people who were trying to market one of these systems which represents a new design and a new idea in public transport. I do not think that is the solution to the problem of urban public transport. I do not think it is the solution in Australian cities, where we are not crammed together and where the blocks of land are of a reasonable size, which means that our population is spread over a larger area than the population of similar cities in Europe.
In Nancy 14,000 people lived in one block of flats. Alongside it was another block of almost similar size. That was to have been the terminus. We do not have that type of crowding in Australia. I hope we never do. We have our individual problems as far as transport is concerned. I believe we must go for a more rapid type of transport-not the type in operation in San Francisco, but something akin to what we have at the moment. We should have much more comfortable trains and much more comfortable buses. They should be air-conditioned, as and when required. In places such as Brisbane, with its high temperatures in the summer months, there should be air-conditioned buses. At certain times in Sydney and Melbourne the same thing should apply. I think that if this Government were to give the necessary leadership we could get people out of their cars and into public transport.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 September, on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977 is, in the main, a development and a refinement of the progressive roads legislation enacted by the Labor Government. At the same time the Bill provides $ 1,425m for expenditure on road construction and road maintenance during the triennium 1977-78 to 1979-80. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill but will be directing criticism at certain aspects of it and at the Fraser Government’s priorities for funding of roads and associated transport matters. The general provisions of the Bill have been outlined by the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) in his second reading speech and in the explanatory notes that are available to honourable members. I will touch briefly on some of the provisions. I will emphasise some of the issues on which the Opposition believes this Government should have directed greater attention and provided a greater appropriation to promote a reduction in the record levels of unemployment and inflation brought about by its incompetent and irresponsible management of the economy.
The Minister has stated that the $475m made available in 1977-78 will be treated as a base figure in real terms for the remaining two years of the triennium. He has said that the adjustments are based on movements in the implicit price deflator for private investment in other b uilding and construction and are as shown in the national accounts. His statement raises two points. Firstly, despite his assurances and statement of intention, we have only his word and the Government’s expression of support that that undertaking will be carried out. Provision for the adjustment could have been and should have been written into the legislation. This may have caused some difficulties for the parliamentary draftsman, but it should have been done. Cooperation with the States and road authorities is based on confidence and trust. With a record list of broken promises by this Government, how can anyone seriously believe it? In 1975 we were told that Medibank would be maintained.
Instead, it has been massacred. We were told that there would be jobs for all. Instead, we have record and increasing unemployment which the Minister assisting the Treasurer, the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson), describes as a myth. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has said that the promises made at the 1975 election were valid only in the context in which they were made- that is, they were invalid the day after the election.
What raises serious doubt about the true intention of the Government on annual adjustments to road funds is the statement in the second speech of the Minister for Transport that the actual increase in each year will need to be finalised in the light of the overall budgetary and economic situation. That statement can be interpreted in a number of ways and is clearly ambiguous. I suggest to the Minister that he clarify it.
The second point is the Government’s choice of the implicit price deflator from the national accounts as the index on which to make the annual adjustment. It has rejected the Bureau of Roads recommendation that the road price index be used. The Bureau of Roads report for 1975 shows that inflation has had a greater effect on the cost of road construction and maintenance during the past three years than is shown by movements in the implicit price deflator. The road price index has risen at a much faster rate than the implicit price deflator from 1973 to 1976. Likewise, table 4.21 in the Bureau of Roads report shows the variation in measurement of cost increases from 1970 to 1975. That table appears at page 68 of the report . It shows the average annual growth rate from 1970 to 1975. The road price index rose by 13.6 per cent. The consumer price index rose by 9.4 per cent. The implicit gross national expenditure rose by 10.2 per cent. The implicit gross fixed capital expenditure deflator rose by 10.6 per cent.
From 1973 to 1975 the variations are more marked. In that period the road price index rose by 23.3 per cent. The consumer price index rose by 14.8 per cent. The implicit gross national expenditure deflator rose by 15.8 per cent. The implicit gross fixed capital expenditure deflator rose by 17.2 per cent. The reasons for the variations are obvious. They are: The road industry has a higher labour content and has been severely affected by price increases in bituminous products following the 1973 oil price jump. The choice of the road price index as the method by which the Bureau of Roads recommended that adjustments be made to annual provisions for road funding is important. An examination of the report shows that the very high labour content of road construction is a main factor, along with the price of bituminous products. I quote from the report:
Between 1966-67 and 1974-73 costs rose by more than 80 per cent in the industries concerned with gross fixed capital formation generally. Costs in the road industry rose by more than 100 per cent over the same period. Road costs rose even more markedly after the general upsurge in costs from 1972-73 on. Between 1971-72 and 1974-75, road casts increased some 62 per cent compared with 42 per cent for the general economy, 46 per cent for the gross fixed capital formation sector and 40 per cent for the consumer price index.
Those figures, I believe, show that the costs of road construction and road maintenance rose at a much higher degree than costs in any other section of the community. Therefore the road price index would have been a much more appropriate measure of movements in road costs than the implicit price deflator.
The Bill provides for State quotas totalling $4 18.8m for the current year, and for this amount to be indexed in subsequent years, along with grants from the Government. Authorisation clauses have been included to enable funds to be paid from either the Consoliated Revenue Fund or the Loan Fund. The Bill also provides for the establishment of planning committees to develop and oversee long term road project expenditure. These will be established where the State Minister concerned and the Federal Minister agree. This initiative was advanced in the second reading speech as something new. It is not something new. It was well under development in 1975 in the period of office of the previous Government. It will be interesting to see how this system works. It is true that there have been difficulties with regard to the States not supplying the information they were required to supply to the Federal Minister during the first triennium. But the first triennium has to be judged in the light that the legislation was pioneer legislation in many ways. It was reasonable to expect that there would be difficulties in its actual implementation and the need for relationships and greater exchange of information to develop between the States and the national Government.
In the debate on the Appropriation (Urban Public Transport) Bill I mentioned the importance of unemployment in relation to transport expenditure. I cannot go further in this debate without coming back to that point. Road construction and road maintenance are the best areas in which the Government could be acting to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy if that is what it wanted to do. Quite clearly, there has been a deliberate decision on the part of the Government to increase unemployment, to superintend expanding unemployment and to leave the economy to find its own way out of the recession that has been forced upon it. I refer to table 6.10 of appendix 7 of the Bureau of Roads report. It relates to my earlier remarks about the labour content of road construction. The table set out on page 85 of that report gives an analysis of the percentage share of direct and indirect costs of roads and road transport in dollars expended. Forty-four per cent of expenditure of direct costs on roads goes to labour. When direct and indirect costs are taken together the figure rises to 64 per cent.
If the Government wanted to stimulate the economy, if it really wanted to do something about unemployment, this is the area in which it would act. Regional pockets of unemployment could be mopped up. Areas of unemployment could be readily identified. Road construction and maintenance are permanent public works, particularly in the light of standards adopted by national government these days. Even though there would be an increase in expenditure the work would be worthwhile. It would rapidly generate employment. It would rapidly do something for the very difficult problem facing people in the regional areas who are unemployed.
It is not good enough for government supporters to say: ‘You want to spend more money’. We are not saying that. We are saying that unemployment is the first priority in this nation today. It is the most serious problem that we face. It deserves first priority in the expenditure of public moneys. While there is money for Utah, dinner sets, strawberries and VIP trips to the opera there certainly ought to be money for road construction which will reduce unemployment. The Bureau of Roads report shows that 64 per cent of every dollar spent on road construction and maintenance or in the road industry goes towards the employment of labour. The multiplier effect that would flow from that would be a substantial stimulus to the economy.
I turn now to another area in which the Government could have acted in the composition of the funds which have been provided for the current triennium. That is the MITERS program. The MITERS program could have been expanded. The project costs are relatively low on an individual basis. They are labour intensive. They enhance safety standards. They augment public transport, the matter which we were discussing in the debate on the previous Bill. Something substantial could have been done in the areas of road construction and maintenance and the MITERS program not only to improve the quality of urban public transport services but also to make road intersections, road curves and roads themselves much safer by expanding expenditure under the MITERS program. The social benefits to flow from that program are quick and worthwhile. If, as I expect, the Government introduces a mini budget later this year I suggest to the Minister for Transport that this is a prime area in which additional dollars could be spent to save human lives and stimulate employment.
