House of Representatives
26 October 1977

30th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 3.35 p.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers.

Taxation: Volunteer Firemen

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 essentia] 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 Cohen, Mr Morris and Mr Sullivan.

Petitions received.

Private Nursing Homes: Pensioner Patients

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 installaton 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:

  1. Make sure that subsidies paid to Private Nursing Homes are such that each pensioner holding a Pensioners Health Benefit Card will pay the Private Nursing Home no more than the statutory minimum patient contribution, which will allow six dollars per week to be retained by the pensioner patient for their personal use.
  2. That a pensioner holding a Pensioner Health Benefit Card shall have a telephone installed free of charge, or at a very nominal charge.
  3. That those pensioners who have only their pension and very little else to live on, shall receive a subsidy to assist them. The subsidy to be governed by a Means Test.

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

Petitions received.

Broadcasting and Television Programs

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

That because television and radio

  1. affect our social and moral environment,
  2. are family media watched and heard by many children at all times, and
  3. present too much explicit violence and sex, they therefore need stronger control than other media and the existing standards need stricter enforcement in both national ABC, and commercial sectors.

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

  1. for adequate and comprehensive programs in the best interests of the general public,
  2. for a ‘Dual System of Regulation’ enforced by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal by internal regulation and external control.
  3. for an independent consumer body to represent the best interests of the general public, and
  4. for immediate and effective penalties to be imposed for breaches of program and advertising standards.

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

Petitions received.

Medical Benefits: Abortions

To the Right 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 weakest member of our society, the unborn, should have the same protection as all other citizens of Australia.

That abortion is a denial of the civil rights of the unborn, involving as it does the destruction of innocent human life.

That on 10 May 1973 the House of Representatives rejected the Medical Practices Clarification Bill which sought to legalise abortion on demand in the Territories controlled by the Federal Government.

That women and girls with serious problems during pregnancy need special care and help to overcome their difficulties rather than encouragement to terminate their pregnancies.

That termination of pregnancy can never be justified on sociological or personal grounds and can be a dangerous treatment when the mother realises that her child has been killed.

That over 46,000 abortions were paid for in 1976 under the existing Medical Benefits Schedule which stipulates the benefit payable for Medical Services under both Medibank and the Private Health Insurance Funds.

That approximately $5m was spent on abortions in 1976 under Item No. 6469- ‘The evacuation of the contents of a gravid (pregnant) uterus by curettage and suction curettage’.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government takes action

  1. To assist financially those pregnancy help services which provide help and support to both mothers and their unborn children;
  2. To stop the funding and operation of services or clinics specialising in elective abortions;
  3. To stop payment of abortion claims under Item 6469 of the Medical Benefits Schedule.

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

Petition received.

Medical Benefits: Abortions

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 in 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 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. contribution to the existing Health Funds.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government takes action:

  1. to stop payments of abortion claims under Item No. 6469 of the Medical Benefits Schedule except in the case that the abortion has been carried out in a hospital and it being a certified medical procedure of preventing the death of the mother.
  2. to stop the funding and operation of any so-called pregnancy help service or health centre which offers abortionondemand.
  3. to financially assist those pregnancy help services which provide genuine support to both mothers and their unborn children.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lloyd. Petition received.

Estate Duty

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

That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from federal estate duty.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lucock and Mr Lusher.

Petitions received.


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

That there should be no mining or exporting of uranium in the next five years, while alternatives to, and consequences of such mining and export are considered and fully debated.

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

Petition received.


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

That we” believe that none of the safety problems associated with uranium and plutonium has been solved.

The mining and export of uranium will help to expand the nuclear power industry thus contributing to the health hazards of the world. Mining uranium will damage the environment and the health of the Aboriginal people.

Our beliefs on this matter are shared by a majority of physicists and scientists including 75 per cent of all specialists in nuclear medicine.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will not allow the mining, selling and export of uranium ore.

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

Petition received.

Hunter Region Working Women’s Group

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors of the Newcastle and Hunter Region respectfully showeth:

There be continuing and expanding funding for the Hunter Region Working Women’ s Group so that it can continue to provide child care, legal aid, community health, welfare and educational services to the women of the Hunter Region.

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

Petition received.


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

Our concern at the dangerously low world whale populations. That Australia is one of the few countries still actively engaged in whaling, particularly concerns and disappoints us.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that you take action to end Australia’s participation in the needless slaughtering of whales by calling a halt to commercial whaling in Australia and by observing the 10 year moratorium called for by the United Nations.

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

Petition received.


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 programmes in schools; inadequate equiping 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 1 975 Schools Commission report.

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

Petition received.


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 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-

  1. be faced with complicated variations in his or her personal income taxes between States; and
  2. find that real after-tax wages for the same job would vary from State to State even when gross wages were advertised as being the same; and
  3. require citizens to maintain records of income earned in each State.

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.

Petition received.


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

That the financial guidelines given to the Australian Schools Commission have destroyed the independent nature of that Statutory Body and will, in the future, effectively prevent them from making recommendations to this and future governments on the basis of the educational needs of children.

That these same guidelines represent improvements to private schools, particularly those categorised as Level 1 and Level 2, which are to be financed at the expense of the government school system.

That the abandonment of cost supplementation to cover inflation in the buildings program and in the non-salary area of the recurrent program, will seriously undermine the future building programs of all state governments and must mean a drastic curtailment in the programs to up-date schools to acceptable standards in terms of accommodation and sanitary conditions.

That equality of opportunity has long been an important social goal in Australia and this could be defined as equal access to schools of equal standards. The guidelines impede any progress towards this goal. Only by pursuing the targets laid down by the Interim Committee of the Australian Schools Commission in 1973 will this important social and educational goal be reached.

That the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled need to re-examine the principles on which federal funding for education are based and restore to the Australian Schools Commission its right to, under Section 13 (2) of the Schools Commission Act 1973, report to the Minister on the needs of ‘. . . schools in respect of buildings, equipment, staff and other facilities and the respective priorities to be given to the satisfying of those various needs . . . ‘

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

Petition received.


To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens (students, parents, teachers) of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the decision by the Government to withdraw all forms of financial assistance to students of Non-state Tertiary Institutions is in total conflict with stated Government education policy.

The decision will result in a shortage of places for training secretarial and clerical students and an inordinate demand upon the State Government education systems.

At a time of severe economic disruption, this action must lead to a serious worsening of the current employment situation, particularly school leavers.

Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Federal Government will act immediately to reverse its decision.

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

Petition received.

Mr Steve Biko

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 on 13 September 1977, Steve Biko, President of the Black Peoples Convention, died, aged 30, while being held incommunicado for questioning in detention without trial in South Africa;

That this is the 20th death of a black political prisoner in similar circumstances in South Africa in the last 18 months; and the 44th death of a prisoner while in police custody in recent years;

That Steve Biko had been held in detention since August 22; and had previously been held for 101 days without trial; and in addition, was under a five year house arrest and restriction order;

That Steve Biko is the acknowledged leader of the black people’s resistance to apartheid, racial exploitation and injustice in South Africa, and that in this context his death in the hands of the white police must be regarded with grave suspicion;

Your petitioners accordingly request the Australian Government to register the strongest protest to the South African Government at the circumstances of Biko’s death and decline to accept the credentials of the new South African ambassador due to be appointed shortly.

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

Petition received.

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-I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that discussions have been undertaken by or for the Government with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in an attempt to postpone to mid- 1978 the publication of the OECD review of Australia which is due for publication in December 1977? Is it a fact that these discussions were undertaken on the initiative of the Australian Government? Is it a fact that an arrangement is under way, perhaps even concluded, for a swap with New Zealand in respect of the publication of this review so that the New Zealand review is published in December rather than later? Is it a fact that this effort to suppress, at least temporarily, the publication of this report has been undertaken because, on early indications, it will be embarrassing to the Government, especially on matters like inflation, economic activity and the level of unemployment that might be expected in the near future?


– I can understand why the honourable gentleman should seek to put a proposition of this kind. At the outset I want to deny the thrust of what the honourable gentleman said. The honourable gentleman, as a former Treasurer, knows full well that the OECD makes a regular study of Australia. In due course that study becomes a public document. It is different from the study undertaken by the International Monetary Fund. I recall this matter being brought to my attention about two months ago or thereabouts. Certain recommendations were put to me at the time by the Treasury. It was a matter of scheduling the OECD visit to Australia in conjunction with its commitments in other parts of the world and the scheduling of the intended visit of the International Monetary Fund.

I can assure the honourable gentleman that this Government, unlike his Administration, has nothing whatsoever to fear from any objective study of the nature of the Australian economy at the present time. All such a study would do would be to reveal, in very stark measure indeed, the simple fact- a fact unknown to the honourable gentleman-that this Government’s economic policies are working well and are a consequence of our adherence to a consistent economic program since we were elected to office in late 1975. I would have thought that the honourable gentleman as a former Treasurer, in a spirit of supporting Australia and not knocking Australia, might be the first to say to this Administration: Full marks for what you have done. Notwithstanding the distortions which he has sought to create in relation to Australia’s inflation program, inflation is very significantly on the way down. The 2 per centrise in the consumer price index recently was a major breakthrough in the fight against inflation.

The Australian community knows that this Government is winning that fight against inflation and I look forward very optimistically, as do my colleagues on this side of the House, to the continuing results which will flow from a further sustainable winding-down of inflationary pressures during the course of this financial year. Without wanting to put figures on the table at this time, Mr Speaker, because I want the opportunity for further examination and discussion of them by the Treasury and other advisers to the Government, I would say that the forecast on inflation, as set out in Statement No. 2, which I hope the honourable gentleman will take the opportunity of reading, is very significantly a conservative one. So far as objective studies are concerned, the facts are there and confidence is there. The honourable member who is now interjecting is the second economic spokesman for the Opposition. I am not sure whether it is Bib or Bub who is speaking as this Question Time proceeds but I reject the thrust of what the honourable gentleman has said. This Government welcomes any objective study of the Australian economy because it will support greatly the thrust of all that we are doing.

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– Is the Treasurer aware that many businesses, in particular small businesses, find that high interest rates are a major burden on their cost structure? When will the Government be in a position to relieve this burden?


– I thank the honourable member for McMillan for providing me with a very useful follow-on to the question posed by the honourable member for Oxley. It is true that small business in particular has been very much inhibited in recent years by high interest rates. I have no doubt- and other members of the Government have no doubt- that the indications now are becoming more and more conclusive that the economic strategy upon which we embarked nearly two years ago is working significantly to relieve that burden. The Government’s policies have been and will continue to be very strongly directed towards controlling and reducing Australia’s inflation rate. In the longer run that is the only way in which we can obtain a sustainable reduction in interest rates. I mentioned previously that the 2 per cent figure was a major breakthrough. May I be excused for repeating that in response to the honourable member for McMillan? More and more people in the financial markets and in the community -

Mr Hayden:

– What about the 2.2 per cent -


-The shrill parrot from the Opposition cannot contain himself yet again. More and more people, both in the financial markets and in the community at large, know that inflation is being beaten. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. After consultation between the monetary authorities and the Government, let me say this: The authorities, through careful management, have reduced the yields on Government bonds and Treasury Notes in recent weeks. As a matter of fact and information to the House, as at the latest market report which I recieved from the Reserve Bank of Australia, covering trading in the markets to noon today, the selling yield on long term government bonds-that is the October 1996 bonds- is now 9.98 per cent. In other words, it has broken through the 10 per cent barrier. It is the first time in more than two years that that has been accomplished in the markets. I go on to say- putting the position in relation to both short term and long term bonds- that it is the first time in more than four years that the whole structure of government securities has been subject to such reductions. Let me conclude by saying, in summary, that the low consumer price index figure and the change of structure of interest rates in recent days and weeks should be a major encouragement to the business community, and small business in particular, and much to the chagrin of so many honourable gentlemen on the other side of this House it is a further reflection that this Government’s policies are working and working well.

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– My question, which is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for McMillan, is directed to the Treasurer. It is a fact that the Reserve Bank of Australia is meeting only one-fifth of orders lodged by brokers for the purchase of Commonwealth bonds? Does this action and the fact that only a conversion loan is to be offered in October mean that the Government is attempting to flood the economy with liquidity to force a cosmetic reduction in interest rates? Further, is the Treasurer aware that the rate of interest on 180-day bank bills is 9.65 per cent, that on 180-day treasury notes it is 8.84 per cent and that the three-quarter per cent spread is greater than the normal one-quarter to one-half per cent spread? I ask the Treasurer In view of the unattractive interest rates, what level of subscription to treasury notes is anticipated in the next three months?


-This is very tired old stuff from a rather tired old Deputy Leader of the Opposition. On other occasions he has sought to raise in a quite irresponsible fashion the question of interest rates. I regret that he now seeks in this House some estimate from me of the level of treasury note sales during the next three months. He knows that these are sensitive matters which, in terms of this Government’s effective control of monetary policy, require constant monitoring. I simply observe, if the honourable gentleman has not caught up with the facts of life, that last night treasury notes were shaved. Obviously the return on them will be the subject of continuing monitoring during the period ahead. The honourable gentleman should know, and I repeat, that interest rates are not the subject of speculation by Treasurers or senior members of this Administration in this House or outside in the precise terms in which the honourable gentleman seeks a response from me to his question.

Mr Uren:

-What about the earlier reply?


-As I recall it, the earlier reply was in response to part of the asinine nonsense the honourable gentleman seeks to perpetrate in this House. Let me simply mention why there should not be a cash loan. I would have thought that the reason would have been clear to the honourable gentleman. We decided not to pro- pose a cash loan to the Loan Council with the folowing considerations in mind: The very satisfactory flow of funds from the Commonwealth’s account from the July loan- the figure was $6 10m; the net take up to date of securities by the non-bank sector of $670m in the three months to the end of September; and the reduced financing requirement of the Commonwealth in 1977-78. I think I have covered the treasury note point.

May I finally mention to the honourable gentleman that one of the important objectives of monetary policy, of course, remains the provision of adequate capacity to the private sector to underwrite economic recovery, but not at the same time as accommodating inflation? If there is one thing this Government has done, I believe, it has made a very significant contribution towards the reduction of inflation because of its effective monetary policies. When I think of the 20 per cent M3 figure which was running when we inherited government towards the end of 1975, and when I think also of the fact that this year the guidelines, subject to the events as they may work out during the year, are 8 per cent to 10 per cent, I think this Government has a record of which it can be proud in getting the money supply under control. If the honourable gentleman looks back to his own history, I think he will see he has a lot to apologise to the Australian people for.

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-Is the Minister for Post and Telecommunications aware of continued delays in the delivery of mail within New South Wales? Is the Minister also aware that mail being sent by messenger is not being received for periods of up to five days, when the normal delivery period for such special deliveries has been one day? What action can the Minister take in this matter?

Mr Eric Robinson:

-One of the real problems we have with postal services is the ability to provide the sort of service that is desired and required within New South Wales. Overall it is regrettable in Australia that in New South Wales, particularly in Redfern, there is a constant disruption which affects the mail service not only within New South Wales but also, because of the size of the Redfern Mail Exchange, throughout Australia. The instance that the honourable member for Macquarie has given the House will indicate the seriousness of the disruption that has been caused by the intolerable attitude of members of the Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union to the Redfern Mail Exchange. We have had this constant disruption now over a number of years. Former Postmasters-General in the previous administration as well as administration before that will be well aware of the unco-operative- to use the kindest word- attitude of employees at the Redfern Mail Exchange. It is a decision of the Australian Postal Commission, which is completely supported by the Government, that we will not have a continuation of this inability to give adequate service. The Commission has decided to decentralise the distribution of mail within New South Wales. That will have the effect of improving it not only in that State but also throughout Australia. The Commission is determined upon this course and it would have every encouragement from the Government to see that mail services in New South Wales are restored to a satisfactory situation within that State and throughout Australia.

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-My question is directed to the Minister for Health. How many applications have been received from private health funds, including Medibank Private, to raise their medical and hospital insurance premiums in the near future? Is it a fact that some private funds have already applied for increases in their medical or hospital premiums to apply from 1 November? Will any such requests be agreed to by the Minister? If not, is this part of the Government’s policy to maintain artificially low health insurance premiums until after the December elections in an attempt to hide the real costs of private health insurance from the public?

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

-That is the sort of sneaky question one would expect from the Opposition. Perhaps that is the sort of motive that would be in its mind if it were facing an election. My Department has received a number of applications from health funds in the various States. I have not yet received a formal response from the departmental registration committee recommending the fee increases that would be required. Some time ago I had discussions with Mr Moon, the Chairman of the Voluntary Health Insurance Association, who indicated that most of the funds would be thinking in terms of increasing their premiums as from 1 February next year.

Mr Hurford:

– Doubling them?


-No, not doubling them. The increase will vary from State to State. We are finding that in New South Wales, for instance, the services provided to patients by doctors has been far in excess of the services provided in other States. So one would expect the premiums to rise more substantially in New South Wales than in any other State. I would not expect there to be much variation in the premiums in South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and indeed Queensland. I will be considering the recommendations from the departmental registration committee when they come to me for consideration and not before.

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– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of Press comment, can the Prime Minister say whether it is the Government’s intention to withdraw the industrial legislation which was passed through Parliament last week?

Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

-By no means, Mr Speaker. That legislation was passed through Parliament last week. It went through speedily in case it was going to be necessary in the face of a devastating dispute in Victoria. But at the same time it was legislation that my colleague had been examining and which had been before the Government over a very long period. In relation to the three areas- the rights of individual trade unionists, the authority and reach of the Industrial Relations Bureau and demarcation disputes in particular- the changes enormously strengthen industrial law. I believe that in recent times it has been demonstrated very clearly that industrial law does need strengthening. My colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has pointed out on a number of occasions that there is a growing tactic of using a few people in isolated cases, but in cases of importance, to disrupt very large sections of the Australian community.

Of course in the Victorian dispute, about 2,000 people have caused immeasurable harm to a great many families. I think they themselves have lost $2,000 and obviously their own family finances will be very much behind as a result. The whole strike was a sad and tragic affair and I am very glad indeed that those directly involved have now decided that power must be returned to Victorian homes and factories so that there can be a beginning of the repairing of the damage. The damage was great and the number of unemployed will be significantly increased. I believe that many of them will not get their jobs back for a significant period because of the liquidity problems many businesses will face as a result. So, while 2,000 people have been striking, some tens of thousands of people are likely to be out of work for a much longer period as a direct result of that. In the face of that kind of situation, for anyone, whether it be Mr Hawke or anyone else, to suggest that that legislation would be withdrawn is an oddity indeed. If he believes it would be withdrawn he certainly does not know this Government.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

-My question, which is directed to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, concerns the Act covering Commonwealth employees which was put through all stages in this House on 18 August and through all stages in the Senate on 19 August and received royal assent also on 19 August. I ask the Minister why, more than two months later, this Act has not yet been proclaimed?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

-At the time this piece of legislation was introduced and passed the Government said that it would be proclaimed when circumstances so warranted; or words very similar to that. It is very severe legislation, designed to cope with situations in which people who are paid by the public- by the taxpayers- to provide a service to the public no longer provide it or provide perhaps only a portion of it.

Mr Scholes- So that Ministers can sack people who disagree with them? Bjelke-Petersen legislation.


– I am interested to hear the honourable member for Corio interject about the capacity to sack people. Of course, that capacity has been and remains with private enterprise at all times. I believe that there is an even greater obligation on a government to take the responsibility to see that those people who are paid by the taxpayers provide a service to the taxpayers. As I have said, the Government regards this legislation as conferring a power which is required by governments and necessary for them to have. It will be used with discretion when circumstances warrant it.

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-I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning Japanese-Australian relations and the proposed 200-mile economic zone. Is the Prime Minister aware of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s threat to Japan that Japanese fishing vessels might be banned from the proposed New Zealand 200-mile economic zone? In view of the fact that South Pacific countries are moving together to establish simultaneously 200-nule fishing zones, has Australia been informed officially of the New Zealand position? Have other countries in the South Pacific also been informed? Does the New Zealand statement threaten the date of declaration of fishing zones in the South Pacific? Does Australia share the New Zealand Prime Minister’s views?


– I do not think that it would be proper for me to speak in relation to New Zealand’s views or in relation to the precise thrust of New Zealand policy objectives which that country is seeking to achieve by these means. I had heard some time ago that action of that kind might be taken by New Zealand because of its concern over marketing access to Japan. Obviously I do not know in any specific detail what has happened in relation to the Japanese and New Zealand negotiations and I would not want to comment on them. I would hope that Australia would not be in the position of having to use a tactic of that kind. I believe that it is better not to have to use such a tactic and I hope very much that Japan, as a major trading partner of Australia, will be able to see the intrinsic merit of certain propositions that have been put to her over recent times. It was put forcibly and quite directly to the Japanese Prime Minister when I was in Kuala Lumpur, and in more recent times by a group of officials and also in correspondence from me, that some aspects of the trading relationship between Japan and Australia are unequal. For example, beef producing is a long term business and producers cannot have a breeding program running at sixmonthly intervals. Clearly, they need long term market access. It is not reasonable for them to have to argue every six months for the right of access to the Japanese market. It is reasonable to know whether they can export 80,000 tonnes, 90,000 tonnes or something better than that. There needs to be stability and also a growth factor in that market.

The original group of officials, as I think everyone knows, did not make a great deal of progress. I then wrote to the Japanese Prime Minister and he replied that he would willingly accede to further official discussions and also discussions at a ministerial level at the appropriate time. I hope that acceptance of the Australian point of view, which is based in fairness and plain logic, on what a reasonable and proper trading relationship should be about will bear fruit in relation to that particular matter. I have pointed out on other occasions that, although there are quotas on cars coming into this country, this Government does not suggest that there should be six-monthly quotas. People have a right of access and they know that that will not be altered arbitrarily in the way in which our access to the Japanese market for beef was altered, for example, in 1974 when the previous year’s quota of 120,000 tonnes was cut to nothing in the course of a year. These things need to be understood. The force of the Australian case is, I think, now understood in Japan. Obviously we will have to wait and see what comes out of the negotiations between officials and, if necessary, between Ministers. This is a matter that the Government will continue to press with all the force at its command.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I ask the Treasurer a question about Mr Peter Leake who, he told me at Question Time yesterday, was the chairman of his electorate committee in 1967-68 but retired a year or so later, but who, he told me in a later letter, was the chairman from October 1972 to September 1974 and who, according to a statement made yesterday by one of his party colleagues in the Victorian Legislative Council, has been the chairman of the Mornington branch of his party. I ask him: Did Mr Leake at any time raise any election funds for him or on his behalf? If so, in what form and from what sources? I also ask him whether he has or has had any pecuniary interests in land development projects or permits in or near his electorate? If so, what are the details of those projects and permits?


-Order! It is customary, if there is any implication of improper activity on the part of an individual named in a question, for the question to be put on notice. However, it may be that the Treasurer wishes to have the question put on notice or to answer it forthwith. I leave it to the right honourable gentleman.


-The question will be put on notice.

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-Can the Minister for Post and Telecommunications advise when the next stage of television expansion, which he mentioned earlier, will be announced? Can he also give an assurance that all towns in western Queensland that have made representations for television stations will be included in the program?

Mr Eric Robinson:

-The honourable member for Maranoa asks for an assurance that I cannot give him when he asks whether every town in western Queensland will be provided with television facilities, although I recognise that the honourable member represents a very large and important slice of western Queensland. This Government is committed to providing better communication services throughout rural Australia- unlike its predecessor, which, in the course of its three years in office, did everything to downgrade communication services, whether telephone, postal or television viewing facilities. A former Postmaster-General seeks to interject. I remind him of some of the answers that he gave during Question Time to members of the National Country Party who, quite rightly, were pressing for greater and improved services. This Government is committed not only to improving television viewing facilities but also to ensuring that there are adequate services in the whole range of communication. A program of television facilities for this year has been announced. It was limited because of the budgetary constraints. I am now working on a three-year program which I will be putting to the Government and which will give people in rural Australia an indication of this Government’s determination to provide adequate services in the not too distant inure. As well, a task force is being set up to look at the possible use of domestic satellites, and if that is embraced before too long it will revolutionise the approach by government to providing services. The honourable member for Maranoa may say to all the people within his electorate that this Government is committed to seeing that their needs in television are satisfied as quickly as possible.

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Mr Bryant proceeding to address a question to


-Order! The honourable gentleman will ask his question without arguing his cause.

Mr Bryant continuing to address a question.


-Order! Ask for information if you wish, but do not argue your case.

Mr Chipp:

– I raise a point of order.

Mr Bryant continuing to ask a question.


-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member for Hotham wishes to raise a point of order.

Mr Chipp:

- Mr Speaker, it may assist you if I raise my point of order now. While you hear out the honourable member for Wills, if you look at Question on Notice No. 1913 in my name on today’s Notice Paper you will see that it is almost identical to what my friend is asking.


-I am satisfied that the questions deal with the same subject matter.

Mr Bryant:

- Mr Speaker, a point of order. I was at the point when I was corrected, if I may say -


-Order ! The honourable gentleman is at a point where he will resume his seat. I have ruled the question to be on the same subject matter as the question on the Notice Paper.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It concerns international terrorism. What stage has the United Nations reached in its consideration of this issue? What action is this Government taking in the United Nations to assist in reaching international agreement?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

-I am pleased to confirm, as my colleague the Minister for Transport indicated a couple of days ago, that following urgent action at the United Nations to consider the problem of hijacking the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association did decide to defer its strike action. In answering the honourable member’s question I would like to point out that so far as I understand it a draft resolution has been agreed to by a number of delegations calling on states to take all necessary steps to give effect to international agreements and recommendations dealing with the safety of civil aircraft. The Australian delegation has been instructed by me to co-sponsor that resolution. A number of states, including Australia, have also requested the inscription of a proposed new item entitled ‘Safety of International Civil Aviation’ which I am informed will be examined at the General Assembly shortly. It is important that practical and widely supported solutions to combat hijacking should be found under the proposed new items. I can assure the honourable member that Australia will continue to give full support at the United Nations to efforts to find ways of preventing and suppressing acts of hijacking and of protecting the victims of such acts.

Before concluding I also would like to add a word of congratulations to the members of our mission at the United Nations. Had they not been so active last week I might not have been able to give a reply in such positive terms. It is another example of the effectiveness of the Australian representation in the United Nations. I wish we could always be so successful.

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-Is the Prime Minister aware of a report late last year which said that Senator Colston is right in claiming that the Federal Parliament and the Queensland Parliament should legislate for a code of behaviour on the pecuniary interests of their members and that such a code is needed in Queensland where a Cabinet for the past 10 years or more -


– Order ! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to ask a question about l egislation in the Queensland Parliament.


-Does the Government intend to introduce legislation that will prevent members of the Federal Parliament from having any pecuniary interests in private enterprise?


-As a result of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration and a parliamentary inquiry, officials are examining a possible code which could apply to public servants and to politicians. I have indicated that previously. The report is not yet before the Government. Arrangements that I have made in relation to the ministry and to ministerial staffs are, I believe, stricter than those which have prevailed in any former Administration. That was a grave omission of the previous Government at a certain stage in its career. The question is really quite interesting. It is a new approach to the Labor Party’s socialist objective to make sure that no representatives in Parliament can have any interest in private enterprise of any kind at all. Members of the Labor Party will never give up. They want to destroy private enterprise in any way that they can-back door, front door or side door. The honourable gentlemen will not get a chance.

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-Is the Minister for Transport aware of the derailment of the Tasman Limited passenger train near the township of Evandale last Monday? Has the Minister seen a statement by the Tasmanian Secretary of the Australian Railways Union, Mr Northey, accusing the Federal Government of criminal neglect over the derailment and claiming that the Government intends to use the derailment as an excuse to withdraw the train from service? Will the Minister inform the House as to the truth of these allegations?

Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

– I must confess some surprise and disappointment that Mr Northey would make such a wild and stupid accusation. The fact is that there was a derailment of the Tasman Limited on 24 October. It was carrying 24 passengers and five crew at the time. Fortunately for everybody concerned no one was injured although a number of people were badly shaken by the accident. The Australian National Railways has set up a board of inquiry. Therefore, it would not be proper of me to make any comment on the accident itself until such time as the board of inquiry reports. If there has been any neglect of the railway line on which the Tasman Limited runs, it has not been by this Government. The fact is that the Tasmanian Labor Government for years and years starved the State railway systems of funds. When the Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, his Minister for Transport bought out the Tasmanian railway system. The Labor Party bought at the highest price the worst railway system in Australia, the most neglected railway system in Australia, and a railway system that had had less capital injection than any other railway system in Australia. One can see that the job confronting the Australian National Railways in getting the Tasmanian system into any sense of order is difficult.

I make the point that we have provided in this Budget $4.3m for upgrading of the railway system. The Joy report recommended the closure of the Tasman Limited service. I gave an instruction to the ANR that there should be no consideration of this question until 1978 when a proper opportunity would be given for the tourist industry of Tasmania to see whether there would be value in maintaining the Tasman Limited service. It does run at a heavy loss. There will be no change from that date. It will still be 1978. Despite Mr Northey ‘s allegations, there will still be no change from that date. The Australian

National Railways will be keeping the Tasman Limited running until that further report comes to hand.

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Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations · Corangamite · LP

– Pursuant to section 25 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1973, I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission on special assistance for States 1977.

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Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

For the information of honourable members I present the review of Australian quarantine arrangements undertaken by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at the direction of the Prime Minister.

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Mr Eric Robinson:

– Pursuant to section 102 of the Postal Services Act 1975 I present an extract from the annual report of the Australian Postal Commission 1977. Printing of the annual report has been delayed because of the Victorian power strike. The full report will be tabled as soon as it is available.

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Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development · Bass · LP

Pursuant to section 9 of the States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974 I present the annual statement on the operation of that Act during the year ended 30 June 1977.

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-On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I present the following report:

Report on the proposal for a variation of the plan of the layout of the City of Canberra and its environs, 64a series.

Ordered that the report be printed.


– I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.


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


-The report I have just tabled deals with a single item omitted from the 64th series of variations to the city plan tabled last week. The proposal involves a road variation in Corinna and Keltie Streets at Phillip in the Woden Town Centre to enable the construction of boom-gate parking adjacent to shops at the centre. Similar proposals relating to Civic were contained in the report on the 64th series and the Committee recommended their implementation.

The introduction of boom-gate parking is, in the Committee’s view, an appropriate innovation in Canberra at present. The new system is intended to ensure that parking costs are distributed more equitably between those wishing to park all day and those making short visits for the purpose of shopping or other business. It will also mean that parking can be controlled more effectively and that parking charges are paid. The Committee recommends implementation of the proposal. However, the Committee is firmly of the view that the public should not be inconvenienced by construction work being undertaken during the Christmas period and that work should not begin before 1 January 1978. It is noted that the project is planned for completion by March 1978. The total cost with associated works is estimated to be $850,000. I commend the report to the House.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


-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 Government’s failure to safeguard deposits with permanent building societies and to encourage loans by them.

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

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

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

-Neglect by this Government and incompetence by the Queensland Government are undermining the confidence of hundreds of thousands of Australians in permanent building societies. Those who lend are insecure; those who want to build cannot borrow. Inactivity by this Government is preventing building societies fulfilling their real function to help Australians build then* own homes.

Under the Financial Corporations Act 1974, the Labor Government made it possible for the Federal Parliament to obtain the same information and exercise the same surveillance in the case of building societies and hire purchase companies and other financial institutions as it has been possible to do, since the war, in the case of banks. This Government has never proclaimed Part IV of that Act. At best, the Government has tried- after the event, after each crisis- to guarantee the security of depositors. It has done nothing to to secure the position of borrowers. It has concerned itself- in the manner of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted- with deposits, but never with advances. The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) had the consent of the House to incorporate in Hansard a statement he made after the last crisis involving a permanent building society in Queensland. He twice mentioned depositors; he never mentioned borrowers. What is the use of a building society which cannot build?

During the last two years the housing finance industry has gone from crisis to crisis as a direct result of this Government’s policies. Monetary policy has been severely misjudged. For example, the Australian savings bonds were introduced with too high an interest rate. People thereupon withdrew funds from permanent building societies to buy the new bonds, thus sharply reducing the liquid assets of the societies and forcing them to curtail their lending. I give another example: The excessively tight monetary policy at the beginning of this year caused a reduction in lending for construction or purchase of housing. Like much other Government policy, this credit squeeze was justified on doctrinaire grounds- a naive and ignorant attempt to apply Friedmanite doctrines in Australia; a doctrine designed to entrench privilege and to extend inequalities in our country. The speed with which the money supply was reduced was far faster than even Friedman himself would ever have proposed. The effect was to reduce the level of real output and so to increase unemployment. The effect on the building industry was sharply to reduce approvals for new housing. This August, they were 10 per cent below the same month in the previous year.

