30th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the House of the death on 21 October of Mr Charles Wilfred Russell who was a member of this House for the Division of Maranoa from 1949 to 1951. On behalf of the House I have forwarded a message of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased former member. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places.
Honourable members having stood in their places
– I thank the House.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned Volunteer Firemen attached to the New South Wales Fire Brigade Service respectfully showeth:
That the Volunteer Firemen of the New South Wales Fire Brigades are performing an essential community service in suburban and country towns by providing low cost fire protection and in sacrificing their leisure and rest hours to perform this essential service, are being subjected to severe financial loss by having to pay income tax on two incomes which under the present taxation system discourages most individuals from having two jobs.
That the present situation has resulted in the resignation of a large number of volunteer firemen because of the effects of taxation, leaving a number of fire brigades under strength and a reluctance of potential recruits to pay excessive taxation.
That this growing problem could be effectively dealt with by granting taxation concessions to volunteer firemen in the State of New South Wales similar to those being received by members of the Citizens Military Forces.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will urge the Government to review the Taxation Act to exempt the earnings of volunteer firemen in the State of New South Wales from income tax, or give consideration to separate assessment of earnings and so protect the future of the volunteer fire service in New South Wales.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Anthony, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Morris andMrE.G. Whitlam.
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 Dr Klugman and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the undersigned persons believe:
That there should be no uranium mining at all, now or in the forseeable future.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we wish to register our strongest objection to any proposed cutbacks in the 1977-78 Federal Budget in the areas of Welfare, Health and Public Education. We request that the levels of expenditure in Welfare, Health and Public Education be maintained at current levels of expenditure or increased in levels of expenditure in real terms.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Dobie.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the total cost of air travel includes the cost of transport to and from airports and that the availability of transport to and from airports is an essential factor in accessibility to domestic and international air travel.
That proposals recently announced would indicate that Australians could have the benefit of cut-price overseas air fares.
That the Government’s decision to undertake a private departmental review of international civil aviation which is separate from the current review of domestic aviation is contrary to the best interests of Australia’s air travellers and consumers.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that
A full scale public inquiry be conducted to ensure that Australia’s internal and international air fares are fairly priced.
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.
Royal Commission on Petroleum
The petition of certain members of the Service Station Association of New South Wales Ltd, and certain members of the motoring public of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
That the Federal Government give every consideration to implementing the findings of the Royal Commission on Petroleum.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will take action to ensure that the needs of the motoring public and the retail petroleum industry are given every consideration.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the freeze in expenditure on schools, universities and colleges of higher education will severely hinder the progress of education in Australia; more specifically in our State of New South Wales and the region of the Lower Blue Mountains. This step has caused the shelving of many building and maintenance programs in schools; inadequate equipping of schools; and a pool of unemployed teachers who could be used to reduce class sizes in our schools.
Your petitioners call on the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to restore education funding to the level advocated in the 1975 Schools Commission report.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not introduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 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 Neil.
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 abortion has become a multi-million dollar business in Australia in spite of the fact that the Medical Practice Clarification Bill 1973 was overwhelmingly defeated.
The multi-national giant, Population Services International, which operates in Sydney is now expanding its business to include Canberra.
In 1976 alone, over 46,000 abortions were being paid for under the existing Medical Benefits Schedule which stipulates the benefit payable for Medical Services under both Medibank and the Private Health Insurance funds.
Item No. 6469- ‘The evacuation of the contents of a gravid uterus by curettage and suction curettage’ now attracts a benefit of $65.00. In 1976 close to $5m were spent to destroy unborn children.
Under the ‘abortion item’ No. 6469 abortion-on-demand is now being paid for from public monies, i.e. contributions to the existing Health Funds.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government takes action:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Street
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That this House censures the Prime Minister because of the instability and divisiveness he is causing in the community by promoting speculation on a premature election for both Houses of the Parliament.
-I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That, since it is likely that this House will be dissolved before such a committee could complete its work, this House now requests the Senate, which preserves continuity despite any election, to set up a select committee with full powers to investigate these matters effectively and, without prejudice to their generality, to report upon:
-I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is the Treasurer aware that the money market rates on three-months money in countries such as the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Japan is currently in the range of2½ per cent to6¼ per cent and that the equivalent rate in Australia is in excess of 9 per cent? Is it a fact that, despite these attractive interest rates being offered in Australia, another $270m left the country in the three weeks since the Acting Treasurer announced a borrowing of $ 1,700m? I ask the Treasurer why funds do not flow from these countries to Australia to take advantage of the high interest rates offered in this country?
-In response to the speculation initiated by members of the Australian Labor Party, there was a problem with regard to this matter some time ago. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the external position at the present time is certainly sound. As the honourable gentleman should be aware from figures that are matters of public record, the trade account has certainly strengthened in recent times. With the renewed program of overseas borrowings which is now starting to have the effect that the Government believed it would, the external situation remains sound.
-My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is the Treasurer satisfied with the level of capital expenditure shown in the recent estimates published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics?
-I am certainly able to report that the Government is very well satisfied with the recent figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician. The latest survey of businessmen’s investment intentions, as published by the Bureau of Statistics, is very encouraging. Seasonally adjusted and at current prices, total new capital expenditure is expected to be 14 per cent higher in the second half of 1 977 than actual expenditure in the preceding six months. Investment outlays in the mining sector are expected to increase in seasonally adjusted terms by 66 per cent in the six months ending December and new capital expenditure in the manufacturing sector is expected to rise by some 33 per cent over the same period. These figures are very marked evidence of the strengthening in business confidence that is now under way. They represent a further striking example of the success of this Government’s economic policies.
-I ask the Prime Minister a question about one of the few subjects on which he and I are in total agreement- that speculation about election dates is damaging the economy and halting economic recovery. By way of short preface, may I say that this view is shared by hundreds of primary producers and small business people whom I have met during the last four days in Sydney and elsewhere in New South Wales. I ask: Will the Prime Minister stop playing games with the Australian people and now state the date of the next election?
-The honourable gentleman could take some pride in the fact that he, quite falsely and knowingly, was one of the first to indicate that I had a preference for an election date although I had not spoken to him about the subject and I still to this stage have not indicated a view one way or another. If there is speculation the honourable gentleman can take some pride in the fact that he has made such statements outside this House. Yesterday it was necessary to indicate, because there was widespread misunderstanding on these matters, that unless there are to be two elections held in the next 12 months there needs to be some move to ensure that there will be simultaneous elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. I indicated that there were options between December and April-May for an election. Quite clearly it would be possible for the Senate to go its full term and for the House of Representatives to go its full term, as some people would appear to be advocating. There are others who think that would not necessarily be the greatest common sense.
I would like to conclude in this way: According to a transcript of a Monday Conference program of 1 November 1976 the Leader of the Opposition said:
I think they’re already known by the public, but in a year’s time, which I think would be about the earliest that there could be an election, although quite a likely time for the electionit would be perfectly reasonable time to have a half Senate election and one could have the whole of the House of Representatives at the same time to synchronise the elections.
He said that on 1 November 1976. I do not necessarily endorse that view at all.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister seen reports that inflation is now well into the single digit range? If this is so, what effect does this have on the economic outlook?
– I would hope and believe that all honourable gentlemen have seen reports concerning a major breakthrough in inflation control as a result of the policies pursued by this Government under the guidance of the Teasurer. The consumer price index increase which was announced recently signals a major advance in this area. It needs to be noted that the increase is the lowest since the December quarter 1972 when the Liberal-Country Party Government was last in office, except for the Medibank quarter and the deception that was practised on that occasion. This is the first time in more than four years that for three consecutive quarters the consumer price index has been less than Vh per cent.
I think this is all the more satisfying given certain special factors. There was the impact of devaluation on the September quarter, which many people said would be horrific; there was the catch-up that might have occurred from the prices pause, which others said was going to lead to a higher than normal increase for the quarter; there were the delayed impact of earlier national wage increases in the first part of this calendar year and the higher than average increases in some food prices. All in all, in spite of these factors the latest CPI figure was a very satisfying result from the point of view of all of those who want to see stable and sensible economic progress in Australia. It is a vindication of the policies that are being pursued and that figure will flow through into lower interest rates. Indeed, the monetary authorities over recent days have been operating further to reduce bond rates in a way which they have not been able to do for about four years. The CPI figure represents a very significant advance and I believe it is hailed throughout the Australian community in that light.
– I ask the Prime Minister. Is it not a fact that if an election were to be held for both Houses in, say, December, the existing Senate would continue right to the end of June and that the new senators elected could not take their places till next July? Will the right honourable gentleman also acknowledge that since the simultaneous elections referendum received overwhelming support from the electors in the whole of Australia last May but majority support from the electors in only half the States I have constantly said that the way to implement the people’s wish to have simultaneous elections but a contemporary Parliament is to have elections for both Houses as close to the end of June as will permit the Senate votes to be counted? Ideally, therefore, that would be in May next.
– I would like to quote a little more of what the Leader of the Opposition said on the same Monday Conference on 1 November 1976. The questioner asked:
I ‘m wondering how ready you think your shadow ministry is compared with the way it was in ‘72, to be presented to the public as a viable team for Government.
The Leader of the Opposition in a masterpiece of understatement in the first sentence of the answer said:
I think they’re already known by the public.
The are known in such a way that they clearly would not be accepted by the public. The honourable gentleman was clearly speaking the truth. Then he went on to say: in a year’s time, which I think would be about the earliest that there could be an election, although quite a likely time for the election- it would be a perfectly reasonable time to have a half Senate election and one could have the whole of the House of Representatives at the same time to synchronise the elections.
If the honourable gentleman has changed his views since then that is his prerogative, but why make so much of it?
-I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs: Are there any developments in funding for the Aboriginal Medical Service’s nutritional program at Redfern?
– I thank the honourable member for the question. At the time this matter was gaining some notoriety he was extremely interested to know what was happening. Since then, with my colleague the Minister for Health, discussions have proceeded to review the proposal by the Aboriginal Medical Service at Redfern for a nutritional program amongst the Aboriginal children of that district. Discussions have also taken place with the New South Wales Health Commission, more particularly because the State Health Commission is already being funded by my Department to the extent of $37,000 for a nutritional program. It was thought then that because there was a need for continuous monitoring of the program that the State Health Commission would be the appropriate body to do it.
Unfortunately, the State Health Commission has declined to monitor the program. Therefore I inform my colleague that the Minister for Health has agreed that the Commonwealth Department of Health should monitor the program which will be implemented through the Aboriginal Medical Service. The sum of $30,000 will be provided by my Department for each of the next two years so that the program can proceed. I also take the opportunity to point out to the House that already the Commonwealth, through my Department, funds the Government of New South Wales to the extent of $ 1.786m for Aboriginal health programs. Quite clearly with this addition to cater for a particular need in inner Sydney, the Commonwealth is making great strides to see that the needs of Aboriginal health are met in New South Wales.
-I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I refer to his quite categorical statement that there will be joint elections in either December of this year or AprilMay of next year. In view of the fact that a joint election cannot be held until the House of Representatives has been dissolved before its term expires- only the Governor-General can do that- and in view of the fact that the incoming Governor-General cannot dissolve the House of Representatives before he takes office on 8 December, will the Prime Minister state whether he has already talked with the present GovernorGeneral about a dissolution of the House of Representatives?
– I suggest that the honourable gentleman should read exactly what I did say yesterday. Then he can check the supposition on which his question rests.
-Is the Minister for National Resources aware of any change of heart by the New South Wales Government following its decision to confiscate the Warkworth coal leases in the Hunter Valley? What will be the consequences for investment in mining if this decision of the New South Wales Government remains unchanged?
– All I have heard about a change of heart by the New South Wales Government is that there has been a meeting between the Minister for Mines and Energy in New South Wales and the Premier regarding this matter and that that meeting has been deferred until tomorrow. Obviously, a good deal of concern is now developing in the New South Wales Government about the reaction to its virtual confiscation of half the very valuable Warkworth lease in the Hunter Valley. It is quite obvious from the reaction of the stock exchange, when Howard-Smith Ltd shares and Coal and Allied Industries Ltd shares fell very substantially, that there was a severe reaction.
I think anybody who looks at the situation must be horrified and must deplore the action of the New South Wales Government, especially the way the Government went about it. It just went in and confiscated the lease. The Government said that the New South Wales Electricity Authority would be actively involved in a coal mine, but coal from that mine would not have any direct use in power generation in New South Wales; obviously it would be for export. But worse still, the Government used the excuse that it wanted to maintain Australian control and Australian equity in that operation. Only a few weeks earlier, the New South Wales Government used the Electricity Authority to sell 49 per cent of its holdings in Newnes near Lithgow to a Japanese firm. In that case, the actual foreign equity is higher than it would have been if Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd had come in and become a partner of the CAIL operation.
All one can say is that there is a good deal of hypocrisy in the way that the New South Wales Government has approached this matter. The end result has been to put a great deal of fear into the minds of people who want to expand their operations or to carry out exploration or to invest in New South Wales. This must be looked at with glee by the Premier of Queensland who would see more people wanting to go to that State to invest when they have the fear or the threat of the New South Wales Government taking this sort of action.
– Is the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs aware that the New South Wales State Government is experiencing great difficulty in maintaining adult migrant education services? Was only $3.2m provided by the Federal Government for adult migrant English classes in New South Wales this year? Will this sum finance the current classes? As immigration is a Federal responsibility, is it not also a Federal responsibility to provide adequate finance so that migrants may be encouraged to learn English quickly? Is proficiency in English a necessary pre-condition to social opportunity and employment? Does the Government realise that, without proficiency in English, migrants are condemned to low pay and menial tasks? Will the Government provide funds now for the general expansion of this service, including provision of classes for shift workers and for unemployed migrants?
– In answer to the honourable member’s maiden question- I almost said maiden speech- yes, the Government is very much aware of the need for migrants to have an adequate knowledge of English as being a significant factor in their successful integration into the Australian community. I am aware also of the increasing demand which is making itself felt for adult education classes in English. The Government has taken very close notice of factors which are operating in that area. I have been actively consulting with my colleague who has responsibility in this matter, the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick. If the honourable member can contain himself for a very short period, I will be able to give him further details.
-Is the Minister for Transport aware that most motor vehicles can and do run economically and efficiently on liquid petroleum gas? Will the Minister give consideration to introducing a program of converting 25 per cent of all Commonwealth cars to LPG and ensuring further that 25 per cent of all new motor vehicle purchasers are offered an alternativemotor vehicles which can run on LPG?
-I should make it clear to the honourable member that I am not in charge of the purchase of Government cars. So, I shall take up his question with my colleague, the Minister for Administrative Services, to see whether I can encourage him to act on the proposal put forward by the honourable member. Secondly, I should pay a tribute to the honourable member for Frankin. Since he has been a member of this House, I think he has sponsored as many bright thoughts and initiatives as any other member of parliament has in a long time. Quite clearly he deserves, and he will get, the support of the people of the electorate of Franklin because of the way in which he handles these matters.
Having said that, I point out that there is a world wide concern about the prospect of running out of petrol supplies by about the mid- 1990s. Indeed President Carter has foreshadowed that, by the 1990s, there will be a serious shortage of petrol. So, quite clearly, the honourable member’s question is timely and we, as a Government, should be looking at the question of the use of LPG which is available in very large quantities. I know that my colleague, the Minister for National Resources, has established a committee of inquiry into the use of fuels, which is very much a part of this question. Similarly, State Transport Ministers have agreed with me at Australian Transport Advisory Council meetings that we ought to be looking at the question of the use of fuels in transport in the years ahead. We have under way a study in relation to that matter. As I said, I shall take up the question with my colleague, the Minister for Administrative Services, in order to ensure that a proper study is made of it.
Mr PETER LEAKE
– I ask the Treasurer: In what capacity is Mr Peter Leake known to the Minister? In what circumstances has Mr Leake worked for the Minister or on his behalf?
-As I recall it, Mr Peter Leake was -
– Speak up.
-I am sorry that the honourable gentleman cannot hear. As I recall it, Mr Peter Leake was Chairman of the Flinders electorate committee during the years around 1977-78. I will need to check -
– You are misleading the Parliament.
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will withdraw that remark.
-Of course I withdraw it, except that 1978 has not arrived yet.
-The Leader of the Opposition has asked a question of the Treasurer. It concerns an individual. Therefore the Treasurer is entitled to answer it in silence.
-I thank the honourable gentlemen for their interjection. The fact is, as I recall it- I will need to check the time sequenceMr Peter Leake was chairman of the Flinders electorate committee during a period from around 1967 to, I think, around 1968. He was the chairman of my electorate committee either at the outset or he took over that position a year or so after that time. He retired, I think, within a matter of two or three years. My memory is not precise about the dates, but certainly if the Leader of the Opposition is seeking confirmation that Mr Leake was chairman of the Flinders electorate committee during the 1967-68 period, the answer is yes. I will be very happy to check the record for the honourable gentleman and to advise him some time later today.
-I have been informed by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) that it is very difficult to hear the proceedings in that portion of the chamber in which the honourable member sits. The honourable member for Petrie (Mr Hodges) also indicates that it is difficult to hear. I ask the people in the booth who control the broadcast to experiment to see whether there can be a broader and more even distribution of sound in the chamber.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I have regard to his reply a few moments ago to the question about fuel costs. Is he prepared to make a statement in the House about the future of commuter airline services in Australia? Having regard to his reply about fuel costs, will he make clear to the House such predictions as may be available which may affect the economic viability of these companies in future, particularly as they are so vital and important to the areas outside the great metropolitan complexes of this country?
– At the moment a review of the domestic air industry is in progress. Indeed it is hoped that the report will be made to me within the next few months. I have encouraged the commuter services to place before the review committee as part of that review any views they might have as to their part in the travel industry in Australia. So far as that part of the question is concerned, I think we should await the review. At that time I will be putting down a policy statement in respect of it. In respect of the fuel problem, representatives of the general aviation organisations saw me last week. They put before me their concern at the expected rise of the price of fuel in the ensuing months as a result of the Government’s policy. I said to them that it was a matter for budget consideration but that I would look at it in the context of budget consideration.
It has been plain since coming to office that we have been doing our best to encourage commuter services. The House will be aware that this year we did not raise the air navigation charges. Last year we raised them by only 15 per cent. When we came to office at the end of 1975 we reduced the air navigation charges proposed in the 1975 Budget brought in by the Labor Government for general aviation and commuter services. The proposed increase was 300 per cent. We reduced that to 15 per cent. Therefore I think it is well known throughout general aviation organisations that we have a real sympathy for maintaining a high standard of service in the remote areas and for keeping commuter services going.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the growing incidence of glue sniffing among young people m the country, m particular among Aborigines in the inner suburban areas of the major cities? Will he acknowledge that this habit leads to tragic permanent brain damage and violent criminal acts being carried out by people while under the effects of the fumes given off by this substance? Will he take steps to investigate the possibility of eliminating the ingredient that is the cause of the problem or any other steps that will deter young people from wrecking their lives by indulging in the habit? Will he request the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to investigate the possibilities of introducing a further ingredient that would make that act an impossibility?
– I am aware of the incidence of glue sniffing amongst children and amongst some Aboriginal families- Aboriginal children in particular. It has been of considerable concern to the Department of Health and to the subcommittee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, that is responsible for investigations into these areas. A good deal of work has been done so far, the details of which I am not completely aware of; but I will make sure that the honourable member receives all the details relating to the work that is being done at present to reduce the incidence of glue sniffing. I thank the honourable member for the question. He can rest assured that the Department of Health is very concerned about it and action is being taken through the public health programs to try to lessen the incidence.
-I direct a question to the Leader of the House. I refer to Order of the Day No. 22 on the Notice Paper, the ministerial statement on the Pine Gap Joint Defence’ Space Research Facility. Will this be debated? Can the Minister comment on the arrangements in this regard?
– The statement was made on 19 October, and at the request of the Leader of the Opposition I moved that the House take note of the paper. The Government would be quite prepared to have a debate on this subject with two or three speakers a side. As honourable members would know, this statement relates to the extension of the Pine Gap Joint Defence Space Research Facility arrangements by virtue of the tabling of correspondence. The Pine Gap facility is a defence installation of tremendous significance to Australia’s defence arrangements with the United States of America. We see it as having tremendous consequence to the future of this country. Of course, we would be only too prepared to make room for the adjourned debate on the business paper so that the matter can be debated. If the Opposition wishes, we will be very pleased to make the necessary arrangements.
-I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that insurance policies have had incorporated in them since 1966 a nuclear exclusion clause which reads:
This policy does not cover claims of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly caused by or arising from, or in consequence of or contributed to by-
1 ) Nuclear weapons material.
Ionising radiations or contaminations by radioactivity from any nuclear fuel or from any nuclear waste from the combustion of nuclear fuel. For the purpose of this exlusion only, combustion shall include any self-sustained process of nuclear fission.
Does this indicate that insurance companies have some reservations about the possibility of nuclear disaster? Will the Government ensure that people’s property and more importantly their lives are covered should a nuclear accident occur?
– This is obviously a question by which the honourable member seeks to sow the seeds of panic. I am not aware of the clauses in insurance policies, but I assure the honourable gentleman that I will check the substance of the assertions made by him and to the extent to which they are correct I shall provide him with an answer in writing.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Northern Territory. I refer to his announcement earlier this year that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission would be wound up on 31 December 1977. I ask: Can the Minister advise the House what progress has been made in the reconstruction of Darwin and whether he expects any difficulties during the wind down of the Commission?
– I thank the honourable member for the question. We know not only of his forthright advocacy on behalf of the Northern Territory but also of his activity in overcoming the very serious disabilities that befell the people of Darwin after the disastrous Cyclone Tracy. In confirmation of the statement I did make earlier I repeat that the original life of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission was envisaged as being five years. It is good news indeed to know that despite the economic problems we have faced since coming to government we have fully met our commitments and our promises in this regard and that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission will be winding up at the end of this year after a life of three years.
In answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question, the prime task was to build houses and flats. The program to 30 June 1977 was to build 2,900 houses and flats. Almost 2,700 have been completed and the balance will be completed by 31 December this year. The task will be finished. With regard to the second part of the question, no, I do not expect any difficulties during the wind down period to 31 December. Planning for the closure of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission has been going on since February this year. Whilst the Commission has a sizable program this year, I am confident that there will be a very smooth handover of the management of this program to the Department of Construction in early January 1978. 1 should like to say that the placement of staff employed by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission into other Public Service positions has gone very smoothly to date.
– What about Clem Jones? He said today that he is running for Griffith.
– I have spoken quite publicly and have made no politics -
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will cease interjecting out of his place, and at all.
– Neither this Government nor this Minister has made any politics out of the tragedy of Cyclone Tracy. I have said publicly in this House and in other places that I have appreciated Mr Jones’ co-operation in the role he has filled. It is good to see that Darwin, the city devastated by Cyclone Tracy, is now a new and vibrant city of the north.
-My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, concerns the Government’s agreement at the Premiers Conference last Friday to reduce the qualifying period of unemployment for eligibility under the Special Youth Employment Training program from six months to four months. I ask the Prime Minister: Is he aware that this improvement was proposed by the Opposition in a statement entitled ‘A Proposal to Get Australia Working Again’, which was issued in August prior to the Budget being announced? Will the Prime Minister inform the House how many other Opposition policies he intends to adopt in his desperation to improve his Government’s electoral standing?
-The Treasurer, in introducing the Budget, said that there would be no financial limit on training programs and that, if opportunities could be provided for young people especially, they would not be denied those opportunities because of an arbitrary limit on the funds for a particular program. I think it ought also to be noted that the. National Training Council had reviewed the course and progress of the various training programs. This matter came up for discussion, I think at the suggestion originally of the Tasmanian Premier, at the Premiers Conference. After examination there and after discussion between my colleagues, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and the Treasurer, we decided that the qualifying period should be reduced from six months to four months to bring it into line with the qualifying period for the general National Employment and Training scheme. The honourable gentleman should not be surprised that there is one element of responsible policy in a very large document. I think that he ought to be surprised that there are not more elements of economic responsibility in that very large document to which he referred.
-Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that the Trade Practices Commission has recently contacted over 700 Australians about losses totalling $120,000 suffered by them in a fraudulent home-operated business scheme called Contra-Pac systems? Has the Commission referred to the Australian Legal Aid Office the hundreds of applications for legal aid which it has subsequently received. Can the honourable gentleman give an assurance that adequate legal assistance will be given promptly to the many people who lost their savings in this fraudulent scheme?
-I am not aware of the matters raised by the honourable member but I will contact the Attorney-General and ask that he reply to the honourable member as soon as possible.
– Because of the importance of territorial seas and submerged lands matters, can the Prime Minister inform the House of progress made on these matters at the recent Premiers Conference?
-Very considerable progress was made at the Premiers Conference last Friday. I believe that that Conference achieved a breakthrough in relations between the Commonwealth and the States in this matter. I think that all honourable gentlemen know that for many years there has been conflict between the States and the Commonwealth. Much of the conflict seemed to have been quite unnecessary. Much of it seemed to have been the result of the Commonwealth using the High Court decision to say: ‘We have a right to do that. The power is now ours and therefore we will exercise it’. I tend to think that that was the view taken by our predecessors in these matters. The Government has approached this problem on the basis that there are practical problems to be solved and it has asked itself what is the best way for a government concerned with practical problems that affect the lives of individual Australians to reach a practical, sensible working solution. Having come to broad agreement in regard to our approach to the problem, the task is now for lawyers to advise us on the best way in which to achieve a solution.
In broad terms, all shore-based activities around the Australian coastline, such as ports, jetties and harbours, and matters such as dumping and pollution, surf life-saving and power boats, ought to be under the control of the States. They will be under the control of the States. For those purposes the territorial seas to the threemile limit will, broadly, be under the complete control of State governments. There is a reservation in relation to fisheries, and this has been agreed with the Premiers. Further examination of that matter will take place by the Australian Fisheries Council and by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. I do not think that there is any difference of opinion about the result that the States and the Commonwealth wanted to achieve. We came to the view that not enough work had been done on the means of actually achieving it.
In the area in which one would have expected the greatest conflict, mining for petroleum and other minerals, it was agreed generally to seek the establishment of joint Commonwealth and State authorities- authorities for the Commonwealth and each State, or maybe an authority comprising the Commonwealth and all States, but I think that the Premiers prefer a separate authority for each State- where responsibility and power would be shared and where the broad administration would be undertaken by the States. Against that broad background of agreement, officials will be working to put more precise proposals before a future Premiers conference.
