31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to inform the House that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a party of members of the Public Accounts Committee of the Solomon Islands National Parliament, led by Mr Kapini. On behalf of the House, I extend to the visitors a warm welcome.
Honourable members- Hear, hear!
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
Royal Commission on Human Relationships
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 the Report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships and especially its Recommendations:
Therefore the Parliament has a responsibility to the families of Australia not to adopt this controversial Report and its Recommendatons.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the Australian Parliament will:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will take no measures concerning the Royal Commission on Human Relationships Report that will further undermine and weaken marriage, child-care or the family which is the basic unit of our society.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair, Mr Ellicott, Mr Howard and Mr Neil.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned members of the Sydney University Post Graduate Representative Association, and like people, respectfully showeth that the Government decision to tax Commonwealth Post Graduate Research Awards will result in:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reverse the decision to tax Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Awards and revert to the former policy of annual adjustments in line with the Consumer Price Index.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Sir William McMahon, Mr Goodluck and Mr Lusher.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens respectfully showeth:
We are totally opposed to the proposition that ‘ Family Allowance’ be reduced on means tested in any way whatsoever.
Australia needs to help the mothers of young children, it should not reduce what it has already given.
It is totally wrong that Australia looks for migrants and at the same time it would even consider placing increased burdens on those who have children in this country. Such a proposal offends justice as between the Australian born child and its mother and the overseas migrant.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Kevin Cairns.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to renew for a further term of at least 3 years the States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974/77, renewed for one year expiring on the 30th June 1 978.
The demand for dwellings has not slackened as the waiting list (all States) of 12,060 single and 4,120 couples as at the 30th June 1977, showeth.
Your petitioners respectfully draw the attention of the Commonwealth Government to the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Aged Persons’ Housing 1975 under the Chairmanship of the Rev. K. Seaman (now Governor of South Australia) which recommended additional funds to State housing authorities to meet the demand for low-rental accommodation in the proportion of $4 for $ 1 with the proviso that the States do not reduce their existing expenditure and
That the Act include married pensioners eligible for supplementary assistance and migrants as specified by the Seaman Report and that particular consideration be paid to the special needs and requirements of the prospective tenants in the location and design of such dwellings.
Furthermore, your petitioners desire to draw the Government’s attention to the hardship of many pensioner home owners caused by the high cost of maintenance.
The Social Security Annual Report 1976/77 shows that 24.6 per cent, or 283,000 home owning pensioners, have a weekly income in excess of the pension of less than $6 per week.
Your petitioners strongly urge the Commonwealth Government to establish a fund whereby loans can be made to means tested pensioners for the purpose of effecting necessary maintenance to their homes. Such a loan to be at minimal interest rates sufficient to cover administrative costs and to be repaid by the estate upon the death of a single pensioner before probate or upon the death of the surviving spouse in the case of married pensioners or where two pensioners jointly own the dwelling. Administration to be carried out by local government bodies.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we the undersigned, having great concern at the way in which children are now being used in the production of pornography call upon the government to introduce immediate legislation:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will protect all children and immediately prohibit pornographic child-abuse materials, publications or films.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrEllicott.
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 say that we are concerned about the discrimination which exists against the children of those parents who are in receipt of the Supporting Parents Benefit in comparison with children of Single Parents who receive the Widows Pension. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament take immediate steps to ensure that this year’s budget allow for Lone Parents to be given the right to receive a pension with the same benefits as are given with the Widows Pension, and we also request that Parliament take immediate action to instigate one (1) category of Lone Parent Pension to eliminate the discrimination currently experienced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petitioning of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners strongly oppose the removal of No. 6469 from the Medical Rebate list.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Viner.
– I inform the House that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) left Australia yesterday to attend the South Pacific Forum in Niue. The are expected to return to Australia tomorrow. During their absence I am acting as Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) is acting as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) left Australia for Japan on 15 September for discussions on industrial relations and manpower issues. He is expected to return on 25 September, and during his absence the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) will act as Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.
The Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson) is also absent, leading Australia’s delegation to the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting in Montreal and the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Washington. He is expected to return on 3 October. During his absence the Treasurer (Mr Howard) will act as Minister for Finance.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That this House-
1 ) records its appreciation, thanks and congratulations to President Carter of the United States, Prime Minister Begin of Israel and President Sadat of Egypt on their statesmanship and on their successful conclusion of their Conference for peace in the Holy Land;
calls upon the Government of Australia to lend all its diplomatic resources to assist in further progress for peace in the Middle East, with the help of Jordan and the Palestine people; and
calls upon the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs to make a statement on the Middle East peace talks, as well as the situation in the Lebanon.
The motion is seconded by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr hatter) and supported by honourable members on both sides of the House.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Did the Minister send a telex to the Northern Land Council on 1 1 September, or any other date, stating that a resolution passed by a meeting of Aboriginal coastal communities at Galiwinku opposing the immediate signing of the Ranger agreement was irrelevant and should not be discussed at the forthcoming Northern Land Council meeting? Is it true that 12 members of the Northern Land Council were present at the meeting that passed this resolution?
– I recall receiving a communication of a resolution passed by coastal communities concerning an area two kilometres off shore, and fishing within that area, because of the concern felt by them at recent activity by certain fishing boats in the mouth of the Blyth River and around some of the island Aboriginal communities. I cannot recollect a telex message on 1 1 September. I believe that I would have replied to the communication from those communities. I will check my records and let the honourable member have a copy of any communication that I sent to them.
-When does the Minister for National Development expect to announce the flood mitigation program for New South Wales? Is it a fact that the New South Wales Government has delayed in accepting responsibility for setting priorities in projects in the State? Finally, when does the Minister expect that he will be in a position to announce the five-year water resources program?
-I thank the honourable member for Macquarie for that question.
– He thanks you for giving it to him.
– Well, it is a question that exercises the minds of several members not only on this side of the House but, as I recall the correspondence on the matter, of many members on the other side of the House as well. It raises a very serious question, which is: Does the Government of New South Wales accept its responsibilities for responding to the Commonwealth Government in the implementation of the national water resources program? On the record the answer is a very clear no. What is the record? First of all, may I remind honourable members that the Government announced a $200m program for a national water resources program starting this year. In February- I think that this is known to most honourable members- the Prime Minister wrote to all the Premiers inviting them to give us their projects in order of priority. Every State has responded except the State of New South Wales.
That letter went out on 10 February. Since then, in May, I wrote to the State Treasurer who is apparently co-ordinating this matter and asked him for the priorities. There was no response. In July I wrote again. There was no response. Finally in September at the Australian Water Resources Council I asked Mr Gordon, the responsible Minister, whether we could have his priorities. Still we have not had an answer.
The implications are very serious. Because New South Wales will not give the Commonwealth its priorities, we cannot proceed with allocating the resources which are available this year to the States to get this program under way. More important than that, I will now come to the question of the Toongabbie Creek area which can be a part of that water resources program. I have made that clear on many occasions to many honourable members in this House- to the honourable member for Dundas, the honourable member for Mitchell, the honourable member for Macquarie, I think the honourable member for Shortland, the honourable member for Chifley and the honourable member for Parramatta. I have no doubt that on receiving that information which I gave them- that is, that New South Wales had to give the Commonwealth its priorities- they also went to the State Minister and asked him to go ahead and allocate the tasks that he wished the Commonwealth to meet. Let me summarise the position:
-I think that everybody has followed the answer very clearly.
- Mr Speaker, I am coming to the critical point. I have said that the Commonwealth cannot proceed with the national water resources program. More importantly- and let this be noted very clearly- the Commonwealth for some time has been ready to allocate $lm for flood mitigation in New South Wales -
– That is peanuts.
– As an interim measure, and there are other resources available as well if -
– But that is peanuts.
– The honourable member for Chifley says that that amount is peanuts. Does the honourable member want the Toongabbie Creek situation cleared up?
– I do, but you will need a lot more money than $ lm for the whole State.
– Of course he does and, if the New South Wales Government chooses to do so, it can make that project its first priority so that the work can proceed. The New South Wales Government shows a gross neglect of responsibility in this matter. I ask honourable members opposite, who have been interjecting, to approach Mr Gordon and make him do something, so that the Commonwealth can proceed. In that way, the people of Parramatta could be helped.
-I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Did he or the Prime Minister tell the Chairman or any executive member of the Northern Land Council at the Darwin Travelodge Motel- or any other place for that matter- on 8 September that, if the Ranger uranium agreement was not signed, they would lose the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Outstation Movement?
-The answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is a categorical no. I happen to have been present with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in discussions with Mr Yunupingu and Mr
Wilson from the Northern Land Council. There were no duress, threats or anything of that nature at that conference. It was very amicable and the Press reports that I have seen are nothing more than mischievous.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Resources aware that the European Economic Community is now dumping large volumes of sugar in Papua New Guinea, literally on Australia’s doorstep? What action does the Government propose to take to protect Australia’s legitimate interests as the world’s most efficient producer and exporter of sugar?
– I am aware that sugar from the European Economic Community is now being landed in Papua New Guinea. This has been a market principally for Australia’s exports of sugar. Australia has sold approximately 20,000 tonnes of sugar a year to that market. However, during the last year the EEC has been penetrating that market with heavily subsidised sugar. The subsidy content on the sugar amounts to about $350 per tonne which is about three times the world price. The EEC has sold approximately 3,000 tonnes of sugar, taking about 15 per cent of the market. Australia has been complaining to the EEC about its subsidised export performances. I have made speeches on this matter and described the community’s actions as nothing more than economic vandalism. The representations made by the Minister for Special Trade Representations and me have, to this point of dme, had little impact upon the Community’s trading policies.
This matter featured largely in the course of discussions during the Multilateral Trade Negotiations. It is Australia’s strong wish- we are supported strongly by the United States of America- that there be an international code covering subsidised agricultural products. It is my aim to see that that is part of the ongoing negotiations of the MTN.
However, in view of the seriousness of the situation for Australia’s exports to Papua New Guinea, I have instructed officials of my Department to confer with officials of the Australian sugar industry to prepare formal notification to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade challenging the EEC on its behaviour in respect of Article 16 of the GATT to see whether we cannot take some positive action to stop this dumping.
– Can the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs assure this House that no member of his Department or staff told the Chairman of the Northern Land Council that the Government would not take a dispute over the Ranger agreement to arbitration and instead would legislate to destroy the Northern Land Council’s ability to negotiate?
– I think it would be apparent to the House that it is an absurd proposition to consider that the Government would take steps to destroy the Northern Land Council or any Aboriginal land council created by it under the land rights legislation. If there is one thing that is clear, it is that these land councils enable Aboriginals to act in their own interests not, as in the past, pursuant to what governments considered was benevolently in the best interests of Aboriginals. The very essence of land rights legislation is that it puts Aboriginal land in the hands of Aboriginals and creates bodies such as the land councils so that they can act for Aboriginals and in the interests of Aboriginals. Therefore it is an absurd proposition to think that this Government, which has created those bodies, would take any steps to destroy them.
In fact the whole history of the negotiations that have been carried on by the Northern Land Council with the Commonwealth with regard to the Ranger uranium deposits is an example of the strength which Aboriginals can obtain through the Northern Land Council and other land councils on behalf of traditional owners. I emphasise that last point because under the statute the land councils are to act in accordance with the wishes of the traditional owners. I am advised by the Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu, that at all times in the negotiations and in seeking the ratification by the Northern Land Council last week of the agreement reached between negotiators, the traditional owners have been kept informed and their wishes are reflected in the agreement reached between the negotiators.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. My question was very specific. It asked about the Department or the staff. The Minister is deliberately avoiding that part of the question.
-The Minister is entitled to answer the question as he chooses, provided it is relevant, and it is relevant.
- Mr Speaker, I was not endeavouring to avoid the first part of the decided, member’s question. I was simply trying to point out the background to the answer and how absurd the question was. Certainly, so far as I am aware, no member of my staff or my Department ever said such a thing.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Transport. I refer to the tenders called by his Department for the supply of three customs surveillance aircraft. Will the Minister comment on reports that the specifications of the tender virtually exclude consideration of the Australian Nomad aircraft? If these reports are correct, why has it apparently been decided, before any consideration of the various tender proposals, that the Nomad is unsuitable for this type of surveillance work?
– I can confirm that tenders have been called for three aircraft to provide a service to the Bureau of Customs. I should point out though, that before tenders were called discussions were held with my colleague and the Bureau about the specifications required by the Bureau to undertake the job properly. As I understand it, investigations were made overseas about comparable activities of light aircraft in this field. The tender was drawn on recommendations based on that experience. It is not correct to say that the tenders were specifically drawn around a means of preventing the Nomad from being used in this task: Rather they were drawn specifically to meet the requirements of the user department. As I understand it, one of the difficulties about the Nomad is that it fails to reach the speed required by the Bureau of Customs to undertake its job. I point out that tenders are also being called for 10 other aircraft for use around the coast from Geraldton to Cairns for general purpose surveillance. Again, tenders will be drawn in such a way as to allow all aircraft manufacturers to put in a bid for the operation. There is absolutely no truth in the story that the Nomad aircraft is being specifically, or in any other way, excluded from the operation.
– I ask a question of the Treasurer. Does he recall the Prime Minister’s statement on television a week ago that the increase in August unemployment was ‘a temporary aberration’, and does he recall the Prime Minister’s statement as recently as last Friday that ‘it is possible to say that unemployment is going to fall throughout this year’? Does he recall the speech of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in this House last Thursday night in which the Minister said, in part, that there are no signs of any immediate, significant improvement in the employment situation’? To which of these conflicting views does the Treasurer subscribe? Can he say which one the Australian people should believe?
-The Leader of the Opposition seeks to show a conflict between one Minister in the Government and another over what has been said. Let me make one thing clear. The speech delivered by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations last week has been correctly described as an attempt to put in a factual manner the employment situation as it exists in Australia and the causes of the unemployment problem which this country now has. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that if he reads the speech of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, in contrast to reading some of the comment that has been made on that speech, he will find that that speech correctly ascribes the greater bulk of the blame for this unemployment problem to the wages explosion that occurred in this country in 1973 and 1974.
No member of this Government has made a secret of the fact that reducing unemployment will be a very serious task. In the Budget Speech it was made very clear that worse unemployment was possible, given unsatisfactory results in the level of real wages in this country. There is no lack of unanimity of opinion on this side of the House as to the serious character of the unemployment problem in Australia. There are differences between honourable members on this side of the House and those who sit opposite as to the appropriate responses to the unemployment problem. If the honourable gentleman thinks that he can create false, illusory divisions between honourable members on this side of the House over the unemployment problem he is beating up the wrong track.
-My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. Does he need any constructive advice on the functioning of the Australian economy?
– The honourable member will get his turn. Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to some suggestions made on a television program last night? Could he have received any better advice from any other Opposition spokesman?
- Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I submit that the question is out of order. It is seeking an opinion of the Acting Prime Minister.
-It is not out of order to ask for an opinion. It would be out of order to ask for a legal opinion but I do not think any legality is involved here.
– I am very pleased to react to the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition on television last night.
– You did not see it. You were not there.
– I did not see it but I have heard reports on it The Leader of the Opposition said that he wanted to make the capitalist system work better. I must say that it is very pleasing to hear these sorts of remarks coming from the Opposition although one wonders how much substance or reality they have, particularly when one reads the Nation Review of only a week ago in which Senator Gietzelt is reported to have said:
To suggest that we can manage the capitalist system better than those who own it, understand it, exploit and profit from it, is laughable.
I think that really he is expressing the viewpoint of a large element of the Australian Labor Party. Also, that same senator earlier this year managed to get 29 members of the Labor Party to sign a document saying that the Party should explain its socialist objectives to the Australian people more clearly. What are we to believe about the Labor Party? Is the Leader of the Opposition really speaking on behalf of the Opposition or is he now trying to hoodwink, to softsoap, the Australian people by pretending that he believes in the private enterprise, capitalist system?
All of us can remember only too well the disastrous effects of the Labor Party’s socialist tendencies between 1973 and 1975, and I hope that we will never see them again. The fact that he made these sorts of remarks on television touched me almost as much as the other Australian Broadcasting Commission report that I heard this morning regarding the appearance of the Leader of the Opposition on Monday Conference. The only comment that the ABC could feature was that the Leader of the Opposition does not like the Prime Minister. In fact I was so concerned at this rather puerile comment on the ABC that I thought I had better send a telegram to the Prime Minister to tell him to come back immediately because the Leader of the Opposition does not like him.
-I direct my question, which refers to the Industries Assistance Commission inquiry into the sugar industry, to the
Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister received representations from a number of cane grower organisations, in particular the Cairns district organisation, seeking an early release of the IAC draft report? Has he also received representations from the Queensland Government objecting to the release of the report because it may be damaging to the Queensland Sugar Board? Has the Minister indicated to the Chairman of the IAC that he favours the Queensland Government’s view, that is, that the report should not be released? Will the Minister now give an assurance that the IAC draft report will be released without any delay?
– The institution of an inquiry into the sugar industry came as a result of protracted discussions on an application by the Australian sugar industry for an increase in the domestic price. It was felt that there were a number of serious shortfalls in the availability of evidence, particularly on costing as it affected cane growers, and in the structure as between refiners, millers and cane growers. These difficulties, which affected the Government’s ability to determine the domestic sugar price, prejudiced our ability to give due recognition to the very long time since the sugar industry requested an increase in the domestic price and to the implications for the rest of the community of granting the industry the fairly significant increase that it requested.
The discussions between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government which were necessary in order to determine the domestic price resulted in an agreement that there should be an inquiry into the industry. The Commonwealth felt that it was better to have an inquiry through the Industries Assistance Commission. The Chairman of the IAC and two assistant commissioners, who were appointed specifically for the purpose, were assigned the responsibility of pursuing the inquiry. Because of this agreement the Queensland Premier and the Prime Minister entered into some correspondence, as a result of which it was accepted that no draft report would be released. If a significant body of the industry has requested a variation of that decision, I have yet to learn of it. There have been no requests of which I am aware that there be a draft report. The only people who seem to be keen on the release of a draft report are a few members of the Labor Party. The sugar industry as such has not approached me.
– What about the Cairns growers?
-If they have corresponded with me, I have not sighted the correspondence. Certainly I have attended a number of sugar industry functions and at none of those functions has the question of a draft report been raised. Nobody within the sugar industry nor anybody representing consumer interests has suggested the publication of a draft report. If a significant body of opinion should request the publication of a draft report, it will be considered and, if need be, contact on the matter will be made with the Queensland Government. At this stage the only agitation of which I am aware for the release of a draft report is from members on the other side of the House and their interest in the Queensland sugar industry or primary industries generally- whether the sugar industry or any other- is proverbially almost non-existent.
Mr Burr proceeding to address a question to the
Minister for Transport-
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to ask a question based on rumours.
– My question which I direct to the Minister for Productivity relates to the use of Australian Nomad aircraft for marine surveillance work. Is it a fact that the Indonesian Government has ordered another six aircraft for this purpose? Is the Minister aware that his Department recently provided in Europe demonstration flights of the Nomad aircraft to European police forces with a view to those police forces acquiring these aircraft for surveillance work? Has his attention also been drawn to reports of a statement by an official of the Government Aircraft Factories that the Department of Transports tender schedule for the hiring of three light aircraft for surveillance work in Australia seems to be tailormade for United States aircraft? Does he share this view? Finally, will the Minister advise the Minister for Transport in light of the Minister’s earlier answer to a similar question of the Nomad’s special advantages and performance characteristics for coastal surveillance type duties so that these aircraft may be used by the Department of Transport thus providing greater opportunity for the Australian light aircraft industry?
-Order! The honourable member has made his point.
-The answer to the first two questions is yes. With respect to my own views, I will be having formal discussions shortly with the Minister for Transport.
– You have not had them yet?
– I have had informal discussions. Formal discussions are now appropriate. With respect to the last questions -
– What is the difference between Ministers, as a matter of interest?
– He said he had discussions.
-Order! I suggest that the Minister continues with his answer.
– I do not recall the final question.
– With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, may I repeat the final part of my question?
-The honourable gentleman will paraphrase it.
– Will the Minister take up with the Minister for Transport the special performance characteristics of the Nomad aircraft so that these aircraft -
-The answer is yes.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister will recall union strike action earlier this year which severely disrupted live sheep exports to Middle East markets and damaged Australia’s reputation abroad as a reliable supplier. Has a similar position now been reached in wharf disputes which have prevented the loading of wheat in Sydney for Middle East ports and of meat destined for Korea? Have these disputes led to suggestions that prospective purchasers of Australian agricultural produce will look elsewhere for supplies in future? What action can the Government take to ensure that, through irresponsible strikes, Australian primary producers do not lose valuable export markets so diligently developed in the past?
-I have just had with the Chairman of the Australian Dairy Corporation discussions which are very pertinent to the question asked by the honourable gentleman. The Chairman of the Corporation tells me that 1,000 tonnes of butter has been on the wharf in Melbourne for three weeks. He also tells me that freight is an increasing percentage of the costs of the dairy industry. He informed me that something in excess of $ 14m is spent at the moment on freight on $200m worth of Australian dairy products exported each year and that 53 per cent of the freight cost is incurred before the product is loaded on board ship in Australian ports.
It is quite true that the position is aggravated by the level of industrial disputation that adds to the cost of freight and, unfortunately, prejudices the reliability and standing of Australian exporters. It is true that as far as the wheat and meat industries are concerned there is similar concern. As far as the wheat industry is concerned there is a black ban currently on a vessel known as the Bellness, placed by members of the New South Wales Public Service Association. It was placed on that ship on 5 September. As a result, the loading of wheat for flour mills in Kuwait and Bahrain is seriously inconvenienced. There has been a suggestion, therefore, that people in those countries will be short of flour because of the failure of these vessels to be loaded.
I would hope that the New South Wales Government, within whose entire responsibility this dispute lies, will take some urgent action in order to get the waterfront labour back to work again. In that context, it is of interest that it seems that the basis of the dispute is that the Grain Elevator Board of New South Wales has. taken action to try to reduce costs by banning overtime. There is no doubt that the degree to which individual employees claim overtime prejudices the availability of jobs for those who are unemployed. I think this is very relevant to the answer given by my colleague, the Treasurer, a while ago about unemployment. It is not just a matter for government; it is a matter for every employee, and particularly the trade union movement, to ensure that they take on board the necessity of representing not only those who currently have jobs but also those who are seeking jobs in pursuing their industrial grievances. There is no doubt that the industrial dispute affecting this particular ship in the port of Sydney is one that concerns employment opportunities for other people. Therefore, it is not only prejudicing the export of Australia’s primary products but also affecting employment opportunities for those who are unemployed and for whom the Opposition and the trade union movement profess to have some concern.
With respect to the meat industry, I am afraid that the extent to which the waterfront is not handling Australian export commodities certainly adds to the cost of placing commodities in export markets. It seriously prejudices the overall reputation that Australia has for maintaining supplies. Given the difficulties that we have had in trying to establish for primary producers a reasonable return for their products, I believe that there is a responsibility on those who are responsible for these industrial disputes that needs to be taken up. With respect to the industrial disputes on the Bellness and on the -
-Order! I ask the Minister to bring his answer to a close.
-Certainly, Mr Speaker. In respect of the Amax McGregor which will carry wheat to Egypt, I believe this is a responsibility that they should undertake. In the light of the impending State elections, I can see no reason why the trade union movement cannot show the same diligence as they show when pursuing the media in other matters.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs: Was the Ranger uranium agreement scheduled for signature on Thursday of this week? Has the date been brought forward to today? If so, why?
-The date has not been brought forward to today.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Has the Minister yet received the roads program for 1978-79 from New South Wales? Could the delay in the presentation of the program cause a lack of continuity of work for many contractors and for local government authorities? Will the Minister ensure that a joint statement is made when he approves the program to ensure there is public recognition of the Commonwealth’s support as distinct from the New South Wales support for the New South Wales roads program?
– I have not received all of the roads programs from New South Wales. I am at a loss to understand why I have not received them because by this time last year, without question, all the programs were to hand. It so happens that a New South Wales State election is to be held. This might be very cruel of me, but I suspect nevertheless that politics might be coming into this question. I have been noticing a few sneaky Press reports about roads programs appearing in country newspapers and the like. I make the point that the New South Wales Government does not give one dollar for road construction to local government authorities in the country areas of New South Wales. Yet, sneaking out in the country Press are reports of allocations of road funds that are Commonwealth funds and Commonwealth funds alone.
I do not know whether Mr Wran thinks he is playing a nifty political trick but in case he does think it is nifty I will inform the House of the definition of the word ‘nifty’ given in the Oxford Concise Dictionary. Mr Wran might be interested to know that the definition of ‘nifty’ is spruce’- that might apply; ‘smart’- the Opposition would agree with that I see; ‘stylish’ and the last one is ‘smelly’. I think that in that last part of the definition there is a proper description of what Mr Wran is up to in the whole of the road program in New South Wales. The fact is that the Commonwealth is a major provider of funds to the New South Wales road program. If Mr Wran were a Premier at all, he would not be quite so nifty and would give proper reward to the Commonwealth Government for the efforts it has made to improve the roads in New South Wales.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I refer to the Minister’s statements outside this Parliament about his real estate dealings. I ask whether the Minister has yet sold the first of two apartments he bought in Surfers Paradise and for which he paid a deposit of $2,300 on a purchase price of $92,000 in December 1976.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This matter has nothing to do with the Minister’s ministerial responsibilities. I suggest, therefore, that it is out of order.
-I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– What financial arrangements were negotiated by the Minister for this property? Did he also seek mortgage arrangements with QBE Insurance Ltd? If it has been sold, what was the price paid by the buyer?
– The honourable gentleman is engaging in his usual tactic of seeking, both at Question Time and during the course of discussion in this House, to smear. I should have thought that the honourable gentleman would know full well from what has been said in the House that the charges he has made in respect of real estate dealings are, in fact, without foundation. What the honourable gentleman raises is, in fact, very much old hat. If the honourable gentleman looks back to a statement I made quite some time ago- I think it was in December or January- he will find that I indicated then that I did have an interest in a building in Surfers Paradise. I indicated then that that interest would be sold. The interest has now been sold, and beyond that I have no need to respond to what the honourable gentleman queries.
– Can the Minister for Transport indicate the extent to which the Commonwealth has funded the construction of the section of national highway known as the F5 between Campbelltown and Mittagong in my electorate? Is the Minister aware that the New South Wales Premier, Mr Wran, is talking of opening this highway as part of his present election campaign?
-The honourable member will cease giving information and ask his question.
– Will the Minister accept my invitation to come to my electorate to open his road? Will he ensure that the facts in regard to Federal expenditure on roads are made known in order to prevent the New South Wales Premier or anyone else from announcing projects which are funded by the Commonwealth and claiming them as his own initiative?
– As I pointed out a moment ago, there seems to be a New South Wales State election on. Mr Wran is certainly getting busy making use of all the Commonwealth funds he can. The fact is that the road between Liverpool and Mittagong is a national highway. The Commonwealth has provided $84.3m for that highway and, to the best of my knowledge, the State Government has provided something of the order of $lm. If Mr Wran has the cheek- I do not say he has, mark you- to go down there and officially open the SW5, the national highway between Liverpool and Mittagong, and claim that it is some great work of the New South Wales Government, I think the people of New South Wales will see him for what he is. That would be the act of a charlatan. I do not say that Mr Wran is a charlatan, but we will see whether he goes to the trouble of opening this road. The whole performance of the New South Wales Government in this election will want to be watched by the people of New South Wales. Quite clearly it is going to try to misconstrue -
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s answer is not relevant to the question, which related to the opening of a road.
-I appreciate that, Mr Speaker; but, with due deference, I think it is very important to the people of New South Wales.
-It may be, and I suggest that the honourable gentleman make a statement on the matter after Question Time.
– I wind up by saying that the people of New South Wales really ought to watch with care the claims, the statements -
-Order! I ask the Minister to conclude his answer.
-. . . and the announcements coming from the New South Wales Government in the next few weeks.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Does the period of appointment of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff-elected commissioner end in October? If so, when does the Minister intend to arrange for an election to be conducted so that the ABC staff members can select a replacement on the Commission?
– I expect in the fairly near future to be able to announce the result of Government consideration with respect to new appointments to the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Does the Australian National Railways Commission intend eventually to close the entire Tasmanian railway system? Can the Minister indicate what the future holds for the Tasmanian Railways Division and its employees?
– I understand that statements have been made in Tasmania by the Tasmanian Transport Minister, Mr Baldock, to the effect that the Australian National Railways Commission is about to close down the Tasmanian railways. I am told also that there has been some support for these statements from the secretary of the railways union, Mr Neil. I must say that that surprises me because I think it was Mr Neil who came to see me some weeks ago, accompanied by two members of this House- the honourable member for Franklin and the honourable member for Denison. Mr Neil got a clear impression and understanding of the role of the Australian National Railways Commission in Tasmania and what it is seeking to do in respect of the worst railway system in Australia. I have made speeches before about the poor condition of the Tasmanian railway system and the cause of that poor condition, that being the failure of the Labor Government in Tasmania ever to give it any money to upgrade its capital works.