The instability created by these policies has affected the building societies with special severity. The crisis has been particularly pronounced in Queensland. In that State, the deep instability of an unstable Premier and a warring coalition has compounded the problem. In October and November 1975 permanent building societies in Queensland were approving new housing loans at the rate of 1,800 a month. By June 1976, only 84 new loans were approved in the month, and though lending has recovered, it remains far below the level at the end of 1975. The tragedy of this situation is clear when it is recalled that the permanent building societies were the major lenders for house purchase in

Queensland. In the last three months of 1975, 48 per cent of all loans for housing in Queensland came from building societies. During 1976, the proportion of loans from building societies in Queensland fell to 23 per cent-less than half.

Queensland Government regulation and supervision of building societies has been totally inadequate. The crisis was begun by the inept launching of the Australian savings bonds at the beginning of last year. But this simply exposed the ineptness of the Bjelke-Petersen Government’s policies and the poor management of a few of the societies. The effect of Government policy was to encourage some of the societies to maintain reserves of liquid assets which were dangerously low; consequently, when withdrawals accelerated as a result of this Federal Government’s Australian savings bond issue, a few societies quickly got into trouble. Further, State Government supervision was so inadequate that even basic accounting practices were not applied. The Federal Government should have responded to this situation by taking steps immediately to increase the security of building societies and the community’s confidence in the societies. Although building societies are registered under State legislation they are, in fact, a national industry. Lack of confidence in one State creates unease in all other States. Lack of confidence in the national Government’s will to back the societies in one State undermines confidence in all other societies and in all other States.

The lethargy and neglect of this Government have allowed an unstable situation to persist and deepen. The problems resulting from the 1976 crisis have continued. Some societies had to borrow at high interest rates to maintain their liquidity. When there is doubt about the capacity of a financial institution to meet its obligations, cautious savers withdraw their deposits. So the run started on the Queensland Permanent Building Society a month ago and, apparently, about $18m was withdrawn. Eventually, the Queensland Permanent had to close its doors, leaving its 140,000 members without access to their $ 1 65m of savings. Insecurity created by this event led, fairly quickly, to a run on the Metropolitan Permanent. This forced the Federal Government to step in, with the Treasurer, the Acting Treasurer and the Governor of the Reserve Bank making statements. The Governor said that the Commonwealth Trading Bank was, with the support of the Reserve Bank of Australia, making available a very substantial line of credit to the society which would enable it to fully match demands for withdrawal of depositors’ funds. This is a hasty response to a crisis. It does nothing to secure the future of the industry. There have been small runs on building societies in many parts of the country in recent years.

The fierce yet farcical battle between leading members of the Liberal Party for control of the NSW Permanent Building Society shows the importance which some members of the conservative establishment place on these powerful financial institutions. Immense prestige comes from being the director of a permanent building society. Such a society will give one a personal loan of $100,000. If one is a State President or a former federal President of the Liberal Party, it is all so easy. Yet the Liberal-National Country Party Government has done nothing to strengthen or regulate the structure within which building societies operate in order to prevent the kinds of crises which are now occurring quite regularly. A hasty response to an impending disaster is not a policy. What is required is responsible regulation and supervision which would ensure the permanence of the permanents.

The building societies are now a crucial part of the housing industry. They have grown rapidly in recent years. In 1953, seven per cent of all housing advances to individuals were made by permanent building societies. In 1970 the proportion had risen to 14 per cent. Over the following four years, the proportion rose to 23 per cent. In the seventies, there has been a very rapid expansion of the activities of the societies. Even in 1976-77, 25 per cent of all loans approved to individuals for the construction or purchase of housing came from the permanent building societies, and this was in a year in which their activities were constrained by the inept savings bond issue. It is clear that there are structural problems in the regulation of building societies which only the national Government can tackle effectively. The building societies are now a national industry. Problems in one State or one society affect all States and every society. The industry would welcome government intervention which guarantees its viability in the eyes of the public and is quite prepared to accept the greater regulation which would have to accompany such guarantees.

It is clear too that some of the State governments have not been prepared to supervise properly the financial standards of the building societies. The Bjelke-Petersen Government is the worst offender. The Australian Financial Review said in an editorial on the seventh of this month:

It is fairly clear that the Queensland Government was much too slow in appreciating the depth of trouble at the Queensland Permanent and the degree of public uncertainty about it.

In an editorial a week earlier the Financial Review also said:

To support the whole system of financial institutions (the trading banks) and the Reserve Bank must turn their attention to preserving the liquidity of the building societies.

The Queensland building societies are required to hold VA per cent of their assets in liquid form. This is a low level compared with the liquid asset ratio of the trading banks of 18 per cent. The problem is that the building societies are paying such a high rate of interest on the funds they borrow that they have to lend as high a proportion as possible of their funds in order to earn adequate income to cover their own interest payments and other costs. If the building societies were more carefully regulated they would be able to borrow at lower rates of interest and also to lend at lower rates because of the increase in confidence in their viability. The national authorities must enter this field more effectively. At present they do it only whenever a crisis occurs. Whenever the building societies encounter serious financial problems they fall back on the trading bank system to borrow on overdraft to cover their liquidity needs. In turn, the trading banks can provide the necessary support only with the assistance of the Reserve Bank. The de facto lending of last resort facilities being provided by the Reserve Bank must be replaced by a clear system of support and regulation.

Another cause for deep concern is the Queensland Government’s recent allocation to itself of extraordinarily sweeping arbitrary powers to cope with the current crisis. The Financial Review, in commenting on these excessive powers, said that they ‘seemed to indicate at least that the Queensland Government simply can’t be trusted with the important-role of supervision of the building society movement’. The same editorial also said:

It is high time that the Reserve Bank should give a more convincing account of its own stewardship with respect to its supervision of the financial standards and therefore stability of the banking system … a bailing-out operation is not sufficient. If a free enterprise financial system is to survive their supervision to detect the few offenders who can bring the whole system into disrepute seems to be continuous, extensive and strict.

Of course I have no objection to the other act by the Queensland government- allowing the State Government Insurance Office Building Society to take over the Queensland Permanent. Such a solution gives members of a society the confidence that the society has the backing of the Government. But the problem is that this decision was hasty and forced on the Bjelke-Petersen Government by the crisis. As I have said, the structure must be changed.

Labor established the framework for regulation and control of building societies in the Financial Corporations Act. The Treasurer continues to say that the Government will not proclaim Part IV of the Act. That part gives the Government, through the Reserve Bank, the power to make regulations over asset ratios, ending policies and interest rates of financial corporations, including building societies. The Treasurer says, however, that ‘as a matter of absolute responsibility this issue is very much under consideration. How much longer do we have to wait before this consideration bears fruit? The Treasurer has been giving me the same kind of response in answer to questions since the beginning of last year. I asked two in March of last year and one in April of last year. I have asked two in the last month. It cannot be said that the problem is a novel one. The Treasurer still considers it and does nothing. I hope I will not be accused of being irresponsible in raising a matter under an Act which is now more than three years old. Under a Labor government, the Australian Housing Corporation, which has been abolished by the Fraser Government, would be required again to act in a responsible way in order to support effectively building societies.

Another possibility, which the permanent building societies themselves, through their Australian association, have been proposing, is the introduction of federal insurance of shares and deposits, such as applies in the United States and Canada. This proposal also has been circulating for 18 months. The Fraser Government has done nothing about it. There are alternatives. There are workable proposals. They exist. I quote the words of the Prime Minister in another context:

The technology is known: It does exist.

Because of this Government’s doctrinaire attitudes the building societies lurch from crisis to crisis. As each crisis occurs, general public confidence is further undermined. Such a situation is intolerable when the security of savings of hundreds of thousands of Australians is at risk in institutions providing over a quarter of all lending for housing. As recently as the latter part of 1975 my Government provided nearly half of the housing funds made available in Queensland. The biggest investment which most Australians ever made in their lives- their investment in their homes- is at stake. Doctrinaire neglect by this Government is directly to blame for the undermining of the faith of hundreds of thousands of Australians in the security of their life savings and the most important investment they can ever make.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– One can tell, from listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam), that an election is on at least in Queensland. A considerable part of his comment was designed to detract from the record of the Queensland Government. I found it extraordinary that he would say that the Queensland Government is not trusted. One would have thought that if a government were not trusted it would not be re-elected each election with an increased majority. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that the Queensland Government is not only competent but obviously is trusted by those people who have an opportunity to vote for it.

This question of building societies is a sensitive one. I am not suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition is irresponsible in bringing up this matter of public importance today. I do not believe it is designed to be helpful as regards the stability of permanent building societies. He referred not only to a government that is not trusted but to an unstable Premier. I would have thought that he might have been sufficiently objective to discern that Mr Bjelke-Petersen is a very durable Premier. The least description that one could use of him, the most unacceptable description that one could use of him, is that he is unstable. He can be criticised, but one cannot say that he is unstable; nor can one say that he is unreliable.

Mr James:

– He is unscrupulous.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-I know he upsets the Opposition because he belted you the whole of the three years you were in government. He demonstrated your incompetence time and time again. I know you are sensitive about him, but it is not really very helpful to your own position to keep on demonstrating your sensitivity.


-Order! I remind the Minister that when he says ‘you’ or ‘your’ he is talking about me.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-I am very sorry, Mr Speaker.


-I ask the Minister to refer to members of the Opposition in the third person.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-I want to make myself perfectly clear. I am certain everybody would recognise my enormous regard for you, .

Mr Speaker. When I used the terms as I did I was speaking about the Labor Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the Queensland Permanent Building Society and the Metropolitan Permanent Building Society. Let us look at the record. It was the prompt action by State authorities in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government that got the building societies in difficulty back on the rails. The quick decision of the Queensland Government supported by the Federal Government represents clearly evidence of the importance that the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments attach to the building society movement as a major source of housing finance in Queensland and throughout Australia. Let us look at the role of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The best way for everybody to understand the role of the Reserve Bank is to refer to what the Deputy Governor has said. He stated:

This action -

That is the action that was taken to assist- is a particular instance of the general arrangements by which, against the background of the Reserve Bank’s support of banking liquidity, banks stand behind financial institutions which are responsibly managed and have adequate asset backing.

That has been said time and time again. It was because of the attitude of the Reserve Bank and the Government that the position in Queensland- the problem is largely one that has emerged in Queensland- has now been stabilised. The matter of public importance being discussed today will not be helpful in creating the sort of confidence that is necessary in the permanent building societies and, indeed, in financial institutions other than banks. What has to be recognised is that the depositors have lost nothing. They have nothing to fear. I hope that out of this debate today comes a clear understandingthe Queensland constituents have it on record from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Governor of the Reserve Bank- that there is nothing to fear. I am concerned with seeing that that message gets through today in case comments made by members of the Opposition are misunderstood. Depositors have nothing to fear by way of loss of either capital or interest. One would have expected that the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition economic spokesman would have wanted to contribute in a way which caused greater stability, not simply to try to use the forms of the House as part of a Queensland election campaign. In contrast again to what the Leader of the Opposition has said I refer to what Mr Crean had to say in a second reading speech when he was Treasurer. He said:

The financial Corporations Act was designed for purposes of general economic management and not the financial stability of particular institutions or the protection of borrowers and lenders.

That is what one of three Treasurers in the Whitlam Government had to say. Maybe a later Treasurer had a different view. That would not be surprising. We became rather used to different views and different policies of the Ministers in the previous Administration. Under Part IV of the Financial Corporations Act which was referred to you by the Leader of the Opposition, which has not yet been proclaimed, the Government may impose controls in relation to asset ratios, lending policies and interest rates receivable or payable by financial corporations, including building societies. These powers would not enable the Government to control the balance sheet structures of individual societies or to ensure their financial stability; nor could they protect against bad management, incompetence, fraud or anything similar. Such controls, therefore, would not provide protection to the borrowers and lenders in individual societies; nor would they have prevented the collapse of the Queensland Permanent Building Society. Again in contrast to what the Leader of the Opposition has informed the Parliament is what the industry has to say. The Leader of the Opposition said that the industry would be happy to support the proclamation of Part IV. As Minister Assisting the Treasurer I received a letter dated 2 1 October from the Association of Australian Permanent Building Societies. Part of the letter reads:

As regards the use of Part IV of the Financial Corporations Act, I confirm the Association’s opinion that this would not contribute to the solution of the problems which arose in Queensland nor to greater stability in the longer term. Of particular concern is that the financial media and the public would perceive the proclamation of Part IV as providing federal monetary authorities with the mechanism to prevent these occurrences. This, of course, would be a total misconception of the Financial Corporations Act and the powers provided under Part IV.

That is part of a letter from the Association of Australian Permanent Building Societies which I received only a few days ago. Quite clearly, the Leader of the Opposition has made comment in contrast to the views of one of his Treasurers and in contrast to what the Australian Permanent Building Societies spokesman has to say to the present Government. With regard to housing finance generally, it may be useful to put on record what the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) said in his Budget Speech, because this Government is concerned that adequate finance should be available for housing. The Treasurer said:

The Government has been concerned, in reviewing the overall housing scene, to ensure that availability of finance is not a barrier to steady and sustainable growth in home building activity, including additions and renovations.

If borrowers are credit worthy, we would not want them to be denied housing finance because of official restraints.

Accordingly, the Government has advised the Reserve Bank that it wants to see banks and other financial institutions encouraged to increase their lending for private home building, particularly in those States and areas where the capacity of trie building industry is under-utilised.

It is of course being left to individual lenders to determine their levels of lending, taking into account their particular balance sheet positions and their assessments of the housing situation in their areas of operations.

The Government wants to co-operate with the private sector to ensure that adequate finance is available for an increasing housing industry. As further evidence of the Government’s concern to maintain an adequate level for housing finance, the Reserve Bank has said to banks:

Against the background of the policy of encouraging housing finance, their lending operations might as far as practicable keep in view the desirability of some added temporary emphasis on housing lending in Queensland to ameliorate in part the expected small temporary drop in lending for housing arising from the recent experience of building societies.

Therefore the Government has moved to see that the regrettable but temporary problems of the permanent building societies in Queensland with regard to finance available for housing will be ameliorated. For the record let us look at the permanent building societies’ loans approval. In the September quarter of 1976 the overall approvals totalled $354m and Queensland ‘s portion of that was $53m. A year later, in the September quarter of 1977, the total has risen to $500m and Queensland’s portion to $64m. So despite the problems there has been a substantial increase in loan approvals by permanent building societies throughout Australia and particularly in Queensland. The Government has made it perfectly clear to permanent building societies directly and through the Reserve Bank that it wants them to have the greatest degree of flexibility to increase available finance for housing throughout Australia. Despite the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, the quick decisions of the Queensland Government have res.tored confidence and we will see an improvement before long in housing activity through the permanent building societies in that State. This question of how much Commonwealth involvement there ought to be in the permanent building societies and the financial institutions under the Financial Corporations Act is one for valid debate. But it is not the best way to debate it on the basis that there have been problems in Queensland and in reaction to those problems there ought to be some instinctive reaction.

Let me say quite clearly that this Government’s view is that the responsibility for maintaining surveillance of the activities of permanent building societies currently and traditionally rests with the State governments which have available specific legislation concerning the rights of borrowers and lenders and the stability of building societies and the administrative machinery necessary to discharge that responsibility. This is not to say that there is not room for improvement in some areas or that societies should not be taking action to reduce their exposure to unfounded losses of investor confidence. Naturally the Government keeps these kinds of matters under constant review. This is what we are doing. We have been very closely monitoring the problems within Queensland. We have been in constant consultation with the Reserve Bank, with the trading banks and with the permanent building societies with a view to ensuring that decisions of the Government are made, first of all, to restore as quickly as possible confidence in the permanent building societies.

I am bound to observe that part of the problem- and only part of it- has been that Queensland Labor politicians- one in particularused one of the permanent building societies as part of a political ploy to create problems within that particular financial structure. This Government sees the permanent building societies as being very important and having a very important role to play. Through the Reserve Bank we will stand behind those that are well managed and those that have adequate asset backing. They need have no fear. The Government, through the Reserve Bank, will always ensure that there is sufficient liquidity for those building societies to discharge their responsibilities. I do not think it is helpful to have a debate such as this which the Leader of the Opposition is obviously using as part of the Queensland election campaign. This is a very serious matter. We are dealing with a host of small investors whose life savings are involved.

Mr E G Whitlam:

-I first raised it in March last year.

Mr Eric Robinson:

-I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition is assuring the House that he has concern for small investors. They are the people this Government are concerned about. This Government will not embrace quickly a policy which simply means more government intervention in the market place.


-(Mr Ian Robinson) - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


-Listening to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) took me back to the time we were in government and I noticed that one public servant had a tendency to note particularly acidic comments for the attention of subordinates. I noted in a file one day the comment: ‘Rather than use a cup full of vinegar, it might be better to try a spoonful of honey’. After listening to the Minister, I would much rather have the cup full of vinegar than the truck load of honey he seeks to serve up with every issue he brings before this House. It is remarkable that in all those areas where the Government’s failures are most obvious and where the public is likely to suffer most, the Government moralises about the need to maintain discretion and silence. It maintains that it is not in the public interest to raise these issues.

This is an important issue. A vast amount of money is involved in building societies in Australia. For instance, in 1976-77 some $ 1,553m was approved as loans through permanent building societies for housing. That was about 30 per cent of total approvals for the purchase of dwellings through such financial institutions as savings banks, trading banks, permanent building societies, terminating building societies, finance companies, government and other sources. So building societies are a most substantial source of finance.

Let us look at the matter from another direction. Depositors’ funds as at June 1977 in selected financial institutions show that of those selected financial institutions, permanent building societies held $6,243 m out of a total of over $5 1,000m. The institutions involved, being somewhat different from the others I have mentioned, were trading banks, savings banks, permanent building societies, life insurance com- panies, the short-term money market, unit trusts, and trusts and mutual funds. So there is, I repeat, a vast amount of the public’s money involved. It is the public’s money- not the Minister’s, not the Government’s, not the Taxation Department’s or any other official institution’swhich is tied up in those institutions called permanent building societies. People invest their money in those funds and other people borrow from them on the basis of trust. They trust the system in which they live and through which they function in this social economic order of ours. They trust it because they happen to believe- quite wrongly, as it turns out in this matter- that the Government will make sufficient arrangements to protect their interests. Yet the evidence is quite clear, as a result of a succession of crises affecting the permanent building societies, especially in Queensland, that there is need for more effective regulation in the public interest. The Minister suggested in a disturbingly uncritical way that he was satisfied with the administration of building societies in Queensland. Well, I am not and neither are a lot of other people. I quote from an article in the Brisbane Courier Mail of ‘29 September this year:

There must be a searching inquiry into all the events leading to the collapse of the Queensland Permanent Building Society.

But who should make such an investigation? Not, as normally would be assumed, the State Government.

The Government’s own pan in this sorry mess is as much open to question as any aspect.

That is a damning condemnation of the Queensland Government. It scarcely endorses the sort of uncritical satisfaction expressed by the Minister here today. I repeat: There is not adequate regulation of these institutions. I also want to put on the record that from my knowledge of them, when we were in government and I was Acting Treasurer on several occasions, including one occasion when there was a most disturbing run on lending institutions, especially the building societies in 1974 and subsequently when I was Treasurer, I was convinced that mostly these institutions are well run, well administered institutions. But this is not true in all cases. So government must take action to ensure that people’s financial interests and the security of those interests are protected.

One of the facts that contributes to the defectiveness of the administration of some of these institutions arises from the hothouse way in which they developed. In the 1950s and early 1960s there was a rapid growth, almost from a cold start, of many of these permanent building societies. They grew from very small origins to quite large financial institutions. But the people who remained with those institutions, administering them, did not have the capacity, did not have the experience, did not have the equipment necessary to administer a fairly large financial institution with all the complexities of financial administration which is attendant with that. Presumably they successfully ran small organisations but it was a different ball game when they had to administer large institutions. This is why we are suggesting that adequate provision must be made to ensure that the administration and the general financial arrangements of these institutions are as secure as can be established. There is not adequate security. The Minister seems to imply otherwise. Let us just pare away the words the Minister is using so that we can have a clear view of what he is saying. The Minister is saying that there will be Reserve Bank backing for those permanent building societies which, when they run into trouble, show they are. competently managed and have adequate asset backing. Now that does not mean all of those institutions. It means only those which are competently managed and which have adequate asset backing, that is, those that are gold plated risks. This would exclude, for instance, the Queensland Permanent Building Society.

I want to focus on this point to illustrate the general nature of the concern that people experience especially in Queensland and the justification for the Opposition raising this matter today. The Queensland Permanent Building Society represented a $150m crash- a crash that should have jolted the Queensland and the Australian governments into action but they indifferently slumber on. The crash of Queensland Permanent is a remarkable saga of incompetence, maladministration and, quite frankly, book-keeping covering up. In 1975-76, some $2.6m was lost in the computer balances. It must have been a goldplated computer. After 12 months investigation the auditors could locate only $300,000 of that missing $2.6m.

A superficial review of the 1976-77 balance sheet of the Queensland Permanent Building Society showed initially a profit of $218,000, but when the analysis was applied more vigorously it was discovered in footnotes and in various other offhanded comments in the annual report that other losses had not been clearly set out in the general balance sheet. Accordingly, a profit of $2 1 8,000 was converted into a deficit of $8 1,759. For instance, dividends due to June 1977 had hot been included, and they represented over $204,000. There was an overpayment to shareholders of over $51,000. There were incorrect entries totalling nearly $44,000. This is evidence of the most appalling display of financial incompetence and maladministration in a very large financial institution- a $150m financial institution; an institution in which people on good trust invested their money; an institution from which other people in good faith borrowed money, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) said, to make the most important and most expensive investment of their lifetime, in their own home.

Desperately, to get itself out of trouble, the Queensland Permanent Building Society increased its interest rates on mortgages to as much as 15 per cent. It eliminated daily balances for interest payments on deposits and replaced them with monthly balances. The upshot was that it had the widest operating margins in the industry. That seems to me to be quite immoral and improper action. There seems to have been no action taken by government to prevent depositors and borrowers from being put through the cleaners in this way to pay for this massive incompetence.

A number of things ought to be done to protect the public interest more competently. Part IV of the Financial Corporations Act ought to be proclaimed- although it is not the answer to everything- to put these institutions on a sounder footing. A secondary housing mortgage market perhaps ought to be established through the Australian Housing Corporation so that the liquidity of these institutions could be improved during financial rundowns. There should be Federal insurance of shares and deposits held with these institutions. If these institutions are going to argue that they should have lender of last resort facilities they have to accept some government supervision of the sort I have outlined to ensure that the sort of shocking maladministration for which the Queensland Permanent Building Society was responsible never occurs again. That is all the Opposition is saying and that is not an unreasonable proposition.


-(Mr Ian Robinson) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– It is a matter of some interest to know why the Opposition has brought forward this matter of public importance today. One would have thought that, in the present climate in this country, the Opposition might have been more concerned with other things. Perhaps the fact that there will be an election in Queensland soon has prompted the Opposition to bring this matter forward. I think it is necessary to put the situation into some perspective. Since the mid-1960s, when the building societies came into prominence and achieved major significance, there have been four periods which have involved runs, as they are known, on building societies and in no case has there been any loss to depositors. I think it is important that we bear that m mind because the Opposition is trying to lead us to believe that there is a continuing crisis in this industry. That is not the case.

There are a number of reasons why the building society industry has experienced some difficulty from time to time, and I think it might be worth while to outline some of those reasons. There has been rapid growth in the industry. This has strained management expertise and in some circumstances it has tended to outrun the resources which have been devoted to the supervision of the societies by the relevant State authorities. Another reason for some of the difficulties facing this industry is the strong concentration on call funds, with a high proportion of money coming from investors who are interest-sensitive and who will switch their investments from one form to another, depending on the interest rate that is available to them. This obviously means that building society deposits are always subject to being pulled out by the people who have lodged them. The industry is a very competitive one and this has contributed to a tendency for building societies to work on very fine margins between the cost of the funds that they take in from depositors and the earnings that they gain on lending them out. The fact that the industry is competitive and that there is this relatively fine margin obviously leads to a situation in which building societies can get themselves into degrees of difficulty if there are rapid changes in the financial situation.

Building societies have always tended to run relatively low liquidity ratios, particularly in times when a demand for housing loans is anticipated. It is necessary to keep coming back to the point that there has been no loss to depositors in any of these so-called crises or runs on building societies. I think it is irresponsible for the Opposition to try to suggest in the Parliament that there is a crisis in the industry. All the Opposition is doing is adding to the concerns that some people may have, concerns which certainly are unfounded. We need also to look at where the responsibility lies in the area of building society control, management or government intervention. For many years now it has been accepted that the responsibility for sound management and appropriate financial practices among building societies lies with the State governments through their registrars. Most State governments have Ministers who are designated as being responsible for building societies. That is where the responsibility for this control lies.

The Federal Government obviously has a role to play, but the responsibility is principally one that rests with the States. The Commonwealth may be able to promote national legislation which applies uniform standards, ratios and things of this nature to companies which operate in the building society industry, but at this stage the responsibility is primarily one that rests with the States. The Commonwealth has no hesitation in coming out and making it perfectly clear that the Reserve Bank of Australia is prepared to back the building societies when they are experiencing liquidity problems. The trading banks have made it clear that they will consider sympathetically requests for finance from building societies which are responsibly managed and which have adequate asset backing. The Reserve Bank stands ready to ensure that liquidity or other policy considerations will not be an impediment to the use of those banks’ resources in backing the building societies. I think that is a fairly significant contribution from the Federal Government in an area in which it really does not have statutory control. It is an area in which we seek to co-operate with the States in seeing that the confidence of investors is not shaken. The fact that the Reserve Bank stands ready to assist is proof of our bona fides in this instance.

It has been suggested by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and no doubt by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) that deposit insurance ought to be looked at. Although there is some reassurance to investors in having some system of deposit insurance, it does not necessarily ensure sound management, it does not provide an alternative to sound management of societies and it does not necessarily offer protection against runs on societies. The legislation that exists in the banking field does not rule out the possibility that a bank itself might fail. It provides for intervention to manage a bank in the interests of depositors. State authorities can exercise a similar power in the case of building societies. It is true that central bank loan facilities are available to banks and authorised short term money market dealers, but these are for monetary management purposes and do not guarantee the solvency of these institutions. I think it is clear that there is not really any guarantee offered by government for the safety of depositors’ funds in societies which are badly managed, which are run by incompetent management or in which frauds are involved. The Government is prepared to go as far as it can to protect the interests of depositors. Obviously, this is a moral compulsion that governments often feel bound by, but there is no compulsion on government at a federal level to involve itself in this field. What the Government is seeking to do is to regulate, to see that responsible practices are adhered to and that its money market policy, interest rate policy, money supply policy and things of this nature are not being abused.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the Financial Corporations Act by the Leader of the Opposition and by the honourable member for Oxley. I think it was stated by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) and the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Viner) that that Act was not intentionally formulated with the object of providing a means for protecting investors or the financial stability of individual building societies. It was acknowledged at the time the Act was passed that it was a matter for the States within the framework of registration and supervision which they have had over a long period of time. If Part IV of the Financial Corporations Act were implemented, it would not enhance the scope of the sorts of things the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Oxley are talking about. The intention of Part IV of the Act primarily is to enhance the scope of effective monetary policy rather than to supervise the management of individual corporations. Even if they were fully exercised, those powers in Part IV are not adequate or appropriate to ensure the financial stability of individual societies. We come back to the situation that there must be an understanding of where the responsibility lies in this particular area and what the Commonwealth Government has done. It has thrown the weight of the Reserve Bank behind the properly managed building societies that are experiencing liquidity problems. It is necessary to have an understanding of the industry to realise why and where and how these societies are different from the other financial institutions, particularly in this area of a reliance on call funds and a reliance on funds from depositors who are interest sensitive. The Federal Government will continue to do what is within its power to ensure that confidence is retained by depositors in building societies.


- (Mr Ian Robinson)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.

page 2396




-by leaveMembers may recall that on 10 November 1976 I informed the House on behalf of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that the Committee had agreed under section la. of its terms of reference to undertake an inquiry into the status of Soviet Jewry. I indicated also that due to the Committee’s commitments in relation to other inquiries there would be considerable delay before the Committee could undertake investigation of this subject. However, public hearings on the status of Soviet Jewry commenced on 7 October. The emerging issue is that the Committee is faced with the problem of elucidating what the officially established Soviet ideology means in relation to any form of dissent, any form of separate national or ethnic sentiment and any form of religious conviction. In any case, in undertaking the considerable task of investigating alleged discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union, the-. Committee needs to make comparisons with other groups in the Soviet Union which may or may not be disadvantaged. What, for instance, is the bearing of the Soviet Government’s general religious policy on Judaism in particular? Is it selective against Soviet Jews.

It has therefore been decided by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to rename the Sub-Committee on the Petition regarding Soviet Jewry as the Sub-Committee on Human Rights in the Soviet Union. However, the Sub-Committee will concentrate at least its initial attention on the status of Soviet Jewry in order to honour its advertisements which appeared in the national Press in late September. Whenever it is expedient and workloads permit, the Sub-Committee will take evidence in parallel for the following much broader terms of reference:

Human rights in the Soviet Union bearing in mind Australia’s support for the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement.

I make this statement with the authority of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

page 2396


The Clerk:

– Notices of intention to present Bills at the next sitting have been received as follows:

From the Minister for National Resources: A National Water Resources Financial Assistance Bill.

From the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations: A Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) and a Public Service (Permanent Head Dual Appointment) Bill.

From the Minister for Transport: An Airline Equipment Loan Guarantee Bill, and a Transport Planning and Research Financial Assistance Bill.

page 2396


Bill presented by Mr Viner, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister assisting the Treasurer · Stirling · LP

– I move:

This Bill proposes an amendment to the income tax law to provide for the reinstatement of an income tax exemption for income derived by bona fide prospectors from the sale, transfer or assignment of rights to mine for gold or any other metal or mineral that is prescribed for the purposes of the exemption. Our decision to reintroduce this exemption was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in Kalgoorlie on 7 October and this amending Bill was foreshadowed in the second reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977. Until it was repealed in 1973 by the former Government, this exemption had been part of the income tax law for a great many years.

A consequence of the repeal was that prospectors in the mineral fields of Western Australia and other parts of Australia were denied the special incentive they had enjoyed for so long in recognition of their special position in the search for and development of the mineral wealth of the nation. Not unnaturally strong representations have been made to the Government to restore this incentive, none stronger, I might emphasise, than those made by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie, Mick Cotter, continuously since he entered this House at the 1975 elections.

This Government believes that it is important to encourage the search for minerals which today form such an important part of the Australian economy. It also recognises that many prospectors are forced, for economic reasons, to transfer the right to mine minerals discovered by them to companies with both the finance and the knowhow to develop a large scale mining operation.

Prospectors are encouraged to look for minerals they cannot hope to mine themselves if they know that any income that they will receive from transferring rights to mine their discoveries is not going to be reduced by taxation. An explanatory memorandum that is being circulated gives details of the amendments contained in this Bill, and I commend it to the House.

Debate (on motion by Dr Klugman) adjourned.

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Minister for Productivity · Balaclava · LP

– I seek leave of the House to move five motions relating to the proposed redistribution into electoral divisions of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.


-Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Viner) proposed:

That so much of Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent, firstly, the moving forthwith of five motions relating to the proposed redistribution into electoral divisions of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and, secondly, upon resumption of the debate on a motion relating to the proposed redistribution into electoral divisions of the State of New South Wales, reference being allowed in the debate to the proposed redistribution into electoral divisions of the States of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Question put:

The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)

AYES: 68

NOES: 31

Majority…… 37




– There being 68 ayes and 3 1 noes, the question is resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority.

page 2398


Redistribution of New South Wales Divisions

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs C. I. White, L. N. Fletcher and C. W. Prince, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on 25 October 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted except that the name ‘Macquarie’ be substituted for Lawson’.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

Redistribution of Victorian Divisions

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

The the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Victoria into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs L. J. Abbott, J. E. Mitchell and E. L. Richardson, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on 25 October 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

Redistribution of Queensland Divisions

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs F. J. Coleman, J. M. Serisier and R. M. Seymour, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on 18 October 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

Redistribution of South Australian Divisions

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs A. J. Walsh, G. H. C. Kennedy and H. D. Winterbottom, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on 18 October 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

Redistribution of Western Australian Divisions

Motion (by Mr Macphee) proposed:

That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Western Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs B. S. Nicholls, J. F. Morgan and A. E. Tonics, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on 18 October 1977, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 2398


In Committee

Consideration resumed from 25 October.