The Minister’s speech referred to intrusion into State affairs, allegedly by the previous Government. What the previous Government did in respect of transport expenditure was to try to bring all the pieces together so that there was proper utilisation of the Australian Transport Advisory Council and proper utilisation of transport expenditure.
– You cut expenditure.
– The interjection by the honourable member for Cowper indicates his own ignorance of what happened to transport expenditure in the last two years. Between 1976 and 1977 this Government reduced expenditure on urban public transport by 25 per cent in real terms. The reduction in road expenditure between last year and this year in real terms was between 3 per cent and 4 per cent depending on what measure one uses. The Australian Transport Advisory Council ought to be the forum where harmony is dispensed and where responsible State Ministers and this Government can meet and develop the goodwill which is necessary to find the solutions to our road problems.
Unfortunately one reads regularly of the disputes, the brawls and the workouts which occur. I shall not refer to all the instances. This is the very antithesis of the way in which co-operative relations between State and Federal governments ought to work. It is no good the Minister in his second reading speech referring to consultation with the State governments when he delights in this place at Question Time in saying that he told the State Ministers for Transport what to do. If we are to get the kind of development that we need in the road transport area we have to have co-operation. I believe that cooperation can be achieved given goodwill and confidence.
This Bill is, as I mentioned in respect of the earlier Bill, part of what should have been an integrated transport Bill. These two Bills should have been brought together. They have not been brought together. Now road expenditure is going its own way. Urban transport is going another way. Another more important category could have been introduced to combine these two areas. It could have been the bridge between public transport expenditure and road expenditure. That is the provision of special funds for road based public transport. The Federal Government could have given recognition to the costs and disabilities incurred by road based public transport. That form of public transport is directly related to proposed expenditure for road construction and maintenance. It is also directly related to the purchase of buses and the construction of interchanges and associated infrastructure and facilities. The inclusion of the road based public transport category in the Bill would have been a very useful bridge between the two areas of responsibility. Unfortunately, that will not happen in the current triennium.
Another matter related to road construction is petrol prices. This has been referred to. I have to refer to it again because of its direct relevance and because it relates more to motor vehicles than to urban public transport. In short, what is happening is that motorists will pay more this year, more next year and a lot more in the third year to operate their cars. That is justified by the Government on the basis that it wants to reduce excessive use of petroleum products. They were the words of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in his Budget Speech. I challenge the Government to identify for the community the excessive use of petroleum products in this country. It denies knowledge that many people in the Australian community use motor vehicles because they have to use them, because there is no alternative. If we are to have an energy conservation program it must take into account factors such as increased performance and reduced fuel consumption by motor vehicles. There will need to be incentives to produce smaller engines and more energy efficient motor vehicles, smaller motor vehicles m terms of size and better utilisation of motor vehicles on our roads.
It is interesting to look at the statistics of motor vehicles on register over the past few years. At the end of June last year, there were 6.66 million motor vehicles registered in Australia. These comprised S.12 million motor cars and station wagons, 667,700 light commercial trucks, 543,800 trucks of one ton capacity and over, 29,200 buses and 295,700 motor cycles. If we look at the equivalent figures for 30 June 1972, we find that the total number of motor vehicles registered was 5.325 million. Therefore, over that four year period from June 1972 to June 1976, there has been a 25 per cent growth in the number of vehicles using our roads. Anyone who travels, for instance, on the Newcastle to Sydney road knows only too well the increase that has taken place in the number of heavy transport vehicles using that road and the increased demand for space on that road. From reports that I have studied I assume that this is the case in respect of other highways. At the end of June 1976, approximately 7 million drivers were licensed to drive motor vehicles. This is based on a reported figure of 6.157 million for all States, excluding Queensland, because Queensland does not provide any data in respect of the number of licensed motor vehicle drivers. Those figures show something of the increasing demand for road space. Road construction and road maintenance without regard to the increase in demand will not solve the problem. It will not save the human lives that could be saved by a better analysis and a better assessment of the needs of our roads based transport industries.
I noted from the Minister’s second reading speech the deletion of the beef roads category. I recall the difficulties the Minister experienced in Queensland recently in respect of the beef roads allocation. Just to highlight the confusion that exists in the Government ranks on that issue, I draw the attention of the House to a newspaper article. I have not had a chance to show it to the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite), who is concerned in that report. The article which appears in The Cattleman of July 1977 is headed: ‘No Axing on Beef Road Funds’. It seems to me that, according to the articles a Government supporter is saying exactly the opposite to what the Government and the Minister are saying in respect of beef roads. The article states:
Mr Braithwaite said there appeared to be some misunderstanding on the issue.
The article says that the honourable member has reassured cattlemen that funds for beef roads have not been chopped off. Perhaps the honourable member was not aware of the new legislation and that there is no beef road classification or beef road category in this legislation. To be fair to the Government it should be pointed out that, whilst the beef road category is to be removed, there has been an expansion in rural arterial road funding and if the State governments want to provide additional funds for beef roads, they can draw the funds from that source. The article in The Cattleman also states:
A multitude of State and Federal road classifications, each competing … for funds, had previously been in existence.
Surely the number of categories did not represent a ‘multitude’ of road classifications. The article continues:
The decision to discontinue the beef road category was consistent with general principles supported by all States that the beef road categories specified in the new legislation should be reduced.
The article went on to say. . . . there were now two or three classifications for roads instead of a multitude.
I have instanced that article simply to point out the confusion in the Government’s own ranks as to what is proposed by the Government in respect of funding for roads and road maintenance and what is actual fact.
There are more than two or three classifications of roads. Beef roads are not included and all States would not have agreed that they should be included because beef roads affect only one State- the State of Queensland. The Minister experienced difficulty in respect of the removal of the beef road classification for that State and the removal of identified funds for that area.
In conclusion, the Bill, as I said earlier, embodies in a number of ways legislation that would have been introduced had there not been a change in government. The provision of $475m this year and the method by which it is to be indexed in following years is a matter that I believe, in the interests of State transport Ministers, ought to be clarified by the Federal Minister for Transport and should have been included in the legislation. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
-The legislation that we are considering broadly falls into three categories. The first main section of the Bill deals with the national highways program. Under this program the Minister for Transport declares roads that are national highways or national commerce roads. These roads are roads, as defined in the Bill, that link two or more State capital cities, or a State capital city and Canberra, a State capital city and Darwin, or Brisbane and Cairns or Hobart and Burnie. These national highways are designated to be of national significance- and indeed they are.
The legislation provides for the allocation of funds for the construction and maintenance of these highways. The Minister specifies standards for roads classified as national highways and he may obtain information from the States as necessary regarding the use or likely use of such roads. Therefore, not only do we in fact have a national priority but also the wishes of the State governments are considered. The Minister determined the works to be carried out and the order of those works. He also determines other administrative arrangements regarding the submission of national highways programs that come from the States for approval. He approves the programs for projects and under this legislation he may approve a multi-stage proposal. Therefore instead, as has been the case, of a mad rush at the end of a financial year to complete programs with the result that often funds are wasted the Minister is capable of extending beyond one year works that were proposed to be carried out in that year. This will give State governments and local authorities- the Bill will apply to all levels of government- a capacity to allow for wet weather, stoppages or shortages-in short, anything that interferes with their works program.
The flexibility of this legislation is one of its most outstanding features. The Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) must be commended on being so understanding and co-operative with works authorities responsible for road maintenance and construction. Of course, the Minister has the capacity to revoke or modify notifications and approvals for national highways, should he feel that necessary.
The next section contained in this Bill is the section dealing broadly with arterial roads. Arterial roads are basically highways and main roads that fall within the State jurisdiction and are the responsibility of State governments. Under this legislation State governments will submit proposals to the Federal government. When the proposals are approved the State sets its own priorities in respect of the expenditure of funds. The approach that has been adopted by the present Government in this respect is quite different for that adopted by the previous Government. The House may remember that, in 1976, proposals were introduced by the present Minister which allowed for flexibility and for a priority setting technique to be adopted by State authorities in respect of road construction and maintenance. State authorities need not only flexibility but a capacity to vary the allocation of funds to different categories of roads within their own system and also to allocate funds as between maintenance and construction according to what they think is the more important for their people.