I make the point that the Australian National Railways Commission has been asked for a 10-year plan to try to reduce the massive losses presently being incurred by the railway system, which I point out are estimated to be some $ 14.6m in this year alone. The Commission has rightly been asked by us as a Government to try to produce a 10-year plan to upgrade the railway system. Mr Baldock apparently seized on some portions of this plan that he heard about through scuttle-butt in some pub on some occasion from somebody who might have made a submission to the Commission, and promptly announced that he understands that ANRC is about to close the railways in Tasmania. Plainly, that is not true. There is no decision of that kind either in prospect or in fact, and I nail that statement for what it is.
-Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to the findings of the gallup poll on the Budget indicating that only 22 per cent -
-Order! I will allow the honourable gentleman to proceed, but if he asks a question based on a gallup poll it will be ruled out of order.
– Is the Treasurer aware that, according to opinion polls, 60 per cent of the people of Australia are dissatisfied with the Budget? Is that in line with the general standard of the Government’s anticipation of the needs of the Australian people?
-I will be content to have the judgment of the Australian people on the Budget expressed the next time they go to the polls.
– In asking this question of the Minister for Industry and Commerce I take my cue from Mr Daly. Was the Minister correctly reported in today’s Press as having stated that he did not like ‘cakes with scantily clad girls in the middle’? If the answer is yes, what has happened to the Minister? Has age overtaken him or have the petty and time-wasting tactics of the Opposition in this House driven the Minister, along with the rest of us, up the wall in recent weeks?
– I might tell the honourable gentleman that life in my portfolio is not always as tedious as some people might believe. I can simply say to the honourable gentleman that suggestions which I noticed in some Press reports emanating from yesterday’s events that I did not want to get close to one of the models at a function that I was attending were intended in no sense to be offensive to the model or to be taken as a display of any sense of inadequacy but derive only from the conviction that she could not hold a candle to my wife. In response to what the honourable gentleman has said, I can say that I have a very healthy regard for the female species and that regard is not qualified by their attire or the circumstances in which they appear. I might say to honourable members of the House and to the honourable gentleman that they should not become so cautious as to jump at shadows but at times should be wary of cakes.
As far as the question which the honourable gentleman poses to me is concerned, I think that he might be better edified if he were to seek the assistance in the House of what I might call our resident cake master. Mr Speaker, you will recall the events in which the honourable member for Fadden was involved some time ago. As for that exercise, which caused a moment of some marginal embarrassment to some of the honourable members who were understood to be there, although there were doubts as to who constituted the attendance at the time, I might say to the House that there is to be another function and we look forward with some enthusiasm to attending it.
– Pursuant to statute, I present the annual reports and financial statements of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon, for the year ended 30 June 1978.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the Wheat Research Act 1957 I present the annual report on the operations of that Act during the year ended 31 December 1977.
– Pursuant to section 16 of the Pig Industry Research Act 1971 I present the annual report of the Pig Industry Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1 978.
– Pursuant to section 90 of the Wool Industry Act 1972 I present the final annual report of the Australian Wool Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1977. An interim report for that year was tabled on 2 1 September 1977 with unaudited financial statements. The final report is identical in text but contains audited financial statements and the Auditor-General’s certificate.
Mr SINCLAIR (New England-Minister for
Primary Industry)- For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1978.
– For the information of honourable members, I present:
Guidelines relating to access by members of Parliament to public servants and officers of statutory authorities; and Guidelines to apply to appearances by public servants and officers of statutory authorities before Party committees.
On 9 December 1976 the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) tabled draft guidelines on these matters and invited comments from the Opposition and from the Government parties. Those draft guidelines were incorporated in Hansard. After extensive consultation and amendment the guidelines have been finalised. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) has advised the Prime Minister that, without prejudice to the forthcoming debate on the -
-The honourable gentleman is making a statement.
– It is a matter of explanation, Mr Speaker, and I was relating the advice of the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister that, without prejudice to the forthcoming debate on the Freedom of Information Bill, he considers them acceptable. Might I further add that having regard to the fact that the draft guidelines were incorporated in Hansard, the House might be prepared to allow these guidelines also to be incorporated in Hansard.
The guidelines read as follows-
Pursuant to section 9 of the Medical Research Endowment Act 1937, 1 present a report on work done under the Act during 1 977.
Pursuant to section 76A of the National Health Act 1953, 1 present the annual report on the operations of the registered medical and hospital benefits organisations for the year ended 30 June 1977.
For the information of honourable members, I present a summary of the report of an interdepartmental committee on South Sea Islanders in Australia together with the text of a statement by the Minister for Social Security relating to the report. Copies of the full report have been lodged with the Parliamentary Library.
– Pursuant to section 171 of the Trade Practices Act 1974, I present the annual report of the Trade Practices Commission for the year ended 30 June 1 978.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair)- by leave- agreed to:
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Department of the Capital Territory for the year ended 30 June 1978.
-On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I present the Committee’s report on proposals for variation of the plan of layout of the city of Canberra and its environs, 66th Series.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
-How long is the statement?
– It is very short.
-The report that I have tabled deals with the 66th Series of proposals to vary the Canberra city plan. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Ellicott) referred these 14 proposals to the Committee on 24 July. The Committee conducted a public hearing at which it was briefed by the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of the Capital Territory. No objections were lodged in relation to any of the items but the Committee found it expedient to ask the Department of the Capital Territory to seek the opinion of residents in Glasgow Street, Hughes, on variation 8 which involved transferring a small area of land to a private lessee. The Committee recommends implementation of all the proposals contained in the Series with the exception of variation 8 as it is considered that more information on that particular matter is necessary.
The proposals in this Series will involve changes to improve further the Barton Highway, including new tourist information facilities and related amenities. A variation is also included to provide access to tourist facilities, which may include some motel sites off Gold Creek Road to avoid the need for access directly from the Barton Highway. A proposal for a new bridge across the Mumimbidgee River at Tharwa will ensure that the structure and setting of the historic existing bridge are preserved. There are also proposals involving works within the parliamentary triangle. These relate particularly to access to and parking at the High Court and National Gallery sites and general improvement of traffic patterns within the parliamentary area. The NCDC will mount a visual display in the Senate committee room No. 6 from Wednesday, 20 September so that interested members and senators can examine what is involved in the proposals.
Members and senators will be aware that the Parliament Act applies to works within the parliamentary area, and major works have to be approved by both Houses. The NCDC informed the Committee that as the Act is now interpreted there is no necessity for the works in question to be the subject of special resolutions by the House and the Senate. The Commission is well aware, however, of its responsibilities under the Act and has undertaken to inform the Committee should there be any developments during construction which might require approval of the Parliament. The responsibility for ensuring compliance with the legislation resides with NCDC and the Minister. I commend the report to the House.
-Mr Speaker, I desire to make a statement to the House on the basis that I have recently been seriously misrepresented.
-The honourable gentleman wishes to make a personal explanation?
– I do.
-The honourable gentleman may proceed.
– In a statement which was tabled in the Victorian Parliament last Wednesday it was alleged by the member for Westernport, Mr Jennings, that he had been told by a former Minister for Public Works, Mr Roberts Dunstan, that I had been paid not to ask questions about the land deal in 1974. Mr Jennings stated that Mr Dunstan had told him this in May 1977. I now note and place on record the fact that Mr Dunstan has denied that he ever had any such conversation with Mr Jennings.
However, that still leaves on the record the other part of the allegation made by Mr Jennings and that is the suggestion that I never raised any questions concerning the Housing Commission’s land purchases at Melton. Any examination of the public record would indicate that that allegation cannot be borne out by facts. On 14 June 1974 the Age published a front page article headed ‘Big Land Profit for Developer’. That article was written by Ben Hills and Phillip Chubb of the ‘Insight’ team. The story stated that developers had made profits of more than $4m of Commonwealth housing money by selling rural land at Melton and Sunbury to the Victorian Housing Commission. A full account of the transaction was published in the Age under the heading ‘Melton Developers Reap Rich Harvest’. On the morning of 14 June 1977, I, as leader of the Victorian Opposition, issued an 1 1- paragraph Press release attacking the Melton and Sunbury transactions. On 15 June 1974 the Age incorporated some of my statement in an Insight’ article headed ‘Melton Land Sale Probe ‘. I was quoted in this article as follows:
The land deals were attacked by the State Opposition Leader (Mr Holding) and spokesmen for other groups . . .
Mr Holding said yesterday the State Government appeared to be using the Housing Commission as a ‘Trojan horse ‘ for land speculators.
By allowing the commission to compete as another force in the market place, the Government has forced up the price of land to close to double its previous level.
On Sunday, 30 June 1 974, 1 made a broadcast on the Melton-Sunbury land deal on the ‘Labor Hour’ on 3KZ. Among other things I said that the deal would add to inflation because of the near record prices paid. On 1 July 1974 the Australian newspaper carried an article under the headline ‘Land Deal Waste of Victorian Money’. This article stated:
The Leader of the Victorian Opposition, Mr Holding, said yesterday a land deal in which developers made $4m profit was one reason the Federal Government would not hand the States ‘blank cheques’.
Mr Holding said the article further quoted him as saying that where the State Housing Commission bought 2,268 acres of land at Melton and Sunbury that was a tremendous waste of State resources.
On 8 July 1974 1 visited Melton, accompanied by my research officer, to see the area and to discuss with officials of the Melton Shire Council the difficulties they were experiencing in coping with the problems created by the purchase. On 19 July 1974 1 again attacked the entire concept of Melton and Sunbury in a 10-paragraph news release issued by my office to all media outlets. I stated in this news release:
I am at a loss to understand the Premier, Mr Hamer ‘s, announcement about the establishment of more satellite cities similar to Melton and Sunbury.
One of the problems with the Jennings document is that it falls to take into account the time span involved when Melton was first raised as a political issue. The original Age ‘Insight’ article by Mr Hills and Mr Chubb appeared on 14 June 1974. The Victorian Parliament did not resume sitting until 10 September 1974. On 14 June I, as Leader of the Opposition, publicly adopted the views set out in the Age article strongly criticising the prices paid. Let me make this clear Despite all the investigations which could be made with the limited resources then available to the Opposition, there was no information whatsoever available to me or to any member of the Victorian Opposition in 1974 to enable us to suggest responsibly any impropriety or corruption in respect of the Melton land purchases.
By the time Parliament met, three months after the allegations were first made, the Opposition was then concentrating most heavily on Pakenham where much of the land purchased was flood-prone and worthless. That aspect of the land deals was vigorously pursued in and out of the Parliament. The Melton purchase was merely part of the general allegations of incompetence directed to the then Minister of Housing. The public record shows that on the Melton land purchase I made radio broadcasts, I gave ‘on air’ interviews, I eagerly sought television coverage and I did everything I could to push the story in the print media at every opportunity. The thrust of my allegations in respect of Melton was that it was essentially a waste of public money for the benefit of private developers. I repeat: At no stage was there any evidence by which I, or any responsible member of the Opposition, could have alleged graft or corruption- and that allegation was not made.
Mr Speaker, the other matter on which I have been misrepresented appeared in the editorial of the Canberra Times last Saturday. Again, in dealing with the Jennings statement it posed a number of questions. In posing questions in the editorial, the following statement appeared:
Other niggling questions that call for answers are: Why Mr Lynch said to Mr Holding in Parliament that the ‘Royal Commission [on the Victorian land deals] came rather close to the bone as far as he was concerned’ . . .
Honourable members will recall that that statement, having been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch), was withdrawn. However, apparently the withdrawal was not sufficient to satisfy the editorial writer of the Canberra Times. Whilst I cannot answer for the Minister’s motives, I can attest to the facts of the Gowans’ inquiry. The facts are that at no stage during the whole period of that inquiry was my name ever mentioned at all.
At page 1,071 of the transcript in crossexamination of a witness, the name of my former wife was mentioned, not, I might add, with any suggestion that she was in any way related to the subject matter of the inquiry. It was put merely as being a matter of credit related to another witness who was to give evidence at the inquiry. The line of cross-examination was terminated by the commissioner, Sir Gregory Gowans, with the comment that he was very suspicious of the purpose of this cross-examination. They are the facts. I was not mentioned at all. There was a very cursory legal exercise which was not in any way related to the subject matter of the inquiry and was dealt with by the commissioner himself. Those being the facts, I cannot attest to the motives of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in raising the matter in the way in which he did. He did withdraw his statement, and it seems to me that the Canberra Times, in its editorial, did itself no credit in repeating a statement that had been withdrawn in the House in the way in which it did.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Housing Costs and seek leave to make a statement.
– This Committee of Inquiry was established in June 1977. Its terms of reference, which were unanimously supported by the States, covered the whole process of the provision of housing, from initial land assembly and planning to the point of acquisition by the consumer. Its establishment arose out of the Government ‘s concern that the rapid increase in housing costs had been a major factor in limiting the community’s access to housing. The Government was also aware that cost pressures had exacerbated the problems of the land development and dwelling construction industries. The Government decided the housing cost problem required urgent and comprehensive study so that each level of government, industry and the financial institutions might be advised on how to fulfill their proper responsibilities in the efficient provision of housing.
The Committee comprised Mr Ernest Eyers, O.B.E., Chairman, previously a senior officer of the Reserve Bank and inaugural Chairman of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, Mr Keith Campbell, C.B.E., Chairman and Chief Executive of the Hooker Corporation and Mr Ken Taeuber, Director-General of the South Australian Department of Lands and Chairman of the South Australian Land Commission.
The Committee’s exhaustive investigations represent one of the most comprehensive national reviews ever undertaken of factors affecting housing costs. The Committee is to be congratulated on its report. It deserves the closest attention by all spheres of government and by the industries concerned. The Committee has called for public discussion of the report and for the Commonwealth and the States to review many of their programs in the light of its recommendations. For its part the Commonwealth will be subjecting its programs to the closest scrutiny and will also take every opportunity to discuss the report in intergovernmental and government-industry consultative bodies. We will welcome comment from members of the industry and the community before considering what action we at the Commonwealth level might be able to take. To facilitate this consultative process the Government has invited the three Committee members to take a role in the follow-up process. The Committee will be available to discuss the report with Ministers, local government and industry representatives in each State over the next few months. The effective follow-up to the report depends on both commitment and co-operation from all participants in the housing process.
The wide-ranging nature of the housing costs problem means that solutions can only partly be found at Commonwealth level. As the report indicates, all levels of government and industry have a major part to play in coming to grips with housing costs. I can assure honourable members that the Commonwealth will not shirk its responsibilities. We will establish an interdepartmental committee comprising my Department, the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Finance, Capital Territory and the National Capital Development Commission to examine possible Commonwealth action. Other departments and authorities will participate in working party examination of particular issues and will be included in the IDC for discussion of these matters.
Many recommendations of the Committee would involve Commonwealth-State discussions. Other recommendations are specifically State matters. For example, recommendation 2 suggests that each State should establish a ministerial portfolio responsible for the full urban and housing policy functions. Again, recommendation 3 suggests that each State appoint a Director of Land Supply who would report to that Minister. Another major recommendation is that each State should undertake a review of the planning, approval and development processes for new residential land development and for redevelopment. Very serious consideration would have to be given to the Committee’s recommendation that developer contributions for head works and area contributions and contributions for amplification of services and off-site drainage and like schemes, be removed. In some areas where the Commonwealth can act independently, I have already taken action.
The Committee has as its first recommendation that the Commonwealth should expand its research on forecasting land and housing demand. I have already instructed my Department to expand its activities in this area. On other recommendations I hope that the interdepartmental committee, which I have said would be established, will report early enough for me to be in a position to report to Parliament early in the new year on our progress. Apart from its comprehensive recommendations, the Committee has drawn together in its report and associated papers a wealth of information. For example the Committee clearly shows that the vast majority of Australians aspire to own rather than rent their homes. They also favour a detached house on their own block of land.
In commenting generally on the Committee’s report, I found it interesting to note that the inquiry did not recommend large scale introduction of land commission programs to stabilise land prices. The Committee stated that such schemes should be considered in the particular circumstances of the State. While it recommended that a Director of Land Supply be appointed to co-ordinate and facilitate private and public sector activities and to monitor the supply of and demand for land into the future, this is low-key government intervention. This level of intervention is in marked contrast to suggestions for large government spending programs.
I am pleased to say that the information contained in the report demonstrates that in general terms the Government is on the right track. I would like to draw the attention of honourable members to the table on page 47 of the report which gives the cost of house and land for a typical 110 square metre home in Sydney. In 1974-75 prices were increasing at a rate of 12 per cent per annum. This has now been slowed to 7.7 per cent per annum. This indicates that whilst there is still some way to go, significant advances have already been made by this Government on slowing the rate of increase in housing costs. I refer honourable members to the table on page 133 which shows the benefits to home owners from reductions in interest rates. As we know this Government is determined to get interest rates down. The table shows that a one percentage point reduction in the rate of interest would mean that monthly repayments on a typical $30,000 house paid off over a period of 25 years could be reduced by $ 1 5 a month. The Commonwealth Government is determined to bring the cost of land purchase, house construction and low loan repayment back within the reach of all Australians who aspire to home ownership. This report adds a new dimension to that endeavour.
To sum up, it is a comprehensive and thorough report. In all it has 36 recommendations, and in addition many other suggestions are contained within the text. They invite action on the part of the Commonwealth, the States and local government as well as the private sector. Whilst much can be done by individual authorities and by each level of government, I agree with the Committee that significant progress will be achieved only if governments can act together and in a way that fosters co-operation with the private sector. I again congratulate Mr Eyers and his Committee on the excellent job they have done and commend the report to the House. I present the following paper:
Committee of Inquiry into Housing Costs- Ministerial Statement, 19 September 1978.
Motion (by Mr Howard) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
-This is a very important report. I have had it in my hands since only one o’clock but I have been able to read the recommendations in volume one. I must say that on the whole they are enlightened and progressive recommendations. One would expect that, because of the calibre of the three individuals who comprised the Committee looking into this matter. Mr Eyers is a man of great experience not only from his background in banking but also in the housing area. He was the person who set up the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and was its first chairman. Mr Keith Campbell, although coming from the private sector, was one of the more progressive executive members of the Hooker organisation. When I was Minister for Urban and Regional Development in my relationship with him I held him in very high respect. Mr Ken Taeuber, who was the chairman or a member of the South Australian Land Commission had vast administrative background in the South Australian Public Service before being appointed to that Commission.
Honourable members have the opportunity not only to read the recommendations but also to read the evidence that has been put forward by those in the housing field. The housing industry is going through an extremely difficult period. It is at its lowest ebb for at least 10 years. Although there has been a hurrah from the Government because it thinks that things are beginning to pick up in money terms, I was able to give the actual figures which show that fewer houses are being purchased or commenced this month when compared with last month. Therefore, in the number of dwellings getting under way, we still see a long-term problem and crisis in the housing sector. The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Groom) said that the Government was on the right road. Even in the very brief time I have had in which to read the report I have noticed several points. I refer the Minister to page 6, paragraph 1.1.7, which states:
Before looking for ways to improve the present situation, the Committee considered a number of short and longer term issues affecting future housing costs. It was felt that:
In the short term, economic conditions would continue to constrain effective demand. High rates of unemployment, particularly among those who predominantly constitute the new household-forming age groups, and diminishing opportunities for a household to earn two incomes in order to meet the high deposit saving levels and repayment liabilities, were likely to restrain rapid increases in effective demand for some time.
Yet the Minister says that the Government is on the right road. Here is a statement by these three people of some esteem, of whom I spoke earlier. The report goes on to discuss the problems of the future. It states:
Possibly prior to improved economic conditions but certainly hand in hand with these, cost pressures should once again appear, as demand for and supply of land and housing approach equilibrium. Because the full increased costs of production (particularly in respect of land and home units) have not been generally reflected in prices in more recent years, . . .
Again those remarks were made by the three gentlemen who produced this report. Yet the Government says blandly that we are on the right road. I would hate to know what would happen if we get off the right road. I wish the Minister had read the report himself- he has had plenty of time- instead of allowing his bureaucrats to put into his mouth words that he does not really understand. In his statement he said:
I can assure honourable members that the Commonwealth will not shirk its responsibilities.
He was talking about the Commonwealth not shirking its responsibilities with regard to housing. What has been the record with regard to housing in this year alone? The Government has cut grants under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement from $390m to $3 16m. Finance for defence service homes has been cut by $10m. In a submission to Cabinet the Minister’s predecessor stated that $76m was needed in this Budget if the Government was to meet all applications for homes savings grants. The Government made $34m available last year but it has made available only $20m this year.
People who are applying for homes savings grants now are being told that they cannot get any money until at least 1 July next year and then only a small number will get any money.
What else did the Government abolish? It abolished the scheme under which the interest that young people or people on low incomes paid on home loans was tax deductible. That scheme will be abolished completely from 1 November this year. As well, the Government abolished the housing experimental scheme. In fact a great deal of experimentation was being carried out in the Minister’s State of Tasmania. This was a rental housing program for people on low incomes. In total this year $160m less than the amount that should have been provided has been made available for housing. But the Minister says that the Government is on the right track. All I can say is that the whole housing industry has grave problems. I suppose that a copy of this report will cost a substantial amount of money and that the normal person will not be able to afford to buy it. It contains three thick volumes with probably over 1,000 pages in all. It will cost a tidy sum for the ordinary person to purchase one of these reports in order to make an examination of it to see what is going on.
We want to see a public debate on this issue. It deals not only with the question of housing but also with the interrelationship which we on this side of the House have always recognised. Since at least the early 1960s, first of all under Mr Whitlam and later when we set up a shadow portfolio of urban and regional development, we have said that housing has to be a part of overall urban and regional affairs. It is also a question of land, finance being continually available for housing, the social problems of how people live, and whether the right cultural, educational and job opportunities are available in the area. Too many problems in that regard have been created in the past. Interrelationship is also necessary within the bureaucracy. Recommendation 2 of the report states:
Each State should establish a Ministerial portfolio responsible for urban and housing policy in its fullest sense. The Minister would have the primary task of co-ordinating the activities of other related portfolios with responsibility for issues affecting urban needs and the urban environment and for liaison with other levels of government and the private sector.
In other words, not only the Australian Government but also State governments have responsibilities. There must be an interrelationship, and that is what we have tried to stress. What has this Government done? Not only has it abolished housing programs but also it has cut programs to such an extent that urban programs have been cut back more than any other programs in all the Government’s programs. The sewerage backlog program alone has been cut from $1 13m being made available in the last year of the Labor Government from the Australian Government to State governments to not one penny being made available this year. The Government has cut back land commission programs; it has cut back growth centre programs; and it has abolished completely the area improvement program whereby money was made available in order to try to lift up the infrastructure and living conditions in local government areas. The Government has cut back these programs completely. This report makes a recommendation with regard to finance. The Minister talks about looking at page 47 of the report. I suggest to the Minister that he should also examine page 46. Before dealing with that matter, I suggest that he also look at recommendation 20 which states:
The Commonwealth should introduce a secondary (bulk) mortgage agency as a means of stabilising funds flows over lime and between regions within the constraints imposed by broad monetary policy.
Of course that recommendation was drawn from the first report of the Australian Housing Corporation which this Government also abolished. That has to be understood because the Australian Housing Corporation was set up to deal with such matters.
Dealing with page 46, the Minister should realise that what is set out on that page is the average cost of a home- that is, what it costs people to buy a dwelling- and how difficult it is for them to finance it. In Sydney it costs $36,400 to buy a home; in Melbourne, $37,200; in Brisbane, $29,700; in Adelaide, $31,500; in Perth, $33,700; in Hobart, $35,300; and in Canberra, $32,600. Let us look again at the situation as to finance. How can people actually afford to buy a home? That is why the housing industry is at such a low level. There are stocks of houses available which people cannot afford to buy. Why cannot people afford to buy those houses? Take the example of a $30,000 loan, which is a reasonable amount for a person to borrow. Let us suppose that an interest rate of 10 per cent is charged on this loan; and not many people are getting interest rates at 10 per cent these days. A loan of $30,000 at 10 per cent interest repayed over 25 years would involve a repayment of $272 a month. This means that a person would need to be in receipt of an income of at least 135 per cent of average weekly earnings to be able to afford to repay such a loan. However, at least 70 per cent of all wage earners receive up to only average weekly earnings. That is why the situation is so urgent. That is why we need schemes such as the deferred mortgage proposal scheme. We need schemes which will allow young people to get a foot on the rung of the ladder in their effort to own a home. We need schemes that will enable young people to repay a lesser amount during the early years and, allowing for a reasonable rate of inflation of three per cent to four per cent a year, a greater amount in the latter years when they will be earning a greater income.
I know that I have criticised generally the Government’s housing policy. However, when one looks at this report one can see that it contains a great deal of detail and information that we need. People interested in this area will be able to examine the report and I hope criticise the Government generally for not having taken action to overcome the crisis in housing.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hodges) adjourned.
-Mr Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The. confusing and conflicting statements by the Government on employment prospects in Australia.
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-
-This Government is a government of gross deceit and dishonesty, and that dishonesty and deceit has been exposed in this House on a number of occasions over the last two and a half years by members of this side of the House. The culmination of this exposure came on Thursday of last week when the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) made a statement to the House. For the first time this House and this nation were told the truth about unemployment and the problems which will confront people leaving educational institutions and seeking employment next year and into the 1980s. It was the first time this House had been told the truth. An extraordinary feature of this matter is that the media since last Thursday has given weight to what I say. Editorials in a number of newspapers throughout Australia have congratulated the Minister for telling the truth. Apparently one Minister out of 27 Ministers has been picked out and congratulated for telling the truth.
A number of editorials took Opposition spokesmen to task for being too harsh on the Minister. The Opposition criticised the Minister for having waited almost three years to tell the truth. The Opposition was criticised for doing this. The media said that we ought to be thankful that now the Minister is telling the truth. But what about all the lies that have been told to the Australian people in that three year period since the Government took office? What about the Ministers who have been involved in deceiving the Australian community in that three year period? What do the editorial writers of the media have to say about those people? The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, notwithstanding a squabble that took place in Cabinet during which a number of senior Ministers did not even want him to make the statement, told us what the Labor Party has been telling Australia for three years. The Labor Party has been saying that unless the Government does something about job creation in this country we will have complete chaos in the early 1980s. We are not talking about half a million unemployed as we are predicting for early 1979; we are talking about one million people who will be out of work; we are talking about people in their early twenties who have never found employment since they left school.
The Minister, by telling the truth, by not carrying on the deceit and the dishonesty which one associates so much with this Government, has ratified all the things that we said. He is the only one yet to have done so. No other Minister has come out in support of him although I suspect that the Treasurer (Mr Howard), who has been given the task this afternoon of speaking in this debate, will associate himself with what the Minister has said.
How painful it must have been for the Government to admit that unemployment is a real problem, that unemployment is leaving a social scar and that it is going to get worse. According to the Minister there is no bright future next year for young people leaving school or colleges; there is no bright future the year after; and there is no bright future into the 1980s. I ask honourable members to read the Minister’s speech- read the first statement of truth to come from this Government, the first statement that cannot be condemned as another big lie.
Why would the Government make this statement eight or nine months after the last election? No doubt there is some sort of political advantage in the timing of the statement. Obviously the Government would hope that by 1980 when the Australian people are called on to vote again the electorate will say: ‘Oh, Mr Street told us in 1978 it was going to become worse; there is nothing that can be done about it; we have to accept it’. The statement, quite ironically, was made in support of the Budget. The statement by the Minister- the ‘truth’ as the media calls it- was made in support of a Budget brought down by the Treasurer, who will speak next in the debate. The Budget does absolutely nothing about employment. The statement suggests that another 100,000 people will be out of work as a result of the Budget. The Minister waited until last Thursday at the conclusion of the debate on the Budget to tell us the truth. This Government ought to be condemned for the lies, not congratulated on one issue for having told the truth.
Let us have a look at some of the statements that have been made in respect of this matter. The first statement I want to quote was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who ever since he became Leader of the Opposition told us that we needed to change the Labor Government for a government under his leadership. He said that was all that was required in the first place. Scapegoat No. 1 has now gone because the Prime Minister cannot claim now that a change of government is the answer when we consider what his Government has achieved after having been in power for three years. The second claim made by the Prime Minister was: As soon as we get inflation down unemployment will be reduced’. Scapegoat No. 2- lie No. 2- has gone because the Government’s boast about reducing inflation has not been equalled by its performance on employment and in creating employment opportunities. On 6 December 1977, at the height of the election campaign, the Prime Minister had this to say:
Our consistent economic strategy is to getting Australia back to work and from February there will be a sustained and long-term reduction in unemployment in Australia. We are reducing inflation, reducing interest rates, protecting industry, cutting taxes -
That is a big joke- and encouraging investment and development. All this means jobs- permanent jobs- for Australians who want to work.
This was part of the big lie to the Australian electorate last year to get people to vote for the Government But now the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has exposed all that fabrication by his statement of truth to the
House last week. The Prime Minister during the election campaign also said:
Because we have reduced inflation the tax cuts will create more jobs because people can spend more, our factories will have to produce more. There will be a demand for more employees. That is why, from next February, unemployment will fall and keep on falling. We are determined to foster Australian industry’s new-found vitality.