Second Schedule.

Department of Science

Proposed expenditure, $ 1 86,760,000.


-The debate on the estimates for the Department of Science is one of the few opportunities granted to the Parliament to discuss matters of science and science policy. Unfortunately the time allocated for discussion is so short that the subject cannot be given the treatment if deserves in full. Practical attempts by members of Parliament to come to grips with the role we expect science and technology to play never match the optimism inherent in our public statements- statements such as that which forms part of the introduction to the Liberal and National Country Party Science and Technology Policy published in November 1975 and which states quite confidently that ‘advances in science and technology provide a major means for economic growth and progress towards a better quality of life’. If the Government had fulfilled the undertakings made in this policy document there would have been ample opportunity for an extended parliamentary debate on science and technology policy. Under a list of what is called ‘special initiatives’ the Government’s pre-election science policy clearly states:

As recommended by the OECD Examiners’ Report we will present to Parliament an annual science statement indicating trends in research and development in terms of overall priorities.

This Government has been in office for almost two full years and still there has been no sign of such a statement.

Little evidence exists that the Government has taken any steps to build upon the major developments in science policy which occurred under the Labor Government. Between 1972 and 1975, a separate Department of Science was established, the Australian Science and Technology Council was formed, a team of examiners from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported on science and technology policy in Australia and a separate science task force reported to the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration. The report of the Coombs Commission special science task force had dramatic implications for the Department of Science. The Department’s abolition was recommended. The special task force concluded that the Department had virtually no policy role and as its functions were primarily administrative these functions could be reasonably elsewhere. The task force took the view that scientific advice from within government could be effectively provided by individual departments having their own science sections. From these they could draw advice on scientific and technological aspects of their particular departmental policies. Such a system operates in the United Kingdom but as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, a department with specific responsibilities for science policy. The Department of Science predictably found little merit with the task force recommendations and was quick to put a counter submission to the Royal Commission. Despite the fact that the Department survived that threat to its existence, the suspicion remains that it is little more than an administrative centre. There is little public evidence to suggest that its policy role has developed at all in the last couple of years.

Recent revelations that at least three inquiries are being held at present into scientific research and development in Australia, none of which directly involves the Department of Science, lend credence to the belief that the Department is not being allowed to play a role which would fully justify its existence. The Department has had experience with ‘Project Score’ which catalogued information on the distribution of science funds and science manpower in Australia and which required five years of effort to complete. One would have imagined that this could have formed the basis for a wider inquiry into research and development. In 1974, the OECD examiners found that Australia lagged well behind other OECD countries in the development of industrial and energy policy and that in particular there was a noticeable lack of co-ordination between various research and development sectors. It does not take much imagination to suggest a role for the Department of Science in overcoming this lack of co-ordination. To the present, we do not appear to have had any success at integrating science policy and technology policy and, until we do, our approach to such matters will be piecemeal and non-productive.

At the moment the Department of Productivity is looking at industrial research and development. The Department of National Resources is inquiring into energy research. The Australian Science and Technology Council and the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment are supposedly looking at all research and development. It is obvious that there will be considerable duplication of effort in these undertakings and little possibility of unanimity in their conclusions. I do not regard that by itself as a bad thing as long as we get some sort of propositions put up that can be intelligently discussed by people who finally have to make the decisions. It is critical that a thorough review of scientific and technological research and development be undertaken in Australia. The Industries Assistance Commission stressed the importance of such a review in both its 1975 and 1976 annual reports when it requested a reference on the topic. It would be preferable that such an inquiry be given considerable status and be performed by a single entity which might be expected to have a continuing influence on the direction of Australia’s scientific effort. Unless the Department of Science in one way or another can form the nucleus of such an entity, there appears to be little reason for continued rejection of the recommendations of the Coombs Commission’s science task force.

Having said that as a general statement on science, I will deal with two more specific problems. The first one relates to an invitation from the Minister for Science, Senator Webster, dated 1 June 1977, concerning the possible formation of a scientific group of Federal Parliament. In that letter to myself- I think it was sent to all membershe said, amongst other things:

Several people have suggested to me that scientific interests in the community generally, and members of Parliament in particular, may be well served by a Parliamentary Scientific Committee.

The Minister referred to the original British idea and stated that such a committee presently operates. He said:

The UK body is unofficial, non statutory and non partisan. It is made up of members of both Houses of Parliament and nominated representatives of scientific and technical organisations.

I think the proposition was first raised in Australiato the best of my knowledge it was- by Mrs Ann Moyle who is at present the Director of the Science Policy Research Centre in the School of Science at Griffith University in Brisbane. After giving some examples of what a scientific group of the Federal Parliament would do- such as meeting with scientists and technologists- the Minister completed his letter by stating:

Should you be interested I would appreciate your comment on the suggestion that some similar group be brought together in Canberra. At present I foresee all secretarial work being carried out within my office.

Your response will be welcome.

I replied to Senator Webster. I said that I supported the principle as outlined by him but that I could see dangers in the existence of such a group unless fairly critical and intelligent parliamentarians formed that scientific group. As I put it:

  1. . I can see dangers should smooth talking rather than critical scientists succeed in ‘snowing ‘ parliamentarians.

I can well see the danger involved in exposing many of our parliamentarians to some of the scientists who try to push Parliament into spending large amounts of money on their particular interests at any particular time, whether it be solar energy, nuclear energy or whatever. There is a risk when people who are not terribly critical in their approach meet with the so-called experts in the field. They are likely to be hesitant in asking the appropriate questions and possibly would give the wrong advice to the Government.

But, in principle and provided that rational critical parliamentarians joined that group- I do not suppose anybody could be excluded from joining that group-and participated actively in that group, I feel that it certainly would be of benefit to this Parliament and to any government, whether it be a Labor government or a Liberal-National Country Party government, to have a group of parliamentarians who are well informed on reasonably current issues of science and technology. I feel that many of the comments that are made in the debates in this chamber on such issues as nuclear energy are, to put it at its lowest, highly debatable from a scientific point of view.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.


-Ih speaking to the estimates for the Department of Science for 1977-78, I commend the Government on providing for a number of important new initiatives through its allocation of $204.4m to the Department of Science.

This allocation allows for an increase of approximately one-third in spending on research in Australia ‘s Antarctic Territory. This, of course, is a region of increasing importance. Another initiative is the provision of funding for Australian owned and operated facilities for receiving and processing data from the Landsat earth resources technology satellites. The data from these satellites has a series of applications of both economic and environmental importance.

I particularly commend the Government’s allocation of funds to 16 research projects related to the development of solar energy. This demonstrates the Fraser Government ‘s consciousness of our future energy needs and the role which solar energy will play in the future in fulfilling those needs.

However, there is one area which I believe needs increased attention and needs to be given a higher priority by the Government- that is, our knowledge of the resources of the sea. Honourable members may recall that last week I asked the Minister for National Resources a question without notice concerning this matter.

Australia, despite its long coastline and the proposed extension of the coastal economic zone to 200 miles, still does not have a properly equipped seismological survey ship. Australian scientists virtually have to hitch rides on ships of other countries to undertake their research or, as the Minister for National Resources prefers to describe it, they have to enter joint arrangements with other international institutions. In answering that question last week the Minister indicated that he would like to see more oceanographic research undertaken and also indicated the Government’s continuing interest in this sphere. He said that, although funds are not available within the current expenditure restraints, he hoped that we would be able to provide funds for the purchase of such a ship in the future.

Notwithstanding the expenditure restraints, I believe that this issue is a matter of priority. I believe that the need for a seismological survey ship is urgent. I encourage the Government to give the purchase of such a ship a far higher priority than is apparent thus far.

The joint arrangements in which Australian scientists have been involved are not totally satisfactory. They lack flexibility in the undertaking of research and also, of course, there is always a security problem with the sort of research which some scientists may desire to undertake in regard to our resources of the sea. One of the current objections to the purchase of a seismological survey ship is its cost, as I mentioned a moment ago, in relation to expenditure restraints. Firstly, I refer to the capital cost of such an initiative. The initial cost, of course, is for the purchase of a vessel. A suitable vessel need not be a new ship. There are a number of suitable secondhand vessels available; for example, those which oil companies may have used in the past for similar work. In fact, last year one such vessel was sold for $1.3m. Certainly a suitable ship could be obtained for an overall capital cost of less than $4m.

On top of the cost of the basic ship there is the need for the appropriate research equipment. The capital cost of this would amount to less than $lm. There is a need for equipment related to geophysical research, hydrography and core drilling. Examples of the sort of equipment and the costs of such equipment would be: A gravimeter, which would cost approximately $250,000; a magnetometer, at a cost of approximately $ 100,000; and air guns, at a cost of approximately $50,000. In addition to that, there would be some need for computing facilities. Some universities and other research institutions already have appropriate equipment which could be applied to this purpose. In addition, some funds could be provided for the purchase of equipment through the Australian Research Grants Committee.

In addition to these capital items, running costs, of course, are associated with such a survey ship. In the United States and West Germany, similar types of vessels operate at a cost of approximately $10,000 a day, including the cost of crew. When we consider the overall cost of the purchase and operation of a seismological survey ship, I believe that it is a relatively small amount in the context of the Government’s total Budget expenditure.

I acknowledge the need for overall expenditure restraint in the current economic situation. I also acknowledge that there are, of course, always competing priorities to which the Government must give attention, but I do believe that the Government should give this matter a high priority. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, there is a range of uses to which a seismological survey ship could be applied to fulfil vital needs in Australia. The extension of the coastal economic zone to 200 miles provides Australia with a very large continental shelf. It is a continental shelf of which we have very little knowledge. There is an absence of basic geological research to establish, for example, the minerals potential within that continental shelf. We do not know what minerals are available there for exploitation; equally we do not know what minerals are in fact lacking. A second important aspect of this issue and a use to which the ship could be applied is the establishment of the extent of Australia’s fishing capabilities and the extent of available fisheries. Of course, quite apart from the economic potential of this aspect there is its importance in a hungry world.

Another use to which such a vessel could be applied is the study of the currents surrounding Australia. A close and detailed knowledge of currents, for example, could save sailing time. As all honourable members are aware, Australia’s trade is still, to a very large degree, dependent on ships for transport. It has been estimated by West Germany, for example, that a detailed knowledge of the currents of the Atlantic Ocean saves that country one day’s sailing time each trip in trade between West Germany and the United States. Certainly, with the degree to which Australia depends on sea transport for its trade, similar savings could be effected by a detailed knowledge of currents around Australia which could be obtained from research undertaken by a seismological survey vessel. In addition, knowledge of the currents is important also for determining harbour locations and structures. On top of that is the more esoteric and purely scientific research to which such a ship could be devoted.

The need is urgent because it is quite possible that other countries know more about our offshore areas than we do. I believe that in the long run the cost of not having such a vessel could be more than the cost of providing funds for its purchase as soon as possible. Almost every development seaboard country has at least one seismological vessel.

I believe that the Government should set up a section within the Department of Science to administer the purchase and operation of such a vessel. The Department should establish a base from which the vessel would operate, provide for its maintenance and provide training for its crew and other people involved in its operations.

Mr James:

– Are you talking about a vessel for use in the Antarctic, a vessel like the one we hire, the Thala Dan?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member for Kingston will continue his speech.

Mr James:

– I am interested.


– It is not the same but I shall discuss the matter afterwards with the honourable member for Hunter. I believe also that the Department should provide data processing facilities to process the various items of information which would be obtained as a result of the research undertaken by this vessel. On this basis institutions could apply for the use of the ship, for an allocation of the time of the ship for their individual purposes. That time would be allocated through the Department. Institutions such as the universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Bureau of Mineral Research would be such bodies. A committee should be established to oversee the research priorities and to allocate the use of the vessel to particular institutions. There certainly is ample demand for the use of such a ship and it would not lie idle.

In conclusion I want to commend the Government for its overall commitment to scientific research as indicated in the Budget appropriation for the Department of Science. I congratulate the Minister for Science, Senator Webster, for his enthusiastic and efficient management of the portfolio. However I urge the Government to give high priority to the purchase of a seismological survey ship to ensure that Australia maximises its knowledge of its undersea resources and reaps the economic rewards for the benefit of all Australians.


-By picking out individual items it is easy to suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in funding for this and that in the estimates for the Department of Science but the reality is that in overall terms there has been a reduction of probably over 5 per cent in real terms in the funds set aside for this Department. I am not going to go into details; I am much more interested in discussing some of the other features. I would just highlight the point, as an example, that the funds for the Bureau of Meteorology are to be exactly the same. Given inflation, that means it has had a real cut of something over 10 per cent. Research grants probably have been nearly halved. The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science has been wiped and this has happened at a time when more and more people think it is important to have better communication between scientists and the community. ANZAAS was a good forum for scientists to explain their views and feelings about things in an atmosphere where the Press and the media bothered to take notice. So it helped improve communication. The Government has dropped its subsidy for ANZAAS. Finally I mention the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation. In real terms its funding also has been cut, despite the juggling of the figures. The apparent increase is due to a transfer of some research programs to CSIRO which were carried out in other departments. In real terms there has been a cut in funding.

What is the CSIRO, all about? Well, the present Government commissioned a report on the CISRO and I would like to quote from or refer to that report. First of all this committee of inquiry discussed the place of scientific research in Australia. It pointed out that the argument has been put that since we are a small country we do not contribute all that much to world research and perhaps we could stop it altogether and deend on the rest of the world. The Committee beeves that in the long run it would be disastrous to do so. Apart from the argument that we are part of the world and draw from it and therefore, to the best of our capacity, we ought to contribute to it, the Committee thinks there are practical reasons why this is a bad suggestion. It makes the point that we have a unique continent and that we are the custodians and exploiters of it. We have to find out about it, if for no other reason than so that we can better utilise its resources. There are problems associated with our geography, weather and geology, and even our own particular social structures that are all unique. The Committee said: . . world science and technology give guidelines but cannot solve our particular problems or delineate our particular opportunities.

In other words, we have to do it ourselves. The Committee made the point that research is needed both for long-term use of our resources to best advantage and also to overcome short-term difficulties. The Committee conceded that while research is significant it is not the only component involved in the problem of promoting social and economic progress but ‘if decreased below the present level, where we barely keep up with the advanced world, and indeed fall behind in many places, the long-term result could be economic and social stagnation’. The Committee mentioned some of our industries which are rather more fortunate, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and so on, but pointed out that many of our resources are exhaustable, and even in the renewable resource area we have problems and need to learn how to manage them. We need to develop an energy policy in relation to our particular needs and our particular resources situation as against the rest of the world, and so the Committee went on.

The Committee made the point quite clearly that we should not depend unduly upon the rest of the world because undue dependence on overseas science and technology also implies general dependence, and dependence also implies taking what we are given, not necessarily what we want. Those who have nothing to sell or exchange in the world of technology frequently do not receive the latest developments and they pay a high price at the same time.

When it comes to a discussion of the level of research the Committee made the point that examiners from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show that our effort is low compared with that of many other countries, countries with which we ought to com- pete- not the under-developed countries but theetter developed countries. In 1973-74 we expended 1.2 per cent of our gross domestic product and that is below the expenditure of countries such as America, Japan, Sweden and so on. They think we come somewhere in the middle to lower level of the effort put in by countries such as ours which seem to be dependent. We are in the area of countries which depend mainly on rural industries and so on whereas we would have thought that we are dependent more upon high technology industries. So we are in the wrong league, if you like to put it that way. Research basically is an investment in the future. That is one of the conclusions drawn by this Committee.

The Committee then discussed the role of the CSIRO, but I do not want to go into it in detail as it is all perfectly obvious. It made something of the fact that activity should be expanded in interpreting and disseminating information from world science and technology for the benefit of technological innovation in Australia and for increased use by Australian industry. We cannot do that if we are going to cut back funding and impose additional burdens and the CSIRO at the same time. How are we to do it? The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) gave a hint of it and I would like to discuss that point. I shall not go on with some of the other detail that I was going to mention because my time is running out. I do not want to have to speak when we continue after the sittings are suspended for dinner.

I would like to make some comments about the Australian Science and Technology Council. The honourable member for Prospect mentioned that the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) has written to him and said that people were being invited to give their views on the establishment of a parliamentary science group. I think that is a good idea; we ought to be better involved. However, I think that a more important and more significant factor would be the establishment of ASTEC in the way that the Labor Government attempted. The Labor Government set up the organisation much along the lines that the present Government has followed except that we chose younger people who were more actively involved in the forefront of scientific endeavour rather than the venerable gentlemen who had proved their worth many years before. In this area we need people actively engaged in scientific research if we want to get the best advice. The more signficant factor was that we thought there should be a meeting of ASTEC and a council of Ministers, not just backbench members of Parliament, although I am not ruling that out. There ought to be a meeting of ASTEC and a council of Ministers to discuss specific issues, otherwise ASTEC will prepare a report and the Ministers will not have been involved. Honourable members know what will happen; the Ministers will not read it and that will be the end of it. If Ministers are involved with scientists in formulating a report they will then understand it and then we might get some action. It is the only way. Science councils have been set up all over the world and they have been proved disappointing.

The only place where the OECD examiners thought there had been some measure of success was West Germany where they had this meeting of the scientists and the ministers. The report was not an ASTEC report; it was a joint report by both groups- the parliamentarians or politicians and the scientists. They both had to bend their minds to understand the problems on the other side and so they came up with a report which was likely to be implemented. I would recommend that course to the Government.

Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.


-I speak in support of the estimates for the Department of Science, particularly in support of the allocation of additional staff and funds and the expansion of areas of research provided in the Budget in respect of the Australian Antarctic Division. There is a certain curiosity and fascination about the Antarctic. It is still the great unknown. Man has not yet tamed or conquered it. In the middle of summer heavy clothing must be worn. It is still a new frontier for man. Its resources are now attracting world-wide attention. Some of these are minerals. Coal and iron ore have been discovered and there has been exploration for oil and gas. A hole has been drilled by the Glomar

Challenger. Methane and ethane have been discovered. Manganese nodules which are found in other parts of the world have been found there.

Of course, there is fish and the subject of whether whales should or should not be caught. There is krill, which is an enormous protein resource. It is a small lobster or prawn-like creature. It is already harvested by a number of countries including, I think, West Germany and the Soviet Union. Fresh water, in the form of icebergs, is now attracting attention as to whether it could solve the problems of some of the drier regions of the world. Of course there is tourism. The Budget provides for expenditure on an examination of a proposal for an intercontinental airship at one of Australia’s Antarctic stations. Dr Law, the famous Australian who pioneered so much of our work in the Antarctic, is in fact in favour of an intercontinental polar route to South America via Antarctica. He has pointed out that the route from Melbourne to New York would be only 600 miles longer than the route via Honolulu. In fact, the proposal has a lot of attraction about it. Already Qantas Airways Ltd has had nights over the Pole. Cruise ships have been in the area. The polar route to Europe is something that I think we need to explore.

We need to have more in common with our South American colleagues. I think one of the fascinations of South America is how much geographically we have in common and how little we know about each other. In this country we still look to the northern hemisphere. Perhaps we could learn more about our part of the world by seeing what other occupants of the southern hemisphere have done. We of course share in common with the South Americans interest in the Antarctic region. I think this is something that might bring us together. It has recently become more widely known that Russia has three bases in the Australian Antarctic Territory. These were established in, I think, the International Geophysical Year and are there quite properly for scientific reasons. In fact one of the hypocrisies of world politics is, I believe, that the Russians in fact fly to their bases through South Africa, but not very much is heard about that.

I would like to raise the question of the interchange of information under the Antarctic Treaty. I understand that there is great goodwill between scientists of various nations, including the Russians and the Australians in the Antarctic. That is as it ought to be. I think the vicissitudes of the climate and the common scientific challenge of the unknown there ensure that there are no apparent ideological differences. This is to be encouraged. Regrettably communist ideology interfere at the bureaucratic level. I think traditionally exchanges of information by the Soviets have always been behind time. I think the commissars must get involved at a bureaucratic level. In the 1971-72 Australian summer expedition Australian geologists were working in the Southern Prince Charles Mountains and made contact with a Soviet exploration team of geologists working in the same area. There were very cordial discussions between people who have a lot in common- both being in the Antarctic and both being geologists. I understand that whilst informally there are good relationships between the geologists of these countries there has not been any formal exchange of information, and that in fact the Soviet Union has not honoured its undertaking which was apparently given to that expedition and which was in accordance with the Treaty to provide Australia with this information. I hope that that situation will be remedied. One must ask whether the Soviet Union has anything to hide. I call upon the Soviet Union to make that information available.

The question of resources has attracted a lot of interest I return to one of the areas to which I referred earlier, namely, minerals. I think we must be careful that we do not get rushed into the thought that these can be quickly exploited. The iron ore there is of a lower grade than that which is available in Australia. I think one could work out the Australian iron ore fields long before one needed to go to Antarctica and face the challenges of actually digging the material out of the ground, getting it over snow, setting up equipment to load and unload and in fact bringing it out of the Antarctic. I think such a scheme is many years away. There are problems of course with oil and gas exploration also. A vertical hole is drilled on-shore. In a year, because of the pressure of the ice, it will be a horizontal hole. There are enormous technical challenges, and I am sure they will be met although I do not think they will be met quickly. The areas of potential are tourism and of course the harvesting of the krill to which I referred earlier. That is where I think our efforts will need to lie. Additionally, of course, we have a responsibility to explore the Territory. We will be able to do that in an expanded way because of this Budget.

I refer briefly to some comments made in the House by the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) on 20 October about the Antarctic Division Headquarters. He was speaking on the proposal recommended by the Standing Committee on Public Works to build a new complex of the Antarctic Division at Hobart. He said that it was not clear whether this Government would continue with Antarctic research. I have great respect for the honourable member’s knowledge of C. J. Dennis’s Australian poetry- I say that seriously- but I am afraid that his knowledge of the Antarctic leaves a little to be desired. He is wrong in that regard. The Government is committed. This Budget commits the Government to expansion in the areas of research in the Antarctic. The Government has an on-going program.

Mr Falconer:

– The first real advance in years.


-I agree with the honourable member for Casey who has in fact been in Antarctic waters, he has been to Macquarie Island. I am sure the people of Hobart are not fooled by comments like those made by the honourable member for Burke.

Mr Keith Johnson:

– I do not rise to defend myself against the puerile attack from the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton). In fact, what he was saying was not altogether true. At no time did I attack the locating of the headquarters of the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science in Hobart. In fact, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, of which I was Vice-Chairman, strongly recommended that the Division should go to Hobart. So for the honourable member for Higgins to talk about my being critical in any way of the location of the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science in Hobart of course is quite fallacious.

I have not been to the Antarctic, as has the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer). I have only spoken with people very knowledgeable about the area. I think that everybody would agree that Dr P. G. Law is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in Australia on the Antarctic. He was a witness before the Public Works Committee. Everybody would agree that Sir Frederick White, who for many years was Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is another acknowledged authority throughout the world on the Antarctic. He also appeared before the Committee, as did Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger from the Flinders University and Dr Budd of the glaciology section of the Antarctic Division attached to the department of meteorology at the Melbourne University.

Although I have not been to the Antarctic, having sat through four days of the Public Works Committee inquiry, I feel that I can speak with some authority about Australia ‘s role in the Antarctic. I hope that the honourable member for

Higgins will read the ninth report of 1977 of the Public Works Committee that was presented to this Parliament. I see that he has a copy of it. He is waving it in the air. Cheers. The honourable member should read it Perhaps he has not had the advantage of reading the transcript of evidence, but if he reads the transcript of evidence in conjunction with the report he will find that the Fraser Government has not yet brought down a White Paper on Australia’s future role in the Antarctic. If the Government is of a mind to set out a White Paper on Australia’s future role in the Antarctic, it could do no better than read the transcript of the evidence that was taken in Melbourne, and probably more importantly the later evidence that was taken in Hobart on 29 and 30 August 1977.

The Committee, albeit that it was sent there by the Parliament to examine a particular project, delved widely and deeply into the reasons why the Antarctic Division complex ought to be established at Kingston. Because of the world acclaimed credits attachable to the witnesses who appeared before the Committee, the honourable member should read the transcript of their evidence and indeed the Government should read it. What the Public Works Committee did on those two days in Hobart was write a White Paper on Australia’s future role in the Antarctic. There are a number of deficiencies in Australia’s role. The area of the Antarctic to which Australia lays claim is two-thirds the area of the Australian Continent. It is 2 million square miles in area- an enormous area of land. It has been reported by people who are knowledgeable in this area that Australia, compared with other nations, is regarded as a squatter in the area.

Our contribution to Antarctic research has not been particularly great. I heard the honourable member for Higgins talking about resources available in the Antarctic. My information is that the technology is not yet available to bore through- if my memory serves me correctlysomething like 7 million cubic miles of ice. It is not as simple as boring a hole in the desert and pumping oil out of it. The depth of the ice is so great that as drills are driven into the ice it immediately contracts around the drills and snaps the shafts. All these technological problems have to be overcome.

Surely Australia’s role in the Antarctic is not going to be seen as that of another colonial power. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics maintains a base in the Antarctic, but claims no territorial grounds at all. The United States of America, our great and powerful friend, as somebody was once wont to call it, does not maintain any territorial claims to the Antarctic continent, but it gathers scientific research material in that area. Australia is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty. Honourable members would have read in the Press recently that Australia is a very significant participant in world contribution and world dissemination of all of the scientific information that comes from the Antarctic. This is not a political question; it is not a question about who is to do what. It is a question about the Australian Government determining a course of action. It is time the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) stopped playing his parlour games and told us when the next election is to be so that the people of Australia can elect a decent government. The Government of Australia, whichever party it may be, must of necessity take a positive role in the Antarctic.

I heard the honourable member for Higgins talking about the harvesting of krill. It is a very important food. It is a high protein food. It is a very small shellfish that exists in the Antarctic in large numbers. What are we to do if the Japanese, the Koreans, the Taiwanese or anybody else send their ships to harvest the krill in the Antarctic oceans? Are we to send gunboats to shoot them out of the water because they intend to feed the starving people of their countries? Of course we are not.

It must also be said that Australia does not yet own a ship that will take our expeditions to the Antarctic. It charters the Thala Dan and the Nella Dan from the Danish Government. One of those ships is out of commission at the moment. They make two voyages in the southern summer to the Antarctic continent and they have a limited time in which to do it. There is no way known that the Australian Government can fly Australian aircraft into the Antarctic and land in the 2 million square miles to which we lay claim, take in supplies or personnel and bring out personnel. We do not own an airstrip. We have not built one on the Antarctic continent. We rely on our great and powerful friend, the United States, and the New Zealanders to fly aircraft into the Antarctic continent. We have no Australian Government owned lines of communication between Australia and the area we claim in the Antarctic.

These are questions with which the Australian Government must grapple. It has not given any indication in the estimates that it intends to do that. It has not moved one inch from the Green Paper that was prepared by Bill Morrison in 1975 when he was Minister for Science. It is now late 1977. For almost two years that discussion paper has been available to the present Government, but it still has not brought down a White Paper. It still has not announced its policy on the Antarctic. That was one of the problems that confronted the Public Works Committee. It was mentioned in the report. It was mentioned by every member of the Committee, irrespective of political persuasion, that the Australian Government does not have a firm policy on its role in the Antarctic. Unless it establishes a firm significant policy it will be seen by the rest of the world as a squatter in this area, hoping that it is going to maintain sovereignty over an area two-thirds the size of its homeland and hoping that no other nation will challenge it for the resources allegedly underneath the ice.

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

Wide Bay

-The estimates for the Department of Science, which are now before the Committee, involve the sum of $186,760,000. This amount is over $14m more than the appropriation for the year 1976-77. The activities of the Department of Science cover a great range. It is also true to say that those activities, whilst being of the greatest importance to Australia’s development, are of such a nature that they do not consistently retain the public’s awareness. Apart from the administrative sector which commands an appropriation of $5,502,800, the Department maintains operations in analytical services, providing security for Australians in matters as far apart as food purity standards and drug analysis. In the latter area, the analytical services section provides evidence in court in matters of illegal drug imports and in many cases is able to establish the source of such drugs. This service is a valuable weapon in the nation’s efforts to cope with an increasingly serious drug problem.

The Department’s responsibilities also include the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. That body, incidentally, commands an appropriation of $34,950,000, which is rather staggering in quantum but which demonstrates again the vastness of our nation and the sophistication of the meteorological services needed to maintain efficient operation of security not only for our aviation industry but for all those who are required to have an awareness of the mischief inherent in the elements. The Bureau of Meteorology, the Antarctic Division, the Ionospheric Prediction Service, the Metric Conversion Board, the National Standards Commission, the Institute of Marine Science and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation demonstrate the breadth of the Department’s responsibilities.

In recent times, as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works, I have had the opportunity to inquire, during public hearings, into the activities of the Antarctic Division in the matter of the transfer of the headquarters complex to Kingston, Tasmania; the proposal to construct an analytical laboratory at Pymble, New South Wales; and, more recently, the proposed construction of a beef research station at Rockhampton, Queensland. In all situations I was unimpressed with the spirit of the officers and scientists involved, particularly when viewed, in many instances, against a background of incredibly cramped working conditions.

On this occasion I wish to address myself to the activities of the CSIRO. The CSIRO, of course, has been subject to an inquiry initiated by the Government. The report, commonly referred to as the Birch report, was furnished to the Parliament as recently as August last. In that report, the CSIRO ‘s involvement in rural research was examined closely. Recommendations from the Committee foreshadowed a lessening of input in rural research. The actual recommendation was:

CSIRO should examine the relevance to its role as a national organisation of the composition of its rural research effort, particularly in relation to the capabilities and responsibilities of other organisations, such as State Departments of Agriculture.

This expression of view has occasioned some ap- prehension within the sugar industry which, asonourable gentlemen undoubtedly realise, is an exceedingly efficient industry, with more than 90 per cent of Australia’s total production being produced in Queensland. The sugar industry has enjoyed a most productive and satisfying association with the CSIRO. It is reluctant in the extreme to contemplate a diminution of the CSIRO ‘s involvement, particularly when no adequate alternative machinery appears in immediate prospect.

The sugar industry, of course, makes a very substantial contribution to the funds that the CSIRO needs in order to perform its research. It is noteworthy that the sugar industry has a cash output, in production terms, of in execess of $600m a year, with more than $500m representing export earnings. The Sugar Research Institute is a body through which the industry funds research. This Institute is financed by a voluntary levy on the tonnage of cane crushed by every sugar mill in Queensland. This contribution to research funds attracts a grant from the Australian Government, through the CSIRO, of $1 for every $2 contributed by the industry, up to a limiting contribution from CSIRO of $400,000. The sugar milling industry has found this general basis of Australian governmental support for effective research important and satisfactory. It is stimulating but self-regulatory. The 1976-77 budget for Sugar Research Ltd, which is the registered device through which these funds are channelled, represents an expenditure of approximately $1.6m directed towards sugar milling research.

It is fair to question the extent to which research expenditure should relate to the value of a particular industry’s level of production. The Industries Assistance Commission’s report on financing rural industry drew attention to this consideration. That report pointed out that, in contrast to the relatively slow rate of growth of the rural sector, rural research has expanded at a much more rapid and continuing rate from the low base level of 1939-40. An examination of growth in staff numbers and cost per scientist shows approximately a SO-fold increase in research costs over 30 years, compared with an eight-fold increase in the gross value of agricultural production over the same period. Expressed in terms of the ratio of research cost to rural product value, the upward trend, however, is remarkably steady. It increased from approximately 0.2 per cent in 1939-40 to approximately 1.6 per cent in 1969-70.

It is pertinent, therefore, that the Government and those who are charged with the responsibility of administering properly the nation’s resources should ensure that research is responsibly relevant to the industry’s requirement for that research. That, of course, is the dilemma that confronts those who are funding research. A peculiar characteristic of research is that its value cannot be measured in quantum terms until the research is substantially advanced and in some cases completed. The alternative to not funding this speculative exercise is to do nothing. Clearly, if research had not been a continuing involvement both of governments and of the industries themselves, not only Australia’s rural industries but also Australia’s manufacturing and secondary industries would be less well served in terms of capacity. So, the essence of the CSIRO ‘s efforts as they relate to the sugar industry are well received by that industry. There would be considerable regret if, for one reason or another, following the reports that are before the Government, it was found necessary to intrude at all into an arrangement that is working exceedingly well.