Agreement was also reached in relation to treaties and the seeking of federal clauses in treaties to prevent the circumstances in which a Commonwealth government could use its treatymaking power and its external affairs power to overturn what is normally the legislative authority of the States. Agreement on detailed procedures for consultation in treaty making in relation to the seeking of Federal clauses in treaties was reached also with the Premiers. All in all, I believe that the Conference showed a very practical resolution of practical problems in which governments ought not just to hide behind the strength of the law which might favour one government or the other but in which the governments have sought quite positively to come to solutions that will be settled, that will rest, that will be beyond challenge and that will advantage the people of Australia
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Capital Territory. I ask: Is the Minister aware that planning procedures have broken down through a lack of staff resources to police and enforce residential lease conditions in the inner city area of Canberra? Does the Minister know how many holders of residential leases are breaching the purpose clauses of their leases by using them for commercial purposes? When does the Minister intend to take action against these breaches which are forcing up the valuations and the rates of genuine residential lease holders in the inner city area?
– Action is being taken against those people who are breaking lease purpose clauses where it can be established satisfactorily to the authorities that that is the case. There is, of course, always a great deal of difficulty in obtaining evidence in particular cases. My Department has been deploying staff as appropriate and, where the evidence is clearest, it has been taking action. There is no way in which my Department has been reluctant to take action against those whom it believes have been breaking their lease purpose clauses. In short, the planning procedures in Canberra have not broken down. I would add that, because of the importance of having a hard look at the procedures which operate in the planning of the Australian Capital Territory, I asked the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory some time ago to look at the whole process of planning and the opportunities for public consultation. I will consider all the options which are put before me when I have that report.
– Pursuant to section 16 of the Pig Meat Promotion Act 1975, I present the annual report of the Pig Meat Promotion Advisory Committee for the year ended 30 June 1976, together with the interim report of the Committee for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
– Pursuant to secton 23A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report, with a map by the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Commissioners.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– Pursuant to section 23A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report, with map by the Distribution Commissioners for Victoria, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Commissioners. I anticipate that bulk supplies of the report will be available in time for them to be distributed to all members and senators tomorrow, Wednesday, 26 October 1977. In the meantime, copies of the report have been distributed to Victorian members and senators and further copies have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and in the Table Office. However, I can say that the Commissioners have made no substantive changes to their initial proposals. The one minor change is in relation to the mapping delineation of the Seymour subdivision, to make it clear that the town of Avenel is not split between the proposed division of Bendigo and Indi.
– Would the Minister inform the House whether copies of the report for New South Wales are available. We are rather interested.
-Order! The question asked by the honourable gentleman is not relevant to the matter now before the House. However, as a matter of indulgence, I will allow the question to be asked of the Minister and for the Minister to reply.
-Mr Speaker, to the best of my knowledge there is no shortage of copies of the report for New South Wales.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– Pursuant to section 40 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945, 1 present the annual report of the the Australian National Airlines Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 24 of the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957, 1 present the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Department of Productivity for 1976-77 entitled Productivity 1977’.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Young) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on potatoes and processed potato products.
– As honourable gentlemen would know, Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, the former Archbishop of Sydney, has passed away. As many members of Parliament might want to attend the funeral service it is felt that the House should not meet tomorrow at the normal time. For that reason I move:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at the ringing of the bells, at an hour not earlier than 2.5S p.m.
-I am sure that would meet the wishes of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-Mr Speaker, I seek your approval to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In Graham Freudenberg ‘s book A Certain Grandeur there are several statements which misrepresent me. Firstly, on page 221 of the book, Mr Freudenberg says:
His last prop was removed in 1972 when Sir Frank Packer sold the Daily Telegraph to Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch had committed his papers to a change of government. He telephoned McMahon in London to tell him of his deal with Packer -
He is supposed to have said this:
– I raise a point of order. I ask you to rule on this. Previously members have helped authors to sell their books by raising these questions. Is the right honourable member for Lowe again trying to help the book publishing -
-There is no point of order. The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
-Mr Freudenberg says:
He telephoned McMahon in London to tell him of his deal with Packer. -
And this is supposed to be an actual quote-
I can promise, Prime Minister, that we will be as fair to you as you deserve.’ In the background, Packer warned: ‘If you do that, you will murder him.
Mr Murdoch did not telephone me in London or in any other overseas city to tell me of his deal with Sir Frank Packer, or for any other purpose. It is a lie, Sir. The final episode in the signing of the contract between Sir Frank and Mr Murdoch was in Sydney. I was present with my wife at Sir Frank’s home. He informed me of the agreement. I remarked: ‘Well, that just about ends our prospects in New South Wales.’ Mr Murdoch assured me that he would, except in editorials, give me equal treatment with Mr Whitlam. I was not able to make proper use of this facility until Mr Phil Davis came on to my staff late in 1972. From then on ‘repair jobs’ were always published. Looked at in retrospect the whole story is amusing and worth while telling, one day.
Secondly, as to the reference to the December 1971 United States devaluation, Mr Freudenberg says:
Nixon devalued the American dollar by 8.S per cent. On 20 December, Cabinet met to settle whether Australia should devalue with the United States dollar or revalue with sterling. The Country Party members insisted on devaluation; Treasury and Snedden were as vehement in favour of revaluation. By 4 a.m. on 21 December, Cabinet reached the decision to revalue by less than the full percentage required to keep the dollar in line with sterling. By the afternoon. Treasury returned, with new arguments to its original line of full revaluation with sterling. Anthony thereupon threatened to take the Country Party out of the coalition. McMahon caved in.
As the House will remember, on 4 October I set out the facts in the House and made it clear that there was no caving in on my part. The facts had been made known publicly on at least two previous occasions. The problems associated with the two days between the first meeting of Cabinet and the last at which the decision was confirmed have never been stated. If the statement is made, I am sure it will show that I subordinated my interests to those of my Party. Thirdly, on pages 2 1 7 and 2 1 8 he says:
There is a tape extant which records McMahon ‘s speech at the White House in October 1971. He had approved a speech drafted by his foreign affairs adviser, Richard Woolcott, and Dr H. C. Coombs, whom he had publicly designated as his ‘Guru’. As Richard Nixon made, or appeared to make, a neat off-the-cuff speech, McMahon decided to reply in kind and pocketed his prepared speech. On and on he warbled.
This is an awful mix-up. If a speech was drafted it was not given to me. I went to the White House without any notes. I could not have made a speech of the same dull quality as the Press Club draft I will mention later even assuming one had been given to me. Mr Freudenberg was not in the Australian Press team in Washington. He might have been referring to a speech at the Washington Press Club. Whilst on the platform I was handed a speech. I read it through. It seemed to me to be too trite and superficial for such an audience. I dropped the last part completely and ad libbed considerably. When I sat down I received a note from Mr Woolcott informing me that the part deleted had already been distributed to the Press. So I had to explain the matter to the Press Club Chairman. We agreed that it would be better if I gave a complete explanation. I did so and read out the part which had been dropped. I doubt whether Dr Coombs could have been associated with the writing of this speech. His writings were always elegantly expressed. In any event I did not see much of Dr Coombs in Washington or London except for an unrehearsed game of squash in San Francisco. He did stay at Blair House in Washington while I was there. Fourthly, as background to the United States visit I mention that Alan Ramsey reported in the Australian on 8 November 1 97 1 relative to the mission to the United States:
The point is that on the official level Mr McMahon ‘s Washington visit was as effective as he could wish.
Even so I was plagued daily by reports by the Australian Press that had little or nothing to do with the facts. For example, it was reported that I did not, as expected, turn up to a church service in Washington and that I kept the Minister waiting. No arrangements were made for me to attend the service. The Minister did not expect me. I also mention the clamour in Washington from the Australian pressmen about an alleged breach of protocol in an answer to a question concerning Senator Muskie, an aspirant for presidential honours. I cleared the answer with the Press Club Chairman as to its propriety and was subsequently informed by the Australian Embassy Information Attache, Mr Roger Henning, that Senator Muskie had been pestered by the Australian Press but could see nothing in my speech to object to.
Fifthly, there are other parts of the book which are incomplete and misrepresent the facts, such as his allegation on page 185 relating to the appointment of Mr Gorton to the Defence Ministry and the influence of Sir Frank Packer. Mr Gorton, as Deputy Leader, was entitled to ask for the ministry of his choice. Sir Frank Packer did not speak to me about this matter as is suggested. The reference on page 237 to the speech by Archbishop James Carroll, with which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) was very much involved, is but an extract of what actually occurred. Obviously Mr Freudenberg did not read the book of Oakes and Solomon The Making of an Australian Prime Minister. Nor does Mr Freudenberg ‘s contribution cover the relevant facts, particularly the letters passing between myself and His Grace. His Grace informed me that he had been seriously misrepresented but would not correct the misrepresentations.
The next point relates to the story on page 1 1 1 in which Mr Freudenberg says that ‘William McMahon influenced by poor advice and worse champagne spoke at a Liberal Party rally in Rockhampton on the danger of atheistic communism’. At that time, as you, Mr Speaker, will know and the Leader of the Opposition ought to know, it was unusual for me to drink alcohol. This statement is slick but of course recklessly untrue. There is one person in the House who was there who wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald subsequently denying the accuracy of what had been said and setting out the facts. I should add that during the time I have been in Parliament no one has seen me affected by alcohol. I wonder whether that can be said about many others. Atheistic communism was not the subject of my speech. In any event the one word which was criticised was added to a copy of my speech and was distributed without- my knowledge.
I have no wish to mention all the misrepresentations. I contacted Mr Freudenberg ‘s office on Friday and asked whether he could be informed that I had called. He did not respond. In each of his statements Mr Freudenberg is guilty of the journalistic sin of plagiarism. He was not connected with the reporting at the relevant time nor was he present when any of the events took place. It is fair that I should say this about Mr Freudenberg: Even with all its mistakes the book is pleasantly written and easy to read, but it is neither 1971 nor 1972 vintage Freudenberg. What a pity Freudenberg did not consult me before publication. I have considerable respect for him and, even though he is back working for Whitlam again, I would have been happy to have cleared up the misunderstanding. I will send a copy of this statement to him and to the publishers, the Macmillan Co., because I do not believe that history should be massacred by faulty research. It is worth mentioning that a large number of members of the Canberra Press Gallery of 1971-72 became Press officers for Labor Ministers in 1973 and later but nearly all lost their jobs in 1975.
-Mr Speaker, I ask your leave to make a personal explanation, having been misrepresented.
-The honourable gentlemen may proceed.
-The Canberra Times of last Saturday referring to my criticisms of the operations of the Industries Assistance Commission stated:
This implies that what I said then was unexpected and it was new. That is entirely wrong. Anybody who will do me the honour of looking through the Hansard and seeing what I have said over 20 years on this matter will find that I am the most concerned and consistent opponent of the views which are being put forward in this matter by the Industries Assistance Commission and which I criticised in the speech referred to in the article. The article goes on:
Can anyone persuade Mr Wentworth that smoked salmon and scotch whisky are not the only things imported?
This implies that I have not looked at the schedule of imports. As it happens over the last three or four weeks I have been concerned in making a detailed analysis of the schedule of Australian imports in the last two or three years. I think I can say that I am probably the only member of the House who has taken the trouble to really look at these things in detail. Finally, the article states: the IAC had better begin praying that Mr Wentworth does not get a good place on the NSW Senate ticket
It will have to do more than pray, I think.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker.
-The honourable member may proceed.
-In the National Times of this week an article refers to me and contains sue sets of errors. Firstly the electoral margin given for the seat of St George at the last election is wrong. For the record, it was won by 56 votes. Secondly the article states that I moved into the electorate after the election. That is incorrect. I purchased a house after pre-selection some four or five months prior to the election. Thirdly, there is a reference to Mr Peacock which omits the relevant reference that eventually Mr Peacock had made a very favourable impression on all concerned. Next there is a reference to criticisms of Ministers, staff and public servants. What I in fact said was that some public servants despise members of Parliament and that initially I had found that some ministerial staff were in that category and that it was necessary to establish good relations with them. I made the point that Ministers from the Prime Minister down were always accessible to members of Parliament and that I had the most cordial relations with Ministers. Next there are inaccurate and excessive colourations of language. Sixthly, there is a heading that members referred to in the article, including myself, live in fear of an election. What I said was that I was ready for an election whenever it was called by the Prime Minister and that the Liberal Party would retain the seat of St George.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes, Mr Speaker, I do. In an article appearing in the National Times of 24-29 October 1977, there is a series of misrepresentations concerning myself. The writer has run several separate matters together out of context which so completely misrepresent what I said that it gives my remarks almost the opposite meaning. In fact the journalist concerned asked me a series of questions. He asked me firstly whether I was worried about an early election. I said: ‘It does not worry me at all. We are all ready for it and we will win it*. He asked me what I would do if not re-elected. I said that I had made a living before going into Parliament and that I presumed I could do it again. He suggested that I might be defeated. I said: ‘I would be sorry about that but none of us should ever consider himself a permanent fixture either in this life or in Parliament’. He suggested that unemployment was the main electoral issue of an early election. I said that it was certainly an issue but not necessarily the main issue or the only issue.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do, in an article which appeared in this week’s National Times dated 24-29 October 1977 under the heading ‘The Men Who Live in Fear of an Early Election’. That article attributes certain remarks to me in the context of speculation about the timing of an election and also my prospects of holding the seat of Kingston. Several remarks attributed to me in the article misrepresent the comments which I made to the author. Firstly, the article states:
He is referring to the seat of Kingston. In fact, when speaking to the author I gave myself a better than even chance of holding Kingston. Certainly the events that have transpired since that interview would have markedly increased the chances I have of holding that seat.
– Yes, it would be 70:30 by now, as the honourable member for La Trobe said. Secondly, I was quoted as anticipating a swing to Labor of at least 4 per cent. In fact, I said that the maximum swing to Labor could be up to 4 per cent. My comments set an upper limit of a possible swing of 4 per cent but the article quotes as the lower limit a swing of 4 per cent.
The comment which I made to the author of that article on inflation as an election issue was made in the context of the Government’s success in overcoming that problem. This, of course, has been further emphasised by the release last Thursday of the consumer price index figures showing an increase of 2 per cent for the September quarter.
There were also comments in relation to the timing of an election. I prefaced those comments by stating clearly that it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative to call an election when he thought the electorate should pass judgment on his Government’s performance. I expressed no strong preference for any election timing.
On the basis of the Government’s performance and my own active and effective representation of Kingston constituents I said that I was ready to face the electors at any time. I did express some slight preference for December 1977 or December 1 978 over May 1 978 because I said there may be some school leavers still seeking employment at that time. But I certainly did not give that point the strong emphasis which it is given in the article. I made it el lear that that was m fact only a temporary problem. I stated very clearly to the author that all the economic indicators and predictions by experts indicated that the second half of 1978 will show strong economic recovery with significant improvement in the employment situation.
The final misrepresentation of course was the heading of the article which stated ‘The Men Who Live in Fear of an Early Election’. I repeat that I am happy at any time to account for my stewardship of the electorate of Kingston. I said as quoted that things can change rapidly. Certainly in the month that has transpired between the conducting of that interview oy the author and its publishing in the National Times this week things have changed rapidly. We have seen the abuse of union power abetted by the Labor Party, and we have seen the Government’s continuing success on the economic front which makes me well prepared for any election.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now arguing the point. He will resume his seat.
-I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. I refer to a book published by Mr Paul Kelly entitled: The Unmaking of Gough. In it Mr Kelly states that I resigned as Minister for Labor and Immigration. That is not true.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
-I have received a letter from the Honourable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Prime Minister’s dishonouring of his election promises.
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-
– Speaking at the Liberal Party Federal Council nine days ago, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made this astonishing assertion:
In my 1975 election speech I made 5 1 specific promises. In less than two years over 30 have been fully implemented; five partially implemented and a further ten are under implementation.
Dr Goebbels used a propaganda technique known as ‘the big lie’. Our present Prime Minister uses a technique which owes less to Dr Goebbels than to Lewis Carroll, ‘What I tell you three times is true’. But if the Prime Minister were to repeat his assertion of Sunday week three or 33 times, the people of Australia would not believe him any more than they would believe bis assertions of restored prosperity made in his weekly broadcast three Sundays ago. Every Australian knows that this is a government of broken promises. The road down which Australia has struggled and stumbled over the last two years is littered with broken promises. Solemn undertakings have been repudiated and agreements with the States have been broken. Every member of this House knows it and, more important, every Australian voter knows it and will remember it at the ballot box next time.
The truth is that the Liberal policy speech of 1975, to which the Prime Minister referred, was an exercise in deception- a manifesto of misrepresentation. In both its general statements and its specific pledges it was designed to deceive and to mislead. Presumably, it succeeded but the end result is that the credibility of this Government has been eroded to vanishing point. The people of Australia no longer believe what this Government says and, in particular, no longer believe what this Prime Minister says. They are right not to do so. It is all on the record- and what a sorry record it is. Let us look at some of the undertakings given by the Prime Minister in 1975 and compare the promise with the performance. He undertook ‘to restore prosperity, to defeat inflation and provide jobs for all’. He said: ‘Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all who want to work’.
The prosperity provided by this Government has meant the first real drop in living standards that Australians have experienced since the war. The average wage rate for adult males fell by 2.6 per cent in real terms in the past year. The Budget Papers themselves concede that real average weekly earnings were lower in the June quarter this year than in the September quarter last year. Real disposable income per head fell by 3.7 per cent between the June quarters of last year and this year. Real national income fell in the first half of 1977. So much for the prosperity of those still in employment. The Government which promised ‘to provide jobs for all’ has created the worst unemployment since the Great Depression. The Statistician’s seasonally adjusted figures, published last week, showed that 5.7 per cent of the work force was unemployed. The gap between registered unemployed and registered vacancies has widened. In August, there was one job for every 15 unemployed. According to the Statistician, unemployment has risen 31 per cent from August 1975 to August this year. According to the Commonwealth Employment Service figures it has risen by 32 per cent from September 1975 to September this year. It will rise above 400,000- more than 7 per cent of the work force- next year. This is the achievement of the Government which promised to provide jobs for all. The present Prime Minister went on to say in his policy speech:
We have a comprehensive strategy to restore prosperity.
In fact, there was no comprehensive strategy. There was no strategy at all. We were to have an investment-led recovery. It has not happened. Then we were to have a consumer-led recovery. It has not happened. Then we were to have an export-led recovery. It has not happened. There has been no recovery and there is no restoration of prosperity. He continued:
The major element in this strategy is to bring about growth in production in the private sector.
Yet industrial production in June this year was below the level of November 1975. The level of industrial production has been falling in each month since January this year. He promised:
We will fully index personal income tax over three years.
In performance, full indexation was introduced for part of the first year, partial indexation in the second year, and half indexation in the third year. Family allowances have not been indexed, so their real value has been sharply reduced. The personal tax system has been fundamentally altered in favour of the very top income earners to the disadvantage of the vast majority of Australian families. He said:
Spending on essential education, health and welfare programs will be protected against inflation.
The truth of the performance is that education spending has been reduced in real terms for 1978, despite increased enrolments; $ 13.8m has been syphoned off from government schools to non-government schools, in explicit contradiction to the recommendations which the Schools Commission made on the basis of the respective needs of schools. In health, expenditure on the hospitals development program has been reduced by 63 per cent in real terms- from $108m in 1975-76 to $50m this financial year. The community health program has suffered a reduction of $ 15.3m. The completion of the school dental health scheme has been deferred from 1982 to 1990. In resounding terms, the Prime Minister declared:
We will maintain Medibank.
It was a clear deception. The Australian people understood by that promise that the universal health insurance scheme would remain. It has been dismantled. He said:
We stand by our commitment to abolish the means test on pensions.
Two budgets later, the process of the abolition of the means test remains where it was in 1975. He promised:
The real value of pensions will be preserved.
The value of the single rate pension has dropped from 24.2 per cent of average weekly earnings in the December quarter 1975 to 23.7 per cent in the June quarter this year. The Prime Minister promised clearly and specifically:
Economies can and will be made in government spending without disrupting essential programs or programs for which contracts have already been let.
In May last year the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) announced that contracts worth $60m had been cancelled. This year’s Budget cancelled expenditure on the national sewerage program in every State. The water resources program has been abandoned. Pipeline Authority construction, for which contracts had already been let, was cut by 43.4 per cent. Total capital works spending was reduced by $127m. The present Prime Minister promised:
We will continue urban programs.
Expenditure on growth centres has been reduced from $71.8m in 1975-76 to $15.1m this financial year. The area development program has been abolished. The Prime Minister stated:
A growth rate of 6-7 per cent would enable us to halve the deficit. It won’t happen unless, policies for growth are adopted immediately.
Of course, instead of growth policies, the Fraser Government has adopted policies designed, in the words of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), to achieve ‘salvation through stagnation ‘. The actual growth rate over the 18 months from the December quarter 1975 to the June quarter this year, has been 3.4 per cent per annum, and most of that occurred in the March quarter of last year when Labor policies were still operating. The rate of growth from March 1976 to June this year has been 2.1 per cent per annum. What happened to the 6 per cent to 7 per cent promised by the present Prime Minister? In his policy speech the Prime Minister declared:
We will work positively in co-operation with trade unionists.
That came from a government which has set upon a course of deliberate confrontation and provocation throughout its term- a government which deliberately prolonged the air traffic controllers strike, which rushed through in a single day the Commonwealth Employees (Employment Provisions) Act, overturning arrangements which have existed for 70 years, and which moved to deregister unions involved in the Victorian power dispute in the middle of discussions between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the unions. In his policy speech, the Prime Minister continued:
The Government will support wage indexation.
On 3 1 January last year, six weeks after the election, the Government announced its opposition to full indexation. In succeeding hearings, it has opposed even partial wage indexation. The State Electricity Commission dispute itself has its roots in the Government’s breach of promise over wage indexation. The Prime Minister promised:
We will be generous to those who cannot get a job.
His generosity consists in unlawfully refusing school leavers the unemployment benefit, forcing the unemployed to wait in arrears for the unemployment benefit, and attempting to deny the benefit to employees who are stood down because of industrial disputes for which they are in no way responsible. The Prime Minister declared:
A Liberal-National Country Party Government will initiate a new deal for migrants.
A new deal there has surely been. The 1977 Budget reduced migrant education services by 6 per cent in real terms compared with last year’s Budget. No funds have been made available for interpreter/translator training courses. Special migrant welfare services have been reduced by 12 per cent in real terms. It slashed the funds granted to the office of the Commissioner for Community Relations. The present Prime Minister promised:
We will maintain present levels of assistance to Aborigines.
Last financial year, expenditure was $24.3m below expenditure in 1975-76. The current Budget appropriates $10m less than the amount of expenditure in 1975-76- that is, a 24 per cent reduction in real terms in two years. The Aboriginal housing program has been reduced from $43.3m in 1975-76 to only $35.6m this year, a reduction of 44 per cent in real terms within two years. Aboriginal education programs have been reduced by 16 per cent in real terms, Aboriginal health programs by 1 3 per cent in real terms, and Aboriginal legal aid by 19 per cent. Under a Prime Minister who said in his policy speech: We will enable Aboriginals to be self reliant’, the number of Aboriginals registered as unemployed has risen by 48 per cent since October 1975.
The Prime Minister promised to ‘introduce land rights legislation based on justice for all’. Three months after this Government came into power, it froze half of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission’s allocation. Not one cent was allocated for purchase of land last financial year. The Prime Minister overrode the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) in the matter of the ratification of the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 107 in order to smother the issues of land rights and land acquisnon which that Convention raised. Cabinet has decided to oppose the land rights of Aborigines at Borroloola in the Northern Territory without consulting the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Prime Minister promised:
We shall ensure that no person is denied legal aid because of lack of means.
In performance, the legal aid service has been foisted on to the States and sharp restrictions on access to it have been imposed. Two years after the Prime Minister promised to establish a rural bank for long term finance, nothing has yet been done. The business community and the whole Australian community will have long to remember the resounding promises of the Prime Minister.
Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be a return to business confidence. Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all who want to work.
The Association of Chambers of Manufactures of Australia and Bank of New South Wales survey for September reported that a large majority of business respondents expected no change in the general business situation in the next sui months, following a contraction in output and new orders received during the September quarter.
Such is the real record of this Government as opposed to the phony claims of the Prime Minister nine days ago. The breach of all these promises was not forced upon the Government by economic necessity. They are promises which were made to be broken. They were made to deceive and, having served their purpose, to be discarded. The Prime Minister who destroyed two former leaders of his party by breaking his word to them has shown his true form. But this time it is something far worse, far more serious, far more reprehensible: He has broken his word to the people of Australia not once but over and over again. They will not forget it.
– It was interesting to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) making a totally negative speech in this place. This was not the first occasion on which he has taken the opportunity of expressing negativism in this chamber. It would seem to me that the services and the wellbeing of Australia would be better served by a leader of the Opposition who offered some positives to the nation. The Leader of the Opposition should check through the list that he has just read out and answer whether his charges have been made by him honestly. He quoted from the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser): ‘We will reduce the tax burden. We will put an end to Labor’s tax rip-off”. In the first year of this Government’s office $990m was reduced from the tax take by the Australian Government. In the second year of this Government’s office $962m was reduced. In the year to come $ 1,300m will be not taken from the Australian taxpayer. This is a fulfilment of the promise that we would reduce the tax burden.
The next promise to which the Leader of the Opposition referred was that where an estate or part of it passed between a husband or wife estate duty would be changed to give an increased tax exemption. This has been done by the Government. The next promise referred to was: We will remove the injustices of Labor’s tax scale’. By the sheer fact of inflation the Labor Party succeeded in raising the tax take from the Australian people from $10,00Om to $24,000m in just two years. It doubled the tax take by inflation in two years. This Government has in fact reduced the tax take and has a commitment to continue reducing the tax take. The Government, on coming to office, said that it would change quarterly tax collection of company tax and would suspend it for the period of the present crisis. That has been done.
Let us look at what the Government has done in the housing area. The promise was a brief one: We shall introduce a new and improved home savings grant to assist first home buyers bridge the deposit gap’. That program has been introduced, together with many other programs and many other directives which have been of great assistance to the young people of this country in acquiring their first home. We have completely rewritten the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement so that it will bring an equity into the program. That was an initiative that the previous Government did not contemplate. Let us look at foreign affairs. I am sure that those people who have a remembrance of or an attachment to Europe will remember the Labor Party’s policy on the Baltic states. We reversed recognition of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states within a few weeks of coming to office. That was one foreign affairs achievement on which the Leader of the Opposition failed to comment.
The real value of pensions will be preserved’. I do not know what could be fairer to the pensioners of this nation than to link pensions to the increase in the cost of living. It seems to me that the commitment to legislation of an on-going program for equity for the pensioners of this nation is recognised by the pensioners who have benefited from the Government’s thoughtfulness and the justice in its program. The commitment was that these benefits would be protected against inflation. They have been protected against inflation. The Government made a further commitment to instruct the Industries Assistance Commission to take note of the Government’s policy. Those actions have been followed and have recently been enshrined in legislation to make sure that the Industries Assistance Commission follows the instructions.