Just recall what the Prime Minister had to say. It is a whole scheme, a whole avenue of lies which were told to the Australian people about what the Government is going to do as far as employment was concerned. The Prime Minister said that factories would produce more because of tax cuts. But what has happened to the tax cuts now? If the theory is true that factories will produce more because of tax cuts, this means that factories will have to produce less from the first week after November 1978 because people will have to pay a lot more tax. Everybody earning between $1 14 a week and $300 a week will have to pay 8 per cent more tax. That will be the rundown of the factories according to the Government’s theory and the theory of the Prime Minister. What did the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations tell the House on Thursday of last week? Let us compare that with the statements of the Prime Minister. On 14 September, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations said:
There are no signs of any immediate significant improvement in the employment situation. On present indications it seems likely that a new peak will be reached in JanuaryFebruary 1979 . . .
If new jobs were created at an average of 130,000 a year for each of the next five years, we could expect to reduce unemployment to about 4.S per cent.
He said that if we could create 130,000 jobs in the next five years that unemployment would be reduced. Do honourable members opposite know how many jobs the Treasurer told us in the Budget would be created this year. He said that 30,000 jobs will be created by this Budget. That means that unemployment will go up above the 6.2 per cent which it is at the moment, not down to 4.5 per cent. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations prepares the way also for conditioning the Australian people into believing that there will be a great deal more and permanent unemployment. The night before the Minister made his statement the Prime Minister was interviewed by Mr Willesee on the channel 7 television program Willesee at Seven. What did the Prime Minister say then? He said:
Training schemes . . . together with increased profitability of Australian industry, would mean anybody who wanted to work would have opportunities opened up for them.
That also appears in the Age of next day. I ask honourable members to compare the remarks that anybody who wanted to work would have opportunities opened up for them with remarks made the night before by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations when he told us that we had to create 130,000 jobs in the next five years to reduce unemployment to 4.5 per cent of the work force. Who is telling the truth? On our side of the House, we say that the Minister finally has come to the conclusion that the truth ought to be made known to the Australian people. If the Minister is telling the truth, the Prime Minister is telling lies. There is no other word for it. Inside or outside the Parliament the Prime Minister has told lies, all along the line, to the Australian people. Let us examine what the Minister said later in his speech. He said:
The trend in private sector employment, where the major improvement in employment opportunities must take place has also been steadily downward; it has fallen 48,000 in the last twelve months.
This Government cannot blame the Labor Government for what has happened in the last 12 months, from August 1977 to August 1978. That is a period of total Liberal-National Country Party Government. Employment in the private sector in Australia in that period is down by 48,000. Compare that with the promise of the Prime Minister when interviewed by Michael Willesee. In his speech, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations stated:
While the actual decline in employment was concentrated in the manufacturing industry, employment growth across all industries has been stagnant over this period.
I ask honourable members to compare the remarks of the Minister with what the Prime Minister has been telling the people of Australia. This joke has to end. People are entitled to know the truth and this Government must have pressure put on it to do something about job creation programs. It cannot go on predicting this sort of fatality for the people of Australia and, at the same time, bring down economic strategies such as those contained in the Budget which does absolutely nothing about them.
Let us have a look at youth unemployment about which the Prime Minister also is telling lies. Of male workers aged 16 to 19 in the full time labour force, 17 per cent in Australia is unemployed. The Government must be very proud of the fact that 1 7 per cent of 1 5 to 1 9 year olds in this country is unemployed. Amongst the young females 1 5 to 1 9 years of age, 17.6 per cent is unemployed. That is the second highest figure in the Western world. That is the achievement of this Government- a government of deceit and dishonesty, a government whose Prime Minister, as I said, is telling lies and who now criticises and overrules the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations for having the cheek and the audacity to tell the Australian people the truth.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member for Port Adelaide has been given considerable indulgence in his manner of expression. I remind him that the word ‘lie’ is somewhat anathema to this Parliament and that if he feels inclined -
-It is not for the Prime Minister.
-. … to question errors of judgment he may express himself in more euphemistic terms.
-Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. In Australia as a whole, Mr Deputy Speaker -
– I am not satisfied with that.
– Of course, you would not be satisfied.
– The Treasurer has not taken a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat.
-He has not taken a point of order.
– I take the point of order that the remark made by the honourable member for Port Adelaide goes beyond the bounds of a vigorous debate.
Mr YOUNG I withdraw.
– As a matter of courtesy he ought to withdraw.
– I do.
– Let us have a look at what the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations said further. I am not worried about the pedantics of this debate. Honourable members can make up their own minds about the Prime Minister. I certainly have and the people of Australia have. The statement made by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is the most important statement made by this Government in almost three years because, as the media has stated, the Minister is to be congratulated for telling the truth. Let us have a look at the other implications of the Minister’s statement. At page 1032 of Hansard, he said:
Unemployment is a social as well as an economic problem. Some 1 6 per cent of the labour force aged between 1 S and 1 9 years of age is unemployed. The periods of unemployment are lengthening noticeably and the percentage next year of unemployed in this age bracket could be even higher.
The Minister responsible for this area is telling us that the 16 per cent to 17 per cent unemployed in that age group will be much higher in 1979. Tell the young people leaving school what a great job this Government is doing of governing the country. The Minister stated further:
By the early 1 980s the situation could be one where, in addition to the problem of 15 to 19 year olds being unemployed, there will be a growing proportion of people in their early 20s who will have little work experience or prospects of employment. In other words, the social problem could significantly increase.
On every occasion when Labor Party spokesmen on this side of the House have pointed out the social problems and the social scar being left by high unemployment, we have been told that we are talking nonsense. We are not going to let up on this issue because the Minister has given us the lead and has given what we have been saying credibility with a great mass of the media in Australia. The Minister has been congratulated for telling the truth. He may get congratulations for telling the truth but the Prime Minister and the rest of the Ministers will not be congratulated for telling their parliamentary untruths.
– Like the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), I am not concerned about the pedantry of a debate. I think it is a matter of disappointment that a matter of public importance called on by the Opposition alleging conflicting statements made by the Government about unemployment consisted of nothing more than a ritualistic series of insults hurled against the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and other members of the Government. It is no revelation for anybody on this side of the House or indeed on the other side of the House to say that unemployment is a serious social and economic problem. I think honourable members on this side of the House have been saying for a considerable period that at least on one score there is unanimity of opinion in Australia- that is, that the problem of unemployment is significant in social and economic terms.
I listened for 15 minutes to the honourable member for Port Adelaide. At no stage did I hear from him any suggestion of a serious alternative to the problem of unemployment other than the approach that is being adopted by the present Government. He spent most of the time trying to conjure up the spectre of differences of opinion on this side of the House so far as the problem of unemployment is concerned. He made a few quotations from speeches made by the Prime
Minister and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). If the House will bear with me, I might do a bit of quoting too. After I have quoted a section from a speech, I will ask honourable members whether anything in it does not do other than echo what this Government has been saying for 2 te years about the problem of unemployment. The quotation states:
Both the timing and severity of the recession in Australia were far more directly a product of what was happening here in 1973 and 1974 than what was then happening overseas. The plain fact is that at the time we decided in Australia to pay ourselves more for doing practically the same amount of work. Our wages rose well ahead of increases in our productivity. Between June 1973 and March 1978 average earnings increased by almost 100 per cent. During the same period productivity rose by about 10 percent
They are not my words. They are not the words of other people. They are the words of my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations last week in the speech which the honourable member for Port Adelaide seeks to establish as a departure from the views that have been expressed by the Government. I could not have found a more immaculate expression of the problem that underlies the level of unemployment in Australia than I found in that paragraph. Of course we have a high level of unemployment in Australia. Of course it is much higher amongst people in the 1 5 years to 1 9 years age bracket. Of course the Government and the community are rightly concerned about the problem. If we are to talk about parliamentary or non-parliamentary untruths, let us not endure the greatest untruth of all, and that is that unemployment suddenly arrived on the doorstep of the Australian Government on 13 December 1975. For heaven’s sake let us not have the greatest untruth of all in this debate.
Of course this Government is concerned about the level of unemployment. It has demonstrated that concern, through a multiplicity of training schemes, through a sustained attack upon the problem of inflation which, on any analysis, is the principal cause of the unemployment which commenced in this country in 1973 and 1974. It happens that we on this side of the House have a different approach to solving the problem of unemployment. We do not believe that we can permanently solve the problem of unemployment in this country by simply expanding the level of government spending. I should have thought that the experience of countries overseas would have demonstrated the folly of that alternative. All the Opposition says about unemployment is that there should be job creation. It is very simple. That is the Opposition’s policy. It says that there must be job-creating schemes. As I understand it- I am always prepared to be enlightened on these matters by my colleagues opposite- the general thrust of the Opposition’s alternative strategy is: ‘Well, if we expand the size of the public sector we will create more activity and, therefore, we will have more jobs.’ It says that not only will there be more jobs in the short term; there will also be more jobs in the long term with a permanent and lasting stimulus to the level of employment.
I invite those who advance that theory to look at some of the experience in recent years in the United States. I invite them to observe the fact that when less emphasis has been placed on restraining inflation and perhaps more emphasis placed on direct job creation for a period of time there has been a reduction in the level of unemployment but, coupled with that, there has been an increase in the rate of inflation and the return of pressures on existing employment levels. I invite honourable members opposite to look at the experience of other countries which have tried job-creating and job subsidy schemes. Does anybody on the other side of the House seriously argue that the Government of the United Kingdom over the past few years has solved the problem of unemployment? Does anybody on the other side of the House seriously argue that the multiplicity of job-creating and job support schemes that have been tried in that country have provided a lasting solution? Does anybody seriously argue that we can cure the simple problem that employers in this country are not prepared to pay for labour which they cannot afford by other than reducing the cost of labour to those employers? Does the Opposition seriously imagine that it has an alternative strategy on unemployment when, in debates on matters of public importance and the Budget debate, members of the Opposition come into this House and attack the Government’s policy on unemployment yet say virtually not a word about wages policy?
I listened very carefully to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in response to the Budget Speech, and I observed very carefully the emphasis that he placed on the question of wages policy. There was virtually nothing in his speech about wages policy. It is one of those uncomfortable areas that the Opposition wishes would go away. It wishes it did not have to worry about wages policy because it is an insoluble problem for the Labor Party. Some Opposition members, including, I suspect, some front bench members, know that what the Government is saying about wages is basically correct and economically sound, but equally they know that there is no way in the world they could carry their rank and file with them to work out a rational wages policy. What we have from the Labor Party is virtually a conspiracy of silence on the question of wages policy. The Opposition is reduced to impotence in regard to wages policy because it is caught in the classic dilemma of knowing that in logic what the Government is putting on wages policy is correct yet emotionally it cannot attach itself to that logical response. For the Opposition to come into this House and talk about the problem of unemployment is one thing. If the Opposition has a serious contribution to make to the problem of unemployment I am happy to debate it at any time, but I have not heard from the Opposition an alternative strategy to the problem of unemployment.
– Listen to the debate on the Estimates.
– I listened very carefully, my friend. I am a very attentive listener and I do not normally interrupt when other people are speaking. I have not heard a serious contribution from the Opposition as to an alternative strategy to the problem of unemployment. The Opposition has contented itself with trying to sell the story- it is the greatest untruth of the lot in this whole debate- that unemployment suddenly arrived in December 1975. I do not like to drag up those embarrassing figures about the 196 per cent increase. I know that the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) does not like me dragging up that 196 per cent increase in unemployment in 1974 and how in those years of the wages explosion, industry in this country was moved to a permanently lower threshold of employment because of the massive gap that developed between the level of real wages and productivity. Of course that is a matter of embarrassment. I do not want to dwell over much on those things. What I do wish to say to members of the Opposition -
Opposition members interjecting-
-I ask the Treasurer to resume his seat for a minute. I was not in the Chair at the time, but I believe that the previous speaker was heard in comparative silence. I ask the honourable member for Lalor and the honourable member for Blaxland to treat the Treasurer in the same fashion.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, could I make one point.
-On a point of order?
– Yes. The speaker has been addressing the Opposition directly and not yourself. He should speak to you. While he addresses us he will evoke the responses we are giving him.
-I will not argue with the point made. I call the Treasurer.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, the point I was making, through you, to members of the Opposition who are showing their usual sensitivity when we start to get a bit close to the problem with regard to their attitude to unemployment, is that in debate after debate the Opposition has come into this place and said: ‘Unemployment is a problem. We are the only ones who are concerned about that problem. Because the level of unemployment in this country is X per cent at the present time the Government is totally indifferent to the problem of unemployment and we are the only ones in this country who care about unemployment’. What I am saying to honourable members opposite is simply that the Opposition has no mortgage on concern about the level of unemployment. The Opposition has no right to say to the Australian people that unemployment suddenly started when the Fraser Government came to office in December 1975. The Opposition has no right to deny the enormous level of guilt it carries for creating the conditions which gave this country a higher level of unemployment in the early 1970s. We ought to have a debate about the comparative responses of the Government and the Opposition to the problem of unemployment, but it is extremely difficult to have that sort of debate in this chamber because the Opposition never presents a coherent alternative strategy to that being followed by the Government. It has attempted in the course of this debate to establish some kind of mythical conflict between members of the Government so far as the problem of unemployment is concerned. There is nothing inconsistent between what the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations said in his speech last Thursday and what was said about unemployment in my Budget Speech. Honourable members will recall that I indicated that unless there was a considerable improvement in the success of our arguments in relation to wage levels this country could face higher unemployment in 1979. That was said openly; it was said objectively; it was said in recognition of the facts. In that regard, I am pleased to say that the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to adopt six-monthly hearings in the future will make some contribution towards ameliorating the problem.
I conclude my remarks by rejecting the accusations made by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. He spent most of his time hurling insults at members on this side of the House. He completely failed to offer any alternative response to the strategy of this Government on the problem of unemployment. He pretended once again, following a faithful line, to establish that unemployment suddenly arrived when this Government came into office. In my view, he failed completely to come to grips with what I should have thought was the prime responsibility of an Opposition spokesman on employment and industrial relations, that is, to argue at every opportunity the alternative policy and the alternative strategy of the Opposition on that subject.
-A couple of comments made by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) are worthy of note. The Opposition does not claim that unemployment is a phenomenon which arrived with the Liberal Government. The Opposition realises that we had unemployment and inflation from 1972 to 1975; but it is time the people of Australia realised, it is time this Government admitted, that it was a worldwide phenomenon, that it affected every country in the Western world. This Government was elected in 1975 on a promise to remove unemployment from the Australian scene. Amongst all the governments of the Western world it is the one that has failed singularly to do just that. Having said that, let me return to the matter of public importance, which concerns the confusing and conflicting statements by the Government on unemployment prospects. At last the Government has come clean. At last a responsible Minister has crawled from beneath the veil of deception with which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has cloaked public affairs in Australia over the last three years. At long last we have received from the Government an honest assessment regarding unemployment in Australia and the future prospects for employment.
The Labor Party has recognised the problems of continuing unemployment patterns over recent years and has constantly entreated the Government to do likewise. My colleague the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) has spoken on this subject in this House on many occasions. He has written a very interesting paper on it. I refer members of the Government and the public to an article which appeared in the Australian on 9 September on the paper written by the honourable member for Lalor on postindustrialism and job absorption. I suggest that members of the Government, who have constantly ridiculed the honourable member for
Lalor when he has made these statements because they do not understand what he is talking about, read this article. They may learn something. There is a depth of thought in his statements which points up the deep problem represented by unemployment in Australia.
In the 1977 election campaign we as an Opposition did our best to persuade the Australian people to see beyond the convenient and hollow promises of the Prime Minister made in that infamous policy speech, now revealed as a litany of empty rhetoric and base deception. The Prime Minister said, and I think it is worth quoting -
– Who wrote this?
-I did. The Prime Minister said:
Because of our job assistance strategy, because of the growth and development our policies have made possible, unemployment will fall from February and keep falling. It is Labor that is the party of unemployment.
As each month since then has shown a continuing rise in unemployment from the previous month’s figures, the Government has maintained that it was a temporary aberration. Finally, last Thursday in this House the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), to his credit- albeit belated creditadmitted that unemployment would rise rather than fall in the future. He said that there appeared to be little likelihood of any significant increase in jobs in most areas of employment.
The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Sir William McMahon), was more specific and said that unemployment in Australia would increase by 80,000 by next February. Unfortunately, on this side of the House, without any desire to be prophets of doom, we must agree with that assessment. Last Thursday the Minister broke the great conspiracy of silence within the Fraser Government by telling the truth about unemployment. The Minister’s assumptions, which I hasten to say are very optimistic assumptions that in five years rime unemployment will still be intolerably high- he was speaking about a figure of the order of 5 per cent- fly directly in the face of the humbug statements the Prime Minister has been making on this subject for the past three years. The Minister’s statement has vast political implications. From here on in it will be very awkward for honourable members opposite, for the Government, to talk in optimistic terms about unemployment. The Minister responsible is now on the public record as saying that employment prospects will deteriorate even further in the future.
His statement has also blown the gaff on what has been known in Australia as the dole bludger syndrome. This insulting, denigrating and insidious term was spawned and nurtured by this Government to cover its own deficiencies. It was a cheap form of political rhetoric to excuse the Government from responsibility for unemployment. Its impact on the social fabric, particularly for Australia’s unemployed youth, is insidious. The shame of being called a dole bludger has destroyed the confidence and self-respect of thousands of decent young Australians battling honestly and diligently to obtain a decent job. Parramatta Council, of which I am an alderman, advertised a few months ago for 10 apprentices. Three hundred kids turned up to get those jobs. Kids who want to become apprentices are not kids who want to be dole bludgers. They are kids who want to train to do a responsible job in the future. They are the sort of people about whom we over here are thinking.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) quoted the figures for youth unemployment in Australia. In the IS to 19 years age group the figure is about 17 per cent. In my electorate it is probably more like 25 per cent. The Government not only makes confusing and conflicting statements about unemployment but in my electorate further compounds the problem by not even providing decent conditions for the unemployed seeking jobs and help. Despite the best intentions of the devoted and concerned staff, the Commonwealth Employment Service office is totally inadequate to cope with an enlarging problem. One finds kids six and seven deep at a counter about five feet long, with no privacy when they try to seek help from the counsellors. One finds kids queueing up in the corridors to try to get a cheque. The Government should be ashamed of its efforts in this area. These conditions only harden the conviction of the unemployed that the Government sees them as people who do not want to work, as dole bludgers.
Last week the Minister dragged a reluctant Prime Minister down an unfamiliar path. The Prime Minister, as his record shows, has a great disaffinity with the truth. Let us hope that the Minister’s frank admission of the Government’s failure to come to grips with the gravest social and human problem facing Australia will not see another retreat into a conspiracy to deceive. The Labor Party, under its present Leader, has been on the right track with its social and economic policies. Hopefully for Australia’s great army of unemployed, the Fraser Government may dramatically shift camp and come up with some humane policies to restore employment opportunities for all Australians.
In a similar debate in this House last week my colleague the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) invited, in fact challenged, the Government to come to the western areas of Sydney, to look at the situation in Blacktown, Parramatta, Liverpool, Fairfield and Mount Druitt, to see the despair of kids out there who are trying to get a job. Government members should find out whether the unemployed in those areas are impressed with the Prime Minister’s statements about unemployment starting to fall in February and continuing to do so. That is a fairy story, a sick joke- sick because the Prime Minister knew it to be false when he said it. But in typical fashion he used the expedient he to deceive the public. The only thing falling in those areas is people’s hopes. Their expectations and confidence in the future are being destroyed. The Werriwa by-election on Saturday will be a measure of the feelings of the people in this area. They will show their disdain for the Government by voting overwhelmingly for the Australian Labor Party, the only party which cares for them.
– Ha, ha!
-The honourable member may well laugh. I suggest he pick up a newspaper on Saturday to see what the electors of Werriwa have to say about the Government. The statement of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations about the seriousness of the Australian unemployment crisis is a dramatic admission of the failure of the Government’s economic policies. While the Prime Minister has been denigrating anybody who spoke out against the Government’s inhuman and brutish approach to economic management, he has allowed the unemployment situation to grow steadily worse. Once again the Minister has revealed the deception and shortcomings of his leader. The Prime Minister should resign out of respect for the dignity, decency and honesty of our parliamentary system.
– The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) and the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) have one thing in common- they do not know what they are talking about. In the two speeches we have heard today and in the speech made by the honourable member for Port Adelaide last Thursday not one worthwhile suggestion was put forward; in fact not one suggestion was put forward. There is only one small thing to which one may refer. In a speech last Thursday in a discussion of another matter of public importance which was a complete waste of time, the honourable member for Port Adelaide said that the Federal Government will not even subsidise relief schemes on a dollar for dollar basis.
I am rather disappointed that we have such an Opposition at present. The only thing that it did when it was in government and running the Treasury bench was to increase unemployment. When it came to government 138,000 people were unemployed and when it left government 328,000 were unemployed. In one year it increased the number of people unemployed in this country by 190,000. It doubled the number of young people who were unemployed in this country. It doubled the unemployment rate for people under the age of 1 9 years. Let us compare that single approach with the one scheme from under which the Labor Government pulled the rug at the end of its period in government. We have eight different schemes which are working and which are aimed at making sure that people will get jobs and will be trained. They are being organised and directed through private industry. It is being done through the people who are going to create permanent situations and not take stop-gap measures. I cannot even criticise the scheme that the Opposition is putting forward because it has none. The only thing that members of the Opposition can do- I refer specifically to the honourable member for Parramatta- is to make some carping and mean criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and thus follow in the footsteps of some of his left wing colleagues who are sitting around him at present.
The Opposition consists of a group of people who claim that they have a degree of communication with the unions. Why do they not talk to those people who are helping the unemployment situation by unreal and unfair wage demands? At present union membership is falling dramatically but unreal logs of claims are put forward every single day of the week. This is something that this country and the employers cannot afford. I hark back to what happened in the three years of Labor’s disaster: Four weeks annual leave, 17 ‘A per cent leave loading, equal pay and huge wage increases. In 1972 we had a 30 per cent wage and salary advantage. We left government with that position as a fact of life. In 1976 we came back into government with a 40 per cent disadvantage in wage and salaries. We have not stopped being concerned. We have been concerned and we will continue to be concerned, but
I believe it is most important that we look at the long-term situation and at the problems which will be facing Australia not only in 1978 and 1979 but also in 1980 and 1981. The schemes we have introduced and got working are starting to show extremely worthwhile results.
Before I get onto those specific schemes I would like to quote from a letter published in the weekend’s Courier-Mail from Mr A. J. Willis, President of the Queensland Confederation of Industry. It is a story about unionism and a belief in fairies- I think it is worth while to quote one section:
In fact, if the Unions’ excessive demands in these matters had been successful, we would today need a wheelbarrow to take home the pay packet as a reward for doing no work.
That is from a man who has been actively involved in industry for a number of years and whose industry peers have elected him as President of the Queensland Confederation of Industry. That is the sort of thing which we are facing in 1978 and which the Opposition is not trying to assist. Yet its members claim with huge crocodile tears that they are concerned about unemployment. Half of them would not know even how to spell the word.
We have eight schemes which are operating very effectively and I refer firstly to the National Employment and Training scheme for which this year there will be more money. Last year $84.8m was spent on NEAT. This year the allocation has been increased by 44 per cent to $122m. Let us look at the number of people who have been assisted under this National Employment and
Training scheme. On 31 December 1975 some 7,736 people were being trained at a total cost of $40.2m. On 1 March 1978 29,102 people were being trained at a total cost of $44.9m. With that realisation in mind and with the increase in moneys this year we are going to assist a huge number of extra people. They will go into the work force and will be sufficiently trained to take up employment with other employers if they choose to move from one to another. On 31 December 1976 3,275 people were involved in the Special Youth Employment Training Program-SYTEP. On 30 April 1978 22,994 people were being assisted under the scheme. Under the Commonwealth Rebate for Apprenticeship Full-time Training scheme the apprentice intake in 1977 was eight per cent above that in 1976. At the end of March 1978 the national apprentice intake was some 10 per cent above the intake at the same time in 1977. In 1976-77 some 43,833’ people were being assisted and trained under the CRAFT scheme. The estimated 1977-78 figure is 38,567.
Have we stopped there? No. We have continued to be concerned about apprentice support programs and the Commonwealth support for 1978-79 will be increased substantially to over $46m from last year’s figure of $32.5m. We have further programs which are operating very effectively, including the Community Youth Support scheme. By next June almost 45,000 young people are expected to have been assisted under that scheme. Since the scheme began some 570 projects have been approved. In the period from 31 December 1975 to 1 February 1978 some 33,800 people, at a total cost of $3.44m, have actually gone through the CYSS program, and the approximate total number since 31 December 1 975 is 44,900 at a total cost of $6.67m.
Again, have we stopped there? Are we showing lack of concern for those people who are unemployed in this country? No. The Government has increased the allocation of funds to CYSS to $9m this financial year compared with the total allocation last year of $5. 75m. This is a rise of more than 50 per cent. Since the program began- these are the up-to-date figures- some 670 projects have come into operation involving approximately 45,000 people. We have not stopped there. The Relocation Assistance Scheme and the Fares Assistance Scheme have received substantial increases in money. The whole thing points to one area of concern, to being more involved and at the same time to having ourselves in a situation in which, when things are not working as effectively as they should be, we have sufficient room to move and to change the schemes to make them more effective. This is what has been done with almost every one of the eight schemes which either have been brought in or changed by this Government. A lack of concern for unemployed people is not part of the policy of this Government, the Prime Minister, or the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). It is a genuine concern which is shown by honourable members on this side of the House. That is why so many honourable members on the Government side were re-elected in 1977. I believe that with the forthrightness, the honesty and the integrity which this Government has shown and which it will continue to show, it will be re-elected again and again. If honourable members opposite feel that the Australian people are stupid enough to listen to the sort of stupid inane criticism which has been bandied around the House today and if they think that they can win votes by making remarks such as the ones that we have heard today, I am sorry to point out to them that it will be proved again at the next election that Labor is just not on. Genuine concern and consideration for people who are unemployed will be part of this Government’s continuing concern. The Government will continue to operate these schemes and other schemes as necessary to ensure that we reduce unemployment.
-The discussion is concluded.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of a High School at Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.
The proposal is for the construction of a high school to accommodate 400 students incorporating two general learning units, science unit, multi-purpose area, industrial arts, art-craft and home economics, library and administration areas. These facilities will be housed in modular buildings located around a central courtyard. Planning also provides for a janitor’s residence, oval, two tennis courts and two basketball courts. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $3. 15m at April 1978 prices.
The Committee in recommending the construction of the work concluded that:
The tennis courts should be surfaced with concrete in lieu of bitumen.
The government accepts this recommendation. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– I speak in support of this motion. The high school at Nhulunbuy has been in the thoughts of the citizens of that town- some 4,000 of them- who have lived in a very isolated area for quite some years. The primary school at Nhulunbuy has been crowded to over-crowded for a long time now. So I am very pleased to be able to speak in support of this motion for the construction of the Nhulunbuy high school. I was also pleased to be a member of the Public Works Committee which recommended the construction of the high school. At Nhulunbuy the Committee received some very solid submissions from local organisations which included the Parents and Citizens Association of the area school, the Nhulunbuy
Area School Council, the Nhulunbuy Corporation and Town Board, the Gove Peninsula branch of the CLP, Nabalco Pty Ltd, Messrs Graham and the Honourable Jim Robertson, Northern Territory Minister for Community Development and Minister for Education, and Mr Ballantyne, the local member of the Legislative Assembly.
The town of Nhulunbuy exists because of the mining operations of Nabalco Pty Ltd and the bauxite and alumina that is exported. Although there are no definite plans for expansion of that industry, there are indications that in the early 1980s the company may be increasing its operations considerably. I hope that this school will be constructed by that time and will be able to cater for the students of the area instead of them having to do their higher grade studies away either in Darwin or in the southern States. This school will cater for year 12 classes. Since that level of education has now been stipulated as necessary for apprenticeship at the mining operation, this will tend to keep the families together in the town. The families will not be broken up because the children will not have to go away to undertake their senior examinations.
I note that the buildings will be specially cyclone-proofed. This is an area subject to cyclonic winds and special precautions are being taken in that regard. I was pleased to notice that a fine oval has been planned. The township of Nhulunbuy is in need of another oval. Of course, the 400 students at the school should be encouraged to play as much sport as they can because this is a character developing pastime. The only other remark I would like to make concerns the tennis courts which, I notice, will have a concrete finish. Tennis balls used on a bitumen surface tennis court last for about only half the afternoon. I imagine that the concrete finish on the tennis court will not only make the tennis balls usable longer but also that the concrete tennis court will last almost twice the period as the bitumen finished court for very little -
– And there are some sticky wickets to bat on.
-Yes, that is right. They have some concrete wickets out there. I would like to see turf wickets on this oval. As I say, the tennis courts will last longer. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16 August, on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, that you permit the subject matter of the three Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate on the three measures? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-The Opposition does not oppose the three Bills but seeks to amend the first Bill, namely, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Bill. The purpose of the three Bills is to extend the stabilisation scheme for export apples and pears for the 1978 season. The legislation authorises the payment of $2.20 a box on approximately 1.5 million boxes of apples and 80c a box on approximately one million boxes of pears exported at risk particularly to the European market. The Bills also provide supplementary assistance to be matched by the States. You will recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, that after a very heated debate last year Parliament decided that $2 a box was to be made available on up to two million boxes of apples and 80c a box was to be paid on 1.4 million boxes of pears as stabilisation payment. Through a change in the market situation in the last season, unusually high prices were experienced and only $594,000 was actually appropriated on stabilisation during that period. That is because the average price of apples was running at about $5.90 a box.