State governments are required by this legislation to spend part of their funds in the construction and maintenance of State highways or main roads. An important factor in the legislation as it is now framed is that the Commonwealth cooperates not only with the planning pan of the program but also in the contribution towards the funding of the program. The third section of road categories outlined in this legislation is local roads. These are urban and rural roads which are looked after and maintained solely by local authorities. Local government thoughout Australia has a very great responsibility for a very considerable mileage of roads in the country. In fact it has been put by the Local Government Association of Australia that local government is responsible for about 83.S per cent of the nation’s roads. Whether this is an accurate figure or not, the House will agree that the capacity of local roads to handle local commerce and traffic is a vital part of the nation’s day to day life. The local roads program is produced for the Commonwealth by the State authorities. State governments, together with local government, set the pattern of expenditure for local roads. These priorities are given to the Federal Government and approved by the Federal Ministers as presented by State authorities.
All States in Australia have a very different approach to the funding of road programs for local government. Some States, such as my State of New South Wales, provide no funds whatsoever to assist local government with its roads program. Other States adopt techniques to assist local government in its roads programs. I would encourage my State to take a more positive attitude to the significant and increasingly important role that local government is playing in the community. It is claimed by State governments that it is not possible under existing legislation for them to provide funds for local government. A simple stroke of the pen is all that would be required to change that legislation and I think it should be done. However, it is difficult under our system to ascertain exactly the amount of funds that are applied by State governments to local government. This year there have been changes in a number of States. The House will be aware of the changes made by the South Australian Government. Local authorities in that State this year are receiving no additional funds for their local roads. However, the contribution to local authorities from the Federal Government has increased by something like 80 per cent. It would seem that there has been a fiddle of the books if the South Australian Government can get away with a proposition under which it is withdrawing it support to local government.
– Perhaps there should be direct funding.
-One of the most likely propositions that needs to be considered by the Government and by this Parliament is whether there should be a change in the structure, such as that suggested by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson), of the way in which funding may take place to local government. People in local communities need to know where the resources are corning from. They need to assess the priorities placed on the local amenity by the various levels of government. It is not possible, under the present system in many States of Australia where funds are provided by State governments, for anybody to know what funds are being provided and from where they are coming. As I have indicated, in South Australia, despite an 80 per cent increase in funds to urban and local roads, it is not possible for the people there to know that there has been any increase.
All honourable members and all representatives of the community need to be aware of the definition of roads in this legislation. Included in that definition is a road sign, traffic control equipment, street lighting equipment, a vehicular ferry, a bridge or tunnel, including a bridge or tunnel for the use of pedestrians, a path for the use of persons riding bicycles, a ramp provided to facilitate the launching of boats, and vehicular access from a road to a boat ramp. Honourable members are often told that we deny funds to many areas of State and local government because of definitions in legislation. This certainly is not so in this case. The definitions are broad. In fact if State government wished they could build boat ramps. The Redlands Municipal Council in Brisbane, for instance, has been denied funds and has been told that it cannot get funds. If the State Government were to set a priority for that area it would receive funds. There is no doubt that State governments have a great capacity to do far more than they admit.
The main changes to this legislation are set out in the memorandum attached to the Bill. The main administrative change has been the establishment of planning committees, if approved by the Federal and State Ministers, as an alternative to existing procedures for the approval of programs which is carried out by correspondence between Ministers. The establishment of planning committees will allow greater understanding at both levels.
A new category of roads called national commerce roads is included in this legislation. That is a very apt description of roads to which Commonwealth funds will apply. I would press on the Minister for Transport the need for examination of export capacity not only within country areas but in urban areas so that there can be a steady, uninterrupted and efficient flow of export goods through country areas to city areas and into ports and vessels for shipping overseas. One of the huge costs that our exporters incur relates to the problems of moving goods around the cities, in and out of warehouses, on and off vehicles and on and off vessels. This category of national commerce road is a very interesting one to consider in view of the great manufacturing and primary producing industries in this country.
Omitted from this legislation .are special provisions in the Roads Grants Act relating to the submission of programs for urban arterial roads to the Minister. The Minister does not require in detail the facts that were required by the previous Minister in the previous Government. Included in this Bill is a clause allowing the Minister to seek some information if he feels it is warranted. In view of the circumstances related to the allocation of funds to local government in South Australia, I think that the Minister would be perfectly in order in requesting exact information as to what has happened to funds. Indeed, he might even consider extending that view to some other States.
What the State governments want from the Commonwealth is broadly outlined in the Bureau of Roads report for 1975. That report contained propositions put by States to the Federal Government of that day. I will read only one of those propositions. It is set out on page 41 under paragraph 3.47. The report states:
Benefits that can be obtained from close co-operation between all the existing Road Authorities in joint Commonwealth-State efforts should be directed towards achieving solutions; resources should not be dissipated in non-productive studies nor should any attempt be made to duplicate efforts already made by the States.
That proposition put forward by the States of Australia and contained in the Bureau of Roads report has been carried out by this Government. All the propositions contained in that section, the demands and requests to the previous Government by State governments, have been followed and paid close attention to by this Government. The Government and it supporters can be proud of the change that has taken place in the relationship between various levels of government but particularly between Federal and State governments.
In relation to local government the Bureau of Roads report at section 3.48 identified one issue of major concern to local government authorities as ‘the effects of inflation on their road functions and their inability to combat this problem as it occurs because they derive funds from their own taxing source only annually’. The Government has overcome substantially that problem too. Part of the huge cost placed on local government during the time of the previous Administration was the effect of inflation. This matter is also part of the good management program of this Government; it has been successful in reducing inflation. It has complied with the wishes of local authorities who have responded. The Bureau of Roads also stated in its report that another issue of major concern to local government authorities was ‘insufficient recognition that they are directly part of the road industry and are responsible for the greatest length of the road systems’. That has been recognised by the present Government which over the last two years has increased dramatically the funding to local authorities for their road programs. Local government recognises that it is a third partner in the process of providing transport facilities in Australia. This Government was the first government to adopt such a clear-minded approach to recognising the role of local government.
The Bureau of Roads also stated in 1975 that a third issue of major concern to local government authorities was, ‘given the magnitude of their road responsibilities and the many other calls on their own revenue, the inadequacy of financial assistance that they receive from the other levels of government’. Again this Government has moved to increase dramatically assistance to local government. One could compare this performance with that of the previous Minister. The Financial Review in a report of Monday 8 September 1975 stated:
Indeed, as Mr Jones himself has conceded on previous occasions, transport problems in our major cities have almost reached the confrontation stage.
The previous Minister did nothing about them.
– That is a he. You know that is a lie.
-Order! The honourable member for Newcastle must not interject in that way. I ask him to keep his peace.
– Why does he not tell the truth?
-The honourable member for Mitchell is entitled to his opinion just as is the honourable member for Newcastle who, I think, has been known to act similarly.
– I hope that none of that was recorded. In the same newspaper the then Prime Minister, when sending good wishes to a conference in Sydney, is reported to have said:
The Australian Government has given a high priority to the development of modern transport services. Transport is a prime factor in the cost structure of industry and in the creation of an efficient and prosperous society.
We know what happened to that priority. Inflation beat all the good intentions and lack of capacity to manage killed the bright ideas that were corning forward at that time. There has been a substantial change in resource allocation for roads in Australia over the last few years. The Commonwealth’s share of all outlays has fallen from 2.9 per cent in 1969-70 to 2.3 per cent last year while the States’ allocation of resources to road funds has fallen from 5.3 per cent in 1969-70 to 3.7 per cent last year. This means that at various levels of government there has been a declining allocation of resources to road programs. While federal authorities cannot be completely excused, the role of the State authority is paramount. Indeed, State authorities have neglected local government in New South Wales. Within my own area I am pleased to find that the Baulkham Hills Shire Council this year will be receiving $215,000 under this program while the Windsor Shire Council will be receiving $84,000, the Parramatta City Council $234,000 and the Holyrod Municipal Council $130,000. These are all urban councils. There has been a massive change in the attitude towards and consideration of local government and I only hope that State governments will reassess their priorities in road allocations.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (9.45)- I agree with the opening remarks of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) in his second reading speech to the States Grants (Roads) Bill. He said:
The Bill is a major item of legislation and involves a number of fairly complex issues.