The commitment on employment and industrial relations was that office bearers of all trade unions and all employer organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act would be elected under Electoral Office supervision by secret ballot. That promise has not been quite fulfilled, but a fairness in election for all unions has been introduced by this Government so that those people who make up the silent majority have an opportunity now of having a voice in the affairs of trade unions. It is a great shame that within the last weeks and months a number of trade unions have not been acting on the directions of their members. The strike in Victoria is a current example. That strike was badly handled by the shop stewards. It should not have taken place. ‘We will work positively in co-operation with trade unions’. I am sure that if members on the other side examined the record of this Government they would see an active participation and an active endeavour to understand and co-operate with the union movement in Australia. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has been most patient, most discerning and most co-operative with unions, particularly in the establishment of the National Labour Consultative Council.
The reserve price of 250c per kilo for wool during the 1976-77 season was achieved by this Government. ‘We will ease eligibility provisions for unemployment assistance to farmers’. That has been done by this Government. Within the area of federalism and funding to State governments there has been a share in the income tax, a proper capacity to share in the tax take of this nation and an ability to share on an equitable basis so that no longer are Premiers Conferences rounds of squabbling and rounds of recrimination, one government against the other. The federalism policy has provided a sound basis of financial independence and responsibility for State and local governments. An independent Council for Inter-government Relations, designed to resolve problems between the levels of government, has been established, is active, is following out the directions and is starting to provide a real sense of co-operation and working spirit between the levels of government.
If the Leader of the Opposition had wished he could have taken up the Governor-General’s Speech which was given on 17 February 1976 and which outlined the Government’s program in detail. It gave in detail some of the Government’s commitments during the election campaign. The Governor-General, in making the Speech on behalf of the Government, said:
The disadvantaged must be helped in ways which leave them the maximum independence.
He said that there would be no more interference on a personal basis but that there would be a capacity for voluntary agencies and people to take up benefits and to assist themselves. The family allowance benefit is an outstanding example of this program. It was introduced in the early days of this Government, within the first few months. It has been applauded by all families throughout
Australia. The Governor-General also referred to ‘the freedom of Australians to choosewithout exploitation- the kinds of goods, services and styles of life they want, and to minimise direction by Government and the unnecessary redirection of resources through the government’s bureaucracy’. Let us look back to the days of the Labor Government when we saw a redirection of every resource and a willingness of the Government to involve itself in every activity of an individual’s way of life, whether it was a corporate individual or a family. The GovernorGeneral also referred to ‘the growth of the Federal bureaucracy’. The massive development in government control could have been matched only by a massive growth in the bureaucracy. This Government has moved to remove that growth, to allay that growth and to allow some of the taxpayers funds to flow back to people in such a way that they may take advantage of their own decisions.
One should ask the Leader of the Opposition: What does the Labor Party stand for?’ One must look, I would take it, at some of the decisions of the Perth Conference in May of this year. It decided on a ban on uranium, a repudiation of contracts, endorsement of a centrally planned economy with strong government intervention at all levels and endorsement of considerably increased taxation to pay for social objectives. That must be the result of the decisions in Perth. If the benefits are to be increased, taxation must be increased. This Government has moved away from increased taxation. It believes that individuals are the best judges of their needs. It has moved to support the individual, without increasing taxation. The Labor Party today is committed to the abandonment of full income tax indexation. It endorses the policy that trade union actions should not be limited to industrial matters. This is part of the Labor Party’s industrial relations policy. If one were to read all of the Labor Party’s decisions in detail one would surely see that the Labor Party wishes to move back, lt has learnt nothing from its period in office, and it has forgotten nothing from its period in office.
I am sure honourable members will be eager to see what has happened to this Government’s commitment to bring down inflation, which was its prime objective when it came into office. Its aim was to reduce the increasing financial commitment of people purchasing goods, businesses seeking further investment or pensioners seeking to maintain their lifestyle and way of life.
The House will be aware that only in the last few days the consumer price index has indicated that the inflation rate in this country is less than 10 per cent. The House will be aware that today the investment that is foreseen by businessmen as a direct outcome of this Government’s policy will show a sharp rise in the second half of 1977. Businesses overall expect an 18 per cent rise in spending on items such as plant, equipment and buildings. This will provide jobs and increase employment. This indicates confidence in the direction that the Government is taking. After adjusting for seasonal factors, the expected increase in investment for all industries is 14 per cent. This compares with an actual rise of 6 per cent in the first half of 1977, the level predicted for that period. For the mining industry, the expected rise is 66 per cent after seasonal adjustment and for manufacturing the expected rise is 33 per cent. So much for the Leader of the Opposition’s comments on the way in which this Government has failed to fulfil its promises.
If this country pauses to assess the direction in which the Government intends to go, it will see that the need for further investment, new job opportunities, new technologies, further development of our industries and an improvement in the way of life of all Australians is right with us. This need can be fulfilled provided there is a continuance of safe, sound and stable government. The Labor Party has not promised safe, sound and stable government. Instead, it wants more of what went before. The Liberal Party is a party of progress that has taken hard times and brought together the difficult factors of the mess that was left behind by the previous Administration. It has done so with confidence and with firmness. It has made decisions that no governments like making- decisions that have hurt some people but decisions that have now proved beneficial and which have proved that this country now has the opportunity of taking up a future that is full of possibilities and chances for the creative talents of Australians at all levels. It is a future that is full of opportunities for the young, the elderly and the middleagedopportunities that did not exist under the previous Government. If we can move ahead with confidence in such a way that industrial unrest and the disruption created by a few people within the work force can be overcome, the average Australian working man will benefit by the confidence and the sense of security which this Government has brought to him. Should the opportunity arise, he will seize it.
-When I saw the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) sitting at the table at the commencement of this debate, I hoped that he would speak, because no Minister has been as irresponsible and no Minister has abdicated his responsibilities as much as that Minister. It now behoves us to listen to every other Minister in the Cabinet making statements on industrial relations that are bringing about a major confrontation between this Government and the trade union movement in defiance of what this Government said in December 1975 that it would do. I think that the conduct of this Government and the promises it has made have to be seen in relation to the way in which it conducted itself during the period of the Labor Government. It is a fact that the Labor Government raised the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people to new heights during the period 1972 to 1975. All of a sudden many thousands of people throughout this country were involved in politics, decision making and understanding what Canberra perhaps had to offer.
It was only Australia ‘s suffering from what was the worst recession to go through the Western economies since the Depression that frustrated the Labor Government from bringing into effect all the things that it said prior to the 1972 elections it would do. The then Opposition- the present Government- continually harangued the Government as if the economic recession between 1972 and 1975 were merely within the borders of Australia as if the Labor Government were responsible for all the problems within the economy. It completely ignored what was happening throughout the rest of the world. It was on that note, after the action of the GovernorGeneral on 11 November 1975, that we went into the elections that brought about this great spate of policies that Mr Fraser said were to be implemented by him in government during the current term of office. What a peculiar government it is. Firstly, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has so accurately pointed out, it just cannot be believed. What an absolute circus we are operating in now. Seven of the most senior Ministers of this Government were photographed last weekend walking around a paddock with a bull talking about matters of great national consequence. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), when questioned again today about whether the Australian people will have to go to the polls soon, refused to give an answer. Apparently the bull at ‘Nareen’ knows more than the Australian people are entitled to know. This is the attitude and the level of politiCS that exist under this Government.
It is no news to anybody that the Fraser Administration could treat so lightly the promises it made leading up to the election in 1975. It could be no surprise to anyone that it would treat industrial relations as the springboard in trying to be returned to office at the election which is to be held in Australia on 10 December this year. That is the way this Government treats politics. It seeks power, not to give leadership to the Australian community, not to raise the level of the community or its aspirations and horizons in Uving standards but merely to put forward a series of promises in the hope that the majority of people will believe them. Let us look at Mr Fraser’s policy speech so eloquently presented in December 1975. He said:
There will be an end to Government extravagances and excesses.
That is the first promise that this Government made to the people of Australia in December 1975. We have heard time and time again in this Parliament, following stories which have been broken in the newspapers, about some of the extravagances of this Government- the extensions to the Lodge because it was not big enough for the present Prime Minister, the special motor car that had to be bought for $16,000 in Melbourne because his legs were too long and the $9,000 that was spent on the new crockery set at the Lodge because the old crockery set was not good enough for the new Prime Minister. It was said that we would not have a tourist as Prime Minister. This Prime Minister has been overseas on more occasions in his first two years of office than has any previous Prime Minister.
So much for the first lot of promises. He built this image during the latter part of 1974 and early 1975 after he had so ruthlessly got rid of the present Speaker, Mr Snedden, who was then Leader of the Liberal Party. His whole political career was built around getting people to believe things that were never going to happen or getting rid of people who stood in his way and having us live in this absolute circus of politics. Let us see what he had to say further on. In view of what the Prime Minister said, I should like to invite the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to get up and speak in this debate. The Prime Minister, on page 2 of his policy speech, gave great emphasis to industrial relations. He said:
We will work positively in co-operation with trade unionists.
That is an explicit promise to the trade unionists of this country about the way in which the Government would work. Only six days ago this Government was talking about putting troops into the Latrobe Valley. That is how it interprets working in co-operation with trade unionists. There has been absolutely no desire, not only on the part of the Government but on the part of any member of the Government, to rationalise relationships with the trade unions. With all the huff and puff that has gone on in this Parliament and the Victorian Parliament the dispute in the Latrobe Valley has been settled by negotiation led by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in defiance of the threats that have come out of the parliaments. This Government is using the Parliament to try to exploit the disputes that arise between employers and employees within the country.
There is no desire on behalf of this Government to co-operate with trade unionists. As far as this Government is concerned, trade unionists are second class citizens and that is the way in which the Government is going to continue to treat them. Yesterday, one of the largest employer groups-the Metal Trades Industry Association- met in Canberra. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations was not invited to make a speech but the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon)- the Minister for Transport, mind you- went along and made a speech for 40 minutes about industrial relations, how bad the unions are and who is governing the country. Here is a government with the biggest majority that any government has had since Federation and its Ministers are walking around making speeches to large seminars and forums and asking who is governing the country. I do not know whether anybody on that side of the House can count, but in this House there are 91 LiberalNational Country Party members and 36 Labor Party members. Yet the Government asks who is governing the country. This is another attempt to exploit the differences between government and employers and government and employees. It is a useless exercise; it brings about a confrontation in which there are no winners. We ought to be trying to get people to negotiate sensibly in the manner in which Bob Hawke has indicated over the last fortnight.
In the same 1975 policy speech in which Mr Fraser spoke about co-operating with the trade unionists, he said:
Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all those who want to work.
The honourable member for Mitchell emphasised the point. He said: ‘We are going to put people to work’. Let me just remind honourable members opposite that there are now 100,000 people more registered as out of work in Australia than at the time of the defeat of the Labor Administration in 1975. In addition, many of the females in the work force have not registered as unemployed. Of the young people leaving schools and colleges in 1 977, only 50 per cent can expect to get work in their first six months after leaving that school or college. That was the sort of promise made in December 1975 but this is the way in which this Government is trying to fulfil its promises. It ignores completely the need to have proper industrial relations in this country and it exploits people who are looking for jobs in the vain hope that perhaps there will be some minor decrease in the rate of inflation in Australia.
There are two forgotten areas, two great deserts in this Government’s thinking- industrial relations and work for those who require it. So, during the forthcoming election’ campaign, let honourable members opposite go out and make the same promise, but this time let them be decent enough to tell those who are searching for work that it is not part of the Government’s policies for 1977-78 to put people back to work. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch), in his Budget Speech this year, said that he expected unemployment 12 months hence to be just as high as it was when the Budget was presented. No emphasis has been placed by this Government on putting people back to work. No emphasis or urgency is given to the problem of industrial relations. Those things will become major issues in the campaign which is going to be waged between now and 10 December. We have to get this circus out of Australian politics and the best way to do that is to return a Labor Government.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is a long time since I have heard such utter political tripe and bovine bulldust as we have just heard from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). This Government, unlike the Government of which the honourable member for Port Adelaide was a member, does have a good record in management, honest government and performance. The honourable member for Port Adelaide said a great deal about the unemployment figures. I should just like to bring some of the facts to the attention of this House. Under the Labor Government, that is between 1972 and 1975, unemployment rose by over 140 per cent. It is fairly significant that the honourable member for Port Adelaide cannot stand the strain, as has now left the chamber. Incidentally, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam), who brought this matter before the House, also does not seem to have the courtesy to stay here and stay with the subject; he cannot take the truth. (Quorum formed).
I was making the point that it is fairly significant that the Leader of the Opposition, who brought this matter forward for discussion, does not even have the courtesty to come into the chamber and listen to the replies. I was saying also that under the Labor Government, between December 1972 and December 1975, unemployment rose by a staggering 140 per cent. The number of unemployed rose from 136,769 to 328,705, or 5.4 per cent of the work force. In contrast, from August 1975 to August 1977, the only other two complete years for which figures are available, it rose by only 34.5 per cent. It is obvious that this Government has been doing its utmost to contain unemployment. So the massive rise in unemployment occurred under the Labor Government. The people will not forget that the Whitlam Government was a dishonest government. It is still the same old party as we knew previously and which will be facing any election, whenever it may be held. The people of Australia will not forget that.
The performance of this Government has been quite remarkable. For instance, we have brought about the most far reaching tax reforms this country has ever seen. It is significant that from 1 February about 90 per cent of taxpayers will pay only a standard rate of 32c in the dollar, with no tax being paid on the first $3,750. My colleague mentioned pensions. Pensions have been coupled to the consumer price index and, as promised by this Government, the increases will e paid twice a year. But what about the Labor Government and its promises? The Labor Government said that it would look after this country. I cite a couple of instances. The air navigation charges were increased under Labor. In its last year of office, the Labor Government promised to raise the charges by 300 per cent. As a result, a majority of regular passenger transport networks went out of business and a lot of people are now unable to get their mail or to travel in the outback and rural areas of Australia. We immediately took this in hand and, under the present Government, increases in air navigation charges have been of the order of only 15 per cent.
Honourable members opposite talk about economic management. This Government has a tremendous record in economic management. The consumer price index is now at a reasonable figure. It is now a single digit figure. Obviously we have a lot more work to do on reducing inflation, and this is a government that will be able to do that work. There was a tremendous breakthrough when this Government gave massive increases of money by way of family allowances to the poor people, to the people who really need it. The Government has made a turn-about in this area. It has re-implemented incentives for the exploration for petroleum and minerals. Some of the incentives introduced by this Government have now started those industries moving again. We have seen progress and massive development since his Government came to power, with the investment of about $ 14,000m in new projects. When in government the Australian Labor Party was quite adamant that it would allow the mining and export of uranium. For instance, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) said:
Since we have taken over the administration of the policy in this area, particularly in respect of uranium, we have said that we intend to export as much of it as we can.
What is Labor’s position now? The then Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, said:
Those uranium deposits which do not concern Aboriginal lands and the mining of which complies with proper environmental conditions into which public inquiries are about to take place will of course be available for export and in due course for processing within Australia.
It is significant that this Government, after considering and implementing all the major recommendations of the Fox report, has decided to allow the mining, milling and export of uranium under the most stringent controls. The honourable member for Port Adelaide referred to the purchase of a car but he did not mention the fact that the present Leader of the Opposition, when in government, purchased a Mercedes car for more than $30,000. I think that it is fairly significant that the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) snowed a lot of restraint in purchasing a car which cost only about $16,000, in escalated money terms.
– -Australian made.
– It was Australian made, which is even more important. The present Government said that it would not re-implement the tax on gold. I am pleased to say that that promise has been carried out and that gold remains not taxable. The Government said that it would implement section 23P of the Income Tax Assessment Act. This will be a great incentive to the prospectors of Australia. I believe that legislation is presently being prepared to carry out that promise. The Labor Government had a record of destroying the mining and rural industries. In fact it knocked the guts out of this country. There is no question but that this Government has re-established incentive. This
Government has consideration for those industries. We have seen and we will continue to see a revival in this area.
I wonder what sorts of promises the Leader of the Opposition made to the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) to get him to resign. We have heard a little about that today. I wonder what sort of promise the Leader of the Opposition made to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) to try to convince him that he ought not to run for leadership or to knock the Leader of the Opposition off in the leadership stakes. I reiterate that, under this Government, we will see a revival. We will see great confidence regenerated in this country. The memory of the terrible, hard years under the Whitlam Government will make people shudder for a long while and the effects of those three years will be reflected in the polls for many years to come. I believe that this Government will govern the country in an honest and stable manner for a long time to come.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The discussion is now concluded.
The Customs TariffProposals I have just tabled relate to proposed alterations to the Customs Tariff Act 1966. Proposals No. 32 implement the Government’s decisions on recommendations made by:
The Temporary Assistance Authority in its report on rubber tyres and tyre cases; and
The Industries Assistance Commission in its reports on-
Stranded wire, cables, etc., of copper; insulated electric wire, cables, etc.; and
Potatoes and processed potato products.
The effects of the decisions are to apply the following duties:
Forty per cent to imports of all truck and bus tyres and radial ply tyres for cars and utilities;
Five per cent plus $75 per tonne to uninsulated copper wire imports;
A long term rate of 15 per cent to most imports of insulated electric wire; and
Rates ranging from 10 per cent on raw potatoes to 50 per cent on processed potatoes.
Embargo restrictions on raw potato imports will continue to apply. The new duties operate from tomorrow. I have had prepared a comprehensive summary of the changes contained in the Proposals which has been circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morris) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 20 October.
Department of Education
Proposed expenditure, $479,963,000.
-There is no doubt that the Government can take real pride in the funds that it has made available for education despite the major objective that the Government has pursued since it came to office, to reduce inflation. One of the methods by which it intended to achieve that objective was a reduction in government expenditure and consequently a reduction in the enormous deficits which were a legacy from the Whitlam Labor Government. The very beneficial results of the Government’s program of reducing inflation are reflected in the latest consumer price index figures. The Government has provided guidelines for the Schools Commission and within these guidelines it has recommended a program for 1978 totalling $ 1,740.7m. It is correct to say that wages and salaries form the major part of the current grants for education expenditure and they will continue to be supplemented by the Government to cover the cost increases. The Government intends to permit all the projects contained in the Advanced Education Commission’s program in 1978 to continue. It will increase by $3m expenditure for technical college buildings in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
Although guidelines have been set down for the Commission the Government desires that within these guidelines the Commission should have as much flexibility as possible. In this regard the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick), will be empowered to effect transfers of capital funds both between sectors of the educational program and between States after advice from the Commission. The States grants legislation will ensure that any transfers will be subject to prior consultation by the Commission and the State authorities. Any transfers that are made will be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament so there will be ample opportunity for members of parliament and, through the Parliament, for the community to know exactly what is taking place in that area. There will be nothing hidden in regard to those transfers that may be made. They will be made in the best interests of educational advancement generally.
When looking specifically at schools we see that the Government’s expenditure program for schools in 1978 amounts to $571m at December cost levels. Government schools will receive $337. 3m and non-government schools will receive $2 10.2m whilst $23.4m is to be shared jointly between the government and nongovernment sectors. Schools Commission grants represent about 15 per cent of the total cost of government schools in the States. The amount of some $5m to be provided to non-government schools embodies an important principle and one emphasised by the Schools Commission. This is a factor which has received a lot of publicity but which I believe has not been looked at in the context of taking into consideration all factors that are involved. In 1976, non-government primary schools were operating at a level 28 per cent below that of government schools, a decline of 5 per cent since 1972. Surely this is a situation which, in all conscience, should be rectified and the Government has taken steps, through that $5m, to do just that. Non-government secondary schools were 15 per cent below government schools, a decline of 2 per cent.
Against that background of significant inequality and demonstrable real need, the Commission, m its 1977-79 report, had reported previously on the need for increased capital expenditure for new schools in new growth areas. It was self-evident that that was needed and the Government has met that need, to that extent at any rate. Whilst the Commission did not specify a particular level of capital funds for this purpose, it has made it quite clear that it wishes the State Planning and Finance Committees to consider this priority. The Federal Government’s decision, therefore, to earmark $3m towards new capital projects must be soundly based, particularly as the amount will be distributed on the basis of strict need upon the recommendations of the State Planning and Finance Committees of the Schools Commission. The fact that overall funding to State schools has been increased very substantially means that this decision has not been taken at the expense of or to the detriment of the State system, but that the funds are to be used and provided as a topping up of State Government resources. With an increase in Commonwealth payments to the States this financial year of more than $600m, or 17 per cent under the tax sharing arrangements, the States have ample capacity to increase further their spending on education, if they so wish.
– Money running out of their ears.
-My friend, the honourable member for Darling Downs, says that they have money running out of their ears. I guess that would be a debatable point in a State context. Nevertheless, the States have been treated with great consideration by the Federal Government. Through the funds that are made available, they can provide funds for education to a greater degree than they were able to do before. Although the resource levels in non-government schools have increased, the gap between the average levels of resource usage in government and nongovernment schools has widened since 1972. It is to help reduce further deterioration in the relative position of non-government schools that the Government has accepted that per capita grants for non-government schools should be linked to per pupil running costs in government schools. This link, together with enrolment increases and changes in levels of support, is expected to cost and additional $8.8m in 1978. Who on the Opposition side of the House is prepared to challenge the need and the merit of that particular Government proposal. Non-government schools educate 20 per cent of our school population. If they continue to enrol a shrinking proportion of the student population, as they have done in recent years because of a lack of facilities to absorb them, obviously these students must be pushed into government schools, causing real pressures with overcrowding and, of course, costing the taxpayer very much more.
This policy is reasonable and sound. It is a policy that this Government has adopted and will continue to adopt to try to maintain that level of assistance to non-government schools. The Government has accepted the Commission’s recommendation that funding for the emergency assistance scheme of $500,000 would be appropriate next year within the total funds available. This scheme provides emergency grants to nongovernment schools suffering severe financial difficulties as a result of an unexpected drop in enrolments of country students. An amount of $ 14.8m will be provided for services and development programs in 1978. The Government has accepted the Commission’s recommendation that the allocations for development activities and associated staff replacement should be combined to give more flexibility to the States. For the special projects program, the
Government has accepted the proposed allocation of $3.6. to be comprised of $3m for school level innovations and $0.6m for national level activities.
I turn now to specific purpose programs. The Government will be continuing programs for disadvantaged schools in country areas and for special education, including provisions for children in institutions, at the same base level as in 1977. As recommended by the Commission, the base program for migrant and multi-cultural education, whilst the same in total has been adjusted between the States and systems to bring the payments more in line with the actual distribution of migrant children. Included in the amount of $23.4m provided for the joint CommonwealthState program is an amount of $3.8m for disadvantaged schools in country area projects. One of these projects is based at Charleville in my electorate and is working well. The whole project is designed to benefit all the appropriate areas throughout Australia. The project centred at Charleville runs from Roma to the Northern Territory border and south to the New South Wales border. It is intended, however, to work with the New South Wales State authorities and a meeting will be held at Bourke on 8 and 9 November to promote the combined Queensland-New South Wales-Commonwealth scheme. It is proposed that a radio facility should be used at Bourke but at the present time the radio is not yet licensed. I feel it is very important that a licence should be granted and I will be approaching the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to see whether provision for the granting of this licence could be expedited.
I refer next to the Isolated Children’s Parents Association and the tremendous work and great sacrifice the people who comprise that organisation have made. The cost of education to people in outlying areas is a tremendous burden and something more will have to be done about it. Non-government boarding schools have provided much of the education for students who have to live away from home. Hostels provided by organisations such as church bodies, the Country Women’s Association and local authorities also have played a very commendable part in this area but costs are of great concern and many boarding schools have closed the boarding section of their schools. There is a need for greater assistance to parents who have to send their children away to school.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-I think the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) needs to raise his sights, change his targets and rearrange his priorities. Apparently he takes his priorities from figures. That will not work. My colleague from Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), who is a good interjector but who does not offer much in the form of creative thought in these matters, had the brass to say that State schools in Australia have money running out of their ears. I think it is time he visited some of them. It is time he visited Melbourne. I will give him a tour of my electorate.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I claim to have been misrepresented.
-Order! The Committee cannot accept a personal explanation at this time. The Committee will hear the personal explanation immediately after the speaker has finished his remarks. I call the honourable member for Wills.
-If I have done the honourable member disservice or been inaccurate in my statement about him, I will be glad if he corrects it because if there is one member of this place who needs to be correct occasionally it is the honourable member for Darling Downs.
One of the features of the last three or four years has been the consistent attack upon the Labor Party’s education policy by people who use it as a stalking horse in politics, without saying anything specific about what they would have done. It was a remarkable performance to raise the amount of public effort in education in Australia in the three years in which the Labor Party was in government. It is significant that when the attacks come upon Labor’s expenditure on education they are never specific. While in opposition the Government indulged in a campaign of innuendo and misrepresentation and while in government has continued to misrepresent its own activities. I refer for instance to the statement that it is maintaining 2 per cent real growth in education. That is very difficult to support from the figures. One of the weaknesses in education over the last two or three years, perhaps four years, has been the hiatus in public demand, public criticism and public campaigning. The ordinary citizen seems to have lapsed into some sort of apathy about education. It is very rare now for delegations to come to members to tell them what is needed in education. There were features of the Australian education system which the Labor Government wished to sponsor and there were features which it wanted to eradicate. The Australian education system has been notable for its universality for the last 100 years. It has been available across the continent to all and sundry, accessible to everybody. Despite its universality there were innumerable inequalities which are still there. Unfortunately this Government, through its assistance to the private sector in education and particularly the level six schools, is aggravating the situation. The Australian education system unfortunately continues to be conservative in its approach to the future. I do not think the schools in Australia are making adequate preparation for the future in respect of the form of society into which we are likely to be cast- and I think the position in 1977 is markedly different even from 1 967.
When I look at the expenditure by the Curriculum Development Centre I can see that last year $2m was expended and this year there is an allocation of $1.9m which is not a significant decrease but when one takes into account inflation and other matters that are apparent in education, it is a significant decrease in terms of possible effort.
I want to raise the question of technical education and in particular the disadvantaged schools in my electorate. I point out to the House that during our term in office- and it is possibly still the same- the Victorian Government was totally inadequate in its approach to these matters. The inner areas of Melbourne and Sydney- it is the ones in Melbourne and in my own area particularly which I know best- are places where there are gravely disadvantaged schools in which school buildings are inadequate, at which the children come from disadvantaged homes and the general social system or the availability of social amenities is inadequate. That is the place where we want to put in real effort. It does not matter much whether it goes to government schools or non-government schools because they are both in a similar situation.