As I mentioned earlier, the Department of Science is charged in the first instance with some of the less dramatic activities of government; but these activities are purposeful and productive.

Mr McVeigh:

-It is hard working too.


– As the honourable member for Darling Downs says, the Department of Science is hard working. Perhaps it sets an admirable example for many other Australians who are not imbued with the same spirit. But, whether the Department’s activities are directed towards the ice shelf in the Antarctic, to pasture research in the far north, to beef research at Belmont near Rockhampton or to any of the other numerous activities, it is an effort directed towards making Australia more productive and, as a consequence, a securer place in which Australians may enjoy the standard of living to which they may have become accustomed and from which they can expect an even greater bounty in the future.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Postal and Telecommunications Department

Proposed expenditure, $164,446,000.


– The estimates under discussion are for the Postal and Telecommunications Department. I draw the attention of honourable members to one very important factor; that is, that the Committee has just disposed of the estimates for the Department of Science and during the Committee’s discussion the Minister representing the Minister for Science in this chamber was nowhere to be seen. We have now moved on to the estimates for the Post and Telecommunications Department and once again the Minister responsible, in this case the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), is nowhere to be seen. Likewise, last week when we dealt with the estimates for the Department of Transport, the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) was missing. The Postal and Telecommunications Department, comprising Telecom Australia, Australia Post and a number of other bodies, is one of the largest employers of labour in Australia. It covers the television and broadcasting media of this country. Yet the Minister for Post and Telecommunications is conspicuous by his absence from the chamber. I think that indicates the Government’s whole attitude towards this Parliament, as we have seen from the way in which the Government has treated it over the years.

Telecom Australia employs 88,000 people and Australia Post employs 32,000 people. That makes them the largest employers of labour. Billions of dollars are invested in the capitalisation of the industry. So these estimates are important. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications has now joined us in the debate. I am concerned about the manner in which a number of matters have been brought before the Parliament. On 22 September, on two hours notice, which is the standing agreement, the Opposition was presented with a paper concerning a domestic satellite system for broadcasting and telecommunications. In my comments on that occasion I drew attention to the fact that when the Australian Labor Party was in government between 1972 and 1975 the Postmaster-General, as he was then called, was commissioned to report on a domestic satellite system. Obviously that report, together with the later report from Australian Consolidated Press, is in the hands of the Minister. On 22 September I asked that the reports be made available so that Opposition members who were interested would have the opportunity of perusing them and taking advice on them. About a fortnight ago I asked whether the Minister would table the reports. To this date no reports have been tabled and so honourable members in this place have not had the opportunity to study them.

We are not talking about a satellite costing some minimal amount. According to the advice I have received, it could cost something like $140m. It is a major item of expenditure for the Minister’s Department I feel that the Minister is handling this Parliament in a very casual way in not bringing these facts and figures to the attention of honourable members so that all of us can have the opportunity to study them. It is pretty obvious that the new Government after December of this year will be in a position to study them. I hope that the new Minister will at least show the courtesy to the Parliament of reverting back to open government and of making facts and figures available to the members of the Opposition. As I mentioned, we are talking about the largest employer of labour in Australia. I am concerned about the way in which the Government is continuously bringing that industry to the verge of disruption.

Mr Bourchier:

– You set up the two commissions.


-We set up the commissions. That is perfectly true and we do not withdraw from it for one second. All we set out to do was set up what has proved to be a more efficient method of handling postal and telecommunications matters. What concerns me is the obvious Government intrusion into the industry which is continually on the verge of industrial action brought about by unnecessary, provocative action. The Government decided to take the preliminary steps of bringing in improvements and of expanding and modernising the telecommunications system. We on this side of the chamber supported those moves. I indicated that on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. But what concerns me is that the men in the industry have imposed work bans and limitations because they cannot reach understanding with the Minister or the Australian Telecommunications Commission. I am not blaming the Commission because I think it is deliberate Government action, as we saw in the case of the State Electricity Commission workers strike in Victoria in which that State was brought to the point of collapse because this Government wanted an election on the issue of industrial problems.

Mr Bourchier:

– A communist union.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.

Mr Bourchier:

– Let him tell the truth.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.


-Why did you gag the debate last night on the estimates for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development? It was because you were afraid of what the Opposition would bring up about the crookedness and corruption of your party in land deals in Victoria. That is why you gagged it, so you shut up.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will address his remarks through the Chair.


-I want to convey those remarks to him through you, Mr Deputy Chairman. He knows that he is a member of a crooked party that is corrupt and rotten in Victoria. He is afraid of the facts. I was saying that the Opposition is concerned about the industrial problems that exist today in the Minister’s Department which have been brought about and provoked because the Government desires to have an election on the issue of industrial problems throughout the country. I ask the Minister to review this question. The Opposition supports the introduction of a new system of telephones and everything that goes with it. We support it because we believe that in the long term the country will benefit by it. But we ask the Minister at least to ensure that there is enough sense and enough reason in the system so that men will not be afraid of losing their jobs. That is what causes industrial troubles. Men are afraid of where they will finish up as a result of modernisation. That is why they strike and why they impose work bans. They are looking for security, and that is what most workers look for.

The same thing can be said about the decision to decentralise Australia Post throughout New South Wales. Once again I support the decision that has been made. I strongly support the setting up of the mail exchange at Newcastle in my electorate which is providing 48 new jobs for people in Newcastle. That city has one of the highest levels of unemployment, and that has been caused by this Liberal-National Country Party Government. We want to make sure that the provocation that is taking place at present of the people who work at the Redfern Mail Exchange is minimised. The Government should reach some basis of understanding with these people, because once again their concern is for the security of their position and their future. They do not want to finish up on the dole, being accused of being dole bludgers when all they want is work. So we look to the Government to do something in these three areas to bring about development with industrial peace and harmony, not the trouble caused by the Minister, in response to provocative questions directed to him, giving provocative answers which stirs the men up rather than settling them down. This action has been taken deliberately to cause trouble in the trade union movement. No other workers come in contact with John Citizen more than do the people who deliver the mail, make telephone calls and send telegrams.

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


– I would like to raise a number of points in speaking to the estimates for the Postal and Telecommunications Department. The first one concerns a new form of communications that was legalised just a few months ago. I refer, of course, to citizen band radio. Obviously citizen band radio is one of the greatest potential forms of communication for every member of our community. What, in fact, has happened with citizen band radio? We have unleashed a monster on the community. I do not say that lightly. Being a member of the Government’s communications committee and having an obvious interest in communications, I invested in a citzen band radio some six weeks ago. I might mention that I applied for a licence some six weeks ago and I am still waiting for that licence. The purpose of the investment was, firstly, to listen to citizen band radio to find out exactly what was going on because a number of complaints had come through and, secondly, because I intend to use citizen band radio as a means of communication with the people in my electorate. It is obviously a wonderful form of communication and a wonderful point of contact for people who want to contact one in a hurry. If somebody- I believe this situation would exist in any city in Australia- had to listen to citizen band radio, I think they would be quite shocked with what they would hear. The language is unbelievable. In fact, if one listens to the youthful voices that are heard on the air on citizen band radio, there may be some real need to rename it children’s band radio. It would seem to me that the vast majority of those who are using that particular medium at the moment are children. If one wants to spend a most -

Mr Chapman:

– They behave like children.


– A lot of them do behave like children but there are, in fact, many young children on the air. I invite any honourable member to come to Brisbane to my electorate on a sunny Sunday afternoon and listen to the Black Python having a yarn to Tinker Bell. It is the most amazing conversation one will ever hear. The standard topic of conversation, apart from the type of rig that is being used by the particular operator, seems to be about pop records or trips to the Gold Coast. Obviously, that is not really what the potential for citizen band radio is all about. More than that, it has already come to light at a number of court hearings that citizen band radio has been used for the peddling of drugs. There was a front page article in the Gold Coast Bulletin just a couple of days ago which alleged that citizen band radio was being used in the prostitution and massage parlour rackets on the Gold Coast. This undesirable element certainly seems to be very deeply involved in CB radio. The honourable member for Kingston (Mr Chapman) said that a lot of the people who are on the air with citizen band radio sound like children. In fact, they are. A definite element on the air have no idea of the proper use of the medium or the potential of the medium. That worries me too. The language that is used on the air is frankly quite unbelievable. I am not quite sure just which way we should go to overcome the problem. There have been numbers of complaints to me that inspectors of the Department are overworked, that the Department is understaffed and that there are not enough staff to handle the situation as it exists at the moment. Already it would seem to me that citizen band radio is so deeply ingrained into the community at this stage that it will be very hard indeed to overcome the problem. Perhaps we should be looking at a situation where it does become children’s band radio, where we take away the old crystal sets and the two tin cans tied together on a piece of wire and give them these new electronic devices which, of course, are reasonably cheap to purchase and reasonably cheap to operate.

One would hope, with the advent of UHF next year, that this will make somewhat of a difference to the operation. One would hope also that the serious operators would look to the new type of set that will be coming onto the market, I understand in February, and use it seriously. Perhaps the present system and the present bands being used will have to be thrown away altogether to be used by the children and the ratbag element in our community.

Mr Chapman:

– A lot of people will not change.


– A lot of people cannot change because, obviously, they cannot afford to change at this stage. Perhaps the five year period that was introduced was too long. Perhaps we should be looking at a two year introduction or a three year introduction period instead. I ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to look at the possibility of appointing more inspectors into that particular area of his Department’s operations because it is a problem and one that will be with us for a long time. Frankly, unless we have more inspectors, I am not quite sure how the problem will be overcome.

Mr Chapman:

– What can we do about it interfering with hi-fi stereo?


– This is another area. I understand that in Brisbane at the moment there are some five complaints daily about interference of CB radio with television sets. I understand in central Queensland there is interference from CB sets to the 2-way ambulance radio system. It is potentially a very great worry. The second point I would like to mention tonight is the situation confronting country radio stations in Australia. We have been hearing of some quite exceptional profits being made by certain television and radio stations throughout Australia but this is certainly not the case in a number of country centres in all States of the Commonwealth. At the moment there are 20 country radio stations which are not operating profitably. A number of those stations would quite willingly hand back their licences, I believe. With the advent of the Special Broadcasting Service and with other pressures that are occurring in these particular country areas, it would seem that their operations will not become very much easier. One of the points that is continually raised to me by various country stations and members of the Federation of Commercial Radio Broadcasters is the fact that the landline charges, which were increased quite dramatically two or three years ago, have stifled the dissemination of local information, of news and of other services to country people. That worries me. I understand there has been quite a deal of curtailing of news bulletins fed from capital city stations to the far flung areas of Australia.

I think that we should remember that these country radio stations are primarily a service vehicle for those areas. The Australian Broadcasting Commission provides a very fine service to the outback areas but the ABC tends to operate on a network basis to a very great degree. It tends not to provide the local news and the local knowledge that people want. It is very sad, I think, if a country radio station cannot provide coverage of local sporting events in a neighbouring town. It is very sad if it cannot provide coverage of the country shows. This is certainly a problem which is facing the nation at the moment The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) was talking to me earlier this evening. I know he has a very real problem in his area and he has expressed a lot of concern in this regard in the last few weeks. The problem is that the permanent landline stations on regular relays overcome their cost factors reasonably well. It would seem that it is the part-time permanent landlines that are the most expensive and these are the lines that may be up five times a day between a capital city and a country station to provide those news relays. I understand that the charges are based on trunk telephone line costs over the same period but even that is an exceptionally high cost when one considers that a lot of these stations are not operating profitably. One certainly can understand Telecom saying: ‘If we give concessions in this area, we will open up the flood gates’. I think we must weigh up whether or not we want to be able to provide the people of the country with local radio services, with local news, local coverage of sporting events and those things which bring a little bit of comfort and information into often lonely lives in those particular areas.

Finally, in mentioning landline charges, there have been a number of complaints lodged with me from the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade. It, too, is facing exceptionally big charges with its landline costs. In my electorate of Bowman there is one small ambulance brigade which has an annual cost of some $420. That may not sound too much over a yearly period but when one considers that the ambulance is financed to a very great degree by private donations, it certainly adds up and it certainly adds up in those small country communities. Honourable members know that Telecom is an independent statutory body but I think there would be some very great advantages if the Minister was prepared to approach that corporation and ask whether there could be some investigation into providing some concessions, at least for the ambulance, which after all, provides a humanitarian service and, most especially, some consideration of the people in our far flung remote country areas in providing a cheaper system of landline charges so that they will not be deprived of the news, the sporting events and the general interest items that until now have been broadcast and appreciated in those country areas.


-I must agree with the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Jull) in regard to citizen band radio. Its indiscriminate use is reaching quite chaotic proportions. I have received many complaints and petitions in my office. I have sent them to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson). I might mention that they have been with him for some considerable time and I sent reminder letters only last week because I have not received any replies to them. I suggest to the Minister that he look at this matter because, frankly, it is reaching chaotic proportions. Citizen band radio is a plaything today. It is a thing which parents give to their children and they have the time of their lives with it. I have no doubt that I would have loved one myself when I was a kid. But, after all, the basic use of citizen band radio is for such things as safety. What is decided today by the Minister in regard to CB radio could result in a loss of life. Citizen band radio is essential for safety purposes in regard to boats and so on.

The main matter about which I wish to speak tonight is the proposal to issue a radio licence for the western suburbs of Sydney. I have referred to this matter before. As the Minister knows, I have referred to it as a scandal. I have made the point that on two occasions he has circumvented decisions of a judicial authority. In the first instance, he circumvented a decision of the High Court of Australia. He knew that the decision of the Broadcasting Control Board had been challenged before the High Court; that is to say, a writ had been issued to restrain the Minister from acting on the recommendation of the Board. He knew that it was to go to court on 1 5 March. Accordingly, on 10 March he cancelled the decision of the Board because he knew from legal advice that he had received that the High Court would not uphold the writ for an injunction which Mr Cottee had taken out. The Minister made that decision.

Later, of course, there was the inquiry into whether radio station 2KA could move its aerial further down the mountain, increase its power and so fan out over the western suburbs. That matter went to the Broadcasting Tribunal. Virtually on the day the inquiry started the Minister announced to the Tribunal that he had decided to call for fresh applications for a radio licence for the western suburbs of Sydney, thereby once again indicating to the Tribunal that a licence was to be issued. In other words, he was indicating to the Tribunal by direct inference that it should not grant the application made by 2KA. That is another example of deliberate circumvention of a decision of a judicial authority. And at whose behest? Mr Harold Cottee, of Cottees drinks fame, is a very prominent member of the Liberal Party, has direct access to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and works directly through Senator Carrick. He has direct access to the Prime Minister, and he does his day to day dealings with Senator Carrick. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications, who is sitting at the table, is merely a pawn in the game, the messenger boy who is doing the bidding of the Prime Minister and Senator Carrick. It is well known throughout the industry that the licence has been promised to Mr Cottee.

The Minister is well aware of this and without a doubt it is a scandal. There is no doubt that it is a deliberate attempt by the Liberal Party of Australia to get direct control of a radio licence in this country- in the western suburbs of Sydney. That is the whole of the motivation behind everything that is being done. As I have said, the Minister is only a pawn in the game. He has been told- so it is stated throughout the industry- by the Prime Minister that Cottee is to get the licence. Cottee ‘s main contact day by day is through Senator Carrick, who is a former general secretary of the Liberal Party. Of course, the Minister is said to be going to do his bidding.

Let us have a look at what has happened. On 10 September there was an advertisement in the Australian newspaper calling for fresh applications for a licence for the western surburbs of Sydney and stating that the radio station should be sited, if I recollect the words, at or in the proximity of Blacktown. The advertisement statedkeep in mind that it was put in an obscure section of the Australian newspaper and was not advertised generally- that applications would close on 7 November. Fortunately, there were a few people who had their eyes opened. My wife happened to spot the advertisement in the Australian. It also was announced that the inquiry was to take place on 22 November. I repeat: The advertisement appeared on 10 September; applications close on 7 November and the inquiry starts on 22 November. It is stated that this is going to be the fastest inquiry of all time and that the Government is not going to allow legal representation at the inquiry. One of the motives is that the Government hopes to get the recommendation of the Broadcasting Tribunal through before the election so that the Minister can grant the licence. If it is correct, as the stories which are circulating in the industry indicate, that he will not allow legal representation on the excuse that there is a good deal of cost involved in legal representation, it will mean that some of the applicants for the licence will not be properly represented. An inquiry of this nature is a judicial inquiry. It is a highly complicated matter. It is a matter which requires trained minds to put a case. If there is to be no legal representation it will be a complete disgrace.

I say that the Minister has been dodging this issue. He has not been prepared to reply to the statements I have made in the past. For example, he has refused to table the papers. I call upon him again tonight to table all the papers relating to this whole matter of a licence for the western suburbs of Sydney and the papers relating to the application for a licence for the north-western suburbs of Sydney. I call upon the Minister particularly to table the minutes of the last meeting of the Broadcasting Control Board. They win show just what a scandal this whole matter is and the nefarious activities of the Minister himself in regard to it. I call upon the Minister quite firmly to hold an open and public inquiry into this whole matter, so that all the facts can be revealed, and particularly to take action before that inquiry to table those papers and particularly the minutes of the last meeting of the Broadcasting Control Board before he got rid of it. I believe that a very interesting story is to be found in those papers.

I repeat that this whole matter is a scandal bordering on corruption. It is time the Minister, instead of endeavouring to duck the issue, refusing to reply to statements that are made, refusing to give adequate reasons for cancelling the recommendations of the former Broadcasting Control Board and then later calling for fresh applications, answered all of these things. I believe that he must be quite frank about it. The facts are that it is right through the industry that he has promised the licence to Harold Cottee, who is a prominent member of the Liberal Party, who has direct access to the Prime Minister, who is dealing directly day by day with Senator Carrick- a Minister in this Government and a former general secretary of the Liberal Party. The Minister himself is only a pawn in the game.


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


-We have just heard the usual tirade from the poor dear honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). There is a cliche that goes something like: ‘You are judged by the company you keep. If you keep talking scandal you obviously are scandalous yourself. I think it fits pretty well. (Quorum formed). Once again the Labor Party has decided to seek to prevent me from speaking. Members of the Labor Party know what happened last time they took this action. Perhaps that could happen again tonight. They can blame the honourable member for Chifley for whatever happens following my contribution to the debate.

I return to the estimates debate before the Committee. First, I mention a matter that gravely affects the Australian industries in country areas. I refer to telephone charges, a subject which the Labor Party never bothered to study or even think about while it was in Government.

Mr Jull:

– They put them up.


-As honourable members will recall, and as my colleague says, the Labor Party put up the telephone charges. One of the problems facing industries in country areas is the extremely high cost of telephone services. The high cost results for the simple reason that a business in a country or regional area to make contact with a metropolitan area must use the subscriber trunk dialling system or make a trunk line call. These calls attract a charge at a much higher rate than the standard urban charge of 9c a call of unlimited duration. The Government Members Committee on Communications and Administrative Services of which I am a member has requested on a number of occasions that Telecom Australia provide it with information as to the costs involved and the revenue which would be raised through the introduction of a system- not the STD system- by which subscribers were charged on a time consumed basis for each telephone call. After all, at present, the STD system works against country people only. A person in business in the metropolitan area who makes telephone calls within that area faces lower charges for those telephone calls than does a businessman in a country area who makes calls to a metropolitan area.

I dare say that any honourable member representing a rural electorate would be able to quote information on telephone costs that must be met by a number of companies in his electorate. A company with 100 employees is quite a reasonably sized business to have in one’s area. Such a company pays from $50,000 to $70,000 a year in telephone charges. This is a tremendous burden. One of the worst features of these costs is that such a high level of charges is a great deterrent to people setting up business in country areas. That Committee has asked for information. We have not received that information that we require. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), who is at the table, will no doubt as he always does quote what I say and make sure that his Department provides our Committee with the information that it seeks.

It is our firm conviction that there is a basis for charging a standard telephone call rate throughout the country on the basis of time consumed. Let us not get carried away with this idea. People who live in towns and cities in the country are charged 9c for each local call. They, together with metropolitan citizens, would be charged on a time basis under the system proposed. I know that the Minister and all his friends, when they ring their friends and talk for hours, are charged the standard fee of 9c for each call. But we in the country areas must dial STD for many such calls. This costs us a fortune. Let us take the case of members of Parliament. If there were a standard charge for each telephone call, the cost to the Government of our use of telephone services would be cut. We need a system by which telephone calls are charged for on a duration basis. It is about time that the Minister’s Department decided to have a serious look at this matter instead of coming back with the constant old answers that it always gives, as it did under Labor. In fact, I do not know that it did this under Labor; under Labor it did nothing. It says to us: ‘If you have a standard telephone charge for each call on a time used basis, what you will do is push up the cost of each local call in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Surfers Paradise to 50c or 60c a call’. That is a lot of rot. We are talking about introducing a new system for charging so that everybody pays a penalty if he or she talks too long. I am sure the Minister will appreciate that there are people who talk too long-

Mr Charles Jones:

– Sit down then. You have talked too long.


– . . . like the honourable member from Newcastle, who talks too long on whatever he rises to discuss.

Mr Charles Jones:

– Sit down.


-It is not quite time yet, Charlie. I will keep going. This, quite seriously, is a matter for grave concern. The introduction of this system by the Government would show that it really supported the rural sector-not only the farmers and the many rural business people but also those industries which are trying to set up business outside metropolitan areas. We are trying to provide them with a service which will encourage them to leave the smog-ridden cities and come out to the fresh country air where plenty of good labour which does not go on strike all the time is available. Businesses will not move to country areas because telephone charges are so great. Out of all expenses, telephone charges are the greatest deterrent to industry.

Some people in country areas have decided that they make use of telex facilities. This is all very well, but Telecom, not to be deterred or defeated, has imposed such a high rental that it is impossible for an average business to introduce a telex service. I suggest to the Minister that, if his Department provides telex services free of charge, industries in the country will use them and will be able to increase their business, increase employment and increase service to the general area. If the Department cannot see its way clear to provide telex services free of charge, what about a lower rate of rental? The Government should have a serious look at this matter. By taking action, the Government will show that it is prepared to do something for the rural sector.

The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman) has brought in a decentralisation scheme. Let us see the Minister for Post and Telecommunications join in this thrust and make his contribution to decentralisation. Let us see the Minister take some positive action. We know that he is capable of it. We know that he will override his Department. We know that he will stand up and be counted in the Cabinet room. We know that he will say to Ministers in that little sanctum: Gentleman, we need standard telephone charges’. We know that the Minister will take this action. We know that he is out to support the development of rural areas in this country.

I will mention quickly one other matter in the couple of minutes that I have left. I know that the Minister is determined to protect private enterprise. That is a policy of this Government.

In pursuing that policy, I know that the Minister will insist that television station BCV8 at Bendigo will get a translator station at Seymour. The television station is prepared to buy the translator. It will not cost this Government one red cent. But no! The Department is saying: ‘Let us have a look at it. Let us see whether we can push it towards metropolitan Melbourne’. We do not want Melbourne stations broadcasting in Seymour. In such a case, we would get programs from only one channel whereas BCV8 shows programs from the whole range shown on Melbourne commercial channels. It provides the best possible choice. If the Minister intends to show some sympathy towards country industries and to give some protection to the country television stations, he will support the Seymour translator station. One of my friends from the National Country Party has said that he will try to do something for rural Queensland also. But I emphasise the need for the Seymour translator station. I thank you very much.


-Mr Chairman -

Mr Eric Robinson:

– Give us a bit of help, Moss.


-No, I think for the moment I will barrack with the side supported by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier). The Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) really must do all those things suggested by the honourable member for Bendigo. I completely support the statement that has just been made. The only problem is that the Liberal and National Country parties have been the Government of this country for 25 of the last 28 years. They should not talk as if all of these problems are due solely to the three short interrupted years of Labor Government. If honourable members opposite have a grizzle it is against their own Government. What we did do while we were in power- I will now side with the Minister- was to stop the confusion which surrounded the Post Office and its various functions. The community generally thought that it was a most incompetent organisation losing a lot of money. The result of the Commission of Inquiry into the Australian Post Office and the moves to create separate authorities for postal and telecommunications services was to show what really is the cost of these services to the community. It has been shown that a lot of the apparent loss was due not to the inefficiency of the Post Office, as it was, but was in fact due to the hidden subsidies that the Government of the day insisted that the Post Office carry and provide to the community. When the Post Office was unable to show a profit the cry went up: ‘How inefficient. Turn it over to private enterprise’. All the Labor Government did was establish a technique whereby one could see where the subsidies were going and how much they cost the community. If the Government of the day then decided that those subsidies should continue, let them continue. Let the Government give the Post Office or the Telecommunications Commission a specific grant to cover the needs of, say, country areas. We do not object to that. Now the ball is in your court, Mr Minister, and it is for you to decide what you want to do with it.

I want to make a couple of comments. I make a slightly sad observation on the fact that when I was Minister I was accused, I think, of being like Dr Goebbels. The claim being made by the Liberals was based on the ground that I was behind a massive multi-million dollar enterprise to hoodwink the Australian community. I have added up the sums of money allocated to the various functions which used to come within the Department of the Media. The same tasks presumably are being carried out but they have been dispersed to at least two departments. The sum total of their expenses is exactly the same as when I was Minister. I am sorry that the Minister now, presumably, can be called the Dr Goebbels of the Liberal Party because he has continued the same outrageous behaviour. But of course, that is sheer nonsense. I was doing no more than continuing functions that had been going on for 23 years before we took over government. The present Minister is continuing those functions now that this Government has taken over. My only regret is that expenditure has not been increased enough in some areas to maintain the services that the community obviously requires.

I should like to concentrate on expenditure for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In real terms, despite all the juggling, there has probably been a reduction of a considerable sum. In monetary terms, it is a reduction of 3 per cent but if one takes into account the effects of inflation it is probably even more than that. The trouble is that we expect a lot from the ABC. The shortage of funds means that it is unable to make programs- programs which will employ Australian talent. The ABC does make some programs but nowhere near as many as it could if it had more funds. The ABC’s reputation is very high in the field of Australian-made programs. When the ABC has to buy films as it does because Australia does not produce enough, the ABC is at a distinct disadvantage compared with the commercial stations, which are all making larger profits than they have ever made and can afford to pay much more for their films. So, of course, the poor old ABC has to buy what are generally considered to be inferior films to be used in competition with the commercial stations. The only way this can be overcome is by allocating more funds to the ABC.

Another area of difficulty experienced by the ABC is that it is expected to provide services in areas where the commercial stations will not gomainly country areas- simply because the potential audience is too low to ensure any worthwhile commercial return in advertising revenue for the commercial operators. I am not blaming them. They are in the business to make money and to provide a service to the best of their ability. I am not quibbling about that. But one has to acknowledge in a country like this that there are areas where commercial operators cannot function and where the ABC is expected to function. Of course, that costs a lot of money. But then we hear people whinge and say: ‘Look how much the ABC costs for such a small audience’. That is a false argument because if we allowed the ABC to compete with the commercial stations two things would happen, the first of which, I would like to suggest, is that the ABC would be very successful. This has been shown by the talk-back programs conducted by the radio station 2JJ. I will come to the axing of the Terry Lane talkback radio program in a moment. It was one of the most popular programs on the air at the time it was axed. In fact, it was the most popular show.

Whenever the ABC is given the opportunity to compete it is able to compete very effectively with the commercial stations, but the trouble is that the commercial stations protest about the ABC’s success. They say that it is their job to provide for the popular taste and it is the job of the ABC to cater for minority interests. I do not necessarily disagree with that. But let us at least be fair and not criticise the ABC when it puts on a program which clearly is for a minority tastesomething that the community expects it to do. Do not let us then say: ‘The ABC has a rating of 2 per cent. How outrageous to have spent so much money on a program that has so little popular appeal’. The truth is that if we want a proper assessment and a proper comparison, we must look at the matter in perspective. The popular radio and television channels are appealing to a potential audience of perhaps 80 per cent or 90 per cent and they crow if they get a rating of 20 per cent. They are terribly successful. The ABC gets a rating of 2 per cent or 3 per cent. How about looking at the potential audience for that particular program? If one finds that the potential audience for that particular program in the community is only 4 per cent and the ABC is getting a rating of 2 per cent, in fact in its potential audience it is getting a rating of SO per cent. It is getting half its potential audience which is a damn sight more than most commercial stations ever achieve.

Another problem is that the ABC has to cater for the minority interests. Our biological functions being what they are, our interests cannot be shown in straight lines but must be shown as a curve. Most people’s interests are in the middle of the curve. There are interests at one end and at the other end. We expect the ABC to cater for those who like way out programs- for example, a lot of sport, very light entertainment and so on. I do not want to specify any particular program because I do not want to insult anyone. I simply am referring to a group in a minority area on one side of the spectrum. At the same time, we expect the ABC to cater for people on the other side of the spectrum, the people who like to listen to that sort of music that one hopes might break into tune at any moment but it never does- classical music. I hope I have made my point. The potential audience for that sort of program is totally different to the potential audience on the other side of the spectrum. The ABC cannot expect to cover the whole lot simultaneously. The answer is that if we genuinely want the ABC to provide for the whole range of interests we need more ABC channels than commercial channels because the interest range covered by the commercial interests is narrower. It is much more popular, I agree, but it is a much narrower field. The truth, of course, is that the minority interests suffer; the minority interests are deprived. I think the reaction to the axing of the Terry Lane program proves my point. After it happened, the Age published a story headed ‘Access Age’. Not one single caller out of 50 people who telephoned the Age was in favour of the axing of the Terry Lane program. The others who rang protested against it. One of the remarks published by the Age stated:

The ABC chairman, Mr Norgard, is cutting his own throat, I hope!

I think he might be cutting his own throat. The irony of the situation is that the very people who are being insulted by this action by the ABC are the sort of people who are mainly interested, I would guess, in the Liberal Party. Sadly, the Government is insulting the very people who mainly support it. They are the people who want intellectual stimulation and not pulp. As one lady said in her letter to the Age, removal of that program means a return to the kitchen sink and soap operas for women.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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


-In this debate on the estimates for the Postal and Telecommunications Department I wish to direct most of my remarks to the excessive telephone charges imposed on country people- as has been referred to by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier)- and the disincentives that these charges are having on growth and services in areas outside the metropolitan areas. Since coming to office, our Government and Telecom Australia have made several significant policy changes in both the telecommunications and postal fields that have been of benefit to rural subscribers. I could, of course, instance the free telephone line extension to an automatic exchange which has been increased from 8 kilometres to 12 kilometres. This has been a most significant advance and has assisted some 80 per cent of those people who are new subscribers by an amount of up to $1,280. It is a major initiative. I am sure that the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Sullivan) will have many people in their electorates, as I have, who still are being required to pay in excess of $4,000 and $5,000 simply to have a new telephone connection.

Last week we approved a recommendation from Telecom for reduced Sunday charges. There is spare capacity on Sundays, and while this measure will allow a saving to be made it will no doubt increase Telecom’s revenue and will be of advantage to subscribers making only social calls. It does nothing to assist subscribers in industry, trade or commerce to reduce their costs and so improve their services.

For many years now, since the time the Australian Labor Party Government reduced the 15 mile free telephone connection, I have been submitting to Telecom proposals aimed at reducing costs and providing some equality to country people. I wish to mention a few of these submissions and give to the Committee the reasons supplied by Telecom. I submitted that in the interests of decentralisation and the continued viability of non-urban areas, telephone charges, including the cost of calls, should be levied at a standard rate throughout Australia. This was the reply from Telecom:

If concessional tariffs are granted to country industry for the telephone or telex services, existing facilities, including telephone exchanges and underground cable, would have to be upgraded to cope with the additional traffic which would result. The existing telephone network is designed to accommodate a particular movement of traffic. Any substantial increase in the use of available lines could be met only by a costly program to increase the facilities which serve particular rural areas. It was estimated in 1976 that the introduction of uniform trunk telephone charges would, in order to maintain the same trading result as at present, require the charge for a three-minute trunk call of the order of $1.38 . . . It was also estimated that if uniform charging were introduced a local call and a three-minute trunk call would each have to be priced at 47c to achieve the same trading result as given by the present differential tariff structure.

When that submission was rejected another was put to Telecom. It was that the radius for local telephone calls be extended to 100 kilometres and that all subscribers should have access to a local call charge to their main centres of commerce, or medical or education facility. I quote the reply that came from Telecom:

The provision of reduced telephone call charges between areas is not simply a matter of rearranging zone boundaries to meet any request. The boundaries of telephone zones and districts must be determined according to criteria applicable to the telephone system and must recognise switching and technical requirements. Consequently, any alteration to the existing arrangements would entail extensive restructuring of the telephone network at substantial cost to cater for the changed traffic patterns . . . Telecom Australia has considered sympathetically the case of rural subscribers who cannot call a large business centre for a local call … If the radius for local calls was increased as suggested, in general terms calls over 30 kilometres would have to be subsidised by calls under 30 kilometres.