If anything I think the Minister was understating the importance of the legislation. In spite of making a seven page second reading speech he put out an eight page memorandum for which he should be congratulated because he still managed to hide some very important facts. The result of all those pages of information was that one still remained fairly confused unless one gave them long and detailed examination. I believe that it was meant to be that way. No longer do we in this House see Bills which mean what they say, Bills which can be analysed and digested. They always seem to leave room for the government to manoeuvre. A good example of this was the rubbery Budget. We were told that no more fiscal changes were to take place but within a couple of days we see that expenditure has gone up by $10Om there and $10Om somewhere else. From reading this Bill one would get the same impression; it leaves plenty of room for fiscal changes both up and down. The second reading speech states that the legislation provides for a basic grant of $475m in the first year to be indexed in real terms so that the grant will remain constant. However, in the very next paragraph of the second reading speech the Minister stated:
This adjustment may be varied on account of special factors which cannot presently be foreseen or which may not be adequately reflected in the proposed index. Details of this particular aspect are to be finalised in discussions with the States. These discussions will also be useful of course in helping to avoid any misunderstandings about the indexation arrangements.
A little later in that speech the Minister stated:
Furthermore, I must also point out to the House that the proposed indexation arrangements will provide a guaranteed minimum. As the States already know through advice from the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth’s commitment is to provide funds at least equivalent in real terms to the 1977-78 allocations.
The Opposition would have no argument with that if it stopped there but the Minister then added:
The actual increase each year will need to be finalised in the light of the overall budgetary and economic situation.
So here is the old Budget complex coming out again. One does not know where it is going to finish. The facts and figures prove that it is not a substantial effort on the part of the Government because later in his second reading speech the Minister said: . Total funds to be appropriated for roads will be $ 1 ,425m an increase of almost S200m above the grants provided in the triennium just ended. This is a very substantial effort on the part of the Government and it signifies our determination to stay with our proper responsibilities with regard to Australia’s road network.
If we look at the facts and figures it is very hard to find where this substantial effort has been made by the Government. In my opinion it does not signify determination to stay with the Commonwealth Government’s proper responsibility with regard to the Australian road network. As a matter of fact, I believe it indicates the very opposite. The $l,425m mentioned by the Minister m his second reading speech represents an increase of $200 m on the previous triennium. So it is $200m on $1,225 which would be the figure if we took the $200m off the figure which was given. That represents a less than 17 per cent increase in three years.
I was informed by the Library staff that inflation has gone up by more than 49 per cent in those three years. Not only that, but as the honourable member for Shortland has pointed out road costs have gone up considerably more than has inflation. I ask: Where do we get this substantial effort? Where do we get this determination to live with the proper responsibility?
They are nice words but we have to have a little bit of evidence to go with them. What an indictment of this Government. There has been a 33 per cent decrease in three years and we still have to live with the allocation for another three years.
There is no doubt about the Bill being complex. The Minister managed to hide these facts in a seven page second reading speech and eight pages of explanatory notes. But I believe that the Bill will be shown m an even worse light if we turn to the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads titled: ‘Roads in Australia, 1975’. This document deals with expenditure necessary to bring Australian roads up to a proper standard of safety and engineering. It also deals with what the Bureau considers is warranted to be spent having regard to the present condition of the roads and our present economic situation. I refer to page 208 where the Bureau gives what it thinks the Government’s warranted contribution is over three years. It points out that in 1978, $538m should be spent. In 1979 the amount is $626m and for 1980 the amount is $7 13m. This is a total of $ 1,877m expressed in 1974 figures. If we add the 50 per cent for inflation we find that, in real terms, this amounts to $2,777m. So that is a recommendation from the Bureau of Roads of the amount warranted, not the amount necessary, to bring our roads up to a decent standard, under the present economic circumstances. At the bottom of the page the report states:
When considering resource allocation it must be remembered that the analysis used for the warranted program sets the amount for a roads program which can be supported on economic grounds for the five-year period 1976-77 to 1 980-8 1 . All projects in the program would yield discounted benefits greater than the discounted cost of undertaking . . .
There we have information from the Bureau of Roads telling us that if this amount were spent there would be a return of much more than the amount spent. I do not want to keep referring to this report because I shall run out of time but it is well worth reading. It points out that a program of road construction recommended for the five years 1976-77 to 1980-81 will achieve benefits 3.9 times the cost. In other words, $2,988m spent over five years will return a benefit of $1 1,610m. Of course, this is expressed in 1974 figures so the cost will be much higher now and so will the return. This information is found in the report of the Bureau of Roads. We find that in a higher labour job creating area where the returns are 3.9 times greater than the investment this Government shows a lack of concern and courage.
Of course, this cuts back further and further even though the Bureau of Roads points out that
Australian roads, with very few exceptions- this is in the report-are unsafe, inadequate, obsolete and lagging a long way behind industrial and technological developments when seen in comparable countries. This is not a good thing to say after 23 years of Liberal-National Country Party Government. One does not have to travel far from Canberra to realise the truth of the statements I am making. One only has to travel from Canberra to Yass or from Canberra to Goulburn to see a good example. Can anyone on the other side of the House point to anywhere in the world where we can see such shocking roads leading to the national capital? I do not think any honourable member could do that. I say that Australian roads are a disgrace. If the Minister were to put out another 50 page memorandum he would not fool the people who have to drive on the roads as they have to put up with the consequences. Of course, if we go out into the country the conditions are much worse.
The Australian Labor Party introduced a grant for the parents of isolated children because we wanted every child in Australia to have access to educational opportunities. But this Government allowed the roads to deteriorate to such an extent that half the number of school buses are bogged down and the children cannot get to the schools. On the one hand the Government makes grants available to educate children and on the other hand it denies them that opportunity because of the roads on which the buses have to run. In all the documents the Minister puts out he should be telling us what the Government is going to do about things like this.
Let us look further into my electorate at Ivanhoe and some of those places. There is not one sealed road out of those towns. What a shocking thing in this modern day and age to leave towns like that, cut off from medical supplies and everything else because there is not a sealed road out of the town. I could cite many other areas. I do not want to belabour the point but I point out that the Whitlam Government had planned to introduce an integrated transport budget for this triennium. This Government has not done that. It has introduced a separate Bill for urban public transport. I suggest that it has done this to confuse people so that they cannot use figures and make a comparison with what happened previously. It is the old trickery at which the Government is so good.
I think the Government should concentrate on high level employment. That is what the Labor Government was going to do in some of these works. It was going to create employment opportunities. Road construction and maintenance are labour intensive activities. This was an opportunity for the Government, which is talking about being worried over the youth of this country which is out of work, to do something about that. But once again the Government has fallen down on the job. It is no good talking about Khemlani and those things. People have heard that so often. They want the facts. They want jobs. The Government talks about package deals it has given to the unions. It said: ‘We have a package deal for the unions’, but it took all the jobs away. The Government said that we would have an investment-led recovery. The business people got the money all right but we did not get the jobs. I have never seen a trade unionist accept a package deal like that.
Although urban public transport is not as labour intensive as manufacturing industry, increased expenditure in that area would have a multiplier effect on that industry, particularly heavy engineering and rolling stock manufacture. Urban public transport and road expenditures are interrelated. Therefore, co-ordination of expenditure programs is essential. But we see this Government introducing Bills to split them up again. Energy conservation in transport is another important factor. We have a greater need now for co-ordination of transport expenditure. The Minister makes capital of the need for co-operation with the States. However, the Australian Transport Advisory Council meetings have ended in a shambles, with name calling and the making of threats by some States to withdraw from ATAC. Major critics of the Minister for Transport have included the Victorian Minister for Transport, Joe Rafferty, and the Western Australia Premier, Sir Charles Court.
The Minister states that the value of the 1977-78 funds will be maintained in real terms. But the Bill does not include provision for indexation. We have only the Minister’s assurance on that. I think this will be like the statement by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). How can we rely on it? How long was it before the amounts cited by the Treasurer went up another $lOOm? Unfortunately, on this occasion I think it will be a case of the amount going down. That is what we are worried about. I want to emphasise that road costs have increased at a faster rate than the implicit price deflator. The figures for the past triennium will prove this. The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) has pointed this out already.
Petrol price increases will yield another $ 1 80m for the Government this year. It could use some of that money to create employment. The Government has asked us where the money would come from. It could have obtained another $24m from Utah when it lifted the coal tax. The Government asked us to tell it where the money was going to come from. It could use that money to create some jobs.