The general picture of the horticultural industries has been a sad one in recent times. One has to look at only the figures to understand by just how much production and exports have declined. In 1971 the figure was 150,000 tonnes; in 1977 it was 47,000 tonnes. Export prices this year are expected to be relatively high for the second successive year. Again, this is only a prediction, and prices probably will not exceed those of last year. The short term lift in prices, however, does not alter the long term trend within the industry and without government support, exports to the major markets are unlikely to be profitable. It is true that the current European crops do look small, but the effect on prices is not yet clear. For instance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that in 1979-8 1 crops will be similar to the 1973-75 crops in terms of the large level of production, which of course at that stage had a depressing effect upon prices. That could well be the case this year.
On a national basis, the production of apples has declined dramatically from 310,000 tonnes last year to an estimated 290,000 tonnes this season. Furthermore, there has been a decline of about 32 per cent in the number of fruit bearing trees compared with the 1968-69 peak. During that period, of course, the State which incurred the greatest problem was Tasmania. It experienced a decline of 49 per cent in the fruit-bearing trees from the 1968-69 peak season. So we see a very dramatic decay in the horticultural industries, particularly the apple and pear industry and particularly related to exports. Of course this all arises from the change in the basis of exports to the European Economic Community in 1971 when the door was closed firmly in the face of the present Leader of the National Country Party when he was a Minister involved in the EEC discussions. Because other markets developed in the United States and other parts of Europe we found that our traditional markets had begun to be eroded.
What we are facing now is a problem of dealing with the families who are presently on their farms and who, on the basis of stabilisation levels, operate on a subsistence basis. As I said, last year prices were high and there was not the call upon the stabilisation fund that one imagined. This year the Government has reduced the number of boxes applicable to stabilisation payments as regards the export of apples and pears. In the case of apples, the number of boxes has been reduced from 2 million to 1.5 million. Honourable members will recall that last year the level of permissible stabilisation support was $2 per box on 2 million boxes. This Bill provides that this year it will be $2.20 on 1.5 million boxes. We on this side of the House believe that because of the unpredictability of the market situation and the aggregate return to producers from a lower permissible level of exports covered by the stabilisation scheme, a decline of 500,000 boxes will not be compensated by the slight increase in the price from $2 to $2.20 per box. We propose that $3 per box be paid. Therefore I move the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: the House is of the opinion that the Bill should be withdrawn and re-drafted with a view to bringing forward a Bill which increases the rate of stabilization payments to (a) $3 per box of apples or (b) a number of cents equal to the product of 300 and 1,500,000 divided by a number equal to the number of reputed boxes of apples picked during the season concerned ‘.
We believe that the carriage of the amendment by the House would indicate support for the hor.ticulturalists, particularly those in Tasmania, which is the State most reliant on exports. If, of course, prices happen to be such that a call has to be made on the stabilisation scheme, then this amendment would facilitate in aggregate terms a larger amount of money being paid to the producers.
Last year the Opposition moved a similar amendment which was defeated by the Government parties. I might add that it was defeated because of support for the Government by all the members from Tasmania, except the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) who failed to vote in the division. The result was that the incomes of producers would have been seriously jeopardised if it were not for this unforeseen market pick-up which was not recognised at that time. So we on this side of the House believe that whilst some of the inclination in the market last year might appear to be carrying over into this current year, there is no guarantee that that will be the case.
It needs to be remembered that this scheme has operated since 1971. It was designed to protect the horticultural industry against fluctuations in export income. Because of the great deal of manual labor involved and the cost of labor in Australia, the industry has had problems regarding viability. The difficulty then is to maintain the level of income for growers at above subsistence level. It has been a traditional National Country Party ploy to keep stabilisation payments at subsistence levels so that there is virtually an agrarian peasant group in some parts of the Commonwealth reliant upon these schemes, who are then sold the line that only the National Country Party will maintain them in their near poverty. We on this side of the House believe that if there is to be a stabilisation scheme, that scheme ought to be adequately funded so that payments to growers, if such payments need to be made, can be at other than subsistence level.
This amendment places the onus squarely upon those members from Tasmania, remembering of course, that the Government currently holds all the seats in Tasmania, though I am sure that is a position which will be changed at the next general election, to act on this matter. We on this side will be interested to see whether the honourable member for Franklin votes on this occasion instead of being locked in the toiletinadvertently of course- as he was during the last division on this matter. We will also be interested to see the vote of the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr), the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) and the honourable member for Bass (Mr Newman), both of whom are Ministers in this Government. Last year all of those members voted against the similar amendment put forward by the Opposition to increase the stabilisation payment to $3 per box. This year we want to see whether they believe that the interests of Tasmania will be advantaged by this amendment. Therefore we want to see whether they will support it or whether they will go their way and be covered by the Government Whip and the Liberal-National Country Party majority and vote with other honourable members on that side of the House to make sure that there will not be any splits in the Government’s ranks.
We on this side believe that some of the regions of the country which are reliant upon particular types of agricultural production and which have been disadvantaged in the past by sinusoidal fluctuations in markets can in some way be buttressed by having a stabilisation scheme which is at least generous in the event that such a scheme is called upon. So we look with great interest to see whether the honourable member for Denison who has just entered the chamber -
– I have been listening to you, don’t worry. You can’t tell the truth even about apples and pears. You’re a two-faced ferret.
– We will be interested to see whether the honourable member will squib the issue again as he did last year and vote against the interests of Tasmanians or whether he will vote for the amendment.
– You have got the years mixed up.
– No, I have not.
– When did you last visit Tasmania?
– The honourable member for Franklin says that I have got the years mixed up. I refer to page 369, volume 104 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 1 7 March 1977.
– You wouldn’t know the difference between a crofton and a geeveston fanny.
-Order! The honourable member for Denison is not entitled to barge into this House yelling as he comes. Would the honourable member kindly retain his sense of humour and his sense of balance and allow the honourable member for Blaxland to complete his speech.
– I was referring to the Hansard report of 17 March 1977 of the debate on the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill. I refer to the vote on that particular Bill. Hansard shows quite clearly at the bottom of page 369 the names of those who voted ‘ aye ‘ and who voted against the amendment. Included in the first group were the honourable member for Denison- his name is shown quite clearly- the honourable member for Wilmot and, of course, the two Ministers, the honourable member for Bass and the honourable member for Braddon. The only name which is not listed under the ayes’, the ‘noes’ or the pairs is that of the honourable member for Franklin who, as I said, was inadvertently locked in the toilet because he did not have the courage to vote on the issue. This year we are throwing down the gauntlet to him. I have not got the years mixed up. It was last year. Last year he failed to vote. He and the honourable member for Denison are both sneering cynically about the interests of their State. We have thrown the gauntlet down to them. We on this side of the House are saying that if we were the Government today we would be offering a level of $3 a box on apples. If honourable members on the Government side feel so smug about the vagaries of the international market place, if they feel that the stabilisation scheme will not be called upon and that the interests of the growers will not be jeopardised then that is fine. They can vote against the amendment. We on this side of the House believe that $2.20 on 1,500,000 cases as contingent liability on behalf of the stabilisation scheme is not enough and that it should be $3 a box of apples. The Government parties should support us in relation to this measure.
I conclude on the point that I raised at the beginning of my speech. The Opposition does not oppose the spirit of the first piece of legislation but seeks to amend it. In fact, it does not oppose but supports the two ancillary pieces of legislation, namely, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill. We have sought to amend the central Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill. I have just read the amendment to the House. We believe that the apple and pear growers of Australia, particularly the apple growers in Tasmania who can be violently affected by fluctuations in market and export prices, would be advantaged by the carriage of this amendment. We will be looking with great interest to the members of the Government parties from Tasmania to see whether they have the interest of their State at heart and whether this time they will support the Bill instead of running away from it on a party political basis to the disadvantage of their State.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes, I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak at a later hour.
– I believe the real intent of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) in moving this amendment to the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill, which refers only to apples and the level of stabilization, became quite apparent in his concluding words, that is, that the interest of the Australian Labor Party is not with the apple growers but with the political situation in Tasmania. It shows once again the cynical attitude of the Labor Party to the rural people of Australia. When one looks at the record of the Labor Party when it was in government one sees a new-found concern for rural producers. One can understand its new found concern because at last it has been brought home that it has no hope of regaining office unless it wins a few rural seats. When the Labor Party looked around at these rural seats and at the fact that in Tasmania it no longer had a House of Representatives member it put two and two together and came up with $3 a box.
That is the full extent of the concern and interest of the Labor Party for the apple growers of Australia. It hopes that it might swing the votes of a few apple growers in Tasmania in an endeavour to regain some lower House representation. If it knew anything about the actual position of the apple and pear stabilisation scheme it would come to the conclusion that it is not the apple section that has been under-supported by the Government with the level of support price, but the pear section. However, the Labor Party leaves the pear section out of the amendment altogether. A coincidence- other than the fact that honourable members opposite do not know much about the subject- is that most of the fresh pears exported come from the electorate of Murray and not from Tasmania.
If one looks at the original figures for the level of support one sees that the figures for pears have not changed. Support for apples has increased and I say good luck in more than one sense. If members of the Labor Party had really done their homework at least they could have included pears in the amendment. That shows the degree of homework, concern, sincerity and understanding that the Labor Party has in relation to the industry as a whole.
– I rise on a point of order. If the honourable member for Murray feels so concerned as to move an amendment on behalf of his constituents we will consider it sympathetically.
-There is no point of order.
– When honourable members opposite get themselves into a mess like this I am not of a mind to help them to get out of it. If one also looks at the other things that the Labor Party did when it was in Government for its new found friends, the apple growers of Australia, one looks first of all at the Coombs Report.
– You can look at Lance Barnard after the next election.
– Let us have a look at Lance Barnard and the Coombs report. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia at the time when the Coombs report came in. That report recommended the abolition of the sales tax exemption for carbonated beverages that used S per cent of fruit juice. At that time a significant amount of apple juice was being used and a significant amount of pear juice was starting to be used in these carbonated beverages. This was a significant outlet for these industries, particularly the apple industry. What did our friend of the apple industry, Mr Barnard, the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, do? He agreed that the Labor Government should remove that particular form of production assistance for the uptake of that industry at a most critical time, that is, when the first effect of the increased external tariff applied by the European Economic Community was being felt.
When we talk about the EEC and Britain we see the ignorance of honourable members opposite because there was not a sudden closing of the door to fresh apple and pear exports to Europe. Once again honourable members opposite have not done their homework. They do not know anything about the subject. The external tariff was introduced over a number of years but we are still selling apples and pears on those markets where possible over that external tariff which is, I think, about 22 per cent or 24 per cent at present. This shows the understanding honourable members opposite have for this industry. We see the situation with the Labor Government and what it did to kick the apple and pear industries where it hurt at a time when the external tariff was starting to hurt them. We can also look at the tree pull scheme at that time. Great promises were made by the Labor Party in the 1972 election campaign about the tree pull scheme which was introduced by us when we were previously in office. The Labor Party said that the scheme would help in this very painful adjustment period for the fresh apple and pear industry. The Labor Party said that the scheme was not generous enough and that it would do wonderful things. Mr Grassby was saying many things about this matter in the electorate. When the Labor Party came to office it did not alter one dot of the scheme or do one thing for the fresh apple and pear tree removal scheme.
– This is a concerted move to embarrass me.
– I think it would take more than that to embarrass the honourable member for Franklin. If we continue on and look at the Industries Assistance Commission investigation into -
– I was not locked in any toilet, either. I would like to make that quite clear.
– The honourable member for Franklin wants me to make the point that he was not locked in any toilet. I accept that. I think he will be speaking on this Bill and he will make an attempt to put the record straight in relation to that aspect. Let us get away from toilets for a minute and get back to the question of apples. At the time when the original five-year stabilisation scheme was ending, what was the attitude of the Labor Party to the recommendation of the IAC that the stabilisation scheme be phased out. My recollection is that the Labor Party accepted the IAC recommendation that all forms of support for the fresh apple and pear industry be phased out, in line with that recommendation. Once again one can be a little cynical about the Labor
Party’s new-found enthusiasm, its new-found support, for the apple growers. I emphasise that its support is for the apple growers of Australia who are exporting apples; not for the pear growers. They have been forgotten altogether. The attitude of the Labor Party is a very cynical attitude because it is based on the thought that perhaps it can get a few votes in Tasmania in the short term, as distinct from any understanding of or empathy with the industry.
The purpose of this Bill is to continue for two more seasons the fresh apple and pear stabilisation scheme which was introduced by a previous Liberal and National Country Party government for a five-year period in 1971. We extended it in 1976 and 1977, on each occasion for a period of 12 months. I reiterate that, in view of the attitude of the Labor Party at that time, I would hate to think what would have been the situation with this scheme if that Party had remained in power. Its view was to accept the IAC recommendation to phase out the whole stabilisation scheme. The level of stabilisation support for those apples and pears sold at risk, that is, in the European and North American markets, has been reduced- for apples, from two million boxes to * Vi* million boxes; and for pears, from 1.4 million boxes to one million boxes.
Once again the Labor Party shows its lack of homework in this matter. I just wonder how many people in the industry members of the Labor Party actually bother to talk to. The industry itself sees these reductions as being acceptable and reasonable because the level of reduction equates with the reality of the market situation in those countries at present. When one comes to the rate of support, the increase from $2 to $2.20 for apples has been accepted by the industry. One should note that the apple export situation- the honourable member for Franklin will go into this in greater detail- has been quite bright for the last two seasons. So one can look at the reality of what lifting the support to a certain point would mean. Unless it was a significant increase, it would mean very little. I wonder whether members of the Labor Party have bothered to do any arithmetic on that proposition. I doubt it.
There is no increase for pears. I will come back to that matter later. Supplementary assistance, which is important for both of these industries, has been increased from $lm to $1,500,000. One should remember that the supplementary assistance scheme provides assistance on a $1 for $1 basis to any State which is prepared to enter into the scheme. For the first time supplementary assistance is being provided for the pear industry up to an amount of $400,000 per annum. As I said earlier, the reality of this reduction in the level of assistance is a reminder to us of the very painful adjustment that has been necessary in these industries because of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and the introduction of the common external tariff against these fruits.
We have been hearing quite a lot of talk lately about the problems of adjustment to change, technological change and the fact that some Telecom Australia workers are most upset because not only will they not be guaranteed a job beyond about 10 years but also there may not be the same number of jobs for people in the next generation. Hell! Let us look at the painful adjustment that has been required of apple and pear growers. These statutory corporation workers are on a featherbed compared with the adjustment that has been required of these people. Think of the adjustment that has been necessary in the fresh apple and pear export industry, the canned fruit industry and the dairy industry because of Britain’s admission to the EEC. No other industries in Australia, for either technological change or market requirement reasons, have had to bear anything like the adjustment that these industries have been forced to bear and have borne.
When we look at the coming debate on this question of technological change, adjustment to new processes, new electronic measurement systems and so forth, we should think a little about those industries that are adjusting automatically all the time and are increasing their efficiency. I sincerely hope that we will not get hooked on some situation where those in a special section of the industries of this country receive more than their due protection from the inevitable adjustment that is required to technological change. If we have that situation it will be a grave injustice to those other sections- I have mentioned those sections that in particular have been hurt by adjustments so far- in view of what they have done for an overall more efficient Australia.
I mentioned earlier that the apple industry has been treated more generously than the pear industry, and I want to support that statement with some figures. The latest edition of Rural Industry Information Papers- that for March 1978- gives a table showing the stabilisation fund and supplementary assistance for the apple industry. I hope that my arithmetic is correct and that the answer is that in the seven seasons covered by that table the Commonwealth Government paid $ 17.61m into the stabilisation fund; it actually paid $ 17.68m to apple growers; and the growers themselves contributed $103,000. In addition, supplementary assistance of over $3,300,000 was paid to apple growers. We come then to the pear section of that table. The Commonwealth has paid $ 1.233m into the pear industry section stabilisation fund. Compare that figure with the $ 17.61m provided for the apple industry. The fund paid $ 1.373m to the growers and the growers themselves paid in $169,000. In addition, no supplementary assistance was available to pear growers until the welcome statement in the most recent announcement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). I acknowledge that the pear export industry is far smaller than the apple industry, but not to the extent of the difference shown in that table. I am not knocking the apple industry. All I am saying is that I believe that the pear industry has not received fair, equitable and relative treatment. At least -
– Move an amendment.
– Move an amendment and I will second it.
-With a pair like those two honourable members involved, I am not sure that it would help the pear growers at all. I think there would be a rotten core to the whole business. Because of those interjections, I want to make this point, which I have made to the Minister in a number of ways: If support for the apple industry is increased to $2.20 assistance to the pear industry should have been increased at least proportionately to about $1.1 continue to make that point. As the Labor Party forgot all about the pear industry section of the scheme, it is not much good supporting its amendment. If it suddenly decided to support it, my level of reality would not agree to go with its level of cynicism on that amendment. Let me make that point at this stage.
– Where do you stand on pears? Are you for them or against them?
– I hope not to stand on any pears because it would be a fairly unstable situation. I make these points: The industry generally supports what the Government has done; the outlook for both the fresh pear industry and the fresh apple industry is considerably brighter, at least in the short term, than it has been at times in the past; the industries have had to adjust most painfully to the new situation; the Labor Party when in power and until its newfound interest in this subject did not assist the industries at all; all of its decisions were in the other direction, to cause further harm; its amendment on this occasion shows its cynical approach to the industry and that it has not done its homework on the subject. One can indicate in another way its newfound interest in apples and pears: Members of the Labor Party have not asked one question on apples and pears or the apple and pear industry in the Budget session 1977, the Autumn session 1978 and the Budget session 1978. A check of Hansard and other papers indicates that not one question about the apple and pear industry has been asked by any member of the ALP. That is a quite dramatic illustration of the degree of their interest in this subject.
I support the legislation. I recommend to all those people who have a genuine interest in this industry to acknowledge the Labor Party amendment for what it is- a cynical political exercise at the lowest level to embarrass Tasmanians. I also make the point that my friend the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), who represents many apple growers in Queensland, was anxious to speak on this subject. However, because I represent most of the pear exporters of this country as well as many apple exporters he courteously has given his place to me.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by my colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). The amendment would have the effect of increasing the rate of stabilisation to $3 a box instead of $2.20 a box. I was interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) who always makes an interesting speech. The honourable member spoke about all sorts of things other than apples and pears. He spoke about the Coombs report which has a very indirect bearing on apples and pears. He talked about the tree pull scheme which has nothing to do with the present Bill. He concluded by giving a very good argument why the adjustment should be increased. In fact he argued in support of our amendment. It is a pity he does not carry his argument through to its logical conclusion and vote for our amendment.
It is good to see that some of the Tasmanian members are in the chamber to listen to debate on the amendment and, I hope, to support it. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) is in the chamber. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) was in the chamber but he has now left it. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr) is in the chamber as, of course, is the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). The notable absentee from the line up of Government supporters concerned with this legislation is the honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie) who represents the biggest apple growing district in Australia. However, he is never in the chamber when we are discussing apples and pears, he never speaks on apple and pear legislation and he never asks questions about the apple and pear industry. I do not know where the honourable member for Calare is; perhaps he is up in -
– I rise to order. I know for a fact that the honourable member for Calare has asked questions on the apple and pear industry.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I suggest that the honourable member for Calare may be up in Bathurst trying to help his colleague the State member for Bathurst hold his seat of Bathurst on 7 October because his seat is under great threat.
I think that people have to realise the importance of the export market not only to the Tasmanian apple and pear industry but also to the apple and pear industry of the whole of Australia. If the apple and pear industry in Tasmania became unviable because of the export market the rest of the Australian apple and pear industry would be in a disastrous position because the Tasmanian production would then flood on to the domestic market in the eastern States. I think it is well known now that New South Wales grows more apples than Tasmania. The difference, of course, is that these apples are sold and eaten in that State. Also New South Wales exports only a very small proportion of its apples. Of course, Tasmania is terribly dependent on the export market. Therefore the Australian export market has to be kept viable for the sake of Tasmania and this is the reason the Opposition has moved its amendment.
The honourable member for Murray made frequent reference to the Industries Assistance Commission’s report. I suggest that this report was very valid at the time it was made. However I suggest that some of its recommendations are not valid now. Many of the recommendations are aimed at rationalising the industry and helping people to get out of the industry into other areas of occupation. That was a viable option at the time the report was made. However, it is not a viable option now bearing in mind the disastrous economic management of this country by the present Government. There is no option for apple growers to cut their losses, to get out of the industry and to get into some other form of occupation. There are too many people on the dole queues now without adding to that number by forcing people out of the apple and pear industry. We have to subsidise these people and keep export returns viable. I suggest we would be better able to do that if we increased the subsidy to $3 a case.
I think the apple and pear industry has a tremendous ability to adjust itself, but this takes time. We all know there is a long time scale involved in changing production patterns in the apple and pear industry. Trees take some seven or eight years before they come into bearing and changes cannot be made overnight. Government has an obligation to keep the people in the industry going while changes take place. I had discussions today with leaders of the industry in New South Wales and I was told that very significant changes are taking place. Changes are being carried out to make the varieties of apples more acceptable in the traditional markets and possible future markets. There is quite a substantial opportunity to expand our markets in such areas as the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong if we grow the sorts of apples they want and do not palm something on them by dumping our surplus which may not be acceptable. These changes take time. I understand that one cannot get suitable apple stock for hedgerow culture from nurseries until 1981. This indicates a very substantial move to hedgerow production which has been a feature of apple horticulture in the United Kingdom and Europe for many years. When I was behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria I saw acres of apples planted in hedgerows. This country which is supposed to be backward is using the most up-to-date and progressive technology in apple growing. This is more than we are doing. There is a move towards hedgerow production in Australia, particularly in the Orange district, but this is still a very small proportion of our total production. Of course, Tasmania is further behind still in hedgrow production. There is a very slow movement in the industry in that respect.
There are other opportunities for expansion of the industry, one of which is in the manufacture of by-products. There are growth prospects in respect of apple juice. I understand that a factory is to be established in Orange this year to manufacture apple juice for sale under the Mountain Maid Foods Co-operative Ltd brand. I know there is a growing demand for apple in baby food production and that the Edgell-Gerber baby food group in Bathurst is using an increasing quantity of apples. There is room for expansion but that expansion should be carried out on the basis of the industry being able to compete with other products and in overseas markets. This is what the growers are trying to do.
The whole idea of hedgerow technology, of course, is to obtain lower costs of production by allowing production to be more mechanised. Hedgerow technology lessens the cost of harvesting the fruit. It also allows pruning to be mechanised and reduces the cost of spraying. Although this technology is very good for the industry it is not good for employment prospects. However, this is just another example of the way by which technology is replacing manpower in various areas of production.
The cost of production has to be kept down. I understand that that cost is around $5 a case. However, the indications are that in Orange, which as I say is the biggest apple growing district in Australia, whilst acreages are not increasing production will increase because of changing technology. We have to make room for that increased production and, of course, the market will grow if apples can be produced at a competitive price. All of this will be to no avail if the export market collapses and if the Tasmanian industry is allowed to go into the doldrums and people are forced out of the industry. The industry in Tasmania has to be kept viable in order to keep the rest of the Australian industry viable. I suggest that the best way of doing that is to increase the rate of stabilisation which is necessary to allow for possible export losses.
I understand that the prospects for next year are for a very big and heavy crop. Of course, it is early days yet. All we can see are the buds on the trees. However, the season has been good, the prospects for the blossom period are excellent and the indications at this stage are for a big crop next year. It is also apparent that there will not be a big carryover of stocks to next year. I understand that stocks held in cold store are down on last year and that the market is reasonably buoyant. So the prospects are that there will not be a large carryover of stocks and the market should be reasonably buoyant for the domestic production that will come on line next year.
There are other changes in the industry. I understand that at Bilpin, which has been a fairly extensive apple growing area, the tendency is for acreages to reduce. Of course, many people in this area were Pitt Street farmers or people who were in the industry to reduce taxes. However, they found that because of the amount of labour involved this sort of farming was not pleasurable. Many of these people got out of the fruit industry because it was not all they thought it was going to be. This is being made up by increases in the acreages being grown in other areas such as Orange and Bathurst. There have been substantial changes in the sorts of varieties that people are growing. There has been a big swing to the delicious variety, particularly the red delicious and to varieties such as bonza. These changes have been made in response to market demand. I am confident that, if the industry adapts its production to the prospective markets, there is room for increasing sales overseas. The instability of our own economy, of course, is a problem. That is why it may be necessary for the Government to give added support.
It is quite ironical that it is left to the Opposition to show real concern for the apple growers. It will be interesting to see how members from Tasmania who represent the apple growing areas will respond to our concern for the stability of the apple industry at large. We are concerned not only for the growers of Tasmania but also with the effect that the stability of the industry in Tasmania can have on the industry in other States. That is our concern. We are not concerned with one State; we are concerned with the industry at large. For the Government to label our amendment as a cynical exercise is quite unjustified. It is not a cynical exercise. It is an amendment that has been brought forward in good faith in the light of the present difficulties in the industry.
We are concerned not only with the apple and pear industry but also with the disastrous employment situation where people do not have an opportunity of bailing out of the apple industry and going into other jobs. I do not know what the job market is like in Tasmania. I suggest that it is no better than it is anywhere else. I would like to know what honourable members from Tasmania think people who are forced out of the apple industry should do. Do they suggest they go on to the dole queues. What will they do? Are there other fields of employment in Tasmania? I suggest that there are not. We have to keep people in the industry and help them through a difficult period. For these reasons, I support the amendment moved by my colleague.
– I am pleased to see so many honourable members from Tasmania come into the House.
– And Western Australia.
– And Victoria.
– And New South Wales.
-I acknowledge my colleagues. I think it is disgraceful that the two previous speakers from the Opposition should speak in such a cynical way. It is very good to see the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Groom), who is the fine honourable member for Braddon, come into the House.
– I raise a point of order. They are packing death; they do not know what to do with our amendment.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)That is not a point of order. I call the honourable member for Franklin.
-Honourable members may recall that in December 1976- if they remember rightly- we had a little disagreement in the party room which we were entitled to have. I said that the stabilisation amount for apples should be increased to $3. We discussed it at length. We came into the Parliament and all of a sudden the Opposition moved a very cynical amendment. Opposition members copied what I had said. They tried to gain political mileage out of it but failed miserably. Honourable members may recall that, at the last election, in the Huon I gained a higher vote than I had at the previous election. The people of Tasmania realised that the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) was being hypocritical because he had forgotten that he was the person who suggested that the stabilisation scheme should finish and, in fact, that the industry in Tasmania should be restructured to put the poor devils out of their misery. I cannot be specific about the words he used but what he was saying was that the industry should be discontinued in Tasmania.
I am surprised that the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) should try to embarrass me. It is very easy to walk across the floor but I do not see many of you fellows walk across the floor. You would be expelled. In the history of the Labor Party only one honourable member moved across this floor and he was expelled.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Franklin should address the Chair and not both sides of the House.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I apologise. Honourable members opposite get me upset and annoyed when they try to humiliate me in the eyes of the people who elected me. I came into this chamber to make a sincere speech on the apple industry and to indicate to the people of Tasmania and to the apple growers of Australia that as a government we are concerned. We are doing everything that we can to keep the apple growers in business, to make absolutely certain that they are viable, to make certain that they can make a decent and respectable living on their farms and to keep a viable apple industry for Australia.
I now return to my speech. As a Federal politician representing one of the largest areas of apple growing in Australia, I have received no complaints- not one complaint- about this particular legislation. Previously, in the last couple of years the growers would have come at me in all directions saying: ‘Mr Goodluck, what are you going to do?’ This year not one grower has complained to me about this matter. I have spoken to just about every grower in the Huon. I make it a practice to try to talk to as many growers as possible. I suggest that some honourable members opposite should try to do that. I talk to the growers and I ask them whether they have any problems. They say: ‘No’. They are very happy with this legislation because for the first time in years they are starting to see the end of the tunnel. They are starting to see some sunshine and they know that the industry is on the way up. Admittedly, there is not the same volume as there was before the tree-pull scheme was introduced.
The honourable member for Blaxland rightly said that 49 per cent of the trees in Tasmania were pulled out in the period from October 1972 to October 1975. The industry was greatly reduced because 49 per cent of the trees were pulled out. The industry had to be restructured. Some of the trees were old and some needed pulling out. Unfortunately, many good growers had to leave the land. Now the industry is on the way up again. People are starting to plant trees in the Huon. Once again, the Huon will be the hub of the apple industry in Australia. Not one grower has approached me and said that he does not agree with this legislation. For that very reason, of course, I support the legislation. If I did not, I would walk across this silly floor and vote with the Opposition. I support the legislation because I believe in the apple growers of Tasmania.
– You are against them.