I have a deep personal disappointment in the fact that I still have to raise in this place the situation of one of my own schools. I raise this afternoon the situation of the Brunswick Technical School. I was the secretary of my Party’s education committee almost from a year or so after I became a member of Parliament until I entered the Ministry in 1972. During that period the Party apparatus worked solidly on the question of education, developed its priorities and knew where it wanted to go but one of the great inadequacies of the system was having to rely upon the States. By the time the Commonwealth Government sent the money off to various of the State governments and particularly Victoria one could be sure that one was not going to end up with the same priorities as the Commonwealth Government and I suggest that the same thing applies at the present moment. There is total inadequacy in buildings, equipment and in the capacity to produce special education.
The Brunswick Technical School is, of course, a very important institution because it is in the heart of one of the industrial areas in Australia. It sits on 2Vi acres of broken asphalt which is not even level in the sense that there have been different stages of development over time. The buildings are a disgrace for one of the wealthiest countries in the world. One of the sad things of this life is to compare present standards with the standards that existed in the days of our grandparentsmy own grandparents and the great grandparents of the younger members of this House. Not far away from the Brunswick Technical School there are buildings which in their time must have been the best buildings for miles around. I refer to schools which were built in the 1880s. Now the hotels down the road are better equipped, better serviced and better built than the schools to which I am referring. The Brunswick Technical School operates in seriously depressed surroundings. I was told that when people tried to reglaze the windows the timber was so bad that it would not hold the glass. So at this school we are developing young people of great competence in surroundings of great drabness and inadequacy. I want to demonstrate this by showing honourable members some of the work produced at this school. I think we totally underestimate and undervalue the capacity of young people to be trained in all sorts of fields of competence. We get a view of their literacy or capacity to write or to be articulate in our language and then measure them by that view. I visited the Brunswick school on Sunday and I was incautious enough to admire some of the things the children were turning out. So they gave me some. I have one here. It is a small vice that would probably cost about $20 in a shop. That was made in one of the machine shops of the Brunswick Technical School. I suppose there is nothing surprising about that- it is a high quality production as far as I can see- but the young people who worked on that were 14 and 1 5 years old.
As I see the education system in Australia it does not really stretch its candidates enough. It does not offer enough opportunity for them to move against themselves further and further in this area of general competence. They are not going to find enough jobs in Australia in which technology is removing 2,000 jobs a week, in a country in which 170,000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing industry over the last two years, a country in which there is going to be enormous redundancy of young people, a country in which at least one-third of the 250,000 coming out of the schools, universities and colleges this year will be unemployed for six months to nine months. We have to find new ways. I do not know how many people have been put out of work in Australia because of imports of things like this vice made in low wage countries.
I do not quite know what the solution is but I do know there is an extraordinary area of competence which we could employ if we had enough imagination to create new jobs or start new works, even to adopt a different policy about mass production and so on. I suggest that the House take good note of this. 1 hope that my colleagues here will take an opportunity next time they are driving to Melbourne from the airport to turn off the Tullamarine highway, turn down Dawson St, Brunswick, and stop and take a look at the Brunswick Technical School. If they cannot then steel themselves to demand that treasurers and the governments take action in a situation like that, it is impossible to get through to them.
-I claim to have been misrepresented.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond)- I call the honourable member on a personal explanation.
-In the speech on the estimates for the Department of Education my colleague the honourable member for Maranoa, Mr Corbett, was elaborating on the contribution by the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to the area of education. In the course of his remarks when he was giving various percentages I interjected and made a reference to the fact that some of the States had money running out of their ears. Unfortunately I know quite unintentionally- my colleague the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) took my remarks to be directed to State schools having money running out of their ears. That was not correct, it was not the intention of my remark. I was referring to the fact that some of the States, on account of the generosity of the Federal Government have money running out of their ears. The reference was not directed towards schools.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The honourable member cannot be personally misrepresented by interjection, but he has now successfully explained the position.
-I listened with great interest to the speech of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I was wondering whether he was giving the chamber a travelogue on his electorate as he pleaded a special case for a technical college in his area. I want to make a few comments in this debate on education today in Australia. It seems to me that a number of misconceptions are creeping into our education system. What concerns me most of all is what to do with the final product because far too often these days when one speaks to personnel managers of companies and when one speaks to people in various avenues of employment and you see the product which has been turned out from some of our educational centres you must pose the question: Are we on the right course? I sometimes feel that not a great deal of consideration is given to the basic causes but rather to some of the personal ambitions and empire building by people in some of our educational institutions. We are turning out a product which in many cases will be unemployable. We are unrelating our causes to the demands of today. We are not listening to the demands of the personnel managers in this nation. I think it is a matter of very great concern that these matters are not being looked at in the appropriate areas.
I have spent a number of years on the council of an Australian university. I have been to two universities, one here and one overseas. I am quite convinced that we need these days to review the general course of education. Expectations to the young have been fanned to a general degree that will not be able to be met in the 1980s and 1990s. A more practical approach is needed to the general avenues of education. I have to refer only to the well known Bachelor of Arts courses at universities. They are generally interesting but in the main produce a product which is not employable in today’s society. I have to look only at the question of where is the general tenor of direction of some of our universities and some of our other institutes. I am bound to say that I do not see it there.
There is not the relationship between the institutions and universities and society that there ought to be. There is not the cross relationship in setting the criteria of a course, in setting up the various parts of a department, that one would like to see when looking to the future of Australian youth. Where is the wisdom in this? It is in education that we have planned everyone’s expectations as to the salvation of the future. I believe we will need to approach this in a far more pragmatic way.
I refer for a start to the basic problem of sabbatical leave. One of the points which comes up at university councils and senates is the increasing use of this leave for the personal travel of a member of a senate or of an institution without any real relativity to what he is doing. I suggest that some consideration be given to the more appropriate use of this leave. A senior member of a law faculty could well exchange his year and work for a law firm and a member of the law firm could well work at the university. The same could be applied to engineering, accountancy and a number of the other professions. This, in itself, could start to build a cross relationship between the institute, the educational centre and the period of real life. In my view we are letting them float apart too much.
I refer also to a number of people who go through universities under the very privileged conditions which exist today and who opt out of life and stay at that institution because they do not want to go any further. There are some very good academics; quite frankly there are some very average ones, people who are afraid to get out and swim in the water. I would like to see in this cross relationship that instead of a sabbatical junket we take on a suggestion that the people concerned might go into the real world and work in the accountancy offices, in the engineering offices, in the mines and in the law offices of the nation and thereby get some real relativity into some of the courses of today.
Another avenue which I think will have to be looked at in the near future is the question of colleges of advanced education. These were established in fairly recent times to develop technical education. There is far more technical education needed in Australia. What has really happened in a lot of these colleges is that the empire builders have arrived. Instead of the colleges being satisfied with granting diplomas they now have to grant degrees. So they move within their own priorities and their own wishes. Frankly, it is time that stopped. These are technical education centres, and that is the services they should be forced to provide. It should be out with the empire builders and on with the common sense. The 1980s and 1990s I think will be a period of challenge for the individual- a personal survival test, one in which people should be equipped to meet the difficulties that will undoubtedly abound. It is not a time to fan expectations. It is not a time to turn technical education courses into another form of university which in itself produces an unemployable product.
We are not seeing the development or the demand for tertiary services that a lot of people expected. There is no reason to expect that this will occur under the economic circumstances that are likely to prevail in the 1980s and into the 1990s. I would like to bring some real relevance back into not only the universities but also the colleges of advanced education. Within these universities and centres there ought to be, through the Department of Education, some way in which the general thrust of spending programs is reviewed. In my time on one of the university councils it was a question of who could put up the best muscle around the finance committee and at the council meeting itself. Honourable members might well say that there is nothing new about that and that it even happens here. But it is a case where priorities should be set. Individuals should not be allowed to get into the centres with their own particular bent and direct moneys into areas which have very little relevance to the future.
As time is rapidly getting away from me, I will conclude on this point. While I have dealt with the higher levels of education I think we also need to do something in the primary and secondary levels. Governments in the 1960s and 1970s have undoubtedly paid a lot more attention to education than previously. I think they need to be commended for that, particularly in regard to universities. In some ways I suspect that secondary education has not been brought up to date and has not quite met the demands. It is this area in which the majority of young people will have to make their decision as to what they will do in the future. In some cases the decision will be made for them by their inability to pass exams. Nevertheless, it is in the secondary school that we should be putting forward the opportunities and involving these people within the community and involving the community with the schools. Unless the younger people are exposed to the likelihood of their future employment, to the real problems of the world and to the real problems down the street, frankly we are putting them into a position where they will not be able to cope when they leave school and when they are forced onto the job market and into relationships with other people which they may not be able to handle. I simply wanted to make this brief contribution to the estimates and to congratulate the Government.
-After an annual real growth of 39 per cent under the Labor Government, there has been no growth in education expenditure under this Government. This policy of no growth means no growth towards equality of opportunity, no growth on the part of disadvantaged schools in catching up with advantaged schools and no growth in terms of innovative programs which could tackle the needs of pupils and teachers by creating better teaching methods and better learning situations.
At present there is no growth in better education and no growth towards a fairer distribution of the benefits of education. Yet the education system is failing to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of school children each year who graduate without basic literacy or numeracy skills. An Australian Council for Educational Research survey of 10-year old and 14-year old students found that there is a considerable problem in Australian schools with significant numbers of children failing to reach adequate levels of numeracy and literacy. The survey also revealed that about only half the students who were thought by their teachers to need remedial teaching were receiving it. These children are functionally illiterate or innumerate. They cannot manage the every day tasks such as filling in forms, reading street names and keeping a budgettasks required for normal living in our complex industrial nation. A minimum level of basic education is essential in the society in which we live.
This is not the only area of failure of our education system. Further educational disadvantage is suffered by many other children, such as country students, Aborigines, migrants and girls. Country students suffer from high teacher turnover, lack of support services, inadequate boarding facilities and limited curricula, physical facilities and social contact. According to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, the school system has failed Aborigines very badly by its inappropriateness and inadequacy. This failure to meet the needs of Aboriginal students is at least in part due to socio-economic factors, racial prejudice, cultural irrelevancy and inappropriate teaching and curriculum resulting in high absenteeism and dropout rates.
The eduation system has failed the migrant communities in two major areas- the maintenance of home culture through schooling and the achievement by migrants of competence in the English language. The education system has failed many girls by reinforcing the expectation of different behaviour and goals for boys and girls and therefore greatly limiting the choices open to girls. Finally, educational institutions have failed in many cases to adequately equip students for the work situation or for making the best choice of a career. The working party on transition from secondary education to employment found many inadequacies in the present career preparation services for students during secondary schooling. Students do not have an opportunity to explore the whole spectrum of career choices open to them, their personal suitability for particular careers, the employment prospects in each and the educational implications involved. The poor performance of the education system in this area has particular relevance in our current situation of high youth unemployment. Whilst recognising that many factors have influenced unemployment amongst school leavers, part of the problem is the low productivity of early school leavers because of inadequate basic education and, of course, the majority of those unemployed lack sufficient education and training.
It is against this background that the Government has provided insufficient funds for the growth and development of our education system. By failing to honour his promises to mamtain real growth in education and to maintain a rolling triennium funding system under which, during this next financial year, there would be a 2 per cent real growth in education, the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) has destroyed any semblance of forward planning. Education is not something that can be turned on and off like a tap. It is simply not possible to plan sound education on a yearly basis. All planning in education, if it is to be sound and productive, must be long range planning. Yet, in this time of budgetary restraint, the Government has forced cutbacks in expenditure for government schools in order to hand over an extra $2m to nongovernment level 1 and level 2 schools- the best off in the community. These were the schools that were acknowledged in the original report of the Karmel Commission to be way in advance of the remainder of the educational sector.
It was hoped that with the increased expenditure on education under the program that we had initiated children in these deprived schools- I am referring to the bulk of the state schools and a large proportion of the Catholic parochial schools in the private school sector might attain by 1980 the level of children in the rich schools. They have not got that far as yet. Yet we find the Government moving $2m from this state school system to the richest part of the private school sector. In fact, a total of $ 13.8m was transferred to non-government schools, forcing cutbacks not only in allocations for government schools and emergency assistance for non-government schools but also in the services and development program and the special projects program. Let us look more closely at the cuts to the services and development and special projects programs, particularly the latter. In 1974-75, $6m was allocated for special projects. In 1975-76, this dropped to $3. 59m. It was raised slightly to $4.26m in 1976-77 and cut back to $3.6m in 1977-78. Referring to the importance of these programs the Schools Commission report for 1977 stated:
In referring to the special projects or innovation programs, the Schools Commission said:
These grants are important energisers, helping to generate more effective use of large resources already deployed in schools.
The Commission rejected the Government’s guidelines which suggested a $4m cut across the two programs on the ground that it would seriously damage the programs’ effectiveness. Here we have a government which claims to be committed to improving the quality of the Australian education system, yet it forces cuts in the already very inadequate funds devoted to finding solutions to the failures and inadequacies of our system. How can these problems be overcome without exploration and experimentation to develop more constructive approaches to education? After a cut of $3.5m in this area there will be few, if any, innovations. This means that there is no money being allocated for rethinking and re-examining the basis of education in order to make education both more relevant and more accessible to the children in our community. Solutions will not be found by simply maintaining the existing education system or even by increasing expenditure on its own.
In fact, many people claim that the problem with our present education system is that we have to get away from these new-fangled approaches to education. We have to get back to the three Rs. The reality is, of course, that the majority of children going through our schools and the majority of schools know nothing of modern education techniques. They are still buried in the old traditional approach to education. The innovation grants and the special services grants about which I have been talking were an attempt to find out why the education system is failing- the traditional education system. It was an attempt to find out how we might improve it. There must be funds made available through such projects as the innovations program which allow experimentation with radical alternatives for raising the level of skills and knowledge among the community. The better educated a community, the better equipped it is to adapt to the constantly changing circumstances of our modern technological society.
-by leave-On 21 August 1974 the previous Government established a Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security and appointed the Honourable Mr Justice Hope as the royal commissioner to inquire into and make recommendations on the intelligence and security services the nation should have available to it. The Government has now completed its consideration of the eight reports presented to it by the royal commissioner.
The first report outlines the procedures followed by the Royal Commission and requires no further comment. The second report makes findings and recommendations on security checking and a security appeals tribunal. The third report dealing with the machinery for ministerial and official control, direction and coordination of Australia’s intelligence and security services was the subject of the statement I made in the House on 5 May this year. At that time, I announced the appointment of a Ministerial Committee, supported by a Permanent Heads Committee, to provide a better system for co-ordinating the intelligence and security services.
I also announced our decision to establish the Office of National Assessments and legislation to establish that Office has subsequently been passed by Parliament. The fourth report specifically relates to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The fifth and sixth reports relate to particular specialist intelligence collection agencies. The seventh report, written by a constant to the Commission, is an historical study of Australian intelligence and security services. The eighth concerns administrative arrangements for the storage and custody of the Royal Commission’s records. I will not be commenting further on these last two reports in this statement.
In accordance with undertakings previously given to the House, I am tabling those parts of the Royal Commission’s reports which the royal commissioner considered can be made public without prejudice to national security and announcing the Government’s decisions on them. The third report was in an abridged form prepared by the royal commissioner and was tabled on 5 May. I now table the first report, the second report other than Appendices 2-A, 2-C and 2-F, and volumes 1 and 2 of the fourth report. For the first time the Parliament and the people of Australia are being authoritively informed of fundamental considerations relating to Australia’s national security. For the first time Parliament and people can read the careful assessments of an independent judicial authority who has had full access to all the information and the time and resources to thoroughly analyse them.
Mr Speaker, the Government has accepted the basic judgments of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security and has implemented a sweeping range of reforms to achieve them. In essence Mr Justice Hope’s basic findings are these:
Australia needs a highly professional system of intelligence and secunty services, and this need is more apparent than ever before. Australia needs intelligence of quality, timeliness and relevance.
Such a professional system should include a security intelligence service to investigate and provide intelligence about threats to the internal security of the nation. Australia faces, and has faced or may face, threats to its internal security from various types of action to which I shall later refer.
A balance must be struck between the need to respond decisively to this threat and the imperative of preserving Australia’s open processes of debate, discussion and commerce. Mr Justice Hope has recognised ‘that a balance between the rights of individual persons and the preservation of the security of Australia as a nation is no simple or easy thing to achieve’. (Fourth report, paragraph 10). He concludes, quoting from the 1975 Rockefeller Report on the Central Intelligence Agency: ‘. . . in the final analysis, public safety and individual liberty sustain each other’. (Fourth report, paragraph 10).
Australia has classified information which the Australian Government has a duty to protect in the interests of the nation. These secrets are not limited to matters of national defence or foreign policy; they extend to matters relating to national resources and the national economy; their disclosure would prejudice Australia’s national security. Thus the security checking of public servants should continue to be undertaken subject to a series of basic reforms.
The actual activities, programs and priorities of the intelligence and security services should not be revealed, as to do so would be to jeopardise national security.
The intelligence and security services should always comply with Commonwealth and State laws.
The intelligence and security agencies should continue individually to be subject to ministerial responsibility, and in addition should be collectively subject to central oversight and coordination by senior committees of Ministers and permanent heads. Considerations of the nation’s interest should prevail over the full range of the agencies activities, and to this end the Government and the Opposition should develop a bipartisan approach to intelligence and security matters.
In- his fourth report concerning ASIO Mr Justice Hope’s basic finding is that Australia needs and should have a security intelligence service to investigate and provide intelligence about threats to the internal security of the nation.’ (Fourth report paragraph 657). He stated: . . On the basis of what has been submitted or provided to me, I find that Australia faces, and has faced or may face, threats to its internal security . . . and that ASIO should investigate . . .
Espionage, which is the covert collection of (generally secret) intelligence.
Active measures’ a general expression to cover a variety of activities by which a power can weaken another power or strengthen itself vis-a-vis that other power, including the establishment of agents of influence ‘ the dissemination of disinformation’ other forms of clandestine or deceptive action subversion, which is activity whose purpose is directly or ultimately, to overthrow constitutional government, and in the meantime to weaken or to undermine it.
Sabotage, which is the destruction, damaging or impairment of defence installations, etc, which would be useful to an enemy or a foreign power.
Mr Justice Hope continued:
Two further kinds of activity should be investigated by ASIO, although they may not always involve a direct attack on Australia.
Terrorism, which is politically motivated violence, or the threat of that violence.
The organisation in Australia of, or of assistance for, violent political activity in foreign countries. (Fourth Report paragraph 661).
I will now briefly summarise the royal commissioner’s comments on two of the major areas of threat- espionage and subversion.
Mr Justice Hope rejected the views that some people had expressed to him that espionage was not a significant problem in Australia. The royal commissioner especially warned that ‘Australia must not be so naive as to think that it has some exemption from clandestine operations or that it need not take steps to protect itself against them’. (Fourth report paragraph 41). The royal commissioner stated that this conclusion was substantiated ‘by a large amount of intelligence held by ASIO which cannot be made public’. (Fourth report, paragraph 41). However, in the royal commissioner’s words, there are ‘some matters which can be stated publicly and which I’- that is the royal commissioner- ‘regard as supporting the conclusions I have come to.’ (Fourth Report, paragraph 40).
The royal commissioner notes the considerable evidence of espionage against Australia during the Second World War and the Petrov Commission’s findings that from 1943 until Petrov ‘s defection, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics intelligence agents had been operating in Australia. He further says that independently of the Petrov Commission’s findings he was- these are his words- ‘completely satisfied that the USSR intelligence services were operating in Australia up to the time of Petrov ‘s defection and that a number of Australians, some consciously and some unconsciously did reveal information about classified material to USSR intelligence officers or their agents’. (Fourth report, paragraph 40). He refers to the case of Mr I. F. Skripov. Mr Skripov re-opened the Soviet Embassy in 1959 and was expelled in February 1963 because of his clandestine intelligence activities.
The royal commissioner states that the numbers of intelligence officers now operating clandestinely in Australia ‘are much larger than in the 1940’s and 1950’s and are growing’. Again these are his words: ‘For example, the proportion of USSR intelligence officers represented in that country ‘s diplomatic mission in Australia is consistent with overseas estimates of USSR representation in the USA and NATO countries’. (Fourth report, paragraph 40). In this connection, the Royal Commission quotes an estimate of Professor Leonard Shapiro, Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Conflict that . . around half of those (Soviets) accredited as diplomats to NATO countries are usually engaged in intelligence operations of one kind or another . . . (Fourth report, paragraph 40, footnote 4-18).
The royal commissioner states:
The amount of domestic subversive activity in Australia has varied from time to time. The material before me does not establish that there is a very large amount at present. (Fourth Report, paragraph 76).
As against this, the two main communist parties, the Communist Party of Australia and the Socialist Party of Australia, have strong influence in some unions.
They exercise a power greatly in excess of that which their numbers would justify, among other reasons because they often strongly support the interests of trade unionists and put their full force behind industrial issues.
At other times, they make use of industrial disputes for their own political purposes.
The Trotskyists and other left radical groups are active in academic and political areas and are succeeding in establishing themselves in many places of influence.
Right radical groups are still active and the basis for extreme right wing action is certainly not dormant. (Fourth Report, paragraph 77).
ASIO -Functions and Performance
In considering threats such as these Mr Justice Hope also examined various ways of establishing a security intelligence service. He concludes that The essential conception of ASIO as an intelligence, and not an executive agency, is right for our national circumstances.’ (Fourth report,
Paragraph 660). He notes that ASIO ‘maintainsiaison both here and abroad with the internal security services of several friendly nations’ and he concludes: ‘These relationships contribute significantly to ASIO’s overall efficiency’. (Fourth report, paragraph 707). Again those are the royal commissioner’s words.
The royal commissioner was criticial of some aspects of the past performance of ASIO. The Government is determined that ASIO’s performance should be beyond reproach. We have therefore accepted all of Mr Justice Hope’s major recommendations and we propose to amend the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act accordingly. The major effect of those amendments will be to ensure that ASIO’s activities will be expanded to enable it to investigate and to report on activities which threaten Australia’s internal security. ASIO will have a statutory responsibility to advise the Government about the following:
Domestic activity related to violence abroad and what the Royal Commissioner refers to as active measures’.
Mr Justice Hope has updated ASIO’s functions to enable it to respond to the reality of the 1970s. The relationship between the Director-General of Security and the Government will be defined in accordance with the royal commissioner’s recommendation based on his finding that, under the existing ASIO Act, there are legal doubts as to the extent to which the Minister can five lawful directions to the Director-General of ecurity. The Director-General of Security will be accountable to the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister.
The royal commissioner considers that the legal powers exercisable by ASIO regarding its collection of intelligence should be clarified and the responsibility for their supervision and control identified. Subject to the conditions specified by the Royal Commission ASIO may obtain warrants from the Attorney-General for purposes relevant to security to facilitate the acquisition of information about intelligence activities threatening Australia’s security. This is consistent with the pattern established in other countries with a Westminster system of government. Mr Justice Hope said:
The circumstances in which these powers might be exercised are not frequent (Fourth report, paragraph 139).
For example, in regard to ASIO’s use of telephone taps the judge comments:
The number of warrants issued since the enactment of legislation (authorising them) has been quite modest The intelligence yield has often been extremely valuable. (Fourth report, paragraph 141).
In the performance of its statutory responsibilities ASIO will carefully observe the principles delineated by the Royal Commission:
Honourable members will notice that the Royal Commission has made a number of recommendations regarding the policies and practices to be followed by the Government and ASIO. The Government has accepted these. Significant features of them include: The Leader of the Opposition shall be kept informed about security matters and shall have access to the DirectorGeneral and his annual classified report. The Government will continue the practice of ‘no comment’ on allegations about ASIO’s activities. ASIO shall not provide security intelligence in any form, either directly or indirectly on an attributable basis or not, to the Press or other media. As the Commonwealth agency responsible for the defence and maintenance of Australia’s internal security ASIO is entitled to the confidence and respect of the nation.
I also refer to five recommendations taken from Volume III of the fourth report relating to ASIO’s future effectiveness. The DirectorGeneral of Security has advised that these five paragraphs can be made public without prejudice to national security. They are:
That the Director-General receive strong support and encouragement from the Government in his task of improving the effectiveness of ASIO.
That ASIO management be active in opening and maintaining communication with staff.
That the Government recognise that, in the future, quite large sums will be needed to improve ASIO’s capacity: that those giving consideration to ASIO’s budgetary bids take into account that past levels of expenditure should not be taken as a realistic benchmark.
That ASIO ensure that the Government is made aware of its needs for resources.
That ASIO should receive strong and sympathetic support from the Public Service Board in improving its personnel policies. (Fourth report, Volume III, paragraph 8 1 8-822).
I have been advised by the Director-General of Security, Mr Justice Woodward, that he has taken action to give effect to those recommendations of the Royal Commission that concern improvements in ASIO’s internal administration and management and generally to all other recommendations which do not call for policy decisions by the Government.
Mr Speaker, I have outlined in broad terms the nature of our reforms. Further details of the action being undertaken by the Governmentwhich are in any event set out as recommendations in the fourth report which I have tabledwill be given by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack), when he introduces amendments to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carries out security checks for Commonwealth departments primarily in relation to Commonwealth employees but also in a limited way for a range of special cases which the Royal Commission refers to as ‘immigration cases’. In the second report, the royal commissioner examines the need for and basis of this security checking process. Mr Justice Hope finds that Australia needs a system of security checks for two main reasons: The serious nature of the security threat to Australia- Honourable members may wish to refer to the second report, paragraphs 12-13 and the fourth report, paragraphs 34-36- and the fact that, as the royal commissioner said:
Australia has secrets which the Australian Government has a duty to protect in the interests of the nation. (Second Report, paragraph 196).
The royal commissioner reported that the security checking system has not been formally reviewed since the early 1950s, and found that it contains a number of faults, including: The existing security checking categories are too wide. That is, they strain ASIO’s resources unnecessarily and are objectionable from a civil liberties viewpoint. There is some confusion about the nature of the security assessment ASIO provides. There has been some blurring of the demarcation between the responsibilities of ASIO and those of departments and instrumentalities. There have been deficiencies in the preparation and content of ASIO’s security assessments and the use of them by departments. In this regard, Mr Justice Hope observes that security checking is a complex and difficult task. He said:
ASIO’s information, even if accurate, will rarely, if ever, be complete. It can be led into error by the erroneous and incomplete nature of the material on which it makes its assessments. (Second report, paragraph 10S).