The Minister ought to have another look at this. He ought to view it in the perspective of all the problems facing Australia. I have outlined an opportunity for creating jobs. If the Government is sincere its supporters should go back to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and say: ‘The Opposition has told me what to do. There are plenty of roads out there. Work on them would create jobs. We will get the kids back to school. We will not have them bogged down in the country. They can do their studies. We will have a better road system as well. We will do as the Bureau tells us. We will gain a 3.9 per cent increases on our investment’.
Notice of Intention to present a Bill
The Acting Deputy Clerk- I have received from the Minister Assisting the Treasurer a notice of his intention to present at the next sitting a States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill.
-The Bill before the House is the States Grants (Roads) Bill 1977. By way of this Bill the Commonwealth will contribute funds for the construction and maintenance of roads in Australia. The payments will be made pursuant to section 96 of the Constitution as non-repayable interest free advances to the State governments. These funds form part only of the total contribution made by States and local governments for roads throughout Australia. For each of the three years the Australian Government will provide $475m. It should be noted, however, that the Government has undertaken to ensure that the sum of $475m in 1977-78 will be repeated in the two ensuing years in real terms. The actual increase in the next two financial years will be determined in a general budgetary context but will be at least equivalent in value to the current year’s funds.
I must refer here to the comments made by the honourable member for Darling (Mr FitzPatrick) who quoted selectively from the second reading speech of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) in relation to the indexation of grants for 1978-79 and 1979-80. But the honourable member omitted to quote one significant paragraph, which I should like to quote. The Minister stated:
Generally I would not anticipate any drastic alterations to the adjustments derived by use of the price deflator proposed and the overall effect of the proposed arrangements will be a substantial basic guarantee to the States.
It is worth while noting the emphasis which should be placed on the word ‘guarantee’, as a guarantee has been given by the Minister to the States for those two further years. Honourable members will be aware that the State governments will be required by this legislation to match the Commonwealth expenditure on a quota basis. To the $475m from the Commonwealth the States will be required to contribute under this quota $4 18.8m. Payments have been made to the States for road expenditure since 1923. In that year $lm was paid to the States on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It is obvious that since that time the Commonwealth contribution has increased substantially. It is true also that State and local government contributions for roads have increased substantially since 1923.
In this speech I shall deal only with local government responsibility for roads in Victoria. In 1975 the old Bureau of Roads recommended that the Commonwealth contribution towards road funds be 33 per cent, the State government contribution be 36 per cent and the local government contribution 31 per cent. In 1975 the Federal Government, with a $ 15,264m income, paid 32.8 per cent of road costs in Victoria. The State Government, with an income of $2,965m paid 35.9 per cent of road costs in Victoria that year. Local government, with an Australian income of $852m, paid 31.3 per cent of the road costs in Victoria that year. The municipal Association of Victoria suggested a plan- the MAV planwhich required the Commonwealth to contribute 50 per cent, the State Government 35 per cent and local government only 15 per cent. In support of its plan the Municipal Association of Victoria argued that municipalities could expand road building without increasing rates.
The Minister, in announcing the 1977-78 funding for roads, identified the problems which local government had been experiencing in the past in coping with its responsibility for roads, particularly in the rural arterial, rural local and urban local road categories. Accordingly the Government increased the funds for rural arterial roads in Victoria by 158 per cent, funds for the rural local roads category by 78 per cent and funds for the urban local roads category by 93 per cent. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard two tables, one which sets out the Government’s untied grants to local government by way of the 1.52 per cent share of personal income tax collections and the second, which sets out the road funds allocated in Victoria.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The tables read as follows-
-The intention of the Commonwealth in allocating substantially increased funds for local government road responsibility is very clear. However, in Victoria the local government authorities have not received percentage increases in the categories to which I have referred. In some cases the councils have not received sufficient funds to meet increased costs of construction and maintenance. This situation arises because the State Government has chosen to allocate its quota of funds away from local government into other road categories. Let me make it clear that the State Government had every right to do so. However, I make the point to ensure that local government authorities are aware that the Commonwealth Government’s support for the local government road funding has been frustrated by the State Government’s reallocation. Funding for roads in the local government categories has fallen away over the past four years. Local government does not have the same capacity to raise finance as have the State and Federal governments. The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads gives an excellent summary of the problems of local government in its report. In paragraph 3.48 the report states:
The issues of major concern to the Local Government Authorities are:
the effects of inflation on their road functions and their inability to combat this problem as it occurs because they derive funds from their own taxing source only annually.
insufficient recognition that they are directly part of the road industry and are responsible for the greatest length of the road systems; and,
given the magnitude of their road responsibilities and the many other calls on their own revenue, the inadequacy of financial assistance that they receive from the other levels of Government.
The increase in cost of road construction has been more rapid that that of inflation . . .
The position of local government is further heightened if we consider that municipalities have direct responsibility for 83.5 per cent of the nation’s 822,000 kilometres of roads. The Australian Council of Local Government Associations submits in its road policy for 1977 that the Commonwealth’s share of funding has fallen from 2.9 per cent of all outlays in 1969-70 to 2.3 per cent in 1975-76. On the other hand, the States’ share has fallen from 5.3 per cent in 1969-70 to 3.7 per cent in 1974-75. Despite the restraints on public spending and our desire to control inflation, the Government has increased Commonwealth spending on roads by $38.3m in comparison with its allocation last year. Honourable members will recall the terms of the Budget with regard to payments to the States. The Treasurer said, in Budget Paper No. 1:
In line with the offer made by the Prime Minister at the Premiers’ Conference in July, provision has been made for the States to receive $4,336. lm under the tax sharing arrangements in respect of 1 977-78.
I note that this is over $90m more than the estimate of what the States would have been entitled to under the tax sharing legislation.
Despite the increase in the funds made available to the State governments and despite the fact that the Victorian Government completed the last financial year with a surplus, it has refused to take note of the urgent need for funds in those categories of roads for which local government is responsible. The Victorian Minister has chosen to explain the position of the State Government in the following terms: … in order to ensure a responsible approach to Victoria’s road requirements overall by preserving a balance in road funding and to maintain the road assets already in place, the State Government has been forced to allocate its own funds so as to redress the obvious inequalities of the Commonwealth funding.
Unfortunately, that statement is rather typical of the State Government’s spokesman whose appetite for Federal funds can never be satiated. One must ask the question on behalf of the 81 1 incorporated local government authorities whether all governments take an objective view on the subject of road funding. Roads falling within certain categories are generally the responsibility of one or other of the three spheres of government. There are some overlaps. For example, national roads are the responsibility of the Commonwealth and local and rural arterial roads are in general terms the responsibility of local government authority. Roads form one part of the total resources of our community. In the total area, Commonwealth, State and local governments have shared duties and responsibilities. Might it not be prudent therefore to define clearly the areas of responsibility for particular road categories and for the Commonwealth to make whatever arrangements are necessary to ensure that local government, for example, receives the funds allocated to it in the proportions determined by the Commonwealth. That does not represent a breakdown in federalism; it is a recognition that local government is the third tier of government in Australia with a hefty responsibility for road maintenance and construction.
The fiscal entitlements of local government should be assured rather than be subjected to the whims of its two government partners. It is not beyond the wit of government to compute the means by which local government receives a percentage of the gross national receipts for distribution in road categories, pursuant to the expert analyses of the respective States Grants Commissions. The Commonwealth Government need not and, indeed, should not be involved in inquiring into detailed priorities or programs of works to be undertaken by local councils. Detailed work and planning must be left in the hands of local government and road board authorities in each State.
This Bill provides for the establishment of planning committees. The Federal Minister will consult State Ministers on that initiative. It will be up to the States to implement the terms of the Bill. The planning committees may be established as an alternative to the present system of program approval. If that is done, local government must be represented on those committees and receive an entitlement to membership proportional to its area of responsibility. I commend the terms of this Bill to the House but in conclusion I register my concern that the position of local government in the total road funding structure be guaranteed.
– In the few minutes remaining to me to take part in the discussion on the States Grants (Roads) Bill, I want to confine my remarks to a few particular points rather than to develop a complete transport policy or to emphasise how roads should fit into a transport policy. Obviously the Government does not have a transport policy. The former Labor Government was endeavouring to draw up an overall transport policy so that transport would be looked upon as having one identity rather than as being a series of transport modes, including aviation, rail, road, and sea transport. A country such as Australia cannot afford that sort of luxury.