-The apple growers would tell me what they wanted. Let us get away from this political cynicism; let us get on with the facts. The honourable member for Blaxland cannot pull the wool over my eyes. He cannot get me upset. The Opposition cannot embarrass me in the eyes of my electors. It is absolutely impossible because I know what I am doing. I am sincere in the thrust that I am taking that the apple growers agree with what I am doing. I agree with them and that is the important point. Would honourable members agree with that?
Government members- Hear, hear!
– Stick to your guns. Hear, hear!
– When one looks back-it is not much use looking back- to October 1972 when the tree-pull scheme was introduced one will find that, from October 1972 to October 1975, 49 per cent of the total trees were pulled out. I repeat again that admittedly some trees needed pulling out. But now we have a world shortage of apples. All of a sudden there is a resurgence, a feeling that we have to plant more trees, that we have to get the industry going, and once again we will make Tasmania the apple isle. Everybody talks about the apple isle but we have to make certain- this is the reason we are here as Tasmanians- that we can once again identify Tasmania as the apple isle. It is very important because every State needs an identity. We identify ourselves with apples, and rightly so.
I believe that many who left the industry in that particular period now regret it. I am afraid that some of the theorists in the Industries Assistance Commission are to blame. I believe that they should not sit behind desks and dictate the situations of the people in the apple industry. The growers took note of recommendations made by the IAC. Some of the growers pulled out their trees and they are regretting it. I am not criticising all of those in the Industries Assistance Commission but I do criticise the theorists who sit in their ivory towers and try to advise people out in the field as to what to do. Unfortunately, there is a backlash. I know that every other Tasmanian supports the point of view I am trying to convey today. We need a vital, viable apple industry in Tasmania. It represents 1 1 per cent of our total agricultural products. It employs 1,500 people directly and many indirectly. In a total population of 400,000 that is important. Therefore we have to fight for that industry. We have to make certain that we are able to preserve the people who have been working in that industry for so many years. The apple industry has been going for 90 years in Tasmania. We have some of the finest growers in the world.
– We have the finest growers in the world.
-As the honourable member for Wilmot said, we have the finest growers in the world and we will continue to keep them because it is important that this industry continues. Tasmania was promised a continuing fruit industry by this Government, and I am very pleased to state that it has received that support in conjunction with the State Government. It is very easy to criticise a State Labor government, but one cannot knock all one’s life and I believe that the State Government of Tasmania, by introducing a marketing authority, has streamlined the marketing situation. Many growers have been able to get their fruit to the United Kingdom for a better price in far better condition, and for that reason I compliment the State Government. On the other hand I want to make absolutely certain that the authority does not get complacent, that it does not start to dictate terms to the major growers in Tasmania who have been independent for so many years, who have looked after their own interests and who have protected themselves in difficult times. They want to remain in the free enterprise system. They want to be able to make the moves themselves. They want to be able to dictate in the future what they want to do with their apples. For that reason I warn the chairman of the marketing authority in Tasmania to make absolutely certain that he does not stick his neck out too far when he is dealing with the interests of the Tasmanian apple growers. I think that he will heed that warning.
I think that most growers in Tasmania realise that the support by the Federal and State governments for last season’s crop cannot be regarded as having any degree of permanency. Seasons change and economic situations change, and the growers have to make certain they keep in tune with economic conditions and that they keep their fruit at a first-rate quality when it leaves Tasmania. We do not want a repetition of what we saw in the guests ‘ dining room of Parliament House when the apples that were served there were disgraceful. I mentioned at the time that they were Tasmanian apples that had taken two months and three different agents to get on to the market in Canberra. We want to make certain that if apples are to be exported to the mainland- by that I mean Victoria, New South Wales, et cetera- to support the apple growers who find it difficult to meet demand, they must make certain that the apples are of the same quality as those that are exported outside Australia.
– No grubs.
-One honourable member mentioned grubs. That was a bit of a joke, but that joke helped me in Tasmania because the people realised that a grub is sincere in an apple and that I am sincere about the apple industry. Political jealousies must be forgotten and the Tasmanian growers, if they are at fault, must make every effort. The honourable member for Fraser said that the majority of apples produced in New South Wales were consumed in New South Wales. That is true, but I think the honourable member will agree that the freight equalisation scheme has enabled Tasmanian producers to put their apples on the Australian market. They have to compete on quality, et cetera, and for that reason we must forget about these petty jealousies if the apple industry is to survive in Australia. There is too much jealousy between each State. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) is requesting that I give him five minutes. We have been called lots of things together. I will make a good gesture and make it a very good pair and give him a few minutes to speak.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, my remarks will be very brief. I simply want to say -
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! I call the honourable member for Denison.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, there are other members wishing to speak.
– I am sorry. I did not see the honourable member for Parramatta rise. I call the honourable member for Parramatta.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
Motion ( by Mr Bourchier ) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. ( Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr J. L. Armitage )
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Keating’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr J. L. Armitage)
Majority ……. 43
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– It is rather surprising, the apple industry in Tasmania having experienced one good year- last year- in spite of many years of hardship, that the member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) wants to revert to the evils of the past.
– Order! The level of conversation is too high. I ask honourable members to remain silent.
-The policy which was pursued by the Australian Labor Party and which encouraged the tree-pulling scheme enabled us to rationalise the industry. Now the member for Denison wants to reverse that. We seek to stabilise the industry with increased support. If supporters of the Government are sincere in their desire to help the apple farmers and the pear farmers they will vote with the Opposition.
– Order! I inform the honourable member for Henty and the honourable member for Isaacs that I previously requested that honourable members remain silent. The honourable member for Parramatta has a right to address the Committee in silence.
-Mr Chairman, I thank you. If Government supporters were sincere in their desire to help the apple and pear farmers, they would vote with us. This is not a cynical amendment. When we are returned to government we will see that its terms are implemented to help the farmers. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We concur with the Government in opting to extend, against advice from the Industries Assistance Commission, the period of assistance to the apple and pear growing industry to cover the years 1979 and 1980. As my colleague the member for Fraser (Mr Fry) noted in April of this year when he spoke to the Apple and Pear Corporation Amendment Bill, the Labor Party is truly the pioneer of many of the stabilisation and orderly marketing schemes which embrace rural industries today.
This is a straightforward piece of legislation. The industry is in need of support and the Opposition believes that the stabilisation scheme is a worthwhile means of assistance- so much so that we have moved our amendment to increase the amount of assistance which the Bill nominates.
The Opposition’s amendment in effect seeks to increase the support price for apples from $2 a box for two million boxes to $3 a box for 1.5 million boxes. As has been the case in earlier years, the stabilisation scheme will be confined to at risk sales; that is, apples being sent to the European markets and pears being sent to the markets of North America and Europe.
As a compulsive fruit eater and a noisy advocate of the ambrosial delights of a crisp and crunchy apple, whether they come from the Huon Valley, Batlow or wherever, it bedevils me to know why we have to export these gems of sweet nutrition that mother nature have given us. As my friend from the apple isle, the member for Denison, has said previously in this chamber, if every Australian were to eat one apple or one pear a day we would not have to export one apple from this country. I support him in that view. Conversely, if Eve had not tempted Adam with the mythical apple the history of mankind may well have been different. Unfortunately we are not getting enough of our apples and pears onto the sideboards of Australian kitchens and export is a fact of life. Another fact of life with which the apple and pear grower has to live is the European Economic Community or, I suggest, the lack of it so far as Australia is concerned. The reduced markets of Europe, the worldwide problem of inflation and the prospect of lower returns in this export season auger difficult times for the industry as far as exports are concerned. It is for this reason that the Opposition commends an elevation of the support price over and above what the Government intends to offer. In supporting an extension of the stabilisation scheme the Opposition acknowledges the economic mess which three years of Fraser madness have brought upon this country. People’s employment options have been drastically reduced. It is most essential to give support to industries to which people are giving their lives’ and their life savings to make a living.
– In Parramatta?
-Parramatta is very relevant to this. I do not know whether the honourable member realises that right on the borders of the Parramatta electorate lived old Granny Smith and it was there that she evolved the Granny Smith apple. So there is great relevance in my speaking to this Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-Before the suspension of the sitting, I was speaking of the Opposition’s concern for the apple and pear industry. Our desire to see the industry rationalised successfully is further sustained by the method we have adopted of moving an amendment to the Bill which seeks to increase the amount of subsidy available to the apple and pear export industry. I was challenged about my right to speak on this Bill in view of the fact I represent a city electorate. Most members of the Government will realise that Parramatta was not only the seat of the wool industry and the wheat industry in Australia. In the area represented by the former honourable member for Parramatta, the present honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock), the granny smith apple was evolved at Ryde where, funnily enough, something else is being evolved tonight; Mr Wran is making his policy speech. I know that his policy speech will be every bit as successful as the efforts of Granny Smith to evolve the granny smith apple.
I return to deal with the subject matter of the Bill by pointing out that it is most essential to give support to industry in which people have given their lives and their life savings to make a living. For example, in Tasmania when we speak of apples- I guess that they are synonymous with not only the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) but also with Tasmania- we must remember that unemployment is running at about 7 per cent. It is vital to sustain the apple and pear growing industry as a viable industry in that State. The Opposition firmly supports the amendment. We do so in the belief that such assistance is in the best interests of orderly marketing. Once again, I reiterate that the Opposition supports any measure to strengthen and sustain the apple and pear industry which we claim we rationalised successfully when in government. I urge honourable members opposite who are really sincere about keeping this industry going to do the honourable thing. I urge them to ignore the rantings, ravings and stand-over tactics of the Government Whip and to vote for the amendment moved in all sincerity by the Opposition.
-My remarks will be brief. By that, I do not mean that they will be as brief as they were before. However, they will be brief because of the shortness of time. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown) who has just resumed his seat clearly is under a misapprehension. He apparently does not realise that I am in this Parliament and not still in the Tasmanian Parliament representing the seat of Huon principally because of the broken promises to the Tasmanian fruit industry by the Whitlam Government from 1 972 to 1 975. It was during that period that I was an independent member of the Tasmanian State Parliament -
– And a very good one.
– I thank the honourable member. I actually chaired meetings in the Huon which were addressed by people like Mr Grassby, Dr Patterson and Mr Whitlam himself. In fact, Dr Patterson came down to speak to the fruit growers of the Huon. It was so cold in the Huonville Town Hall that I actually lent him my overcoat. I still chaired the meeting, I believe, independently and fairly. They promised the world to the fruit growers in the Huon prior to 1972 -
– Order! I am not persuaded that the honourable member is addressing his remarks to the subject matter of the Bill.
-Thank you, Mr Chairman. I will come directly to the point. I am here tonight because of broken promises to the Tasmanian fruit industry. I simply make that point. The honourable member for Parramatta can talk about granny smith apples as much as he likes. The fact of the matter is that a person cannot have an involvement in the fruit industry for a number of years without appreciating some of the points involved.
I want to make only two brief comments in reply to remarks made, not so much by the honourable member for Parramatta because prima facie he is not an unreasonable person, but by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) who parades himself in this Parliament as being a supporter of the Tasmanian fruit industry and a friend of the Tasmanian fruit grower. Of course, it was the honourable member for Blaxland, as the fruit growers of Tasmania well know, who said back in 1975 that it might be a kindness to terminate the whole stabilisation scheme which we are debating at the moment and put the growers out of their misery. This is the man who comes into the chamber now and who has the gall, the cynicism and the hypocrisy -
- Mr Chairman, I have been grievously misrepresented and have often been grievously misrepresented by the honourable member.
-Order ! Is the honourable member taking a point of order?
-No, I have been misrepresented and I seek to make a personal explanation.
– The honourable member will be given an opportunity to make an explanation in due time. I call the honourable member for Denison and I again remind him to address himself to the subject matter of the Bill.
-Thank you, Mr Chairman, The honourable member can claim to have been misrepresented. I simply repeat the statement that the honourable member and many others in his Party, the Australian Labor Party, have actually been contending that it would be a kindness to terminate the stabilisation scheme and put the growers out of their misery. In that situation, it is an act of hypocrisy to talk about an increase to $3 in the level of stabilisation assistance.
I do not believe that this proposition needs to be debated at any great length. However, I wish to point out lastly that we never see members of the Opposition in the fruit growing areas in Tasmania. I cannot remember when we last saw a Federal parliamentary member of the Australian Labor Party in the Huon Valley. I did a check because it is important to this question of stabilisation to see whether the Opposition has been interested in the sub ect -
– Order! I cannot permit the honourable member for Denison to proceed with his remarks which are clearly not related to the Bill now being debated in Committee.
-They are related to the question of stabilisation.
– Order! The honourable member will not dispute the ruling of the Chair. If the honourable member is not prepared to address himself to the Bill before the Committee, I ask him to resume his seat.
-Mr Chairman, I accept your ruling and draw to the attention of the Committee that on checking Hansard, both questions without notice and questions placed on notice with respect to stabilisation, which is what the Bill is about, or indeed, with respect to the apple industry in Tasmania, one finds that not a single question has been asked -
– Order! The honourable member has made it clear that he accepts my ruling, but he is not observing it.
– I am.
– The Committee is debating the clauses of the Bill as a whole.
– I am addressing my remarks to the Bill.
– Could the honourable member identify the clause of the Bill to which he is speaking? It may assist me in my ruling.
-Mr Chairman, I am addressing my remarks to the entire Bill in relation to the continuation of the stabilisation scheme which has been in operation under governments of both political colours and which is being continued in the legislation that we are debating tonight. I wish to indicate that the proposition to increase the rate of stabilisation which has already been debated and voted on has never been raised either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate by any member of the Labor Party in 1976, 1977 or 1978 by way of a question. I simply raise that matter. If honourable members of the Opposition were genuinely concerned about the fruit industry in Tasmania- I conclude on this note- why is it that no member of the Labor Party, not the honourable member for Blaxland or any other honourable member opposite, has asked a single question in this Parliament since 1975 about the fruit industry in Tasmania? This displays how hypocritical honourable members opposite have been in relation to this matter and how completely out of order they are to attack the honourable member for Franklin for his sincerity and tenacity with which he has fought for the Tasmanian fruit growers.
-There has been a lot of trouble about apples over a long period from an historical point of view. Of course, with the seething parochialism that is in evidence in this place on the part of the Tasmanian members especially who always seem to have the incessant desire to exploit this issue for miserable political advantages, we always find troublesome debate in the Parliament when we deal with apples. In passing, let me comment on what the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) said. He rather implied that it was inappropriate for the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr John Brown), for example, or any honourable member from Victoria or New South Wales to talk about the apple industry.
– Order! The honourable member for Hughes apparently did not take note of my ruling in respect of the remarks made by the honourable member for Denison. I ask him, again drawing on his experience in this place, to recognise the fact that he should be addressing his remarks to the Bill being debated in Committee. Therefore, debate on the clauses of the Bill is appropriate. Debate on other matters is inappropriate.
-I will certainly comply with your ruling, Mr Chairman. I speak in this debate to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Blaxland. The honourable member moved in the second reading debate that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted.
– I raise a point of order. With due respect, Mr Chairman, you have ruled speakers from this side out of order for not speaking to the Bill. An honourable member from the other side is now speaking to an amendment on which we have already voted. We are now in the Committee stage. I ask you to apply the same ruling to both sides.
– The Chair is capable of administering the Standing Orders without the aid of the honourable member for Bendigo. For the guidance of the honourable member for Hughes, the second reading debate and the amendment moved in that debate have been dealt with. We are now in the Committee stage of the Bill.
-Mr Chairman, I understand that perfectly. I am simply pointing out that there has been a second reading debate and that if the amendment moved by the honourable member for Blaxland had been carried there necessarily would have followed changes in the clauses of this Bill because the honourable member proposed an increase to $3 for a box of apples. As I was saying, this does affect many States in Australia, not just Tasmania. I simply want to mention a figure in terms of the number of boxes of apples produced. Out of 17.5 million boxes of apples produced in 1976 only 4.6 million came from Tasmania. So I have a right to talk in the Committee stage on this Bill, as does the honourable member for Parramatta.
The Opposition feels that if the Government is convinced that this industry is best served by a subsidy and if it has rejected- as it obviously has- the argument of the Industries Assistance Commission to phase out the subsidy it should improve on the level of the subsidy. It should certainly do what it can by virtue of the provisions of this Bill to maintain the effective levels of the subsidy. I put it to the Committee that there are no provisions in the legislation which are designed to upgrade the benefits of the subsidy paid to apple or pear farmers in any part of Australia. I believe that is a very serious omission and there should be clauses to that effect included in the Bill. The proposed 20c increase in the level of support for apples from $2 to $2.20 a box does not reflect the true increase in costs borne by fruit growers or the ravaging and continuing effects of inflation.
There is a valid argument to be made out for the inclusion in this legislation of clauses that will facilitate the indexation of support for Tasmanian farmers. As I have listened to the debate in Committee one thing has struck me, and that
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– by leave- Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your indulgence to correct a point I made in answer to a question this afternoon. In answer to a question from the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Gillard) regarding water resources programs and the actions of the State of New South Wales as to priorities, I said that I had written to the Treasurer in May of this year. In fact I did not write to him in May; it was in July.
Debate resumed from 16 August, on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill, I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Wheat Research Amendment Bill 1978 as they are associated measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both measures? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
-The Opposition does not oppose these two pieces of legislation. The primary piece of legislation, the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill, is to amend the Wheat Tax Act 1957 to increase the rate of tax for research on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board from 15c per tonne- a level which was fixed in about 1973- to 30c per tonne. Honourable members will be aware that moneys and funds collected under this tax Act have been spent on programs recommended by the Wheat Industry Research Council and approved by the Minister for Primary Industry. These programs touch such areas as disease control, weed control, breeding and protein content and the milling characteristics of various wheats, which of course are all important aspects to the Australian wheat industry in an attempt to hold onto traditional markets and to find new ones.
In 1978-79 the estimated expenditure on research under this legislation, as mentioned in the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), is $3.32m. Of course, the urgency of the matter arises from the fact that with last year’s reduced wheat crop reduced funds have been available for the research program. To lift the level of funding, the inclination of the Government has been to lift the rate from the 15c per tonne provided earlier to 30c per tonne. The second Bill, the Wheat Research Amendment Bill, is a consequential Bill to provide appropriation by way of separate Acts rather than by way of Appropriation Bill No. 1 ), which is the major piece of budgetary legislation. They are basically machinery matters. We support both pieces of legislation.
-We are presently debating the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill and the Wheat Research Amendment Bill. The Wheat Research Amendment Bill involves a change in the procedures for the appropriation of the Commonwealth’s contribution to the wheat research scheme. Instead of the present procedures whereby the Commonwealth contribution is provided by an annual appropriation, this amendment provides that a special appropriation will be made under the Wheat Research Act itself. This change will bring the wheat research arrangements into line with the provisions in the more recently established rural research schemes. This amendment also ensures that moneys appropriated under the Act to meet approved expenditure do not exceed industry contribution by way of the wheat tax. The other Bill, the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill, increases the maximum rate of tax for research purposes on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board from 1 5c per tonne to 30c per tonne.
The wheat research scheme has operated since 1957 and is one of a number of such national rural industry research schemes supported by the Commonwealth Government. It is the policy of this Government to provide grants to national rural industry research schemes on the basis of matching dollar for dollar expenditures from funds contributed by producers and raised by way of a levy on a national basis. The wheat tax is collected on deliveries to the Australian Wheat Board and is appropriated for expenditure on wheat research to the various State wheat research committees. The Commonwealth’s contribution has been appropriated annually to finance research programs that are recommended by the Wheat Industry Research Council and approved by the Minister for Primary Industry. The industry itself participates in the allocation of funds through representation on a State committee structure and also on the Wheat Industry Research Council. As a member representing a majority of the grain producers in Victoria, I support both these Bills, but I emphasise the fact that the changes have been agreed to by the industry. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) suggested that the changes were made at the inclination of the Government.
I would also like to make some comment about the value of research programs that are currently under way throughout Australia, but more particularly throughout the area that I represent. At the Victorian Wheat Research Institution at Horsham there has been an outstanding development in the recent release of two new wheat cultivars, kewell and kalkee. Both these wheats are now approved for growing in all districts of Victoria except the Mallee. Kewell is a soft grain and is suitable for the Australian standard white class. Its baking characteristics indicate that at appropriate protein levels it is suitable for the manufacture of bread and biscuits. Kewell is now regarded as a higher yielding alternative to zenith, which is presently grown in the Wimmera and the northern and southern districts of Victoria, and to olympic, which is grown in the north-east. The other new variety that has been released, kalkee, also has a soft grain and is resistant to all known races of rust in Australia. Although in normal years it does not out-yield other recommended or approved wheats, it does provide insurance against devastating losses from rust such as those which occurred in 1973. In Victoria, kalkee is the highest yielding of the cultivars which have soft grain and are resistant to all Australian rust races.
One of the real problems in the cereal industry- this is particularly evident this year in the Mallee and Wimmera regions and no doubt throughout many other wheat growing regions in Australia- is the cereal cyst nematode. In 1977, the first wheat resistant to cereal cyst nematode was sown in a field experiment. The aim of this project was to isolate sources of resistance to the nematode in wheat, oats and barley and to use them in a breeding program. Back cross lines have been evaluated in various regional trials and I believe that they will provide a real impetus to the wheat industry in combating this pest. Also research on septoria, which is a form of leaf blotch and which has had a devastating effect on the wheat industry in certain years, has determined a life history of this disease in Victoria. Disease losses from this fungus in some years have reached a potential of 3 per cent, 20 per cent and 19 per cent in three years in succession in the Wimmera region, thereby establishing septoria as a serious disease in Australia ‘s grain producing areas. At the present time research is also being carried out at the Wheat Research Institute at Horsham on several new chemicals for controlling cereal smuts. The importance of this work was demonstrated recently when seed treated with benomyl selected a strain or stains of the bunt fungi which cannot be controlled by seed dressings currently available in Australia. As a result of this work an application by a commercial firm for the registration of benomyl as a seed dressing has been refused.
Another important research project is a new integrated approach to research on phosphorus. We are all aware of the dramatic changes in the world economic environment and how these have led to substantial increases in the cost of the raw products for the manufacture of superphosphate. This cost increase, together with the limited supply from the traditional rock sources, has resulted in the situation where rocks of inferior quality can be considered to meet industrial demand. As the cost per unit of phosphate has increased at a greater rate than the return to the grower it is now even more important to optimise the rate of application of superphosphate in the whole farm situation. In the long term this research program aims to study the changes within and between major soil groups in phosphorous form and particularly to establish the relationship between fertiliser reversion and yield response. The program set out to establish quantitative relationships for phosphorous balance in a rotation including pasture, to follow the fate of applied fertiliser through the rotation and to establish the relative contributions to grain from fertiliser and residual phosphorous. It also sets out to examine the soil organic phosphorous input from crops such as wheat, and pasture.
The diversity of research programs in the wheat industry has resulted in better and improved varieties of wheat for the various regions throughout Australia. It is essential that this continues. The Mallee is the largest single wheat producing region in Victoria and an ongoing wheat breeding project in this area is producing rust resistant wheat varieties which also possess high stable grain yield attributes and wide adaptions to semi-drought environments. These new species will also possess acceptable milling and baking qualities as well as a tolerance and resistance to wheat smut. A program is also being carried out in the Wimmera area in wheat breeding. It is basically directed towards the production of soft wheats. The functional use of such wheats is either bread making or biscuit or cake manufacture. Such programs also exist in an effort to improve barley and oat varieties.
I believe it should be pointed out in discussion on these Bills that the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, which represents the wheat industry, has requested that the maximum rate of tax specified in the Act be raised to 30c per tonne. While asking for the maximum rate to be raised the Federation has also sought an increase in the operative tax from the present level of 15c per tonne to 20c per tonne. In the three years since 1975 that the operative rate has been at the rate of 15c per tonne, wheat research expenditure from tax proceeds and from the Commonwealth’s contribution has increased from $2. 53m in 1975-76 to $3.34m in 1977-78. It is estimated that expenditure this year will total some $3.32m.
A viable research program is of extreme importance to the future of the wheat industry and I have no doubt that increased contributions made possible by this legislation will be helpful in sustaining the successful research effort within the wheat industry. Over the years this industry has been able to meet the challenges imposed on it from outside such as inflation produced cost increases, and the difficulties and complexities of world trade. These have been largely offset by increases in productivity. The wheat industry has benefited enormously from research that has produced improved pasture and grain producing varieties. It has benefited from major developments in the control of disease, pests and weeds. These Bills will ensure that the contribution by our research scientists and the. research institutions will continue. I support the Bills.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Riverina) (8.34)- I join with the two previous speakers in supporting the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill and the Wheat Research Amendment Bill. I am conscious of the fact that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in his second reading speech told us that the purpose of the Wheat Tax Amendment Bill was to amend the Wheat Tax Act to increase the maximum rate of tax from 15c to 30c per tonne on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board. The Minister has informed us that this has been done on the basis of the report by the Industries Assistance Commission on the financing of rural research in Australia. He claimed that last year the Government reviewed and reaffirmed its policy of continuing to provide grants to national rural industries research schemes on the basis of matching dollar for dollar expenditure from funds contributed by producers and raised by a levy on a national basis.
As a general principle I think this procedure has some merit. I think that the Government should assist those industries which are prepared to assist themselves, that is, if the majority of producers are in favour of the tax and are convinced that it is to their benefit. For this reason it is of some satisfaction to note that the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, which represents the wheat industry, requested that the maximum rate of tax be raised to 30c per tonne and that when amending legislation was enacted there be an increase in the operative tax from 15c to 20c per tonne. The danger here, as I see it, is that the impression could be given that Australian wheatgrowers are firm believers in IAC reports and that they believe that the reports should be supported. Of course this is far from the truth as would be indicated from a report in the Livestock and Grain Producer of August 1978. In relation to the new stabilisation scheme suggested by the IAC the report states:
The President of the LGPA, Mr Milton Taylor, said in Sydney on July 29 that the Association’s Annual Conference in Sydney last month had totally rejected major aspects of the IAC draft report on wheat stabilisation. There is nothing in the final report handed down in Canberra this week to change the Association’s attitude as determined by Conference, Mr Taylor said.
In particular the Conference rejected the Commission’s recommendation to free the domestic market to private traders, and to abolish an administered home consumption price. The Association is totally opposed to these recommendations, and it will continue to act through the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation in putting its views to the Federal Government. Mr Taylor said the LGPA welcomed the IAC recognition that the industry should be assisted by grant, not loan.
The point I wish to make here is that whilst we recognise the value of IAC reports and the information they gather and supply to the Parliament, we should not adopt the practice of simply endorsing reports simply because they are brought down by the Industries Assistance Commission. We should have some debate on the report to see whether the industry is in favour of it because decision of the Industries Assistance Commission are sometimes damaging to the industry and they do not meet with the approval of producers. The benefits of the wheat research scheme which has operated since 1957 should be clear to the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, to the Government and to the IAC. This is one of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party supports these amendments. We appreciate the value of research. Indeed we have done so since the Chifley Government introduced the first stabilisation plan for the wheat industry in 1948 which brought such benefits to that industry. Ever since that time we have believed that research should be an integral part of a stabilisation plan. Although the wheat research arrangements were not established under the Wheat Research Act until 1957 it is well known that much research was carried out previously on a farm to farm basis.
However it must be recognised and appreciated that the system whereby the proceeds of wheat tax which is collected on deliveries to the Australian Wheat Board are used for wheat research by State wheat research committees is a much fairer and a much more efficient method of carrying out research. The practice of the Commonwealth matching on a dollar for dollar basis expenditure on funds contributed by the producer is one which I believe should be approved by both sides of this House. I believe that the matching by the Commonwealth on a dollar for dollar basis of the money contributed by the producer reflects this Parliament’s understanding of the considerable personal effort, particularly in terms of manual labour, that the farmer puts into the success of his crop, which often requires him to work many hours a day and to work more strenuously than a person whom he may employ.
To grow and market wheat is no small operation. Since entering this Parliament I have been confronted with many problems of the wheat grower, such as droughts, floods, bushfires, locust plagues, et cetera. I can assure the House that it is no easy task and, unless the farmer is well set up, it is a very wearying manual occupation. In my opinion the farmer-owner deserves every consideration and encouragement not only because of the financial risk but also because he has to keep up the important physical contribution that makes wheat farms viable and wheat crops successful. The maintenance of a sound research effort is important because of the productivity improvement benefits that it affords to the grower. It is also important to our interests as major wheat exporters competing on the world market where quality considerations are important to the buyers.
I believe that most wheat growers are aware that they not only have to increase their yields in order to be viable but they also have to improve the quality of wheat produced so that export markets cannot only be won but they can also be maintained. Unfortunately the introduction of the wheat delivery quotas in 1969 led to some shift in grain production to coarse grain production and oil seed production as wheat plantings were curtailed. However, since 1974-75 the greatly increased quotas and, latterly, the elimination of the quota system have encouraged a swing back to wheat production. I think this shift is in the interests of the nation and in the interests of wheat growers. Therefore it was of some satisfaction to hear the Minister in his second reading speech inform the House that the improvement of yields absorbs the greatest amount of the research funds used under this scheme.