All investigations and judgments about persons and their actions can involve mistakes. ASIO and its officers are no exception. (Second report, paragraph 115).
The Government has decided to implement a number of reforms designed to overcome the deficiencies in existing arrangements. Principal amongst these reforms are the following: A Security Appeals Tribunal will be established. Steps will be taken to reduce to the minimum possible number the people to be security checked. ASIO’s security checking procedures will be revised and improved. From now on, persons who are the subject of adverse or qualified assessments, will be notified of that fact and of the general nature of the supporting information except to the extent that in the interests of national security they cannot be notified in certain special circumstances contemplated by the
Royal Commission. In such special cases the Attorney-General as Minister responsible for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act- not the Prime Minister as Mr Justice Hope proposes- will have to issue a certificate vetoing notification. Persons having been notified of an adverse or qualified assessment will be able to have the assessment impartially examined by the Security Appeals Tribunal.
Mr Speaker, these reforms are designed to make security checking for Commonwealth employees more efficient and most importantly, to reduce as far as possible the intrusion into the private lives of Commonwealth employees. I shall now outline further details of some of these reforms, and also indicate those instances in which the Government has, after careful consideration, modified the royal commissioner’s recommendations.
The royal commissioner has found:
Without adequate machinery for review of security assessments of persons . . . grave and permanent injustices can occur. (Second report, paragraph 200).
ASIO’s security assessments should be subject to an appeals system. (Second report, paragraph 115).
The Government agrees with this view. The Security Appeals Tribunal recommended by the Royal Commission will be established to review adverse or qualified security assessments and any supporting information provided by ASIO relating to such assessments.
The Royal Commission recommended that the Tribunal’s review function should be made retrospective to the inception of ASIO in 1949. The Government has given careful consideration to this proposal but has decided that the matters subject to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction should be those occurring on or after the date on which the Tribunal is established. We have been advised that there would be legal and substantial administrative problems associated with the royal commissioner’s recommendation. There is no Commonwealth statutory precedent for a retrospective grant of a right of appeal against an administrative decision. The comparable appeals system established under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, is expressly stated to apply to decisions given on or after the commencement of that Act. However, the Government has devised certain procedures to give effect to the spirit of the royal commissioner’s recommendation.
First, ASIO has been instructed to undertake a review in the manner recommended by the
Royal Commission, of any existing adverse or qualified assessment of persons currently in the employ of the Commonwealth. If in the light of that review, the adverse or qualified assessment is maintained, the person concerned will be notified, and will be entitled to appeal to the Tribunal against the new assessment. Second, the legislation establishing the Tribunal will allow the Government to refer to the Tribunal particular cases of people no longer in the employ of the Commonwealth. The Government intends to exercise this discretion in any case in which it appears a wrong assessment may have been made in the past. The Security Appeals Tribunal will be mainly concerned with Commonwealth employees, except for the ‘immigration cases’ about which I shall comment shortly. Thus all Commonwealth employees, as that term is broadly defined in paragraph 20 of the second report, will have appeal rights against adverse or qualified assessments.
Legislation will be introduced to establish the Tribunal and, although the Tribunal’s findings will generally be advisory, they will be binding in those cases the royal commissioner recommends. The Government has concluded that the Tribunal should have the composition and powers detailed in Part H of the second report except for the modifications I have outlined. The procedures of the Tribunal envisaged by the Royal Commission will be given further consideration. In addition, the panel from which the Tribunal will be constituted will be enlarged to include more than one former public servant and more than one former member of the defence force.
The security checking process will be substantially altered to make it more finely tuned to national security requirements. In contrast with existing practice not all public servants or applicants to the Public Service will be security checked. From now on, security checking of public servants will take place only when it can be reasonably expected that they will require access to classified security matters or areas. In accordance with Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations, ASIO’s security assessments will vary in accordance with the level of access required. Far more extensive investigation will take place, for example, for persons requiring access to the highest classification than for those requiring access to the lowest. All aspects of ASIO’s security assessments will be prepared in accordance with the royal commissioner’s recommendations. The royal commission recommended that positions in the Public Service for which security checking will be required should be publicly designated as such. However, the reports do not recommend how this could be implemented. The Government has the matter under consideration.
ASIO has provided security checks for the Commonwealth Government in certain immigration cases. The term ‘immigration cases’ refers to government activity relating to such matters as visas, entry permits, deportation, citizenship and passports. Mr Justice Hope has recommended that the reforms regarding security checking and security appeals for Commonwealth employees be applied to these immigration cases with some minor modifications of detail as necessary. ASIO’s investigative work in this area will be directed to protecting the security of the nation and its assessments will be closely linked to judgments about any potential security threat involved. As in all other matters, ASIO’s role will be advisory. Australian citizens and persons whose continued presence in Australia is not subject to any limitation imposed by law will have full appeal rights to the Security Appeals Tribunal in respect of these immigration cases. The Government has accepted Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations regarding immigration cases and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) will provide further details regarding their implementation at a later stage.
The royal commissioner makes a number of observations about the possible payment of compensation in relation to wrong security assessment.
He notes that a wrong security assessment may sometimes cause detriment to the subject of the assessment, although the detriment flows from the consquent action of the employer authority.
The royal commissioner recommends that the Security Appeals Tribunal should have power to report about compensation matters.
However, the Government, having adopted the recommendation of the royal commissioner that the Tribunal will be solely concerned with ASIO’s assessments, not executive decisions of government, has decided that compensation matters will be for the Government to determine, not the Tribunal.
The fifth report is about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, ASIS, an agency of the Australian Government the existence of which has not hitherto officially been acknowledged. The Government agrees with Mr Justice Hope’s recommendation that ASIS should be publicly acknowledged and on his recommendation the fifth report will not be published as to do so would jeopardise national security. The report has been made available to the Leader of the Opposition as the royal commissioner recommended. The royal commissioner recommended ‘that the Government accept the continuing need for an Australian Secret Intelligence Service and that ASIS be retained to fulfil that role ‘. He reported that ASIS is a ‘ singularly and well run and well managed agency . . . right in concept for Australian circumstances’. The main function of ASIS is to obtain, by such means and subject to such conditions as are prescribed by the Government, foreign intelligence for the purpose of the protection or promotion of Australia or its interests.
The Government has accepted his recommendation that the Service continue and be responsible to and under the control of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The funding of ASIS has in the past been secret but, will in future be the subject of a one-Une appropriation like ASIO. ASIS ‘s capacity to serve Australia ‘s national interest will continue to depend on its activities being fully protected by secrecy. The Government will therefore adhere strictly to the practice of refusing to provide details of ASIS’s activities nor will it be prepared to enter into any discussion on the Service.
The sixth report is about the Defence Signals Division. On the recommendation of the royal commission this report will not be made pub.lic The Defence Signals Division is an organisation concerned with radio, radar and other electronic emissions from the standpoint both of the information and the intelligence that they can provide and of the security of our own Government communications and electronic emissions. It is an agency which serves wide national requirements in response to national priorities. The royal commissioner found that there were overriding advantages to Australia in co-operation with certain other countries in these matters.
In close conjunction with the defence force DSD provides a capability which is just as much an integral and essential part of a modern defence posture as a capability in air or ground defence or maritime surveillance. That capability is a sophisticated one for which long periods of training and development are required. The royal commission said that ‘the preservation of secrecy as to the agency’s operations is vital’. This finding is accepted by the present Government. The Royal Commission recommended the retention of DSD, paid tribute to its work and pointed to ways in which the agency could be further developed and improved. It stated:
DSD is a very capably managed agency and believed to be so by most of its staff and others who deal with it
The Government will pay close attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In recognition of the enhanced status that the Royal Commission recommends should be accorded to the agency it will be restyled as the Defence Signals Directorate. In discussions of intelligence matters, this Government will not provide further information about DSD, nor confirm or deny speculation or assertion about it.
There are a number of matters, particularly those covered by the fifth and sixth reports and parts of the fourth report, which cannot be made public. As I mentioned earlier the royal commissioner has made particular recommendations on publication. All of Mr Justice Hope’s reports have been made available to the Leader of the Opposition. In respect of ASIO, ASIS and DSD the Government will maintain its long-standing practice, endorsed by the Royal Commission of not providing information by way of comment, confirmation or denial, on matters affecting security or intelligence
Mr Speaker, these reforms, together with the establishment of the Office of National Assessments and the system of co-ordination and oversight of intelligence and security POliCY announced in my 5 May statement, are of fundamental significance to Australia. They are also of significance in a wider sphere. As Mr Justice Hope states in his third report:
Australia is, on balance, fortunate to have been able to develop close intelligence links with some of the major intelligence agencies in the western world . . .
Mr Justice Hope’s reports underline the significance of Australia’s intelligence and security relationship with non-communist countries, and the importance to these countries of high quality Australian intelligence and security services. These reforms ensure that Australia ‘s contribution in this wider sphere will be even more effective.
I believe that honourable members will be assured by Mr Justice Hope’s reports about the essential and fundamental need for further action by the Australian Government. He has brought to his task a perceptive realism with which he balances the requirements of national security on the one hand with the requirements of personal liberty on the other. He has maintained a standard of excellence in the performance of his royal commission and in the quality of the advice he has tendered the Government. His reports show a clarity of expression and probity of thought which I am sure all honourable members will applaud. I commend my predecessor for the action he has taken in launching the Royal Commission and my Government extends its appreciation to the New South Wales Government for releasing Mr Justice Hope for this major, arduous and important task.
I present the following papers:
Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security- 1st report. 2nd report (other than Appendices 2a, 2c and 2F. 4th report-
Ministerial statement, 25 October 1 977.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
Debate (on motion by Mr E. G. Whitlam) adjourned.
Department of Education
Proposed expenditure, $479,963,000.
– I wish to say a few words on the proposed expenditure for the Department of Education. To some extent my words have been occasioned by what the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) said earlier in this debate. I do not basically disagree with most of the things he mentioned, but I think my views might vary somewhat in that I do not believe that the colleges of advanced education should be in any sense regarded as inferior to the university system of education. In many respects there has been an over-exaggeration of university education in Australia, to the neglect of some other areas. We find in the Budget Paper National Income and Expenditure 1976-77’ that on government account for the year ended June 1977 we spent $4,030m on education. That is the amount spent in the public sphere. I am not aware of the figure for non-government education but it could well have reached some $600m or $700m. In addition, on capital account we spent close to $700m. Of course these days the major pan of the expenditure on education originates in this Parliament.
I must say that I was disturbed recently when, as a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, I was told by an authority who is now engaged in an examination of what I think is called post-secondary education on behalf of the Government that of every 100 people in Australia who start off to do what is called high school or a secondary course, only 30 per cent finish. I must say the figure astonished me somewhat.
– Yes, I was rather astonished by that figure too. By comparision, in Japan, of every 100 children who start a full high school course, more than 80 finish. I ask, firstly, why only 30 are deemed fit to complete the secondary course. It would seem to indicate to me that there is something wrong with pre-secondary education in Australia. I suppose that these days what is called motivation is missing to a great extent. In some ways I am not surprised that when people go to universities they are inclined to feel that because of the way in which society is currently organised there is no job fit for them to do. Maybe there is a little bit of arrogance in that kind of assertion but I am afraid there is also a little bit of reality in it.
The other day when we were having a debate here on employment, my friend, the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), indicated that he thought a large number of today’s unemployed were unemployable. I do not think he meant it in the sense that they did not want to work, but in the sense that they just did not have the capacities that anybody wanted. I ask: For the 70 students who leave school before completing the full secondary course what channels of employment are currently available? I do not believe that education should equip people only to work. I think that would be a wrong attitude to adopt. But I also think it is quite unrealistic not to believe that in today’s world and in the forseeable future the majority of people will have to work when they complete their education. This is why I think there has to be a better attempt to match from the beginning what education is supposed to do in terms of satisfying both cultural and the vocational responsibilities. Surely in this great technological age, even of the 30 who go beyond the high school stage not many are very well equipped to face the lands of problems that will emerge in the future.
We have heard a lot of what is now called further education or continuing education, and sometimes rather philosophically permanent education, and that because of changing needs and circumstances people will need retraining and so on. The tragedy for Australia is that in the 23 years of Liberal-National Country Party government- from 1949 to 1972 -the Liberal and National Country parties did not think that retraining was necessary because there was then not as much unemployment as there is currently. Surely everybody must acknowledge that in 1977, and looking forward to the end of this century, manufacturing will no longer be the major source of absorbing into work of one kind or another those who go through the education system. There is no doubt whatever that quantitatively we are spending more on education now than ever before. The two sums I have mentionedthe $4,000m on current account at government level and the $700m on capital account- comprise between them 6 per cent of the gross domestic product. They account for more than 20 per cent of the total amount that is spent by all governments in Australia.
If we add the other social welfare item, health, amounting to almost the same figure, it is about time we began to realise that, when we say that government expenditure ought to be cut, certain rigidities are involved. We suggest that the Government does not spend enough in total on education. Compared with what is spent now, the amount spent on education doubled in two years from 1972-73 to 1974-75. Of course a large part of the doubling was due to inflation. Actually in the last two years it has also increased as much as it did in that earlier period I mentioned. Education expenditure is now at least three times as much as it was four years ago. The rate of increase has not been so great but certainly the aggregate expenditure is still large and will continue to be large. It is about time we began to ask these sorts of questions: How do we integrate the needs of industry? I do not just mean manufacturing; I mean the whole aspect of total employment. How do we integrate the needs in the next 20 years to the school sample that is already beginning? After all, all the people we will need in 20 years ‘ time are pretty well at school already or will be within the next five years.
It would seem to me that there is something wrong in the pre-secondary education area. Whether it is quality or something else, I do not know. I do not regard myself as proficient on this aspect of the subject, but I think that this afternoon there was some meeting of minds on both sides of the chamber in respect of the fact that all is not well with what is being done to meet the societary problems of one kind or another that we face. Most of us are doomed, if I may use that term, to being employees of somebody else. Onequarter of total employment is with government and three-quarters is still with private enterprise. I do not know whether those proportions will change but I believe they will have to. I believe that there will have to be relatively more employment in public enterprise, because the demands are tending to be more for tertiary services than for physical goods and services. I believe we should all acknowledge that there has to be a mixed economy; but I hope we are all careful to see that we do not get a mixed up economy, which I think is what we have now.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development
Proposed expenditure, $41,540,000.
Department of Construction
Proposed expenditure, $ 1 94,494,000.
– I move:
That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development be reduced by $10.
The Budget is a clear indication that the Government lacks any commitment to making Australian cities better places in which to live. The spending on programs in the broadly defined urban sector- which includes the interconnected functions of housing, sewerage, transport, urban land, water supply, the national estate and other essential community services- has been cut by 1 6 per cent in real terms from the levels of the 1976-77 Budget. The share of Budget outlays spent on the urban sector has fallen from almost 71h per cent in the last Australian Labor Party Government’s Budget to 5 per cent in this Budget In this Budget welfare housing payments to the States have been cut by Vh per cent in real terms. Environmental protection programs are down by 60 per cent. The sewerage and area improvement programs, both visionary urban programs of the Labor Government, have been completely abolished. After allowing for capitalised interest payments, the effective spending for growth centres and decentralisation is down 58 per cent on last year’s spending. Land commission programs have been almost wiped out.
The sad situation is that this Government has adopted a phoney approach in trying to overcome the serious problems that have grown up within urban communities. In all urban communities within Australia we find grave problems. We find on the local level the problems of increasing rates and taxes. Many of the problems are insoluble without the assistance of the national Government. The major pressure on cities occurs in Sydney and Melbourne. That is where enormous problems in providing services have occurred. Let us take as an example the urban wilderness that exists in the western suburbs of Sydney. The city of Sydney stretches for 35 miles to the west and for 35 miles to the southwest. In both those areas an enormous amount of money is needed, as well as being needed in other parts of the city and particularly in the inner suburbs, for urban rehabilitation.
Let me deal with the western suburbs of Sydney. If we draw a line from north to south through Rookwood Cemetery, between my electorate and the electorate of the right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon), we find that there are more people living west of that Une than actually live in Western Australia or South Australia. In that region there is not one large theatre in which a ballet or a symphony orchestra can perform. The lack of cultural facilities in that area is appalling.
At least the Labor Government entered into an arrangement to create cultural centres, thus providing job opportunities for people in the western suburbs of Sydney. It was proposed to build a Commonwealth centre at Parramatta which would include two theatres and other cultural facilities so that at least the Commonwealth would be adding to the services of that area. Those plans were under way, but immediately upon coming to office, the present Government stopped them. We must do something about stopping the over-centralisation of our capital cities, particularly the central business districts of Sydney, Melbourne and the other capital cities. Even Perth and Brisbane are finding that their city centres are becoming over built. We must make sure that our metropolises are developed in a much more rational way. This can only be done by developing metropolitan centres, as we had proposed to do in Sydney and Melbourne. We had the agreement of both governments on this issue. In Sydney we intended to develop submetropolitan centres at Parramatta, Penrith, Liverpool and Cempbelltown. After long discussions with the State planning authorities in Victoria we had reached agreement on building centres in Melbourne at Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Epping- Watsonia and Dandenong.
This would have achieved several things. Firstly, it would have enabled those people living on the fringes of the cities to find jobs- at least clerical jobs- with the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth would give the lead with the private sector being encouraged to follow at a later date. The Labor Government’s attempts to assist the State governments to upgrade their urban public transport to make these centres viable were cut back drastically by the present Government. More than 50 per cent of people living on the fringes of cities, in places such as Campbelltown, work in or near the central business district of Sydney and they are travelling about 70 miles a day to and from work. By improving those centres not only would we provide cultural facilities but also we would provide job opportunities. We would also bring about a more efficient use of our transport services. Instead of everyone going one way in the morning and the other way at night we would have a more balanced load. It is disturbing that the Federal Government has withdrawn completely from trying to assist in this way. Its own government agencies could have done many things in this regard.
In the few moments I have left I want to deal with housing and with the problem of the deposit gap faced by people trying to acquire their own homes in our major capital cities. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the deposit gap for five capital cities in Australia.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The table read as follows-
– If one examines the table one notes that the average price for a house and land package in Sydney is$41,000 and in Melbourne it is about $36,000. Based on a 10 per cent deposit, the loan required in Sydney is $36,900 and the borrowing limit of a person on average weekly earnings is $21,500. That means that the deposit gap is $15,400. The proportion of average weekly earnings required to service such a loan is 172 per cent. I am assuming that repayments would be at 25 per cent of a person’s income at an interest rate of 1 1 per cent for a 25-year loan. People trying to acquire homes in Sydney or Melbourne are in a desperate situation. The sad position is that, during its two years in office, the present Government has done nothing to alleviate that situation. In fact it is aggravating the situation. For that reason, I believe that this Government stands condemned for withdrawing from activity in the urban community and for not looking after the people who live in those communities.
Mr DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-In speaking in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction, I mention first the positive move taken by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman) in introducing a proposal to provide funds for the setting up of a decentralisation advisory board. This decentralisation advisory board will be funded by $6.07m allocated in the 1977 Budget for new decentralisation initiatives. This is the first positive step taken for a number of years by any government in the federal sphere to support decentralisation. At last there is something apart from lip service to this very important area. Honourable members will recall that a number of members of this Committee, particularly the National Country Party representation, have sought over the years to try to involve the Federal Government in some form of decentralisation assistance. I can only applaud the efforts of the Minister in introducing finally this new initiativeit may be a token gesture but at least is a start- in the field of decentralisation.
As I understand it, an advisory board will be set up to which various municipalities in the various areas of decentralisation will be able to put submissions for consideration for a share of the funds already provided. The purpose of the board will be to provide assistance on a capital basis for tertiary and secondary industries. As it is early days yet, there is not much more to say about that particular subject except to point out that it is a start. I hope the Federal Government goes from strength to strength in this area. During the term of the previous Government there was an attempt to set up centres away from the metropolitan areas of the capital cities, namely Albury-Wodonga and some other areas, but the Labor Government tended to look just at individual centres instead of looking at the overall concept that there are major towns and cities that are well worth assistance by some form of decentralisation. It is to be hoped that this will be extended. Certainly a lot more money will be required but at least it is a positive start and I am certain that the people of Australia, particularly those in country towns and cities, will applaud this effort. I understand that a number of submissions have been forwarded to the Minister already and I know that he will take particular note of those from my electorate.
I also extend my thanks to the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) for taking another positive step, that is, to ensure that regional contractors have the opportunity to tender and have their tenders accepted for government contracts. I refer particularly to the instance earlier this year where Telecom Australia decided to set up three mail centres in the Victorian regional areas of Bendigo, Seymour and Sale. Originally the tenders were to go to metropolitan builders as a package deal. I took up this matter with the Minister and pointed out to him the need to show the decentralised attitude by giving an opportunity to country builders who are fully capable of building these structures. The Minister investigated the matter and, as a result, country builders had the opportunity to tender. A building firm of sound repute in Bendigo obtained one of these contracts and has proven to the Department of Construction that it has built the project far more efficiently and faster than its Melbourne counterpart. This is the type of action the Government is taking to ensure that the Australian community in regional areas as well as in metropolitan areas can be involved. The Minister for Construction is to be congratulated for his efforts.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Chairman -
- Mr Chairman -
- Mr Chairman, I think my friend, the Opposition Whip, is going to be dirty.
- Mr Chairman, I draw your attention to the state of the chamber.
– Thank you, Mr Whip. I will remember this. (Quorum formed).
-In the very short time I have left in this debate on the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction, thanks to my friend the Opposition Whip, I wish to draw attention to the home ownership scheme that was announced by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I congratulate him for introducing this scheme, one that I suggested to him some two years ago, whereby funds are provided to States to enable young people wishing to purchase their own home to obtain loans at a low rate of interest but an increasing rate of approximately half of one per cent a year until it comes up to the standard bond rate. This will provide additional funds which the Minister has agreed should be recirculated in the housing industry. It will provide millions of dollars over the years to assist people in the purchase of their homes. It is interesting to note that when the Opposition Whip was the Minister for Housing he tried to insist in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement that the States should spend the money on the construction of rental housing, being a typical Labor politician who does not believe in the policy of home ownership.
– That is untrue and you know it.
– We know it is true because it is a fact of life.
– I raise a point of order. I ask you, Mr Chairman, if you are prepared to allow that deliberate misstatement which all the legislation shows is totally incorrect.
– The honourable member knows that that is not a point of order.
- Mr Chairman, honourable members opposite can try as hard as they like. This is a fact of life. It is on the record. It is in Hansard. It is in the Housing Agreement that he tried to insist that the States spend the money only on rental housing. It was the Liberal Party in Opposition that changed that decision. We ruled it out of order. We made the Labor
Government change the regulations and it had to turn around and allow a certain amount of the funds to go to the construction of houses for sale. This Government has allowed the State governments to spend money on homes for purchase by the young people of this country who wish to buy their homes. You people who sit opposite know that this is the philosophy of the Liberal Country Party coalition Government.
– You did not change anything.
-We believe in home ownership. We do not believe in this socialist attitude of ‘you must not own anything’.
– Listen to that man over there.
-Everything is part of the State, according to that man over there. This Government has provided under this scheme an opportunity for those who are ineligible under State housing schemes.
– You did not provide anything and you know it.
– Listen to that poor fellow over there. All he can do is sit and bleat. He has done it all his life. This Government has provided under this scheme to those who are not eligible under State housing schemes an opportunity to purchase homes at a very low rate of interest and the loans will be granted for an extended period. One of the things that we must look at as a Government- I am sure that the Minister has this in mind- is to extend this scheme by providing even longer term finance. In fact, I have read in the legislation where options are open to State governments to provide to these people at a low income level funds for the purchase of homes over a much longer period. In view of the acceleration in costs these days I believe this is the proper way this Government can ensure -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– by leave- I wish to inform honourable members on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) and myself of the Government’s decision today to allocate an additional $2.3m for migrant education programs for the remainder of the 1977-78 financial year. During the past few months it has become evident that there has been a substantial increase in demand for migrant education services. In particular some of the factors which have influenced today’s decision include the increasing number of refugees entering Australia, the Government’s desire to improve access to language classes for migrant women, a general increase in demand for English language classes for migrants, and the commendable way in which some employers are encouraging their employees to develop faculty with the English language. We also recognise the possibility that migrants who currently do not have full time employment may wish to take advantage of the opportunity to attend English language classes.
The additional funds will bring the total funds available for the adult migrant education program in 1977-78 to $ 11.82m. The funds will be used to maintain the program generally in the face of the increased demand and to provide English language classes for refugees and further accommodation for classes at education centres in migrant hostels. The funds will also allow the development of a number of new projects and increased living allowances for migrants taking full-time English courses. This increase in living allowances is the second this year, as honourable members will recall from statements made by the Minister for Education following the Budget. The living allowances will be raised to the level of unemployment benefits. The Government trusts that this will remove any disincentive ful time students may have experienced previously. The new rates will be $49.30 a week for a single student and $82.20 a week for a student with a dependent spouse. They will come into effect from early next month.
New projects to benefit adult migrants wil include full time English language courses in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth during the Christmas holiday period. About 300 people will benefit from these courses which will take advantage of language laboratory and other facilities which would normally not be fully used at that time of the year. Closed-circuit television will be used on a trial basis to help teach English language to migrants living in a suitable high-rise housing complex. Details of this project wil be announced by the Minister for Education as soon as possible.
The increased funds will also allow an increase in the number of English courses available to migrants in the manufacturing sector. This wil be of particular importance for migrant women employees. The Government looks forward to the participation of migrants in the detailed planning and management of the Christmas holiday courses and the establishment of committees in each State to help establish the courses in industry. I point out in passing that these proposals reflect some of the preliminary suggestions of the group reviewing the Post-Arrival Programs and Services to Migrants under the Chairmanship of Mr F.E. Galbally, C.B.E. and the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council. The Government will make further announcements soon detailing the consultative arrangements for both types of courses.
In each of the two years 1974-75 and 1975-76 the total national enrolments in adult migrant education were 75,000 persons. This was increased to 88,000 a gain of 17.3 per cent, in 1976-77, the first year of the Fraser Government. The current decision demonstrates the Government’s recognition of the importance of English language instruction in the successful integration of non-English-speaking migrants.
-by leave- The Opposition welcomes the statement but deplores the manner in which it has now been introduced. It provides for an additional $2.3m which is a very belated grant. It could well have been provided in the Budget allocation. It is very significant that the allocation is being rushed through at this stage because obviously an election is in the offing. Otherwise there would not have been any further payments for migrant education. Anybody who takes a keen interest in adult migrant education will know that the various State Ministers have been making repeated representations to the Federal Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) for more money. As a direct example, New South Wales sought more than $5m as the basic grant for adult migrant education. It received about $3m. The reason is as the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) says. There are more difficulties now in migrant education. People are coming now from the Asian countries as refugees. There is an urgency in the field which was certainly obvious to the Government when it introduced the Budget. Let us look at the record of the Government in monetary allocations. If cuts are to be made the obvious place to make them, as far as the Government is concerned, is in migrant education. From the point of view of the allocations -
– There were no cuts in migrant education.