I regret very much that the Minister for Transport (Mt Nixon) has not proceeded with the Inter-State Commission. I have an idea that he would have liked to have the Inter-State Commission in existence today. The Bill which proposed the establishment of the Commission was introduced by me, but it finished up the Minister’s Bill. We accepted the amendments which the Minister proposed because he allowed the Labor Government to have what it wanted, namely, a transport interstate commission. The sooner this country gets an interstate commission the sooner we will get a much better transport system under which the mode of transport which needs assistance will receive it; the mode of transport which is most economical will receive the assistance and the support of the Government To continue with the hit and miss policy that is being pursued today and which was pursued over the 23 years that governments of the political complexion of the present Government were in office can lead only to disaster for this country. We need an efficient, economically operated transport system because of the large part that the cost of transport plays in the overall price structure in this country. Once again I regret that the Government has not done something positive about putting together a genuine, integrated transport system with oversight by an interstate commission which has the power to issue directions as to what should be done and to give very good, sound advice to the Australian Minister for Transport, whoever he may be. In that way we could overcome the situation as exists in Tasmania in which we fiddle around with the problems associated with transport and do a lot of pork barrelling, not only in the transport area but in other areas.
I come back to the Bill. I have not paid the Minister the courtesy of showing him a table I have here and which I shall seek to have incorporated in Hansard. I did not know that I would get to speak in the debate. The table shows the amounts of money that have been allocated over the last 23 years for roads and the amounts of money collected in fuel tax. I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
Compiled at request by the Statistics Group of the Legislative Research Service from information provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and from various issues of their publication Overseas Trade (8.11) and from various issues Commonwealth Payments to or for the States.
-I thank the Minister for his courtesy. The table also shows, incidentally, a percentage calculated according to the amount of money allocated and the amount of road funds collected. Whenever we discuss a Bill concerned with roads I think that that sort of information should be brought clearly to the attention of the community as a whole. Attention should also be drawn to the amount of money being raised by way of petrol tax, to use the name by which it is commonly known, and the amount of money that is allocated for roads. I do not know whether the Minister is still proposing to go ahead with the roll-on or roll-over program rather than to pursue the old policies that we pursued. Under those policies a program for three years or five years, whatever it may be, is drawn up. At the end of that time everything comes to a halt, and the States and the Commonwealth then get into a hassel over what will happen in the following three years. The result is that interim legislation is introduced into this place, and rushed through the Parliament. That is the situation which arose when we introduced an interim Bill to give the States money for the first quarter of this financial year. That was done back in June 1977. 1 hope the Minister will use the planning provisions of section 1 8, 1 think it is, to give that sort of continuity to the States so that at least they, as the road constructing authorities, will know where they are going and what moneys they have. The economic planning can be well prepared in advance so that they can get on with the job.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is the amount of money that has been provided for national highways. I am delighted that the Government is still adhering to the Labor Government’s policy of the national Government accepting its responsibilities in planning, financing and developing national highways. It is the responsibility of the Australian Government to make sure that this country has a genuine national highway No. 1. A few years ago I took the time to drive from Cairns to Brisbane. For three parts of that journey- I refuse to call it a road- it was a series of potholes. The section from Townsville to Cairns in particular is a onetrack road which is in one holy hell of a mess. That is the only way it can be described. That members representing the area are doing nothing about it is beyond my comprehension. I am pleased that the Government has done something positive about it by including in the national highways program a reasonable amount of money for it. No doubt the States will be complaining that they are not getting sufficient for their local roads or for their urban roads. The facts are that this Parliament is a national parliament, and it should have a national transport policy. If we are to have national roads, someone must build them. The way previous governments were progressing with the Hume Highway prior to 1972 -at the rate that New South Wales and Victoria were upgrading the road- I think we worked it out at that time that it would take them something like 130 years to upgrade it. With the amount of money that is provided now, at least they will be able to get on with the job.
I am pleased to note that the Government has allocated a reasonable amount for the Minor Traffic Engineering and Road Safety Improvements Program. This was one of the Labor Government s initiatives in road safety, to make sure that adequate money was being provided for road safety improvements. I give the previous Liberal-Country Party Government credit for agreeing to the setting up of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety. It was re-appointed during our term of government. It has been re-appointed again. I think that Committee is doing a good job in bringing to the attention of the Government various aspects of road safety.
I do not know whether the Minister will avail himself of his right to reply, but I would like from him some explanation on one matter that concerns me. Why has New South Wales been allocated only $3.3m, when Victoria has been allocated $3.5m and Queensland has been allocated $2.6m? New South Wales is the most populous State, with the largest concentrations of populations in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, as against Melbourne with, to a lesser degree, Bendigo and Ballarat. It seems strange to me that Victoria should be getting more money than New South Wales. We tried to apportion the money on the needs of the States, without playing politics in any way whatsoever. I would like some explanation as to why Victoria is entitled to $200,000 more for road safety improvements than what New South Wales has been allocated.
The other point I make is that the Labor Government was criticised because it reduced its allocation to the States for rural local roads. It is true that we did. We created a new category called urban local roads which, I am pleased to say, the Government has maintained and for which it has allocated a reasonable amount. We thought we had an understanding with the States that they would pick up their responsiblities in relation to rural local roads and that we would withdraw from that area and concentrate on national roads. I believe it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to concentrate on national highways, their maintenance and construction, major commercial and export roads and the construction of main roads in the form of urban and arterial highways; the States should pick up the responsibilities for the local urban roads or the rural urban roads. They did not. They left us holding the bag, so to speak. The Government has got square with them now. It has provided large sums of money for their rural local roads but has cut back the States on their other arterial roads. The Government has got square with them in another area. I note that point.
The Government brags about the amount of money it has provided to the States for rural local roads. Do not forget that it has cut hell out of the allocation for urban arterial roads and, to some degree, the rural arterial roads. It is a question of push-pull. In reality, when one compares the amounts of money that were made available for roads by the Labor Government with the amount that is being made available by this Government, taking into consideration the rate of inflation, the position is that less money, in real terms today, is being allocated for roads. I adhere to my undertaking that I would conclude by 10.25 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) obtained the suspension of Standing Orders to permit him to move a motion for the incorporation in Hansard of a document referred to earlier by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier). During the debate which preceded the vote of the House on his motion I reminded the House that the incorporation of unread material in Hansard is a matter on which the Speaker may exercise discretion. Even though the House may agree to the incorporation of a document, it is the practice for the Speaker to reject any document which is illegible, is so voluminous that its incorporation would unduly delay the production of the daily Hansard or would be too costly to produce.
The question of whether it contains expressions which, if used in debate, would be regarded as unparliamentary is a different issue. The Speaker may exercise discretion when the incorporation is by leave, but when, as in this case, the House by motion, after suspension of Standing Orders, votes for the incorporation of a document, the discretion which the Speaker may exercise on that consideration is overridden. I propose to bring this latter point before the Standing Orders Committee.
I have examined the document which was the subject of the motion moved by the honourable member for Mackellar. Certain parts of the typescript are illegible. Other parts carry handwritten emendations or alternative phraseology. I have discussed the matter with the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and he has assured me that the document would not be accepted by the
Government Printer for inclusion in Hansard, on the basis of technical considerations. On these grounds I have directed that it be not incor- p orated in Hansard. I have the document, which give to the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair).
– I table the document.
- Mr Speaker-
- Mr Speaker-
-The time is now 30 seconds before 10.30 p.m. I do not think both honourable gentlemen could say what they wanted to say in 30 seconds. With the concurrence of both honourable gentlemen, I propose to put the question that the House do now adjourn in a couple of seconds from now.
-On behalf of the Opposition I thank you, Mr Speaker, for your attention to this matter. I make it clear that never at any stage was the Opposition given an opportunity to look at that document.
-The honourable gentleman and his colleagues made that point clear this afternoon.
– I think it is important for the safe conduct of matters in this House that at all times when leave is sought for a document to be incorporated in Hansard some consideration should be given to the document. This would have saved a lot of time today. We have no fear of the document and no objection to its being tabled. We did not know what was in it. It is all very well for an honourable member to ask for leave for a document to be incorporated. Proper courtesy demands that it should at least be shown to the Opposition. Mr Speaker, I thank you for your deliberations in the matter. I think they add to parliamentary conduct in this chamber.