He has told us that projects range from disease control, especially fungal diseases, to breeding for special characteristics, such as climate and disease tolerance. Of course in my large electorate there is a great variation in these problems and research into them is very important because what can be done in one area cannot be done with success in another area. The nutritional requirements in the various wheat growing soils also play another important part as do weed control and the assessment of yield losses arising from the prevalence of the weeds. The Minister in his second reading speech on this occasion provided much information on various aspects of research provided by the tax collection, as also did the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher). Of course these factors vitally concern the wheat grower. The Minister spoke of wheat farm operations, such as optimal tillage. Of course in my electorate there is much debate about differences in the depth at which the soil should be worked, just as there is a very great difference of opinion with regard to fertiliser practices and their value in output as against the cost of input. As the Minister indicated, the wheat grower should be better advised on the type of specialised sowing and cultivation equipment for the soils in his area.
Even after the crop is harvested the producer still has problems. Methods of storing and fumigating the harvested grain can still mean the difference between success and failure. I am pleased to note that the Industries Assistance Commission report on wheat stabilisation recognises this important fact. I quote from the IAC recommendation on pests and diseases, which appeared in the Livestock and Grain Producer of 3 1 August. It states:
The Commission recommends that: an inquiry into grain pests be undertaken. This inquiry should investigate all grains and all transport, storage and handling facilities for grains, should identify the most effective ways of dealing with existing and potential problems, and should consider the nature and extent of any government assistance for the implementation of its recommendations; . . .
I believe this is very important because, irrespective of what the grower does, at this point he could still lose out if all of these precautions are not taken. The recommendation continues: all traders in wheat be licensed for the purpose of administering pest and disease controls. This would also facilitate the collection of the wheat research levy, the administration of any delivery quotas and the payment of assistance.
When these recommendations have been carried out, I suggest that the Government look at the proposition that a retirement or superannuation scheme be provided for wheat growers. Many wheat growers in my electorate are now reaching the age when they find that it is difficult for them to keep producing. They cannot retire because they do not have the liquidity to do so. If a national superannuation scheme were implemented for wheat growers, I think that we would find that a lot of young men would be able to come into the industry and that others who have done most of the hard work over the years would leave the industry. I think it would be a benefit to the industry and also to the nation.
-I have listened with interest to the debate on wheat research. I believe that it has singled out the very important aspects. I have noted with interest many of the items that were raised by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Fitzpatrick), and there was merit in what he said. He concluded in talking about the need for people to be able to retire from their farms as other people retire from other avenues of industry. Here again I think it would be very good if this could be done. Some matters that would affect that proposition include such things as the industrial dispute which is presently holding up the loading of wheat in Sydney. Such disputes take away a good deal from the profitability of people who are engaged in that industry. It is a crying shame that in many cases there is no real justification for these strikes. I do not think there is real justification for the black ban that has been placed on the Bellness in Sydney at present. While that vessel is waiting to load wheat another vessel is waiting to load. All of this cost falls heavily on the wheat producer. This is important. I do not know whether under the Wheat Research Act we can do any research on the need for strikes but it would be pretty good if we could do so.
The wheat research scheme has operated since 1957. Of course, as is generally known in the industry, it is based on a tax on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board and a financial contribution by the Commonwealth Government to match expenditures of moneys so collected from the industry. The present maximum rate of tax was established by an amendment to the Wheat Tax Act in 1972. So it is reasonable, bearing in mind the rate of inflation which some years ago was very high, that we should be looking at an increase. The Austraiian Wheatgrowers Federation which represents growers in the wheat industry has requested that under this amendment the maximum rate of tax be raised to 30c per tonne and that the appropriation of the Commonwealth matching contribution be included in the Wheat Research Act. It should be noted that at the present time the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation is looking at 20c. However, it has asked for a margin of 10c which if required can be made available under the Act if the Government so desires.
The wheat research scheme which has operated since 1957 is one of a number of such national rural industry research schemes supported by the Commonwealth. I commend the Government for the position it has taken. I also commend all people who are engaged in this research work and who do a very dedicated job. These people have been very successful in many of their endeavours to the benefit of the wheat industry and through that to the benefit of the nation. On the basis of a report carried out by the Industries Assistance Commission on the financing of rural research in Australia, the Government last year reviewed and reaffirmed its policy of continuing to provide grants to national rural industry research schemes on the basis of matching dollar for dollar expenditure from funds contributed by producers and raised by a levy on a national basis. As the Minister pointed out, under the wheat research arrangements established by the Wheat Reseach Act 1957 the proceeds of wheat are collected on delivery to the Australian Wheat Board, and they are appropriated for expenditure on wheat research to the State wheat research committees in each mainland State in the proportion in which those proceeds are collected. That is a reasonable and efficient way of collecting these funds. I will make a comment about this procedure a little later.
The Commonwealth contribution, as the Minister has stated, has been appropriated annually to finance research programs that are recommended by the Wheat Industry Research Council and approved by the Minister for Primary Industry. The Wheat Industry Research Council is constituted under the Wheat Research Act 1957. The continuance of wheat research remains a very important factor in wheat production and on the basis of the success that has been achieved in the past it can be expected to increase the per hectare productivity as time goes by. Wheat research is also important because it can make even further contributions to the quality of wheat production generally. As has been pointed out, this is important to a nation such as Australia which is competing on world markets. I mentioned in a previous speech the extent to which rural industries are valued in other countries. I pointed out that rural industries in some other countries are given concessions in respect of fuel usage.
The money collected for wheat research is collected on deliveries to the Australian Wheat Board. Consequently- and this is a point that I want to make quite strongly- wheat sold outside the Board makes no contribution to the very important facet of improved production of wheat both in quantity and quality. Therefore the recent decision of the High Court means that, if there is to be across-border trading, it can only be carried out either through a change in the present arrangements or with the sanction of the Austraiian Wheat Board. I hope under these circumstances that the levying of assessments for wheat research might be able to be applied to most, if not all, of our domestic wheat market. It would only be fair that such contributions should be made as all wheat growers benefit from the work done by the research applied to the wheat industry as a whole.
The wheat industry participates in the allocation of funds through the representation on the State committee structure and on the Wheat Industry Research Council. Maintaining and improving the quality of our wheat as measured by protein content and milling characteristics is important if Australia is to hold its place in the international market- and I have mentioned that before- and compete effectively with other countries in meeting the very discriminating demands on purchasers of wheat from overseas. As has been said previously in the debate, improvement of yields absorbs the greatest amount of research funds under the scheme. That is a very important factor. As the honourable member for Riverina pointed out in his speech, this is one of the very important successes achieved by wheat research. The honourable member and other speakers in the debate listed a fairly wide range of projects funded under the scheme. These projects include disease control, breeding for special characteristics such as climatic and disease tolerance, nutritional requirements in various wheat growing soils, weed control and assessment of yield losses arising from weeds. I want to emphasise an important factor that has already been mentioned. I refer to research into the type of machinery used for the tillage of soil. Not only does this type of research apply to the more effective preparation of the soils but it also has a bearing on soil conservation which is a very important factor in the wheat growing industry on two counts. Firstly, it is important in respect of production itself and secondly it is important in respect of maintaining the productive capacity of agricultural areas. Therefore this area of investigation and research is now a very worthwhile one.
I have mentioned before that the maximum rate of tax is to be increased to 20c. I sometimes wonder whether or not we have gone far enough in respect of the size of the tax when we consider the value of wheat research to the industry. I know that people are receiving a net return from markets that might be better than the return they would receive from wheat sold through the organised marketing channels of the Australian Wheat Board. I am annoyed that these people who do not have to pay anything share in the benefits and results of wheat research. The purpose of the two conjoint Bills, therefore, is to increase the maximum rate of the wheat tax. In the debate we have ranged over the benefits that will accrue from the increase of funds for wheat research. I would like to mention another angle in respect of the value of wheat research that possibly has been emphasised as much as it might have been- that is, research which allows the industry to cope with climatic conditions. As a result of research marginal areas have been made more reliable wheat producing areas. The value of this research to rural industry generally and to the wheat industry in particular and its national benefit has perhaps not been assessed fully as yet.
A very high protein quality of wheat is produced in my electorate of Maranoa. This wheat is in very high demand. We feel that an expansion of the wheat growing industry in this area would be even more beneficial than might be a general expansion.
– You get a premium on your wheat.
-My good friend the honourable member for Paterson said that we get a premium on our wheat. I might say that this is a premium that is very well earned and justly deserved. People acquire our wheat because its lower protein content allows it to be used more readily and easily than would otherwise be the case.
– It is no good for biscuits.
– I heard an interjection that it was not any good for biscuits. All I want to say is that I believe that there is plenty of wheat which is good for biscuits but not so good for other things. I have mentioned the value of organised marketing. I support very strongly the organised marketing of wheat for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that where funds are to be collected for wheat research, for example, from the growers it can be done effectively through this source. I think it would probably be very expensive and not so effective if it were done in any other way.
I would like to draw attention to the comments made in the High Court decision in favour of the Australian Wheat Board. Their Honours Justices Mason and Jacobs held that the efficacy of the whole scheme depends, inter alia, upon the delivery being made at the facilities in or near where the wheat has been grown. They were satisfied that the wheat pool scheme was the only practical and reasonable manner of regulation of the trade and that, therefore, it was constitutionally valid that all trading in wheat should be able to be brought within the scheme. Thus, it was considered that a stabilisation scheme was needed and that ‘the tests of practicality and reasonableness (which includes fairness to all without discrimination throughout Australia) are satisfied by the comprehensive compulsory scheme which has been adopted’. I agree with those judges of the High Court. I support the Bill.
-I want to make a few brief comments about the potential for research in the wheat industry. I should like to make particular reference to the potential for what is generally known as genetic engineering- something about which we do not know a great deal in Australia at the moment but which is a very important part of the program of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It depends, to a great deal, on the sorts of resources that are made available to the industry. Before proceeding, I would like to remind honourable members that Canberra has a very important place in the wheat industry. Of course, it was the home of William Farrer who was regarded as the father of the wheat industry. Honourable members may be interested to know that Farrer ‘s property ‘Lambrigg’ still exists in its entirety and that Farrer is buried on that property. There is a memorial there, but unfortunately it is not generally available to the public. It is rather inconvenient to get to it. I am very critical of the Department of the Capital Territory because the memorial to the greatest benefactor of the wheat industry, one of our greatest industries, is not available to the general public. That is just a matter of interest I raise in passing.
The wheat industry is, of course, a tremendously important industry to Australia and to our export earnings. It is particularly important because of the way it fits in with the wheat harvests in other areas of the world. Of course, the world price for wheat is determined more by the harvests in the northern hemisphere- Russia, United States of America, Canada and the other large producing countries- rather than by Australia. Most of these other big wheat growing nations have their harvests in the middle of the year- June, July and August- when our crop is just growing. We harvest our crop in the off season in relation to the rest of the world. Our crop does not determine the price on the world wheat market; rather the crops that mature in the northern hemisphere determine the price. One of the many avenues for research in the wheat industry is in the area of alternative crops. These provide not only an alternative form of income for wheat farmers but also tend to improve the yield of the wheat as a result of areas not being planted with wheat for a certain time. A range of alternative crops can be planted. There is a good deal of variation as to which is the most suitable alternative crop, depending on where wheat is grown. Alternative crops in areas such as the Darling Downs are quite unsuitable as alternative crops in the southern districts of Australia where there is a different rainfall altogether.
A good deal of research is being done in the area of alternative large crops such as sunflower and many other new crops. Many crops have been tried with mixed results. It is quite clear that more research is needed to overcome some of the problems that growers have encountered. Research funds are limited and scientists face the problem of deciding how much effort they should put into the alternative crops. What complicates matters is that growers in different parts of the wheat belt have different motives for growing crops other than wheat. For instance, in southern Australia they may grow crops like lupins and peas to preserve soil fertility and to try to stop the build up of diseases such as cereal eelworm and hay-die. In the northern part of the wheat belt farmers who are prevented by dry conditions from sowing wheat early in the season may sow a crop like sorghum or sunflower to capitalise on the spring or summer rainfalls. This sort of flexibility is possible in places like Queensland’s Darling Downs where rainfall is much more diversified than it is in these areas. However, on heavy soils it may be possible to get very good results from sunflowers and crops which are sown after the winter fallow.
Probably the most exciting area of research, as I have said, is in the area of genetic engineering. This is a completely new concept of achieving, by genetic means, what is now achieved by the very expensive means of buying nitrogenous fertilisers to put on wheat crops. It is a very expensive field of research-one that has to be subject to a great deal of control because of the potential dangers of bacteria getting out of hand. I understand that the procedures that we follow are consistent with the precautions taken in other parts of the world to prevent this sort of thing. It has tremendous potential because in the long term it could mean that the quality of nitrogen-fixing which is now limited to nitrogenous crops such as clovers or peas could be bred into the wheat crops so that wheat, in time, could fix nitrogen by itself, by genetic factors being built into the breeding of the wheat
It is a very long-term project, but it is one on which I think Australia should embark because of the potential for wheat production. I am not one of those who is concerned with overproduction. I think that in the long term there is no question that our wheat, whatever we grow, can be marketed profitably, provided we adopt modern methods of cultivating, harvesting and marketing wheat. This is one line of research which I am sure would pay tremendous dividends over a long period. We have to be prepared to make the commitment and to invest large sums of money in genetic engineering. If we get a breakthrough in this area the pay-off could mean hundreds of millions of dollars not only for the wheat industry but also for other cereal crops. Through this sort of research we could establish new methods of fixing nitrogen in the soil rather than having to resort to the very costly methods of applying artificial nitrogenous fertilisers which are becoming increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive. I support this Bill and hope that some of the money collected in this research fund will find its way into genetic engineering research through the CSIRO or any other body which may be engaged in that sort of research.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Newman) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 16 August, on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Newman) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14 September.
Proposed expenditure, $15,549,000.
– We are dealing with an appropriation of $15,549,000 for Parliament. I want to put before the Committee this evening the proposition that it is not just money that we need; in the eyes of the public much more is required. We should be concerned about trust and respect for the parliamentary institution. Public opinion polls show that opinions of parties can fluctuate but at the present time there is a complete cynicism about the institution of parliament in general. The time is overdue for Australia to enact stringent financial disclosure laws as a means of re-establishing public faith in the democratic process. There is a widely held view that members of parliament are corrupt and that they are in parliament only for what they can get out of it. That is no way for the public to look at the national parliament. We cannot do it by just saying to the people: ‘Trust us because we are not corrupt’. That is what the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is suggesting we do, but that is not good enough. We need the strongest possible demonstration that public faith is justified.
This parliamentary institution has not adapted to the changing times. Many of our procedures are out of date. Many of the concepts bandied about this place have little or no meaning. For example, the so-called Westminster tradition can mean all things to all people. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Durack) uses that tradition as a justification for introducing a Freedom of Information Bill which is more about secrecy than about information. The Prime Minister has used the same tradition as a justification for removing his Treasurer during the election campaign and then refusing to give the public the information to which it was entitled after the election. Once upon a time the British Parliament was so jealous of its privileges that it even refused to allow any outside publication of its proceedings. Today we need and must strive for a representative and responsive parliament. Honourable members opposite have expressed a willingness in the past to smash conventions and to seize power, but they are not prepared to take any action to bring our democratic institutions into the twentieth century. They oppose constitutional change. They oppose a Bill of Rights. They bring in a Freedom of Information Bill which is a travesty of its name. They refuse to recognise a trust which requires them to demonstrate to those who elect them that they are not motivated by personal gain.
In the 1970 publication Congress and the Public Trust, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York suggested that congressmen should adopt a fiduciary concept of the public trust as public trustees themselves. The Association stated:
Public officials should adopt a fiduciary concept of the public trust. Like other fiduciaries, such as guardians, executors, lawyers and agents the public trustee has a duty to avoid private interests which cause even a risk that he will not be motivated solely by the interests of the beneficiaries of his trust.
We all have a right to privacy. Personal lives should not be impugned. However, personal privacy cannot override public duty. It is only by full financial disclosure that members can demonstrate that they are motivated by public duty and not by private gain.
Last Thursday I asked the Prime Minister whether he did not now believe that there should be full disclosure of financial interests of members of parliament and their spouses and dependent children. My question followed the Jennings disclosures in the Victorian Parliament. The Prime Minister gave a quite contradictory and convoluted answer. He accepted that trust in parliament had broken down. He spoke of the need to re-establish that trust. But we do not need to re-establish that trust if it already exists. Then the Prime Minister went on to place the onus on the public. He said that the position was that the community should trust members of parliament. He went further and said that anyone who did anything to reduce or destroy public trust was doing Australia a grave disservice. Such an attitude is reminiscent of Richard Nixon. Trust in parliament and in the government has to be earned. It is not a national duty to trust the government. The Prime Minister seeks to equate the national interest with his own interests. Anyone who dares criticise him, he says, is acting contrary to the national interest, and that is a quite undemocratic attitude. It fits in with the Prime Minister’s undemocratic views about keeping the public in the dark generally. As far as he is concerned, once the government is elected it decides what the national interest is and what the people should know, and it is the duty of the public to trust the government.
The Prime Minister also made certain quite ridiculous points which should not go unanswered. He said that to require the disclosure of the interests of the spouses of members of parliament was unfair to wives who wished to be independent or to husbands who were married to members of parliament. Just to confuse the situation, he said that without disclosure of the interests of spouses and children a register would be deficient. We agree with that. However, the other point is quite specious. The obligation is to disclose all the assets of the spouse and children, and that is the obligation of the member; but he does not have to disclose information he does not know. Under the United States legislation the matter has been resolved quite satisfactorily. The person is required to make a report of the interests of a spouse and dependants so far as he is aware of them; that is, if the person reporting has no knowledge of the interests of the spouse or dependants, he does not have to disclose them. The person reporting must have made all reasonable efforts to obtain the information from the spouse or dependants. The person reporting must neither receive nor expect to receive any benefit from such interests and such interests must not derive directly or indirectly from interests or income formerly owned or controlled by the person reporting.
The most ridiculous point of all made by the Prime Minister was that a register of financial interests would be an aid to terrorists. As the National Times pointed out while the Prime
Minister thinks like this it is no wonder that some people have trouble reasoning with him. However, there is a more serious side to this. Fortunately, Australia had been free of political terrorism. The Prime Minister seems to take every opportunity to personalise and to overstate political terrorism. To confuse political terrorism with kidnapping for monetary purposes is irresponsible. In countries where this has occurred, political kidnapping has taken place because the person concerned was a politician, not because of the assets of the politician. I think that it is a most serious matter when the Prime Minister who we know is opposed to the declaration of financial interests, uses arguments such as these to try to justify his position. The public is entitled to ask members of parliament about their financial assets. There should be disclosure. There should be no fear. There should be no hiding from what is a public duty. All members will be aware that the Government has established a committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Bowen. However, given the attitude of the Prime Minister, it does not matter much what that inquiry decides. If the Prime Minister does not like it, he will reject it.
It is interesting to contrast the statements of the Prime Minister last Thursday with the comments he made on 16 December last regarding the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch). Honourable members will recall that this was the day on which the former Treasurer was given a clean bill of health by the Prime Minister after being obliged to resign. The Prime Minister said that he should not be placed in the position of judge and jury when allegations of impropriety are raised. He said that there needed to be a more satisfactory way but that the Riordan Committee report was not adequate. The Minister for Industry and Commerce called for an accepted system of disclosure that would lessen the possibility of unfounded allegations. All these sentiments have gone out the window. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has not made a submission, nor will he. Indeed, last week Mr Laurie Oakes wrote that it had been intended that a committee of the Liberal Party would prepare a submission and that the committee was to be headed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That idea has been dropped.
Until such time as we have an acceptable method of disclosure we will be open to attack and allegation that we are corrupt, and this institution will suffer. It is time we declared our interests to the public and demonstrated our honesty; by that I mean all our assets and liabilities and those of our dependent children and spouses. We should also disclose our beneficial interests, whether they be by trust or any other method. If a member has the benefit of an income he should clearly indicate whether he has control over it or whether he has given it to his children. He may be retaining control by way of a trust. There should be stiff monetary penalties and perhaps even imprisonment by a court in cases of false disclosure. A penalty of immediate disqualification can be arbitrary and based on political considerations and there is therefore a need for a court process.
The Prime Minister has made an appeal to members of Parliament to display a spirit of generosity which has been lacking in the past. He has accused the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) of inciting violence, but we have all failed to remember the spirit of generosity that was shown to the late Rex Connor and his family. We would be much more generous if the Prime Minister was honest and open and could be trusted in these matters. The Opposition regards integrity in government and in the Parliament as a most important matter. We intend to ensure that, as far as possible, there is probity and integrity in government and credibility and respect for this Parliament, which can be obtained only by disclosure of interest.
– I refer to Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) in relation to the expenses of the Parliament that are attributable to the committees of the Parliament. I suggest that there is a mistaken sense of parsimony in relation to the funds that have been allocated for the committees of this Parliament, and I wish to illustrate that with a number of details. The 1977- 78 appropriation for the standing and select committees of the House of Representativesthat is the Expenditure Committee, the Privileges Committee, all the other committees of this House- was $88,600, and the actual expenditure was $5 1 ,000-plus. The appropriation for the year 1978- 79 is $5 1,000. In other words, in real terms there has been a reduction of some 40 per cent over last year’s appropriation of $88,600. I suggest that such treatment of the committees of this House deserves to be examined, and I compare it with the appropriation for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts merely to indicate that an across-the-board proposition has not been made. The appropriation for the Public Accounts Committee in 1977-78 was $106,000-plus, expenditure was $106,000-plus, and the appropriation for this year is $1 10,000. In terms of administrative expenditure, the appropriation last year was $36,000 and actual expenditure was $25,000. That would seem to be quite unrealistic due to the fact that there was an election during the course of the 1977-78 year, and the amount appropriated for the administrative expenses this year is $58,000. So account has been taken elsewhere of the fact that the 1977-78 financial year was incomplete in respect of parliamentary committees. I hope the Committee will consider very carefully the fact that there has obviously been an incomplete analysis in the presentation of the allocations for the committees of this House.
May I illustrate the way in which I suggest that a sense of economy in fact can be uneconomic parsimony. Last year the Expenditure Committee spent very little money. It made two reports to the Parliament, one in respect of a Northern Territory forestry program in which it suggested that up to $30m had been spent incorrectly on poorly worked out programs for the Northern Territory. I ask the Committee to consider both sides of that. The Expenditure Committee suggested that up to $30m had been spent incorrectly over the years, although I am not saying it was spent fraudulently. How is that weighed in the balance against a net reduction of $20,000 or $30,000 or $40,000? There has to be a sense of balance between the two. A report on the defence service homes scheme was presented to this Parliament by a committee of the Parliament during the 1977-78 financial year. The work was done during that financial year and the report showed the Government how the same number of applicants for war service homes could be assisted as had previously been the case but with a saving of $25m to $30m. I hope the Government will adopt the suggestion. Alternatively, almost twice the number of applicants could receive assistance for the same amount of money.
In considering these appropriations, I ask the Committee to look at the sums of money involved. Is there a mistaken sense of parsimony? I hope the Committee will examine the appropriations in an economic sense but also in a wider sense. If the Parliament is to have relevance it has to be able to make its own decisions. The facts of life are that with the growth of political organisations in Australia and the greater power and strength of those organisations, we know that of their very nature they exert authority in this Parliament. People vote in this Parliament, having had their ideas formed within their political organisations. They do not surrender their consciences, of course, but the power of the organisations is there. For example, it is a far greater power than existed in relation to voting when the Parliament commenced in 1901. We know that there is great power in the Executive with respect to the Parliament. In a Westminister-type government there will always be great power in the Executive. But I ask this question: To what extent should the expenditures of committees of this Parliament, appointed by resolution of this Parliament, have to be filtered through an Executive or through other processes? I am not proposing a sort of anarchy, but I put that question, and it is a very important one. The money spent by committees has to have relevance, of course. There has to be value for money and the committees have to do the work, but I ask the Committee to consider whether the unwarranted tightening in this area- the reduction in the appropriation is one of the largest reductions in the Bill- is appropriate or valid.
The proposition deserves to be considered not only in relation to the nature of the Parliament but also in relation to the nature of its economic considerations. Should the Department of the Parliament, if I can refer to it in this way, be enabled to make its own bid in respect to expenditures of the Parliament, having regard to economic realities? We have a Speaker, and a President in another place, who are aware of economic realities. Nobody is suggesting that they are going to spend money in a hamfisted or stupid way. Ought not a situation develop whereby the Parliament itself should be able to make bids in respect of its committees, which do most valuable work, and be able to pass some of its bids instead of having them of necessity filtered through the Executive?
A wonderful example of an investigation that could be made by a parliamentary committee was the situation in South Australia whereby the Bond Corporation took a controlling interest in Santos Ltd for $36m. The circumstances in which that controlling interest was taken deserved to be examined. The articles of association between Burmah Oil and Santos allowed the former to have up to 3716 per cent of the shares in Santos on certain conditions, namely, that the shares be sold only to a related company and that the board of Santos be informed. Articles 38l to 38P illustrate that point. The shares were sold to another corporation, Burmah Oil Corporation of Australia Ltd, which acquired the extra shares to bring its holding up to 37 Vi per cent, and immediately sold them to the consortium of companies with which Mr Bond has an association. Three important questions arose from this. I merely recite these questions to make the point that this is the kind of material which is deserving of investigation by the Parliament. Were the articles of association breached? With swift footwork was Burmah able to frustrate the 1965 agreement in respect of Santos and the spirit of the Stock Exchange rules on change in the control of companies as well as Section 26AAA of the Income Tax Assessment Act which provides for the taxation of profits from the resale of assets within 12 months of purchase? That refers, of course, to the last 2.7 million shares which were sold at a substantial profit immediately the scrip was hand delivered in Melbourne. This happened in July and August 1978. There were three questions here involving national development, the Commissioner for Taxation and the rights of shareholders of companies to know when a major interest buys into those companies. In a very shortened form that is the kind of circumstance which it is appropriate for a parliamentary committee to examine. In examining it, millions of dollars can be involved and the nature of controlling interests can be involved; and parliamentary committees are unable to do it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The Estimates for the Parliament amount to $ 15.549m and cover seven major items including the Senate, this House, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Parliamentary Library, the Joint House Department, the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works and the Joint Standing Committee of Public Accounts. It is a large amount of money and the Estimates represent a very important consideration for this Parliament and for the country at large. It is a long time since I spoke on the Estimates for the Parliament and since that time many of the matters to which I last referred have been improved and overtaken. So far as members are concerned, there are much better working conditions, shall we say, and we have had significant improvements in respect of such matters as the provision of research officers and facilities such as copying machines and other electronic devices, including the audio dictating arrangements. Then, of course, there has been an improvement in postage facilities and matters of that kind.
The unfortunate aspect is that we have been stuck with this inadequate building and that is a very great liability from the standpoint of a parliamentary institution generally. The fact is that this building was built and occupied more than 50 years ago and that it was designed for 75 members of Parliament and 36 senators, a total fo 111 people. My colleague the member for
Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) on a previous occasion mentioned that Walter Burley Griffin went before the Public Works Committee in 1922 and contended at that time that a new Parliament House should be planned, that it should go on the hill behind this building, that local materials should be used, and that it should be built in such a way that it could be expanded and be the nucleus of a permanent and enlarged parliament house. But, of course, that did not occur. The significant point is that the place has grown enormously. I have been provided today with information about the number of people who work in this building and I am grateful to the SerjeantatArms who gave me this information. I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
-I thank the Committee. May I make some reference to the information before me. It is to the effect that there are 1,452 people servicing this building. A small number of them- 141- work in an annexe because of the inadequacies of this building and 20 are working in the Government Printing Office. It is interesting to note that apart from members and staff the significant additional categories of people represent the Joint House Department staff 225, the Parliamentary Library 140 and Hansard 90 people; there are 185 ministerial staff, 29 Opposition staff and 62 staff for senators and members; and the Press gallery has 205 people here. We have this inadequate building catering for these 1,452 people who are permanently operating here with a very large number of people who come in from dme to time. Of course, the manifestations are that we are unable adequately to accommodate the public and that we have inferior accommodation for Ministers, for members and senators and for the staff of Ministers, members and senators. Of course, there are many inadequacies in respect of kitchen facilities, the way the cooks have to work, the dining arrangmements and all the rest of it. No doubt the Shops and Factories Act would be breached many times over if this place were seriously looked at.
I want to remind the Parliament that not long ago the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House brought a report to this Parliament. It was the first report and it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the use of this building. It recommended that we should take the first step towards opening the new building to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Australia Day- 26 January 1988. The first thing it said was that on 24 March 1927 Parliament resolved- and I am abbreviating this-that its next sitting would be in this federal capital. Then it said that in December 1 965 the first Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House was established to inquire into a future parliament house. Then it said that the site of the new and permanent Parliament House was debated and resolved by the Parliament Act 1974 and Capital Hill was determined as the site. It went on to say that following that determination the standing committee was established in 1975 and re-established in 1976 to act for and represent the Parliament as the client in the planning and building of the House. Then it went on to say that the Parliament House should be constructed and occupied, as I have already said, by 26 January 1988, the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia. If we set out on that course funds would not be needed for at least two years.