As the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) said, what the Government should be looking at and what Telecom should be looking at is a change in the system. Those replies from Telecom all say much the same thing- country people will continue to be charged excessive costs for what is supposed to be a national instrument of service and for something that promotes development in country areas. The reasons and excuses are based on either economic or technical reasons, and tonight I would like to examine this matter in greater depth with the aim of promoting a realistic and viable alternative to the current country subscriber tariff charges that can be considered and accepted by Telecom.

Generally, the difficulties promoted by Telecom are, firstly, the unsuitability of a new tariff system from an engineering point of view; secondly, the cost of converting to any new system as funding comes from Telecom’s profits; thirdly, the development of a system to operate throughout Australia and not only in designated areas; fourthly, the need to find political acceptability for any proposal and consensus throughout the nation; and, fifthly, any new system must maintain Telecom revenue. I now put to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson), his Department and Telecom that our telephone system should and can be converted to operate on a time- fee basis. Local call charging can be levied on a time factor and an additional charge made for any extension of calls. Research has been carried out which indicates that 97 per cent of all telephone calls are made in major metropolitan areas and that the average time of a business or professional call is six minutes. I therefore submit that a time-fee charging basis could be acceptable politically and financially. An additional levy for extended call times would not unreasonably vary the basic metropolitan rate. This system would add to efficiency in that telephones would not be engaged for lengthy periods and when they were so engaged there should be a valid reason; if not a penalty rate should apply, justifiably. I appreciate the support I am getting from other members of my party. I believe that metropolitan subscribers would appreciate having responsibility for effective use of the telephone. There would be penalties for calls of excessive time duration. This would also allow Telecom to adjust its subscriber fees. I sincerely hope that this will not be necessary but fee movements, whether they be up or down, could be adjusted by decreasing or increasing the time allowed for the call and not by the charge.

Telecom has not accepted many proposals because there are technical difficulties or impossibilities in the technical area. I suggest that Telecom has the capacity to vary the time factor for calls. So far as country based subscribers are concerned, this would have the additional benefit of eliminating the unjust situation about calls that do not relate to distance but are currently levied on non-adjoining zones. This is an archaic and unreasonable system. For example, a call over some eight kilometres in one direction can be a trunk call while another call over 30 kilometres in another direction is a local call. In my electorate of Mallee some subscribers pay up to 90c a call simply to order a loaf of bread or essential items such as fuel, machinery parts or household needs. This is a scandal in a modern community. It is discriminatory and a major handicap to normal living. Currently metropolitan Melbourne users can telephone from Werribee to Frankston, a distance of some 70 kilometres, for a charge of 10c and without time limit. The system I have suggested would not vary the basic cost of telephone calls in metropolitan areas but would apply a penalty for lengthy calls. If this method is presented to the public in the correct manner I am certain it would be found to be agreeable.

Country telephone accounts are now so excessive that the country operator is forced to use postal services more frequently. This is slower, ess convenient and more expensive if one takes into account the cost of additional staff salaries. So many governments in the past gave only lip service to decentralisation. This one example, of the cost of telephone calls, is a major deterrent to industrial expansion in the country. I am a member of the National Country Party and I live in a vast rural area, but this problem applies also to people in the growth centres of Geelong and Campbelltown. Those centres are not in the metropolitan call zones and they suffer similar disadvantages in costs and services. Businesses large and small will not tolerate this because they cannot remain viable when their communication costs are so high.


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


-Mr Chairman, I protest at the suggestion that local calls should be timed.

Motion (by Mr Bourchier) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Mr Eric Robinson:

– I suggest that the order for the consideration of the proposed expenditures agreed to by the Committee on 20 September be varied by next considering the proposed expenditure for the Department of Defence.


-Is the suggestion by the Minister agreed to? There being no objection, that course will be followed.

Department of Defence

Proposed expenditure, $2, 1 86, 1 80,000.


-Mr Chairman, if defence expenditure were to increase by one per cent in real terms this year it would have to increase by $ 100m more than has been proposed in this Budget. That is a simple, undeniable fact. If defence expenditure this year were to be as great as proposed in the White Paper of only 12 months ago it would be some $360m more than it is in this Budget. This means very simply that, by whatever measure one uses, the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) has been forced to make a major retreat from the position which he asserted so confidently in Opposition and nearly as firmly in his early day in government after 1 975.

I suppose, in mitigation, one could say that if Napoleon had his Waterloo, Cardigan his Crimea, Haig his Somme and Kitchener his Gallipoli, the Minister is entitled to his Nowra naval station fire and his White Paper on defence. He is in the gallery of the greats. We are really saying, of course, that now is the sobering up, the morning after, the extended Walpurgisnacht after the rhetoric that we have had on defence matters until fairly recently. His statement of 22 September is probably the most important that we have had on defence for some time. It indicates a dramatic departure from the guidelines which had been outlined so easily in Opposition and so generously committed to by the Government in 1976. The Government in fact has been forced to curtail enormously the commitments it optimistically made then. I want to rivet this discussion on defence more in terms of economic realities. A simple fact that often is lost sight of is that what we can spend on defence is regulated by a number of factors- the level of threat that we perceive or may perceive at the time or into the near future and, in terms of that, the resources which can be made available, bearing in mind that resources are limited.

So I move from that to talk more specifically about the nature of some of the dismantling of the five-year defence program outlined in the White Paper for which the Minister was responsible and which he presented to this Parliament on 22 September this year. Honourable members will recall that the fighter replacement program has been deferred indefinitely; that the Macchi trainer replacement program has been scrapped; and that there was no mention at all of the Caribou transport replacement program. Presumably that, too, has been jettisoned into the limbo. Each of those programs and a number of others referred to in that statement on 22 September are important, for this reason: They make claims on our external account. When I followed the Minister on 22 September I mentioned that the extensive cuts to which he had referred were the product of economic circumstances as perceived by the Government and the result of the policies that it was applying. 1 did not have sufficient time to go into detail on the implications, in economic terms, of what the Government was doing. If the Government is cutting into programs which make demands on our external account, that has particular significance which is beyond the general nature of economic discussion in the community.

Let me move to the next point which I want to make broadly in economic terms and relate it to what the Government has decided in its program covered by the defence review of September this year. Presently we are running what I think could be called fairly reasonably a chronic balance of payments deficit. It is obvious that this balance of payments deficit problem will be with us for some time. We must clearly understand that substantial borrowings overseas merely give us breathing space in which to get the domestic economy into order, in the hope that that balance of payments deficit problem can be eliminated. The nature of that balance of payments deficit problem is this: Following the devaluation of late last year exports have not picked up as much as the Government had hoped. It has been claimed fairly recently that in the latest quarter exports have responded to that devaluation. I express the greatest reservations about that claim. It is also said that imports have fallen as a result of that devaluation, according to the figures for the latest quarter. I deny completely that suggestion. The fall in demand for imports is a product very largely, if not exclusively, of the unintended accumulation of stocks which has occurred on a quite substantial basis in the Australian economy. So, it is not the conscious efforts of government economic policy that have brought about changes there.

The next aspect at which we must look in our external account is the inflow of foreign capital.

Mr Killen:

– I take a point of order.

Mr McLeay:

– Thank goodness. I do not understand this.


– I did not think you would. It is fairly sensible; that is why.

Mr Killen:

– I have been a member for 22 years. I very seldom take a point of order, but the honourable gentleman is arguing a case that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the estimates for the Department of Defence. When a member is talking -


-Do not take up too much of my time. I am devastating you.

Mr Killen:

– When a member is talking about an estimate he must be able to point to a particularity. The honourable member has pointed to nothing. He is dealing with the vague and amorphous views that consume and envelop his being. I suggest that what he is saying has nothing whatsoever to do with the estimates for the Department of Defence.


-Mr Deputy Chairman, let me respond and explain to you that, while the Minister for Defence may be very good at pleading in courts of petty sessions on stolen bicycle cases, he understands very little about defence and much less about economics. I make the point that I am establishing the case that the substantial cutbacks in defence expenditure outlined in the fiveyear program- the White Paper, as it is calledare a result of the economic circumstances of the moment and, more especially, of the chronic balance of payments deficit which we are running at present. There can be nothing more particular or pertinent than that. I do not ask the Minister for Defence to understand economics. I sometimes ask him to understand defence. Occasionally he has been known to indicate some understanding of that topic. I suggest that on this occasion, so that the cognoscente will not be embarrassed, he sit down and remain silent.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drummond) -Order! The honourable member for Oxley will continue.


-Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. The point I am seeking to make follows those points which I have made already. There is very little, if any, inflow of foreign capital investment at present.

Mr Killen:

– I take a point of order. Capital inflow has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the estimates for the Department of Defence.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The point is well taken; but, as we all know, the estimates for the Department of Defence or for any other department, with the indulgence of the Committee, covers a wide-ranging debate. I call the honourable member for Oxley.


-Mr Deputy Chairman -

Mr Killen:

– He started to do law and found it too hard. He turned to economics.

Mr McLeay:

– He made a mess of economics.

Mr Killen:

– He made a mess of economics.


– I started to do law. I found it too easy. I turned to economics, found that I could do it well, saw that the Minister for Defence did passably well on an easy day in law, took it up and found that I was made for it.

Mr Killen:

– You unctuous humbug.


-I will not have much time to make these points. Mr Deputy Chairman, may I ask the Minister whether I will get an extension oftime?

Mr Killen:

– No, you will not get one.


-He is sulking now.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There are far too many interjections in the chamber. I invite the honourable member for Oxley not to be provocative.

Mr McLeay:

-Say something sensible.


-If I did, you would not understand it.

Mr McLeay:

-Just try me.


-I have not the time.

Mr McLeay:

– You have two minutes.


-It would take two days just to scratch the surface with you. The point I must make succinctly is that the balance of trade will not give us much by way of a surplus and capital inflow will be negligible. The Reserve Bank of Australia makes that clear. In spite of that, our net invisibles outflow is mounting enormously. On a monthly basis it has gone from less than $200m in the 1975 period to more than $300m now. What does that mean simply? It means a chronic balance of payments deficit problem throughout this year. Borrowings can only give us time to get breathing space and get the economy in order. Clearly this will proceed not for one year but for some time. Accordingly the Government has scrapped major components of its five-year defence program, especially those related to the import of capital equipment such as essential replacement aircraft for the Air Force and no doubt major capital items for the Navy and the Army. Those are casualties of the shortcomings of the Government’s economic management. That is probably the most important issue at stake now in any discussion on economic management and flows over into considerations of all matters.

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

Motion (by Mr Bryant) negatived:

That the honourable member for Oxley be granted an extension of time.


– I support the proposed expenditure. The essential reason for this expenditure is an attempt by this nation to prepare for the worst. The sacrifices that we have made in the past in blood and treasure may have to be made again unless this nation adopts a policy of preparing for the worst. The worst does not always happen-only nearly always. The Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) should be commended for his frequent warnings to this Parliament that the democracies have never been properly ready to protect themselves. I know the

Minister personally believes this, and whilst he is reasonably satisfied with the expenditure, of course, being a Minister for Defence, he would like more. I have the feeling from the remarks of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) that the honourable member too would like more. I think that is the essence of what he was getting at. If that is what he was getting at, I commend him and I am sure the Minister does too. I am pleased to see that there is a rather happier frame of mind prevailing between the two of them now than there was before.

The drastic curtailment of all government expenditure was a necessary part of the national economic recovery. We still have the main objectives to achieve, but some light has been obvious in the last couple of months. It is possible that in the future we may be able to do all of the things which the Minister has spoken about previously in a statement on defence and which, of course, are absolutely vital if we are to maintain any sort of preparedness. The stated objectives of the defence policy still exist and will be pursued. When there is no clearly perceived threat it is very difficult to determine what our immediate response to a perceived threat would be. There are several obvious difficulties for us in the immediate future. If I speculated about those I would probably get myself into trouble with the Department of Foreign Affairs, so I will not do that. I would prefer just to quote from the Minister’s statement. He said:

Our present peace-time strategy is to support as best we may over a range of policies the continuation of the presently favourable prospects for our national security; to maintain effective defence relations with our friends and allies, especially the United States and in our neighbouring regions; and to maintain a substantial and efficient forceinbeing that demonstrates our military capability to deal with situations that could develop with shorter warning and to expand in time should the need for this arise during the longer term.

In recent years, such contingency studies in our Department of Defence have focussed on the defence of Australia.

As these studies progress, certain conclusions provide a broad basis for the development of strategic and operational concepts to deal with specific situations. But we are not going to produce a single, final answer to all our problems. The studies are manifold and involve continuing exploration of our defence problems in the light of strategic developments, changing technology and infrastructure, and changes over the years in the defence force itself.

They are the basic concepts for which this expenditure is necessary. Something else is certain. We are not going to have the necessary population to defend this vast and rich continent. We have therefore to rely on machines rather than on men. The most efficient machines of defence are, of course, nuclear but we are presently excluded from having them for a number of reasons which I will not canvass. If all of our ambitions of exploitation and control of the 200-mile zone are to be fulfilled, we will need a range of equipment suitable for the extremities of the tropics and Antarctica. Presently we have no substantial equipment capable of serious work in the Antarctic. We must in the future spend very heavily on machines and technology. Defence science will be a most important part of future expenditure.

There seems to be a clear public opinion that we should seize the initiative in exploiting and controlling the 200-mile economic zone. There is a demand in public opinion also for better surveillance of our existing coastal waters, particularly in the north-west of Western Australia. I think I may say that that has been attended to. I understand that three Grumman trackers based at Darwin are to attend better to the surveillance of this area in the future. Public opinion is a strange thing. Very often an opposing view cancels out another view.

I think it is our basic duty in Parliament to inform and educate our people about our present position. We are a long way from great and powerful friends, we are underpopulated and we are also rich beyond dreams. All of this betokens a self-reliance in defence, which points to a selfreliant defence production. Actually we are worse off than we were in 1939. Imagine the problems of oil supply in any difficulty in the next few years. Would the seamen sail the tankers? We could not produce sufficient ammunition to respond quickly to any sort of crisis. The foreseeable contingencies that we face demand a defence response with lead times of eight to ten years. With our present productivity- there does not seem to be much dispute at the moment that it is low- those lead times run out to 12 to 14 years. Can we afford to keep living in a situation in which our foreseeable contingencies are based on an eight to ten year time lead? Because of our productivity and other circumstances, in reality we have a 12 to 14 year lead time.

There is a more important and continuing problem which over many years both people and government have not helped. Prior to 1967-68 the proportion of Federal budgetary expenditure on defence was 17.1 per cent. In the 10 years from 1967-68 to 1977-78 the proportion was reduced to 8.8 per cent. That was a fantastic decrease. During the same period social spendingexpenditure on education, health and social security- nearly doubled. It increased from 25 per cent to 47 per cent of the total Budget. It is easy for each of us to blame the other. There has been a head in the sand, hedonistic attitude which I think is quite obvious to everybody on both sides of the chamber. This attitude has existed amongst our people and in this Parliament for a long time. I prefer to label it as bipartisan neglect, not bipartisan concern. All of us in this Parliament who owe allegiance to Australia’s flag and a duty to its people have a basic obligation to rectify this situation before we have a serious crisis. This means an education program which we should keep up in the Parliament. It means an education program to acquaint our people with what must be done to make this country safe.

It is essential that we do all we can for those Service men and women and their backups in defence science and all the other ancillary departments which are necessary to keep our forces in the field. We must give them encouragement, we must increase their morale and we must keep them in the Services. I see a notable exserviceman on the other side of the chamber who always interests himself in what I have to say. He would know that we may face a crisis within the next eight to 10 years, or even sooner, and that we must be prepared for it. That is precisely why this expenditure is so extensive and so necessary.


-I do not agree with what one might term the inferences behind the remarks of the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr). I should like to express my regret at the interruptions to my friend the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) during his participation in this debate. The honourable member for Swan mentioned that we were rich beyond dreams. No one would ever believe that if they looked at budgetary situations and the way in which we are chiselling every deprived person in this country out of his just entitlements. I do not think it is valid to argue percentages in 1966 as compared with percentages in 1976. It is now a different country and a different economic environment. We are not necessarily getting better value simply because the percentage has gone up or down. We have to look at the reality on the ground.

I should like to remind honourable members of the Labor Party’s record on defence during its three years in office. It is part of the furphyism in the community arising out of the continual denigration of Labor’s efforts by honourable members opposite to say that we neglected defence. The facts are that we had to finalise the reequipment of the Air Force with the FI 1 1. That was a difficult decision in view of various attitudes as to whether it was the best and most relevant aircraft. Many millions of dollars had been spent on defence and we finalised that re-equipment.

Mr McLeay:

-It was the best, was it not?


-I am not certain about that.

Mr McLeay:

-But you have raised the issue. It was the best, was it not?


– The Minister for Construction may speak later rather than interject now. He is the Minister for interjections. The point is that we continued with the purchase of the Fill. We began the program of re-equipping the armed services with the leopard tank. I think we also went into the business of setting up the new destroyer program. We set out on a re-organisation of the defence system; something that was years overdue. It was a difficult matter to carry through and I pay a tribute to the defence services because they behaved much more creditably than did their colleagues in Canada on this matter. We also gave security to the Services personnel. The Minister can try to interject and talk as loudly as he likes. I am accustomed to people shouting at me. The honourable member for Swan talked about my notable ex-military record. I think it is a very ex-military record, but I have halted a thousand men on parade with the band playing, so the Minister is not going to talk me down.

What is the Government’s record in this instance? As a matter of fact the Government has made a continual political gimmick out of a national inferiority complex. Every election up until the last five or six years has been fought on Australia’s incapacity to defend itself- on the hordes swirling down from the north while we are helpless. So we neglect all the elements of self-sufficiency in this country. I am one of those who hold the view that Australia can defend itself. It would take an extraordinary effort on the part of anybody, even the Americans or the Russians, to launch a successful attack upon this country. I am discounting the long range nuclear missile attacks because that is a different environment. I suppose if the chips were down and we had seven, eight or 10 years’ notice of this sort of thing, as the honourable member for Swan mentioned, we could produce the missiles ourselves. But our manpower is not inconsiderable. We still talk about ourselves as if we were a tiny country, as if our population were equivalent to that of Israel or New Zealand. Fourteen million people is not an inconsiderable number. It gives us a mobilisation capacity, I should think, of somewhere between 1.5 million and two million people. We are one of the largest industrial countries-twelfth or fourteenth. Despite what has been done to national morale because of the national divisions created in politics in recent years by my friends opposite, Australia’s national morale is basically high. We have a great administrative competence. We have an internal communications system which is very good. We have an infrastructure which involves airports and things like that and we have very great military experience.

In the last five minutes available to me in this debate I want to mention two areas of neglect. One is in the defence industry and the other is in what I choose to call still the citizen forces. I shall take three examples. I pose the question: How self-sufficient ought Australia be in the defence industry? My own view is that we ought to be basically self-sufficient in all areas of need as far as the defence industry is concerned. We should neither trade in arms nor buy arms. That is simply a point of philosophy, I suppose, which might be regarded as Utopian in this troubled world. But I believe it is the sort of target we ought to set for ourselves. The fact is that over the last five or six years the electronics industry has almost been run out of business. We have come to the stage where very large areas of important manufacture are now extinct, so we buy it all in. We might be able to fly in a plane load of super-sophisticated equipment at some stage or other, but unless we maintain our manufacturing capacity and our design capacity we will not keep up the manpower necessary to maintain it, design it or refurbish it. In the present world context, in view of what I would call the eccentric, erratic and unreliable behaviour of America and the rest of the world as far as alliances are concerned, it is quite possible that we could well be on our own. So our electronics industry ought to be maintained not just for the purposes of employment in this country, which I regard as important, but because of its vital nature with regard to defence. I do not think we ought to under-rate the exceptional skills of the Australian scientists employed in this field.

There is also the question of shipbuilding. There has been a continuing argument that if we build ships here they could cost, say, $50m whereas we could buy those ships from Japan for only $30m. Nobody has done any effective homework on what it would actually mean it we spent the money at home. I have some figures which I have extracted from an Industries Assistance Commission report which set out exactly how much of the money that is spent internally generates other activity. However, there is not enough time in this debate to expand on that point. But I believe it is essential that we maintain at least one major commercial shipyard and possibly two.

Mr McLeay:

– We are doing that.


– The Government is making a very poor fist of it. If that is the belief of the Minister for Construction then Lord help us. The Minister wants to go and visit the shipyards and study the projects.

Mr McLeay:

– When did you last go to one?


– I have visited every shipyard in Australia. I have walked up and down ships that were being manufactured. I have talked to unions. I have been doing so for the last 12 months.

Let me turn to the aircraft industry. We managed to sustain the industry over the years. Of course the Nomad program gave it another fillip but it, needs to be supported substantially by some major development of some sort. I recognise the difficulties. If we are to build up a tactical fighter force, can we, starting from scratch, design the aircraft and do all the other things necessary to build them? This brings us back to the point that my friend the honourable member for Oxley was making- the extraordinary economic cost involved in these matters.

I wish to raise for the umpteenth time since I entered this Parliament the question of the citizen forces, now called the reserve forces. I think the word ‘citizen’ better suits the kind of context in which Australians have normally operated. We are in a new environment. We now have a highly skilled community in which enormous talents are lying around unused in the spare time of the young men and the young women of Australia. The education level is higher than when I was launched into the scene 40 years ago. That provides a resource which is not tapped. What we have to ask is: How much of our defence is actually military? For instance, how much of what the Royal Australian Air Force does is different from what Qantas Airways Limited, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia do? How much of their workshops and air control systems are different? How much of the resources that are available in the non-military services could be made available in that area? I was a little alarmed to see that the strength of the Reserve Forces had declined to such a low level. We have to find a totally new way to induce people to serve in those forces. It is not good enough for Saturday afternoons -

Mr McLeay:

– What about something constructive?


– I will do so in my next 10 minute period if you stop interjecting.


-It is with great pleasure that I rise to support the estimates for the Department of Defence. I would also like to congratulate the honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) on an excellent speech outlining the broad strategic problems in defence which face us over the next few years. I would like to turn my attention to the Army Reserve to which the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) alluded in the latter part of his address. I would particularly like to stress the role that the Reserve plays at the moment, has played in the past and is likely to play in the future. The citizen soldier has a very long and distinguished history in this country, going back over some 100 years to 1860-64 when this country for the first time sent volunteers overseas, to fight in the Maori Wars in New Zealand. That record of service continued throughout the Sudan and Boer Wars, the two World Wars and a number of minor conflicts following the Second World War, right up until the recent conflict in Vietnam when a number of individual Reserve officers and noncommissioned officers served in the forces in Vietnam, including one of the members of this House, the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil), who served in Vietnam as a Citizen Military Forces officer. I believe that he will be following me later in this debate.

Mr Martyr:

– An officer and a gentleman too.


– He is an officer and a very fine gentleman too, I might add. The honourable member for Wills alluded to the fact that one of the things that is often said about this country is that we have a small population. He stated in response that it is really not as small as it is often made out to be and that in fact we can mobilise a much larger force than is often contended. There is some truth in that, but at the same time it has to be kept in perspective. We have a population of only 14 million people. Even though it is not a minute population it is still only a medium sized population. On that basis we can only hope to maintain at any time a relatively limited standing Army. Because this population limitation means that we cannot maintain a very large regular force of either the Navy, the Army or the Air Force, obviously in our particular circumstance, as in countries such as Canada, the Reserve Forces are of great importance.

The Reserve Forces are also significant from another point of view. In a liberal democracy such as ours- this is often overlooked- having a large and viable Reserve Force working in cooperation with the Regular Forces establishes an essential link, which is important in any democracy, between the Regular Forces and the Reserve Forces. Both have a lot to gain from that link and that co-operation. The Reserves have to gain from the Regulars knowledge in the way of expertise that the Regulars have built up over a period of time. At the same time, because of the more open situation that operates in the community, the Reserve is capable of passing on many new ideas from the community and also of providing many professional services that may exist in the community but which are not available often in the Regular services themselves. The significance of the Reserve and the importance of a link between the Reserve Forces and the Regular Forces were very clearly laid out in the report of the Millar Committee of Inquiry into the Citizen Military Forces in 1974. Let me quote from one section of the report which clearly underlines what I have been saying. On page 129 of the report the Committee stated:

That a Reserve of partly-trained army units and personnel is an essential component of the defence of Australia.

That such a Reserve is only possible and effectual if the Government of the day, the community, the Regular Army and the Reserve believe it has a role which gives it present significance, which provides for effective action in the future, and which it is known the Government will implement if necessary.

That any Reserve component must be prepared for total integration with the rest of the Army in the event of call-up for full-time duty, and that in peace both Regular and Reserve components should be treated and act as part of a single force.

That the Reserve should be divided into operational units, logistic units and a training organisation, geared to provide both an effective operational force at short notice and also the basis for expansion over a longer term.

That there should be an appropriate professional relationship between the designation and the size of Reserve organisations, and between rank and responsibility within them.

I think that the Millar report indicates very clearly the importance of the Reserve but at the same time it has to be recognised that the role of the Reserve has changed. In its report the Committee also alluded to that. It said:

But the world has changed in the nearly 30 years since the end of World War II, and the needs of defence have changed. Like so many other affairs in which we used to be amateurs- diplomacy, trade, some kinds of manufacturing, opera, tennis- we have had to become professionals, and we have developed a profession of arms. The place of the citizen soldier in the total context of this profession is different from what it was in the past, but it is still essential and honourable.

As a result of recognising the fact that the Reserve had a different role to play in the sort of society and the sort of defence circumstances we have today, the Committee recommended a number of changes and made a number of recommendations to upgrade the organisation, administration and operating efficiency of the Reserve. It made some 29 recommendations. I am pleased to say that, due to the energy and dedication of the present Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) virtually all of those 29 recommendations made by the Millar Committee back in 1974 have either been implemented or are well on the way to being implemented. I think that it speaks highly of the way in which the present Minister for Defence has been performing his job in that portfolio that so much has been achieved in that period of time. It is a very commendable achievement. In that context one also has to recognise the important role played by the Government members foreign affairs and defence committee.

Mr Neil:

– An excellent committee.


– An excellent committee, of which the honourable member for St George is the secretary.

Mr Neil:

– We might get you on it.


– That is right. As I have said, most of those recommendations are on the way to being implemented, and the Minister is to be commended for that. In addition, I commend the initiative he has shown recently in setting up a new scheme to encourage employers to enlist their employees in the Reserve. He has established a committee to help to implement that program. The honourable member for Wills in speaking in this debate mentioned that there have been problems in recruitment for the Reserve- not so much recently in recruitment for the Regular Forces but there have been distinct problems in recruitment for the Reserve. It is to be hoped that the new initiative of the Minister to boost recruitment will bear fruit. I am sure that it will and I am sure that it will overcome some of the problems presently facing the Reserve. A lot of the steps that have been taken over the last couple of years have done a lot to boost the morale of the Reserve and it is now in a much better situation than it was a couple of years ago. However, a couple of areas still need to be looked at closely and acted on. For the sake of the Reserve and for the sake of the people in it, there has to be a very clear and detailed definition of the role of the Reserve because at the moment the only definition we have of the role of the Reserve is as follows:

The purpose of the Army Reserve, as pan of the Australian Army, is to participate in the defence of Australia and its interests in times of war and defence emergency.

The Reserve with the Regular Army is to provide the basis for expansion of the Austraiian Army.

They are commendable words but they are very vague and rather general. For instance, one could well ask what the term ‘expansion’ means. Does it mean providing a nucleus of officers to be expanded in war time; or a nucleus of NCOs? Does it mean providing a nucleus of specialists or a nucleus of formed units which can be expanded in war time? I think that if we are to make further fains in the effective use of the Reserve, that area as to be much more clearly defined. The second area that must be defined more clearly is the way in which the five-year defence program will benefit the Reserve, particularly in those areas where the Reserve traditionally has been short of effective equipment such as the heavy equipment, artillery and armour areas. The extent to which that five-year defence program will benefit the Reserve specifically is not too clear at this stage. I am quite sure that once we have those two initiatives- a clear, precise and detailed statement of the role of the Reserve in the future and also a statement as to the way in which the five-year defence program will flow through the Reserve in the way of equipmentthe Reserve will be able to go on to further strengths and continue to play an integral part in the defence of this nation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (MrDrummond) -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-For some considerable time there has been a subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence-

Mr Bryant:

– The Minister did not know about it.


– Apparently the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) did not know anything about it. The sub-committee has been investigating the level of industrial back-up required from Australian industry for the Defence Force. As the honourable member for Wills said, evidently the Minister at the table did not know about it, although a report has been brought down in this Parliament. He should have read it, but evidently he did not. Evidently his own advisers did not even bother to let him know about it. The fact is that the interim report was brought down in this Parliament. It dealt with a number of scenarios which could happen in this country. The honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) will agree with that. The report works on the assumption contained in the defence White Paper, which is that Australia no longer can depend upon ‘powerful friends’ for protection. In fact, Australia is in the same position as the Minister’s adopted country, South Africa. South Africa no longer can depend on powerful friends.

I would like to deal with some aspects of the report. One section of the report dealing with the electronics industry still has to be presented to this Parliament. Naturally I will not disclose any specific references in that section, but I will speak about the electronics industry itself. First of all, I will deal with the shipbuilding industry. Quite frankly, to date the reception from the Government, particularly the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), has been anything but what was desired. The Committee’s report- this is a report of the full Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence because the sub-committee’s report has been adopted by the full Committee- has recommended the maintenance of two of the large shipbuilding yards in Australia, at Whyalla and Newcastle, based on their being economic propositions.

The great problem for Australia, as far as the shipbuilding industry is concerned, is that there has been a world-wide recession in the large shipbuilding field and countries such as Korea and West Germany, which have been building large tankers, have gone into the production of smaller ships to keep their highly efficient yards going. They of course, are more efficient. Because there has been very little capital investment in the Australian shipbuilding industry for many years, countries such as Japan are able to produce ships more economically. What is required is what is happening todayin Malta- tiny little Malta with 300,000 people. It currently is establishing a new shipbuilding yard which will be able to build, if I remember correctly, ships of up to 1 10,000 tonnes.

Mr Martyr:

– A good achievement.


– It is a good achievement from 300,000 people. It will be a computerised and efficient industry. The future of this industry in this country rests purely on it being economic. We should not shore it up with false assistance.

We should ensure, as is recommended by the Committee whose report has been tabled in this Parliament, that the industry is an efficient and economic industry, that the necessary capital investment is ploughed into it, that it becomes computerised in its activities and that in this way it can then compete on equal ground with overseas countries. It is anticipated that the recession in the large shipbuilding industry- the building of large tankers and so on- will end in the early 1980s. It is at that time that those countries that concentrate on smaller ships, particularly those up to 45,000 tonnes, will come into their own, subject to the industry being efficient and economically viable. For that reason I am concerned that the Prime Minister in his correspondence virtually wiped this matter off. I am deeply concerned that the reaction to date of the Minister for Defence has been virtually negative. For this reason I think the Government needs to have a very serious look at a very comprehensive report. Evidence was received in camera as well as publicly; as the honourable member for Wills mentioned, visits were made throughout the length and breadth of this country, to every shipbuilding yard; and opinions were received from throughout the country. The same applies in regard to the aircraft industry, and I have no doubt that if the honourable member for St George speaks in this debate he will have something to say about that.

The report on the electronics industry has not been brought down as yet, but I would like to make some comments on the industry itself. Apparently it is now accepted by government, in accordance with the White Paper and in accordance with evidence received, that Australia no longer can depend necessarily on outside assistance. That is to say, we could be placed in a situation where some sort of conflagration arises and the United States, for example, may not wish to be involved. It may wish to be impartial. It may say: ‘You are both friends. You are having a fight and we do not want to get involved ‘. If that is the case, we will find ourselves in a peculiarly difficult position because we are becoming less and less self-sufficient year by year so far as defence equipment is concerned. For example, it was stated by one company that Australia in 1939 had the capacity to produce 80 per cent of the electronics technology then available in the world. That is to say, in 1939 we had the technical ability to produce 80 per cent of the technology then available in the world. By 1973 -

Mr Graham:

– In 1939 we could not produce one tank or one motor car.