– I believe it is important that this document be included in Hansard or at least those portions of it which are fully legible. I have read the document. The main points in it are fully legible. There are certain points at which the document is hard to read or at which there could be an alternative interpretation. Those points are not vital points. The document itself is of the greatest consequence.
-Order! I will not permit the honourable gentleman to debate the issue of the document. I have given my ruling.
– With all due respect, Mr Speaker, I am anxious that the House consider how best its own resolution should be carried out. The House has given a definite direction. It is not just a matter -
– Order! I will not permit the honourable member for Mackellar to canvass my ruling.
– I take a point of order on the same matter. I have a more legible copy of the document. I am prepared to make it available for the purpose of incorporation in Hansard. I stress that the same document was available to the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) -
-I cannot accept a substitute copy of the document.
– I just want it to operate -
-The honourable gentleman will not speak while I am speaking or I will have to deal with him. I identified the document which was the subject of the motion this afternoon. It is that document on which I have given a ruling.
Purchase of Commonwealth Cars- Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan-Prime Minister’s Visit to the Western Suburbs of Sydney-Local Government Elections-Kindergartens in Sydney
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-Yesterday at question time I asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) who represents the Minister for Administrative Services the following question:
In view of the Government’s stated interest in conserving Australian energy, which was repeated here today by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, can he explain why the Government has just purchased a fleet of cars for the servicing of Parliament House which are guzzling petrol at the rate of 1 1 to 1 2 miles per gallon?
Mr Street replied:
I do not know where the honourable member got his figures for the petrol consumption of the cars.
From the Commonwealth drivers themselves.
The Minister said that he would check the matter out. This morning a report in the Daily Telegraph stated:
A spokesman for the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Withers, who manages the government car fleet, denied the claims.
He said the Government was moving away from eight cylinder cars into more economical six and four cylinder vehicles.
The Fairmonts were bought recently to replace Ford Fairlanes the spokesman said.
Then Senator Withers made the stupid sort of remark that we have come to expect from him. I checked with the Commonwealth car drivers to find out whether what I had been told was true. What happened before was that I noticed that there were a number of new cars in the Commonwealth pool. I asked the drivers what they were like. Three of them said the same thing on different days. They said that they were beautiful cars but they had to fill them up at least twice a day. They had to go back to the bowsers and fill them up because they were doing 1 1 to 12 miles per gallon. That was the basis of my question in the House.
Today I asked two drivers about the cars. They both made the same statement as was made the other day. They said the cars were consuming petrol at a rate of between 1 1 and 14 miles per gallon by comparison with the previous cars which consumed petrol at 23 miles per gallon. Perhaps this is a minor issue. It seems to be fairly insignificant. It is significant because this Government at the moment is apparently basing its whole uranium policy on the shortage of energy. The President of the United States of America, Mr Carter, saw fit in April this year to issue an energy statement in which he made a significant attempt to remove from American roads vehicles which consumed a considerable amount of petrol. I quote from an article in the Australian of 22 April 1977 which referred to the energy policy introduced by President Carter. It stated:
The tax would begin at $52 on cars that get 18 miles to the gallon and progress to $449 on cars that are less fuelefficient.
Each year the efficiency standard would go up by one mile per gallon and the tax would increase.
At the same time buyers of 1978 cars which do 18 miles to the gallon would get government rebates of $47.
The rebates would progress to $473 on cars which are more fuel-efficient, with efficiency standards and rebates going up from year to year.
I refer to President Carter’s energy statement. He said:
The citizens who insist on driving large, unnecessarily powerful cars must expect to pay more for that luxury.
We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly. They will say that sacrifice is fine, as long as other people do it, but that their sacrifice is unreasonable, or unfair, or harmful to the country. If they succeed, then the burden of the ordinary citizen, who is not organised into an interest group, would be crushing.
The point is that the Government must set an example in fuel consumption. Unless it does, the ordinary people of Australia will not bother to buy vehicles which will consume less petrol. This is a disgraceful example of the hypocrisy which occurs in government. It is telling the rest of the community to conserve energy while it is purchasing cars consuming 1 1 to 12 miles per gallon.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The history of Vietnam is a history of turbulence and suffering. War has not ended this sad and sorry state of affairs. The sequence continues. There cannot be a more inhuman case than that of His Grace Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan who is a prisoner in his own country. His sufferings must have surely reached a new dimension in man’s inhumanity to man. Thrown into prison because he was a man of integrity and a man of God, he refused to confess to fabricated charges laid by his oppressors and persecutors. He is paying the price of human degradation because he was a labourer for the poor and a defender of the weak. He is the victim of intrigue and a martyr for peace. He is numbered among those who are suffering for the sake of justice.
The United Nations, suggested by many as our sole hope for international peace, has been conspicuous by its silence and ineffectiveness in freeing this man from the dungeons of godless communism. The Vatican has been unable to break through the iron fortress of silence. Our socialist left here in Australia, the arch supporters of Hanoi, the torchbearers for illegal regimes in Chile, the flag wavers for all those who seek to usurp authority have apparently been struck dumb. They are the pedlars of dishonest Hanoi propaganda. Why do they not join the millions of people all over the world who are asking for the Archbishop’s release so that he can live his remaining years in a manner befitting a prince of his church? This man’s great crime in the eyes of the communists was that he had worked hard in alleviating the poverty and discomforts of the poor, the homeless and the sick.
One’s faith in human nature is somewhat retained by the continuing strong efforts of our Foreign Minister the Honourable Andrew Peacock, in his determined efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of Archbishop Thuan and his request to have him released. He is making representations in a very sensitive arena. One realises that he is unable to negotiate from a position of strength. He has to rely on the delicate act of diplomacy. Unfortunately, success has not been achieved. Therefore one cannot but have increasing reasons for concern at the incidence of inhuman treatment of people termed political prisoners in Vietnam. Diplomacy has failed.
What else can be done? We have only one avenue open to us. Our aid program for Vietnam allows for the expenditure of $6m spread over three years. The program includes support for a livestock development project, a dairy products factory and English language training here in Australia. Australia has also contributed to a World Health Organisation medical program in Vietnam and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees appeal for wheat for people within Vietnam displaced by war. Our aid is obviously modest, but there is a principle involved.
I suggest that it is time that we showed a determination not to be denied an answer to our inquiries on behalf of a resident of our country, Australia, by a sister of the Archbishop seeking news about her brother. The courteous appeals by our Foreign Minister and others have been dismissed without the usual courtesies and polite manners one would expect from people receiving some aid from us. Our only recourse therefore is to advise Vietnam that our aid will be cancelled immediately in view of its act of discourtesy. A man’s freedom is at stake. We have no other weapon. Let us use it.
-Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) came into the House a few minutes ago obviously particularly worried about your ruling -
-Order ! The honourable gentleman may not canvass my ruling.
-I am certainly not going to canvass your ruling Mr Speaker, but I am canvassing what the Prime Minister and some of his henchmen are doing at the present time.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will proceed with what he wishes to say and leave my ruling aside from his discussion.
– The Prime Minister is coming to my electorate on Friday. It is obviously part of the election campaign and he feels that he will be able to win the seat of Prospect at the next election. The visit is interesting. It has been organised by the Prospect Electorate Conference of the Liberal Party. The President of that Electorate Conference, Mr Don McDonald, is a bit of a con man.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a most unpleasant reflection on a man who cannot answer back to call him what the honourable member for Prospect has called him. The fact that the man put up a very good campaign against the honourable member for Prospect at the last election might explain the extraordinary behaviour of the honourable member.
– There is no point of order. It may not be the best parliamentary practice to speak in those terms of a person who cannot answer back, but it is not unparliamentary.
– I am certainly not concerned about Mr Don McDonald. The Prime Minister was invited to the area by the Prospect Electorate Conference, to be welcomed by the Liberal mayor. One of the difficulties that has arisen before next Friday’s reception by the Liberal mayor is that at the municipal elections last Saturday the Fairfield Council changed from being nine to six in favour of the Liberals to ten to five in favour of Labor. It is just one of those things. After all life was not meant to be easy. The Labor Party won every ward in the Fairfield Council. That was either the first time ever or certainly the first time for a long time that we have done so.