We have a right to know what is happening to the determination of the Parliament. Has any progress been made or are we going to languish through indifference on the part of the Government? There is conjecture to the effect that the whole matter is going into Umbo and that the new Parliament House, the calling for design entries and actions of that kind will not be proceeded with. There is also conjecture that the Government is contemplating adding to the present budding. If there is such contemplation, I simply say that it is the prerogative of this Parliament also to have a say about that matter and that the Government should come clean as soon as possible. God knows that the building industry would benefit no matter which course of action were taken, whether it is additions to the old building or whether it is a substitution of this inadequate building by something more desirable. So I invite the Government to get rid of this ambiguity.
May I also say that I am concerned that this Parliament could start to move into the 20th century. I think that it should make very positive efforts to get closer to the people, and there are many ways in which that can be done. I support Mr Speaker in his advocacy of better utilisation of the medium of television for the coverage of parliamentary affairs. I am not an enthusiast for covering every parliamentary proceeding, but I certainly believe that Question Time at least once a week to start with could be featured to very great advantage. I think that we should have less ponderous proceedings and I am very pleased that the Legislative Committees are emerging towards that end. I would like to see the Parliament and its precincts Australianised more than they are. In that respect I would like to make reference to the very useful ‘ A to Z of Polities’ booklet which was launched yesterday on behalf of the former member for Grayndler, Mr Fred Daly. I have no doubt that this book will be of great use to many people. The book shows that we operate here in a sort of colonial context in so many respects and I believe that there is a need to reach out positively to give this parliamentary institution a touch of Australiana. Let me refer, for example, to my own role, that of a Whip, as referred to in this book of definitions entitled ‘ A to Z of Politics ‘ It says in part:
This is an abbreviation of ‘whipper in’ borrowed in the parliamentary sense from eighteenth-century fox hunting vocabulary where the ‘whipper in’ kept the hounds from straying from the pack.
Well, fellow hounds, let me say that I believe that there is better terminology to use in respect of this role. It is an important role. The book goes on to say:
It is the duty of the Whip in consultation with the Leader of the House to arrange the business of the party in the House and to organise their forces in divisions and debates. They are responsible for the attendance, order and discipline of members and for the smooth functioning of the detailed business of the Parliament.
The duties of Whip are arduous and important. They often require tact, patience, firmness and maintenance of his authority. On his ability to negotiate and use the time available for debate to the best advantage depends the ease an efficiency with which the House will complete its program.
There are many other matters I could mention. Even the book of reference upon which we rely to settle disputes in this chamber is an English book referred to as May’s authority. It was written by Sir Erskine May, Clerk of the House of Commons from 1871 to 1886. Of course, he wrote A Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament. God, I wonder why we have forgotten that we have men such as Mr Pettifer serving this Parliament who could also be regarded as an authority on such matters. There is a fellow in another place by the name of Odgers who could also write something on the subject which would be regarded as authoritative. Let us get a little Australiana into this Parliament. For example, if honourable members read this book they will see the trappings that are attached to the Speakership- the Black Rod, the Sergeant of Arms and all the rest. They will realise that we are aping the traditions of Westminster. That is not altogether bad. For God’s sake, let us recognise that we have grown up and we are entitled to have associated with this Parliament more evidence of the fact that we are Australians and have some traditions of our own.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I can understand that with the number of honourable members that the Opposition Whip has to control in this Parliament, he needs to bring the Deity into account in his arguments to gain support on his side. Tonight I want to talk about a subject that I have spoken about on previous occasions. I refer to the rights and the powers of the Parliament and exactly where this Parliament stands in relation to the Executive. Many words have been written in various digests, articles and learned journals in this country about the status of Parliament in which honourable members serve. The general consensus seems to be that the Australian Parliament is playing itself down. It is allowing its power to be taken away from it in one form or another. If its powers are not being taken away by the Executive, they are being taken away by the bureaucracy. The end result is that the Parliament is becoming a fairly hollow chamber. What business is carried out in this chamber is not necessarily of all that great weight or importance so far as the actual business of government in this country is concerned.
This is something about which we all ought to think as parliamentarians. It is something that we need to take into account at every opportunity that is available to us. We ought to be able to determine to a far greater extent the sort of things that go on in this place. We should see that what is done is done in such a way that the Parliament becomes a meaningful chamber and a chamber where the things that transpire are important in terms of the nation. We should see that the debate that takes place here is real debate where people can be convinced by argument, that not necessarily everything goes the way that the Government of the day, of whatever political complexion it might be, wishes it to go. I noted that a former colleague of ours who is now a senator, Senator Hamer from Victoria, spoke in the Senate recently on this subject. One of the points he made was that perhaps it would be a good idea to have no Ministers sitting in the Senate. It would seem to me that that is a very well thought out argument and one which ought to be considered by governments in this country.
We should take seriously the points made by Mr Hamer and give consideration to them. I do not think that any government of this nation, whether it be a government made up of the members of the party that I represent or of members opposite, would want a situation in which legislation was being forced through the Parliament simply because it had a majority in both Houses and was able to control both Houses. There would be representatives of the Executive in both Houses of Parliament, but no government would want the party line to operate as strictly and as firmly as it seems to have operated in the past. I do not advocate a system of continual rebellion and crossing the floor when votes are taken as a matter of course in the Parliament, but I think that we would be better served if we had a genuine House of review which could be seen as such by the public and the media by means of the way in which the debates and the business of the government of this country are conveyed to the electorate at large through the various ways in which the media gets the message through. These matters are important and ought to be given serious consideration by both Houses of Parliament and by the Government itself.
It seems to me that good government would be much better served if the Senate were genuinely a House of review and if it could revert to being a States’ House as it was originally intended to be. That is a matter to which thought needs to be given. The arguments that have been put forward by Senator Hamer and by other people over the years ought to be considered and debated.
There is a matter that I find a little offensive in relation to our chamber. When the pre-Budget discussions are taking place, the Government calls on representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to discuss what the Budget strategy might be. It calls on representatives of business- employers, employees- primary industry groups, social service groups and a range of organisations. The Cabinet hears suggestions from them as to what they think the structure of the Budget should be. Generally speaking, the results of those discussions are made public. In the run-up to the last Budget we were informed in no uncertain terms that the business community of this country wanted drastic cuts made in social security payments, health and welfare. The ACTU wanted certain things and so on. I have no recollection of being consulted as a member of Parliament about the Parliament itself. Yet the estimates for the Parliament are prepared and are passed through this place. We are discussing right now the money that will be spent on this chamber, the facilities available to members, the question of staffing and the structure of committees. My colleague, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) referred to this matter in his speech to the Committee only a short time ago.
We are not consulted about this sort of thing. I think that it is something about which we ought to be consulted. I think that it can be seen as an affront to the Parliament as an institution that the Government does not see fit to raise with the Par.liament those matters which are of concern to it and to its administration. I think that that is a matter which ought to be remedied. It is something of which all governments in the past, as long as I have known anything about the Parliament, have been guilty. It is about time that this Government had a look at the position. Hopefully it will be prepared to do something about the matter.
I would like to canvass the general question of the Estimates debate itself. It seems to me that when the Budget is presented it is not subject to alteration. It is debated and we then move into this Estimates debate procedure which we are starting tonight with the debate of the estimates of the Parliament. In my view we should be having an Estimates debate in the Autumn Session of the Parliament prior to the Budget being presented. The Government would make available the forward estimates in the best form that they are available at that time. Just about everybody knows at that stage anyway the likely deficit that the Government is facing. The Government does not need to reveal at that time what its income projections might be for the corning year. We would be dealing with an unrelated set of figures on just the expenditure side. They could be presented in the departmental form that we are accustomed to seeing them in and they could be debated. The members of this Parliament, who are elected by the people, could make their contribution to that debate. They could make the points to the Government which need to be made in respect of what things they, as members of Parliament representing the grass roots feeling outside the Parliament, see as being important in the system of priorities which the Government has to try to rationalise within the structure of forming and presenting a Budget. The Parliament could make a very useful contribution in this way.
This is not to say that the Government would be bound by what the Parliament decided to do or by what any member or Minister for that matter might say in that Estimates debate that took place in the Budget preparation context. It is simply something that the Government could take into account. For instance, if a large majority of honourable members took the view that more money needed to be spent on defence or that less money needed to be spent on defence, the Cabinet would be able to take that into account and would be able to say: ‘The Parliament takes this view about the matter and we as a Cabinet are prepared to implement in broad terms the sort of thing about which the Parliament is concerned’. The Parliament itself could make a very real contribution to the establishment of the priorities which the Government needs to determine when it is looking at the Budget in that run-up period to July and August and finally when the Budget is brought down. I think that a worthwhile, useful and realistic part could be played by the Parliament if the Estimates debate were moved forward from now, when we are discussing the Estimates ex post facto, to a time when it could be part of the business of the House prior to the House rising at the end of the autumn session.
There are a number of procedural things of this nature about which parliamentarians have a duty to think. I do not think it is a question of standing up a government, of toughening it out, of exercising back bench muscle or anything like that at all. It is a question of looking at things reasonably and asking whether an effective purpose really is served by having the Estimates debate in the way we do now, or whether it would be better if the debate were held prior to the Budget coming down so that all members could make some contribution to the determination of priorities. It is essential that the Parliament itself be consulted about the estimates for the Parliament. As I have said on previous occasions, the
Parliament ought to determine what its estimates will be and they should go to the Government, which should not be able to change them. As I said earlier, we ought to give a fair amount of consideration to the question of the Executive being in the Parliament and whether we ought to make the Senate a House free of the Ministry so that it can legitimately be a House of review.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The Committee is considering the estimates for the Parliament. I wish to raise several matters in regard to the estimates which are presented to this Parliament under Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1978-79. The first matter to which I draw attention is the actual cost of running the Parliament itself. By that I mean the cost of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Parliamentary Library, the Joint House Department, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. In looking at this Appropriation Bill one finds to one’s surprise that the total expenditure for the year 1977-78 for all of those departments- that is, the whole cost of the national Parliament- amounted to a miserly $14,218,786. The population of Australia happens to be more than 14 million. In other words, last year the cost of the national Parliament to the people of Australia was less than $1 per person per year.
– How much?
– It is less than $ 1 per person per year. One would never think by reading the denigration put out by the media, that that is what it costs the Austraiian taxpayers. Any time that something happens concerning the Parliament itself it is highlighted as though parliamentarians are a bunch of bludgers, if I may use that term, and we are in here for what we can get out of it. There is a general denigration by the media of the parliamentary system as such. That is one of the matters to which I want to refer tonight. As I see it, the system that is gradually coming to Australia- I think it is fairly world-wide- is one whereby the media itself is seeking to usurp the power of the Parliament; the media itself is seeking to be the influencer of public opinion and to be the decision maker.
We as parliamentarians should be consciously looking at the role of the parliamentarians. What is our real role? During the week commencing 28 August this year I had the privilege of attending the Fifth Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers which was hosted by Australia. I was present for three of the five days of the conference. The role of the parliamentarian was one matter to which the Presiding Officers and Speakers of Commonwealth countries addressed themselves. Another matter which was discussed was the pecuniary interests of members of parliament. Much time was devoted to that discussion. Another matter was whether the role of the legislature is being submerged by the executive government. The paper on that topic was prepared by our own Speaker, the Right Honourable Sir Billy Snedden. I must commend Mr Speaker on the paper that he presented. He pointed out in fairly definite terms that we as members of parliament have to ensure that we are not submerged by the Executive; that we as members of parliament do have a role to play and we should be playing that role. It is something that has crept in in recent times and it is an offence which I think has been committed by governments of all political parties. Parliament has reached the stage that in the minds of many people it has become just a charade. I do not believe that the Parliament should ever be allowed to become a charade.
The Westminster system, even though it is not a perfect system, is still the best parliamentary system that I have seen. The Westminster system is something that we should cherish. Certainly the Westminster system is much more desirable than some of the systems which operate in oneparty parliaments and which are so common in many countries, particularly some of the African and other developing countries where there is a one-party system and the country is still called a democracy. We have a democracy in Australia We have a democracy under the Westminster system. I think we should be very careful to ensure that we are never submerged by the Executive. We should ensure that Parliament itself does not become merely the instrument of the executive arm of government. That is something that we should be watching continually.
Another matter discussed during that conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers was the role of the media, particularly in the televising of parliamentary proceedings. It was interesting to note that in Canada the telecast selected part of the parliamentary proceedings, which is controlled by the Parliament itself, has the top rating among the television productions shown at night. The proceedings are telecast at night as a re-run. The production beats all the top shows. I do not know their names, but they include American shows; and this show, if I can call it a show- the proceedings of the Canadian Parliament- is the top rating production in Canada. In my view, the standard of the members of the Australian Parliament is very high. I suppose I am being fairly modest when I say that. When one looks around the Parliament one sees that the calibre of the members of the Australian Parliament, on both sides, is very high. I think it is something of which Australians should be proud; but they are never told this because, as I said earlier, the Press and the other sections of the media seek to denigrate the Parliament without suggesting some other method to replace the parliamentary system. There is too much of a tendency nowadays to pull down an institution without ever replacing it. In my view when we get to that stage we have a system of anarchy coming in.
I would like to deviate from that a little to throw in a few questions at which I think we all should be looking. One of them is: How effective is the organisation of the Parliament itself? By that I mean the organisation of the parliamentary departments. For example, should there be one parliamentary department to control the whole of the administrative functions of the Par.liament itself? Why should there be a separate Department of the Senate? Why should there be a separate Department of the House of Representatives? Why should there be a separate Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff? Why should there be a separate Department of the Parliamentary Library? Certainly, why should there be a separate Joint House Department?
Of course, the Joint House Department has been somewhat in the news of late. It is interesting to note how it grew up. I happened to do a little research on this matter and I found out that prior to 1902 it was a Joint House Committee. By Act No. 5 of 1902 it was created a Joint House Department. From then on it has had rather a chequered history. I will not mention names but I think the story is fairly well told that there were two competitors in the field for a certain position: If my memory serves me right it was for the position of Clerk of the Senate. One of the competitors who happened to be senior got duck-shoved into the position of Secretary to the Joint House Department to allow the more aspiring one to become the Clerk of the Senate. From then on there has always been a Secretary to the Joint House Department. Whether or not that is necessary, I think it is about time that we as parliamentarians had a look at that situation.
I would Uke to commend the Speaker for what he did as far as the House of Representatives Department is concerned in calling in management consultants to review the organisation of the
House of Representatives. Arising from that, there is now a special officer- I think he is called an operations manager- who looks after the administration of the House of Representatives itself. I think that was a very good move and Mr Speaker is to be commended for it. Some action similar to that should be taken with regard to the whole parliamentary administrative structure because I think we are getting to be a little top heavy as far as the functions of each department are concerned. There is a permanent head for each department, each with his own little enclave and each with his own little empire. Honourable members know the story of Parkinson’s law: You start with one man and end up with a department. I finish on that note on the basis that we, as parliamentarians, should be more watchful to see that the system we cherish is not broken down.
– It is indeed an honour to follow the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), not because he took the main point that I wanted to make, namely the cost of the Parliament to the nation, but because, if I might say so, I believe he made a very reasoned and reasonable speech. For the benefit of people listening to the broadcast, we are entitled to speak for 10 minutes to this itemthe estimates for the Parliament. As the honourable member for Banks has pointed out, the cost of the Commonwealth Parliament last financial year was $14,218,786 or, in round figures, one dollar for every man, woman and child in Australia. As such, I believe it can be said that in financial terms that is cheap democracy.
It is very significant that when one looks at the Division of the Parliament in Appropriation Bill (No. 1), there are but seven heads of expenditure. I refer briefly to them: The Senate, the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Parliamentary Library, the Joint House Department, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. For those who are inclined to knock the Parliament indiscriminately, I draw attention to the fact that the administrative expenses of the Senate this year, as are about to be appropriated, are less than last year’s expenditure. I draw attention to the fact that the appropriation for the Joint House Department is again less than last year’s expenditure and, lastly, though only marginally, the expenditure for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works to be appropriated by this Bill is again less than last year’s expenditure.
– Last year was an election year and the Parliament worked for only half the year.
– I am advised by my colleague, the honourable member for Dundas, that because of the election there was less expense than would have normally been the situation. I simply think it is appropriate to draw to the attention of the Australian public that on the face of it there has been good housekeeping.
I believe we are privileged to work in a beautiful building, a building which regrettably is only too inadequate, but a building which I hope will be maintained in some form as a national monument. It is a superb building and despite its shortcomings it is a great honour for one to work within it. I want to talk, however, more about the institution of the Parliament and, in the brief time available to me, to urge that we should take a bold front and take steps to ensure that the parliamentary institution prepares now to step into the 21st century. In talking of the parliamentary system, it is indeed appropriate to refer to the pinnacle of the system. In this Chamber it is of course the Speaker and in the Senate it is of course the President. It is somewhat invidious to comment upon the standing of Presiding Officers, but I feel less inhibited on this occasion in view of the fact that in Canberra recently there was a conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks at which very high tributes were paid to the Speaker of this place and to the President of another place. If I might presume to say so, both office bearers carry out their duties, in my respectful view, in a judicial manner with complete impartiality and impeccable fairness.
It is because these officers belong specifically to the Parliament that I raise as a matter of principle, and I hope in so doing I do not embarrass the officers, a recent announcement made with respect to the Ministers and the office holders of the Parliament forgoing increases recommended in their favour by the parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal. Whilst I commend the right of Ministers to indicate their willingness to forgo an increase, I do ask whether or not there was any consideration of the position of the office holders of the Parliament as opposed to Ministers of the Executive. It has been contended, and in one case it was contended to me by a member of the Opposition, that there was not communication with or consideration given to those office holders. Whichever party were in power, I would still say that it would be incorrect of a government to presume that there would be a willingness to remit a parliamentary increase by any office holder of the Parliament, whether he is the
Speaker, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, a Whip or whatever. I raise this matter as one of considerable principle because I think it is a matter of importance that if the Parliament stands by and permits the Executive, whatever Executive is in power, to interfere with the rights of the office holders of the Parliament, then we are in effect letting those office holders down, and as they go down the system goes down. I commend the Ministers for what they have done but I suggest that the Executive has no right to presume. I hope that there was not a presumption in this case. It is not for me to approach Presiding Officers and to ask whether they were consulted. I simply hope that there was not a presumption in this case.
With the utmost respect to my colleague, the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher), I do not believe that one should be apologetic about what he referred to as rebels and floor-crossers. There may not be many rebels and floor-crossers or occasions for rebellion or floor-crossing in this place as opposed to the House of review, the Senate, but I do not believe that it is in the national interest that the strict party line should prevail at all times without any variation. In the history of Australian politics both parties have been shown to be wrong at the same time on the one subject. I just merely put the point in relation to the smaller States and the nexus referendum of 1 967 where both major parties fell flat on their faces in the face of a small but determined bit of opposition from a small group of senators. Sir Winston Churchill was attributed with having made the comment that the first duty of a member of parliament was to the nation, his second was to his electorate and his third was to his party. He went on to say that there were, on rare occasions, times when one’s duty perhaps to one’s party might transcend one’s duty to one’s electorate, but never, he said, could duty to electorate or party transcend one’s duty to nation. The Prime Minister of this country for the time being, the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), is on public record on the occasion of his resignation from a ministry as saying that his duty to the nation was pre-eminent. So, with respect, I suggest that one should not be timorous about a situation where one has to face up to one’s responsibilities even if that puts one out of step with one’s own party colleagues. Again, with the greatest respect to my colleagues on the other side of the chamber, in fact I did- and I do not make any great thing of this- cross the floor of this House on three occasions. I have yet to see a member of Her Majesty’s Opposition come over and vote on our side of the House except on the Family Law Bill when four members of Her Majesty’s Opposition came over and voted with the majority of Government members in relation to a matter of conscience. For that I congratulate them.
The Australian Parliament belongs to the Australian people. It is deplorable that thousands of Australian school children are still not taught- in my opinion- even the basics of how the federal system in Australia operates. It is a great shame that very few children in Australia are given the opportunity to come to Canberra to witness the parliamentary proceedings. Children in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria are able to get here by buses at a comparatively low cost but children from Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania find the cost prohibitive. Last year and the year before I put a submission to the Government that there should be some system to subsidise the cost of travel to enable parties of school children to come to Canberra to see the Parliament in action. Whilst my representations have not been successful to date, I hope they will be in the fullness of time. Because of the difficulty of people getting to Canberra I certainly support the suggestion that some of the parliamentary proceedings should be televised. It is no excuse to say: ‘Do not televise them because we will be shown up as being inadequate’. I believe that people have the right to see us exactly as we are.
I am disappointed that the Senate appears to be dithering around, delaying and holding up the work of the Privileges Committee which is looking into the privileges of the Parliament. A recommendation was made by the Privileges Committee of this place following the Sunday Observer case. It has been hanging around for some time and I hope that it can be brought on quickly. Let us look at the question of pressbutton voting. It is a scandal that we have to sit here for divisions lasting 11, 12, 13, or 14 minutes. I believe that we should take a leaf out of the books of State parliaments so that members will have the right to record their dissent without necessarily calling for a division which is time wasting. Members should have the right to protest against the passage of legislation and they should have increased rights to incorporate additional material in Hansard to save everybody’s time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Jarman)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I join in the debate on the estimates of the Parliament. I suppose some of the matters I will raise are in accord with those matters raised by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) concerning the actions of the Executive. I was a deputy chairman of committees, an office which was recognised for the first time by the Remuneration Tribunal. It awarded the princely stipend of $507 per annum. I received payment for six weeks and then it was chopped off. But it is not about that matter that I am going to speak as far as Executive action is concerned. Honourable member’s will recall that some years ago the Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Committee System examined the committee system of the ParliParliament. Substantial recommendations were made.
I had a great deal to do with that committee as I was chairman for most of its existence. I was not satisfied that we had done a complete job but the thing that disturbs me is that despite the fact that when the report was presented the House was informed that there would be an opportunity to debate the report, that has never occurred. A couple of speeches were made when the report was first introduced. In later discussions it was suggested that the matter would be debated at some future time. I understand it has been discussed by a back bench committee of the Government parties and there has been some discussion by the Opposition party. But the chamber which is most vitally interested in this report has had no chance to have a wide ranging debate on the matter. We have had expenditure committees introduced and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure is functioning. Its process is under examination. We are on the verge of seeing legislation committees in operation. The Parliament will have that experience. But there is a lot more than that to the committee system of Parliament.
I know that practically all honourable members feel that under that system there can be a meeting of conflicting points of views and a greater chance of getting a sensible consensus which would be of benefit to parliamentary government. I do not think there is any doubt that this must have been a decision by the Executive. It has not brought that suggestion forward for action. We have to look at the other committee functions. Should we maintain a standing committee system which has a few standing committees in specific areas such as environment, or should we look at the possibility of subject matter committee which can deal with a variety of subjects in a variety of areas and which can take note of the resources of the House in terms of numbers.
Perhaps it is wasteful to have a committee always looking at environmental factors. Perhaps environmental aspects are only one matter which should be looked at. In the Parliament we should not be thinking just about an examination which has already been done of the committee system. A member of the committee staff reminded me today of the parliamentary study group in the United Kingdom which, from time to time, produces reports on various aspects of the functioning of the Parliament. Frankly, I do not think we are even geared to do that yet. What we really need to do at the moment is to have a committee or study group- call it that if you like- to look broadly at the functionings and objects of the Parliament. Are some of our methods and attitudes too antiquated? Have we got stuck in a rut? Has the adversary principle destroyed a lot of what could go on in parliament?
Is our Question Time satisfactory? I know I have raised this matter before. I have criticised our Question Time as one of the dullest question times in the Westminster system. If we are going to change it to have supplementary questions, do we not then have to think about the powers and discretions given to the Presiding Officer, whoever he may be? Parliament cannot function without the Speaker being given some discretion and some powers, and not only at Question Time. There are plenty of other occasions when a discretion could be allowable, and that would increase the sensible content of debate and would allow Parliament to proceed to more sensible conclusions.
As of right we have overseas travel privileges. This has developed over a number of years. We have delegations going to the Interparliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the United Nations. There are foreign affairs trips during the winter recess. Reports of those meetings are produced, a few brief words are said and nothing much happens. In addition, over the years a private facility has developed. I have not been here long enough to go back to the origins of that facility. Some honourable members will remember when travel privileges were granted to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Norfolk Island, as well as local travel during the life of the Parliament. Now we have a situation where members, after having served their first three years, have the facility to travel during the life of the next Parliament in the way laid down by the Remuneration Tribunal.
I think we have to look at accountability. When we talk about expenditure in any department we like to look at some theory of accountability. What principle of accountability is laid down? The principle laid down is that the member lists where he is going on a particular trip at public expense. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs makes a statement on a particular area overseas or when other Ministers with responsibility in other areas talk about international agreements with other countries, what debate goes on? The Executive makes the decision that the Minister will speak on the matter. I guess that the front bench on the Opposition side is just as bad because the Minister’s opposite number speaks on the matter and the debate dies.
The logical reason for allowing members of parliament the facility to visit other areas of the world is that they can meet other politicians, other parliamentarians, and look at questions of defence, foreign affairs and economics. I believe that honourable members apply themselves to this situation. But what chance do they get in the parliamentary scene to convey what they have learnt under those circumstances? Surely that should be the method of accountability to this Parliament when a private member has the privilege. Surely it is not enough for us to say that he is accountable to the Minister to state in writing where he is going so that someone can look at that statement. Surely the procedures of Parliament, when money is spent in this way, should allow for a free ranging debate to enable the members to put the points of view that they have heard, to talk about them and gain some benefit from the debate.
I believe that perhaps the chamber at some time will have to stand up on its hind legs and roar about this situation. There has to be some opportunity for the back bench members of Parliament in many fields to be able to join in a general discussion that is not necessarily related to specific legislation which is before the chamber. After all, what happens? When specific legislation is before the chamber honourable members try to broaden the ambit of debate in order to make some of the points which they feel are important and which they have learnt. Mr Deputy Chairman, you would be forced to say that what the honourable member is talking about is not relevant to the Bill. Yet the information could be useful to other members in the chamber in a general debate. I have gone through some of my pet feelings about the conduct of this chamber and about the feeling that we should have a continuing review of the way in which we function. Our procedures and methods are not so good that we have nothing else to learn. I feel that the Executive has a retarding effect in the development of these procedures. It wants to get on with its administrative work and is worried that this sort of discussion might interfere with that administration
-In speaking to the estimates for the Parliament, a number of matters could be raised. This type of debate could and should take a lot more time than it will take in this chamber. For instance, two years ago a report on reforms for committees of the Parliament was presented and, while some action has been taken not directly from that report, the report itself and its consequences have not been debated by this chamber even though, on a number of occasions, undertakings were given that that debate would take place. I think it is important that members start to think about and debate what the Parliament is and how it functions. If we do not give consideration to this aspect, persons outside the Parliament will continue to press for changes in the parliamentary system which would affect its operation and could destroy the institution as a viable part of the Government and the representative voice of the Australian people. These matters are significant and serious.
In recent days there has been what I think is a fairly unfortunate debate by people who either are not very well informed or are seeking to mislead others about parliamentary privilege. It arises mainly out of events which did not take place in this Parliament but which have been related to this Parliament and have in the past taken place at least in another House of this Par.liament. The Victorian Premier and the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) have both made statements about the need for a review of privilege. Firstly, I would say that the Standing Committee on Privileges asked for a reference for that type of review some time ago. The Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) gave an undertaking that the Government would pursue the request and appoint a joint select committee- privilege being a matter for the two Houses- to inquire into and to report on the operation of privilege.
But the matter to which I refer in this context is the question of certain documents which were tabled in the Victorian Parliament. I have seen a number of complaints by the Victorian Premier and, as I mentioned, a Minister of this chamber relating to that matter. Something that should be understood at least by the Press when it talks about something being given privilege is that papers do not carry privilege and cannot be given privilege by the House. Privilege does not apply at aU to any form of paper tabled in the House. The Parliamentary Papers Act provides immunity with regard to publication provided that the House authorises the publication by a resolution of the House. That is quite different from automatic privilege. It requires the vote of the majority of the members of the Parliament to give a paper that immunity. In fact in the Victorian Parliament such a resolution was carried. Leave was granted to table a document and subsequently a motion for the printing of the document was moved and carried. The Premier’s party had a majority, so that neither the Minister in this House nor the Premier of Victoria -
– Nor the honourable member for Melbourne Ports.
-I do not know exactly what he had to do with this matter. What I am talking about is people making irrelevant claims about a document carrying privilege because it was presented when in fact that privilege was given by a majority vote of the House in which the Premier who now complains commands a majority of votes. There is no way in which an individual member of a parliament can table a document unless he has the unanimous agreement of the House. A private member can table a document only with leave; one dissenting voice prevents that tabling. The document can only be given immunity- it cannot ever be given privilege- if the House carries a resolution to the effect that the document will be printed and therefore published. I think that matter is important. It is important that the difference be noted. I think it is important also because privilege is fairly meaningless in the context of this parliamentary operation or any parliamentary operation where we have a situation where no penalties effectively can be applied to any person who stands and defies the Parliament.