-The Minister says that there were no cuts. I address his mind to the previous Budgets. In 1974-75 the adult migrant education allocation was $2 1.3m. In 1975-76 it was $2 1.4m. In the Government’s first year of office the allocation was $10.6m. The Government has now increased it by this additional grant to $ 11.8m. Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1977-78 shows that the Government reduced the amount available for child migrant education. It is no good the Minister shaking his head. This is just a statement issued from the point of view of getting votes. It is no good saying that closed circuit television will be investigated as though it will help in adult migrant education without taking some positive action. The statement says that the Government will make further announcements soon. The first paragraph of the statement says that the Government’s decision was made as though the matter had been reviewed for some time.
During the past months an increase in demand for migrant education services has become evident. I have in my hand correspondence that clearly shows that the Ministers of various State governments are saying: ‘Look, unless you do something for migrant education particularly in the adult field, we will not even be able to maintain the existing paltry standards we are able to provide’. In the education vote substantial cuts ave been made in what have been called the special and disadvantaged areas. Those areas include adult migrant education. As a matter of fact the cuts in recurrent grants amounted to $3.5m and the cuts in capital grants to $6.5m. There is also a dreadful erosion of money by the fact that the Government is not maintaining the normal supplementation grants. It is for those reasons that the State Ministers have eventually convinced the Federal Government that it had better do something desperately.
Any of us who represent migrants know that they are swarming at our doors because there has been a reduction of facilities which they had last year. They want to know what the Government proposes to do to try to maintain existing courses. The State Ministers tell us that they cannot maintain the existing courses within the funds available. It is for that reason that the Government, at this belated period some two months after introducing this Budget and within 48 hours, perhaps, of dissolving this Parliament, suggests now as a matter of urgency that it will give another $2.3m for adult migrant education. The Minister surely could have explained why the allocation was not made before. To suggest that the allocation will be a Christmas gift or perhaps will be temporary on the basis that a person might be able to avail himself of the program whether out of work or working on a part-time basis is no way to deal with adult migrant education.
The real issue is this: If we are to help migrants- this matter was raised with the Minister at Question Time today- it must be done on the basis of maintaining proper programs for early introduction to the English language. Those of us who have factories in our areas in which migrants work know that the migrants are penalised because they have not the opportunity to communicate and have not the opportunity to advance themselves in their employment. It is for those reasons that while the Opposition welcomes the statement it is disappointed to think that the money could not have been made available at the time of the Budget, at the time there were negotiations between officers of the States and the Commonwealth as to what the needs were in not only adult migrant education but also child migrant education. There are still serious losses. Child migrants are entitled to as much consideration from the Minister as adults. We urge him to have another look at that program. In fact there has been a cut in the amount of resources available for child migrant education. Something has to be done urgently. It is ridiculous for the Minister to wave away the matter. If he does so, he is not looking at the problems. I invite him to convene a meeting of the State Ministers of Education and to look at the correspondence that has been submitted to his colleague. He will see that in the fields of adult migrant education and child migrant education the Commonwealth should be making available a much more substantial sum than the $ 11.8m now provided. I would submit that the amount required is in the vicinity of $15m. Until such time as the Commonwealth realises it has a responsibility in this field people will suffer a penalty. Whilst we welcome the statement we deplore the fact that it has been made as an election gimmick.
Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development
Proposed expenditure, $4 1 , 540,000.
Department of Construction
Proposed expenditure,$ 1 94,494,000.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ian Robinson)- The question is that the proposed expenditure for the Department of Environment,
Housing and Community Development be agreed to, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment that the proposed expenditure be reduced by $ 10.
-The amendment that was moved -
Motion ( by Mr Bourchier) put:
That the question be now put.
A division having been called and the bells having been rung-
Has Committee divided.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ian Robinson)- I appoint the honourable member for Griffith and the honourable member for Maranoa as tellers for the ayes and the honourable member for Hughes and the honourable member for Hunter as tellers for the noes.
– I ask you, Mr Deputy Chairman, whether it is in order for the Government to break its agreement with regard to the allocation of one hour for discussion of this section of the estimates.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no point of order.
– There has been only one speaker from either side.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order. There is no point of order.
– I ask you whether the agreement will be honoured.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order. There is no point of order.
The division proceeding-
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I raised a point of order and I ask for your ruling.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no point of order. I have appointed the tellers and the division will proceed. (The Deputy Chairman-Mr Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the amendment (Mr Uren’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided (The Deputy Chairman- Mr Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the negative.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question now is: ‘That the proposed expenditures for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction be agreed to’.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, I take a point of order. No motion has been carried on this question. The question is still before the Chair and open to debate. I take that point of order.
– I seek the call of the Chair, Mr Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order.
– I am seeking the call of the Chair, Mr Deputy Chairman. What has happened so far is that the question put was on the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. As I understand the position, the original question is still before the Committee. I seek the right to speak on that question. The question before the Committee now is: ‘That the proposed expenditures for the Department of Housing, Environment and Community
Development and the Department of Construction be agreed to’. So far we have seen a disgraceful exhibition in this chamber.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The question before the Chair was being stated when the honourable member for Corio took a point of order. The honourable member for Burke then rose and proceeded to speak. I call the Committee to order. I will put the question.
– You cannot put the question. The debate has not been gagged.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Deputy Chairman is competent to state the question. That is what occurred. The question now is: That the proposed expenditures for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction be agreed to’. I call the honourable member for Burke.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, we have seen a disgraceful exhibition in the chamber this evening, especially by the Government Whip -
– I move:
– . . . who was afraid that it would be highlighted this evening that two members of the Liberal Party in Victoria voted against corruption.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order. The honourable member for Burke will resume his seat. The question is: That the question be now put. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no, I think the ayes have it.
Opposition members- Divide.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I take a point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The Committee will divide.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, a point of order. You have called for the Committee to divide. You have so far disregarded the fact that I was on my feet calling to be heard on a point of order. I ask you now whether you will hear my point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Will you state your point of order?
– My point of order is that, since the arrangements have been abrogated, can I move: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would enable -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! No point of order is involved.
– You have not even heard it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- It has nothing to do with the Committee.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, a point of order!
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I have listened to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Hughes. My ruling is that the point which he has raised is nothing to do with the Chair. Arrangements made between the Whips is nothing to do with the Chair.
– I have moved: ‘That the question be now put’. That is a formal motion that must be put forthwith.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question now is: ‘That the question be now put’. I have put that question. Rmg the bells.
The bells being rung-
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I draw your attention to Standing Order 209.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, can you tell me whether you are deaf or whether you are blind? Two members of the Opposition -
The bells having been rung-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Lock the doors.
– The honourable member for Scullin and the honourable member for Hughes have been trying to attract your attention, Mr Deputy Chairman, by calling to you and you have ignored them.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question is: That the question be now put*. The ayes will pass to the right of the Chair, the noes to the left of the Chair. I appoint the honourable members for Griffith and Maranoa tellers for the ayes and the honourable members for Hughes and Hunter tellers for the noes.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, the tellers for the noes refuse to act as a protest against your refusal to uphold the Standing Orders.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The tellers for the noes having refused to act, I declare the division in favour of the ayes.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, under the appropriate Standing Order may I have my dissent recorded?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question now is: ‘That the proposed expenditures for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction be agreed to’.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. The honourable member for Wills has asked that his dissent be recorded. Under Standing Orders he is entitled to have that recorded if there is not a division.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN -The honourable member’s dissent will be recorded.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. The honourable member for Banks, the honourable member for Scullin and I, as Deputy Chairmen of Committees, refuse to sit in the Chair as arranged earlier with the Chairman of Committees. We do this out of complete disrespect for the way you have handled this Committee.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, I ask that my dissenting vote be recorded.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- In these circumstances only one honourable member may request that his dissent be recorded.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, I ask you for your guidance on this matter. As only one honourable member has indicated that he is not prepared to act as a teller, what means are open to other honourable members who wish to dissent from the decision of the Committee to have their dissent recorded? When I requested that my dissent be recorded you ruled that because one honourable member had refused to act as a teller all honourable members except one were denied a right to register dissent.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, it is quite obvious that the behaviour of the Committee is not fitting to this place. It was quite appropriate that the honourable member for Wills should have his dissent recorded. Equally, if the tellers for the noes refuse to participate, Mr Deputy Chairman, I believe you are quite in order in registering, as you did, a vote in favour of the ayes. If the Opposition does not wish to continue the debate on the appropriations, of course other procedures are available to the Parliament. I believe it is appropriate that the debate continue in the normal way. If the Opposition does not wish it to be so, it is only open to the Government to take whatever steps are necessary. I suggest that the Committee might come to order. If the manager of business for the Opposition wishes it, we are prepared to allow the Opposition to take the division again. However, if it is not prepared to co-operate I suggest we might put the appropriations through without further debate.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, am I to understand that the Leader of the House is prepared to restore the Housing estimates for debate?
– No. I am prepared to allow the Opposition noes to register their votes if they wish to have their votes counted.
– We understand that the Leader of the House has said that we ought to proceed with the Estimates in the proper order.
– That is right. We proceed to the next department, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.
– When the second Opposition speaker rose to speak to the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, the Government Whip gagged him. That means that, apart from the contribution of one speaker, there has been no debate on the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, which are properly before the Committee. Now the Leader of the House is saying that we should give up those estimates -
– The Opposition may have its votes of dissent recorded if it wishes by having the noes counted.
– We want the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development debated. I do not know what the Government has to hide. I can only assume that Government supporters are frightened of being exposed as colleagues of members of the Victorian Parliament involved in the corrupt land deals now before the Victorian Parliament. I can only assume that the honourable member for Bendigo is frightened of what would come before the Federal Parliament
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. The honourable member for Corio rose on a point of order and proceeded to deliver a speech. The fact of the matter is that in a short 10 minute speech Opposition members persistently called quorums. If they are to do that, the Government will move that the question be put.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the recording of the dissent of any honourable member who wishes to dissent.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The question before the Committee must be put first.
That the proposed expenditures for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development and the Department of Construction be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman-Mr Ian Robinson)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Department of Employment and Industrial Relations
Proposed expenditure, $ 1 85,979,000.
Should a point of order arise during a division, it shall be decided if in the House by the Speaker, if in committee by the Chairman.
I would remind you, Mr Deputy Chairman, that the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), during the division, sought to raise a point of order. The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins), who, like myself, is a Deputy Chairman of Committees, also sought to raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Chairman, if I may say so without any offence to you personally, you refused to acknowledge the fact that the honourable member for Hughes and the honourable member for Scullin were raising points of order. There were trying to take valid points of order and you refused to recognise them from the chair. Mr Deputy Chairman, as a fellow Deputy Chairman, I treat that quite frankly as a reflection on the office which you and I hold. I formally move no confidence in you, Mr Robinson, as a Deputy Chairman of Committees.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- In reply to the point raised by the honourable member for Banks, who in the course of stating his point of order indicated that he wished to move a motion, I have to inform the Committee that the motion is unacceptable unless it is presented in a proper form.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question before the Committee is: That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, $185,979,000, be agreed to.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN -The honourable member is out of order. The honourable member for Banks, who is a Deputy Chairman of Committees, should be aware that the only procedure that he can follow in this matter is to hand in a notice of motion.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The question before the Committee is -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- . . . that the proposed expenditure, $185,979,000, be agreed to. The honourable member for Gellibrand has the call.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I have to inform the honourable member for Banks, who is a Deputy Chairman of Committees and who should be well aware of this, that the only procedure that he can follow in the matter he has raised is to hand in a notice of motion to the House. The House is now in Committee. Therefore he is not competent to take the action that he proposes. I call the honourable member for Gellibrand.
-The estimates for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations which are before the Committee are indicative of the totally inadequate response of the Fraser Government to the crisis situation that exists in our community in respect of unemployment. There were 82,000 more eople registered as unemployed at the end of September 1977 than there were in September 1975, at which time the then Opposition said that the economic situation was such that it was justified in breaching the conventions of decent political behaviour in this country and refusing to pass Supply. The unemployment situation is much worse now and the estimates of this Department, which is a key department in this area of unemployment, reflect the fact that this Government gives a very low priority to the problem of unemployment.
The unemployment situation can be looked at in many ways. If one compares the total number of registered unemployed with the number of registered job vacancies one sees a frightening deterioration in the unemployment situation. Today the ratio of registered unemployed to job vacancies is 16 to 1. Only a year ago it was 1 1 to 1. So in the course of one year- the last year- we have had a very substantial deterioration in the chances of any unemployed person getting a job. In some areas of Australia the unemployment rates are absolutely frightening. In Mount Druitt, in the western suburbs of Sydney, the unemployment rate in September was 1 7.4 per cent with a ratio of registered unemployed to job vacancies of 63 to 1. In St Albans, in the western suburbs of Melbourne, the unemployment rate was 19 per cent with a ratio of registered unemployed to job vacancies of 36 to 1. In Woodridge in Brisbane the unemployment rate was 26.3 per cent with a ratio of unemployed to job vacancies of 45 to 1. Amongst young people in the month of August the unemployment rate for young girls was 19.1 per cent and for young boys 14.6 per cent. These are incredibly frightening statistics and yet, in this Department where one would expect that a series of measures would be taken to try to do something effective about this appalling situation, brought about substantially by the macro-economic policies, little if anything has been done.
The macro-economic policy is a very important aspect of unemployment. If the Government adopts an economic policy which has as its essence the slashing of government demand and the slashing of the real level of wages, thereby reducing consumer demand, it is inevitable that there will be an expansion, a growing continuance of unemployment- and that is what has happened. If that is then backed up by a series of totally inadequate manpower policies we must expect that unemployment will become much worse.
In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) claimed that funding for the employment training schemes had been increased by 33 per cent over that for the previous year. That is true on the face of the figures, but he neglected to state the fact that in 1976-77 the funding for employment training programs was less than it was in the previous financial year, 1975-76. It was only slightly less, but still there was no increase despite a substantial increase in inflation. The real level of manpower programs in 1976-77, the first financial year under the Fraser Government, was well below that provided by the Hayden Budget in 1975. So for the Government to pat itself on the back now for making some belated increase in the level of expenditure on manpower programs seems utterly untoward. The fact is that the 33 per cent increase referred to in the Budget Speech barely keeps ahead of the increase in prices of 29 per cent over the last two years, giving a minimal increase in the level of real expenditure on manpower programs.
If one looks at the manpower programs in some detail one can see the appalling inadequacy of them. There is no job creation program whatever. Why is it that this LiberalNational Country Party Government refuses to do what various other Liberal-Country Party governments have done in past years- m 1971, in 1967, in 1961? In recessions which were nowhere near as bad as this one Liberal-Country Party governments funded job creation programs. If they were proper then why are they not proper now when unemployment is so much worse and when in areas of Australia one-fifth of the work force or more is out of work? Why have there been no such programs in this Budget or in any previous Budget of this Government? It is an absolute disgrace and a scandal that the Government refuses to introduce such programs. If one goes to other countries one sees these programs generally in operation. Even in the United States of America, where the private enterprise ethic is surely as strong as it is in this country, there are very substantial job creation programs.
I think that the main reason that there are no job creation programs in this country is that the Federal Government that we have at the moment has an ideological objection to creating jobs in the government sector. It is trying to reduce the number of government jobs by reducing staff ceilings and it refuses to create government jobs through direct job creation programs because it has this ideological block. It does not want to create jobs in the government sector. In the United States they have a job creation program which is aimed at producing 750,000 jobs. Earlier this year I attended the International Labour Organisation meeting. I heard the American Minister for Labor, Mr Marshall, say that the policy of the American Government was to reduce the level of unemployment. It wanted to create those jobs in the private sector but it could see that in the foreseeable future it would not be able to do so and therefore it was going to create them in the government sector. This Government totally wipes out that option and in doing so ensures that there is a much higher level of unemployment in this country than there need be. I hardly need to remind the Committee about the Regional Employment Development scheme which operated under the Australian Labor Party Government. In our last Budget $150m was devoted to it and it provided over 30,000 jobs at one stage. It has now been abandoned by this Government and no such scheme is operating now.
Furthermore, the special youth employment training program, which has been introduced and which is the one program which is supposed to provide jobs, has increased youth employment somewhat. We do not deny that at all. At the moment it has provided jobs for 11,800 young people. But this scheme is deficient in the way in which it is being operated. It is deficient in that there is no attempt by the Government to ensure that new jobs are being created. Because of the loose way in which the Special Youth Employment Training Program is operated without any attempt to make employers justify the granting of the subsidy by showing that they are creating additional jobs, the result, as the Opposition sees it, is that 1 1,800 young people have jobs, but at the expense of other people. Certainly it is desirable to create jobs for young people. The Opposition does not deny that but if the net result is that there is no increase or a minimal increase in the total number of jobs, it is a fairly selfdefeating exercise. The Opposition believes that if the Special Youth Employment Training Program is to be continued- the Opposition believes it should be- it should also be tightened to ensure that employers are made to show that they are providing additional jobs. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in a booklet titled Entry of Young People into Working Life which was published this year, has addressed itself to that topic. I will not refer to it in detail because of lack of time, but at page 83 it makes the point that employers should be required to show the Government that they are going to provide additional jobs.
I make the point also that the funding for this program will enable the Government to fund 5,500 jobs per month for the whole of the year. There are currently 11,800 young people being funded under this scheme. Does the Government intend that this scheme will continue at this level and higher for the rest of the financial year, or will it after the election chop out the scheme and not have to increase its funding? If the Government is going to expand its funding it will have to add another $ 18m to $20m just to keep the current numbers going. Insofar as it expands the eligibility criteria to include more young people, it will have to increase its funding even more. The apprenticeship scheme in this country is totally unsatisfactory. I briefly refer the Committee to the fact that over the five years to 1975 we lost 150,000 tradesmen. Those figures are supplied by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. The fact is that subsidy-type schemes are not good enough. The OECD committee into education policy in Australia said last year that we should be looking not just at subsidy schemes for attracting employers but also at compulsion schemes, at levy-granting schemes which compel employers to train the appropriate quota of tradesmen. The Australian Labor Party has adopted a policy which means that after it wins the next election it will be looking to introduce such a scheme because without it we will not train anything like the total number of tradesmen needed in this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Once again we have heard a lot of hot air from the Opposition spokesman on employment and industrial relations. It is the heap of rhetoric that we have heard so often from him and other speakers from the Opposition. While they are in opposition Labor supporters claim that they are the experts in the field of employment and industrial relations, but their track record while in office gives the lie to any expertise that they might claim to have in this field. What happened while they were actually occupying the treasury bench and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) had the portfolio which is now held by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street)? While they were in office the level of unemployment rose by 200 per cent in 12 months. When they came to office there were 120,000 people registered as unemployed on the books of the Commonwealth Employment Service, but when they left office the level of unemployment had risen to something like 250,000 people. That was because of the economic policies of the Labor Government. I venture to suggest that Labor supporters, rather than claiming to be the experts in the field of employment , should hang their heads in shame at the track record that they left for this country.
What did these people from the Opposition side, who claim to be such experts, do? The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) tells us the number of people who are registered with the CES as being unemployed, but does he make the claim that those figures are accurate? Does he make the claim that there are other factors that should be taken into account when we look at the figures relating to those people who are registered as being unemployed? Surely he should look at those people who are registered as being unemployed who are already in the work force and are looking to change their jobs. Surely he should look at those married women who desire to get a job and who have registered with the CES. Surely he does not claim that those people are unemployed.
If honourable members want to look at accurate figures for unemployment, they should take account of the research that was done by the Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd quite recently. It is enlightening to look at the results that this firm came up with. I think all honourable members would acknowledge this firm’s expertise in this field. As a result of its survey, the Roy Morgan Research Centre claims that in actual fact 260,000 people would be the total number who could genuinely claim to be unemployed in Australia at the moment. We need also to analyse that figure a little more closely. Of that figure of 260,000 people, 66,000 people in fact were working part-time and a further 40,000 people were either stood down temporarily or were waiting to begin a new job. This takes 100,000 people off the unemployment figure straight away. If we take account of the Roy Morgan figures, the number who were actually out of work represent 2.9 per cent of the full-time work force, a far different percentage from the figure quoted by the honourable member for Gellibrand. Of that number the Roy Morgan Research Centre found that 70,000 people were the main breadwinners in a family, not the 300,000-odd people whom the honourable member for Gellibrand would have us believe. Of those 70,000 people, 15,000 people were working in part-time employment and only 38,000 main breadwinners were out of a job. If we look at the figures that a reputable firm like the Roy Morgan Research Centre has produced, we must agree that the figures that are given to us by the honourable member for Gellibrand need more careful analysis and, in fact, should be taken with a grain of salt.
The honourable member implied in his speech that this Government is heartless and heedless of the problems of unemployment. Honourable members need to look at what the Government has done during its period in office and what the Opposition would do if it occupied the treasury bench. This Government has introduced the Commonwealth Rebate Apprenticeship Fulltime Training scheme. I am sure honourable members opposite are familar with the CRAFT scheme and the .great assistance it has been in helping employers engage apprentices and in helping a lot of young people throughout Australia gain apprenticeships and be able to follow their chosen careers and qualify as skilled tradesmen. This has been done by a government which is concerned to see that young people are properly employed in positions that they want and can follow their life’s ambition to gain the right employment. The Government has also introduced the Special Youth Employment Training Program which is of tremendous assistance in helping those young school leavers who have not been fortunate enough to find a job to be subsidised by this Government for the first six months of their employment so that they obtain gainful employment and prove to their employers that they are productive employees and that they will make long time valued additions to their staff.
I refer also to the Community Youth Support scheme, another scheme that this Government has undertaken to help those young people find a place in society, to help community needs, while they are looking for their rightful places in the work force. We hear so often from heartless people in the community that young people who have just left school are not fitted to go into the work force, that they do not care about others in society. But this scheme is proving the he to that theory because it has proved to be invaluable in allowing young people to undertake community work to show their worth in the community, to allow them to find their place and be mindful of others, the old people and those less fortunate in the community. What would the Labor Party do? The honourable member for Gellibrand and others come into this chamber with a lot of rhetoric that we have heard over and over again but what is it that their spokesmen for economic matters, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), and others- I am not sure whether it is eeny, meeny or miney this week- have said on numerous occasions? It came out of the Labor Party’s Perth conference that the Labor Party would put Australia another $800m in hock in order to create 50,000 temporary jobs. Surely we would have to agree that it was this sort of economic madness that brought Australia into the difficulties we are now experiencing? It is because of the economic incompetence of honourable member’s opposite that unemployment is a problem with which this Government has been left to deal.
– They were economic vandals.
-As my honourable friend from Denison said, they are economic vandals. They do not know how to manage the economy. They came into office. They were permitted by the Australian public to have three years occupying the government benches. In that time, they put Australia into debt for many years to come. When they said it was too much for them and they could not handle the economy, they passed responsibility over to this Government. All they want to do now is criticise this Government for the genuine efforts we are making to get this country out of the mess they created for us and for the rest of Australia
– They crucified Tasmania.
– They crucified Tasmania as my honourable friend from Denison said. Honourable members opposite claim that we are at fault. They think that we should act like God, or that we should wave a magic wand, and solve aU the problems that they created. What about their colleagues in the trade unions? Do they share any of the blame? What have we just seen in Victoria? It was one of the most disgraceful performances by any group in the community that any fair minded person could see. It was a disgraceful performance. Those people put 400,000 people out of a job. Why? Because a few communists wanted to pursue their own political ambitions, they were prepared to put 400,000 people out of a job. Now honourable members opposite are coming into this House and saying that we are to blame. Is this because they are genuine about their concern for the unemployed or is it because they , want to represent the interests of those extremist left wingers and communists in this place? I believe that this is the case. What is happening in Tasmania, a trade union State where the moderates have been able to dominate the Trades and Labour Council for so long? The Labor Party expelled moderating influences such as Peter Imlach and Robert Watling so it could replace them with its communist mates.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call the honourable member for Cunningham, I draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech. I ask that the usual courtesies be extended to him.
– I speak tonight with some pride and a great deal of humility. I am proud to speak in this House as the newly elected Labor member for Cunningham and as the Federal representative of the greatest industrial and steel producing centre in this nation. I speak with humility that I should be here in place of the late Rex Connor, Australia ‘s first Minister for Minerals and Energy, a man who directed the attitudes of my Party and the nation to a correct appreciation of the need for public participation in and public ownership of our great national resources.
My electorate of Cunningham is the steel heartland of Australia. It has a work force of 80,000 people. It should be a great centre for the training of our youth in the skilled trades we will require in the future. Alas, that is not the present situation. Cunningham is bedevilled by unemployment. National unemployment is bad enough. I understand that it currently stands at 328,000. Surprisingly, some 800,000 people have been unemployed at some time or other in the last 12 months.
In the electorate of Cunningham, the situation is even worse than that. Seven thousand and thirty people or 9 per cent of the work force are unemployed in the Wollongong, Warilla, Shellharbour area. Those people are seeking 256 job vacancies. In the satellite town of Warilla, twelve kilometres from Wollongong, at the end of September 1,999 people were unemployed. Sixteen job vacancies are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. That is one job for every 124 work seekers. So much for the Government’s claim over the last two years that many of the unemployed youth are dole bludgers. In the electorate of Cunningham, 2,500 to 3,000 young people are due to leave school at the end of this year. Twelve thousand more are expected to leave school over the next five years. What policies is the Government putting forward to provide jobs for the youth of this great steel centre and for the Australian nation? I give one further illustration of the cancer of unemployment in this great industrial electorate. The major union is the Federated Ironworkers Association. In September 1975, 13,946 people in that great steel complex were members of that great union. Today only 12,3 19 people are members. That is a reduction in just two years of 1,627 ironworkers which is a fair example of the decline in the steel industry in Australia.