– We are not talking about tanks or motor cars. We are talking about electronic equipment. By 1973 that percentage had been reduced to 45 per cent. Today it is down to 25 per cent. That is a serious situation for a country which has always prided itself on its technical ability. The future of this country, with such a small population and such a vast area, lies in having great technological ability. That is the only future for Australia. For example, the job being done in the Weapons Research Establishment is magnificent. We should be making sure that the young scientists working there are given the same opportunities as the older scientists were given to go overseas and learn the technology of other countries, instead of having this ridiculous restriction which has been imposed upon travel.

Dr Klugman:

– We cannot even fix the tote in Sydney.


-As the honourable member for Prospect said, we cannot even fix the tote. I am not a racing man, but I understand that Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Ltd built a computerised automatic totalisator for the Sydney racecourses, it was installed in May or June last year and it has broken down innumerable times. For two race meetings recently it could operate for only three of the races. That is an example of how our technical capacity in these fields has been reduced. The fact is that there is not an industry policy. We need to have a policy so that industry knows where it is going. We need a policy so that industry will be prepared to invest in the future. At present industry is not prepared to invest in the future because it does not know what its future is going to be. Governments of all colours must be prepared to bring down an industry policy so that those sections of industry in which we intend to intervene will be protected.

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

Mr Neil:

-I raise a point of order. Often I have heard the honourable member for Chifley make speeches that are not very good, but that one was a very good speech.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- There is no point of order.


-My purpose in joining the debate is perhaps to change its direction slightly. Much has been said about actual expenditure on defence items. In my opinion we have spent far too much time trying to relate defence to the expenditure of dollars and cents. I would like to spend a few minutes on what I believe to be the key weapon in war or in peace, that is, man- the serviceman or servicewoman, whether he be a Regular, a Reserve- Citizen Force- soldier or perhaps even the school cadet. In this regard I believe that this place has been remiss over many years in using the Services as no more than a political football. The serviceman has been seen as a vote rather than as the very key to the survival of this country in any future emergency. I believe that we have got to the point where we have denigrated the serviceman to the extent that he does not even appear on the streets of this country in uniform unless he is ordered to do so. That trend began, I believe, in the 1960s and it is quite obvious now. I believe honourable members have to go no further than across the waters of Lake Burley Griffin to the defence headquarters to see how few of the men are in uniform. It is up to this Parliament- both sides of this Parliament- to make moves to give back to the serviceman his position in society. After all, he serves in the noblest of professions. He is the one who when required will give the supreme sacrifice for his country. I think some of us have tended to forget that.

The Regulars unquestionably bear the brunt of the anti-Service feeling. Yet they have within their ranks the traditions which are valued by the total community. Some of those traditions, commencing with the uniform itself, should be displayed and should be seen. I think we should take steps to make certain that the very impressive Beating the Retreat ceremony is put on more often. It would cost nothing to have this ceremony performed and we would get great benefit from it. The only time I have seen servicemen of late has been in guards of honour for Her Majesty, a parade for Her Majesty and in some guards of honour for visiting dignitaries. On no other occasion have I seen them. Let us take the opportunity to get the serviceman out and give him the backing that he requires. Unless we do this the Defence Force itself will dwindle in importance and it will not be long before those responsible for expenditure on defence will start to question even whether we should put out any money at all for defence. That would be a very sad and sorry day.

I would like to spend a couple of minutes on the Reserve Army- the citizen soldiers who are perhaps the most neglected part of our defence structure. They are neglected because they are seen as second best when in fact they are a vital part of our defence. I have heard trite words, alegedly of wisdom, come from a great variety of people talking about the one army we have in Australia. Unfortunately the truth is that we have neglected the Reserve Army- the citizen force. There is no explanation for this. There is no expenditure involved in giving a new set of priorities to the Regular forces. If we believe that there is no threat to this country in the short term, it is quite possible and feasible then that we should take the steps to say to the Regular Army that its priority now is to bring the Reserve up to its maximum efficiency. We should see that postings from the Regular Army to the Reserve are given priority. I believe that all officers should at some stage serve with the citizen force. There is too much of an elitest approach taken by the Regular services, but that approach will only be taken while we in this Parliament allow it to be taken. We have to lay down quite clear guidelines, in my opinion, to the Defence Force chiefs so that they know exactly what their role is in this regard so that they alter existing priorities. Up to this stage we have seen fit not to do so. I believe it is to the regret of all of us. Unless we do this the Reserve itself will not ever become an efficient force because it does not have the capacity from within to survive in a modern defence set-up. The expertise must come from the Regular Army. I press upon the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) that this cause is an urgent one and one we must face. The cadets are part of the expenditure under the Defence vote, but if honourable members were to watch the cadets today they would assume that we do not spend anything on them.

Mr Martyr:

– They all need a haircut.


-I do not believe the length of hair is really pertinent to the debate. Last Saturday I attended a cadet parade at a school in Goulburn that I suppose one could call a local school. When the principal of the college was speaking he said:

I believe it is the prerogative of the authorities to supply us with the basic equipment we need.

Brother Mazorini said that. He also said:

This applies to training stores, bivouac supplies and personal equipment.

Before that he had said: the last full ceremonial parade of the unit had been that at which it disbanded under instructions from the Labor Government in 1 975 . . . most of the boys on parade were wearing ‘ hand-me-downs ‘ from that occasion.

That they had been able to continue to use the uniform was a tribute to the laundering and repairing done by their mothers.

I believe that we in this House should feel ashamed. The reply given by Defence was that in fact in 1975 the cadet corps was disbanded, and an Army spokesman said:

The decision to disband the cadets in 1975 caused an interruption in the procurement procedures with a consequent shortage of stock holdings.

All available clothing and equipment has been issued to cadet brigades for distribution to units. The Army is making every effort to correct the shortfall. The situation will not be fully rectified until the second half of 1 978.

So from 1975 to 1978 we have an Army which is allegedly geared for war saying that it will take all that time to rectify a situation of issuing some uniforms to cadets.

Mr Neil:

– Outrageous.


-It is an outrageous situation.

Mr McLeay:

– Who are you blaming for that?


-I am blaming the approach of honourable members in this place for allowing that situation to occur. We have said that we would reintroduce the cadet corps and having done that we must give them backing.

Mr McLeay:

– We have.


-I am afraid that having witnessed this parade and seen the cadets doing their best, I would say our efforts so far are not good enough. There is a long way to go before we can stand up in this House and say that not only have we reinstituted the cadet system, we have also given the cadets the backing which will enable them to perform the functions we hope they will perform.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the orders of the House of 10 March 1977I shall report progress.

Progress reported.

page 2428



-I propose the question:

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr McLEAY (Boothby-Minister for Con structions-Mr Deputy Speaker, I require that the question be put forthwith without debate.

Question resolved in the negative.

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1977-78 In Committee

Consideration resumed. Second Schedule

Department of Defence

Proposed expenditure, $2, 1 86, 1 80,000.


– I wish to continue the discussion on the Reserve Forces which was referred to by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Sullivan). I should like to raise some further points.

Motion (by Mr Bourchier) proposed:

That the question be now put.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)The question is, that the question be now put. All those of that opinion say aye, of the contrary no.


– No.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I think the ayes have it.

Mr Bryant:

– May I have my dissent recorded under the appropriate standing Order?

Mr McLeay:

– You have already made a speech.

Mr Bryant:

– Government supporters talk about defence and then they gag the debate. This debate has been going for only 40 or 50 minutes.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Wills is the only member calling for a division and he may have his dissent recorded.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Attorney-General’s Department

Proposed expenditure, $56,824,000.


-In speaking to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, may I say that it is sometimes alleged that laws fawn upon the rich and spurn the poor. As my very good friend, the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Upper House, is wont to put it, for the administration of justice poverty is a crime and wealth is a virtue. To put it in another way, steal a loaf of bread, as the British were wont to say in the 19th century, and go to gaol. However, if you steal a railway you can be assured of a seat in the House of Lords. Regrettably, rarely, if ever, do rich men go to gaol. Gaols are full of people who have not got a cent. What greater proof of this is there than in our present laws relating to corporate crime and the treatment of what is termed white collar crime.

Mr Neil:

-Let us look at that. The evidence to support this claim appears daily on the front pages of our newspapers. As the Australian Financial Review put it a brief period ago:

Are all these, at worst, just a clutch of rotten apples- or is much of the business barrel rotten? The presumption is strong that these illegal practices are common.

It is ironic to see the great hullabaloo raised in reaction to the current spate of bank holdups with some governments making all sorts of noises about getting tough with bandits. Yet they sit on their hands when confronted with what is at least as big a problem- corporate and white collar crime. Is it because those bandits wear white collars and may be the Government’s political supporters? Of all the Medibank frauds involving doctors- amounts have totalled hundreds of thousands of dollars- to my knowledge only one doctor has been sent to gaol. Yet, a 21 -year-old cleaner from Darlinghurst was sentenced to 12 months gaol for defrauding the Department of Social Security of a little more than $1,100. This type of discrimination should not exist in our society. One wonders how true is the saying: ‘You are guilty until proven rich’. Is the law at fault or is it that we take a different view of white collar criminals who fleece the public of millions of dollars each year with their only crime being to be caught?

I remind the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) that corporate collapses over the last seven years have cost investors and lenders more than one billion dollars. Why is it that armed holdups can stimulate immediate action by governments while the thief with the pen rather than the pistol can continue his depredations? This question has important ramifications for the health of society. It breeds disrespect for law in general, and it emphasises social and economic divisions for white collar crooks to be seen to be getting away with fraudulent practices. The succession of acquittals of white collar crooks accused of wrongdoings completely negates any deterrent effect that the criminal provisions of our laws might have. In a recent case in Melbourne a married couple with a six-year old daughter were both sentenced to three months gaol for attempting to obtain a little over $31,000 from the tertiary education allowance scheme by making false claims. The magistrate said that he was embarrassed by the penalties that other magistrates had handed down to doctors on fraud charges. Cheating on Medibank, I suggest, is no less a crime than petty thieving or dole cheating. Surely doctors should have no special rights to exemption because of their social or professional status.

The dismissal of charges against Alexander and Thomas Barton on 27 June this year for alleged breaches of the New South Wales Securities Industry Act and the Crimes Act vividly illustrates a problem which I have spoken about in this House on numerous occasions, namely, the problem of convicting corporate criminals. I raised that issue in 1973. The Bartons ought to have been indicted under the provisions of the taxation evasion legislation. I cannot get the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) to answer the question why proceedings have not been taken on those grounds. Again, it seems that corporate wrongdoers, with expensive lawyers as their hired guns, have been able to escape liability for their actions which have cost the ordinary investor millions of dollars. Defence lawyers usually ensure that cases of this nature are tried by jury. The jury more often than not is comprised of laymen and due to the complexity of the issues involved it is impossible for them to comprehend the legal technicalities. This is an anomaly, I suggest, in the law which must certainly be looked Unto if justice is to be carried out.

In many cases, corporate criminals tend to be the most respectable and powerful men in the community. Many, of course, have titles, the right school tie and obviously the right connections. These people who should be setting an example of honesty for the rest of the community are instead often stealing the life savings of those less fortunate. I think we ought to appreciate, with all due respect to the honourable member for St George, the two special qualities applicable to corporate crime. Firstly, corporate criminals are sophisticated and deliberative businessmen who engage in crime only after carefully calculating the benefits and the costs. Secondly, as Professor of Law, Christopher Stone, has written in Where the Law Ends:

  1. . we have arranged things so that the people who call the shots do not have to bear the full risks;

If the likelihood of getting caught and the penalties for getting caught are sufficiently great,otential business law violators should be able to iterally calculate that crime does not pay. We fail in fact to do that. Looking at the question of inadequate laws, the previous Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) stressed that legislation envisaged would basically be the same as existing State legislation in the member States of the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission. What does that mean? It means law by the lowest common denominator. By the time the six States get around to drafting laws, criminals will be about six steps ahead of them. Honourable members should look at the sympathetic attitude of conservative States. Consider the controversy in Victoria relating to the Victorian Government’s Housing Commission land deals with Lensworth Finance. In less than a month $1.5m was taken from the public. One wonders whether the members of that Government collaborate with the crooks. I ask the honourable member for St George: Can he justify it? Can he apologise for it? Or would he be kind enough to explain it to me? Can we expect the usual dearth of convictions and the usual crop of knighthoods? That is what we can expect.

I want to make these observations quickly. It is my belief that the current ramshackle company law system in Australia is structured to protect the criminal to the detriment of the honest. If the States had any semblance of political honesty they would retitle their Companies Acts and call them ‘Company Directors Protection Acts’. How long will it be before this Government will grasp the nettle and introduce comprehensive national legislation to control public companies and the securities industry? It nas a responsibility to the public as a whole to clean up this mess. This Government is very swift to bring in legislation to shackle the trade union movement, but it has a total reluctance to bring in legislation to straighten up corporate crime or white collar crime. I suppose it is because there are so many lawyers on the other side. It does not want a sense of nationality or rational and constructive legislation because this area represents a harvest for them.

In terms of company and securities law, I believe that it is investment in the broad sense, both public and private, that has to be protected. Honourable members on the Government side believe that private investment is the life blood of prosperity in all countries. Until this Government sets down reasonable laws and regulations to control the stock exchange it will do nothing to induce investment in this area, which is so important. I conclude with one truism. My father was wont to say: ‘You will find as you go through life, son, that there are plenty of sheriffs of Nottingham and few Robin Hoods. To the former you give knighthoods and the latter you hang’.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

St George

– I would like to register, first of all, a protest at the fact that we are proceeding with the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department and not proceeding for much longer with the estimates for the Department of Defence. A number of issues are facing this country and in my view the most important is the security of the country from both internal and external threat. That we should have debated the estimates of the Department of Defence for so short a period is a serious indictment of the community’s attitude, as reflected in this Parliament, towards the security of this country.

Before I go on to deal with the topics that are relevant to these estimates I want to take this opportunity to say something about the legal aspects of one or two matters that are relevant to defence. I specifically confine myself to the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department. I want to refer, first of all, to the appropriation for the Law Reform Commission. In my view this Parliament should encourage the maximum amount of community comment upon the legal profession and upon its roles. The profession recently looked into two particular aspects of legislation or potential legislation that bears upon the defences of this country. Firstly, I refer to legislation that would enable the role of the Army Reserve in particular, and other reserve forces, to be determined clearly. There is a particular need for the Millar Committee report to be put into practical operation by means of legislation of this Commonwealth Parliament in order to ensure that the role of the Reserve is set out clearly, is determined and made specific in accordance with the recommendations of the Millar Committee. That requires legislation. I would expect that the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) would be in the forefront in ensuring that a Bill is brought before this Parliament as soon as possible.

The second matter I raise is the whole area of union activity as it relates to the Defence Force. I state quite clearly that I believe that the legislation in relation to defence emergencies that is presently on the statute book ought to be used in appropriate cases. I always have maintained that there is a right to strike and that that right should be maintained, but when essential defence requirements are perverted we should use the legislation instituted by a former Labor government, under the direction of Dr Evatt, to overcome problems that may be involved.

Next, I believe that we should look at legislation that would introduce the equivalent of the American ‘buy American’ Act. This area requires legislation. It would be forward looking legislation. It would be almost revolutionary legislation in Australia. In my view it comes within the area of law reform. We should ask ourselves: How is the law to be best used in the furtherance of social objectives? One of our best social objectives is to encourage Australian industry. I believe that we must ensure that we achieve the strategic objectives necessary for Australia- that we are sufficient in food, that we are sufficient in energy, that we are sufficient in manufacturing resources. Legislation is necessary to ensure that we properly protect, in particular, our defence, scientific and research industries. An Act similar to the ‘buy American’ Act, albeit different in detail, is necessary in Australia.

I now want to deal with specific matters raised by the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) and other honourable members. I shall go through the estimates in the very short time available to me. Turning to the estimates relating to family law, I commend the Attorney-General for his statement that there will be a parliamentary committee to investigate the operations of the Family Law Act. I have received literally hundreds of complaints about the practical application of the Act. I believe that, after two years of operation of legislation that produces dramatic social changes, the Parliament should review its operation and determine whether it should be amended, and if so in what way. I link that comment to the estimate provided for the Family Law Council.

I now want to talk about Australian legal aid. I commend to the Committee, the provision of legal aid to those students at universities who are challenging the dictatorial provisions of rules of the Australian university councils and the Australian Union of Students which force students to direct their funds to the university councils and to the student councils within the universities. In my opinion, whether one pays funds for the purposes of the Australian Union of Students should be an entirely voluntary matter. Unfortunately the Australian Legal Aid Office has decided that because a case in Victoria was settled on the basis that there should be an opting out clause it will not give legal aid to a student who wishes to challenge the system in Sydney. Honourable members will know that each Act constituting an individual university requires specific interpretation. In my view, the Australian Legal Aid Office is acting in an unusually and obstructively legalistic way by refusing legal aid to students in Sydney who wish to challenge the particular interpretations of the Act with which they are faced. I ask the Committee to consider a broader classification of legal aid than is presently being given.

Next I would commend some broad statements by the honourable member for Hawker but deny his specifics. In my opinion, the stock exchange should be used to channel the capital of this nation into productive enterprises. It should be used as a clearing house for capital to enable the development of industry, mining and other resources. It should not be abused. We should not have the speculation that we had some years ago when school boys were interested in making a few bob on the exchange. Even housewives were walking to the exchange in Sydney to speculate. The true role of the stock exchange is to enable capital to be concentrated and developed into productive enterprises. I agree that there should be a State and Commonwealth agreement on the development of a securities and exchange industry to produce this reform. For the honourable member to say that we are featherbedding company directors is ridiculous. In fact the people who are featherbedded are the union bosses who are not subject to control and who get away with murder in the unions, in many respects. Money disappears.

Mr Hodgman:

– They are industrial gangsters.


– They are industrial gangsters. I would like to see trade unions incorporated fully, in the same way as registered clubs in New South Wales are incorporated fully, so that they will be subject to the various Acts to which company directors are subject. The fraud squad could look at what they are doing. It would clear out the unions in a very healthy way.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Progress reported.

page 2431


Unemployment-Trade Unions

Motion ( by Mr Newman ) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I want to raise a matter that was brought to my attention in my electorate last Saturday night. My wife and I attended the 21st birthday party of a friend of ours. This matter was raised with me by accident rather than by design when we were discussing the difficulties of obtaining employment in the Central Coast area. I knew that the position there was very bad. I did not realise that the unemployment rate in the area was the highest in the State. In Wyong 1 9.4 per cent of the work force is registered as unemployed. In Gosford the number is about 10.9 per cent. The figure is about the sixth highest in the State.

Mr Neil:

– What are you doing about it?


-I am trying to get rid of the mugs who sit on that side of the House so that we can get a government that will do something about the position.

Mr Neil:

– What will you do when that fails?


-If you would contain yourself, Yap Yap, as you are affectionately known, I could get on with the job of putting this case. The young lady concerned had just lost her job. She had obtained another job, for two days a week. She was very concerned -

Mr Neil:

-Send her down to St George. I will get her a job in St George.


-You should take some interest in the problems of the unemployed. Very shortly you will be one of them, and you will know what it is like.

Mr Neil:

– We will see

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for St George will remain silent.


-Thank you for your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr Neil:

– You need it.


-I do not need protection from you at any time.


– Honourable members on my right will need protection very soon if they continue to interject during the speech of the honourable member for Robertson. I call the honourable member for Robertson.


-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I return to my theme. The young lady concerned- it was her 21st birthday party- informed me that she had applied for a job recently at one of the major manufacturing companies in my electorate. I do not intend to mention its name because I do not want to embarrass it unnecessarily. I want to raise this matter with the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). She was asked a number of very embarrassing questions about her personal life. They were not embarrassing in the sense that there was anything wrong with them. She was asked for how long she had been married, whether she planned to have children and all these sorts of things. Perhaps they are legitimate questions. The crunch came when she said that she did not plan to have children for a few years. She was told that if she wanted the job she would have to take a pregnancy test. The job was in a factory. She would have been doing very unskilled work, I would think. It was not a highly professional technical position.

I was absolutely appalled. She did not come to me. We were just discussing the matter at her home at her 21st birthday party. I do not know whether this practice is a practice only of this company or of other companies in Australia, but I think this is the most disgraceful thing that any company could do. It is a very reputable company which, incidentally, employs more than 200 people in the Gosford area.

Mr Hodgman:

-Have you spoken to the company?


– Not yet. I will not mention its name. This woman’s character is beyond reproach.

Mr Hodgman:

– You should have spoken to the company before you made a speech here tonight.


– I have not spoken to the company yet. This woman is a personal friend. She was not complaining to me. She told me the story. I will check with the company; the honourable member can be sure of that. I want this on the record before the House rises for the election. I had asked the Minister to be present. I was wondering whether this is a practice in other places, whether this is common or whether International Labour Organisation conventions or some protection could be given to people so that they are not asked to have pregnancy tests. They may be asked whether they plan to have children. I think this is a most humiliating and degrading thing and something which, if this company or any other companies in Australia are doing it, ought to be wiped out immediately.


– I spoke last night about the expulsion from the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party of Mr Watling and Mr Imlach and of the continuing power grab by the pro-communist Left in Tasmania which has already taken over the State Branch of the ALP and which is endeavouring to take over control of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council. Tasmanians of course will react very strongly to the intrusion of mainland industrial gangsters such as Mr Pat Clancy, Mr George Crawford and others who flew into our State secretly last Thursday- officially and publicly to reunify the Tasmanian trade union movement. In fact they are seeking to split it asunder, to create industrial disruption and to create industrial sabotage which our State has suffered for far too long by far too many mainland industrial gangsters doing things which are designed in every conceivable way to use Tasmania as the example for punishment and the example for victimisation. We have been cut off as a result of air strikes, by air traffic controllers, tanker drivers, refuellers and the like.

I want to say something about the cowardice of the Tasmanian Government in the face of procommunist left wing victimisation of a young apprentice named Chris Symons who works for the tasmanian Railways at the Launceston railway workshops in the electorate of the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman). This young man is an apprentice. It has been traditional- it has been a universally accepted principle in this country for years- that apprentices shall not be compelled to join trade unions and shall not be compelled to go on strike. People who have been unionists, such as myself, know that to be the fact. What happened to this young man? He was heavied by the pro-communist left operatives of the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union and told that he must join the AMWSU. He was told that if he did not join, all the equipment on which he worked would be declared black; he would be declared black; he would be victimised. Together with a number of his friends he appealed to the State Government for some direction. Dithering Doug, the Deputy Premier of Tasmania, has not been prepared to come forward and defend the right of this young apprentice not to join a union. He is cowering before the pro-communist Left. He will not stand up for the right; nor will the Government.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 2434


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Hospitals Development Program: Projects Approved (Question No. 1167)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:

  1. What projects had been approved in each State as at 30 June 1977 for Australian Government assistance under the five-year Hospitals Development Program begun in 1974-75.
  2. What projects in each State have been approved for assistance under the program in 1 977-78.
  3. What amounts were paid to each State under the program in 1976-77.
  4. What amounts have been allocated to each State under the program in 1977-78.
  5. Can he now give the information on anticipated numbers of additional hospital beds to be provided by projects supported under the program (Hansard, 3 December 1976, page 3278).
  6. On what dates has the Joint Hospitals Works Council met in each State since his answer on 22 February 1977 (Hansard, page 331).
  7. What projects have the Councils discussed since their formation and what is the estimated cost and completion date of each project.
  8. What projects has the Commonwealth-State Standing Committee (Health Expenditures) in each State discussed since its formation and what is the estimated cost and completion date of each project.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. As at 30 June 1977 projects approved for funding under the Hospitals Development Program were as follows:-
  1. A full list of projects to be included for funding under the Program in 1977-78 will not be finalised until after the next round of meetings of Commonwealth/State Standing Committees on Health Expenditure, to be held in OctoberNovember 1977.
  2. and 4. The following grants were allocated to each State in 1976-77 and 1977-78:

The grant of up to $5.46m to Tasmania represents the Commonwealth’s share of estimated expendituresin 1977-78, on the re-development of the Launceston General Hospital, which will continue to be funded on a dollar for dollar basis by the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments.

Although the allocation of $50m to the States for 1977-78 represents a significant reduction compared with 1976-77, it should be noted that, under the new tax-sharing arrangements, the States are better off to the extent of $660m or 1 8 per cent in 1977-78.

  1. The following table shows the numbers of public and Private hospital beds, by State, at August 1 974 and February 977, as approved under the National Health Act and the Health Insurance Act respectively. With the exception of a small proportion of public hospital beds which would have become operational early in the period covered, most of the additional public hospital beds approved by February 1977 would have been provided in projects supported under the Hospitals Development Program.

Bed numbers are taken from lists of beds approved under the National Health Act (for August 1974) and Health Insurance Act (for February 1977). Lists for August 1974 have been re-categorised from former Public/Voluntary/ Private classification to currently used Public/Private classification, to allow comparability. (Repatriation beds not included). Bed approval lists are updated each August and February. The August 1974 list was chosen as the nearest to the commencement of the Program in June 1974; the February 1977 list as the latest available.

It should be noted that under the Program considerable emphasis has been placed on the upgrading and refurbishing of existing sub-standard facilities. This very necessary work is not reflected in changes in bed numbers.

In Queensland and Tasmania the ratio of beds to population has actually fallen as a result of planned rationalisation made possible by Hospitals Development Program funds. For instance the Commonwealth Government has agreed to fund 50 per cent of the redevelopment of the Launceston General Hospital, which involves the replacement of existing sub-standard wards and support services, but only 23 additional beds.

It should also be noted that existing high bed/population ratios in the States, as indicated in the table, disguise the fact that beds are poorly distributed. High concentrations exist in and around the Central Business Districts of major cities while there is a dearth of facilities in outer areas with poor access to hospital and other health services. The Hospitals Development Program has enabled several projects in outer suburban areas to be brought forward for earlier completion than would otherwise have been possible, e.g. Westmead and Campbelltown.

Only when services are adequate in existing areas of need will it be possible to give consideration to phasing out obsolescent and redundant beds.

Due to the lengthy planning and construction time involved in major projects, and this applies particularly to new hospitals in areas of need for which planning commenced since 1974, many planned new beds are not yet operational. It is at this stage, very difficult to estimate the number of beds which will ultimately be provided in these projects, as planning is continually subject to review.

Where the State health authorities have indicated estimated final bed numbers, this information is provided under 7 and 8 below.

  1. During 1977 the Joint Commonwealth-State Standing Committees on Health Expenditure- previously Joint Hospital Works Council- have met as follows:
  1. The following projects have been discussed at Joint Hospitals Works Councils since their formation. The estimated costs and completion dates for each project are as at March 1977 costs ana are subject to review from time to time due to cost escalation and program reviews-

Oversea Visits Committee (Question No. 1206)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister Assisting the

Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 1 7 August 1 977:

  1. 1 ) What is the name, classification and employing agency of each of the members of the Oversea Visits Committee.
  2. What are the functions of the Committee.
  3. 3 ) Which department chairs the Committee.
  4. To whom does it report.
  5. Is its purpose to approve overseas visits by individuals travelling on government business.
  6. If so, (a) from which departments were applications for overseas visits received during the periods (i)1 July 1975 to 30 June 1976 and(ii) 1 July 1976 to 30 June 1977 and(b) how many applications, and from which departments, were (i) approved or (ii) rejected during these periods.
  7. Are some overseas travel proposals exempt from the Committee’s consideration. If so, which proposals.
Mr Street:

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


Mr L. B. Woodward, First Assistant Commissioner, Level 3, Public Service Board; Mr G. Balfour, Acting Assistant Secretary, Level 2, Department of Finance; Mr J. P. Walshe, M.B.E., Assistant Secretary, Level 1, Department of Foreign Affairs; Mr G. Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Level 1 , Department of Administrative Services.

To examine and report on proposals for oversea visits by Commonwealth Government officials or other individuals travelling overseas on Government business either wholly or partly at Government expense.

The Office of the Public Service Board.

The Prime Minister.

) Yes, with certain exceptions- see answer to ( 7 ) below.

  1. The principal categories of visits which are exempt from Oversea Visits Committee consideration are as follows: oversea visits by Ministers, Members of Parliament, ministerial staff members oversea visits by Permanent Heads of Departments and statutory office holders oversea travel relating to the normal business undertakings, for example, of the Commodity Boards within the portfolio of the Minister for Primary Industry, the Australian National Railways Commission, the Australian Postal Commission, the Australian Telecommunications Commission, TAA and QANTAS visits to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Australian Territories and Protectorates, unless these visits form part of a more extensive itinerary where an officer will be transferred abroad on a long-term posting to a position approved by the Public Service Board officers on exchange with an oversea administration visits by officers to provide services to oversea governments or agencies where the Department claims reimbursement of all costs, including travel, accommodation and salary costs, from that government or agency persons travelling under the sponsorship of External Aid Programs officers travelling on scholarships provided by the Public Service Board attendance of civilian officers at courses at the Royal College of Defence Studies and Joint Services Staff College in the United Kingdom. Defence Committee approval in these cases is final

Navy, Army and Air Force personnel attending training courses abroad, serving on exchange duty with the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth of Nations Forces or participating in excercises under International Defence arrangements visits by the staff of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Boardexemption granted in 1977.

Trade Balance with ASEAN Nations (Question No. 1238)

Mr Kevin Cairns:

asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice, on 18 August 1977:

  1. 1 ) When is it expected that Australia will come into nett balance on all the movements in monetary and merchandise items with all of the ASEAN nations.
  2. ) What are the assumptions of these projections.
Mr Anthony:
Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)and(2)

No precise timing for achieving such a balance can be indicated as any projections of future trends would be little more than educated guesses. Trade projections for even 12-18 months ahead are hazardous, given the many variables of supply, demand, price and sourcing strategies involved. Australia’s exports to ASEAN include bulk foodstuffs and raw materials which have been and may be subject to wide price fluctuations in international markets.

Australia in recent years has had a surplus on its trade account with ASEAN, as shown by the answer to Question No. 1237 (Hansard, page 13S9), but on the other hand, it has experienced a growing deficit on invisibles items such as transportation, travel, property income, etc.

Although the Australian current account surplus increased slightly over the five years to 1975-76, existing trends indicate that this surplus could decline. Between 1971-72 and 1975-76, exports to ASEAN countries grew by 132 per cent, while imports from ASEAN countries grew almost twice as fast at 260 per cent. Over the same period, our net deficit on invisibles with ASEAN countries rose by 240 per cent.

If recent years’ experience were repeated, net identified capital flows (which averaged an annual net outflow of $2m in the 5-year period 197 1-72 to 1975-76) would not contribute significantly to net monetary movements between Australia and ASEAN.

Telecom: Capital Works in the Electoral Division of Bowman (Question No. 1265)

Mr Jull:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 23 August 1977:

  1. 1 ) What moneys were allocated by Telecom Australia for (a) capital works and (b) re-equipment programs in the Electoral Division of Bowman during 1976-77, and what are the corresponding figures for 1977-78.
  2. How many new telephone subscribers were connected in the Electoral Division of Bowman during 1976-77 and what is the expected number for 1 977-78.
Mr Eric Robinson:

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

    1. Subscribers Equipment (Subscribers Instruments and Distribution Cable)
    2. Totals
  1. 1976-77, 3,474; 1977-78, 3,950 (estimated).

Aircraft Fumigation and Quarantine Procedures (Question No. 1324)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) Is it still the intention of his Department to provide a brief document for every air traveller arriving in Australia to explain the necessity for aircraft fumigation and other quarantine procedures.
  2. If so, when will the brochure be released. If not, why not.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes. The explanatory brochure was intended to be a collaborative project with the Bureau of Customs.
  2. Because of the current economic situation the project has been postponed but will be undertaken as soon as feasible.

Department of Industry and Commerce: Libraries (Question No. 1352)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 6 September:

  1. 1 ) How many libraries are in the Department of Industry and Commerce, where is each located and what is the main purpose of each.
  2. How many (a) books, (b) publications and (c) periodicals (i) have been acquired in (A) 1974-75, (B) 975-76 and (C) 1976-77, (ii) are currently in the library and (iii) will be acquired under budget provisions for 1977-78.
  3. 3 ) What is the annual cost of running each library.
  4. What staff are employed in each library and what major staffing changes have occurred in the past 3 years, or are contemplated.
  5. When were the provision, number and purpose of libraries in the Department of Industry and Commerce last reviewed by the Department and /or the Public Service Board, and what recommendations were made at that time.
  6. Which libraries are open to the public, and what is the extent of public usage.
Mr Viner:

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

  1. 1 ) The Department of Industry and Commerce is in the early stages of establishing a central library in Canberra for the purpose of providing a comprehensive information service on industry, commerce and economic matters to departmental officers, and more particularly to provide a reference and research facility for the newly established Bureau of Industry Economics.