The only penalties which can be applied by this House, no matter what the nature of the privilege, is a reprimand or an imprisonment. I was not here during the case relating to Fitzpatrick and Brown, but I would doubt that a majority of members would ever again agree to imprison a member of the public on the basis of a breach of privilege, even of the grossest type. That leaves the House impotent against a defiant person. The House can do nothing to punish that person other than to reprimand him or to humiliate him. Effectively it can do nothing. I think that an inquiry into privilege is absolutely essential. I think it is essential when it is carried out that those honourable members who carry it out should not be stampeded by people outside the Parliament about what they would like to prevent the Parliament having and what they would like to prevent being debated. This is not the only privileged institution in the community. The privileges of Parliament have been hard won and have been evolved for very necessary reasons and should be retained for those reasons. It is necessary to make privilege effective and to use it responsibly. I think that this Parliament has done the latter. It is up to this Parliament now to do the former.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Jarman)Order! It being 10.30 p.m., I shall report progress.
-It being 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
-I wish to raise two or three matters this evening. The first deals with the benefit for supporting fathers. Unfortunately in the society in which we live today such a benefit is becoming more and more important. There was a time when one seldom saw a father deserted by his wife and having to take care of his children. Today, unfortunately, such an occurrence is becoming more and more prevalent. A deserted husband in my electorate has had to leave work to look after his five children. Accordingly he applied for and received a supporting father’s allowance. However, this allowance is not treated as a pension such as the pension received by a deserted wife.
A deserted wife who is left with five children can obtain what is known as a widow’s pension. Sometimes it is called a deserted wife’s pension. If she meets the income qualifications she is also entitled to receive fringe benefits such as a medical card from the New South Wales State Government and transport passes. In my municipality she would not be charged rates. I think that she would be required to pay half rates to the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. These concessions are of great benefit to a person who is left in this position, be that person a widow, an age pensioner, an invalid pensioner or a deserted wife. However, a deserted husband does not receive these fringe benefits because this Government considers that he is not in receipt of a pension as such but only a benefit. The Government takes the view that he is lucky to receive the benefit at all.
– At least we have made some provision.
– I give full credit to the Government. I spoke in the House a number of times some years ago on the need to assist supporting fathers. I have seen the numbers growing year by year. I knew that it was something which we had to face. The chap to whom I have referred has five children under his care and control. Although he receives a deserted husband’s allowance he is not treated as a pensioner and as such he cannot receive fringe benefits such as a medical card, local government rating concessions and so on. As a result he is placed in a very disadvantageous position. It is for that reason that I have brought this matter up tonight. I ask that this matter be looked at by the Government and that the deserted husbands ‘ allowance, which involves the same amount of money as the deserted wives pension, be treated as a pension and not in effect as an ex gratia payment. That is how it is being treated today. Accordingly the ruling has been given that deserted husbands are not entitled to various fringe benefits such as a medical card. I make that appeal tonight.
While I am on this subject I might point out that I think it is well and truly time that the table which determines whether an invalid pensioner, an age pensioner, a deserted wife and the like shall receive fringe benefits should be reviewed. This table has not been reviewed since 1973. As honourable members know, the table contains a cut-off point of total income at which people can no longer receive fringe benefits. Therefore I make the point that it is well and truly time that this table were reviewed. People who receive an increase in their superannuation from, say, the railways or the Miners Pension Branch suddenly find out of the blue that their income takes them above the limit. They lose their fringe benefits. The benefit they receive in order to index them against inflation in respect of the superannuation payment is far less than the value of the fringe benefits which they have lost. This is very unjust. It can be rectified only by reviewing the table.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-An international hockey stadium is currently under construction within the grounds of the Western Australian Institute of Technology in Perth. The project, when completed, will be Australia’s first international standard hockey stadium. Aside from all the usual facilities, the important point is that the central playing area will feature an allweather artificial turf surface. A natural turf surface can only be used for approximately three hours a week before it begins to deteriorate badly. However, the all-weather astroturf surface, as it is commonly known, can be continuously used without losing its properties of true roll and consistent bounce. This type of expensive synthetic playing surface is now a standard requirement for all international hockey matches. Similar stadiums have already been built in London, Amsterdam, Cologne and Montreal. Plans are going ahead for grounds of the same standard in other countries such as New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the Soviet Union.
To date the projected cost of the complex is approximately $lm. The Western Australian men’s and women’s hockey associations have combined their resources and have embarked on a giant public fund raising campaign with a target of $250,000. To its credit the Western Australian Government has made a commitment of $250,000. Considerable unsuccessful representations have been made to the Commonwealth Government for the balance of $500,000. It is on that point that I would like to concentrate in the few mintues remaining to me. The national sports program developed by the standing committee on recreation and accepted by the council of recreation Ministers recommended the provision of one venue of international standard for each sport somewhere in Australia. I believe that this is an extremely sensible move. Australia has limited resources to spend on sports facilities. This program is designed to ensure that our potential international competitors have at least one international standard venue within the country for their sport.
In line with this program a hockey venue is being built in Perth. However, let me make the fundamental point that the facility is not a facility just for Western Australians; it is to be a national facility sited in Perth. Australia’s men’s and women’s hockey teams will use it extensively in the lead-up to their preparations for the 1980 Olympics and, of course, beyond that time. For the first time, women’s hockey will be an Olympic sport. The Australian team- already one of the strongest in the world- has excellent medal prospects. The men have already set the pace with silver medals in the Mexico City and Montreal Olympics. However, I think the point to be made here is that in the past to attain this standard our athletes have had to travel extensively overseas at great cost in order to gain the necessary experience of playing and developing their games on artificial turf, a feature which previously gave other international teams a distinct advantage. Now, with the construction of this national facility in Perth, Australia will truly be on equal terms in relation to hockey. This is a national facility for the benefit of all Australian hockey players and, through them, Australia’s international sporting prestige. Seen in this light I believe that this facility is firmly deserving of support from the national Government.
All supporters of this project readily appreciate the financial constraints which surrounded the framing of this year’s Budget. They all readily understand why the Government has found it impossible to date to vote funds for this project this time around. However, what is needed to ensure the successful completion of this project is not so much cash down now but a firm commitment by the Federal Government to support financially this international hockey facility in the next financial year. I have been talking about an international standard hockey facility supported by the Standing Committee on Recreation and the Council of Recreation Ministers. This will be of benefit to all Australians and to Australian sport generally. I ask the Government to give this request for a firm commitment to future financial support for this sporting facility urgent and most serious consideration.
-I want to raise a matter which was the subject of some heated debate in this House last week. It concerns legislation which has now passed from this chamber. It relates to the arrangements which were made between the States and the Commonwealth at the time of the Premiers Conference. Arising from those undertakings, legislation was passed through this House. I am referring to the States Grants (Home Care) Amendment Bill 1978. In debating that matter, the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) indicated that at the Premiers Conference the Commonwealth had said that the States would be expected to pick up the difference between the $2 for $1 grants which had existed previously at the Commonwealth level in the home help area and a $ 1 for $ 1 grant which the Minister indicated was an acceptable level of Commonwealth assistance in this area under the new federalism scheme. I disagreed with the Minister, but that is neither here nor there in this case.
What concerns me is that we now see the situation under the new federalism policy as it is unravelling. If the published remarks of the Secretary to the Victorian Cabinet are to be believed- I have no reason to suggest that they should not be believed- the Victorian Government has indicated that it feels that it has met its obligations under this arrangement by maintaining the share which existed before the Commonwealth changed its arrangements. The significance of this is that the Commonwealth, under the new federalism policy, has said: ‘I am all right, Jack’. It has reduced the $2 for $1 grant to a $1 for $1 grant for assistance in home help arrangements. The Victorian Government has not acknowledged any obligation at all under the new federalism policy in this matter and has maintained its grant at its pre-existing level.
The two governments involved in fact have allowed the total amount of funds available to the local government bodies that operate the home help schemes to fall by approximately 25 per cent- an amount which now must be met by increasing charges for home help services which, in the main, are housekeeper services and so on. Quite often aged persons who are seeking to remain in their own homes are not able to afford to hire domestic assistance. It is a cheap means by which domiciliary care can be provided and by which people are able to stay in their own homes and do not have to be admitted to nursing homes which are far more expensive and which are less satisfactory to many aged persons. The service has to be maintained under this new federalism policy which, in effect, is a means by which both governments can absolve themselves of any guilt in failing to meet their responsibilities to these people.
The amounts of money involved are not large. For the whole of Australia about $5m is involved and in Victoria the amount is less than $2m. Let me point out the difficulties that the Premier of Victoria has with money. Recently he told the Victoria Racing Club that no additional funds would be made available to it this year over and above what had already been announced. The VRC said: ‘We will go out and campaign against you in a political sense because the racing industry requires more funds’. Within four hours the Premier found $3m, which is more than is required for the Victorian Government to meet what the Commonwealth claims are its responsibilities under the home care scheme.
The position now is that where the councils carrying out the schemes can afford it they will have to find the additional money. There has been an expansion of this type of service since the $2 for $1 grants were introduced by the Whitlam Government. Two councils in my area to which I have spoken are up for $25,000 and $12,000 a year in additional costs. They do not have any part of the additional 0.5 per cent of revenue that they were promised. These councils will have to find that money from a non-growth sector of taxation. I think it is about time, if there is such a thing as new federalism, that someone worked out who has what responsibilities. It should not be just a haven for buck-passing. That is what it has been in this case.
-For a few moments tonight I want to inquire of honourable members whether they trunk that the proceedings of this House make it easy for it to be the great national debating forum, a place where members come to hear the major subjects which face the nation being coherently debated. Or would they say that some of our Standing Orders inhibit the actual debate? For example, if my friend the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) wishes to intervene, I am not permitted, as I would be in the Senate of the United States of America, to yield and to allow him to put a question to me. Standing Orders forbid any intervention and therefore the practicality of any form of debate becomes very difficult. One is obliged to endure from time to time, a long ministerial address read from the despatch box for half an hour or longer; and sometimes honourable members come in for 20 minutes, give their peroration and leave. There seems to be no continuity in the debate. Therefore I ask the Standing Orders Committee whether it is satisfied that the Standing Orders at present encourage debate or whether they inhibit debate. Until we have decided that I do not think we can make much progress.
Mr Speaker addressed the conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers and I think he was perfectly correct when he said, in short: ‘By what right are we cut off from our electors?’ We have passed the regulation which means that our debates are not broadcast after a certain time. Maybe I have something to say which would interest people but we have decided that we do not want broadcasting. Of course everybody knows that our speeches, or what is left of them when the Press has had a look at them- I prefer that the Press gets my facts straight before it twists them- are almost nonexistent when they reach the electorate. This honourable House should demand the right of communication with its electors by the most direct possible means. That means is the television media. Why should we place our rights in the hands of a few people who run programs and whose little favourites run on to various programs? Why should we place the power of debate, our debate, in the hands of the media? We must be quite lacking in our understanding to allow the media to control what is put over to the nation as a matter of public importance.
I want to deal with the final point at which I want the committee to look. We have a debate known as a debate on a matter of public importance. This extraordinary operation takes place almost every day. A sort of truncated confusion takes place when members of the Opposition get up- I do not blame them; it is their right- and lambast the Government, in some sort of political charade, over something about which they have decided to take the Government on. Eight members on one side get up to say it is a matter of public importance. I do not believe that Erskine May ever thought that that was the reason for raising a matter of public importance. A matter of public importance is a matter that a back bencher wants to bring up which is of immediate, urgent and national importance. I do not believe that that procedure as presently organised is valuable. Therefore it behoves the Committee to allow the Opposition to have a full debating day to discuss matters of national importance that it wants to bring before the nation. Matters of national public importance should be confirmed, as outlined in Erskine May, by Mr Speaker as urgent matters of national and public importance. I wish the Committee well in its deliberations. Unless the House, that is the whole House, asserts itself, we will have the Parliament we deserve.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I agree with virtually all the points made by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Yates). I should point out also that we ought to do much more than we are doing with the adjournment debates. One of the things we could do is to broadcast adjournment debates. It is now nearly six months since the parliamentary committee on broadcasting agreed unanimously that we ought to broadcast debates but as yet nothing has happened. This matter was once on the notice paper but now it is not even dignified by being placed on the notice paper.
– Nobody wants to listen.
-Let the House debate it and we can reach a decision on it. I want to talk briefly about a very important subject; the need for a national information policy. I have spoken about this before but I want to direct the House to a very important article by Professor Daniel Bell, ‘Teletext and Technology’, which appears in the July 1977 edition of Encounter. ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist’, wrote Karl Marx in The Poverty of Philosophy. The development of modern information technology, based and shaped by computers, electronic communication and entertainment, satellites and many other devices will inevitably lead to basic changes in general patterns of thought, in specific fields of analysis, such as economics, political science and sociology and in the changing nature of economic and social activity. It has been estimated that ‘in the United States, if information, broadly defined, accounts for almost 50 per cent of the gross national product, then some coherent national policy is in order’. In Australia the information industry employed 27.5 per cent of the work force in 1 97 1 and 30.2 1 per cent by 1977. The essential element of the information processing, or quaternary sector is that it involves the processing of symbols such as words, images, computer data, figures or symbolic objects which stand in the place of tangibles, such as money, cheques, bank statements or title deeds and includes such categories as teachers, clerical workers, communications workers, lawyers, artists, politicians and so on.
Since World War II there has been an exponential growth on the volume of information churned out and in the technical capacity of science to store, sort, retrieve or transmit information. I commend honourable members to Georges Anderla’s Information in 1985. A Forecasting Study of Information Needs and Resources published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris in 1973. This estimates that two million scientific documents were published in the year 1970-that is to say, between 6,000 and 7,000 articles each working day- and that eight million per year is a conservative estimate for 1985. Even the honourable member for Perth (Mr McLean) would find difficulty in catching up with that. Information is now measured in kilobits or megabits. The ‘bit’ is the smallest unit of information. It is the unit used for measuring information stored in computers. The ‘bi’ at the beginning comes from ‘binary’ and the ‘t’ at the end comes from the word ‘unit’. As Daniel Bell points out:
During any manned space flight, there is data transmission at the rate of 52 kilobits per second, the equivalent of an Encyclopaedia Britannica every IS minutes. Between 1961 and February 1974 there were 318 days of manned space flights. How many encyclopaedias does that make?
American mathematicians estimate that about 200,000 new theorems are published each year in mathematical journals.
We have to understand the changing nature of the information revolution. It is about time we had a national information policy. I conclude with just a few words from Bell. He says:
The clock, with its sixty pulsed seconds to the minute and the sixty phased minutes to the hour, is the symbol of the industrial economy. The computer, equally, is the time symbol of the post-industrial world. Computer time is a conceit; it is called oddly, real time, which means virtually ‘instantaneously’. Nanoseconds are the minutest portion of computer time. Electric signals go through computer wiring almost at the speed of light, about a thousand feet per microsecond, or one foot per nanosecond. A thousand million nanoseconds make a clock second, or about the same number of clock seconds as there are in thirty years. In the present large-size computers, it takes about fifty nanoseconds to process one ‘bit’ of information. In that context, what is the meaning of the division of time . . .
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to criticise the Government. I understand that there has been a settlement in whole or in part of the dispute involving technicians employed by Telecom Australia. To the best of my knowledge, the settlement includes a provision that certain persons who were on strike shall now receive pay for the time that they were on strike. I understand that it is part of a settlement that has been approved by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Obviously, one can understand that the Commission would approve of a settlement. Originally, Telecom took a stern and proper action in this matter. On one hand, the strike was claimed to be a strike by technicians because of future problems arising from technology. That claim was exposed by Telecom to be a fraud. In fact, the dispute was related to additional increases of pay for technicians moved into a category of higher employment for which they were not in fact qualified.
The Government made the appropriate decision to support Telecom to the extent that it could possibly do so. In a prepared statement the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) set out the Government’s view to this House on 24 August. He said:
Let me say in the most clear and unequivocal terms that it is the view of Telecom and it is the strongest view of the Government that pay lost in these circumstances will not be regained, will not be repaid, as one of the elements in the settlement of the dispute. So pay lost is pay that will stay lost. That needs to be understood.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister said that that was the strongest view of the Government. Honourable members on the Government side of the House cheered and said: ‘Hear, hear!’ They fully supported the strongest view of the Government. Now we find that as part of a settlement many of these strikers, about 70 per cent of them, are to receive pay for the time they were on strike. Apparently there is to be a differentiation between two classes of people. Some were asked to work in the normal area and refused. Fortunately they apparently will not be paid. Others were directed to work in some other areas but chose not to do so. They said: ‘We are not going to help out. We are not going to do the responsible thing! We are not going to accept work that is available and that we are asked to do. We are going to strike’. Nonetheless, these persons are to receive pay for the time that they were on strike. My understanding is that this is part of a settlement.
It is no good for the Government simply to say: ‘We support arbitration. We live by arbitration’. Of course arbitration should be supported. Of course we should live by arbitration. We have a very fine arbitration system that has served the community well for many years. But it is no good for the Government simply to say that it supports arbitration when in fact it has the power to change the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to make sure that the sorts of things that happened with the Telecom dispute do not occur or when it has been party to a settlement that the arbitrator has been asked to confirm. One would expect the arbitrator to confirm settlements agreed between the parties.
It is my understanding that what in fact occurred was that the position of Telecom changed. Either for reasons best known to itself or under some directions from the Government it changed its policy from that which was announced by the Prime Minister as being the view of Telecom and the strongest view of the Government to one of capitulation and snivelling appeasement. Telecom technicians are to be given pay for when they were not working. Let me say that I fully support the right to strike. I have said so in this House on many occasions. The right to strike is a very important right in a democracy, but the principle of no pay for no work is the counterbalance that ensures that there is a fair and reasonable division of responsibility in our community.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 22 February 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Energy Production in Japan (Question No. 756)
asked the Minister for National
Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units cancelled- none. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred- none.
Energy Production in France (Question No. 757)
asked the Minister for National
Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units canceUed-1970-74, none; 1975, 2; 1976-77, none. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred- none.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units cancelled- 1970, 1; 1971, none; 1972, 2; 1973,7; 1974,6; 1975, 19; 1976, none; 1977,3. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred-1970-73, none; 1974, 3; 1975, 2; 1976,4; 1977, none.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units cancelled-1970-71, none’ 1972,2; 1973,7; 1974,6; 1975, 16; 1976, none; 1977,3. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred-1970-73, none; 1974,3; 1975,2; 1976,4; 1977, none.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units cancelled- none. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred- none.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
2 (a) (i) Units cancelled- 1970-77; none. 2 (a) (ii) Units deferred- 1 970-77; none.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 2 May 1 978:
– In addition to the answer I provided to the honourable member (Hansard, 8 June 1978, page 3389) I supply the following supplementary information in respect of part (2) of the question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 10 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Trials of Japanese in the Northern Territory and New Guinea (Question No. 1175)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 1 1 May 1978:
How many Japanese were (a) tried, (b) sentenced to death and (c) executed in (i) the Northern Territory and (ii) New Guinea during the years 1 945 to 1 948, inclusive.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
To answer the question asked by the honourable member would require a research program involving staff from several departments, as all the research that has been carried out shows that the available records are not comprehensive enough to enable the information sought to be readily compiled.
The research necessary would best be carried out by interested individuals and organisations, and such records as have survived since the events referred to are available for research by the honourable member, historians, societies and members of the public generally.
The honourable member is no doubt aware that certain information on this subject is contained in pages 154-7 of Vol. IX of the Australian Encyclopaedia.
Inquiries into Insurance and Other Companies: Withholding of Passports (Question No. 1211)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 24 May 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 24 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The payment of this grant will be made by reimbursement of expenditure incurred direct from my Department, on the production of appropriate certification.
This certification must include: a statement that the purpose and conditions of the grant have been complied with; statements of expenditure on the project, supported by vouchers or accompanied by an audit certificate given by a qualified public accountant who is not an officer or employee of your organisation; a copy of your most recent annual report and subsequent copies during the construction of your project.
While there is no limitation on the number of progress payments you may seek from my Department, we would generally expect them to be received at quarterly intervals.
Since this grant is provided from funds appropriated by the Australian Government to assist with the provision of leisure facilities, I require your assurance that the project, when completed will be used for the purpose stated in your grant application. Any proposal to vary the use of the facility during the next five years must be cleared with my Department.’
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 25 May 1978 -
What action has the Commonwealth Government taken to encourage demonstration and proof of the concepts of solar energy and energy conservation projects as part of its building program as recommended in the report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources on solar energy.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows-
On 26 May 1978, I announced the establishment of the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council (NERDDC), to advise on the coordination and appropriate funding of energy research development and demonstration activities. The Council has commenced operation and is seeking project proposals through advertisement. $15 million is available to it for commitment in 1978-79 for energy research, development and demonstration. I would expect that NERDDC will be considering demonstration and proof-of-concept projects for solar energy and energy conservation as a part of its activities.
There are currently a number of projects relating to solar energy and energy conservation in buildings being carried out by the Department of Construction and /or the CSIRO. Details are contained in the Directory of Australian Solar Energy R&D, published by my Department in June 1978. No doubt more projects will be initiated and other departments will become involved as research advances.
The honourable member will also be aware that it has been the policy for some time to fit solar hot water facilities to Government houses in Darwin.
Transfers of Funds from Australia (Question No. 1258)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 25 May 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 26 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of National Development was created on 20 December 1977. The details shown below for 1976 and 1977 refer to staff employed by the former Department of National Resources.
1976-$59,200; 1977-$50,800; 1 978-$22,200.
1976-16; 1977-17; 1978-4.
1976-(a) $59,200, (b) nil, (c) nil; 1977-(a) $44,500, (b) $6,300, (c) nil; 1978-(a)$22,200, (b) nil, (c) nil.
Revenue from Oil and Gas Production (Question No. 1524)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 8 June 1978:
What was the actual revenue or is the anticipated revenue to the Commonwealth from oil production as a result of (a) the crude oil production levy and (b) company income tax during each of the years (i) 1975-76, (ii) 1976-77, (iii) 1977-78,(iv) 1978-79, (v) 1979-80 and (vi) 1980-81.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The revenue yield from the levy on production of crude oil, condensate and naturally occurring liquefied petroleum gas in recent years has been:
As to income tax, the Commissioner of Taxation has informed me that, in view of the fact that the number of companies with income from oil production is small, he considers that the information sought could not be disclosed without breaching the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 8 June 1978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 15 August 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 1 5 August 1 978:
Does his answer to Question No. 971 (b)(Hansard, 23 May 1978, page 2370) mean that no public servants know the total amount of letters of credit established each month for import transactions.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 5 August 1978:
Will the Minister table in the Parliament the document which sets out the guidelines governing the exercise of departmental discretions in the administration of the law relating to the functions of the Department of Social Security.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question.
The guidelines governing the exercise of the Departmental discretions in the administration of the laws governing the functions of the Department of Social Security are presently being reviewed to enable the Department to comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information legislation when it becomes law. Upon the completion of the review and the preparation of documents in a form which enables their release to the public these documents will be available to Members of Parliament.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1 ) Antibiotics available for use in recent years as feed additives (other than those only available on veterinary prescription) are:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
In respect of workers’ compensation, what sum (a) was collected in premiums, (b) was dispersed in benefits, (c) was dispersed by way of legal costs and (d) was dispersed by way of hospital and medical costs throughout Australia during (i) 1975-76 and (ii) 1976-77.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Figures in relation to the year 1976-77 will not be available until the tabling of the Commissioner’s fourth Annual Report.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Fiat 131, 132 GLS, 127, 128, 128-3P and 132 sedans
Ford Escort (1975-76), Fairlane, Marquis and Cortina TD(1976) sedans
Leyland Dolomites and Land Rovers
Holden HX, HQ, HJ and Statesmen sedans and Torana LH and LX( 1970) sedans
Chrysler Valiant and Centura sedans
Volvo 240 and 260 series ( 1 975-76 year models)
Mercedes-Benz 280S, 280SE, 350SE, 450SE and 450SEL saloons and 350SL roadster.
Datsun 120Y sedans
Kenworth K 1 40 series trucks
Fiat 127, 130, 131 and 132 GLS sedans
Ford XC Falcon, ZH Fairlane, ZH Marquis, LTD and TE Cortina sedans and F 1 00 4WD ‘ XLT ‘ trucks
Leyland Comet, Super Comet, Reiver, Mastiff and Boxer Bx5, Bx6, Bx7, Bx8, Bx9 and Bx9-6x4 trucks
Chevrolet C20 and C30 trucks
Volkswagen Transport Type 2
Chrysler Valiant, CL Valiant, Centura, GE Sigma and Regal SEDANS
Volvo 224 and 264 sedans, 245 and 265 station wagons and 245 /2SL Van
Mercedes-Benz 230, 280E, 280CE, 280SE, 450SL, 450SLC and 450SE/SEL saloons
Toyota Corolla KE30 and KE35 vehicles.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 August 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 22 August 1 978:
Is he able to say what are the names of the companies of which Mr G. O.’D Crowther was a director prior to, during and after his term as Government Director of Connair Pty Ltd.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is:
Braemar Industries Ltd
Dillingham Engineering (Aust.) Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. (Qld) Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. (SA) Pty Ltd
Joseph Bancroft & Sons Co. (Aust. ) Pty Ltd
Leggett Rubber Industries Pty Ltd
Ball & Welch Ltd
Joseph Bancroft & Sons Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd
Georges Australia Ltd
Nonferral Pty Ltd
Dillingham Engineering (Aust. ) Pty Ltd
Dillingham Constructions Pty Ltd
Dillingham Constructions (Qld) Pty Ltd
Banks Bros. & Metcalfe Pty Ltd
Braemar Industries Ltd
Braemar Engineering Co. Pty Ltd
Braemar Engineering Co. (NSW) Pty Ltd
Braemar Engineering Co. (SA) Pty Ltd
Braemar Engineering Co. ( WA) Pty Ltd
Braemar Engineering Co. (Qld) Pty Ltd
Braemar Industrial Products Pty Ltd Braemar-S.T.G. Pty Ltd
Eastern Insurance Brokers Pty Ltd
Haunstrup & Assoc. Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. (Qld) Pty Ltd
Haunstrup, S. & Co. (SA) Pty Ltd
Ball & Welch Ltd
Joseph Bancroft & Sons Co. (Aust. ) Pty Ltd
Georges Australia Ltd
Bray, Gibb-Wrightson (Aust.) Pty Ltd
Braemar Industries Ltd
Slater Walker Australia Ltd
Abbey Orchard Property Investments Pty Ltd
Abby Capital Properties Pty Ltd
Leggett Rubber Products Pty Ltd (Source: The Business Who’s Who of Australia, various editions).
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 23 August 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2), (3) and (4) No.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 24 August 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr K. J. Cosgrove, First Assistant Secretary, Major Projects Division, Department of Transport.
Mr L. D. R. Osmond, Assistant Secretary, Transport and Commerce Division, Department of Finance.
Mr F. L. Ahrens, First Assistant Secretary, Property and Survey Division, Department of Administrative Services.
Mr A. G. Tsipouras, Director, Planning and Research Division, Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development.
Mr J. D. Moir, Deputy Director, Strategic Planning, Town and Country Planning Board.
Mr J. M. Bayley, Assistant Director of Transport, Ministry of Transport.
Mr D. W. Simsion, Chief Planner, Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.
Mr J. M. Pinney, Support Staff, State Co-ordination Council, Premier’s Department.
The Committee shall report and make recommendations to the Commonwealth and Victorian State Governments on the following:
Having regard to anticipated population and traffic growth, forecast total aircraft movements, domestic and international regular public transport, regular public transport training, general aviation and defence expected to require access to airport facilities in the Port Phillip district, differentiating between the needs of each type of operation.
Select additional airport sites which are available with due regard to planning proposals for the development of urban areas, other major land use options and aviation safety, the environment and the requirements of conservation; determine the measures required to avoid undue noise disturbance and recommend land use zoning for nearby areas; estimate the costs of land acquisition and client costs including those of surface transport to and from airports; assess the social costs and benefits of establishing the aerodrome in any region or part of a region including such costs as residual noise nuisance and other detriment and building height restrictions; and to advise on the implications of implementing measures including land acquisition, land zoning and other techniques, aimed at regulating land use in areas adjacent to aerodromes.
Determine the role of the existing Melbourne airports and the appropriate development programs for Melbourne ‘s regular public transport and general aviation airport facilities and supporting land reservation requirements, surface access and engineering services.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 24 August 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Pier to House-$A20.80 per 100 kilograms.
Plus Currency Adjustment Factor- 1 1 . 83 per cent.
N.B.- Pier to Pier means that containers are packed and unpacked by the shipping company.
Pier to House means that containers are packed by the shipping company and unpacked by the consignee.
-On 16 March 1978 (Hansard, page 806) the honourable member for Grey (Mr
Wallis) asked the Prime Minister a question, without notice, relating to the appointment of an independent assessor to consider new tenders for the computer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Trade and Resources.
The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Dr C. H. P. Brookes, Professor of Information Systems and Head of the School of Accounting at the University of New South Wales, has been appointed as the independent assessor for the tendering process for the computer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Trade and Resources.
Dr Brookes has graduated from the University of Sydney and Oxford University. He has been President of the Australian Computer Users Association and of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Computer Society. He has not been an employee of any computer supplier.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1978/19780919_reps_31_hor110/>.