Furthermore, 35 per cent of steel from Port Kembla is exported. That is all very well if we can find the markets but, as the figure shows, we cannot depend on steel exports alone. The rest of the steel produced in Port Kembla is for domestic use. Finished steel products are used in the building and construction industry and the civil engineering industry. On behalf of the electors of Cunningham, I urge the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government to cease speculating about an early election, to cease promoting industrial troubles as an issue on which to hang an early election and to get down to the job of resuscitating the Australian economy. Only when the Australian economy is resuscitated will the steel industry at the great industrial centre of Port Kembla also be resuscitated. I urge that there be selective grants of capital expenditure nationally in Une with the pre-Budget WhitlamHayden plan to prime the Australian economy. What is wrong with putting $800m or $l,000m into the areas of housing, public transport and urban development? There is nothing strange about that. I quote from the September issue of the well known Japanese periodical Look Japan. Lo and behold, the Japanese are doing the same thing which Mr Whitlam and Mr Hayden are advocating, which this Government tells us would most certainly cause a great deal more inflation. Under the heading ‘Fiscal and Monetary Policies’, the publication states:
Acceleration of Public Investment
Apparently the Japanese are not too worried about inflation. They would sooner get their people to work. In conclusion, I give two prime examples of what we could do locally in Wollongong with capital expenditure. The State Government informs me that it has allocated $5.8m of State government expenditure until 1981 to build the first stage of the electrification of the railway line from Sutherland to Waterfall. We should like to speed that up, not only to provide jobs and an improved rail service but also it might come in handy to get some of the unemployed youth from Wollongong to commute quickly to Sydney for employment opportunity. Alas, under this Government I do not think that is to be either. I quote from a letter from Mr Peter Cox, the New South Wales Minister for Transport, to the Speaker, the Hon. L. B. Kelly, M.L.A. Two sentences will suffice to illustrate what I am saying. The letter stated:
As you are probably aware, all we got from the Federal Government was $0.6m for new urban public transport works in 1 977-78- sufficient to buy only two carriages.
One further protest: I also understand that the cuts in hospital development programs in the recent Budget were to the extent of some $5 8m. This could create a grave problem in the southern part of the electorate of Cunningham in the area of Oak Flats-Warilla. There is currently a new Shellharbour hospital under constructiona hospital which it is hoped will serve some 38,000 people. There is a good deal of worry in the southern part of my electorate that the construction of this vital hospital will be interfered with as a result of the cuts in the Government’s hospital development program.
I raise one further point. It is in regard to the Government’s educational program for unemployed youth. I understand that there is a great problem regarding this matter. When people elect to take this program and attend the classes they are taken off unemployment relief and are paid an allowance under the National Employment and Training scheme. In Wollongong the classes are in danger of collapse because when these people are transferred from one program to another, from unemployment relief to the NEAT scheme, and attend the education program classes for unemployed youth there is a long delay before they receive their payments. I repeat that the program in Wollongong is in danger of collapse because some 30 young people have not been paid for a period of eight weeks. It has been said that this Government will campaign on a slogan of ‘Demand the right to work ‘. Hear, hear, because there could be no better epitaph to this Government which has presided over the highest unemployment figures since the Great Depression. The Australian Labor Party welcomes an election whenever it is to be held because I believe that we will form the next government of this country.
-I commend the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) and I trust that his stay in Parliament will be a happy one and fruitful to him. Of course, many of us share some of the problems that he has in his electorate, and I say that with sincerity. Before we were elected we indicated to the people of Australia that we would intervene in the incredible situation that has occurred in Australia over the past five years and I believe quite firmly that it has come about by the introduction into the industrial arena of the militant left wing trade unionists who have been intent on destroying the confidence, the economy and the right to work of many Australians. They repeat consistently that they are there to help and work for the worker but unfortunately they are disregarding one important point- that there are many Australians, many good sound unionists, who desire only to be able to work, who desire only to be able to obtain employment and not be consistently harassed and perplexed by the continuous interjection, manipulation and disruptive attitudes of self-professed leaders of the trade union movement. We said quite specifically in our employment and industrial relations policy that we would propose that a third arm of the conciliation and arbitration administration be established and its purpose will be to secure observance of industrial law. It shall be called the Industrial Relations Bureau.
We now have this legislation and while some will say- and say it continuously- that it will not overcome the problems confronting Australia at the moment at least it will indicate to the sane Australian that there is at least legislation, that there is a law that should be observed by all involved in the trade union movement. I believe, irrespective of what some people may say, that this will unite the Left and the Right in a force that will continually perturb governments from here on and I believe that it will sort out the militants, it will sort out the trouble makers, the ones who are hell-bent on disrupting this nation, hellbent on destroying the prosperity of Australia and heU-bent on destroying this country.
One of the fundamental tenets of the Government’s industrial relations policy is that each member of the community has both rights and obligations. Those rights must be protected and the obligations must be met. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is perhaps the paramount Australian industrial statute. It is the principal means of giving legal expression to industrial rights and obligations. While it is not, and cannot be, a complete statement of those rights and obligations it certainly is the vehicle which establishes the framework of those rights and obligations by defining the roles and responsibilities of the parties to industrial relations and providing for an expression of the public interest. (Quorum formed.) Over the past year we have experienced the crippling effects of strikes by fuel tanker drivers, aircraft refuellers and by air traffic controllers. We have been, and are, witnessing the frightening capacity of a relatively small group of unionists in the Victorian power industry to wreak havoc on the entire community. Such situations demand that action be taken. It is paramount that unions recognise their obligations to and the legitimate interests of the Australian community.
The Government recognises that strong and effective organisations of employees and employers are fundamental to the effective conduct of industrial relations. Indeed, the formation of such organisations is one of the principal objects of the Act. However, organisations are meant to protect and enlarge the rights of individuals and not to undermine their liberties. Honourable members are only too well aware that disputes affecting trade and commerce or essential services have imposed profound economic dislocation on the community. Of course, the topic of industrial disputation is particularly vital to Tasmania, my home State, because of its dependence on air and sea traffic. Even the Australian Council of Trade Unions recognised the special position of Tasmania in 1971 when the ACTU executive declared that the jobs of Tasmanian workers depend on regular, reliable and adequate shipping services and that in respect of any shipping strike the participants are to give consideration to the particular position of Tasmania ‘s economy and to take such steps as are practicable and required to cause the least disruption. In the current difficult economic and employment situation the observance of that decision is of the greatest importance to the workers of Tasmania
In this country we have an excellent institutional framework for settling disputes impartially through the processes of conciliation and arbitration. Unfortunately, there are many involved in the trade union movement who do not believe in the decision of the umpire. Direct action need not, and should not, occur. Indeed, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission said in May that although the recent dispute picture was one of a large number of stoppages involving small numbers of persons and sometimes short-lived, it was, nevertheless, disturbed by the high incidence of stoppages. The Commission expressed particular concern at two severely disruptive strikes, one affecting the delivery of petrol in Victoria and the movement of aircraft and the other bringing air travel virtually to a halt. These disputes of course both had particularly damaging effects on Tasmania. They did not have such effects on statistics but they caused serious dislocation in the community. Similarly, a number of these disputes have been characterised by disregard of wage indexation guidelines, their impacts on the levels of production, their implications for business confidence and overseas trade and their adverse effect on the economy as a whole. We have members in Tasmania who are prepared to stand up and fight these disruptive left wing trade unionists. We need to overcome them. They are destroying Tasmania. Even the Archbishop of Hobart has drawn attention to them. He said, virtually, that we should not waste our saliva on them because they are destroying everything in Tasmania
-At 3.47 p.m. today Mr Charlie Oliver was expelled from the Australian Workers Union on the casting vote of Edgar Williams, a man who is not fit to wipe his boots, for no better reason than that Oliver moved to give the rank and file of his union the right to elect a new general secretary and a new president. For years and years now General Secretary Frank Mitchell and President Edgar Williams have been responsible for allowing one of the finest unions in Australia to detenorate into a disgraceful shambles with some of the worst awards in Australia and an utter comtempt for the democratic rights of the union membership. The union’s funds are depleted. In Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia the wage rates and conditions of employment would be a disgrace even if measured against the standards of 40 years ago. Oliver wants to change this state of affairs. He wants to restore the AWU to its former greatness. He wants to give to AWU members in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria the same high level of awards and rights of participation in the affairs of the union as AWU members enjoy in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. So he decided to nominate for the position of general secretary himself and arranged for a colleague in New South Wales, John Quilkey, to challenge Williams for the presidency.
Oliver has been a lifelong member of the Australian Labor Party. He served for a near record term as State President of the ALP in New South Wales. He served as an officer of the AWU in Western Australia. He was then elected as a Labor member of the Western Australian Parliament. When the New South Wales branch of the AWU appealed to him for help nearly 30 years ago, he left his cosy seat in the Western Australian Parliament to rescue the New South Wales branch of the AWU from the mess it had got into. Oliver has dedicated his whole life to his union and to the Australian Labor Party. It has often been said that the Labor movement has been Charlie Oliver’s religion. When he dared to arrange for the General Secretary and President of the AWU to be opposed I told him that he would never get to the finishing post because his opponents would find some way of expelling him and his mate so that the General Secretary and President could be re-elected unopposed. My forecast has in fact come to pass. Mitchell’s only opponent has now been expelled from the union which he has served so faithfully for all of the working years of his life on the casting vote of the very man whose position is under challenge by Oliver’s colleague.
– The court will reinstate him.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON Yes, I am sure the court will reinstate him. Significantly enough the six delegates who voted for his expulsion were all from the States in which AWU members have been so sadly betrayed, and the six who voted against the expulsion were from the three States of New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, in which it is the policy of the paid officials to do their very utmost to keep AWU awards amongst the best in Australia. Oliver’s only crime is that he wants AWU members in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria to share the benefits which AWU members already have in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. His crime is that he and his colleagues dared to oppose the two men chiefly responsible for the shameful neglect of AWU members in the three States I have mentioned.
It is not possible in the time at my disposal to explain all of the technicalities associated with what is known as the law of Moore v. Doyle, but in essence it is this: When the New South Wales branch of a federal union registers in the New South Wales Industrial Commission it ceases to be a part of the federal body and its officers are no longer bound by the federal body’s directives insofar as they may relate to those officers ‘ activities in the State union. Oliver, in his capacity as president of a State registered union, had carried out a directive of his State union to increase membership fees payable by members of the State union to $40 a year- little enough, but more than the federal union was charging its members. This is one of the reasons that the federal conditions are so shamefully bad. The price of the federal union ticket is only $30 a year. Mitchell and Williams used this difference in the charges that the two different unions fixed for their fees and imposed upon their members as a subterfuge for charging Oliver with misconduct and called upon him to show cause why he should not be expelled. This was not a reason; it was an excuse. Their action is illegal and will be set aside by the Federal Court of Australia when it gets before that court. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard section 1 3 3 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
133 (1 ) ‘In addition to the conditions referred to in subsection (2) of section 132, the conditions to be complied with by associations applying for registration as organisations and by organisations include a condition that the rules of the association or organisations- (a)…… (b)……
-I thank the House. In that section we see that the only way that an elected official can be expelled from any union nowadays is if it can be shown that he has been guilty of misappropriation of funds, substantial breach of the rules of the federal union, gross misbehaviour or gross neglect of duty. Charlie Oliver has never misappropriated a cent of the union’s funds.
– Hear, hear!
– Hear, hear!
-I am glad to hear I have support from my two colleagues. Charlie Oliver has never committed a substantial breach of the union’s federal rules. He has never been guilty of gross misbehaviour and he has never been guilty of gross neglect of duty as the Act requires his accusers to prove. The chief objects of the Act also are germane to this case that I now present to the Parliament. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the relevant part of section 2 of the Act.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
The chief objects of this Act are-
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . . (0 to encourage the democratic control of organisations so registered and the full participation by members of such organisation in the affairs of the Organisation. ‘
-I thank the House. The part I refer to is paragraph (0 which says that the chief objects of the Act shall be to encourage the democratic control of organisations so registered and the full participation by members of such organisations in the affairs of the organisation. Charlie Oliver was seeking to give the members of the AWU all over Australia the right which the Act says they shall have- the right to participate in the affairs of the organisation by determining by secret vote conducted by the electoral officer as to who shall be their federal secretary and federal president. But the people who laid the charge against him are very cunning and crafty. The man whose casting vote was used to expel this great Australian this great Laborite and this great unionist from the position he has held for so many years of his working life was a man whose own position is under challenge by Oliver’s colleague. That man had the audacity to use his own -
– I have just voted for him.
-There you are. The honourable member just voted for Oliver. His vote could be wasted unless something is done quickly to save the situation. This ballot is now in progress. It is half completed. It will not be completed until early in December. Hundreds of votes are coming in every week and now that these men have succeeded in expelling Oliver the word will go out that it is no use voting for Oliver because he has been expelled. The members will then feel that they have no alternative but to vote for the man who used his casting vote to put one of his rivals out of office. This is what is happening. Mitchell and Williams believe and hope that as a result of expelling this man there will rest upon his good name and reputation a dark cloud which will suggest that he has done one or more of the things which the Act states has to be proved before anybody can be expelled from a union. They Wil want the members to believe that he has been guilty of misappropriation of funds or that he has been guilty of a substantial breach of the rules, gross misbehaviour or gross neglect of duties.
– What was the reason they gave?
-The reason they gave is that he had issued tickets in the State union which carried a fee different from that fixed for the tickets of the federal union. They have no power whatsoever to give a directive to an officer of another union that is a completely separate entity with its own separate legal personality. They know they are wrong but they do not care because they want to brand Charlie Oliver as doing something that is reprehensible. Nobody would believe that they would dare do what they have done unless they had established a case for one of those four offences.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-In discussing the appropriations for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations in the Committee tonight, I should like to talk about some of the basic problems of youth unemployment and some of the problems of youth generally in this country. I think that we should recognise that there are many classes of unemployed youth in Australia at this time. I think we can certainly recognise that there is one category of youths who are unemployed and who have little, if any, intention of looking for employment or of working. But I would hasten to point out that I believe that they are, in general, a minority. There is a second category which includes the unemployed youths in Australia who have made some effort to find employment and to persevere with the process of looking for jobs, but because of a number of reasons they have failed. In many cases, they have had little experience in seeking employment and they are not aware of how they should present themselves. Some have low levels of education or have not achieved success at the levels that they have attempted. They may have poor parental motivation or poor motivation from that section of the community in which they live. In some cases they may be actively discriminated against because of their ethnic background.
There is a third category of unemployed youths and they are those who genuinely are attempting to find positions and who will probably, at some stage in the future, be successful. Let us not forget what are the basic causes of unemployment amongst our youth. One cause is certainly the wage explosion that occurred in 1974. 1 also suggest that the equal pay provisions and the adult wage provisions that have been brought into many awards have not helped the situation whatsoever. But basically the problem, as I see it, and as honourable members on this side of the chamber see it, is the unrealistic and completely unwarranted wage demands, coupled with the level of industrial disputation and strikes that have occurred in this country in the last few years. The problem is a very serious one. It is a national problem I believe that it is gradually leading to a degree of disillusionment, social disorder and upheaval. I believe that we could see this develop to the extent that it did in the United States in the 1970s and also in areas of the Continent. I believe that it gives a low regard for law and order.
Young people have very little sense of purpose or career motivation. They certainly have little identification with Australia; they do not have a national identity. It also leads to a decline in moral standards and other habits. I refer to drug taking in particular. In the term ‘drug taking’ I include alcoholism which is a rapidly increasing symptom of the malaise among young people.
These sorts of conditions are conducive for the breeding of the anarchist philosophies and the left wing extremism philosophies that are creeping into so many of our groups and organisations of young people. This is a national problem and I think it nas been accentuated greatly by the level of unemployment amongst young people.
The problem has been recognised by this Government. I refer the Committee to the appointment of a special committee on youth affairs which is endeavouring to identify some of the problems and to communicate with the unemployed youth in Australia. One of the recent achievements of that committee was the launching of a radio program entitled Speak Easy, through a commercial station in Adelaide. It sought the views directly of unemployed youth. One of the interesting responses to that program occurred when a number of callers were asked whether they would be interested in working while they were receiving unemployment benefits. The overwhelming response was ‘yes’. Kids who were unemployed indicated that they would welcome the opportunity to do something for their benefit and to make some contribution towards their community in return for the unemployment benefit payment that they receive. I think they recognised that there was a need to instil a sense of giving instead of taking, and of giving freely and for nothing instead of asking: What do I get out it it?’
It is with those sentiments in mind that I should like to refer to the possibility of investigating a scheme which could be called a universal service type system or, in some people’s eyes, a civilian national service type program. There would, of course, be many opponents to such a proposal because some people would immediately identify it with a military national service with combatant roles and with conscription. I am not referring to that type of national service. I am talking about a true national service established in the spirit of serving the community and the nation. Many questions, of course, would be raised. Should it be compulsory or should it be voluntary? Should payment be an alternative to unemployment benefit payments? Should it be restricted to certain age groups? Should it involve both males and females? Should it require fitness criteria? Should it try to be designed to ensure that even handicapped people can benefit within the scheme? I certainly do not have the time to canvass all these pros and cons but I believe that tremendous benefit would accrue from a consideration of such a scheme.
Some of the benefits would be that we would give youth some direction, some purpose, some degree of discipline and self-discipline and, most importantly, some identification with Australiasome national identification with the nation in which they live. It would also give them some very useful and beneficial experience in the work force. It would assist them in determining what careers they might like to follow. I am sure that it would assist them in becoming more adaptable and flexible in their work experience. Another benefit would be that it would give a very desirable break between the time a student leaves school and the time he proceeds to some form of post-secondary education. I believe that one of the great costs and one of the great problems of post-secondary education is the large number of young people who enter these institutions not highly motivated and not really knowing what courses they wish to do. Of course, they become pan of the failure statistics which are a great cost burden on the nation. Undoubtedly, some of the best students who go through tertiary institutions are those who have spent some time working after they have left school. Motivation, surely, is the most important single indicator of success in any post-secondary education endeavour.
Furthermore, such a service program could be oriented to provide jobs for young people who are prepared to work overseas in an aid capacity somewhat along the lines of the United States Peace Corps. This would not only provide a direct contribution by young Australians to other countries but it would also give them a highly increased awareness of the standards of living of people in other countries, of their cultural backgrounds and of their religious beliefs. This would contribute towards a better understanding of other countries by Australians. It would also provide a skilled reserve of manpower. This, I believe, would be one of the greatest benefits. If a skilled reserve of manpower were established it could be available to deal with natural disasters. It could be available in the event of general strikes. It could provide unskilled labour when required, for example, during a garbage or refuse strike, and it could provide skilled labour when required, such as during a waterfront strike. It would also provide a reserve in areas such as housing, engineering projects and of course special projects. I think of some of the opportunities that would arise in rural areas. One, in particular, would be in relation to forestry projects in Australia. Such a program could be of tremendous benefit in that field. The organisation of the program is something that would have to be worked out, but it could be developed along the lines of a specialist core basis, as has been proposed in the United States.
There would be many problems of administration and of ensuring universal applicability of the scheme. The costs would undoubtedly be high. There would be legal difficulties, such as those imposed by conventions to which Australia is a signatory. The natural association with the conscription mentality would have to be overcome. I do not believe that such a scheme should be knocked outright before it is given careful consideration to see whether it could in fact be implemented.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie) who, in the closing part of his address, really raised the problems that preclude the solution that he was intending to put forward. I can only say about his suggested solution that I have never heard such a naive contribution to a debate in all the years that I have been a member of this Parliament. The honourable member conceded finally an anti-conscription mentality in the Australian community and that International Labour Organisation conventions to which Australia is a signatory forbid the sort of civil conscription which he advocated. One would have thought that one was listening to the League of Rights, listening to the honourable member carrying on in this place. He was obviously envisaging these young people being trained as strike breakers. That is what he was talking about. He was talking about these young people being put to work. He did not say what sort of work. He just said that they would be put to work. He suggested forestry work. I did not hear him suggest anything else. He did not tell us who would be the almighty who would determine the areas into which these people would be channelled.
He said that if there were national disasters or national strikes these people could be put to work. I do not know how a bloke who is unemployed would be trained as a fitter and turner to do the work of a fitter and turner who has withdrawn his labour. There is so much arrant nonsense in what the honourable member is putting forward. That was indicated by his opening remarks that the solution of this Government to unemployment is to establish a radio talk-back program. That is what he told the Committee, Surely the young people who are unemployed in Australia are entitled to better consideration by the Government of this country than to suggest that it establish talk-back programs as that they can talk about their problems. They do not want talk-back programs. They do not want to talk about then- problems. They want solutions to their problems.
– They just want money.
-The honourable member for North Sydney said that they just want money. Of course they want money. How can they survive in a capitalist society unless they have money? The honourable member for Calare is not giving us a solution to that problem. He said that we should talk about it; we should put them to work- conscript them. Let me remind the Committee that the honourable member and all honourable members who sit on that side of the chamber preach freedom of choice of the individual.
– Of course.
-The honourable member for Maranoa said: ‘Of course1. Of course they do. Now honourable members opposite want to conscript the young people who unfortunately are unemployed through policies brought about by this Government which has created the worst unemployment in this country for 50 years. They are quite proud of the fact. They sit smugly back in their comfortable green plush seats in this chamber and simply say that those who are unable to find employment through the policies of the Government that they support should be conscripted for the unemployment benefit that they are paid, and put to work at that price. How dishonest can they be? However, it was not my intention to speak on that matter tonight. I was simply provoked by the honourable member for Calare and by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) who, speaking on the estimates for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, promptly proceeded to fracture every attempt at industrial relations in this country.
I want to speak tonight on the estimates for the Department of Science which follow the estimates for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. The Department of Science covers a multitude of fields, as can be imagined by the community, even by those who sit opposite. Earlier this year, in June and in August, it was my pleasure to be Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Works which sat in both Melbourne and Hobart to hear evidence from many eminent Australians about the future of the Antarctic Division of the Department. Whilst examining that matter, it became abundantly clear to the Committee that the Australian Government had no firm policy in relation to the Antarctic, despite the fact that during the term of office of Mr Bill Morrison as Minister for Science he brought down a Green Paper. Just to explain that terminology, a Green Paper is a discussion paper, a paper brought forward for discussion by the Parliament, by the Government and by the community. A White Paper is the determination of the Government after it has listened to all that discussion. That White Paper becomes the policy of the Government.
It was extraordinarily difficult for the Committee to sit in judgment on the transference of the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science from Melbourne, where it is currently located, to Kingston, just outside of Hobart in Tasmania, without knowing the future role of the Antarctic Division of the Department. Evidence was given by eminent people such as Dr Law, Sir Frederick White, K.B.E., the former Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Professor Schwedtfeger, of the School of Physical Sciences at FlInders University, South Australia, and Dr Budd, and eminent and world renowned glaciologist. These eminent people freely gave evidence to the Public Works Committee. There are three large volumes of evidence. (Quorum formed).
It seems that I was sidetracked somewhere along the Une. I was trying to relate industrial relations with the Antarctic. I found out that it will not quite work. However, I return to industrial relations. It is fairly clear from comments made by the honourable member for Franklin and other Government supporters that as long as they are members they will, for short term political gain, exacerbate and highlight any industrial dispute in Australia. I believe that the role of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) is to use all of his good endeavours to prevent industrial disputes and not to have his colleagues exacerbating situations.
It is obvious that every industrial dispute that occurs in this country occurs with good cause. The men who have been out of work recently in the Latrobe Valley returned to work today. The sort of attitude that has been expressed by Mr George Polites of the Chamber of Manufactures could well be listened to by those who sit on the other side of this chamber. His firm belief- of course, he is not member of the Australian Labor Party- is that industrial disputes will be solved much more rapidly and more amicably if they are left in the hands of the parties to the dispute and if the politicians keep out of them. It is clear from the action of the Prime Minister of this country and of Government supporters -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I must confess that as I was listening to my colleague the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) I thought we were going to have the first debate on industrial relations in Antarctica. I must confess that I think members on both sides of the chamber would have been at a loss to work out what the situation should be.
– Are there penguins in Antarctica?
– I am asked whether there are penguins in Antarctica. I am told that brass monkeys may be found there, but I am unaware of their causing industrial disputes. Returning to the estimates under discussion, I should like to comment on the matter the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) raised. He referred to my constituent, Mr Charlie Oliver, and his expulsion from the Australian Workers Union. I endorse the remarks that the honourable member for Hindmarsh made about this man truly being one of the noble men of the trade union movement in Australia. I find it difficult to believe that he would be guilty of the things that have been said of him today.
I wish to speak on two matters and follow my friend the honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie by talking of the youth employment programs of this Government. I have heard members of the Opposition say during this Estimates debate that this Government is doing nothing practical for unemployed youth. I think that is a load of hogwash, and I think it is about time the public was reminded of just two of the schemes this Government brought in. I will leave all of the others for later discussion. I refer, of course, to the Community Youth Support Scheme, which is being implemented with great success. There is no talk of conscripting youth. There is no talk of using unemployed youth in wrongful labour. The CYSS scheme is a very practical exercise in Government support for the registered unemployed youth in the community, and it should be receiving the support of each and every member of this chamber on both sides. It is not political. It is something that all honourable members, including the spokesman for the Opposition on this subject, should be giving their total support. Of course, it is not the full answer, but it has developed a new system and that is the use of community committees in industrial problems. I do not suppose it is fair to call it an industrial problem in the sense of problems that we have grown to talk of as industrial problems, but certainly it is something that we should be promoting to help get the chronically unemployed youth on the road to employment.
I would like to mention a couple of things that we have found in the Cook electorate with the CYSS scheme. One of the traumas that we are finding amongst the chronically unemployed youth is an unbelievable degree of illiteracy. These are not young people leaving special secondary schools for the mentally retarded or for the handicapped; these are young people leaving the normal educational system as we know it. We are finding that an unbelievably high proportion of these young people is incapable of writing and incapable of reading and therefore totally incapable of communicating with employers. They are absolute set-ups for industrial blackmail. They are the sorts of employees who can be totally destroyed by unscrupulous employers or totally used by unscrupulous unionists. (Quorum formed.)
I thank honourable members for the support I am getting from this side of the chamber in mentioning the Government’s program for helping unemployed youth. I pay a tribute to the people who are working under the education program for unemployed youth, another scheme that was introduced by this Government. If I may quote from a document I have in front of me, the estimated cost per trainee is something like $220 a month, and we estimate that in the current year something like $700,000 will be spent in this new program. I think it should be clearly stated that the courses we have brought forward are practical and are working, but they will only work if they get the support of everyone in this chamber. Whether it is the Commonwealth Youth Support Scheme or the education program for unemployed youth, we have to be prepared to be nonpolitical in these matters and get out and help the chronically unemployed youth.
I agree with the honourable member for Calare that we make a mistake when we assume that all the registered unemployed are dole bludgers. That is a comment that was made a long time ago by people not on this side of the chamber. I think it does us well to remember that the unemployment problem amongst the registered unemployed youth in this community is as much a social problem at present as it is an unemployment problem. We have to look at the education facilities and we have to work out what has to be done to improve our education facilities. It is intolerable to think that young people can attend school to the age of 15 years and be recognised by their teachers as being incapable of reading or writing. This is indeed what is happening in the Sydney area today. Some estimates have put the proportion as high as 40 per cent. If ever there was a condemnation of an educational system, it is this one factor.