As I said, Mr Don McDonald, who is organising this visit, stood as an independent Liberal candidate for the East Ward of Penrith Council. He made a big issue of the fact that he was a Liberal candidate, that he intended contesting Liberal Party preselection for the new seat of Lawson, and that he is a very popular man. At the election last Saturday he received 636 votes out of 11,000 votes cast, which is just under 6 per cent of the votes cast. He exaggerates his votes at all times. As I have said, he has nominated for preselection for the seat of Lawson and he will stand against the present honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Gillard) whose own area of Lithgow will not be included in the new seat of Lawson. The point I want to emphasise is that, during his visit to my electorate, the Prime Minister should have a look at the unemployment figures and see what has happened to the number of people registered as unemployed in the employment offices in the general western area.
In Fairfield itself, which he is to visit, between the end of August 197S and the end of August 1977 the number of people registered increased from 2,494 to 3,915, an increase of 57 per cent. In the areas which are represented by Liberal members the situation is even worse. In Parramatta the number rose from 2,328 to 3,704, an increase of 59.1 per cent. In Penrith, which is in the electorate of the honourable member for Macquarie, the number of people registered as unemployed rose from 1,072 to 1,755, an increase of 63.7 per cent. These are huge increases in registrations since this Government has come into office. The Government came into office 20 months ago and unemployment has increased continuously. I hope that when the Prime Minister comes to Fairfield on Friday he will think about this and will offer some sorts of promises to the citizens of the western suburbs to give them some hope for employment in the near future.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Last night and again this evening we have heard in this House several references by the Australian Labor Party Opposition to the supposed great success of the Labor Party in New South Wales municipal elections last Saturday. Last night the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Les McMahon), a very kindly man in his electorate, took great delight in acquainting the House with the wonderful result for the Labor Party in the New South Wales council elections. During the course of his speech last night the honourable member for Sydney suggested- in fact he was most emphatic- that the successful Civic Reform victory in his electorate of Sydney was due to the fact that the Liberal Party machine was behind the Civic Reform team and behind the victory of Leo Port. Unfortunately the honourable member’s expertise was not sufficient to get the Labor Party elected in that part of New South Wales.
I want to deny emphatically that the Liberal Party machine was behind the Civic Reform in its outstanding victory which will give it nine seats compared with six seats for the Labor Party. It will be a significant victory for Alderman Leo Port of the Civic Reform over Doug. Sutherland, former alderman of Burwood Council, former unsuccessful candidate for Marrickville Council, former alderman for Ashfield Council and now unsuccessful candidate for the lord mayoralty of Sydney. They will not endorse him again because they know they have a dead horse. However, the honourable member for Sydney went on to suggest that $100,000 was expended by the Civic Reform team. I am not able to say whether that figure is correct or otherwise. I suggest that whatever money was expended by the Civic Reform team and, for that matter, independent candidates in the New South Wales elections, would have been expended out of their own pockets and from fund raising activities. I suggest that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Frank Walker, the member for Georges River, did not necessarily raise his funds in that manner.
The Attorney-General of New South Wales used the taxpayers’ money to campaign.
-The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) doubts that this could happen. The Attorney-General of New South Wales used the letterhead of the office of the New South Wales Attorney-General and envelopes from the Attorney-General’s office to campaign on behalf of Labor candidates in the Georges River electorate.
– What a disgrace. -
-It is an absolute disgrace. He wrote to the electors in that ward advising them that voting was compulsory, that there would be a $5 fine if they did not vote. He then went on to suggest that the Wran Labor Government in New South Wales had done wonderful things with rates. What an untruth. All honourable members know and the people of New South Wales know that it was because of the LiberalNational Country Party Government in this place that the rates in New South Wales were kept to a basic minimum. He went on to tell the electors in Georges River that it was because of what the Wran Labor Government had done. He solicited support and votes for Labor candidates in Georges River. He was only one. The Labor member for Ashfield did the same thing. He used taxpayers’ money by using parliamentary stationery to canvass votes for Labor candidates. What is more, the Labor member for Ashfield possibly bordered on an infringement of the Electoral Act because he solicited postal votes in his electorate.
What about the Labor member for Hurstville, Mr Kevin Ryan? He did the same thing. This type of activity would cost money for the Civic Reform team. They are honest men. They use their own finances, unlike the Labor Party candidates who use taxpayers’ money to solicit votes. My colleagues on this side of the House are absolutely astounded. I am not astounded. It is what we have come to expect from Labor candidates in New South Wales, whether State, municipal or, with respect, Federal candidates. I say to the honourable member for Sydney that he had best work a little bit harder in the next election because he was not successful and he may not be successful in the future.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have an important matter to discuss tonight but I will answer the honourable member for Evans (Mr Abel). I was very displeased at the way the honourable member for Evans attacked Ministers in the New South Wales Government. After the Civic Reform Party was formed the numbers in the City Council were 17 to three. There had to be a change but the honourable member for Evans seems to think that he knows more than I do about this matter. What he said was petty. He knows that he is a oncer. I am a bit disgusted that he says these things so seriously.
Tonight I wish to discuss an issue of importance in Sydney; that is, kindergartens. There are 12 kindergartens in the electorate of Sydney and approximately 520 kindergartens are controlled by the Kindergarten Union of New South Wales. There are many more run by religious and private organisations. Correspondence on the matter of inadequate pre-school funding was sent to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) in August and September. I have received an acknowledgement but no answer. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard copies of correspondence and telegrams to the Minister for Social Security and a table of statistics relating to the allocation of funds to pre-schools in Australia. I have shown these documents to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who is at the table.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The documents read as follows- 15 August 1977
Senator The Honourable M. G. M. Guilfoyle Minister for Social Security, The Senate, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600
I am writing to you urging your reconsideration of the recent Budget decision to limit recurrent pre-school grants for the next financial year to the 1 976-77 level. In addition to this I ask that measures be taken immediately to prevent the continuation of the serious funding disadvantage which has been experienced by New South Wales in the past.
In the 1 977-78 Budget no provision has been made for the indexing of recurrent pre-school funding with the CPI with the result that pre-school funding over the next financial year represents an overall decrease in real terms. In regard to New South Wales in particular the grants for the present quarter are now being distributed and represent a rate of 53 per cent of salaries as at 1 November 1976 (or 49 per cent of actual current salaries).
If allowed to continue this cut in pre-school funding will have disasterous consequences for pre-schoolers and their families in Australia. In New South Wales 520 non-profit kindergartens will either be forced to double their fees or half of them will be forced to close.
At greatest risk are those centres built with Australian Government funds in areas of high need that is Mt Druitt and Macquarie Fields, where the present parent contribution is already at optimum level and the increases necessary to bridge the gap will place the pre-school beyond the reach of all but a very few families.
For these reasons I ask you to seriously reconsider your decision regarding pre-school funding in the coming financial year, especially funding for the deteriorating and long neglected New South Wales pre-schools. Only then will the Government’s responsibility for this area be honoured and an imminent crisis m pre-school education be averted.
J.L.McMAHON,M.P. Member for Sydney
To MSGR URGENT
Parliament House, Canberra, ACT
In less than 20 months your Government has progressively abandoned its responsiblity for adequate preschool funding by reducing preschool teachers subsidies from 75 per cent to 49 per cent. In my electorate all of the preschools are facing a fee rise from about $5 to $17 a week a rise which will force most inner city children away from the preschool because their parents just couldn’t afford to pay that much. The result will be either the replacement of inner city children by children of wealthier parents or the closure of many of the preschools. I urge you to take immediate action to stop preschools from once again becoming restricted to those who can afford them rather than being made available to those who need them.
LES McMAHON, M.P. Member for Sydney
$39m has been appropriated as the Commonwealth ‘s contribution to the recurrent cost of pre-schools in 1977-78.
Shows comparative fees in community pre-schools, by States:
New South Wales: Up to $3.50 per day, 9.00 a.m.-3.00 p.m.
Victoria: Free, with token contributions by parents.
Queensland: Some up to $3.50 per day, but mainly Queensland Department of Education centres.
South Australia: Free, with token contributions by parents.
Western Australia: Mainly Western Australia Department of Education centres.
Tasmania: Mainly Tasmanian Department of Education centres.
Shows sample of pre-school places available for 4-year old children:
New South Wales: Has provision for 24 per cent. Victoria: Has provision for 65 per cent.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1977/19770921_reps_30_hor106/>.