The need for the establishment of the central library arose following the creation of the Department of Productivity in November 1976 and the inclusion in that Department of the library facilities which had serviced the former Department of Industry and Commerce. The Department of Productivity library continued to service the new Department of Industry and Commerce until 1 July 1977 but since that time custody of appropriate reference material and operational responsibility has passed to the new central library.

There is also a small library located in the Department’s Shipbuilding Division in Sydney. The main purpose of this library is to act as a repository and source of technically orientated information of particular interest to the officers of the Shipbuilding Division.

The Department shares with the Department of Overseas Trade, library facilities located in each State Regional Office. The Regional Offices are now servicing both this Department and the Department of Overseas Trade. The information requested by the honourable member in relation to these library facilities will be included in the answer provided by the Minister for Overseas Trade to Question No. 1348.

  1. Information in the form requested is not available. The following information is provided.

    1. Central Library

Acquisitions prior to 1 July 1977 and now held in the central library of the Department of Industry and Commerce were made by the Department of Productivity and will be included in the answer provided by the Minister for Productivity to Question No. 1 37 1 .

Shipbuilding Division Library

  1. Books and other publications

Acquisitions for 1977-78 will include basic reference material necessary to establish a library and collection appropriate to the Department’s information need, but with particular emphasis on the Bureau of Industry Economics requirements. The acquisition program for 1977-78 which is now being developed takes this factor into account.

Periodicals: 238 Titles

  1. The total budget allocation for library material in the Department of Industry and Commerce in 1977-78 is $30,000.
  2. The central library is presently staffed by one Library Officer (Grade 1 ) assisted on a part-time basis by a Clerical Assistant (Grade 3). It is intended to appoint a Librarian (Class 2) to manage the Library.

The Shipbuilding Division library is staffed on a part-time basis by a Clerk (Class 1 ).

No major changes to these staffing arrangements are contemplated.

  1. The need for a central library to service the Department in Canberra was identified following the creation of the Department of Productivity in November 1976, and the consequent inclusion in that Department of the then existing library facility. Subsequently the Public Service Board agreed to the creation of the positions mentioned in (4) above to staff the new central library for the Department of Industry and Commerce.

There has been no review in relation to the Shipbuilding Division library but this will be done when the Librarian Class 2 is appointed to the central library.

  1. Neither of the departmental libraries are open to the public.

Department of Foreign Affairs: Libraries (Question No. 1356)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many libraries are in his Department, where is each located and what is the main purpose of each.
  2. How many (a) books, (b) publications and (c) periodicals (i) have been acquired in (A) 1974-75, (B) 1975-76 and (C) 1976-77, (ii) are currently in the library and (iii) will be acquired under budget provisions for 1977-78.
  3. ) What is the annual cost of running each library.
  4. What staff are employed in each library and what major staffing changes have occurred in the past 3 years, or are contemplated.
  5. When were the provision, number and purpose of libraries in the Department last reviewed by the Department and/or the Public Service Board, and what recommendations were made at that time.
  6. Which libraries are open to the public, and what is the extent of public usage.
Mr Peacock:

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

  1. 1 ) The following libraries are maintained within the Department of Foreign Affairs: the Central Library and a legal sub-library in the Administration Building, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory; the Australian Development Assistance Bureau Library, AMP Building, Hoban Place, Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory; the International

Training Institute Library, Middle Head Centre, Middle Head Road, Mosman, New South Wales. In addition, libraries are maintained in each of the 74 Australian diplomatic and consular missions overseas.

The main purposes of the different libraries are:

Central Library to meet continuing reference and information needs of all officers within the Depanment ‘s subject interests. to maintain a collection of documents and publications received from the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. to select and supply Australian books, newspapers, periodicals and official publications to Australian diplomatic and consular missions, and to advise on the development of libraries at these missions. to maintain the Legal Division sub-library.

Australian Development Assistance Bureau Library to meet continuing reference and information needs of officers of ADAB. to maintain a collection of all project reports published by the Bureau and its consultants. to act as a deposit and distribution centre in Australia for reports, documents and publications issued by the Colombo Plan Bureau. to act as centre within Australia for forwarding to relevant authorities inquiries received from the Society for International Development, Paris.

International Training Institute Library to provide relevant information for sponsored overseas trainees and staff involved in training programs administered by Australian Development Assistance Bureau and conducted at ITI.

Post Libraries to provide an information and reference service on Australia to Australia-based staff at a mission, to visiting and resident Australians, and, where local circumstances permit, to local officials, academics, students and the general public. to provide for the Australia-based staff general background material on the country and region within each mission ‘s reporting responsibilities.

  1. est = estimated. n.a. = not available



Staff currently employed

Central Library1 Librarian Class 3 3 Librarian Class 2 1 Librarian Class 1 2 Clerical Assistants Grade IV 3 Clerical Assistants Grade III 2 Clerical Assistants Grade II 1 Typist Grade I

A review of the central library was undertaken in 1974-75. Existing staff positions were regarded, and two new positions were established. The number of professional staff was increased by one, and ten existing positions were upgraded.

No staff changes are contemplated.

ADAB Library 1 Librarian Class 2 1 Library Officer Grade 2 1 Clerical Assistant Grade IV 1 Clerical Assistant Grade III 1 Clerical Assistant Grade II

The Library Officer, Grade 2 Position was created in 1975 and the Clerical Assistant Grade II in 1976. One clerical assistant Grade III position was removed with the closure of a small sub-library in 1977.

No staff changes are contemplated.

I.T.I. Library 1 Librarian Class 2 1 Clerical Assistant Grade III 1 Clerical Assistant Grade I

Staffing has remained unchanged for some years. No changes are contemplated.

Post Libraries

Most post libraries are small, and are maintained as part of other duties by one locally-engaged member of staff, under the supervision of an Australia-based officer.

Libraries currently maintained by full-time locally engaged staff are:

Australian High Commission, London: 1 Librarian 2 Assistant Librarians (senior clerical officers) 1 Clerical Assistant Grade III 1 Clerical Assistant Grade II

Australian Consulate-General, New York 1 Clerk Grade V

Australian Embassy, Washington 1 Librarian Class1 (Australia-based) 1 Clerk Grade V

Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York 1 Clerk Grade V

Following a Public Service Board Review of the Australian High Commission in 1975, responsibility for the library was transferred from the National Library representatives.

No staff changes are contemplated.


Central Library

The 1974-75 review was undertaken by members of the Department and a representative from Public Service Board. The review took account of the transfer of responsibility from the National Library to the Department for the maintenance of post libraries, and the need to develop reference services. The functions of the library remained the same.

ADAB Library

A Public Service Board review of the Bureau functions and activities was carried out in 1976. It recommended that the Library be financed within the Central Library Appropriations, but this idea proved to be impracticable. The functions of the library remained the same.

I.T.I. Library

In the course of the 1976 review, a working party concerned with the integration of ADAB regional offices, (including I.T.I.) into Foreign Affairs was completed in May 1 976. It did not propose any changes in the staffing and functions of the library.

Post Libraries

Following the 1975 P.S.B. review of the Australian High Commission in London, the functions of the library remained the same, but a central enquiry unit was established in the library to handle all routine information enquiries which had formerly been dealt with by other sections.

A P.S.B. review of the Australian Embassy in Washington was also held in 1975. As a result the functions of the library were unchanged. All the sub-libraries in the Embassy were amalgamated into the main library, and the library was removed from the Information area.

No staffing changes are contemplated for overseas libraries.


Central Library

Loans- Most of the material in the central library can be made available on request to outside users (including private individuals) through other libraries, according to the interlibrary loan code. The library does not lend directly to private individuals. People from outside the government may visit and use the library by appointment. The forthcoming relocation of the library could make its facilities more readily available to the public if required. About one tenth of total loans are to users outside the Department.

Reference Services- Most requests for reference services for outside enquirers are received by mail or by telephone or may be handed on from other sources.

Approximately three-fifths of reference enquiries are received from the Department, including ADAB, the state offices and overseas posts. The balance are received from other government departments, the National Library, the Parliamentary Library and private sources.

ADAB Library

The Australian Development Assistance Bureau Library is available to all libraries on an inter-library loans basis. Reading and reference facilities are available to schools and colleges, and due to its specialised collection, holdings are used extensively by people involved in development studies.

I.T.I: Library

The library of I.T.I, is available for use by the public, and Ls extensively used by students and staff of other tertiary institutions.

Post Libraries

The libraries in London and Washington both are open to the public. They are used by staff at the posts, government departments, business firms, students and research workers and private individuals. The library in London is primarily a reference library. The Washington library loans items, and also provides an information referral services.

The Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York provides a specialist service to staff, other missions and the public, based mainly on its collection of UN documents and publications. Some posts actively promote their libraries. For example Jakarta has more than 1000 registered borrowers and an average of 250 users per month. The libraries of many other posts are also used by the public and by students.

Darwin Reconstruction (Question No. 1404)

Mr Hamer:

asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:

  1. What sum has been spent on the post cyclone Tracy reconstruction of Darwin.
  2. How much of this sum has been spent on cultural facilities.
  3. Does the Government accept responsibility for the reconstruction of all cyclone Tracy damage. If so, when will the (a) new library and (b) new an gallery be completed.
  4. Is the need for a major all-weather performing arts centre in Darwin accepted; if so, when will a centre be completed.
  5. How do the cultural facilities in Alice Springs compare with similar sized cities in other parts of Australia.
  6. Are there any plans for a cultural centre in Alice Springs. If so, what are they.
  7. Does the Federal Government provide capital assistance for cultural facilities in the Northern Territory.
  8. When will this responsibility be transferred to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, and what financial resources will that body then have for the purpose.
Mr Adermann:
Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP

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

  1. Expenditure through funds appropriated to the Darwin Reconstruction Commission has been- 1975- -76-$111m 1976- 77-$136.5m 1977- 78-$85m (estimated).

This expenditure includes payments on contracts which existed pre-cyclone, but does not include administration or defence.

Expenditure on repairs, etc in the immediate post-cyclone situation, which was of the order of $3 5 m, under the control of the Department of Construction is not included in the above figures nor are the funds provided to the Northern Territory Housing Commission and the Northern Territory Home Finance Trustee.

  1. $1 17,500 for restoration of Brown’s Mart Theatre, of which $55,700 was provided through the then Department of Urban and Regional Development. $44,000 on temporary protection of damaged historic buildings, plus $54,000 on the restoration and re-roofing of cell blocks at Fannie Bay Gaol regarded as buildings of historic significance. $20,000 on the provision of a demountable building to house the Darwin Public Library.
  2. The Government has undertaken to repair all Commonwealth cyclone damaged buildings and has given aid to the private sector by way of concessional loans for home building as well as aid to enable business recovery through the Darwin Business Relief Loan Fund. Compensation was also paid by the Government to persons who suffered property damage during the cyclone in those cases where they were uninsured or under-insured.

In relation to the specific matters raised-

  1. a new library at Casuarina is due for completion in late 1979;
  2. a new art gallery and museum complex is provisionally on Design List ‘A’ for 1978-79 subject to clarification of the allocation of land.

    1. Yes, but with its implementation being dependent upon the availability of financial resources.
    2. A survey of this nature has never been carried out and hence no information is available.
    3. Yes. A museum and an gallery complex is planned.
    4. Yes. Assistance for capital projects is currently being provided through the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, which operates a scheme of capital assistance for leisure facilities (CALF Scheme).
    5. See my statement of 14 September 1977 on Northern Territory Self-Government (House of Representatives Hansard, page 1087).

Bureau of Customs: Valuation of Goods (Question No. 1405)

Mr Young:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to press reports that the Bureau of Customs is considering raising additional revenue through a change in the method of valuing goods.
  2. If so, does this change involve adoption of new definitions of the term ‘buyer’ to that previously in force.
  3. Would such a change be highly inflationary and add significantly to the cost to the consumer in many areas where quantitative restrictions already apply.
  4. Will he give an assurance that if these changes are made no retrospective action will be taken concerning past importations.
  5. Will he also give an assurance that a provision will be made for the Industries Assistance Commission to review any changed levels of protection in the same way as existed in the period until 31 December 1976.
Mr Fife:
Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

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

  1. Press reports have been drawn to my attention but I emphasize that they misrepresent the true position. The Bureau of Customs is not changing the method of valuing goods. From time to time, an import transaction comes to notice which requires a decision to be made on how the valuation legislation would apply to such a transaction. In some cases the Department’s ruling differs from the valuation computed by the importer of the goods. This does not imply that any change has been made to the method of valuation.
  2. There is no new departmental definition of the word buyer’.
  3. ) No change is contemplated.
  4. No changes are contemplated. Consequently the question of possible retrospective action is not relevant.
  5. As no change has been made or is contemplated I see no point in making further provision for examination by the Industries Assistance Commission. Particularly since all departmental decisions on valuation may be appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Courts.

Commercial Bank of Australia: Takeover Activities (Question No. 1433)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to the recent activities of the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd and its affiliated company Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd in the Victorian Goulburn Valley.
  2. If so, is the Bank sponsoring or otherwise involved in the Henry Jones proposed takeover of the fruit canning cooperative SPC Ltd.
  3. If so, is this a proper and ethical activity for the holder of a Federal banking licence.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. I am aware of an offer by Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd of $1.10 cash per share to the shareholders of SPC Ltd. I assume that it is this to which the honourable member is referring.
  2. The Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd has an indirect interest through its wholly owned subsidiary, General Credits Ltd, in Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd. Latest information available to Commonwealth authorities from published sources suggests that General Credits Ltd has a 49.99 per cent interest in General Management Holdings Pry Ltd which in turn owns 76.8 per cent of the issued capital of Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd. I have no information to indicate whether the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd is involved in the transactions mentioned by the honourable member other than by way of its indirect equity involvement in Henry Jones (IXL) Ltd.
  3. Offers of take-over are a normal feature of commercial practice. The Banking Act 1959 places no formal constraints on holders of a banking authority as to their equity involvements.

Australia-Japan Long Term Sugar Agreement (Question No. 1442)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) On what occasions has he communicated with the Government of Japan regarding the Australian-Japanese sugar contract.
  2. Will he table in the Parliament transcripts and copies of any communications.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)I have had two communications with the Prime Minister of Japan on this matterI wrote to Mr Fukuda in July, and I had discussions with him on 8 August in Kuala Lumpur following the Post-ASEAN Summit meetings.

  1. The Australia-Japan long term sugar agreement involves commercial negotiations between the Australian and Japanese parties. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to table in the Parliament the letter which I sent to the Prime Minister of Japan on this matter.

My ministerial statement on the Post-ASEAN Conference Talks which I delivered in the Parliament on 17 August (Hansard, pages 350-354) reported on my discussions with Mr Fukuda.

Meat Research (Question No. 1454)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

  1. What research projects has he approved from the Meat Research Fund;
  2. Is he satisfied with the priority given to research projects.
Mr Sinclair:
Minister for Primary Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)I have approved expenditure from the Meat Research Trust Account during 1 977-78 on the following projects:

  1. Cattle Projects

State Departments


Pasture studies; Queensland

Studies of management practices; ‘Swans Lagoon’;


Studies on cattle tick, tick fever and tick control,

Yeerongpilly, Wacol and Oonoonba

Analysis of reproductive data

Measurement of beef carcasses

Low productivity in cattle in South West Queensland

Residue and tick control programs

New South Wales

Beef feed-year pastures, North Coast, Grafton

Beef cattle- winter nutrition on the Northern Tablelands, Glen Innes

Nature and organisation of the beef cattle industry, with special reference to the northern areas of New South Wales, Armidale and Grafton

Beef cattle improvement through breeding methods, Trangie

Incidence importance and control of internal parasites of cattle in New South Wales, Glenfield

Limitations of beef production from pastures Southern Slopes

The significance of copper deficiency to the cattle industry, Glenfield

Field evaluation of feral pig control techniques Glenfield Maintenance requirements for phosphorus and sulphur of grazed pasture on beef properties of coastal New South Wales

Phosphorus levels in cattle in the pastoral zone

Inherited enzyme deficiencies in livestock

An investigation of techniques for culturing Vesicular Arbuscular ( VA) Mycorrhizas on artificial media


Beef research program, Hamilton

Investigation of calf wastage, ‘ Attwood ‘, Broadmeadows

A study of the pathogenicity and epidemiology of lice infestations of beef cattle and an economic evaluation of their influence on production, Hamilton

Investigation of iodine in sheep and cattle

The application of the serving capacity test in the breeding of beef bulls and in their mating management

Improving the efficiency of calf production from annual pasture

South Australia

Struan cattle management and breeding

Western Australia

Beef production in the agricultural areas of Western Australia, Brambey, Northam, Mt Barker, Wokalup and Chapman Research Station

Purchase of ancillary equipment to be used in conjunction with an electron microscope


Beef carcase specification survey, Killafaddy Abattoirs Live animals assessment in relation to beef carcase classification

page 2456


Pasture development and plant nutrition investigations,

Brisbane, Samford and Fitzroy Basin, Brigalow areas and associated field research centres

Pasture plant collection and testing program for the sub-tropics, Brisbane and associated field research centres

Genetic studies; ‘Belmont’ and Rockhampton

Evaluation of acaricides, Brisbane

Tick ecology, physiology and biochemistry, Brisbane

Endoparasites of beef cattle in southern and northern Australia; Parkville and Indooroopilly

Tick resistance and tickborae fevers of cattle Indooroopilly, Jimboomba and Townsville

Pasture legume breeding, Cunningham, Townsville and associated field centres

Biological control of dung and buffalo fly, Canberra, Rockhampton and Pretoria South Africa

Pasture plant collection and testing for the northern tropics, Townsville and associated field research centres

Bovine tuberculosis, Parkville

Bloat research in cattle Melbourne

Pasture and animal production studies northwest Australia

Ecology and control of buffalo fly

The development of a non-bloating variety of subterranean clover

The culture of Babesia bovis in vitro

Beef allocation to the Meat Research Laboratory, Cannon Hill (60 per cent of $405,000)

Bureau of Agricultural Economics

Economic considerations in property management for beef production

Studies in beef prices

Regional economic studies of the Australian beef cattle industry

Integration and inter-regional economic relationships in the beef cattle industry

Australian Meat Board

Classification of beef carcasses

Bruising in cattle

Research/Industry Liaison Beef Proportion (60 per cent of $40,000 + $10,000)

Market research (60 per cent of $75,000)

Collection and processing of edible blood products from cattle



Viral, bacterial and leptospiral diseases

Studies on the arthropod parasites of cattle

Synchronisation of oestrus in beef cattle

Lymphatic studies in cattle

Studies on the validation and efficiency of meat inspection and meat hygiene procedures for disease control and public health

North Queensland

The life cycle, pathology, epidemiology, control metabolism and immunology of Onchocerca gibsoni in northern Australia

New England

Carcase appraisal and meat quality

Efficiency of urea utilisation

Bloat research, joint pasture agronomy studies by University of New England and Department of Agriculture New South Wales

Research into the cause of bloat

Supervision of the development and consolidation of the National Beef Recording Scheme throughout Australia


Factors affecting food intake, growth and the efficiency of protein production in ruminants and their effects on carcase composition

Physiology, biochemistry, preservation and survival of bull spermatozoa and studies of their survival in the genital tract of the cow.

Investigations into the incidence, aetiology and pathogenesis of lower limb lameness in cattle

Virological, immunological and serological aspects and neurofibromatosis of beef cattle

New South Wales

Further studies in clinically silent copper deficiency in grazing cattle

Australian National

The immunological basis of disease resistance and susceptibility in cattle

Control of sex offspring in cattle


Growth and body composition studies

Ruminant nutrition

Physiological studies on intensive rearing practices in calves and parasitic gastritis

Endocrinology of serving inability and testicular dysfunction in bulls


Properties of enteropathogenic E. coli and the incidence of such strains amongst scouring beef calves

Hypomagnesaemia and Hypocalcaemia of ruminants


Studies of the nitrogen and energy turnover of cattle grazing sown pastures in the Mediterranean environment of South Australia, with particular reference to periods of summer under-nutrition, Mortlock

Western Australia

Bovine nutritional studies: factors affecting formation and feed utilisation in the bovine rumen

The large-scale production and testing of Endogone spores for the inoculation of forage crops and pastures


Copper in pasture plants

B. Sheep and Lamb Projects

State Departments

New South Wales

Sheep fertility service Tamworth

The evaluation of selection and management practices in items of carcase characteristics, Sydney

Quality and use of legume inoculants, and studies of nitrogen fixation, Gosford

A study of the predisposing causes to blowfly strike and mechanisms that afford control


Improving reproductive performance

South Australia

Phosphorus and sulphur requirements for S.E. pasture Improvement of fertility of crossbred ewes Kybybolite

Western Australia

Evaluation of sown pasture legumes for sheep production including reproduction; S.W. of Western Australia

The investigation of lupinosis

Epizoology, pathogenesis and control of caseous lymphadenitis of sheep

Sheep product wastage in supply, marketing and processing of sheepmeats; developing a livestock classification system and producer feedback system


The pathogenesis of Sarcocystis tenella (large form) infection in sheep

The economic importance of Sarcocystis tenella (small form)

page 2457


Selective breeding and cross-breeding for meat production, Ryde and Armidale

Study of certain aspects of the sheep blowfly problem, McMaster Laboratory, Glebe

Sheep blowfly investigations (genetic and ecological studies)

Control of ovine foot-rot

CSIRO Meat Research Laboratory, Cannon Hill (40 per cent of $405,000)

Bureau of Agricultural Economics

Production economics of the mutton and lamb industries Mutton and lamb marketing research

Australian Meat Board

Sheep carcass classification pilot trial

Research-Industry liaison- sheep proportion (40 per cent of$40,000)

Market research and ‘off farm’ costs (40 per cent of $75,000)



Pasture and seed production studies, Brisbane Normal and abnormal promotions of digestive organs with particular reference to domestic ruminant animals

New England

Phosphorus nutrition of pasture plants


Anatomical studies of sheep, Sydney

New South Wales

Consumer requirements for lamb comparison of sires to produce a North American or Middle East carcase

The White Suffolk- the production of a new meat ram breed with growth characteristics of the Suffolk but without black wool


Nutrient requirements and growth of meat sheep, Mt Derrimut and Melbourne

Epidemiology and immunology of Cysticercus ovis infection, Melbourne

Design of electric fences

Regulation of follicular development in the ovary of the ewe


Studies on part-partum oestrus in sheep

Western Australia

Investigation of yield determining factors in the productivity of herbage and seed legumes

Co-operative reproductive research in Western Australian flocks


Training project to study the early development of the sheep embryo


Mineral metabolism during body weight loss and regain Interactions between sulphur and molybdenum and copper metabolism in the sheep the sheet

Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science

Sporazoa infection of sheep (2)1 believe that, in present circumstances, a higher proportion of meat research funds should be devoted to marketing and the reduction of costs at all stages of the production and marketing chain. The Australian Meat Research Committee agrees with that view and over the last two years has recommended to me substantial expenditure on projects of that nature. It is intended that additional funds will be diverted to marketing and cost reduction research as a number of long term production studies are terminated over the next year or so.

Subject to these provisos, I am satisfied with the priority given to research projects.

Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry (Question No. 1479)

Mr Moore:

asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

On what date was the final report of the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry (a) placed in the hands of the printers, (b) available in printed form to the Commissioners of the Inquiry and (c) forwarded to him by the Commissioners.

Mr Newman:

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

I refer the honourable member’s attention to the answer to parliamentary question No. 2003 on this same matter. (Hansard, 24 February 1977, page 515).

Army Reserve (Question No. 1489)

Mr Neil:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to reports in the Canberra Times of Thursday, 8 September 1 977, stating that Government departments were making it difficult for employees to remain members of the Army Reserve.
  2. If so, is he able to say whether there is any substance in the allegations.
  3. What action is he taking to investigate these matters and to overcome any of the alleged problems.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. and (3) Investigations within my Department have revealed no case of refusal of an application by a member of the Army Reserve for leave to meet his required training commitments; nor is my Department aware of such a refusal by any other Department.

Electoral Division of Oxley: Health Projects (Question No. 1524)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 September 1977:

  1. Which projects have been supported by his Department in the electoral division of Oxley in each year from and including 1971-72.
  2. What financial aid was provided and for what purpose.
Mr Hunt:

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

The principal programs which are administered by my Department and can readily be identified in monetary terms in the electoral division of Oxley are:

Hospitals Development Program

Australian School Dental Scheme

Community Health Program

Home Nursing Service (Subsidy)

Details of expenditure on each project in each year from and including 1971-72 are provided in the following statements.

Other major programs which are conducted on a national or State basis but for which figures are not available for individual electoral divisions are as follows:

Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service

Drug Education Program

Family Planning Program Nursing Home Benefits Program

Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefits Program

Private Hospital Bed Subsidy Program

Hospitals Cost Sharing Arrangements

Health Program Grants

Hospitals Development Program-

This program was established in 1974-75 to provide capital assistance to the States over a five year period for the provision of new hospitals, mental institutions, hostels and nursing homes and the upgrading of existing facilities.

The following approved projects (in the electoral division of Oxley) were included in the Queensland total program of works, for which Hospital Development Program block grants were provided:

  1. Financial aid under the Hospitals Development Program is in the form of a block grant to the States to supplement each State’s total program of capital works as a whole rather than to individual projects. The final responsibility for managing total funds, both Federal and State, rests with the State. The block grants allocated to the whole of

Queensland since the commencement of the Program are as follows:

Australian School Dental Scheme-

The scheme, commenced in July 1973, is being developed to provide free dental treatment, including dental health education, for all children under15 years of age, with initial emphasis on primary school children and to improve in the longer term the nation’s dental health by early treatment and prevention of dental diseases in children and by dental health education.

Projects supported by the Department of Health under the Australian School Dental Scheme in the electoral division of Oxley to 1976-77 were:

School Dental Brassall Primary School

Clinics at: Bundamba Primary School

Inala Primary School

Inala- St Mark’s Primary School

Inala West Primary School

Ipswich East Primary School

Ipswich North Primary School

Richlands East Primary School

Serviceton Primary School

Serviceton South Primary School

Silkstone Primary School

Facilities for St Joseph ‘s-Ipswich North

Mobile Clinics at: Kuraby Primary School

Commonwealth expenditure on the abovementioned clinics to 1976-77 was:

Home Nursing Service (Subsidy)-

Under this item, subsidies are paid to approved non-profit organisations conducting home nursing services.

Expenditure in relation to the electoral division of Oxley is listed below:

Tasmanian Shipping Service (Question No. 1527)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 20 September 1977:

  1. Which of the recommendations in the report of Mr J. F. Nimmo, C.B.E., on transport between Tasmania and the mainland which was presented on5 March 1976 have not yet been the subject of action by the Government.
  2. Which departments are members of the interdepartmental committee set up to consider those recommendations.
  3. 3 ) What are its terms of reference.
  4. When wasit established.
  5. 5 ) When is it expected or required to report.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. The following are those recommendations in the report of Mr J. F. Nimmo, C.B.E., on transport between Tasmania and the mainland which was presented on5 March 1976 and have not yet been the subject of action by the Government:

    1. That ANL be asked to carry out as expeditiously as possible a study of: the cost of moving general cargo between a port in Westernport Bay and a wharf in Devonport in a Pure Ro-Ro vessel that completes the round trip in 24 hours as compared with the cost of moving the same cargo between Webb Dock and Devonport in a Searoader or the Melbourne Trader.

That, if the study reveals that a Pure Ro-Ro service between Westernport Bay and Devonport should be more efficient and cheaper, the Ministry of Transport be asked to carry out a study of relative cost of door-to-door movement of goods between places in Victoria and places in northern Tasmania over this route on its own wheels as compared with cargo boxes or on flats in Ro-Ro vessels from Webb Dock.

That, if the foregoing studies show that it would be more efficient and cheaper to move cargo by Pure Ro-Ro from Westernport than Ro-Ro from Webb Dock, consideration be given to the design, speed and capacity of a Pure Ro-Ro vessel suited to trans-Bass operations. (Chapter 6, Section 6. 10. 1 ).

That, if a fast cargo Pure Ro-Ro service is introduced between Melbourne and Northern Tasmania, the Tasmanian terminal be located at Devonport. (Chapter 7, Section 7.9.4).

  1. That an in-depth investigation be carried out into all aspects of the provision of a rail ferry service for the carriage of goods and livestock on Tasmanian rail wagons between Westernport Bay and Devonport. (Chapter 6, Section 6. 10.3).

That, if it is decided to introduce a rail ferry service between Westernport Bay and Northern Tasmania, the Tasmanian terminal be located at Devonport. (Chapter 7, Section 7.9.4).

  1. That the future sea passenger service between Tasmania and the mainland be provided by two vessels operating between Westernport Bay and Burnie. Features of the service would be return crossing in 24 hours; daylight passenger service; and express cargo service by night. ( Chapter 6, Section 6. 10.4).

That, if a fast daylight passenger service and return cargo service by night is to be introduced between Westernport Bay and Burnie, consideration be given as to whether the Ocean Wharf at Burnie be upgraded. (Chapter 7, Section 7.9.4).

  1. d ) That all replacement pallets for use in the Tasmanian trades be constructed on the 1,100 mm x 1,100 mm basis. (Chapter 4, Section 4.4).
  2. That a meeting be convened of all interested parties to consider the practicability of establishing a pool of cargo units of standard size, and its contribution to improved efficiency. (Chapter 4, Section 4.7). (0 That the Tasmanian Government be requested to consider setting up a central port authority to coordinate future port development. (Chapter 7, Section 7.10.3).
  3. That the Tasmanian Government be requested to consider, in regard to the port of Stanley- the the Marine Boards of Burnie and Circular Head be amalgamated; and that the port of Stanley be closed to Ro-Ro vessels. (Chapter 7, Section 7. 1 1 ).

    1. Not all members of the Interdepartmental Committee are concerned with the outstanding recommendations. The departments involved are:

Department of Transport

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Department of Finance

Department of Industry and Commerce

Department of Business and Consumer Affairs

Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development

Department of Productivity.

  1. The terms of reference of this committee are to consider the report and prepare a submission for Ministers’ consideration.
  2. The Interdepartmental Committee first met on 31 March 1976. Since then the Committee has met on a number of occasions and has been reporting progressively on certain recommendations in the report. The honourable member will be aware of the action progressively taken by the Government to introduce first the northbound then the southbound freight equalisation schemes and the operating subsidy for the Empress of Australia to the extent of $2m per year.
  3. It is expected that the recommendations of the committee on these outstanding issues will be available to me in the near future.

Health Insurance Funds: Election of Directors (Question No. 1529)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 September 1977:

What progress has been made with the legislation to ensure that contributors to registered medical benefits and hospital benefits organisations have a democratic right to elect the directors of the organisations (Hansard, 20 May 1976, page 2275, 26 August 1976, page 601, 20 October 1976, page 2020, 1 December 1976, page 3085, 22 March 1 977, page 47 1 and 2 June 1 977, page 2522 ).

Mr Hunt:

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

On 20 May 1976,I undertook to give consideration to the possibility of introducing legislation to ensure contributors do have a democratic right to elect directors to boards of health insurance funds. A working party is examining the matter and I expect that it will report by the end of this year. I am unable to foreshadow any further steps the Government may decide to take in the light of the report.

Commonwealth Banking Corporation: Transfer of Officers (Question No. 1542)

Mr James:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) Are staff joining the Commonwealth Banking Corporation still required to give written acknowledgement that they will serve anywhere.
  2. If so, is this acknowledgement common to all Commonwealth instrumentalities.
  3. Do Corporation staff have any choice in point of service such as exists in the Public Service, e.g. the Post Office, or does the Corporation still, without regard to length of service, use the written acknowledgement to enforce transfers.
  4. Has the Corporation in recent years insisted that staff transferred from capital cities to country appointments must clear housing loans.
  5. If so (a) was this policy required by the Commonwealth Banks Act; (b) what was the economic effect on the same officers transferred back to capital dues; and (c) what consideration did the Corporation give to the financial losses suffered by these officers in having to purchase homes again on a greatly inflated market.
  6. In regard to compensation for injury, is the Corporation required to give proper notice to its employees as to their rights such as is required by Workers Compensation Acts.
  7. If so, do the Corporation’s instructions clearly indicate to officers injured on duty (a) that a certain Act applies and ( b ) any restriction of claims by effluxion of time.
  8. If an officer transferred to a country appointment required specialised medical treatment only available by residence in a capital city, does the Corporation take, or has it taken, the attitude that the request represents an application for transfer on behalf of the officer, and therefore the Corporation is not liable for any travelling or living expenses incurred in obtaining the medical treatment, even though the officer has been transferred to the country by the Corporation.
  9. Are managers of the Corporation restricted in their promotional opportunities by being required by any policy of the Corporation that they must serve a fixed term in each appointment before they are considered for further promotion; if so, is this requirement also applied to other officers.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. 1) to (9) The matters raised in the honouable member’s question are covered fully by the Acting Treasurer’s answer to an earlier question asked by Senator Scott of the Minister Representing the Treasurer in the Senate (Question No. 1051). That answer can be found on pages 1 140 and 1 141 of the Senate Hansard of 5 October 1977.