I do not want to get involved in any of the industrial matters that have been discussed today by people who are obviously involved in them. I want to draw the attention of the chamber to the chronic problem of registered unemployed youth. I hope I have done this in the few minutes at my disposal.
-The honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie), like the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr), sermonised about the problems of youth, but he and the honourable member for Wilmot are members of a government that participated in a long program of stigmatising and denigrating the youth of this country. Whenever the forthcoming election is held, they will reap the harvest. In their greed and their lust for power in this place, they have sown a wind but, they will reap a social whirlwind. They have divided the Australian community. They have stigmatised Australian youth. To talk about the Community Youth Support Scheme as doing something for unemployed youth is an absolute insult to the young people of this country. The CYSS program is a jobless concealment program. It is a teenage minding service that somehow seems to ease the consciences of those who sit opposite. It denigrates the young people who are asked to participate in it. Six dollars a week is the magnificent sum paid to people for fares to and from classes where they learn such things as needlework, how to comb their hair, or how to dress themselves. There is nothing about providing jobs or stimulating the economy.
– It gets them jobs. They want jobs.
– Of course we want jobs, and they want jobs. They want jobs but they also want dignity. They are entitled to dignity. That is more than this Government is giving them. They are entitled to dignity; they are entitled to respect and those who sit opposite are not giving it to them. Honourable members opposite have divided this country. We could talk about the Special Youth Employment Training Programthis great innovation of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) which is being put forward as doing something for unemployed youth. Earlier this evening, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) referred to the rorts and the crooked things that are going on in respect of that scheme, and he was laughed at by those who sit opposite.
As members of the Department are sitting in the chamber, I shall cite a case which was brought to the attention of the departmental officers. Their hearts are just as hard as are the hearts of those who sit opposite. I shall relate the case of a mother who rang me on 29 August and told me that that afternoon her son had been given notice. He was 15 months into an apprenticeship as a typewriter mechanic. His indentures had not been signed earlier. That afternoon his employer told him that since the indentures had now arrived he, the employer, found that he would not be able to allow the young man one day a week off for him to go to technical college, despite the fact that we all know he would have allowed that 15 months earlier. That was the ruse, the excuse, used. His mother worried all weekend. I spoke to the Department on the Monday and the Department told me: ‘We are sorry. There is nothing we can do about it. There is no way in which we can insist or require of the employer that anybody he applies for under the SYETP is an addition to the work force’. My constituent was sacked on 29 August. On the same afternoon the employer applied for the subsidy- $63 a week of taxpayers’ money, or almost twice the rate of benefit applicable to young people under 18 years of age. On the Monday, three days later, a replacement for the young typewriter apprentice, which my constituent thought he was, commenced work. That young man finished on the Friday.
To compound the problem, the Department then told the young man: ‘Do not worry too much. We will try to get you placed in another position where your 15 months of service can be taken into account. We can get $63 a week from the Government to give to an employer who is prepared to employ you’. So here we have $126 a week of taxpayers’ money given to an employer when a young man 15 months into his career as he thought, wrongly, and 15 months into what he thought was an apprenticeship, is sacked. So much for the Government’s SYETP Scheme. It is a job substitution program. I raised this matter in the House in September and the Minister for Productivity and Minister Assisting the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Macphee) replied: ‘Well, if you tell me who it is and bring it to the attention of the Department, we will see what we can do about it.’ I had already done that and the Department said: ‘We are sorry, there is nothing we can do. There is no condition attached to the subsidy that requires the employer to show that the position is an addition to the work force’. That day I asked the Minister to take action. He refused, and by his refusal eight or so weeks ago he endorsed the practice of some employers in this country ripping off pensioners who pay tax and ripping off people who are unemployed. Here we have a government that tries to express a concern for youth! It is not concerned about youth.
Let me now advert to the unemployment figures. Since December 1975 we have heard that the unemployment figures are inflated. First we had the abolition of seasonally adjusted figures. We were told that such figures inflated the position and were not a true level of accuracy. So they were abolished. Then, one way or another the Department, within its own procedures, sought to depress the unemployment figures. It achieved that result. It has succeeded, in my view, in substantially understating the true level of unemployment in Australia. Be that as it may, if the figures in 1975 and 1976 were inflated, they were more inflated in 1974 and 1975. The deflated figures being used by this Government for comparison with unemployment in the time of the Whitlam Government form quite a false comparison because the figures in 1975, by the Government’s own action and its own definition, were inflated figures. The figures are now deflated figures so the true position, the true comparison of unemployment in this country, is not being shown.
I move now to the shipbuilding industry. The Department of Employment and Industrial Relations was created as a supportive service. Many years ago men who were interested in the social implications of unemployment went into that Department. They were men who were dedicated to doing something for people who were unemployed and who could not get work. Under the present Government, that Department has developed into a policing department. To come back to the shipbuilding industry in Newcastle, we will recall that in the latter part of that year the Minister said that special action would be taken by his Department in collaboration with other departments to provide services in the Newcastle district particularly to assist some of the 5,000 people who would become unemployed as a result of the devastation of the shipbuilding industry caused by this Government. This Government did nothing to help these people. The Minister has refused to do anything about the matter. There have been questions about this in this House, and it has been raised in the Press. Nothing at all has been done. There has been a complete repudiation of the promises made and a complete disregard of the dehumanising aspects of being unemployed.
I take this point further. In Newcastle at the moment some 300 to 400 debtors’ warrants are being issued each month against people who cannot meet their commitments. Seventy-five per cent of the people who are receiving those debtors warrants are unemployed- people for whom those who sit opposite profess to have some concern. The bulk of that 75 per cent are in the 40 to 50 years age group. Where is the humanity on that side of the House? Where is the concern in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations? It does not have any. It is a dehumanising department and this Government is a dehumanising government. I draw the Minister’s attention and the attention of the chamber to the legal notices in yesterday’s Newcastle Morning Herald. In all the cases dealt with, bailiffs’ warrants were being served on people whose household furnishings were being sold up the same day. As they did yesterday and as they will do today, on Thursday, and again next week, bailiffs in the Wallsend district will be going into people’s homes and selling up their furniture. Some of the things being sold are: One only lounge suite, three piece; one only buffet plus contents; one only Speedie electric heater; two only coffee tables; one only Philips black and white television set; one only sideboard and one only dining room suite. That is what is happening in the Newcastle area. That illustrates the Government’s lack of concern for the people who are unemployed. I suggest to some honourable member s opposite and to some of the people in the Department that they should go along to some of those auctions. I sent somebody to one of those auctions yesterday. There were nine people present in a room of a home. Three of them were visitors-two represented me and one represented the Press. Two other people present were the bailiff’s officers and the six people included some second-hand dealers buying up the furniture from the homes of those unfortunate people. I urge the Government, if it has any concern for unemployed people to act now to stimulate the economy to help these people.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 10 March 1977 I shall report progress.
-It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 10 March 1977 I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I require that the question be put forthwith without debate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Department of Employment and Industrial Relations
Proposed expenditure, $1 85,979,000.
-Time is limited so I shall speak very briefly on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). This debate was opened by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis), who made reference to the ratio of unemployed persons to job vacancies. The number of unfilled job vacancies has fallen in the past 12 months, as the honourable member observed, and one important reason for this is the fact that the staff of the Commonwealth Employment Service has increased and jobs have been filled more quickly. The CES is now placing more people in employment and training than ever before. In September 1977 the CES referred 25,000 people a week’ for employment compared with 22,000 a week in September 1976.
The honourable member for Gellibrand also made reference to the problem of job creation, in particular in the public sector. He referred to the Regional Employment Development scheme of the previous Government. On his own figures he indicated the astonishing cost of placing a very limited number of people in employment under that scheme. As the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said today, the Government has allocated unlimited funds for training programs. We are concerned with the placing of people in permanent employment. Whatever prospects there may be for an expansion of the public sector, as mentioned by the honourable member for Gellibrand, the primary area for job creation is undoubtedly in the private sector. Real prospects for employment opportunities in the private sector will come only when there is substantial economic growth. Enough has been said in this chamber in the past few days and also today to indicate strongly that that is the Government’s policy and that that policy is being realised.
I refer to some figures that were prepared by my colleague and released on 2 1 October. These indicate the number of persons who have been assisted in 1976-77 and who are likely to be assisted in 1977-78. In respect of apprenticeships, there were 24,000 in 1976-77 and we expect 34,000 to be assisted in 1977-78. In respect of the National Employment and Training scheme, 19,000 were assisted during 1976-77 and we expect 40,000 to be assisted in 1977-78-a very dramatic growth as a result of a program aimed at training people for permanent employment, not just a ‘make work’ program. Under the Special Youth Employment Training Program 15,000 were assisted in 1976-77- again a remarkable result for its first year of operationand we expect 45,000 to be assisted in 1977-78, a very substantial growth in respect of the Special Youth Employment Training Program.
The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) has just told us that the Government does not care for youth. In the second year after the introduction of the scheme we anticipate assisting 45,000 young people. Under the community youth support scheme 12,000 young people were assisted in 1976-77 and we expect 30,000 young people to be assisted in 1977-78. My colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, in announcing these figures on 2 1 October said:
The Government’s determination to come to grips with the youth employment problem is further evidenced by its already announced commitment that no Commonwealth Government training program will be inhibited in its operations during 1 977-78 by lack of funds.
The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr) outlined the nature and extent of the various employment and training schemes to which I have referred. So later did the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie). I do not believe, in the interests of time, I need add to the comments already made. The scheme was introduced thoughtfully by the Government and it has been an effective package of measures in respect of training programs for permanent employment.
The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) made his maiden speech tonight. I congratulate him on its presentation. He spoke with confidence, with zest and with obvious knowledge of his electorate. But insofar as his remarks had national application, I believe that much the same can be said for them as I have said in respect of the remarks of the honourable member for Gellibrand. I mentioned the honourable member for Shortland in passing. I mentioned again that I will certainly draw his remarks to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. But I should say that the Commonwealth Employment Service is instructed by my colleague that wherever it is aware of any abuse by an employer it is not to place with that employer persons for training purposes. Of course, it is still under an obligation to place people for employment purposes wherever it can and the employer still has the traditional right, subject to awards, to terminate employment. But in respect of any abuse of the training schemes of the Government, of course the Commonwealth Employment Service is under instructions not to allow an employer a second opportunity if an abuse has occurred. I shall nevertheless bring those matters to the attention of my colleague.
In respect of my friend, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) -
– Oh, what about me?
-I left the best until last. The honourable member has raised very serious matters. I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, would be extremely concerned about them. I am sure that his Department will study the matters not only closely, but also as a matter of urgent public interest, and that my colleague will give attention to them and will make contact with the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I believe that Mr Oliver has been removed from the position of secretary of the New South Wales branch of the federally registered Australian Workers Union. It is sad to think of the historic AWU being the subject- one might say the victim- of yet another protracted industrial court battle. Undoubtedly the Federal Court of Australia is where that battle now belongs. No doubt the matter will be dealt with by that Court as expeditiously as possible and all the matters of substance will be judged then. The only thing it would be appropriate for me to say, beyond pointing out the fact that I know the matter will be dealt with by my colleague urgently, is that if I were in Mr Oliver s position I would be most pleased to have the industrial experience, wit, intelligence and eloquence of the honourable member for Hindmarsh as my adviser and advocate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ian Robinson)- I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
– I think the Committee must take notice of what was said earlier today by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) -
Motion (by Mr Macphee) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Notice has been received from the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) that at the next sitting he will move:
That this House has no confidence in Mr I. L. Robinson as a Deputy Chairman of Committees.
Mr Les McMAHON (Sydney) ( 10.43)- I was appalled tonight that the Government Whip, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier), gagged the debate on the estimates of the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development. I was one of the honourable members listed to speak and I was gagged. There was an agreement between the Opposition Whip and the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) that there be one hour for debate with 10 minutes for each speaker. The Government Whip is trying to break up the harmony of the House. The Government is panicking because there could be an election and it is frightened to hear the truth from honourable members on this side of the House.
– He is the most arrogant man in the House.
– That is right. The way he conducted himself tonight proves that he is the most arrogant man in the House. I put that on record. Tonight I intend to discuss the Glebe and Woolloomooloo projects. I intended to discuss this matter today before I was gagged. The Labor Government initiated the historic Glebe Estate and the Woolloomooloo project, two vitally important contributions to urban rehabilitation. The Labor Government made real efforts to counter the adverse trends that were operating in the inner city. It recognised the need for the Government to protect local residents while revitalising areas of the inner city. It was very conscious of not rating above the level of ability of local people to pay. The Labor Government was worried about people. The project in question is the Glebe project in my electorate of Sydney. In 1974 the project opened, the land having been acquired by the Federal Labor Government from the Church. Approximately 3,200 people, principally comprising pensioners, students and children, made up the population there. There were 12 staff members under the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) whose work on the Glebe and Woolloomooloo projects was respected.
The advisory committee has been elected annually from 1974 onwards and has been doing a remarkable job. I worked with the management on the Glebe project, with the project people and with the Minister, but as recently as yesterday I inspected some of the houses in Arundel Street and in those houses found pensioners and other people who had been waiting approximately 18 months for their houses to be repaired. One pensioner, who was living alone, had been waiting for four months, during which time she had had no toilet facilities.
– For how long?
– Four months. She had a dog that was almost blind and she was using an outside tap. There were a few palings off the fence and the toilet, an old cottage pan type, was disused and not clean, but the lady did not want to complain because she was afraid she might lose the tenancy. I have had complaints from the residents advisory committee and other people in Arundel Street and find that expenditure has dropped by approximately 20 per cent in the last 12 months and 60 per cent in the last two years although these appalling conditions are present.
In Wentworth Park Road there are semidetached houses which for almost seven months have been awaiting repair by the Government’s sub-contractors. Something should be done to pull out the sub-contractors and give the work to the Commonwealth Department of Construction. We should help the unemployment situation by sacking the sub-contractors and bringing in day labour, because the subcontractors are not doing their job. There are unemployed plumbers, electricians, carpenters and apprentices who need work. The Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) said earlier that he wants apprentices and tradesmen on the job. We can show to the people of Australia t that we mean it and, at the same time, the Government can get back $60 a week. We can show an example on this project by putting tradesmen to work while making the residents a great deal happier.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The fundamental principles of natural justice are indeed one of the most vital cornerstones of any society which operates under a system of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law. Very recently, the High Court of Australia reaffirmed that the principles of natural justice are applicable to administrative tribunals and not in fact restricted to the courts of the land. Recently, in Tasmania, we have seen an injustice very similar to that described earlier this evening by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in a situation where two young, dedicated, hard-working trade union leaders have been persecuted, convicted and crucified by the Tasmanian Labor Party.
The two persons concerned are Mr Robert Watling and Mr Peter Imlach. These two men were charged with the offence of aiding and espousing the cause of a proscribed organisation, to wit the National Civic Council. The State Labor Party set up a tribunal to hear these charges, and it was significant that the chairman of that tribunal was the president for Tasmania of the Australia-USSR Friendship Society, an organisation that is also regarded by many Labor supporters as one which, if not proscribed, certainly ought to be.
Watling and Imlach were given a trial that can only be described as a sham, by a kangaroo court and I have expressed the view that on the evidence that has been published no jury in Australia, perhaps in the world, would have convicted them. The evidence basically was photographic. Three of the witnesses called had never in fact seen the persons they were identifying. There was evidence from one other person, who in law could only be described as an accomplice. As such any jury would have been instructed not to convict on his evidence for to do so would be dangerous in the extreme.
Mr Imlach and Mr Watling subsequently sought direction from State Australian Labor Party Council as to the method whereby they should appeal. There was confusion about the 2 1-day rule. Far from getting the assistance as to how they should go about their appeal, the State ALP Council proceeded on the spot to dismiss their appeals without hearing one word in favour of them and to direct further that they would have no right of appeal either to the Federal
Executive or to the Federal Council, a right incidentally which was given to Senator Brian Harradine when he, too, was expelled on similar evidence and as a result of similar machinations by the pro-Communist Left in the Australian Labor Party. Within five days of the expulsion of Watling and Imlach, they being the Secretary and the Minute Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council, there was a secret visit to Hobart- last Thursday- by Mr Pat Clancy who is the President of the Socialist Party of Australia which is the Moscow-line Communist Party. He was accompanied by Mr George Crawford and three other comrades. They met secretly in what they described publicly as a move to re-unify the Tasmanian trade union movement.
In the short time available to me I take the opportunity to quote what the leading article in today’s Hobart Mercury says about this matter. I feel it will alert honourable members, including decent members on the other side, who are opposed to Communism, as to what is happening in the State of Tasmania. The Mercury says:
The TTLC and its predecessor, the Tasmanian Trades Hall Council, for many years have been a bastion of industrial moderation. This does not mean the TTLC is a tame cat organisation or a friend of the bosses. There have been many occasions when there have been deep differences between what employers and the TTLC want. By and large these differences have been resolved with commonsense and responsibility. The record of some of the unaffiliated unions has not been as impressive.
Whether the expulsion of two leading members of the TTLC, Mr Peter Imlach and Mr Robert Watling from the ALP was part of the campaign to organise a Left-wing takeover or the TTLC is arguable. Certainly there is strong evidence to support the contention.
There can be little question that the campaign against the two Right-wingers for involvement with the proscribed NCC was master-minded by those who aid and espouse extreme Left-wing philosophies which are so close to those of the proscribed Communist Party that it is virtually impossible ibr those not versed in political semantics to distinguish. And it seems more than coincidental that so soon after the expulsion interstate Communist and extreme Left heavyweights attended a meeting in Hobart ostensibly to ‘reunify’ the Tasmanian trade union movement.
Among those who attended this meeting and who will no doubt assist in moves to restore ‘unity, cohesion, and effectiveness to the union movement’ were the Moscow-line Communist Party boss Mr Pat Clancy -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!
– My time has expired but I will have an opportunity later to finish, I hope.
-The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise tonight to pay tribute to a person whose requiem mass a number of members of this House will attend tomorrow, Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, who was a very significant figure in this country. He was a significant figure not only because he was the first Australian cardinal. He was a significant figure to those on this side of the House because of the common sense he showed in his political decision-making in the mid-1950s. I point out to the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) that it was the decision taken by this great man that perhaps has left the Australian Labor movement in the form in which it is. Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy would never have been as dishonest as to belong to the National Civic Council and to try to undermine the traditions of the Australian Labor movement. He decided that, where he was in charge of the church, the church would not be a party to the setting up of a religious political party which was the aim of the industrial groups and the National Civic Council in that period. He fought strongly against it. He advised those people who went to him for advice against joining what was erupting as a very reactionary right wing movement in Victoria, led by the late Archbishop Mannix and by Bob Santamaria. They were very angry with him. They needed his support to make the coup complete. The Labor movement in New South Wales- the key State in Australian pontics- remained very much united in that time because of the decision-making of the late Cardinal Gilroy. Not only was he an inspiration to the people of his own Church but also in a political sense history will show him to be a very wise man.
As to the role of the National Civic Council in Australian politics, it is a proscribed organisation for members of the Australian Labor Party, as is the Communist Party. People who are found guilty of being members of it are expelled from the Australian Labor Party. In the case of the two chaps just mentioned by the honourable member for Denison- I went to the trouble of reading the evidence- it is of interest to note that the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Labor Party not only conducted the inquiry quite properly but also laid open the inquiry to the Press. The Press was present when all the evidence was given. The evidence is there for everybody to read. Evidence was given that the two people involved attended meetings of the National Civic Council on more than one occasion. There is no doubt that the National Civic Council over the last 20 years and more has been interested in gaining power and supremacy in decision-making and policy-making within the Australian Labor Party. The honourable member mentioned Senator Harradine. Senator Harradine was expelled from the Labor Party for a number of offences. They were dealt with by the National Executive because bis original offence was against the National Executive, not against a branch of the Party. I do not think anyone here now would deny that Senator Harradine is and has been for some time a very active agent of the National Civic Council. I just ask: Why do people who take this decision to belong to the National Civic Council not have the courage of their convictions and leave the Labor Party to take up their rightful places in that extreme right-wing group and let the world know and stand for positions in the Labor movement on the basis that that is their belief? It was not my intention to become involved in the Tasmanian dispute. That has now been settled. I pay tribute to the late Cardinal Gilroy. On behalf of the Labor movement, I thank him for his very wise decision in the mid-1950s when he rejected the plea of Archbishop Mannix and Bob Santamaria to break up the Labor movement.
– I am amazed to hear the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) tonight try to justify the decision of his party and the travesty of justice it committed against Senator Harradine who was expelled from his party on perjured evidence and the established lies of paid informers. I have no brief for Senator Harradine, Mr Watling or Mr Imlach. I have a brief for the principles of natural justice in this country. It grieves me that reputable members of the Australian Labor Party have the gall to come into this chamber tonight and defend something that is morally and legally indefensible. To wrap it up in a speech of tribute to Cardinal Gilroy, with the greatest of respect, did less than justice to what the honourable member ought to have said about the late and great Cardinal Gilroy. The honourable members tried to bring him in three days after his death in moral justification for what the Labor Party did to Senator Harradine, Mr Wading and Mr Imlach.
One of the Senate colleagues of the honourable member for Port Adelaide went on record as saying that he would prefer to be associated with communists and would prefer to have communists in the Labor Party than to have members of the National Civic Council in the Party. This is indicative of the growing influence of the pro-communist Left in the Labor Party. It has been taken over lock, stock and barrel. We all know that in reality the pro-communist Left wants to get control of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council. If it does that, the procommunist Left will get control of the Federal Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Is that what the Labor Party wants? The honourable member for Port Adelaide nods his head in agreement. That is absolutely shameful. If he stands for the old style Chifley Labor, the good strong anti-communist Labor, he should condemn people such as Pat Clancy, George Crawford and the communists who are going into Tasmania under his nose and with his consent and endeavouring to take over the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council. The Labor Party has already got rid of the Premier of Tasmania. He could not take any more. He was fed up -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at the ringing of the bells at an hour not earlier than 2.55 p.m.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 10 March 1977:
-The Minister for Industry and Commerce has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: ( 1 ), (2), (3) and (4) It is not practicable to define precisely all goods which fall within the descriptions of Australian souvenirs and Australiana, nor does the Customs Tariff distinguish between such goods and similar goods which are not souvenirs or Australiana-type goods. Accordingly I regret that it is not possible to provide a meaningful answer to the honourable member’s question. However, if the honourable member will inform me of any particular products in which he is interested I shall provide the information he is seeking in respect of those products.
Assistance against import competition is accorded through the Customs Tariff. The level of assistance varies according to the product. As stated above, upon receipt of advice as to the particular products of interest to the honourable member, I shall provide information on current levels of duty in respect of those products.
Federal Grants to the Municipalities of Broadmeadows, Coburg and Brunswick (Question No. 719)
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 27 April 1977:
What sum in Federal funds was allocated to the Victorian municipalities of (a) Broadmeadows, (b) Coburg, and (c) Brunswick in each year since 1 970.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The attached tables containing details of grants to selected local government authorities in Victoria have been supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
They show the amount of Commonwealth Government grants paid directly to these local government authorities and also those grants paid via the State Government where ultimate distribution has been determined by the Commonwealth. However grants paid by the State Government from funds provided initially by the Commonwealth are excluded where the distribution is determined by the State (e.g. assistance for roads). Grants paid under the national sewerage program to sewerage authorities operating within the municipal areas are not included because separate figures are not available for individual local government areas.
Except in respect of some programs in 1975-76, the tables show details of actual payments because information on allocations is not available. Other qualifications have been shown as footnotes to the tables. Figures are not available for years prior to 1973-74 and details for 1976-77 are still being collected.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 4 May 1977:
-The Minister for Industry and Commerce has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s questions:
This review took into account more recent information on activity and employment trends in the textiles and clothing industries than was available to the Industries Assistance
Commission when it prepared its interim reports of 30 November 1976 in relation to certain textile products and 1 December 1976 concerning a wide range of apparel items. Decisions regarding the quota arrangements for the 12 months commencing 1 March 1977 which were announced on 16 February 1977, followed consideration by the Government of these interim reports. In reaching those decisions the Government had noted the views of the Commission that implementation of the recommended levels of tariff quotas should improve production and employment opportunities in those sectors for which reduced quotas were proposed and maintain satisfactory levels of activity in the other sectors concerned.
In the light of the review conducted in April 1977, the Government decided to extend the validity period of quota allocations for a further period of six months. It was made clear at that time that tariff quotas or import licences already issued would not be reduced and that the Government was seeking urgent advice from the Industries Assistance Commission on the supplementary quota levels relating to the additional six months period.
On 17 August 1977, it was announced that, following consideration of a further interim report from the Industries Assistance Commission, the Government had accepted the Commission’s recommendations regarding quota levels relating to the supplementary quota periods for a wide range of textiles, clothing, and footwear. These involved reductions in quota levels for 20 of the 3 1 product categories involved. In this context it should be noted that the Commission had acknowledged that the demand estimates which formed the basis for its recommendations in earlier reports had proven over optimistic and, in the main, expected increases in demand had not been realised.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 5 May 1977:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 27 May 1977:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr Fish remained in Port Hedland until 23 July 1977 when Mr R. Dixon, Quarantine Inspector, Karratha, resumed duty and took over responsibility for the Port Hedland area.
Quarantine surveillance in the Karratha/Port Hedland/ Dampier area is undertaken by Mr Dixon and, since 8 August 1977, Mr P. Kempf, an experienced Quarantine Assistant Grade 3 temporarily transferred from Fremantle. One of these officers is in Port Hedland each working day and on the week-ends when vessel movements require this.
Following a Departmental review of quarantine personnel resources, approval was given for additional Quarantine Assistants Grade 3 to be appointed at Dampier (two), Geraldton and Port Walcott. The positions have been advertised and applications are currently being considered.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr Toomer’s duty on the days in question was to attend the Inquiry and there is no reason why he should not have made adequate local arrangements for the pan-time Quarantine Assistants in Port Hedland to cover his routine work as is the usual procedure during his absence from Port Hedland.
You have previously been informed that officers of the Australian Public Service may not have access to their personal files. In any case your complete personal file was requested by Canberra and it has been forwarded to this Deart ment ‘s Central Office and it is believed that the file has een passed to the officers who have been delegated by the Public Service Board to inquire into your case ‘.
Subsequently, the Public Service Board approved that Mr Toomer have reasonable access to appropriate personal records and he inspected these on 20 and 2 1 August 1977.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1977/19771025_reps_30_hor107/>.