Commonwealth Banking Corporation: Transfer of Mr R. J. Doolan (Question No. 1543)

Mr James:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 21 September 1977:

  1. Was Mr Robert John Doolan, after 31 years service, summarily removed from the management of the Moruya Branch of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in March 1974, as a result of a report made by a Bank subinspector, and was he advised that he had been transferred without promotion as a disciplinary measure.
  2. Did Mr Doolan, in April 1974, exercise his right of appeal to the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the Corporation; if so, (a) did the Corporation argue that the Disciplinary Appeals Board had no jurisdiction as Mr Doolan had not been ‘disciplined’, (b) were the particulars furnished by the Corporation as required by regulation 35 ( 1 ) totally consistent with the Corporation’s legal argument of no jurisdiction and no discipline and (c) did these particulars contain no specific charges evidencing inefficiency, incompetence or unfitness.
  3. Did the Disciplinary Appeals Board subsequently find that no matter what other reason the Corporation had for transferring the appellant, it had in effect come to the conclusion that the appellant was either inefficient, incompetent or unfit.
  4. If so, was the Disciplinary Appeals Board decision a complete negation of all the Corporation’s legal argument and of the particulars furnished by the Corporation
  5. Did the Chairman of the Board decline to exercise express powers conferred on him under regulation 35(2) directing the Corporation to furnish further particulars evidencing this inefficiency, incompetence or unfitness.
  6. Was Mr Doolan then in the position of having to prove his competency without knowing the reasons for the Bank’s conclusions about his competency and fitness.
  7. 7) Does the Corporation use the transfer of a manager to the relieving staff without promotion as a disciplinary device.
  8. In regard to the inspection of branches of the Corporation, are staff privately interviewed by the senior inspecting officer.
  9. Are staff, during these interviews, encouraged to speak openly of their feelings towards the manager.
  10. Do the Corporation’s instructions require a subinspector presenting a staff report likely to affect an officer’s future career, to discuss this report with the officer concerned and obtain a written acknowledgement that the report had been so discussed.
  11. 1 1 ) If so, did the sub-inspector in this instance ( a) decline to discuss his report with Mr Doolan stating it would be defamatory to do so and (b) ask Mr Doolan to sign a certificate that the report had been fully discussed with him.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. 1 ) to ( 1 1 ) As this matter concerns the administration of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation I referred the question to the Managing Director of the Corporation. He has provided me with detailed answers to the questions asked.

However, I do not consider it appropriate to make public details of personal employment records without the consent of the person concerned. If Mr Doolan, either directly or through the honourable member, were to write to me I would be prepared to pass on the detailed answers to the questions that have been asked.

Uranium: Monitoring of Public Debate (Question No. 1552)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 22 September:

  1. Did he say on 10 March 1977 that a task force had been set up in his Department to monitor the uranium debate.
  2. ) If so, what form did the monitoring take.
  3. 3 ) Who are the members of the task force.
  4. Did he produce a report on the debate to Cabinet.
  5. ) If so, will he publish the report; if not, why not.
Mr Newman:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2), (3) and (5)1 refer the honourable member to the answer to parliamentary question No. 837 of 1 June 1977 (Hansard.’iX May 1977, page 2268).

  1. No.

Minister for Industry and Commerce: Communications to Mr J. Bracey (Question No. 1556)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 2 1 September 1 977:

On what occasions has the Minister.

sent communications himself or through others to Mr John Bracey; and

received communications himself or through others from him.

Mr Viner:

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

  1. and (b) Nil.

Fawnmac Group of Companies (Question No. 1567)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 4 October 1 977:

What proportion of gross profit and profit before tax of the Fawnmac group of companies was derived from contract work carried out for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories during the last 3 financial years.

Mr Hunt:

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

George Weston Food Ltd: Takeover Offer for Provincial Traders Holdings Ltd (Question No. 1577)

Mr Hurford:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 4 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to press reports of 8 September 1977 of a statement by the Chairman of George Weston Food Ltd, Mr A. G. Parker, in which it is stated that his company had withdrawn its partial takeover offer for Provincial Traders Holdings Ltd and was not proceeding with the matter despite approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board.
  2. Is the Board an advisory body only and as such does not have the power to grant approvals to examinable foreign investment proposals.
  3. If so, what is the basis of Mr Parker’s reported statement.
  4. If Mr Parker’s statement is incorrect, did the Government approve the proposal referred to earlier in the year; if so, when did it do so.
  5. Did George Weston submit a section 26 notice under the Foreign Takeovers Aa in respect of its proposal.
  6. If approval is given to a foreign takeover proposal that has been notified under section 26 of the Foreign Takeovers Aa, does section 25 of the Aa, when read in conjunction with section 26, provide that an approval under the Act cannot be subsequently overturned even if it is later established that an offeror’s submission in respect of the approved proposal contained significantly incorrect information.
  7. Has his attention also been drawn to newspaper reports, that (a) the original approval to George Weston’s proposal was subsequently overturned following representations by the Board of Provincial Traders to the FIRB (b) George Weston’s submission contained incorrect information and (c) a request from the Provincial Traders Board to the FIRB that the original approval to George Weston be reversed; if so, is there any substance in the reports.
  8. Was George Weston asked to withdraw its proposal even though it had previously been approved.
  9. Does the overturning of the FIRB’s original approval for the takeover mean that the FIRB had not checked the information in the George Weston submission.
  10. 10) In view of the confusion surrounding the case, will he release all the advice he received on the matter from the FIRB.
Mr Lynch:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. As the Foreign Investment Review Board does not take decisions on foreign investment proposals, the reference to it in the reported statement is incorrect.
  4. It is not the Government’s practice to reveal particulars of a foreign investment proposal, including whether the proposal is, or has been, before it and, if so, the outcome of the screening process. However, as I stated in answer to a question without notice on 7 September 1977, George Weston had advised the Stock Exchange of its decision to withdraw its offer for a partial takeover of Provincial Traders; in those circumstances I may confirm that the Government raised no objections in terms of foreign investment policy to the proposal as presented by George Weston Foods Limited to the Foreign Investment Review Board earlier this year.
  5. As indicated in (4) it is not the Government’s practice to reveal the particulars of a foreign investment proposal.
  6. The question raises a matter of legal interpretation. However, it is my understanding that once the prescribed period has expired it is not thereafter open to the Treasurer to make an Order prohibiting a proposed acquisition notified in accordance with the Aa.
  7. -( 10) I have seen the newspaper reports referred to. I repeat that it is not the Government’s practice to reveal particulars of a foreign investment proposal.

Australia-Japan Shipping Arrangements (Question No. 1590)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 4 October 1977:

  1. What action has his Department taken to implement the provisions of Article X of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation between Australia and Japan.
  2. What are the present shipping arrangements between Australia and Japan under the terms of the Article.
  3. What are the guidelines and objectives for the mutual co-operation for the development of shipping between Japan and Australia.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. The Basic Treaty was ratified on 21 July 1977 and entered into force on 20 August 1977.
  2. Article X covers all forms of shipping between Australia and Japan. Australian flag vessels participate in the liner trade between the two countries and negotiations are continuing between ANL and the Japanese steel mills on the employment of the remaining two of four Australian flag vessels in the iron ore trade.
  3. The scope and purpose of the Basic Treaty are broader than those of Japan s treaties of commerce and navigation with a number of other countries. Accordingly, specific guidelines and objectives have not been established under Article X. This Article is intended to provide a framework for strengthened relations between the two countries in the field of shipping.

Townsville to Magnetic Island Helicopter Service (Question No. 1601)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) Does a helicopter passenger service operate between Townsville Airport and Nellie Bay, Magnetic Island.
  2. If so, what are the provisions of the regulations governing the operation of the service especially as they affect (a) the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers and luggage and ( b) the qualifications of pilots who operate the service.
  3. Do the relevant regulations provide that the engine(s) of the aircraft must not operate whilst loading and unloading take place.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) Yes. A helicopter charter service between Townsville Airport and Nellie Bay, Magnetic Island, does operate. It is operated by Rotorair Pry Ltd under the terms of the specific approval issued by the Department of Transport. A specific authorisation was required because Nellie Bay is situated within the Townsville Airport Control Zone and as such the operation might conflict with other air traffic in the zone unless appropriate conditions are applied.
  2. (a) In regard to the first part of this question, the normal requirements of the Air Navigation Regulations and Orders in regard to the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers and luggage apply to this operation. In addition, in the specific authorisation issued by my Department, Rotorair are required to have a company representative present at the authorised landing site on the beach at Nellie Bay to keep the area clear of persons and to supervise the unloading and loading of passengers and luggage and to brief embarking passengers on emergency procedures.

    1. Regarding pilot qualifications, a charter operation of this kind requires the pilot-in-command to hold at least a Commercial Pilot Licence- Helicopter.
  3. The regulations do not prohibit the loading and unloading of a helicopter with engine(s) and rotors operating. It is standard practice in both helicopter charter and regular public transport operations to follow this procedure subject to supervision by responsible company personnel.

Overseas Cargo Shipping Legislation (Question No. 1604)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) Has the secret review of overseas cargo shipping legislation which he announced on 17 March 1977 been completed as anticipated.
  2. Will he make the report of the study group available to the Parliament for the benefit of members; if not, why not.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) and (2) At this stage I have nothing further to add to my earlier reply to similar questions posed by the honourable member on IS September 1977.

Mystere Flight (Question No. 1606)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:

  1. What was the purpose of the Canberra/Richmond/ Canberra flight made by aircraft No. 3 (Mystere) of No. 34 Squadron on 8 March 1977.
  2. ) What was departure and arrival time at each airport.
  3. Were any persons other than normal operational crew of the aircraft transported from, or to, Canberra; if so, what was their classification.
  4. What goods and/or foodstuffs were transported by the aircraft from, or to, Canberra.
Mr Killen:

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

  1. 1) The flight on 8 March 1977 by a Mystere aircraft of No. 34 Squadron from Canberra to Richmond and return was a training flight to carry out instrument approaches and circuits at Richmond.
  2. Departure Fairbairn 3 p.m., arrival Richmond 3.4S p.m., departure Richmond 4.10 p.m., arrival Fairbairn, S.0S p.m.
  3. Two squadron servicing personnel were carried from Canberra to Richmond and return. One was a Sergeant General Hand and the other a Sergeant Equipment.
  4. Nil.

Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development: Overseas Travel (Question No. 1627)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) On what occasions and for what purposes has he travelled overseas during the period 1 1 November 1975 to date.
  2. What was the name, classification and salary of all persons who accompanied him on each occasion.
  3. What was the cost of (a) travel (b) accommodation and (c) other expenditure, and what was the total cost incurred in respect of himself and each person who travelled with him on each journey overseas.
  4. Which airlines and/or other means of transport were utilised during each journey overseas.
Mr Newman:

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

  1. 1 have not travelled overseas during the period stated.
  2. (3) (4) In view of the answer to question (1) these questions are not applicable.

Task Force on Co-ordination in Welfare and Health (Question No. 1667)

Mr Hodges:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 5 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) How many meetings have been held between Federal and State representatives to discuss the implementation of the Bailey Report on Social Welfare.
  2. Who were the individuals involved in these discussions.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

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

  1. 1 ) There have been eight meetings held between Federal and State officials to discuss the possible implementation of recommendations in the first report of the Task Force on Coordination in Welfare and Health and the report of the Committee on the Care of the Aged and the Infirm. One meeting was held in each State except for Victoria and South Australia where two meetings were held. During visits to the States meetings were also held with representatives of local government and non-government organisations.
  2. Officers who attended the meetings were not there as individuals but rather as officers who were either involved or in some way associated with programs which were being discussed. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate to identify them by name.

Office Accommodation: Cost (Question No. 1682)

Mr Keith Johnson:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice, on5 October 1977:

At current prices, what is the cost per square metre of the construction of office accommodation in (a) Melbourne, (b) Sydney and (c) Brisbane.

Mr McLeay:

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

The current cost of construction of multi-storey, airconditioned and open planned office space in Melbourne is of the order of $480 per square metre or gross floor area.

Costs in Sydney and Brisbane do not differ significantly from this figure and costs at each location would be in-, fluenced by features of the site or special design requirements.

Gross floor area is defined as the sum of fully enclosed covered areas and unenclosed covered areas.

Airport Fire Fighting Appliances (Question No. 1688)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) What level of commonality exists in fire hose couplings of fire-fighting appliances located at each of the airports controlled by his Department.
  2. What action has he taken to ensure interchangeability of his Department’s fire-fighting appliances with those of nearby fire-fighting authorities.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) All departmental fire-fighting appliances are equipped with standardised fire hose couplings and associatedfittings.
  2. All departmental fire-fighting appliances carry coupling adaptors to ensure interchangeability with nearby firefighting authorities. In addition, some local authorities have been provided by my Department with coupling adaptors for their fire appliances, thus enabling them to give support to airport fire appliances.

Airport Fire Fighting Appliances (Question No. 1691)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

  1. What is the make, year of manufacture, location, capacity and expected remaining work life of each of the main fire- fighting appliances operated at airports in Australia.
  2. What are the details and intended locations of firefighting appliances on order by his Department.
Mr Nixon:

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

  1. 1 ) The existing fleet of fire appliances at Australian airports is comprised of the following:

    1. Large Fire Tenders: Thornycroft Nubian chassis, 3,600 litre water capacity, 1,800 litre per minute discharge rate. 12 built in 1958; 16 built in 1960; 9 built in 1963-65; 2 built in 1967.
    2. Large Fire Tenders: Atkinson chassis, 5,400 litre water capacity, 1,800 litre per minute discharge rate. 2 built in 1972.
    3. Ultra Large Fire Tenders: Thornycroft Major chassis, 6,800 litre water capacity, 3,200 litre per minute discharge rate. 8 built in 1971-72.
    4. Medium Fire Tenders: Bedford chassis, 2,000 litre water capacity, 450 litre per minute discharge rate. 10 built in 1965-66.
    5. Ultra Large Water Tenders: Atkinson chassis, 9, 100 litre water capacity. 4 built in 1 967-70.
    6. f) Rescue Tenders-

Light Rescue Tenders: Willys chassis, carries special rescue equipment. 5 built in 1962-65.

Medium Rescue Tenders: Bedford chassis, carries special rescue equipment. 4 built in 1972.

  1. Location: The location of my Department’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Appliances are shown in Attachment

Normally, the life of specialist vehicles is considered to be of the order of 15 years. Against this criterion many of these appliances have, or are reaching the end of their reasonable economic and practical life. The remaining life will depend on when replacement new equipment becomes available.

  1. At the present time my Department has on order 12 Rapid Intervention Tenders (RIT) and 10 Ultra Large Fire Tenders (ULFT). The future location of these vehicles and the consequent redistribution of appliances is currently under review.

Department of Construction: Engagement of Apprentices (Question No. 1693)

Mr Keith Johnson:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) How many new apprentices have been engaged by his Department in each of the years from 1972 to 1977, inclusive.
  2. What is the ratio of apprentices to tradesmen.
  3. How many tradesmen have been employed in each of the years from 1972 to 1977, inclusive.
Mr McLeay:

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

  1. 1 ) to (3) The numbers of new apprentices engaged by the Department of Construction in each of the years from 1972 to 1977, the ratios of the total numbers of apprentices in training to tradesmen and the numbers of tradesmen employed in each of the years from 1972 to 1977 are set out below.

Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong: Design Team (Question No. 1694)

Mr Keith Johnson:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) Has the design team for the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong been disbanded; if so, why.
  2. If the team has not been disbanded, (a) is it the original team, (b) has it been diminished in size, (c) are all members staff of the Department of Construction, (d) is it composed of part staff and part consultants and (e) how many persons make up the team.
Mr McLeay:

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

  1. 1 ) No. The design team has not been disbanded.
  2. ) ( a) The team still includes all key members of the original design group. The composition of support staff varies depending on the stage of the design process.

    1. Yes. The numerical strength of the team is currently lower than peak strengths reached during 1 976-77.
    2. No. Key members of the team comprise Department of Construction and CSIRO staff. Support staff includes consultants.
    3. Yes.
    4. Twenty-six (26) as at 13 October 1977. This number is not static and is adjusted as necessary to meet the design program.

Primary Producers: Unemployment Benefit (Question No. 1700)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

  1. 1 ) How many farmers, showing the electoral divisions in which they are located, received unemployment benefits during 1976 and up to 3 1 August 1977.
  2. What was the average period of payment and in which months were the payments concentrated.
  3. How many farmers, showing the rural industries in which they were engaged, received benefits and what was the average weekly benefit paid to each group.
  4. What percentage of applicants for benefits were successful.
Mr Hunt:

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

  1. Information is not available in the form requested. However, Table 1 below shows the number of primary producers granted unemployment benefit during the period 10 May 1976 to 2 September 1977, classified by Social Security regional office.
  2. Statistics showing the average period of payment are not available. Table 2 shows the number of primary producers granted unemployment benefit during each fourweek period from 10 May 1976 to 2 September 1977.
  3. Table 3 shows the number of primary producers granted unemployment benefit during the period 10 May 1976 to 2 September 1977, classified by type of rural industry. Statistics showing the average weekly benefit paid are not available.
  4. From 10 May 1976 to 2 September 1977 6,547 applications for unemployment benefit were received from primary producers and of these 4,794 or 73.2 per cent were granted.

Landsat Technology: Use for Agricultural Purposes (Question No. 1702)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science the following question, upon notice, on 6 October 1977.

  1. 1) Is Australia using or intending to use the Landsat satellite system for agriculture; if so, how much does it cost and who pays;
  2. What information is available from Landsat which is of value to agriculture and how is this information disseminated;
  3. Can marihuana plantations be located by Landsat.
Mr Adermann:

– The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. and (2) The Minister for Science announced on 17 August the Government’s intention to establish, at a cost of $4.2m, facilities in Australia to receive and process data from the United States earth resources technology satellites known as Landsat. The facilities are expected to be operational by the end of 1979. The Government’s decision was based on its recognition of the important contribution which Landsat technology could make to the task of monitoring and managing our natural resources. In the area of agriculture, Landsat will be of considerable value in assessing the potential yield and health of growing crops, and for monitoring the state of pastures particularly in the semi-arid areas of the country. Other applications include delineating drought areas and locating potential breeding sites for plague locust.

Intending users such as State Departments of Agriculture will be able to purchase Landsat data products directly from the data processing facility in the form of photographic images and computer compatible tapes for detailed analysis by experts in the particular field of application. Charges for the product will be determined on the principle of recovery of operating costs once the facilities are fully established.

  1. Landsat satellites have the capability to detect a wide range of visible features on the earth’s surface by recording reflected light. The amount of light reflected varies according to the properties of the surface features. Thus each feature has its own particular ‘signature’. Once the signature of a feature is known it is possible to train a computer to recognise this particular signature from amongst others. By using this technique crops ranging from cereals such as wheat, oats and barley to vegetables such as tomatoes and onions have been identified using Landsat. In North America remote sensing techniques using a combination of satellites and aircraft are used for detecting illicit crops such as marihuana and opium for law enforcement purposes.

Department of Defence: Civilian Employees (Question No. 1714)

Mr Armitage:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:

With reference to his answer to question No. 1255 (Hansard, 20 September 1977, page 1360; and, in particular, in respect of part 3 (b) of that answer, will he advise:

precisely what categories of employees are involved whose salaries are charged against appropriations or trust accounts other than appropriations within the Defence vote;

precise details of those appropriations, or trust accounts other than appropriations within the Defence vote, in respect of which salaries of employees mentioned in part (a) are charged against, and

precise details of ‘certain inoperative staff.

Mr Killen:

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

All civil salary costs are debited to appropriations within the Defence vote. Most salary costs are debited to civil salary appropriations comprising divisions 232, 238 and 241 to which question No. 1255 (Hansard, 20 September 1977, page 1360) was directed.

Average employment levels for divisions 232, 238 and 24 1 reflect the number of employees receiving salary paid under these divisions.

Average employment levels and salary costs debited to other appropriations within the Defence vote are excluded from divisions 232, 238 and 241.

Inoperative staff are defined as those employees who are on extended leave for twelve weeks or more for the following reasons:

1 ) sick leave;

leave without pay;

3 ) long service leave;

maternity leave;

compensation; and

other leave.

Trade Practices Act: Small and Uneconomic Orders (Question No. 1285)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 25 August 1977.

  1. 1) Do the provisions of the Trade Practices Act exempt small and uneconomic orders.
  2. If so, do these provisions act to the disadvantage of small businesses and residents in small communities where large orders cannot economically be placed for a wide range of commodities.
  3. If the position is as stated, will he examine this matter and see what action can be taken to protect these interests.
Mr Fife:

-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), ( 2 ) and ( 3 ) The Trade Practices Act makes no specific provision in relation to small and uneconomic orders. A dealer is free to decide whether he will or will not deal with a particular customer except where his refusal to supply is taken for reasons related to resale price maintenance, exclusive dealing or monopolisation or is taken in agreement with his competitors. The Act however, gives special treatment to small businesses in relation to collective acquisition and joint advertising schemes with the purpose of allowing them to improve their buying position it they wish to.

Northcote Youth Employment Support Scheme (Question No. 1308)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:

  1. 1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a submission for funding under the Community Youth Support Scheme lodged with his Department in Melbourne in the name of the Northcote Youth Employment Support Scheme.
  2. If so, is this an extremely comprehensive examination of the problem of out of work young people in the municipality of Northcote.
  3. Does he envisage any delay in the funding of this particular project.
  4. When will approval be given.
  5. Is it likely that the full amount sought in the submission will be approved; if not, why not.
  6. Is it the State committee or the central body of his Department which approves these submissions.
  7. Do either of these committees have the practice of hearing from the persons involved in the preparation of CYSS submissions.
Mr Street:

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. No.
  4. An amount of $59,090.50 to cover project costs was approved on 27 September 1977. A further $1,092.00 was granted for travel expenses associated with the project
  5. No. The amount approved is $7,142 less than the amount sought. Some items sought are not covered in the guidelines for the administration of the Scheme. These included pool tables, table tennis equipment, tea and coffee facilities, staff advertising and certain insurances. The amount suggested for telephone calls was also considered excessive ana a claim for tutor’s fees was not considered reasonable.
  6. State committees may approve projects involving less than $25,000 and this is sufficient in most instances. State committees also make recommendations on proposals in excess of this amount, as in this particular case, with the final decisions being taken centrally.
  7. State committees may discuss submissions with sponsoring organisations if they consider it will help in clarifying aspects of a submission. In addition, it sometimes happens that a sponsoring organisation requests an interview with the committee and this request would usually be granted. However, the most common practice is for discussions to be held between sponsoring organisations and departmental officers with the aim of producing a submission which is acceptable in terms of the aims of the Scheme and the guidelines for its administration. These processes of consultation are an important feature of the Scheme.

Computer Data Processing: Staff Requirements (Question No. 1338)

Mr Fitzpatrick:

asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) Can he say how many staff are employed in Australia in computer data processing at present.
  2. What is the anticipated extra staff requirement in 1978.
  3. What proportion of the extra staff will be trained in Australia.
  4. What proportion will be recruited from overseas.
  5. How many students have been denied the opportunity to become data processors due to the shortage of graduate and post-graduate diploma courses in Australia.
Mr Street:

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

  1. to (5) As far as I am aware, no recent quantitative information is available. The 1971 Census, which provides the latest figures available, showed that there were 5,099 computer programmers and 2,277 data system analysts in the labour force. Separate figures are not available for other computer personnel. My Department compiles regular qualitative assessments of the labour demand and supply situation for computer operating personnel in Australia. At present labour demand for experienced operators, although small, exceeds supply. The rate of computer installation is expected to increase over the next 2-3 years and there will be more demand for experienced personnel. There are not many positions advertised for trainees and competition at this level is very keen. Most employers prefer to train thenown operators and priority is usually given to people already within their organisations.

As to the demand for computer programmers and systems analysts, there is an acute shortage of experienced personnel particularly in New South Wales and Victoria and this is likely to persist into the 1980s. There is an oversupply of inexperienced newly qualified computer programmers and this is unlikely to ease over the next 2 or 3 years.

Without equating arrivals in Australia with recruitment from overseas, I can also say that between late 1975 and June 1977, 180 computer programmers and 171 systems analysts arrived in Australia. In these work categories, a minimum of 3 years’ practical experience together with appropriate academic qualifications is required for immigration purposes.

Relocation Assistance Scheme (Question No. 1387)

Mr Hodges:

asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:

  1. How many persons have been relocated in employment under the Relocation Assistance Scheme in Queensland since its establishment in 1 976.
  2. What has been the total amount of relocation allowance paid to these persons.
  3. How many persons have been relocated (a) from different areas within Queensland and (b) from outside Queensland.
Mr Street:

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

  1. and (3) Up to the end of August 1977,71 persons had been relocated under the Relocation Assistance Scheme in Queensland. Of these 41 persons were relocated from different areas within Queensland and 30 from outside Queensland.
  2. Expenditure under the Relocation Assistance Scheme is recorded against the State in which the applicant resides at the time of application. It would therefore require a good deal of work to obtain the total amount paid to persons relocated in Queensland. However assistance totalling 554,25 1 was paid to Queensland applicants up to the end of August 1977.

Commonwealth Employment Service (Question No. 1394)

Mr E G Whitlam:

am asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 7 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) As part of his review of the Commonwealth Employment Service, did Mr J. D. Norgard (a) report to him on 7 February 1977 that it was very difficult for CES staff to conduct three-way interviews with interpreters and non-English speaking clients using a conventional telephone and (b) recommend that conference phone facilities should be installed where they are needed.
  2. If so, in which CES offices has this equipment now been installed and when was it installed.
Mr Street:

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

  1. 1) and (2) Mr J. D. Norgard ‘s interim report to me on 7 February 1977 did not mention difficulties for CES staff in conducting three-way interviews with interpreters and nonEnglish speaking clients using conventional telephones and did not specifically recommend installation of conference phone facilities.

Independently of Mr Norgard my Department had planned the installation of dual handset telephones to assist CES staff in conducting three-way interviews with interpreters and non-English speaking clients. By September of this year, my Department had installed dual telephone sets in South Australia at Adelaide, Edwardstown, Elizabeth, Enfield, Morphett Vale, Norwood, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta, Renmark, Salisbury, Unley and Whyalla OCES. Arrangements are now in hand to install similar telephones in the other States where they are necessary.

Appeals to Privy Council (Question No. 1401)


asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:

From which courts in each State have appeals to the Privy Council been (a) instituted and (b) heard in 1973 and each subsequent year and how many appeals were heard from each court in each year.

Mr Macphee:

– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

The information sought by the honourable member is not held in my Department. However, I am informed that the overall figures are as set out below. If the honourable member wants more specific information he should make inquiries of the relevant State authorities.

Department of Construction: Directly Employed Persons and Consultants (Question No. 1431)

Mr Keith Johnson:

asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice, on 13 September 1977:

What proportion of the work performed by the Head Office of his Department was performed by (a) directly employed employees and (b) consultants in each of the years from 1969 to 1977.

Mr McLeay:

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

Expenditure by the Central Office of the Department of Construction in respect of (a) salaries and allowances of directly employed employees and (b) consultants, in the years 1 969 to 1 977 are set out below together with the percentage of the combined amount relating to each category.

Prior to 1975 the more important major projects were developed in Central Office and documented in the appropriate Region. With some specific exceptions involving the use of specialised expertise such as maritime works, the policy now is that these projects are developed in Regions with Central Office providing support and oversight as necessary.

The adoption of this policy has meant a reduction in consultant commissions placed by Central Office.

Mining (Question No. 1444)

Mr Scholes:

asked the Minister for National Resources, upon notice, on 14 September 1977:

  1. 1 ) What capacity exists for the extraction of (a) coal, (b) iron ore, (c) nickel and (d) bauxite at the present time.
  2. What additional capacity is currently (a) under development and (b) under active consideration.
  3. Are there sufficient markets available to absorb this additional capacity.
  4. Are mining companies competing in price for export markets thus reducing prices received for mineral exports from Australia.
  5. Does the Government require that minimum prices must be received before export licences are granted.
  6. Did Robe River recently make sales of iron ore to Japan at prices below existing contracts of other companies.
  7. If so, have other Australian companies been informed that they must accept lower prices as a result of the Robe River contract.
Mr Anthony:

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

  1. 1 ) (a) Coal-For coal mines it is not possible to give absolute capacity figures. However, a reasonable indication of coal mine capacity is given by current production rates. In 1976-77 these were:

Black coal 85.9 million tonnes (yielding 69.5 million tonnes of salable coal)

Brown coal 30.8 million tonnes.

  1. Iron ore- 123 million tonnes a year.
  2. Nickel-5.4 million tonnes of ore a year.
  3. Bauxite- 28 million tonnes a year.

    1. (a) Coal- Approximately 21 million tonnes of black coal a year, and 8-10 million tonnes brown coal.

Iron ore- 10 million tonnes a year.

Nickel-300,000 tonnes of ore a year.

Bauxite- 1.25 million tonnes.

  1. b) Coal- There is a large number of projects under consideration covering all States. Development will depend on satisfactory marketing arrangements being concluded.

Iron ore- Several new projects in Western Australia are under consideration. Actual capacity will depend on the successful conclusion of contracts with consumers.

Nickel-One project at Forrestania, WA is currently being considered. Details of its likely rate of production are not known.

Bauxite- Several new projects, principally Alwest (WA), Wagerup (WA) and Aurukun (Qld) are under consideration.

  1. Coal-Studies that have been made indicate great potential for growth in demand in a variety of world coal markets during the remainder of this century. If markets develop in the way expected, the Australian coal industry will need to expand its productive capability very greatly and most of the present projects, which are soundly based, can be expected to proceed.

Iron ore- The companies with additional capacity under development have secured export contracts covering 8.5 million tonnes a year.

Nickel- The world nickel market is currently in a depressed state and there are not sufficient new markets to absorb any large increase in production. However the 300,000 tonnes of ore a year increase currently under development has already been committed under contract

Bauxite- The aluminium industry has been emerging from a severe recession and future prospects appear good. It is expected that increased export demand will account for the capacity increase mentioned in 2 (a), while most of the bauxite produced from the new projects mentioned in 2 (b) could be expected to be processed within integrated plants in Australia.

  1. Companies undertake normal commercial negotiations with consumers and compete for markets with other producers around the world. The Government maintains surveillance over the outcome of commercial negotiations to ensure the prices obtained are fair and reasonable relative to world market levels.
  2. No. The Government looks to normal commercial negotiations to result in fair and reasonable market prices.
  3. and (7) Information on company pricing is received by the Government on the understanding that it remains confidential. In any case there are difficulties involved in arriving at precise price comparisons as Robe River exports limonite ore compared with the hematite ore shipped by most other Australian producers. Moreover during recent contractual reviews not all existing contracts were up for renegotiation.

Prices Justification Act: Notification Provisions (Question No. 1551)

Mr Fitzpatrick:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 22 September 1977:

What are the names of the companies which are required to notify price changes to the Prices Justification Tribunal.

Mr Fife:

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

More than 3,000 companies are subject to the notification provisions of the Prices Justification Act A list of such companies has been prepared by the Tribunal but it is too voluminous to be incorporated into Hansard. However, should the honourable member wish to inspect the list, it will be made available to him by my office.

Department of Social Security: Exchange of Senior Personnel (Question No. 1880)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 October 1977:

Has the Department of Social Security instituted a policy of exchanging senior personnel for a limited period with those of similar status and standard in the private sector or State government departments; if not, why not.

Mr Hunt:

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

The fostering of such exchanges of staff between the public and private sectors is supported by the Government and the Department of Social Security is presently examining ways of giving effect to the Government s wishes. At this stage the Department is proceeding to identify areas for possible placements of people from the private sector or State Government Departments and to select suitable departmental officers who would benefit from exchange.

The Department will shortly be meeting with the Public Service Board to discuss detailed arrangements for implementing the proposed exchange program.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.